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The Murky Future of Nuclear Power in the United States

A view into Unit 4 at the Alvin W. Vogtle generating station in Georgia. The complex plans to use AP1000 reactors from Westinghouse. Credit via Georgia Power

Image: A view into Unit 4 at the Alvin W. Vogtle generating station in Georgia. The complex plans to use AP1000 reactors from Westinghouse. Credit via Georgia Power

nytimes.com - February 18th 2017 - Diane Cardwell

This was supposed to be America’s nuclear century.

The Three Mile Island meltdown was two generations ago. Since then, engineers had developed innovative designs to avoid the kinds of failures that devastated Fukushima in Japan. 

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CDC Reports Pneumonia, Influenza Mortality Rate Hits Epidemic Threshold

CLICK HERE - CDC - FLUVIEW - Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report

CLICK HERE - CDC - Weekly US Map: Influenza Summary Update

CLICK HERE - CDC - Situation Update: Summary of Weekly FluView Report

CLICK HERE - CDC - Past Weekly Surveillance Reports

healio.com - February 10, 2017

The mortality rate for pneumonia and influenza in the United States was slightly above the epidemic threshold during the week ending Jan. 7, according to CDC’s FluView.

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NIH Workshop Identifies Complex Health Problems Among Zika-Affected Infants

           

Credit: NICHD/NIH

CLICK HERE - JAMA Pediatrics - Bridging Knowledge Gaps to Understand How Zika Virus Exposure and Infection Affect Child Development

nih.gov - scienmag.com - February 20, 2017

Children exposed to Zika virus in the womb may face complex health and developmental problems as they grow older, according to discussions at a National Institutes of Health workshop. A summary of the proceedings, authored by researchers from NIH's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), is available in the latest issue of JAMA Pediatrics.

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UTMB Scientists Uncover How Zika Virus Causes Microcephaly

           

utmb.edu - February 16, 2017

The findings are key to unraveling the mysteries of why the Zika virus causes birth defects

CLICK HERE - Stem Cell Reports - Differential Responses of Human Fetal Brain Neural Stem Cells to Zika Virus Infection

GALVESTON, Texas –A multidisciplinary team from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston has uncovered the mechanisms that the Zika virus uses to alter brain development. These findings are detailed in Stem Cell Reports . . .

. . . Since a normal brain develops from simple cells called stem cells that are able to develop into any one of various kinds of cells, the UTMB team deduced that microcephaly is most likely linked with abnormal function of these cells . . .

. . . The researchers established a method of investigating how Zika alters the production, survival and maturation of brain stem cells using cells donated from three human fetal brains. They focused on the impact of the Asian lineage Zika virus that was involved in the first outbreak in North America in late 2015.

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Scientists Develop New Antibiotic in Fight Against MRSA

           

Researchers have created a new antibiotic from bacteria found on a Kenyan plant-ant that shows promise in combating antibiotic resistance. Pictured, a Kenyan whistling thorn tree, where the ant species is found. Photo by Chr. Kooyman/Wikimedia Commons

CLICK HERE - STUDY - Chemical Science - Formicamycins, antibacterial polyketides produced by Streptomyces formicae isolated from African Tetraponera plant-ants

Bacteria found on Kenyan ant used to create new antibiotic strong enough to combat antibiotic resistance.

upi.com - by Amy Wallace - February 15, 2017

Researchers at the University of East Anglia in England have developed a new antibiotic from a bacterium found on a species of African ant that shows potential in fighting MRSA.

UEA scientists, along with researchers from the John Innes Center, have identified a new member of the Streptomyces bacteria family from the African fungus-growing plant-ant Tetraponera penzigi. The new bacterium was named Streptomyces formicae and the antibiotic is formicamycins.

