Pandora Report 6.14.14

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News is a little light this week but highlights include antibiotic resistance in the grocery store and the reconstruction of the 1918 flu virus. There will be no news round up next week, so I’ll meet you back here in two weeks!

Bacteria Found in Squid Raises Concern About Spread of Antibiotic Resistance

For the first time, researchers in Canada have discovered one of the deadliest kinds of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in a food product. The organism was found in a package of imported frozen squid, which was purchased at a store in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The discovery of the bacteria in food is troubling because it provides an additional method of human acquisition of antibiotic resistance.

The Washington Post—“The bacterium found in the squid is a common environmental organism, present in dirt and water. But in this case, scientists found that it had a gene that made it resistant to antibiotics that are considered the last line of defense. Bacteria that have this capability are dangerous because if they are in a person’s body, they can share that gene or enzyme with other bacteria. And that makes those other bacteria also resistant to these last-resort antibiotics, known as carbapenems.”

A Flu Virus That Killed Millions in 1918 Has Now Been Recreated

Yoshihiro Kawaoka is in the news again after his research team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, reverse engineered an influenza virus from a similar one found in birds, combining several strains to create one nearly identical to the virus that caused the 1918 outbreak. The team then mutated the genes to make it airborne in order to study how it spreads between animals. Kawaoka is not new to this sort of research—which some view as controversial and dangerous—he engineered a strain of H5N1 to pass airborne from ferret to ferret in 2011.

Vice News—“The research was funded by the National Institute of Health as a way to find out more about similar virus’ and their transmissibility from animals to humans. It was done in a lab that complied with full safety and security regulations, said Carole Heilman, director of the Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, at National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAD), a division of NIH. ‘It was an question of risk versus benefit,’ Heilman told VICE News. ‘We determined that the risk benefit ratio was adequate if we had this type of safety regulations.’”


Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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