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In search of sick parrots: Karl Friedrich Meyer, disease detective

In search of sick parrots: Karl Friedrich Meyer, disease detective. By - Mark Honigsbaum
In 1950 Reader's Digest invited Paul De Kruif to pen a tribute to his friend, the Swiss-born veterinarian and bacteriologist Karl Friedrich Meyer. De Kruif had first met Meyer in 1911 shortly after Meyer's arrival in the USA, and in 1926 when Sinclair Lewis was casting around for a real-life disease detective with which to populate his novel Arrowsmith, it is said that De Kruif suggested Meyer as the model for Gustaf Sondelius, Lewis's Swedish plague-hunter. 2 years later, in 1928, De Kruif, a Dutchman who had worked at the Rockefeller Institute before turning his hand to science writing, hit the publishing jackpot with Microbe Hunters, a history of the “great men” of medical microbiology, so it was only natural that Reader's Digest should ask him to pen a similar panegyric to Meyer. 
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Norwegian Blue, anyone?

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Virology News
Topical news snippets about viruses that affect people.  And other things. Like zombies B-)
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Production of Human papillomavirus pseudovirions in plants and their use in pseudovirion-based neutralisation assays in mammalian cells

Production of Human papillomavirus pseudovirions in plants and their use in pseudovirion-based neutralisation assays in mammalian cells | Virology News | Scoop.it
Human papillomaviruses (HPV) cause cervical cancer and have recently also been implicated in mouth, laryngeal and anogenital cancers.
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...and it has occurred to us that it can be a DNA vaccine vector too...B-)

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Concern over Zika virus grips the world - The Lancet

Concern over Zika virus grips the world - The Lancet | Virology News | Scoop.it

In the past week, the world has mobilised to tackle the latest threat to global health security—Zika virus, now spreading rapidly in the Americas. Udani Samarasekera and Marcia Triunfol report.

Worldwide concern over Zika virus (panel) and its temporal and geographical association with clusters of birth and neurological conditions escalated this week, with WHO declaring a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

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Viral infection: A key host receptor for AAV

A transmembrane protein receptor that is critical for adeno-associated virus infection has been identified through an unbiased, genome-wide screen. Its role in viral entry could potentially be harnessed to develop enhanced gene therapy vectors and better animal models of human disease.
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Homeopathy: the air guitar of medicine

Homeopathy: the air guitar of medicine | Virology News | Scoop.it
Homeopathy is an alternative medicine, which means a few things. It means it’s not medicine, it’s an alternative; it means it’s seen by many as somehow better and healthier than modern medicines; and it means that people are incredibly emotional in their support for it. I’ve received death threats pretty much every time I’ve ever written …

Via Chris Upton + helpers
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Genetic editing is like playing God – and what’s wrong with that?

Genetic editing is like playing God – and what’s wrong with that? | Virology News | Scoop.it
British scientists are getting permission to alter embryos’ DNA. We have the chance to correct devastating diseases in the womb, so let’s get on with it
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Amen...B-)

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CDC: "What we're doing about the Zika virus"

CDC: "What we're doing about the Zika virus" | Virology News | Scoop.it

(CNN) Vaccines and antibiotics have made many infectious diseases a thing of the past; we’ve come to expect that public health and modern science can conquer all microbes. But nature is a formidable adversary. And Zika is our newest threat, particularly to pregnant women.

New, unfamiliar and mysterious threats to our health are scary. At the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — where we identify, on average, one new health threat each year — we work around the clock with an approach that prioritizes finding out what we need to know as fast as we can to protect Americans.

The CDC has some of the world’s leading experts both in diseases spread by mosquitoes and in fetal abnormalities. We get the facts, base actions on science, tell people what we know when we know it and what we are doing to add to our knowledge, and act to protect Americans today as effectively as possible.

 
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Be nice if it wasn't just Americans...?

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World's First Zika Virus Vaccine Made In India?

World's First Zika Virus Vaccine Made In India? | Virology News | Scoop.it
In an important "Make in India" moment, scientists at a Hyderabad lab say they have developed the world's first vaccine against the Zika Virus. They say, in fact, that they have two.
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Zika vaccine may be ready for emergency use this year

Zika vaccine may be ready for emergency use this year | Virology News | Scoop.it

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, Jan 28 (Reuters) - A vaccine for the Zika virus, which has been linked to severe birth defects in thousands of infants, could be ready for emergency use before year-end, one of its lead developers said on Thursday, a timetable...

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Thailand and United States collaboration in HIV/AIDS problem

Disease seems to be one of the biggest challenges in the world. The United States and Thailand have many kinds of cooperation in Health and Medicine and espe...

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Op-Ed: Mbeki's reputation is not in tatters because he was aloof

Op-Ed: Mbeki's reputation is not in tatters because he was aloof | Virology News | Scoop.it

It is because his policies caused hundreds of thousands of avoidable deaths. By Nathan Geffen for GROUNDUP.

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Absolutely!  I harbour a special animosity toward the Bearded Sage, largely because he was so wilfully misled during the HIV crisis years in South Africa.  I sincerely hope he is brought to book for it one day - and not just IN a book, like the one by Nicoli Nattrass that so brillaintly exposes what the government did.

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Bill Gates: GMOs Will End Starvation in Africa

Bill Gates: GMOs Will End Starvation in Africa | Virology News | Scoop.it

This week, Bill and Melinda Gates spoke to the Wall Street Journal at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, about how food biotechnology can help those in Africa.

