Pandora Report 8.22.14

Did you see that the destruction of Syria’s most lethal chemicals is now complete? Well, it is! Its good news among so many biodefense stories covering Ebola. I have no interest in making the Pandora Report the “All Ebola, All the Time” newsletter. As such, we will look at one Ebola story as well as stories covering new discoveries in tuberculosis and influenza.

Have a fabulous weekend, and students, enjoy your last one before classes start on Monday!

Tuberculosis is Newer Than Thought, Study Says

A recent study published in Nature reports that tuberculosis originated less than 6,000 years ago and was carried to the new world by seals. Seals! This new research contradicts original timeline and species genesis and some scientists think this study provides more questions than answers.

The New York Times—“In the new paper, the team proposes that humans acquired tuberculosis in Africa around 5,000 years ago. The disease spread to people across the Old World along trade routes. Meanwhile, Africans also spread the disease to animals such as cows and goats. Seals that hauled out onto African beaches to raise their pups became infected. The bacteria then spread through seal populations until reaching South America. Ancient hunters there became infected when they handled contaminated meat.”

Enzyme Holds the Door for Influenza

As the fall season and semester approach, the flu season travels with it. I was delighted to read that Walgreens, in addition to CVS, will now offer seasonal flu shots in their stores. More interesting news about flu came out of Vanderbilt University, too. Researches have investigated enzyme phospholipase D (PLD) and it ability to help the influenza virus escape immune response. Blocking PLD could assist in preventing the flu.

Bioscience Technology Online—“Normally the virus slips into its host cell in the epithelial lining of the lungs through internalized membrane compartments called endosomes. By delaying this process, the researchers propose, PLD2 inhibitors may give the cell’s innate immune response more time to destroy it.”

Patient Checked for Ebola Virus in Sacramento

Internationally, the good news is that quarantines have been set up in Liberia, in attempt to contain the spread of Ebola. The bad news is that they have become fairly violent. Stateside, this week Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol were released from Emory University Hospital after recovering from Ebola infections acquired in West Africa.

There was news of a possible case in Northern California. With few details provided as to the patient and transmission route, we learned that there is a patient being tested for Ebola in Sacramento. California Department of Health reported that the cases is low risk but that testing is being done out of “abundance of caution.”

San Francisco Chronicle—“‘In order to protect our patients, staff and physicians, even though infection with the virus is unconfirmed, we are taking the actions recommended by the CDC as a precaution, just as we do for other patients with a suspected infectious disease,” said Dr. Stephen Parodi, an infectious disease specialist at Kaiser Permanente North California. “This includes isolation of the patient in a specially equipped negative pressure room and the use of personal protective equipment by trained staff, coordinated with infectious disease specialists.’”

 

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