Researchers from the University of Melbourne have simulated in 3D the motion of the complete human rhinovirus, which causes the common cold.
Thanks to @AJCann!
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This is an excellent update on measles in the world right now - with this disturbing quote about measles in the UK:
"From 1 Jan to 30 Jun 2012, 359 confirmed and 157 probable cases of measles were reported in Merseyside, England. The most affected age groups were children under 5 years and young adults from 15 years of age. Most cases have been sporadic. There have been few outbreaks in nurseries; however, no outbreaks have been reported in schools. Of the cases eligible for vaccination, only 3 percent of the confirmed cases were fully immunised.
Measles vaccination was introduced in the United Kingdom (UK) in 1968, with the combined measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine being used since 1988 . As uptake of MMR vaccination increased, the numbers of confirmed cases of measles declined. Confidence in the MMR vaccine has not always been good, as controversies about potential links between MMR vaccine and autism in the late 1990s, which were later proved unfounded [2,3], show uptake in the UK declined from 92 percent in 1996 to 80 percent in 2003 [4,5]. Outbreaks in recent years have mainly occurred in areas of the country or specific groups in which uptake of MMR vaccine is low [6-8]."
In other words, stupidity and misinformation in what one might otherwise think is a developed country, is leading to outbreaks of something that used to be the sixth or seventh biggest infectious disease killer in children.
Paramyxovirus image courtesy of Linda Stannard
MicrobeWorld explores the world of microbes with vivid images and descriptions. Learn about microbiology, what microbiologists do, how they do it, and current topics in the news.
Here's your vocabulary word for the week: zoonosis. It describes an infection that is transmitted between species. For example, the disease that the husband and wife team of Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy have written about in their new book, Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus.
Wasik is a journalist; his wife is a veterinarian, so the rabies virus seems like a natural topic for conversation. "Veterinarians spend a lot of time thinking about rabies, even though in this country, we hardly ever see it," Murphy tells NPR's Robert Siegel. "So I've been bringing home stories about rabies from my education and from my reading for a long long time."
Murphy's stories about rabies intrigued her husband. "I started to think about all the cultural resonances of that and even just of the word 'rabid,' " Wasik says. "So we realized that it would be fun for us to work on a book together about it."
Singularity HubWHO Endorses Use Of Antiretrovirals To Prevent HIV InfectionsMedical News TodayThe World Health Organization (WHO) has issued its first guidance to nations considering providing ARVs (antiretrovirals) to HIV-negative, high risk people.
"Taipei, July 22 (CNA) A doctor urged the government Sunday to work with international pharmaceutical companies to ensure fast development of a vaccine against hand, foot and mouth disease, which has been on the rise among children in Asia.
At least 60 children in Cambodia died recently of infection by Enterovirus 71, while Taiwan has reported 111 cases so far this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Enterovirus 71 (EV71), is a virulent and potentially deadly form of [hand] foot and mouth disease and can also cause severe neurological disorders."
Refusals of vaccination, security concerns and environmental issues slow down eradication efforts.
A highly apposite quote:
"The earliest start to the flu season in 10 years and the rise of a strain known to cause more severe illness is putting pressure on WA's already stretched health resources. Experts have warned it could be a bad flu season this year, with flu notifications rising sharply and continuing to flood in.
Around half of cases diagnosed so far are influenza A/H3N2 which is known to be more deadly and cause worse illness than other strains."
OK, now a good reason to stay away from WEST Australia, too! Seriously, it's a good reminder that you don't need a pandemic flu strain to be in danger from the flu.
If you are in close contact with horses, then make sure that they are all well and are not suffering from Hendra Virus. The reason behind this is that close exposure to sick horses can result in the development of Hendra in you ...
Another good reason not to go to Queensland. And to stay away from horses.
"In Uganda, where food insecurity has been the order of the day, enterprising scientists have taken biotechnology a step further by producing bananas that are rich in vitamin A and iron and that have the colour of carrots once peeled.
