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Wed, 23 Jan 2019
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Plagues

Microscope 1

Did unknown strain of plague discovered in 5000 year old tomb wipe out Europe's stone age civilization?

sweden burial plague
© Karl-Göran Sjögren/University of Gothenburg
A young woman who died of an early form of plague was buried in this Neolithic grave in Sweden.
Nearly 5000 years ago, a 20-year-old woman was buried in a tomb in Sweden, one of Europe's early farmers dead in her prime. Now, researchers have discovered what killed her-Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that causes plague. The sample is one of the oldest ever found, and it belongs to a previously unknown branch of the Y. pestis evolutionary tree. This newly discovered strain of plague could have caused the collapse of large Stone Age settlements across Europe in what might be the world's first pandemic, researchers on the project say. But other scientists contend there isn't yet enough evidence to prove the case.

"Plague is starting to seem like it's everywhere," says Kyle Harper, a historian at the University of Oklahoma in Norman who studies how the disease affected human societies. Ancient plague genomes, such as the one in the new study, show "we have a really long history with this germ," he says.

Until now, the oldest known strain of plague came to Europe with the Yamnaya, herders from the central Eurasian steppe who swept into the continent some 4800 years ago. That was followed, several thousand years later, by the strain that led to both the Justinian Plague, which afflicted the Roman Empire in the sixth century C.E., and the Black Death, which killed half of Europe's population in the 1300s.

Comment: The evidence shows that plague along with changes to weather patterns, increased seismic and volcanic activity, and cometary bombardment, are part of a collection of disasters that relatively regularly visit our planet: And for more on the events that accompany plague, check out SOTT radio's: Behind the Headlines: Who was Jesus? Examining the evidence that Christ may in fact have been Caesar!


Megaphone

UK: Ineffective flu vaccine contributed to 50,000 extra deaths last winter - ONS

flu jab
The flu vaccine's failure to protect against some of the key strains of the infection contributed to more than 50,000 "extra" deaths in England and Wales last winter, according to data from the Office of National Statistics.

It was the worst winter on record for more than 40 years, with the 1975-76 season being the last time deaths climbed so high above the expected levels.

The NHS was rocked by a record winter crisis in early 2018, with a massive rise in flu cases and sub-zero temperatures triggered by the Beast from the East storm, which added further to death rates.

Despite protecting against the potentially serious "Aussie flu", officials said in January that the vaccine which had been widely used was not effective against some of the more prevalent strains of the virus affecting the UK.


Comment: The flu vaccine is more likely to be an aggravator of the deaths.


Comment: The trend for brutally cold winters is evident in this year's early start to winter all over the northern hemisphere, along with an apparent uptick in contagions, so one would do best to prepare for the worst: And check out SOTT radio's:


Microscope 1

Mutant superbugs jeopardize future space station expeditions, and maybe life on Earth

bacteria
© Reuters / Handout
Researchers found five strains of a multidrug-resistant bacterium similar to hospital-acquired infections on the International Space Station, raising concerns about the organisms' health implications for future missions.

Resembling a bacterium recently discovered infecting newborns and one elderly immunocompromised patient across three hospitals, the Enterobacter bugadensis strains found on the ISS were not infectious to humans in their current form. However, their genomes are similar enough to three pathogenic Earth strains to warrant further study, according to researchers at California Institute of Technology's Jet Propulsion Laboratory Biotechnology and Planetary Protection Group.

All five bacterial strains were resistant to five of the most commonly-used antibiotics, including penicillin, and "resistant or intermediate resistant" to two more. Enterobacter species are commonly found in the human intestinal tract, as well as in sewage and soil, but they have also been implicated in a wide array of hospital-acquired infections, including endocarditis and bacteremia in addition to skin and soft tissue, urinary tract, lower respiratory tract, and intra-abdominal infections.

Comment: So not only do we have superbugs raining down from space, but terrestrial bacteria's exposure to the conditions of space can increase their virulence, add that to the mutative effects of increasing cosmic radiation and there's the recipe for disaster: And, worryingly, infectious outbreaks do appear to be on the rise:


Microscope 2

6 children dead after outbreak of life-threatening virus strain at New Jersey health facility - UPDATE: death toll now at 11

Adenovirus
© Public Health Image Library
Adenovirus cells seen through an electron microscope
Six children have died and multiple others have been infected after a "severe outbreak" of a life-threatening adenovirus at a New Jersey health facility.