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Homo Naledi May Be About Two Million Years Old

Homo Naledi May Be About Two Million Years Old | Virology News | Scoop.it
A new report revealed that the pre-historic human species Homo naledi may be about two million years old. Paleoanthropologist Francis Thackeray developed a mathematical method to obtain the age of the human species.
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Francis used to live on the same university residence corridor as me in 1974.  He was serious even then...B-)

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The Lancet Zika virus resource centre

The Lancet Zika virus resource centre | Virology News | Scoop.it
The Lancet Zika virus resource centre brings together the best evidence from across The Lancet family of journals—offered with free access—to assist researchers, policy makers, and health workers, in understanding the effects of the outbreak and how best to respond. Find out more about Zika virus in thisSpecial Report.
 
 
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I'm not LMAO at ridiculous emails from my students

I'm not LMAO at ridiculous emails from my students | Virology News | Scoop.it
Convoluted excuses and drunken declarations of love can be amusing, but I’m genuinely concerned about young people’s communication skills
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Srsly! B-{

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Plush pandemic: a kinder, gentler pathogen

Colossal microbes taking over the world sounds like a B-movie plot, rather than the business plan of a stuffed toy manufacturer. We asked Drew Oliver, the creator and CEO of Giant Microbes, about how the company came about, how their products have been received and his plans for the future.
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Scientists' path to usable Zika vaccine strewn with hurdles

Scientists' path to usable Zika vaccine strewn with hurdles | Virology News | Scoop.it
The world is once again asking scientists and drugmakers to come up rapidly with a vaccine for a viral disease that, in the latest case, few people had heard of until a few weeks ago, and even fewer feared.
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This Indian biotech firm is the world’s first to ready a Zika vaccine for testing

This Indian biotech firm is the world’s first to ready a Zika vaccine for testing | Virology News | Scoop.it
Krishna Ella never expected to be holding the key to fighting a new global health emergency. Yet, his Indian firm—Bharat Biotech—has become the first to ready two vaccine candidates against the rapidly spreading Zika virus, which has already infected millions of people in Latin America. Zika doesn't cause much harm to adults. Most of the infected individuals...
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Nature: The next steps on Zika

Nature: The next steps on Zika | Virology News | Scoop.it
With birth defects blamed on the virus now deemed a matter of international concern, researchers must work fast to assess the extent of the threat.
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Zika virus not considered a threat in East Africa

Zika virus not considered a threat in East Africa | Virology News | Scoop.it
Ugandan researchers say the mosquito-transmitted Zika virus is not considered a threat in the country where the virus was first discovered in a monkey in 1947.
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So much for it "spreading to Africa"?

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Australian virologists to join global fight against Zika virus

Australian virologists to join global fight against Zika virus | Virology News | Scoop.it
Queensland researchers to investigate why the virus, which has long been present in Asia and the Pacific, has suddenly affected 1.5 million in Brazil
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Zika virus: How self-destructing genetically modified mosquitoes may be the answer

ABINGDON / UK — A British company Oxitec may have a way to fight Zika virus. They create genetically modified mosquitoes that produce offspring that will not...

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The fight against Zika creates a ridiculous catch-22 for women

The fight against Zika creates a ridiculous catch-22 for women | Virology News | Scoop.it

Latin American countries are telling women to avoid pregnancy

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Zika: a realistic view of what we know

Zika: a realistic view of what we know | Virology News | Scoop.it
As you’ve probably seen, unless you’ve been living in a cave, Zika virus is the infectious disease topic du jour. From an obscure virus to the newest scare, interest in the virus has skyrocketed just in the past few weeks:   I have a few pieces already on Zika, so I won’t repeat myself here.…
Ed Rybicki's insight:

Nice, cautious piece by Tara Smith.  I have been trying, via Twitter, to damp some of the hysteria and hype about Zika - but who cares about one cautious voice?  So there should be MORE - and this is one such.

 

Zika virus is a flavirirus related to dengue and yellow fever and Japanese encephalitis virus, and like them, is mosquito-transmitted.  In fact, it is transmitted by the same "Asian tiger mosquito" - Aedes aegyptii - as transmits YFV and dengue, and like them, has been spread around the tropics of the planet along with the mosquito vector.

 

The mosquito is an interesting beast, because it is hardy, can breed in very small deposits of water, likes preying on humans, and flies during the day - unlike most of its relatives.  It also has a penchant for breeding in places like discarded car tyres, and it turns out that a LOT of these are literally shipped around the developing world from developed countries like Japan, which has resulted in the mosquito going worldwide.


The virus is interesting too, because it is nothing like as nasty as dengue or YFV or JEV: there are apparently no deaths of children or adults that can be attributed to infection with it, unlike the case with its relatives.  Where it is potentially dangerous is the linkage - in naive populations - with microcephaly, and also with the paralytic Guillain-Barre syndrome.


I stress "in naive populations": the virus was discovered in Uganda's Zika Forest in 1947, and is endemic over large swathes of Africa, where it is not associated with anything other than mild and often inapparent infections, easily confused with influenza.  Its endemicity also means that literally everyone that can be infected will have been AS A CHILD - and presuming that like YFV, exposure leads to lifelong immunity, adults will be immune to the virus AND the purported side effects.


What will probably happen in Brazil and the South, Central and North American countries that it has spread to or is in the process of doing so, is that it will become endemic there - especially if it adapts to being spread by other mosquitoes such as the much more common Culex spp., which has apparently already happened.  When that happens, the African experience will become the norm - and hopefully the hype and hysteria will die away.


Until then - well, a vaccine would be nice!

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