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Posts Tagged "Infectious disease"

The Artful Amoeba

Legionnaire’s Disease at the Luxor: What Causes It?

legionella_pneumophila_cdc_11151_200

In July 1976, a convention of members of the American Legion — a veterans’ group — was meeting in Philadelphia at the Belleville Stratford Hotel in honor of America’s bicentennial. Soon, 221 attendees would be sickened and 34 dead of an illness it was believed no one had ever seen before. Swine flu was suspected, [...]

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Food Matters

Two Podcasts About the Other Side of Eating

It’s a few days after Thanksgiving, but nevertheless, I’m thankful for sanitation. Here at Food Matters, we spend a lot of time talking about the things that go into our mouths, but throughout the world, the stuff that happens on the other end is almost as important. According to the UN, one in three people [...]

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Food Matters

Resistance from the Rear – Hospital Effluent and the Growing Antibiotic Crisis

Not the actual sewer pipe in this story. Click for source.

If you ever worry that you’re a bit too optimistic about the future, try reading Maryn McKenna’s posts about the growing threat of antibiotic resistance. The primary tools we’ve had to combat microbial disease for the past century are failing, and it’s largely our own fault. Antibiotic resistance genes (or ARGs) are spreading fast, and [...]

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Food Matters

Variolation, Aviation, and Genetic Modification: Progress in the Face of Fear and Danger

The Wright Brothers' Plane (click for source)

In 1721, a small pox epidemic was ripping through the colonial city of Boston. Cotton Mather, a Reverend and Royal minister, convinced the physician Zebadiah Boylston to perform an arcane medical procedure on two slaves and Mather’s own son. The procedure, called “variolation,” involved piercing the skin of the patient with needle that was contaminated [...]

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Food Matters

The Genetics of the Immune System

a-new-vision-for-teaching-science_1

Last week, I had the opportunity to talk with a group of students from Grandview Heights School in Edmonton, Canada. The students are learning about genetics, and the instructor, John Chase asked me to talk about how genetics impacts my field, and to give them a perspective on how this stuff translates to the real world. [...]

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Food Matters

Viruses and virulence with a side of GMOs: Podcasts I’ve been on recently

Ebola_virus_em

Lab work can often be a bit tedious. I often make the joke (not entirely innacurate) that my entire job is moving very small amounts of liquid between different tubes in a controlled manner. In order to combat this tedium, I spend a lot of time listening to podcasts of various sorts, from short shows [...]

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Observations

CDC Launches Ebola Response Team

cdc ebola response

In the two days since the second U.S. Ebola patient was diagnosed, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has assembled a new team to battle the threat of Ebola. This team has no steady lineup, but it will be deployed anywhere in the country that sees a new case of Ebola, CDC [...]

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Observations

Spain Confirms First Ebola Transmission outside of Africa

This is a microscopic image of an Ebola virus.

Health authorities in Spain have confirmed that a health worker at the Carlos III Hospital in Madrid, Spain has been infected with the Ebola virus. This is the first time anyone has contracted the virus outside of Africa. The woman, a nurse technician, had worked in the room where two Ebola patients—both missionaries—were treated at [...]

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Observations

Clay Jenkins and Zachary Thompson Are Ebola Heroes

All last week CDC officials reiterated their conclusion—based on nearly 40 years worth of successfully containing past outbreaks—that you cannot catch the Ebola virus from people who are infected unless they have already begun suffering a fever or started showing other signs of illnesses. Two Dallas County officials took them at their word and wore [...]

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Observations

U.S. Agency Aims to Combat Antibiotic Resistance

CDC’s Kitty Anderson holds up a 96-well plate used for testing the ability of bacteria to growth in the presence of antibiotics. Credit: CDC

When patients take too many unnecessary antibiotics it inches us ever closer to a world where essential drugs are no longer effective. More than two million people in the United States develop antibiotic resistant infection each year and some 23,000 of them die as a result. Yet understanding the origins of the problem remains a [...]

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Observations

First Local Case of Tropical Disease Chikungunya Debuts in the U.S.

Remove mosquito-friendly habitat. Credit: U.S. EPA

The day we knew would come is finally here. The first locally acquired case of the tropical disease chikungunya was reported in the U.S. today. The mosquito-borne viral disease first debuted in the Western Hemisphere last year and has since sprawled across the Caribbean, with cases in Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. The first [...]

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Observations

Nasty Mosquito-Borne Virus, Now in Puerto Rico, Expanding Its Reach

Image: Thinkstock/iStock

It’s summertime so when the weather is fine many of us head outdoors. But there lurk mosquitoes, an all-too-familiar menace.  What’s more, a wave of mosquito-borne tropical disease that first appeared in the Western Hemisphere in late 2013 has now spread across the Caribbean, stoking concerns about a debut in the continental U.S. The painful [...]

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Observations

Why Big Data Isn’t Necessarily Better Data

Google,flu,big data

Tech companies—Facebook, Google and IBM, to name a few—are quick to tout the world-changing powers of “big data” gleaned from mobile devices, Web searches, citizen science projects and sensor networks. Never before has so much data been available covering so many areas of interest, whether it’s online shopping trends or cancer research. Still, some scientists [...]

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Observations

A Simple Way to Slash Unnecessary Drug Prescriptions

Sneezing Man

Treating the sniffles or a common cold with drugs is ineffective and unnecessary, yet too often patients are leaving their doctors’ appointments with a prescription in hand, helping to fuel the epidemic of antibiotic resistance. But one cheap and apparently effective approach is making inroads at a small number of Los Angeles clinics. A new [...]

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Observations

The FDA’s Action on Agricultural Antibiotics Is Overdue—and Utterly Insufficient

Image: iStock/Thinkstock

Most of the meat on our dinner plates comes from cows and chickens treated with a battery of drugs that helped them grow quickly in dismal, cramped conditions that would otherwise make them sick.  The drugs are blended into their food and water without any requirement for a veterinary prescription. The U.S. Food and Drug [...]

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Observations

Dengue Fever Reemerges in Texas

Image: Wikimedia Commons/USDA

Late last week Texas public health officials confirmed a new wave of dengue fever has cropped up in the southernmost tip of Texas, marking the first outbreak the state has seen since 2005. The news came on the heels of reporting in Scientific American about how scientists are trying to uncover why the mosquito-borne infection [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

No Shots for the Octopus, Its Immune System Doesn’t Remember

octopus immune system shots

Flu season is almost upon us, so millions of us are already rolling up our sleeves to get the annual shot. This jab is formulated to introduce our immune system to this year’s circulating strains of the virus so that it will remember how to make the specialized antibodies to fend it off the viral [...]

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