The children were infected with the virus at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Haskell, which houses a rehabilitation center, a nursing home for elderly people and a pediatrics unit.

Adenoviruses are the cause of everyday infections like the common cold, bronchitis, pink eye and respiratory tract infections, but the highly contagious viruses can be much more dangerous to people with already compromised immune systems.

The New Jersey Department of Health confirmed 18 cases of the virus on Tuesday, saying in a statement that the strain of the virus has been "particularly associated with disease in communal living facilities."

Comment: Other notable outbreaks in the last year: For more on the possible causes, see: And check out SOTT radio's: The Health & Wellness Show: Syphilitic Superpower: The rise of STDs

Update: The Daily Mail reports:
New Jersey officials announced on Friday that an 11th child has died and another 23 children have become stricken with adenovirus at a New Jersey center for severely disabled children.

State officials have been forced to admit they are struggling to contain the outbreak at Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, and Pediatric Center, in Haskell, New Jersey.

Dr. Shereef Elnahal, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health, told CNN on Friday that the inability to separate those who are sick from those without symptoms has led to the outbreak.

'Up until this week, it has not been possible to completely separate those patients,' Elnahal said.

Adenoviruses are a group of viruses that infect the linings of the eyes, lungs, intestines, urinary tract, and nervous system. A strong strain of the virus has killed 11 children

'But now, due to decreasing census at the facility, it is.'

The state put out a call for volunteers from New Jersey Medical Reserve Corps to help separate patients at the facility.

The lethal outbreak at the Wanaque Center began in late September, spreading among children with weakened immune systems.

An investigation of Wanaque indicated that the staff's poor hand washing practices might be fueling the viral spread.

The most recent outbreak at Voorhees Pediatric Facility, where five cases of a weaker strand of adenovirus have been reported, is also affecting immunocompromised children, and milder cases of the virus among the general public may be more common this season due to the warmer, wetter autumn.



Igloo

'We see a cooling trend' says NASA scientist

Abnormally cold weather in Moscow
© Sputnik/Maksim Blinov
Abnormally cold weather in Moscow.
The sun is headed towards its solar minimum, a time of far less energy output. That could mean cold winters are on their way, according to officials from NASA, the US space agency.

"We see a cooling trend," Martin Mlynczak of NASA's Langley Research Center said in late September. "High above Earth's surface, near the edge of space, our atmosphere is losing heat energy. If current trends continue, it could soon set a Space Age record for cold."

NASA's SABER [Sounding of the Atmosphere using Broadband Emission Radiometry] instrument aboard the TIMED [Thermosphere Ionosphere Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics] satellite has been tracking the upper parts of the Earth's atmosphere - those most affected by the sun's rays - since 2001 and is detecting signs that solar output is nearing a low-point.

"The thermosphere always cools off during Solar Minimum. It's one of the most important ways the solar cycle affects our planet," Mlynczak, who is the associate principal investigator for SABER, told Space Weather.

Biohazard

US: 1 Dead, 164 sickened in ongoing turkey salmonella outbreak, 35 states affected

salmonella

Salmonella
Just two weeks out from the biggest turkey-focused day of the year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday that 164 people across 35 states have fallen ill from Salmonella-tainted raw turkey.

The CDC said that 74 more people were reported sick in the ongoing outbreak since its last report in July, and the outbreak has been linked to one death in California. Lab tests showed that raw turkey products contaminated with Salmonella had multiple sources of origin, and the outbreak strain was identified in raw turkey pet food, raw turkey products, and live turkeys. While the CDC says it believes the sources of the outbreak strain show it could be "widespread," no products or brands have yet been recalled. The National Turkey Federation said it is cooperating in the ongoing investigation.

"Our members have individually reviewed their Salmonella control programs in all phases of turkey production and are working collectively through NTF to address this and all strains of Salmonella," it said in a statement on Thursday. "The intense focus of our membership on this issue has allowed the industry to further strengthen guidelines for biosecurity and food safety."

