Friday News Roundup!

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Highlights include Meth as a home flu remedy, the PAHPA re-authorization, Salmonella: a force for good?, MRSA in your water (joke – that was a joke), the Ebola-related woes of the poor orangutan, and belly button bacteria.

Methamphetamine Reduces Human Influenza A Virus Replication

Now normally I am all for home flu remedies, but if it involves a black-windowed basement and a set-up out of Breaking Bad, I think I’ll pass.

Original Paper – “Methamphetamine (meth) is a highly addictive psychostimulant that is among the most widely abused illicit drugs, with an estimated over 35 million users in the world. Several lines of evidence suggest that chronic meth abuse is a major factor for increased risk of infections with human immunodeficiency virus and possibly other pathogens, due to its immunosuppressive property. Influenza A virus infections frequently cause epidemics and pandemics of respiratory diseases among human populations. However, little is known about whether meth has the ability to enhance influenza A virus replication, thus increasing severity of influenza illness in meth abusers. Herein, we investigated the effects of meth on influenza A virus replication in human lung epithelial A549 cells.”

Congress must act on Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness bill

Hurricane Sandy illustrated clearly the ongoing need for funding preparedness planning. Congress is taking up the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act in the coming weeks, which seeks to ensure funding for planning remains in place.

The Hill – “When Congress returns this month for the post-election Lame Duck session, they will have the opportunity to vote on legislation that would solidify the commitment of the federal government to protecting our nation’s critically ill and injured patients in the event of a disaster or emergency. If enacted, the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2011 – better known as PAHPA – would provide the resources necessary to improve the nation’s public health and medical preparedness, streamlining the federal government’s disaster planning and strengthening national preparedness for and responses to medical and public health emergencies and disasters, whether deliberate, accidental or natural.”

Arizona State University scientists engineer bacterial vaccine delivery system

Salmonella, making itself useful for something other than dramatic weight loss.

Vaccine News – “Arizona State University scientists have successfully engineered a strain of Salmonella bacteria capable of acting as a delivery system for vaccine antigens. The ASU team used the bacteria to protect mice against a lethal influenza strain, but they believe the approach is adaptable enough to be used against many different pathogens…’The technology that we’re describing in this paper can be used to develop a vaccine against any virus, any parasite, any fungus, whereas this was never possible before the development of recombinant attenuated bacterial strains like those produced in our lab,’ Dr. Roy Curtiss, the team’s leader, said.”

Deadly ‘Superbug’ Found in Water Treatment Plants

MRSA in your neighborhood bunnies, MRSA at your neighbourhood water treatment plant. MRSA: the world’s worst neighbor.

Smithsonian –  “Researchers from the University of Maryland and the University of Nebraska Medical Center have found that at least four water treatment plants in the United States contain superbugs, the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and the methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus. The concern is that the plants are putting sewage workers at risk for contracting the bacteria, and that plants that do not treat water with chlorine may be leaving the most lethal strains.”

Orangutans infected by mystery Ebola-like virus

Something very similar to the African Ebola viruses are popping up outside of Africa (dun dun dun anyone?) in, of all places, the already blighted Bornean orangutans.

New Scientist – “They are already the most endangered great apes. Now orang-utans may face an additional threat: Ebola virus, or something a lot like it. Bornean orang-utans have antibodies that recognise not just the Asian species of Ebola virus, but all four African Ebola viruses and a similar African virus called Marburg. None of the African viruses has ever been seen outside Africa before. The discovery was discussed at a conference last week by the study’s leader, Chairul Anwar Nidom of Airlangga University in Surabaya, Indonesia.”

Plunging into the Unknown: Belly Button Bacteria and You

And for your Friday fluff piece (no pun – ok, pun slightly intended), belly button bacteria (or BBB, for people in the know):

PLOS blog – “Have you ever looked up at the night sky and wondered what kinds of life might exist out there? Well, you can look down – at your belly button that is – and wonder the exact same thing. According to research published today in PLOS ONE, the belly button is home to an array of bacterial life ranging from the common (like Staphylococci) to the rare (like Archaea which have never been found before on human skin). Some bacteria, like those belonging to the Bacillus genus… are feisty – they battle against fungi and viruses.”

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