It’s the last holiday weekend before the summer and its too cold to go outside! Don’t worry, we’ve got some good reading while you’re staying warm inside: antibiotic resistance, U.S. Troops leaving West Africa, a new vaccine for polio and LOTS of stories you may have missed.
Enjoy your Monday holiday and have a safe and healthy week!
As the U.S. Government increases its funding to fight growing antibiotic resistance, a study coming out of the University of Warwick’s School for Life Sciences and the University of Exeter Medical School points to rivers and streams as a major source of antibiotic resistance in the environment. The study of the Thames River found that greater numbers of resistant bacteria existed close to some wastewater treatment plants and that these plants are likely “to be responsible for at least half of the increase observed.”
R&D Magazine—“The team also found that several other factors affected the prevalence of antibiotic resistance, such as changes in rainfall and land cover. For example, heavy rainfall at a point surrounded by grassland raised resistance levels; whereas a heavy rainfall at a point surrounded by woodland reduced the levels seen.”
The U.S. military is bringing home nearly all troops that were sent to West Africa 10 months ago in order to fight the Ebola outbreak. This withdrawal comes at a time where 700 homes in Sierra Leone were put under quarantine after a new case was diagnosed in Freetown. Quarantine seems like a smart move, since researchers have now confirmed that the virus can remain contagious on a dead body for up to a week. Despite troops leaving, testing has begun in Liberia for two potential vaccine candidates.
CNN—“[Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John] Kirby said about 100 military service members will remain in West Africa to support the 10,000 civilian responders who remain. These service members will “build on a strong military partnership with the Armed Forces of Liberia to enhance their Ebola response efforts and provide disaster response training to the government of Liberia,” he said.”
While, after six months of no new cases, Africa is close to wiping out wild polio, a team of international scientists are working to create a wholly artificial vaccine to combat the disease. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Health Organization are providing a $647,000 grant to create an entirely synthetic approach that will address shortcomings in the existing vaccine. This new vaccine would be entirely virus free.
BBC—“…the existing oral vaccine uses a weakened version of the virus as its stimulus to provoke a response and protection in the patient. And in just a few particular individuals, this can set up an infection in the gut that then enables a reactivated virus to pass out of the body and spread to other, unvaccinated people.
But if the virus particle has no genetic machinery this transmission route is closed, and the World Health Organization and the Gates Foundation is to fund the scientists to engineer just such particle for use as a replacement vaccine.”
Stories You May Have Missed
- Russian nuclear missile forces conducting large-scale exercises across the country days before the ceasefire with Ukraine begins…let’s hope those aren’t related in any way.
- First honey, now turtles. An infant in Ireland contracted the first case of Type E Botulism originating from the terrapins his parents kept as pets.
- Population growth in Colorado partially stemmed from TB patients flocking to the state to take advantage of the dry climate.
- How amazing is this? In 2009, two professors at the University of Minnesota prepared a report that suggested Disneyland could be a potential amplifier for infectious disease.
- Flooding in Mozambique has caused a massive cholera outbreak, resulting in 1,702 cases and 19 deaths. Overall, the flooding has killed 158 with more than 160,000 being adversely affected.
- The story last week about the NYC subway, there is (at least) one rebuttal claiming the story was a little TOO sensational. Second Opinion: there is no plague on the NYC subway.
- What’s going on with MERS-CoV? Saudi Arabia has reported two more cases and the WHO says inadequate infection control measures may be to blame for the continuing cases.
- What are the limits of Synthetic Biology? The Council on Foreign Relations has some ideas.
- Are you worried about the zombie apocalypse? Don’t worry. The Los Alamos National Laboratory team can map all kinds of viral outbreaks with their new Biosurveillance Gateway Website.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons