The Pandora Report

(Image Credit: Cody Hough).

Highlights include secondary transmission of vaccinia through sex, humidity – good for something?!, two new cases of H1N1 in Taiwan, another H5N1 fatality in Cambodia, viruses with immune systems, and avian influenza (no, not that one- it’s H7N3) in Mexico. Happy Friday!

Vaccinia as an…STD?

This is one of the ongoing problems with the ACAM2000 vaccine – it sheds. More specifically, you shed for a couple days after receiving the vaccine. Which means you can pass it on, in a number of different ways.

MMWR – “On June 24, 2012, CDC notified Public Health Services, County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency, of a suspected case of vaccinia virus infection transmitted by sexual contact. The case had been reported to CDC by an infectious disease specialist who had requested vaccinia immune globulin intravenous (VIGIV) (Cangene Corporation, Berwyn, Pennsylvania) for a patient with lesions suspicious for vaccinia. The patient reported two recent sexual contacts: one with a partner who recently had been vaccinated against smallpox and a later encounter with an unvaccinated partner. Infections resulting from secondary transmission of vaccinia virus from the smallpox vaccinee to the patient and subsequent tertiary transmission of the virus from the patient to the unvaccinated partner were confirmed by the County of San Diego Public Health Laboratory.”

Higher Indoor Humidity Inactivates Flu Virus Particles

High levels of humidity – the bane of DC metro riders, women who straighten their hair, and people who don’t like being able to drink their air – are apparently very good for keeping the flu at bay:

Science Daily – “Higher humidity levels indoors can significantly reduce the infectivity of influenza virus particles released by coughing, according to research published February 27 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by John Noti and colleagues from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The researchers tested the effect of relative humidity on the capacity of flu virus released in a simulated ‘cough’ to re-infect cells. They found that an hour after being released in a room at a relative humidity of 23% or less, 70-77% of viral particles retained their infectious capacity, but when humidity was increased to about 43%, only 14% of the virus particles were capable of infecting cells.”

 Two New H1N1 Deaths in Taiwan

Full credit to Taiwan and China: during the Chinese New Year a huge swath of the population travels, creating a really tremendous logistical challenge in terms of disease surveillance. Both states have nonetheless managed to keep a sharp eye on new cases of influenza:

The China Post – “The H1N1 flu strain claimed two lives this month, as the number of diagnosed influenza cases surged due to increased travel over Chinese New Year, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC, 疾病管制局) said yesterday. During the recent flu season, 365 cases of influenza were reported, resulting in 29 deaths, according to the CDC, which has attributed 26 of the deaths to the H3N2 virus strain and three deaths to H1N1. The first victim to be claimed by H1N1 earlier this month, a 48-year-old man, had reported flu-like symptoms of fever, soreness and pain on Jan. 19, but did not seek medical attention until Jan. 24. The man died on Feb. 5 despite the efforts of doctors. The second victim, a 38-year-old woman, became feverish and felt discomfort on Feb. 14, but did not receive medical attention until Feb. 18 when she was rushed to the ER. She was resuscitated but died on Feb. 21.”

Ninth New Human Case of Avian Influenza H5N1 in Cambodia in 2013

The man was known to have come in contact with infected poultry in his village. Cambodia is having difficulty halting the disease incidence due to the ongoing practice of slaughtering poultry within residences. This practice is also thought to explain the disproportionately high incidence of the disease amongst children – approximately 20 of the 30 cases of H5N1 in Cambodia have occurred in children under the age of 14.

WHO – “The ninth case, a 35-year-old man from Kbal Ou village, Me Sar Chrey commune, Stueng Trang district in Kampong Cham province, was confirmed positive for influenza H5N1 on 23 February 2013 by Institut Pasteur du Cambodge. He developed fever on 8 February 2013 and his condition worsened on 10 February 2013 with fever, frequent cough, and dyspnea….The man is the ninth person this year and the 30th person to become infected with the H5N1 virus, and the 27th person to die from complications of the disease in Cambodia.”

Viruses pass major test to enter ranks of living

What do you think? Should viruses be classified as “living”?

Discovery News – “Viruses can acquire fully functional immune systems, according to new research that bolsters the controversial theory that viruses are living creatures. Until now, scientists thought that viruses existed only as primitive particles of DNA or RNA, and therefore lacked the sophistication of an immune system. The study, published in the journal Nature, is the first to show that a virus can indeed possess an immune system, not to mention other qualities commonly associated with complex life forms.”

Avian Influenza Outbreak in Mexico Raises Concerns about Price Speculation

Just as a FYI – stick it in the back of your mind for the time being.

The Poultry Site – “The dreaded avian influenza has returned to central Mexico again this year, this time causing significant poultry deaths in Guanajuato state, writes Carlos Navarro, Editor of SourceMex. The outbreak of the H7N3 virus—which had forced poultry farmers in the state of Guanajuato to destroy more than 2 million birds as of the end of February — affects municipalities in northern Guanajuato as well as in Jalisco state.”

In Case You Missed it (you wouldn’t have if you followed us on Twitter!)

– Analysis: Emerging deadly virus demands swift sleuth work
– New Bioterrorism Vaccine Gets First Test In Humans
– Brazil dengue cases almost triple as new strain spreads
DHS awards contract for utilities plant at NBAF

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