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Cholera Spreads in Famine-threatened Somalia

           

Internally displaced Somali women gather to collect water from a plastic pan after fleeing from drought stricken regions near a makeshift camp in Baidoa, west of Somalia's capital Mogadishu, March 26, 2017.

voanews.com - March 31, 2017

BURAO, SOMALIA — Deadly cholera is spreading through drought-ravaged Somalia as clean water sources dry up, a top aid official said, deepening a humanitarian crisis in a country that is on the verge of famine.

The Horn of Africa nation has recorded more than 18,000 cases of cholera so far this year, up from around 15,000 in all of 2016 and 5,000 in a normal year, Johan Heffinck, the Somalia head of EU Humanitarian Aid, said in an email on Thursday.

The current strain of the disease is unusually deadly, killing around 1 in 45 patients.

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Blocking TLR4 Pathway May Help Control Ebola Infection

Boston University scientists curbed the host response to Ebola infection by inhibiting TLR4 in macrophages. (CDC Global CC BY 2.0)

CLICK HERE - Virology - Ebolaviruses associated with differential pathogenicity induce distinct host responses in human macrophages

fiercebiotech.com - by Amirah Al Idrus - March 23, 2017

The Ebola virus causes a disease that is often fatal, in part by infecting white blood cells called macrophages and disrupting their immune response. Boston University scientists found that using drugs that block the protein TLR4 can suppress this response and potentially control infection.

Macrophages are responsible for detecting and destroying pathogens, but the Ebola virus activates them through the Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) pathway, causing an inappropriate immune response. The Ebola-infected macrophages end up producing excess cytokines and chemokines—proteins that promote inflammation and worsen the disease.

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Dengue May Bring Out the Worst in Zika

           

Brazilian soldiers last year led a battle against Zika in a door-to-door campaign about how to control mosquitoes that carry the disease.  EVARISTO SA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

CLICK HERE - Science - Enhancement of Zika virus pathogenesis by preexisting antiflavivirus immunity

sciencemag.org - by Jon Cohen - March 30, 2017

Close relatives have complicated relationships with each other even in the viral world. A new mouse study shows that if the animals have antibodies from dengue or West Nile virus, it sets them up for more severe disease from their close cousin, Zika virus.

If such "antibody-dependent enhancement" (ADE) also takes place in people, it could have helped fuel Zika's recent explosion in Brazil, where more than 90% of people in some communities have been infected with dengue. ADE could also complicate the development of vaccines for West Nile, dengue, and Zika. And with the onset of spring reigniting local transmission of Zika last week in the continental United States—where West Nile is widespread—ADE could give epidemiologists a new window into transmission and disease patterns.

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Why Didn't Zika Cause A Surge In Microcephaly In 2016?

           

A family member holds twins Eloisa (left) and Eloa, both 8 months old and born with microcephaly, during a Christmas gathering. The mother of the twins, Raquel, who lives in Brazil, said she contracted Zika during her pregnancy.  Mario Tama/Getty Images

CLICK HERE - NEJM - Zika Virus Infection and Associated Neurologic Disorders in Brazil

CLICK HERE - Science - Enhancement of Zika virus pathogenesis by preexisting antiflavivirus immunity

npr.org - by Michaeleen Doucleff - March 30, 2017

Back in 2015, Brazil reported a horrific a surge in birth defects. Thousands of babies were born with brain damage and abnormally small heads, a condition called microcephaly.

Scientists quickly concluded the Zika virus was the culprit. So when Zika returned last year during Brazil's summer months of December, January and February — when mosquitoes are most active — health officials expected another surge in microcephaly cases.

But that never happened.

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Tiny Genetic Change Lets Bird Flu Leap to Humans

           

At least six provinces have reported human cases of H7N9 influenza this year, according to Chinese state media - Getty Images

CLICK HERE - STUDY - Nature Communications - An NS-segment exonic splicing enhancer regulates influenza A virus replication in mammalian cells

bbc.com - March 21, 2017

A change in just a single genetic "letter" of the flu virus allows bird flu to pass to humans, according to scientists.

Monitoring birds for viruses that carry the change could provide early warning of risk to people, they say . . .

