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Atmospheric levels of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, are spiking, scientists report

Cows graze in a farm near Chascomus, Argentina, on Nov. 10. (Marcos Brindicci/Reuters)

Image: Cows graze in a farm near Chascomus, Argentina, on Nov. 10. (Marcos Brindicci/Reuters)

washingtonpost.com - Chris Mooney - December 11th 2016

The best news about climate change that we’ve heard lately is that for three years straight, the world’s energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide, the most important greenhouse gas, have been flat. The gas has continued to accumulate in the atmosphere, but emissions haven’t gone up, even as economies have continued to grow.

But now we learn that there’s a major dose of bad news to accompany that: What’s true for carbon dioxide is not at all true for methane, the second most important greenhouse gas. Atmospheric concentrations of this gas — which causes much sharper short-term warming, but whose effects fade far more quickly than carbon dioxide — are spiking, a team of scientists reports in an analysis published Sunday in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

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How Ebola Adapted to Us

Ebola virus particles (blue) budding from an infected cell. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health

Image: Ebola virus particles (blue) budding from an infected cell. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health

theatlantic.com - November 3rd 2016 - Ed Yong

In December 2013, in a small village in Guinea, the Ebola virus left its traditional host—probably a bat—and infected a young boy. That leap triggered what became the largest Ebola outbreak in history. At first, the virus stayed within Guinea’s borders and, as in every previous epidemic, affected just a few hundred people.

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The Mystery of Zika’s Path to the Placenta

A photograph of a baby wearing a diaper. Jerome Scholler / Shutterstock

Image: A photograph of a baby wearing a diaper. Jerome Scholler / Shutterstock

theatlantic.com - August 18th 2016 - Adrienne LaFrance

Among the many mysteries that have vexed scientists about the ongoing Zika epidemic is the question of how, in pregnant women, the virus manages to cross the maternal-fetal barrier.

A woman’s body is usually quite good at protecting her growing baby. There are biological blockades to prevent the transmission of viruses to a fetus through the bloodstream, by way of the placenta; the same path for the nutrients and oxygen that sustain a developing baby.

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Zika Data From the Lab, and Right to the Web

A pregnant rhesus macaque monkey infected with the Zika virus. University researchers released a study that found the Zika virus persisted in the blood of pregnant monkeys for 30 to 70 days but only around seven days in others. Credit Scott Olson/Getty Images

Image:  A pregnant rhesus macaque monkey infected with the Zika virus. University researchers released a study that found the Zika virus persisted in the blood of pregnant monkeys for 30 to 70 days but only around seven days in others. Credit Scott Olson/Getty Images

nytimes.com - July 18th 2016 - Donald G. McNeil Jr.

Of the hundreds of monkeys in the University of Wisconsin’s primate center, a few — including rhesus macaque 827577 — are now famous, at least among scientists tracking the Zika virus.

Since February, a team led by David H. O’Connor, the chairman of the center’s global infectious diseases department, has been conducting a unique experiment in scientific transparency. The tactic may presage the evolution of new ways to respond to fast-moving epidemics.

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Beautiful New Images of Ebola Virus and Other Pathogens

When I told her that I wanted to major in microbiology, my best friend from childhood responded, “Are you sure you want to look in a microscope all day?”

But, as it turned out, a lot of microbiologists don’t use microscopes very often. I was one of them. The reason is because a substantial proportion of modern microbiology research uses the tools of molecular biology, for which microscopes are not needed.

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China's Science Revolution

Prof Peng Bo

Image: Prof Peng Bo

bbc.co.uk - May 23rd 2016 - Rebecca Morelle

China is super-sizing science.

From building the biggest experiments the world has ever seen to rolling out the latest medical advances on a massive scale and pushing the boundaries of exploration from the deepest ocean to outer space - China’s scientific ambitions are immense.

Just a few decades ago the nation barely featured in the world science rankings. 

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Beyond Contact Tracing: Community-Based Early Detection for Ebola Response

Introduction: The 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa raised many questions about the control of infectious disease in an increasingly connected global society. Limited availability of contact information made contact tracing diffcult or impractical in combating the outbreak. 

Methods: We consider the development of multi-scale public health strategies that act on individual and community levels. We simulate policies for community-level response aimed at early screening all members of a community, as well as travel restrictions to prevent inter-community transmission. 

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Sexual transmission involved in tail end of Ebola epidemic

Some of the final cases of Ebola in Sierra Leone were transmitted via unconventional routes, such as semen and breastmilk, according to the largest analysis to date of the tail-end of the epidemic.


An international team of researchers has produced a detailed picture of the latter stages of the outbreak in Sierra Leone, using real-time sequencing of Ebola virus genomes carried out in a temporary laboratory in the country.

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Heightened Surveillance: Liberia and Guinea Discharge Ebola Patients

Monrovia – Liberia’s and Guinea’s last known Ebola patients in a latest flare-up of the disease that hit both countries have now been discharged. All remaining contacts of confirmed cases that were placed under a 3-week period of medical monitoring have been cleared.

Liberia’s Ministry of Health, WHO and partners involved in the response held a ceremony at the Ebola treatment facility in Monrovia to celebrate the recovery and discharge of a 2-year-old boy, the final patient in the flare-up in Liberia. 

His 5-year-old brother recovered a week earlier. On 29 April, the country also began a 42-day period of increased surveillance – amounting to two 21-day incubation cycles of the virus.

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