This whole “spring forward” thing is the worst, right? We won’t get that hour of sleep back until November! No matter, we must press on. This week we’ve stories about engineering TB-resistant Cows, McDonald’s chicken, Ebola vaccine strategy, and loads of other stories you may have missed.
Have a great week, enjoy the warm weather, and we’ll see you back here next weekend!
Tuberculosis-Resistant Cows Engineered in China
We often talk of tuberculosis as a problem for humans, but the bacterial disease also affects animals—from circus elephants, to badgers, and cows. This week, scientists in China announced production of a heard of genetically modified cattle capable of resisting bovine tuberculosis. This was done through the insertion of a TB resistant mouse gene, into the cow’s genetic makeup. Though the work is still in the early stages, a genetically modified cow could have massive benefits for farmers who could minimize the overuse of antibiotics within their herds.
Popular Science—“Many countries have tried unsuccessfully to get rid of the disease, often slaughtering thousands of cattle per year to try to stem the disease’s spread. The United Kingdom in particular is waging a war against the disease. In 2013, the government announced that it would wipe the disease out of the country in 25 years. But even a timeline of a quarter century a tricky proposition, as cattle aren’t the only host for the disease. Bovine TB can also thrive in wildlife like badgers, elk, and even deer, which can pass the disease to cattle and vice versa.”
Your McNuggets: Soon Without a Side of Antibiotics
First Chipotle, then Chick fil-A, now McDonalds. The fast food giant announced this week that within two years the company will stop buying chicken raised with certain antibiotics for its U.S. stores. This move doesn’t stop the overuse of antibiotics on farms, however, McDonald’s is the largest food-service buyer of chicken in America, so the decision could affect other restaurants and the production of other meats.
Wired—“The reason this announcement is so important is that, for decades, researchers have been linking the use of antibiotics in livestock-raising (and to a lesser extent in fish farming and fruit production) to the rise of antibiotic-resistant infections in humans. Multiple pieces of research show that low-dose antibiotic use on farms — use that doesn’t cure animal illness, but promotes growth and prevents infections — creates resistant bacteria that move off farm properties in water, dust and the meat that animals become. Those bacteria infect humans directly — via meat or because the bacteria contaminate a home or restaurant cooking surface — and they pass their resistance DNA to other bacteria as well.”
Guinea Ebola Vaccine Trial Uses Smallpox Strategy
Two different vaccines are being tested in the three West African countries affected by the recent Ebola outbreak. As the last Ebola patient in Liberia heads home, and the Vice President of Sierra Leone has put himself in voluntary quarantine after the death of one of his security personnel, Guinea looks to the successful eradication of smallpox as their model for their Ebola vaccination plan, which began on March 7. This, of course, was the use of “ring vaccination” in the 1970s.
NBC News—“Ring vaccination involves finding all the direct contacts of new Ebola cases and vaccinating them, creating a “ring” of immunity around patients.
“An effective vaccine to control current flare-ups could be the game-changer to finally end this epidemic and an insurance policy for any future ones,” said WHO assistant Director-General Marie-Paule Kieny.”
Stories You May Have Missed
- H1N1 hasn’t been that prevalent in the U.S. this year. But you know where it has been bad? There have been nearly 1,300 deaths from almost 24,000 cases.
- Looking to combine your love of interior design and contagious disease? The newest offering from the Gates Foundation’s The Art of Saving a Life may be the perfect fit for you!
- It’s Spring Break at George Mason this week, and if you’re looking to travel, you can add North Korea back to your destination list! Pyongyang has ended its travel ban which initially began to prevent the spread of Ebola to the notoriously isolated country.
- Here is a disease you likely haven’t thought of in quite a while— There have been three reported cases in Florida within five months, bringing the overall number of cases to 18 in five years.
- This week, the WHO announced that Pakistan is the only country that still exporting polio and the country should make sure that all travelers are vaccinated. Cameroon, Syria, and Equatorial Guinea have all gone over a year without any international spread, but the WHO recommends their continued vigilance, too.
- Nina Pham, Dallas nurse who contracted Ebola while caring for Thomas Eric Duncan, has filed a lawsuit against Texas Health Resources claiming that her infection was the direct result of their “gross negligence.”
- The OPCW has said that it has completed the destruction of two Syrian chemical weapons facilities and it expects the remaining 12 facilities will be dismantled by summer.
Image Credit: Christopher Michel