Category Archives: pandemic

San Diego is struggling with a huge hepatitis A outbreak. Is it coming to L.A.? – LA Times

San Diego County is experiencing the third worst hepatitis A outbreak in the nation since a vaccine was introduced. L.A. officials fear the outbreak is headed north.

Source: San Diego is struggling with a huge hepatitis A outbreak. Is it coming to L.A.? – LA Times

 officials in San Diego have scrambled for months to contain an outbreak of hepatitis A — vaccinating more than 19,000 people, putting up posters at bus stations and distributing hand sanitizer and cleansing wipes.

Despite those efforts, 16 people have died of the highly contagious virus in San Diego County and hundreds have become ill in what officials say is the nation’s second-largest outbreak of hepatitis A in decades.

Earlier this month, San Diego officials declared a public health emergency.

Though Los Angeles has so far escaped an outbreak, public health officials are hoping to head off a similar emergency. They say the virus could easily spread to Los Angeles because of its proximity to San Diego and the region’s large homeless population.

“We know it’s getting worse in San Diego so we’re really ramping up,” said Cristin Mondy, the county’s area health officer for a region that includes downtown Los Angeles.

In their efforts to get their outbreak under control, San Diego health officials have adopted a technique from L.A. that they hope will stop cases from spreading locally: washing the streets with water containing bleach.

“They didn’t have any outbreaks. We did. So we were like, ‘What’s going on there?’ ” said San Diego County public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten. “That’s what we wanted to replicate here.”

New Klebsiella strains ‘worst-case scenario,’ experts say | CIDRAP “Pandemic watch…”

While the overall prevalence of hypervirulent, drug-resistant K pneumoniae in China appears to be low, Chen said, what he and his colleagues are worried about is that it will likely increase in Chinese hospitals, presenting clinicians with more severe infections that don’t respond to the current arsenal of antibiotics.But with few new antibiotics in the pipeline, physicians will be forced to keep using what they have, which will only hasten the further emergence of multidrug-resistant pathogens, said David van Duin, MD, PhD, an antimicrobial resistance researcher at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. “Emergence of combined increased virulence and resistance will force doctors to treat patients even more broadly upfront with last-line antibiotics, thus inducing additional resistance,” he said.And if the rapid global spread of the resistance gene MCR-1 is any example, these types of infections won’t be limited to China. The plasmid-mediated gene, which confers resistance to the last-resort antibiotic colistin, was identified in Escherichia coli bacteria in China in 2015, and since then has been detected in more than 30 countries. Other antibiotic resistance genes have demonstrated similar ability to spread rapidly via horizontal gene transfer. The genes and plasmids, and the bacteria that carry them, know no boundaries.”Multidrug-resistant organisms in one part of the world are a threat to patients everywhere,” van Duin said.

Source: New Klebsiella strains ‘worst-case scenario,’ experts say | CIDRAP

Hookworm, a disease of extreme poverty, is thriving in the US south. Why? | US news | The Guardian

“We now need to find how widespread hookworm is across the US,” said Dr Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine, who along with Rojelio Mejia led the research team. Hotez, who has estimated that as many as 12 million Americans could be suffering from neglected tropical diseases in poor parts of the south and midwest, told the Guardian the results were a wake-up call for the nation.“This is the inconvenient truth that nobody in America wants to talk about,” he said. “These people live in the southern United States, and nobody seems to care; they are poor, and nobody seems to care; and more often than not they are people of color, and nobody seems to care.”

Source: Hookworm, a disease of extreme poverty, is thriving in the US south. Why? | US news | The Guardian

Four-year-old girl dies of malaria in northern Italy – The Local

Italy was officially declared free of malaria in 1970, but environmental organization Legambiente warned in 2007 that it could make a comeback due to the effects of climate change.In particular, warmer temperatures have brought mosquito species including the Asian Tiger mosquito, known to transmit several diseases, to Europe. In recent years, the first EU cases of West Nile fever were detected in Italy as well as Romania, while Ravenna in the north of the country experienced an outbreak of Chikungunya fever in 2007. was also detected in Italy. Both diseases are known to be transmitted by Asian Tiger mosquitoes.

Source: Four-year-old girl dies of malaria in northern Italy – The Local

With genetic morph, a weird type of anthrax has emerged—and it’s on a rampage | Ars Technica – (nature developed a new potential pandemic source to deal with “over-population” of animals in areas affected by deforestation and growth of human development.)

Classic anthrax is caused by Bacillus anthracis, which tends to strike ungulates (hoofed mammals) in seasonal outbreaks in arid locales, such as the African savannahs. The bacteria can cause infection in skin, lungs, or intestines. In humans, B. anthracis causes ghastly skin lesions and severe respiratory and intestinal infections—which have mortality rates as high as 85 to 60 percent, respectively.The alternative anthrax bacteria appear to cause an identical anthrax disease in animal models. But, those bacteria aren’t B. anthracis; they’re cousins, B. cereus, commonly found in soil and food. Usually, these are relatively harmless, with some strains known to cause a minor fraction of food poisoning cases. But the ones causing alternative anthrax are different. They just so happen to have gotten their grips on B. anthracis’ virulence plasmids—circular, shareable bits of DNA that contain the genetic code for their disease-causing gene products.

Source: With genetic morph, a weird type of anthrax has emerged—and it’s on a rampage | Ars Technica

Gulf of Mexico dead zone is largest on record | Ars Technica

This year’s “dead zone,” where oxygen levels are so low they threaten fish and other small aquatic life, is about 50 percent larger than normal. The average size of the dead zone over the last 31 years has been 14,037 square kilometers, according to Nancy Rabalais, a researcher at Louisiana State University who has long studied the issue. The dead zone was likely even larger than what the scientists found, but there was insufficient time on board the ship to measure its entire extent.

Source: Gulf of Mexico dead zone is largest on record | Ars Technica

The Earth is exhausted – we′re using up its resources faster than it can provide | DW Environment | DW | 01.08.2017

We’ve already used up more resources this year than our planet can regenerate. That’s bad news for our climate and for poorer countries in the Global South, which stand to lose out the most. Anne-Sophie Brändlin reports.

Source: The Earth is exhausted – we′re using up its resources faster than it can provide | DW Environment | DW | 01.08.2017

Anti-vaccine protester punches doctor after hotly-contested law gets approved – The Local – Anti-vaccine folks need for control and blame is delusional in the extreme, even if they “believe” they are getting revenge or protecting children.

Meanwhile, Italy’s top court last week ruled against a claim for damages from a father who argued his son’s autism was caused by the polio vaccine, Sabin.The decision by the Court of Cassation upheld earlier verdicts from lower courts in the Campania city of Salerno, ruling out a link between the vaccine and autism.

Source: Anti-vaccine protester punches doctor after hotly-contested law gets approved – The Local

Texas reports first local Zika case of 2017 | CIDRAP- Drip, drip, drip – pandemic start?

Texas health officials today announced the state’s first probable local Zika infection of the year, which also appears to be the first local case reported in the United States for 2017.The patient is a Hildago County resident who had not traveled outside the area or had any other risk factors, the Texas Department of State Health Services (TSDHS) said in a press release. Hildago County, located in the Rio Grande Valley, is in far southern Texas on the border with Mexico.The virus was probably transmitted by a mosquito bite in South Texas some time in the last few months, and lab tests show that the person is no longer at risk of spreading Zika to mosquitoes.In April the TDSHS expanded its recommendations for testing pregnant women and people with Zika infections in six South Texas counties, which led to thousands of tests being conducted and to the identification of the newly identified case.

Source: Texas reports first local Zika case of 2017 | CIDRAP