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Infectious Disease News

(Dr. Mark Gendreau, Los Angeles Times) When new diseases such as MERS or SARS pop up, travelers besiege doctors with questions about how they can protect themselves and their families. But some of those same people are failing to take time-tested precautions against more familiar killers like measles. Each one of us is a stakeholder in community and global health. And in this era of globalization, when people fly frequently to distant parts of the world, infectious disease threats can occur overnight and without notice. We owe it to our children and our communities to protect ourselves.
(Science Daily) Cryptococcus gattii, a virulent fungus that has invaded the Pacific Northwest, is highly adaptive and warrants global "public health vigilance," according to a study by an international team of researchers. C. gattii, which likely originated in Brazil, is responsible for dozens of deaths in recent years since it was first found in 1999 on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, well outside its usual tropical habitats.
(UPI) Colorado health officials said the pneumonic plague was diagnosed in a person and their dog Tuesday…Health officials believe the person and dog contracted the disease in eastern Adams County. The pneumonic plague can be spread from person to person through airborne droplets, whether through coughing or sneezing.
(Kansas City Star) A Spring Hill, Kan., girl who loved water sports died Wednesday of a very rare illness caused by a waterborne amoeba that attacks the brain, Kansas state health officials confirmed Friday… [She] contracted an infection called primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, or PAM. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is commonly referred to as the brain-eating amoeba. It’s usually fatal.
(Huffington Post) The West Nile Virus has been detected in New York City mosquitoes for the first time this summer, the city's Health Department announced Monday… While there have been no human cases reported so far this year, Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett wants New Yorkers to take some "simple precautions." “During warm weather, mosquitoes can breed in any still water that stands for more than four days, so the most effective way to control mosquitoes is to eliminate standing water," Bassett said in a statement. 
(NPR) Citing an anthrax scare and other safety concerns, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has temporarily shut down two of its laboratories. The announcement on Friday follows incidents in the past month that involved the possible exposure of dozens of lab workers to anthrax at facilities in Atlanta.
More . . .
Flu Medicines Can Increase Virus' Spread
(Discover Magazine) Got the flu? Think twice before you pop a pill to feel better. Most over-the-counter flu medications include a fever-reducing ingredient such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. But suppressing fever, according to new research, actually increases the number of seasonal flu cases by at least 5 percent in the U.S., and could cause as many as 1,000 additional deaths from influenza nationally each year.
(Discover Magazine) A scientific renaissance for phage therapy, virtually unheard of in the West, is underway.
(Ohio State University) Scientists have identified a protein that is essential to the survival of E. coli bacteria, and consider the protein a potential new target for antibiotics.
(Brigham and Women's Hospital) A study from Brigham and Women's Hospital has utilized unique computational models to show how infection can affect bacteria that naturally live in our intestines. The findings may ultimately help clinicians to better treat and prevent gastrointestinal infection and inflammation through a better understanding of the major alterations that occur when foreign bacteria disrupt the gut microbiota.
(Science Daily) A key immune response pathway regulated by zinc has been discovered by scientists that may hold clues to stopping sepsis, one of the leading causes of death in America’s intensive care units. As many as 20% of people who develop sepsis will die, not from the infection itself -- but from the overload of inflammatory chemical signals created by the immune system which ultimately leads to organ failure.
(Reuters) The death toll from the world's worst ever Ebola outbreak in West Africa has risen to 603 since February, with at least 68 deaths reported from three countries in the region in the last week alone, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday. WHO said there were 85 new cases between July 8-12, highlighting continued high levels of transmission. International and local medics were struggling to get access to communities as many people feared outsiders were spreading rather than fighting Ebola.
(Reuters) Governments and health agencies trying to contain the world's deadliest ever Ebola epidemic in West Africa fear the contagion could be worse than reported because suspicious locals are chasing away health workers and shunning treatment. From Guinea, where the four-month-old outbreak claimed the first of more than 500 lives, to Sierra Leone, scores of patients are hiding away, believing hospitalization is a "death sentence".
(TIME) Thousands of people in South Sudan are being put at risk by a cholera outbreak, says international aid group Save the Children. Cholera has infected 2,600 people in 9 of the the country’s 10 states, according to the group, leaving 60 dead since cases were first reported in May.
(Reuters) A Nigerian military offensive against Islamist insurgent group Boko Haram has opened up a corridor for mobile units of health workers to vaccinate children against polio in parts of the northeast. But the worsening insurgency poses a grave risk to the campaign to stamp out the crippling virus in Africa's most populous nation. Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan are the three countries in the world in which polio is still endemic.
(Reuters) Combining two types of polio vaccine, including one that is injected rather than given orally, appears to give better immunity and could speed efforts to eradicate the crippling disease, scientists said… British and Indian researchers said the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), which is given by injection, could provide better and longer lasting protection if given alongside the more commonly used live oral polio vaccine (OPV).
(Reuters) New HIV infections and deaths from AIDS are decreasing, the United Nations said on Wednesday, making it possible to control the epidemic by 2030 and eventually end it "in every region, in every country". "More than ever before, there is hope that ending AIDS is possible. However, a business-as-usual approach or simply sustaining the AIDS response at its current pace cannot end the epidemic," the U.N. AIDS program UNAIDS said in a global report issued ahead of an AIDS conference in Melbourne, Australia next week.
(U.S. Department of Health & Human Services) HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced [on Tuesday] the availability of $11 million, through the Affordable Care Act and the Secretary’s Minority AIDS Initiative Fund, to support the integration of high quality HIV services into primary care through innovative partnerships between health centers and state health departments in Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland and New York.  This initiative supports the goals of the Administration’s National HIV/AIDS Strategy.
(The Atlantic) Condoms aren't enough: For the first time, the agency is recommending that all men who have sex with men use prophylactic treatment.
(Science Daily) Biochemists have discovered how protein's 'hands' enable bacteria to establish infection. "These structures are like small hands on the surface of bacterial cells," said the study's principal investigator. "They make the bacteria capable of recognizing something and grabbing it from the environment. It's amazing that such a tiny molecule can do that." The research may help scientists develop targeted treatment and intervention methods.

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