Pandora Report 3.21.15

This week we’ve got stories about pets and antibiotic resistance, a new Ebola patient in Liberia, rapid neutralization of chemical weapons, and other stories you may have missed.

Have a great week and see you back here next weekend!

Antibiotic Use in Pets Could Give Rise to Superbugs, Experts Warn

We all know that the overuse and over-prescription of antibiotics is leading to the end of antibiotic effectiveness and the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria. According to Health Canada, this extends beyond humans to our furry friends, too. Many pet owners are purchasing the drugs at pet stores, but just like with humans, pets require monitored use of antibiotics and appropriate prescriptions for antibiotic treatment.

CBC News—“‘It might be cheaper, but it might cost you more in the long run if you don’t treat it right — if the dog gets another problem or needs a different antibiotic, or gets sicker, or dies because of inappropriate treatment. Or it might be that it builds up a resistance bacterium, then it gets an infection later that’s harder to treat or passes it to you and you get the disease,” said [Dr. Scott] Weese [infectious disease specialist at the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph].

Liberia Officials: New Patient Tests Positive for Ebola

This week, 16 Americans were flown from West Africa (via a really cool plane) back to the U.S. after exposure to Ebola from an infected Partners in Health co-worker. And lest those fighting the outbreak become too complacent, a new case of the virus has been diagnosed in Liberia. This news is especially devastating because the last patient with Ebola in Liberia was discharged on March 5 and the country was in the midst of the 42-day countdown that ensures the country is disease free. This new patient arrived in the emergency room of a Monrovia hospital on Thursday night, March 20.

Time—“She was identified as a suspected Ebola case and transferred to the hospital’s transit unit, where she could be isolated while awaiting test results. She is now at a treatment center. In a worrying sign, it is not clear where the woman became infected. She doesn’t seem to be linked to any of the people on an Ebola contacts list, [Dr. Francis]Kateh [acting head of Liberia’s Ebola Incident Management Team] said.”

A New Synthetic Compound Can Neutralize Chemical Weapons in Minutes 

A team of scientists from Northwestern University have developed a new compound that can deactivate chemical weapons in minutes. A naturally occurring enzyme usually produced by bacteria—called phosphotriesterases—can deactivate some pesticides, and nerve gases, in milliseconds. Researchers attempted to reproduce the same effects using a synthetic catalyst.

Gizmodo—“In tests published in Nature Materials, the team used their catalyst to deactivate a pesticide similar to nerve agents but safer to use in the lab. Experiments showed that the new compounds—known as NU-1000—deactivated half of the pesticide in 15 minutes. Further testing by U.S army facilities has shown that it neutralizes half of the nerve agent GD—more toxic than the well-known sarin—in just three minutes. The researchers claim that that’s 80 times faster than any previous compound has managed.”

Stories You May Have Missed

Image Credit: Lhixon

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