Why Chinese Scientists Are More Worried Than Ever About Bird Flu

A shop owner holds a live chicken for sale in a Hong Kong market. Isaac Lawrence /AFP/Getty Images

Image: A shop owner holds a live chicken for sale in a Hong Kong market. Isaac Lawrence /AFP/Getty Images

npr.org - April 11th 2017 - Rob Schmitz

At a research lab on top of a forested hill overlooking Hong Kong, scientists are growing viruses. They first drill tiny holes into an egg before inoculating it with avian influenza to observe how the virus behaves.

This lab at Hong Kong University is at the world's forefront of our understanding of H7N9, a deadly strain of the bird flu that has killed more people this season — 162 from September up to March 1 — than in any single season since when it was first discovered in humans four years ago. 

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International Research Effort Reveals Major Insights Into Spread of West African Ebola Epidemic

news-medical.net - April 12, 2017

CLICK HERE - RESEARCH - Nature - Virus genomes reveal factors that spread and sustained the Ebola epidemic

An international effort to analyze the entire database of Ebola virus genomes from the 2013-2016 West African epidemic reveals insights into factors that sped or slowed the rampage and calls for using real-time sequencing and data-sharing to contain future viral disease outbreaks.

Published today in the journal Nature, the analysis found that the epidemic unfolded in small, overlapping outbreaks with surprisingly few infected travelers sparking new outbreaks elsewhere, each case representing a missed opportunity to break the transmission chain and end the epidemic sooner.

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ALSO SEE RELATED ARTICLE HERE - A big-picture look at the world’s worst Ebola epidemic

 

 

 

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A Socio-economic Impact Assessment of the Zika Virus in Latin America and the Caribbean: With a Focus on Brazil, Colombia and Suriname

undp.org - April 3, 2017

In early 2016, Zika was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern due to its association with a surge of birth defects. Zika has since spread throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, with local transmission also reported in parts of the USA, Asia and Africa. The nature of the neurological complications Zika can cause in humans, and the emergence of a condition in infants known as ‘congenital Zika syndrome’, have posed and continue to pose a significant challenge to health specialists, international organizations and governments alike.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), produced this assessment of the socio-economic impacts of Zika on countries, families and communities, and to examine institutional responses.

CLICK HERE - READ COMPLETE ARTICLE AND ACCESS THE REPORT

 

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Texas Health Officials Urge Zika Testing for Pregnant Women, Others in Rio Grande Valley

                                                    

CLICK HERE - Texas Department of Health Services - HEALTH ALERT - Zika Testing Urged in Pregnant Women and Symptomatic Individuals in the Lower Rio Grande Valley - April 7, 2017

keyetv.com - CBS - by Bettie Cross - April 7, 2017

A health alert on Friday for pregnant women in Texas. Zika testing is now recommended as part of routine care for pregnant women in the Rio Grande Valley. Six counties are impacted: Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr, Webb, Willacy and Zapata.

Mosquito season typically starts in May. But experts say our warm winter could push that up and mosquito season could be here in a week.

"We're starting to see some increase," said Dr. John Hellerstedt.

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County Health Director: Count on More Zika-Related Birth Defects

submitted by Albert Gomez

The Zika-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquito is photographed through a microscope. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)

CLICK HERE - REPORT - CDC - Vital Signs: Update on Zika Virus–Associated Birth Defects and Evaluation of All U.S. Infants with Congenital Zika Virus Exposure — U.S. Zika Pregnancy Registry, 2016

mypalmbeachpost.com - by John Pacenti - April 8, 2017

Sick of hearing about Zika already? Get used to it as more birth defects related to the virus are expected in 2017 in Florida and throughout the U.S.

This summer, there will be a full-court press by health officials against Zika.

“It’s not something to be taken lightly,” said Dr. Alina Alonso, head of the Palm Beach County Health Department, in an interview with The Palm Beach Post.