 . . . The change in a single nucleotide (a building block of RNA) allows the H7N9 virus to infect human cells as well as birds, say Prof Honglin Chen and colleagues.

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Testing for Zika Virus: There's an App for That

           

Sandia National Laboratories chemical engineer and lead paper author Aashish Priye offers a view into the Zika box prototype, along with co-authors Sara Bird, a virologist, center, and a biomedical engineer.  Credit: Randy Wong

CLICK HERE - Scientific Reports - A smartphone-based diagnostic platform for rapid detection of Zika, chikungunya, and dengue viruses

sciencedaily.com - DOE/Sandia National Laboratories - March 20, 2017 - 

Prototype dramatically cuts cost, time for detection of mosquito-borne illness

Add rapid, mobile testing for Zika and other viruses to the list of things that smartphone technology is making possible. Researchers have developed a smartphone-controlled, battery-operated diagnostic device that weighs under a pound, costs as little as $100 and can detect Zika, dengue and chikungunya within 30 minutes.

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African Strain of Zika Kills Placenta Cells in Days

futurity.org - University of Missouri - posted by Jeff Sossamon - March 9, 2017

CLICK HERE - STUDY - PNAS - Vulnerability of primitive human placental trophoblast to Zika virus

Infection of pregnant women by the Asian strain of Zika virus has been linked to brain abnormalities such as microcephaly in their infants. It’s not clear, however, at what stage of pregnancy the human fetus is most susceptible to the disease.

A new study shows the human fetus may be most vulnerable to Zika infection very early in pregnancy. In addition, the lesser-known African strain of Zika might possibly cause nearly immediate death of the placenta.

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Why Global Warming Could Lead to a Rise of 100,000 Diabetes Cases a Year in the U.S.

           

Global warming could result in more cases of diabetes around the world, a new study suggests. (Mario Tama / Getty Images)

CLICK HERE - STUDY - BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care - Diabetes incidence and glucose intolerance prevalence increase with higher outdoor temperature

latimes.com - by Karen Kaplan - March 20, 2017

If the average temperature rises by 1 degree Celsius, sea levels will rise, crop yields will fall and vulnerable species will see their habitat shrink or disappear.

And, a new study suggests, the number of American adults suffering from diabetes would rise by more than 100,000 a year.

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ALSO SEE RELATED ARTICLES WITHIN THE LINKS BELOW . . . 

CLICK HERE - Is there a link between climate change and diabetes?

CLICK HERE - Rise in diabetes and NCDs linked to climate change

 

 

 

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After Bringing Cholera to Haiti, U.N. Can’t Raise Money to Fight It

           

A clinic in Rendel, Haiti, was overflowing with cholera patients in October. The disease has killed nearly 10,000 people in Haiti since it was introduced there in 2010 by a United Nations peacekeeping force. Credit Meridith Kohut for The New York Times

nytimes.com - by Rick Gladstone - March 19, 2017

When the leader of the United Nations apologized to Haitians for the cholera epidemic that has ravaged their country for more than six years — caused by infected peacekeepers sent to protect them — he proclaimed a “moral responsibility” to make things right.

The apology, announced in December along with a $400 million strategy to combat the epidemic and “provide material assistance and support” for victims, amounted to a rare public act of contrition by the United Nations. Under its secretary general at the time, Ban Ki-moon, the organization had resisted any acceptance of blame for the epidemic, one of the worst cholera outbreaks in modern times.

Since then, however, the United Nations’ strategy to fight the epidemic, which it calls the “New Approach,” has failed to gain traction.

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Sperm Donated in Florida May Contain Zika, CDC Says

CLICK HERE - CDC identifies potential risk of Zika virus transmission since June 15, 2016, in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties

cnn.com - by Debra Goldschmidt - March 13, 2017

Sperm donated in three Florida counties since June 15 may be infected with the Zika virus, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautioned Monday.

"When semen is donated it can be stored frozen for periods of time. It does not necessarily inactivate Zika, so it could be stored in tissue banks, used subsequently and people should be made aware," said Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research at the US Food and Drug Administration. He went on to say having this information can help individuals make informed decisions and they "might want to use these donations from other sources."

Sources other than the 12 sperm banks in Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Broward counties of Florida, that is.

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