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Bill Gates Warns Tens of Millions Could be Killed by Bio-Terrorism

           

Bio-terrorism could kill 30 million people in a year, says Bill Gates

Microsoft founder and philanthropist tells Munich security conference genetic engineering could be terrorist weapon

theguardian.com - Bill Gates / Ewen MacAskill - February 18, 2017

A chilling warning that tens of millions of people could be killed by bio-terrorism was delivered at the Munich security conference by the world’s richest man, Bill Gates

Gates, who has spent much of the last 20 years funding a global health campaign, said: “We ignore the link between health security and international security at our peril.”

Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft who has spent billions in a philanthropic drive to improve health worldwide, said: “The next epidemic could originate on the computer screen of a terrorist intent on using genetic engineering to create a synthetic version of the smallpox virus ... or a super contagious and deadly strain of the flu.”

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CLICK HERE - Munich Security Conference

 

 

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The Mission to Stop Ebola: Lessons for UN Crisis Response

CLICK HERE - International Peace Institute - The Mission to Stop Ebola: Lessons for UN Crisis Response (28 page .PDF report)

reliefweb.int - February 15, 2017
ADAM LUPEL AND MICHAEL SNYDER

Executive Summary

The Ebola epidemic of 2014–2016 was a fastmoving, multidimensional emergency that pre - sented unprecedented challenges for the multi - lateral system. In response to the outbreak, which was spreading exponentially in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon established the UN’s first-ever emergency health mission, the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER). UNMEER was mandated by the UN General Assembly in September 2014 to scale up and coordinate the activities of the UN presence on the ground working to stop the outbreak, which eventually claimed over 11,000 lives.

This report asks: Was UNMEER needed? Was it properly structured? Did it deliver? And what broader lessons can be learned from the experience of UNMEER for UN crisis response?

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Hard to Detect, China Bird Flu Virus May Be More Widespread

           

A quarantine researcher checks on a chicken at a poultry farm in Xiangyang, Hubei province, China, February 3, 2017. Picture taken February 3, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer

reuters.com - by Dominique Patton - February 17, 2017

Bird flu infection rates on Chinese poultry farms may be far higher than previously thought, because the strain of the deadly virus that has killed more than 100 people this winter is hard to detect in chickens and geese, animal health experts say.

Poultry that have contracted the H7N9 strain of the avian flu virus show little or no sign of symptoms. That means any infection is only likely to be detected if farmers or health authorities carry out random tests on a flock, the experts said.

But in humans, it can be deadly.

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Ebola 'Super-Spreaders' Cause Most Cases

           

Getty Images

CLICK HERE - PNAS - Spatial and temporal dynamics of superspreading events in the 2014–2015 West Africa Ebola epidemic

bbc.com - by James Gallagher - February 14, 2017

The majority of cases in the world's largest outbreak of Ebola were caused by a tiny handful of patients, research suggests.

The analysis, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows nearly two thirds of cases (61%) were caused by 3% of infected people.

The young and old were more likely to have been "super-spreaders".

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ALSO SEE RELATED ARTICLES WITHIN THE LINKS BELOW . . .

CLICK HERE - Disease “superspreaders” were driving cause of 2014 Ebola epidemic

CLICK HERE - Superspreaders Drove Ebola Epidemic, Study Finds

 

 

 

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Why Killer Viruses Are On The Rise

       

Once called the "Dutchmen" because of their large noses and large bellies, proboscis monkeys live only in Borneo. Ecosystems that have a lot of diverse animals, like this monkey, also tend to have a lot of diverse viruses.  Charles Ryan

npr.org - by Michaeleen Doucleff and Jane Greenhalgh - February 14, 2017

The next troubling outbreak could come from a rain forest . . . And a big reason why: all the crazy animals that live here.

. . . Wild animals are now refugees. They have no home. So they come live in our backyards. They pee on our crops. Share our parks and playgrounds. Giving their viruses a chance to jump into us and make us sick.

"So it's really the human impact on the environment that's causing these viruses to jump into people," Olival says.

And cause an outbreak? I ask. Or a pandemic, says Olival.

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