Comment: Reports of contaminated products and infectious diseases are in the news with increasing regularity these days: And for clues on the possible causes: Also check out SOTT radio's: The Health & Wellness Show: Syphilitic Superpower: The rise of STDs


Ambulance

UK pre-school children hit by wave of highly contagious hand, foot and mouth virus

hand foot mouth somerset
PARENTS are being urged to look for the signs of hand, foot and mouth disease after a reported rise in the number of cases in the UK.

Several pre-schools in Somerset say they've seen an increase in the number of cases.

Hand, foot and mouth disease is an infection caused by a virus and begins with a high temperature, loss of appetite, a cough and a sore throat and mouth.

Around two days later red, flat, discoloured bumps appear on the hands, feel, inside the mouth and sometimes the bum.

These spots can start to blister.

Painful ulcers can also develop, which can put kids off eating and drinking.

Comment: It would appear that unusual contagions and sickness are on the rise these days: More British tourists fall ill: 7 year old fights for life after food poisoning in Egypt, 8 guests at Italian wedding struck with mystery illness See also: More on the spread of hand, foot and mouth: Also check out SOTT radio's: The Health & Wellness Show: Syphilitic Superpower: The rise of STDs


Biohazard

'No need to panic': Mad cow disease found on farm in Aberdeenshire, Scotland

cow field

Inspectors work to establish source of fatal disease, which has not been seen in Scotland for a decade
More cows will need to be destroyed after a new case of BSE, commonly known as mad cow disease, was detected on a farm in Scotland.

Scotland's chief veterinary officer has insisted there is "no need to panic" after the disease was identified at the unnamed farm in Aberdeenshire.

A quarantine area has been put in place around the farm while inspectors work to establish the source of the fatal disease, known in full as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy.

Medical experts have stressed that the case poses no harm to human health. Any farmers with concerns have been advised to seek immediate veterinary advice.

Comment: It would appear that viruses and diseases are on the increase: For more on the possible causes, see: And check out SOTT radio's: The Health & Wellness Show: Syphilitic Superpower: The rise of STDs


Bug

Supersized mosquitoes besiege North Carolina in wake of Hurricane Florence floods

Psorophora ciliata, gallinippers, hurricane Florence
© Getty
While not known to transmit human disease, the supersize skeeters are quick to mob any mammal they can find, any time, day or night, and deliver a fearsome bite.

Two weeks ago, Hurricane Florence slammed into the Carolinas, unleashing six months of rain in a matter of hours. In inland Cumberland County, the Cape Fear River rose 40 feet1, inundating Fayetteville with the worst flooding the city has seen since 1945. But as the waters receded and citizens returned to their ruined homes, a new plague was just beginning to descend.

Drive through Fayetteville today and you'll pass house after house emptied of belongings, the mud-stained detritus piled high on curbs across the county. But you'll have a hard time seeing the storm's aftermath through the clouds of monstrous, hyperaggressive mosquitoes spattering across your windshield. Twenty-seven counties in North Carolina, including Cumberland, are in the midst of a mega-mosquito outbreak. On September 26, North Carolina governor Roy Cooper ordered $4 million in relief funds to combat invading swarms of the nickel-sized bloodsuckers, known to scientists as Psorophora ciliata and to everyone else as gallinippers.

Biohazard

African swine fever outbreak in Eastern Europe has now spread to Western Europe

pigs
© RIA Novosti/Igor Zarembo
The highly contagious disease, which has severely afflicted the agriculture business in Eastern Europe over the last several years, has now been found in the western parts of the EU, potentially threatening a ban on meat exports being imposed on local firms.

At least two cases of African swine fever (ASF) have been registered in Belgium, as pigs infected with the virus have been found there. It is unclear so far how the disease made its way to Western Europe, after having hurt the agricultural sector in the eastern part of the EU.

The ASF virus poses little threat to humans, but is deadly for pig populations on farms and, since to it is highly contagious, could lead to mass culling of pigs and boars in the region to prevent the disease from spreading. In Romania alone it cost local farms 230,000 pigs, bringing huge losses, according to some estimates reaching almost $12 million. Moreover, the virus outbreak could prompt the government to impose a ban on pork exports, further increasing losses for the agricultural sector, even for farms that are unaffected.

Comment: This comes after a summer where drought devastated many farms in Europe: And it appears that it's not just animals suffering contagions: