We’ve got stories this week about MERS spread in South Korea and Ebola drugs that may already be in your medicine cabinet. We’ve also got some stories you may have missed.
As a reminder, the Early Registration Deadline for the Pandemics, Bioterrorism, and International Security professional education course has been extended to June 15. For more information and registration, please click here.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend!
The big story this week is MERS in South Korea. Last week we reported that there were five cases. As of Friday, the number has jumped to 36 confirmed cases and three deaths. Hundreds of schools have closed in an effort to prevent further spreading of the disease, which arrived in a 68-year old index patient who had traveled in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain. Many in public health have been surprised by the extent of the outbreak in South Korea because the virus has not been shown to pass easily from human to human and the health care system is “considered to be sophisticated and modern.”
CNN—“‘This is quite unusual. I think this is the only country, apart from those in the Middle East, that has such a number of cases,” said [Dr. Leo] Poon [a virology expert at the School of Public Health at the University of Hong Kong, who worked on the SARS outbreak more than a decade ago]. “It’s not entirely surprising. In the Middle East, people in Saudi Arabia had hospital outbreaks where a few people got infected. It’s a similar situation at the moment.’”
A team from USAMRIID, the University of Virginia, and Horizon Discovery Inc. have been working to determine if any existing drugs could be used to fight Ebola. Using 2,635 compounds, including FDA-approved drugs, amino acids, food additives, vitamins and minerals they discovered a possible answer could already be in your medicine cabinet—Zoloft and Vascor.
The LA Times—“But Zoloft (also known by the generic name sertraline) and Vascor (generic name bepridil) had more encouraging results. Of the 10 mice that got Zoloft, seven survived for 28 days. Even better, all 10 of the mice treated with Vascor were still alive 28 days after [Ebola] infection. For the sake of comparison, all of the untreated mice that served as controls were dead within nine days.”
Stories You May Have Missed
- I use Google alerts with various keywords to pull stories for this weekly wrap up, and let me tell you…those keywords bring up some bizarre articles sometimes. For example, this one that states, “peeing in the pool is an act of chemical warfare.”
- At least this one stating, “nanotech sensors can detect illness, fake art, chemical weapons” is more on point. Its very interesting, too!
- 103 travelers were being monitored in Virginia, this week, for signs of Ebola. As of June 3, all were asymptomatic and did not pose a risk to others.
- One thing you might not know about Canada is that they sell milk not in plastic gallon jugs but in plastic bags and a church in Baxter, ON is using those bags to weave sleeping mats for those impacted by the ebola outbreak in West Africa.
- Tweets about Ebola in Nigeria dramatically increased in the days prior to the official announcement of the disease outbreak. A study published in the American Journal of Infection Control “suggests that a social media platform such as Twitter ‘can support and contribute to early warning systems in outbreak surveillance.’”
- Planning your summer vacation? You can visit Australia’s newest tourist attraction—the Maralinga nuclear test zone!
Image Credit: Shikhlinski