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UN Images: 18,000 Destroyed Structures in South Sudan Region

abcnews.go.com - by JUSTIN LYNCH, ASSOCIATED PRESS - April 7, 2017

United Nations satellite images obtained by The Associated Press show at least 18,000 structures have been destroyed in the Yei area of South Sudan. It is one of the most significant caches of evidence of widespread destruction in the country's civil war.

The Yei region has become an epicenter of fighting between government and rebels after a peace deal collapsed in July. The U.N. has highlighted the area for its risk of genocide, and an AP reporter late last year during a visit to Yei saw charred bodies with their arms bound . . .

 . . . "Where are the people? That means that 18,000 families are dead or are displaced," Ateny said.

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Zika Could End Up Costing Latin America and the Caribbean Up To $18 Billion, UN Reports Finds

                           

CLICK HERE - REPORT - A Socio-economic Impact Assessment of the Zika Virus in Latin America and the Caribbean: with a focus on Brazil, Colombia and Suriname

un.org

6 April 2017 – In addition to the impact on public health, the tangible impact of the Zika outbreak, such as on gross domestic product (GDP), could cost the Latin American and the Caribbean region as much as $18 billion between 2015 and 2017, a new United Nations report has revealed.

The report Socio-economic impact assessment of Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean, prepared by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), has a particular focus on Brazil, Colombia and Suriname – countries that first reported the outbreak in October-November 2015.

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One in 10 Pregnant Women With Zika in U.S. Have Babies With Birth Defects

submitted by Albert Gomez

CLICK HERE - CDC - MMWR - Vital Signs: Update on Zika Virus–Associated Birth Defects and Evaluation of All U.S. Infants with Congenital Zika Virus Exposure — U.S. Zika Pregnancy Registry, 2016

nytimes.com - by Pam Belluck - April 4, 2017

One in 10 pregnant women in the continental United States with a confirmed Zika infection had a baby with brain damage or other serious birth defects, according to the most comprehensive report to date on American pregnancies during the Zika crisis.

The report, published Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also provided more evidence that the risk of birth defects was greater when women were infected in the first trimester of pregnancy. Fifteen percent of women with confirmed Zika infection in the first trimester had babies with birth defects, the report found.

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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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Compassion and Resilience in Haiti

Southern Haiti after Hurricane Matthew–October, 2016
(Photo by John Carroll)

blogs.pjstar.com - by John Carroll, MD - March 31, 2017

The Gallup Poll recently reported that “even before Hurricane Matthew ravaged Southern Haiti in late 2016, the small Caribbean nation was already in deep distress, with more than four in 10 Haitians (43%) rating their lives poorly enough to be considered suffering”. The only country suffering more than Haiti in the world is South Sudan where famine already has been declared in two counties of South Sudan, and 1 million people there are on the brink of dying from a lack of food. Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti last October; according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the storm left nearly 140,000 Haitians homeless . . .

 . . . The hurricane took the people’s lives, homes, chickens, goats, crops, trees, schools, and churches. They had little food and water. They had no money. What was left? . . . 

 . . . a plea for us to find humanity again.  With compassion, followed by action, we would create resilient societies which care for one another.

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More than 100 Chinese cities now above 1 million people

A boom in telecommunications businesses – including the arrival of e-commerce giant Alibaba – has transformed once-sleepy Guiyang. Photograph: Alamy

IMAGE: A boom in telecommunications businesses – including the arrival of e-commerce giant Alibaba – has transformed once-sleepy Guiyang. Photograph: Alamy

theguardian.com - March 20th 2017 - Benjamin Haas

China now has more than 100 cities of over 1 million residents, a number that is likely to double in the next decade.

According to the Demographia research group, the world’s most populous country boasts 102 cities bigger than 1 million people, many of which are little known outside the country – or even within its borders.

Quanzhou, for example, on the south-east coast of China, was one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world a millennium ago, when it served as a hub for traders from across Asia and the Middle East. 

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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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Fighting Famine in War-Torn South Sudan

cbsnews.com - by Scott Pelley - March 19, 2017

In South Sudan, 5M people don't know where their next meal is coming from and, of them, 100,000 are starving and face death. If not for humanitarian efforts, millions could die.

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