Highlights this week include Smallpox Redux, Antibiotic Resistance, and MERS in America. Check us out @PandoraReport for additional stories about the 1918 flu, Obstacle races and their health impact, the deadliest creature on earth, and Stephen Colbert vs. Anti-Vaxxers. Have a great weekend!
This week, doctors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that two herdsmen in the Republic of Georgia have been infected with a new virus that is very similar to smallpox. The news comes in addition to a lot of smallpox talk this week. After unearthing a corpse in Queens, NY, the issue of the virus spreading from dead bodies was raised again. Meanwhile, this month The World Health Assembly (WHA) will meet to discuss destruction of remaining smallpox virus being held in Russia and the U.S. Though the smallpox virus has been eradicated, this new virus in the same family raises concerns about protection from bioterrorists using agents we have no immunity or vaccinations for.
NPR—“Last year the U.S. government spent about $460 million on a relatively new smallpox medicine, in case the virus was deliberately released in a bioterrorism attack. That stockpile could treat about 2 million people.”
An American man returning from Saudi Arabia has been diagnosed with MERS CoV. The man was hospitalized in Indiana and authorities say he poses very little risk to the public. At least 400 people have been diagnosed with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and it has killed over 100. Though the disease has not transferred human to human at this point, the high lethality is a concern to health officials.
The Associated Press—“Experts said it was just a matter of time before MERS showed up in the U.S., as it has in Europe and Asia. “Given the interconnectedness of our world, there’s no such thing as ‘it stays over there and it can’t come here,'” said Dr. W. Ian Lipkin, a Columbia University MERS expert.”
A United Nations report, released on Wednesday, outlined that antibiotic resistance is now prevalent in all parts of the world and that for up to half of patients antibiotics may not be effective. Many doctors in Canada are encouraging their colleagues to be careful about over-prescribing antibiotics as a “cure all.” If doctors around the world cannot do that, we may be looking at a post-antibiotic future.
CBC-“‘What it means, is that all of us, our family members, all of the persons in this room, our friends, when we are most vulnerable and in need of these medicines, there is a chance that they are simply not going to be available and we are not going to be able to have access to effective medical care in a number of instances,’ Dr. Keiji Fukuda, one of the agency’s assistant directors-general, told reporters.”
(image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/ Arias,F.J)