Chasing Cures for Deadly Scourges, and Getting in Our Own Way

nytimes.com - RETRO REPORT - by Clyde Haberman - May 14, 2017

What do the C.I.A. and Nigerian imams have to do with the fight to end polio? Retro Report examines how the worlds of politics and public health can collide. By RETRO REPORT on May 14, 2017.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/14/us/retro-report-disease-eradication.html

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New Zika Virus Inhibitor Identified

CLICK HERE - RESEARCH - Characterization of the Zika virus two-component NS2B-NS3 protease and structure-assisted identification of allosteric small-molecule antagonists

business-standard.com - ANI - May 17, 2017

A new research has brought a drug to treat Zika infections closer to reality.

The team led by Alexey Terskikh and Alex Strongin from Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) discovered a compound that prevents the virus from spreading.

"We identified a small molecule that inhibits the Zika virus protease, and show that it blocks viral propagation in human cells and in mice," Terskikh said. "Anti-Zika drugs are desperately needed. The fact that the compound seems to work in vivo is really promising, so we plan to use it as a starting point to make an even more potent and effective drug."

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Are Solar and Wind Really Killing Coal, Nuclear and Grid Reliability?

           

Lessons from the Lone Star State: A surge in wind power on the Texas grid didn’t cause reliability problems (and brought down electricity prices) because regulators improved the efficiency of wholesale electricity markets. Sarah Fields Photography/Shutterstock.com

theconversation.com - by Joshua D. Rhodes, Michael E. Webber, Thomas Deetjen and Todd Davidson - May 11, 2017

U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry in April requested a study to assess the effect of renewable energy policies on nuclear and coal-fired power plants.

Some energy analysts responded with confusion, as the subject has been extensively studied by grid operators and the Department of Energy’s own national labs. Others were more critical, saying the intent of the review is to favor the use of nuclear and coal over renewable sources.

So, are wind and solar killing coal and nuclear? Yes, but not by themselves and not for the reasons most people think. Are wind and solar killing grid reliability? No, not where the grid’s technology and regulations have been modernized. In those places, overall grid operation has improved, not worsened.

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Ebola - West Africa

Chicago Just Posted All the Climate Data Deleted by Trump’s EPA

CLICK HERE - City of Chicago - Climate Change - United States Environmental Protection Agency

grist.org - by Kate Yoder - May 8, 2017

The EPA’s climate change webpage was taken down for revisions last month to “reflect EPA’s priorities under the leadership of President Trump and Administrator Pruitt.” It’s apparently still being updated. (We checked, so you don’t have to.)

The page — which explained the basics of climate science and how it affects us — now has a new home: The City of Chicago’s website.

“Here in Chicago, we know climate change is real, and we will continue to take action to fight it,” reads a statement city officials added to what is essentially a direct facsimile of what was once on the EPA’s site.

An archived “Jan. 19 snapshot”  of the climate science page is still linked on the EPA site, but there’s one tiny problem: As Climate Central reported, the archive is missing information.

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US May Be Severely Underestimating Zika's Potential Impact; Costs Could Be in the Billions

Deadly carriers of disease: Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.  Paulo Whitaker | Reuters

Gulf Coast region is vulnerable to Zika attacks

Congress may not appreciate full extent of potential damage

Conservative calculations suggest full impact could exceed $2 billion

CLICK HERE - PLOS - The potential economic burden of Zika in the continental United States

cnbc.com - by Robert Ferris - May 11, 2017

The Zika virus stands to cost the United States billions of dollars, even if few people are infected.

Researchers from several American institutions have calculated that the "virus from Hell" could result in total costs ranging from $183 million to over $1.2 billion, depending on infection rates in several at-risk states in the South.

The researchers warn that infection rates could engender costs that exceed the amounts of money the U.S. government may give for prevention and treatment, if the recent debates over funding are any indication.

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Zika Testing Recommendations Changed for Pregnant Women

           

A nurse practitioner gives a pregnant woman insecticide and information about Zika at a Miami clinic last summer.  LYNNE SLADKY/AP

CLICK HERE - CDC - Health Alert Network (HAN) - Prolonged IgM Antibody Response in People Infected with Zika Virus: Implications for Interpreting Serologic Testing Results for Pregnant Women

statnews.com - by Helen Branswell - May 5, 2017

 . . . Testing for Zika infection is becoming more difficult, making it harder for doctors to advise pregnant women about the chances their child might have a Zika-related birth defect, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed in a health advisory issued Friday.

The CDC is now suggesting that women thinking of getting pregnant, and who may be exposed to the Zika virus through travel or because of where they live, should consider having their blood tested for Zika antibodies before they get pregnant. Having a baseline reading would help to interpret Zika tests done during a later pregnancy.

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Here’s the Ideal Temp for Mosquito-Borne Diseases

           

(Credit: budak/Flickr)

CLICK HERE - PLOS - Detecting the impact of temperature on transmission of Zika, dengue, and chikungunya using mechanistic models

futurity.org - Stanford University - May 5, 2017

New research shows how rising temperatures might influence mosquito behavior and disease risk around the world. The researchers also calibrated their model with field data on human infections of mosquito-borne diseases.

Scientists have known for some time that climate change has caused the extension of mosquito season beyond the summer months, but the ways in which climate change affects the risk of mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue, chikungunya, and Zika has remained somewhat mysterious . . .