During a media tour at the National Agricultural Research Laboratories in Kampala this week, scientists said they aimed to ensure that bananas, a staple food in Uganda, were rich in vitamin A and iron and resistant to nematodes."
And behind that effort were two things: the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and an Australian scientist named James L Dale. I photographed him in his office at the Queensland University of Technology in 2010, when he had literally just opened the picture file associated with latest results being reported from his research crew - the banana picture in the background, with the golden vitamin A-containing version on top.
Good on yer, mate!
Two different vaccine viruses -- used simultaneously to control the same condition [infectious laryngotracheitis virus] in chickens -- have combined to produce new infectious viruses.
"Comparisons of the vaccine strains and the new recombinant strains have shown that both the recombinant strains cause more severe disease, or replicate to a higher level than the parent vaccine strains that gave rise to them".
Sad, but a logical consequence of using live viruses...now, if they'd used virus-like particle vaccines, or even subunit surface proteins, the problem would not have arisen - but that's expensive for a poultry vaccine. Unless you make them in plants?? Go green, guys!!
Great piece on H5N1 by Ed Yong, including the following 5 questions (and some answers).
Q1: Why is it so successful"
Q2: Where is it now?
Q3: How does it kill?
Q4: Will it become transmissible in humans?
Q5: What else could cause a pandemic?
Apropos the latter, he says:
"H9N2 may be an equally plausible pandemic candidate.... It generally goes unnoticed, but has hunkered down among Asia's poultry, caused occasional outbreaks in humans and can reassort with seasonal flu. Some strains already have mutations that are associated with greater transmissibility in mammals. H7N7 is similarly widespread and under-reported. In 2003, it flared up in the Netherlands, infecting 89 people and killing a veterinarian. Virologists hope that by understanding the secrets that allow H5N1 to spread and kill, they are in a better position to assess the risk posed by other subtypes."
Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus Disease: Management, molecular biology, breeding for resistance eBook: Henryk Czosnek: Amazon.de: Kindle-Shop...
Why? Because I like geminiviruses. And Henryk [Hanokh] Czosnek...B-)
FRIDAY, July 20 (HealthDay News) -- Infection with cutaneous human papillomavirus (HPV) is linked to a type of skin cancer known as squamous cell carcinoma, according to a new study. Risk factors for squamous cell carcinoma include exposure to the sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation, older age, light skin and a suppressed immune system. The international group of researchers found that having antibodies to certain types of cutaneous HPV may be an additional risk factor for this common form of skin cancer.
Zee NewsSevere flu doubles odds of developing Parkinson'sNew York Daily NewsToronto, July 22 — Severe flu doubles the odds of your developing Parkinson's disease later in life, say researchers.
Serious stuff, this flu: not only Guillain-Barre, now Parkinson's?? Unsuspected neurological involvements?
"The country has the largest HIV epidemic in the world, and it's also had one of the most conflicted responses to the virus. For years, the government questioned the link between HIV and AIDS and offered little by way of treatment. Now, years later, South Africa is trying to make up for lost time. The nation is attempting to put in place a cutting-edge HIV treatment and prevention program."
Some heartening news from a country that really does have the resources to change the way HIV affects populations - but sadly, let politics get in the way for far too long.
Compared to the general population, HIV-positive women have a high risk of cervical cancer and thus are advised to undergo more frequent screening tests. This creates a burden for HIV-positive patients and the health care system, leading to frequent biopsies, which often do not reveal clinically relevant disease.
"Taiwan authorities said Tuesday that dozens of pet birds smuggled from southern China into the country tested positive for the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus and that the infected birds had been destroyed.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that the batch of 38 infected birds was discovered at Taiwan's Taoyuan International Airport in northern Taiwan, and was found in the carry-on luggage of a smuggler who bought the birds in the Chinese city of Guangzhou when he was returning from Macau on July 7, according to Focus Taiwan News Channel."
