The Pandora Report

Highlights include H7N9 winding down in China, the WHO’s most recent nCoV update, H5N1 in elephant seals, FMD diagnostics, and why not to get in the water. Happy Friday!

Another H7N9-hit Chinese province ends emergency response

China is winding down it’s H7N9 response as cases of the new flu strain diminish. The most recent province to end it’s emergency response is Zhejiang, where no new cases have been seen in almost a month. Full kudos to China for handling the containment so effectively. Do we think the US would have fared as well?

Xinhua – “Medical observations on all those who had close contact with the H7N9-infected people in Zhejiang have ended, and there have been no further infections, said a statement from the seventh meeting of the Zhejiang provincial prevention and control mechanism for human infections of H7N9, which was held on Thursday. The virus has not been detected among live poultry or in relevant environments over the past three weeks in Zhejiang, the statement added. The province will continue to closely monitor H7N9.”

WHO: Coronavirus Update

The World Health Organization (WHO) continues to monitor the development of the novel coronavirus (nCoV), after two health care  attending to infected patients themselves became ill. Since the virus’ emergence in September, there have been 40 laboratory confirmed cases and 20 fatalities in six countries across the Middle East and Europe.

WHO – “The two patients are health care workers who were exposed to patients with confirmed nCoV. The first patient is a 45-year-old man who became ill on 2 May 2013 and is currently in a critical condition. The second patient is a 43-year-old woman with a coexisting health condition, who became ill on 8 May 2013 and is in a stable condition. Although health care associated transmission has been observed before with nCoV (in Jordan in April 2012), this is the first time health care workers have been diagnosed with nCoV infection after exposure to patients. Health care facilities that provide care for patients with suspected nCoV infection should take appropriate measures to decrease the risk of transmission of the virus to other patients and health care workers. Health care facilities are reminded of the importance of systematic implementation of infection prevention and control (IPC).”

UC Davis researchers find swine flu virus in elephant seals

Yes, elephant seals are that big (Image credit: Daniel Costa/NASA/JPL)

Another reason to keep a safe distance from the already rather frightening elephant seal – they may be carrying H1N1. A UC Davis study examining 900 of the large sea mammals off the Northern Californian coast revealed two asymptomatic carriers and 28 seals who possessed  H1N1 antibodies. Can we please all take a moment to silently thank the poor grad students (and you know  they were grad student) who had to very bravely swab the nasal cavities of 900 different elephant seals?

Sacramento Bee – “The scientists detected the H1N1 virus in free-ranging northern elephant seals off the Central California coast a year after the 2009 human swine flu pandemic began. UC Davis researchers have been studying flu viruses in wild birds and marine mammals since 2007.The aim of the research is to understand how viruses emerge and travel among animals and people, according to a university press release.”

Novel cell line identifies all foot-and-mouth virus serotypes

Plum Island scientists have developed a novel cell line capable of rapidly detecting foot-and-mouth (FMD) disease in field samples. FMD is an incredibly contagious and deadly disease affecting cloven-hoofed animals, for which we do not vaccinate.

Phys.org – “The cell line was created by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, Orient Point, N.Y. ARS is USDA’s chief intramural scientific research agency. The research, published online in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology, supports the USDA priority of promoting international food security. Being able to rapidly detect the virus during outbreaks would allow researchers to quickly develop the appropriate vaccine among the seven serotypes and dozens of subtypes, thereby saving valuable time and millions of dollars.”

CDC: Majority of pools contaminated by feces

For all of us out there who have been saying, for year, try to avoid public pools, we have vindication. The next time someone dismissively waves away your warnings with that catch-all “chlorine”, forward them this article.

LiveScience – “Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found genetic material from E. coli bacteria in 58 percent of public pools they tested during the summer of 2012. They also found genetic material from bacteria called Pseudomonas aeruginosa, whichcan cause skin rashes and ear infections, in 59 percent of pools. The fecal material in pools comes from swimmers not showering before getting into the water, and from incidents of defecation in pools, according to the report.”

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