 . . . The group found that mosquito traits favorable to spreading disease peaked when temperatures reached 29 degrees Celsius (84 degrees Fahrenheit), but were lower when temperatures were cooler or warmer.

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Bill Gates Won’t Save You From The Next Ebola

 Illustration of screens showing patients in a ward for Ebola patients. JI SUB JEONG/HUFFPOST

Image: Illustration of screens showing patients in a ward for Ebola patients. JI SUB JEONG/HUFFPOST

huffingtonpost.com - April 30th 2017 - Robert Fortner, Alex Park

In late August 2014, Tom Frieden, then director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, traveled to West Africa to assess the raging Ebola crisis.

In the five months before Frieden’s visit, Ebola had spread from a village in Guinea, across borders and into cities in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Médecins Sans Frontières, the first international responder on the scene, had run out of staff to treat the rising numbers of sick people and had deemed the outbreak “out of control” back in June.

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Brazil Yellow Fever Outbreak Spawns Alert: Stop Killing the Monkeys

Yellow fever is threatening species at risk of extinction, like the golden lion tamarin, which lives in the forests of Rio de Janeiro State. Credit Dado Galdieri for The New York Times

Image: Yellow fever is threatening species at risk of extinction, like the golden lion tamarin, which lives in the forests of Rio de Janeiro State. Credit Dado Galdieri for The New York Times

nytimes.com - May 2nd 2017 - Simon Romero

As fears spread in Brazil over the resurgence of yellow fever, health officials are issuing a warning: Stop killing the monkeys.

Some assailants clubbed monkeys to death in panicked reactions to Brazil’s most alarming outbreak in decades of a virus that haunted the country in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Authorities found other monkeys dead with fractured skulls after having been being attacked with stones. 

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Florida Officials: No Zika Found in Mosquito Samples So Far

 

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services - April 27, 2017

The department continues to support local programs by providing mosquito testing at the Bronson Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory. To date, nearly 90,000 individual mosquitoes, represented by more than 6,500 pools of mosquitoes, have been tested for the presence of the Zika virus. Of those collected in 2017, none has yielded positive results.

CLICK HERE - Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Hosts Statewide Zika Workshops

CLICK HERE - Associated Press - Florida officials: No Zika found in mosquito samples so far

 

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Liberia - 9 Persons Die Mysteriously In Sinoe County

gnnliberia.com - by Cholo Brooks - April 25, 2017

Police in Sinoe County, southeastern Liberia, are investigation the mysterious death of nine persons after a repass of one late Edwin Dunbar, former Proprietor of One Family Entertainment Center who died few weeks ago in Greenville following a 2-night wake keeping.

According to our contact, those who died mysteriously include five females and four males, our contact said specimens from the nine deceased have been taken to Buchanan, Grand Bassa County for testing to establish the actual cause of death.

As a result of this terrible incident, officers of the Liberia National Police have been deployed in the streets of Greenville using mega phones and requesting those who ate the repass to report themselves.

Our contact said the strange and disturbing situation has created panic among citizens of the County, with others leaving for their towns and villages for fear of the unexpected.

County Health Officer John Logan when asked by our contact to speak on this prevailing situation, as to what is responsible for the mysterious deaths declined to comment on the issue.

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Graziano da Silva: 20 Million People Could Starve to Death in Next Six Months

The 156th session of the FAO Council runs from 24-28 April 2017.

Famine in the spotlight at FAO Council

fao.org - April 24, 2017

Urgent action is needed to save the lives of people facing famine in northeastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, FAO Directory-General José Graziano da Silva said today at the opening of the UN agency's Council. 

"If nothing is done, some 20 million people could starve to death in the next six months," the Director-General said in his opening address. "Famine does not just kill people, it contributes to social instability and also perpetuates a cycle of poverty and aid dependency that endures for decades."  

Council members will be briefed on the extent of the hunger crises, and the steps required to prevent catastrophe, during the week-long session.

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China's H7N9 Cases Spike, Led by Infections in Beijing

josephbergen / Flickr cc

cidrap.umn.edu - by Lisa Schnirring - April 21, 2017

After several weeks of declining H7N9 avian influenza activity, China's cases are rising again, partly related to a recent spurt of local infections in Beijing, an area that usually doesn't see many cases and is located north of the main hot spots.

Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection (CHP), citing mainland health officials, said today that 27 more cases, 7 of them fatal, were reported from Apr 14 to Apr 20. Seven of them are in Beijing. Cases peaked in January and February, but over the past few weeks, new infections had declined to about 15 a week.

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CLICK HERE - PRESS RELEASE - Hong Kong - Centre for Health Protection

Updates will be posted within the links below . . . 

Hong Kong - Centre for Health Protection - Avian Influenza Report
http://www.chp.gov.hk/en/guideline1_year/29/134/332.html

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High Level of Heart Defects Found in Zika-Affected Babies

kontiki / iStock

CLICK HERE - PLOS - Echocardiographic findings in infants with presumed congenital Zika syndrome: Retrospective case series study

cidrap.umn.edu - by Lisa Schnirring - April 21, 2017

Echocardiography evaluation of a group of Brazilian babies with Zika-related birth defects found three times the expected rate of congenital heart disease (CHD), but only one infant had symptoms and most had minor septal defects that weren't hemodynamically significant.

The study is the first time CHD has been assessed in infants with congenital Zika infections, and so far there haven't been any reports of autopsy findings suggesting a connection, but other flaviviruses such as dengue have been associated with myocarditis and pericarditis.

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