Sadly, this is so prevalent: people willing to subvert sensible regulations for petty gain - or even to preserve their livelihood as happens in South Africa with people moving cattle around at night to avoid foot-and-mouth quarantines.
"The incursion of the human pandemic influenza A virus H1N1 (2009) (H1N1 pdm) into pig populations and its ongoing co-circulation with endemic swine influenza viruses (SIVs) has yielded distinct human–porcine reassortant virus lineages. The haemagglutinin (HA) gene of H1N1 pdm was detected in 41 influenza virus-positive samples from seven swine herds in north-west Germany in 2011. Eight of these samples yielded virus that carried SIV-derived neuraminidase N2 of three different porcine lineages in an H1N1 pdm backbone. The HA sequences of these viruses clustered in two distinct groups and were distinguishable from human and other porcine H1 pdm by a unique set of eight non-synonymous mutations. In contrast to the human population, where H1N1 pdm replaced seasonal H1N1, this virus seems to co-circulate and interact more intensely with endemic SIV lineages, giving rise to reassortants with as-yet-unknown biological properties and undetermined risks for public health."
Just a little reminder that it's not only chickens we have to worry about...
Flu virus recombination graphic from Russell Kightley Media
WNN - Women News NetworkKENYA: HPV vaccine roll out begins for young women with increased cervical ...WNN - Women News NetworkThese teen girls from Nairobi, Kenya talk together about boys, dating and AIDS.
Praiseworthy - that a low-income country such as Kenya could do something as expensive, and sensible.
Mapping Zoonoses |...Emerging Zoonotic Disease Events, 1940-2012
"Known as the Tara Oceans, the year-long expedition returned to port in Lorient, France, at the end of March, and already, preliminary analyses of the samples collected has turned up hundreds of thousands of organisms, including bacteria, archaea, protists, metazoans, viruses, and fish larvae. In total, the team collected samples from 153 different locations, from the water surface to depths of nearly 1 kilometer. The preliminary results focus on 27,000 samples from just 35 of those spots, but even from this subset of samples, it’s becoming clear that smaller organisms are more abundant and diverse, Karsenti said, and that there is “an almost entirely unknown viral diversity.” Other findings include the fact that archaea tend to live with bacteria, but not protists or viruses; there is large geographical variation in diversity; and many plankton species appear to be very sensitive to temperature changes and other factors, including ocean streams and acidity. Metagenomic analyses of the samples have also revealed an abundance of unknown protein sequence codes, as well as complex interactions between species of different kingdoms."
Damn! They've probably done my project, then!
"If you thought that the controversy was over, think again. Last week’s publication of the second of two papers describing how to make mammalian-transmissible forms of the H5N1 avian influenza virus merely closes one chapter of a smouldering debate about the risks of the research. That debate seems certain to reignite in the coming months once researchers lift a voluntary moratorium on the work."
"LONDON (Reuters) - Culls of hundreds of thousands of chickens, turkeys and ducks to stem bird flu outbreaks rarely make international headlines these days, but they are a worryingly common event as the deadly virus continues its march across the globe.
As scientists delve deeper into H5N1 avian influenza, they have discovered it is only three steps way from mutating into a potentially lethal human pandemic form, adding new urgency to a debate over how to protect humans.
In 2009, during the H1N1 swine flu pandemic, vaccines only became available months after the virus had spread around the world - and even then there was only enough for one in five of the world's 7 billion people.
Next time, experts say, we need another approach.
Talk is centred on "pre-pandemic vaccination" - immunising people years in advance against a flu pandemic that has yet to happen, and may never come, rather than rushing to create vaccines once a new pandemic starts."
Yes, well: regulars of this blog will recognise that I have been rattling on about this topic for some time now; nice to see serious heavyweights are starting to do the same thing.
Seriously, pre-emptive vaccination could almost certainly not hurt, would probably help a LOT - and would amp up production capacity for H5 and other potential pandemic influenza viruses [see Mexico H7N3 outbreak] as well, for pandemic vaccine production readiness.
And of course, you could do it all in plants. Just saying.