Smallpox virions (electron microscopy image). Source
Smallpox is the only human infectious disease which was eradicated from planet Earth. The success was the result of a massive worldwide vaccination campaign that finished successfully in the late 1970s of the twentieth century. But USA and Russia kept live samples of the virus. Later this month the WHO will discuss again whether to keep or destroy the samples.
Should We Destroy Our Last Living Samples of the Virus That Causes Smallpox?
An electron microscopic image of the virus causing MERS. Source.
MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) is caused by a virus which appears to have jumped from camels to people and can now spread between people. It was first detected in the Middle East in 2012. Health officials are keeping a close eye on it. Read more in the news link below:
ABC News: CDC Confirms First Case of MERS in US
“A health specialist prepares to work in an isolation ward where patients displaying symptoms of Ebola are held at the Doctors Without Borders facility in Guekedou, Guinea.” Source
A recent outbreak of Ebola in Guinea has experts worried and nearby West African countries watching their borders. Read about why — and what’s being done at Al Jazeera America (International W.H.O. says fight against West Africa Ebola outbreak just beginning) or listen at NPR (The Ebola Outbreak 3 Weeks In: Dire But Not Hopeless).
“The plate on the left contains about equal numbers of colonies of two different bacteria. After the bacteria compete and evolve, the lighter ones have taken the lead in the plate on the right.” Source
Do we ever stop evolving? Twenty five years — and some 50,000 plus generations — of ever-fitter bacteria suggest no. NPR ‘Shots’ has the story of how Bacterial Competition In Lab Shows Evolution Never Stops.
After being hospitalized for 2 months, Kali Hardig, 12, gets to go home after recovering from amebic meningoencephalitis which health officials believe she contracted at a Little Rock, Ark., waterpark in July. She is only the third known survivor of the deadly infection in the last 50 years. Read more at Daily News: Arkansas girl survives brain-eating amoeba
Closeup of new California ‘Vaccine Exemption’ form with the religious exemption option highlighted.
NPR has the story of How A California Law To Encourage Vaccination Could Backfire. A new form intended to require all parents to talk through vaccination risks and benefits with a health care provider before exempting their children includes an unexpected exemption of its own – one that challenges the law itself.
The new coronavirus as seen with an electron microscope. Note the characteristic halo, or ‘corona’, of proteins projecting from its outer surface. Source: NIAID/RML.
NPR has the story of the ongoing hospital outbreak of a novel coronavirus first isolated back in September. Like its cousin SARS, the virus some are calling MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus) causes severe, potentially fatal pneumonia in humans. Another troubling aspect of the new virus is that it may disrupt our immune system recognizing the cells it has infected [*]. The World Health Organization has the most recent updates available as part of its Global Alert & Response system.
“Reprogrammed cells (green) fuse with and become skeletal muscles (red), spreading infection as they go. Cell nuclei are shown in blue.” Source: Masaki et al./Cell
Recent research into the mechanisms of leprosy suggests that bacterium Mycobacterium leprae reprograms human Schwann cells to act as stem cell-like vectors for further infection. WIRED Science has the story.
Caption via New York Times: “Tiny magnetic beads force the larger T-cells to divide before they are infused into the patient.” (Photo: University of Pennsylvania)
The HIV virus causes AIDS, one of the top ten causes of death worldwide. It is also the surprising key to a new cancer treatment with revolutionary promise. The New York Times tells the story.