Sorry for the late update here at Pandora Report. We’ve got how the plague turned so deadly, an Ebola update, and of course other stories you may have missed.
Have a great week!
Researchers at Northwestern University have been investigating how Yersinia pestis—the bacteria that causes bubonic, pneumonic, and septicemic plague—became the infective cause of the Black Death. They discovered two mutations that help to explain the bacteria’s lethality.
Smithsonian.com—“The first mutation gave the bacteria the ability to make a protein called Pla. Without Pla, Y. pestis couldn’t infect the lungs. The second mutation allowed the bacteria to enter deeper into the bodies, say through a bite, to infect blood and the lymphatic system. In other words, first the plague grew deadly, then it found a way to leap more easily from infected fleas or rodents to humans.
I’m sure you’ve heard that there were three new cases of Ebola in Liberia—a country that was declared free of the disease on May 9. According to the World Health Organization, samples taken from a teenager who died from Ebola two weeks prior indicate that the disease is genetically similar to strains that infected people in the same area over six months ago—while the outbreak was still ongoing.
US News and World Report—“That finding by genetic sequencing suggests it is unlikely the virus was caught from travel to infected areas of Guinea or Sierra Leone, the group said. “It also makes it unlikely that this has been caused by a new emergence from a natural reservoir, such as a bat or other animal,” it said.”
Stories You May Have Missed
- Did you have fun on America’s birthday? I sure did! Coming off that holiday, Andrew Wehrman looks at vaccination during the American Revolution in his new book The Contagion of Liberty.
- Do you remember what life was like before vaccines? No? Well, this photo essay can remind you!
- Two stories coming out of North Korea: first, did Pyongyang really post pictures of their bioweapons lab? Second, has the government been testing chemical and biological weapons on its citizens?
- Then two more stories about UK history. Evidently, chemical weapons testing in the 1950s and 1960s at Porton Down was done on citizens. Additionally, according to declassified documents, the Thatcher government didn’t oppose the development of the Iraqi chemical weapons program.
- BARDA has ordered $133 million worth of Imvamune smallpox vaccine from Bavarian Nordic. Tests are being conducted to see if freeze-drying the vaccine effects efficacy. Freeze-dried vaccines could replace existing stocks in the Strategic National Stockpile.
- A common treatment for heartburn could help fight TB, according to scientists at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland.
- The google alert for polio pulled up this delightful story from The Hill: Why a toilet is a great birthday present. Lest we forget the advantages of indoor plumbing for disease prevention.
Image Credit: en.wikipedia