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campbell 12-04-2014 07:26 AM

Epidemic and Infectious Disease watch
This is primarily going to be about seasonal flu, but epidemic/pandemic stories in general will also pop up



(CNN) -- This year's flu vaccine is not as effective against the current strain of the influenza virus because the virus has mutated, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday in an advisory to doctors.
The advisory said 52% of the 85 influenza virus samples collected and analyzed from October 1 through November 22 were different than the virus strains included in this year's vaccine, indicating a mutation, or drift, of the strain.

FormLetter 12-04-2014 09:39 AM


Dr T Non-Fan 12-04-2014 10:28 AM

Ebola? Anything about that?

campbell 12-04-2014 11:03 AM



Update – Thursday, 4 December 7:57 am – Emory University Hospital announced that the American health care worker arrived at the hospital in Atlanta at 5:45 am via Phoenix Air medical transport, the same biocontainment outfitted aircraft used previously for evacuation of Ebola-infected patients. The patient is still be listed as having the potential for Ebola infection and will tested and monitored. Other details, again, are unavailable.

The press statement reads, “Emory cannot share more details out of respect for patient privacy and in accordance with the patient’s wishes.”

Wednesday, 3 December, 8:54 pm EST (original article) – An American health care worker in West Africa “who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus” is being transported to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta for observation and potential treatment.

In a statement released at 5:45 pm Eastern time tonight, officials indicated that the health care worker would be monitored in the hospital’s Serious Communicable Diseases Unit. No arrival time was released and no other patient information was available. The Emory statement stated that they, “cannot share more details out of respect for patient privacy and in accordance with the patient’s wishes.”

It’s not clear whether the patient has been tested for Ebola infection or why they are being transported in the absence of a confirmed infection.

campbell 12-04-2014 11:12 AM



-The international response to Ebola in West Africa has been slow, encumbered by serious bottlenecks in terms of staffing.
-In all three of the worst-affected countries, there are still not adequate facilities in which to diagnose and care for patients, and there are major gaps in all other elements of the

-We must avoid a “double failure” situation whereby the response is slow in the first instance and ill-adapted later on. Many international actors seem unable to adapt quickly enough to a rapidly-changing situation. The result of this is that resources are being allocated to activities that are no longer appropriate to the situation. In Monrovia, Liberia, for example, more case management facilities are being built despite adequate isolation capacities and a drop in cases in the capital. All actors involved in the response – MSF included – must take a flexible approach and allocate resources according to the most pressing needs at any given time and place

Progress being made, adapted response still required

Isolation capacity still inadequate, local healthcare workers struggling to cope
Long overlooked by international efforts, response in Guinea painfully slow

campbell 12-04-2014 11:16 AM


(and others)


Are you thinking of the Ebola outbreak as a flash in the pan, a problem we’ve outdistanced? Think again: Ebola virus and other emerging infectious diseases for which we don’t have effective treatments are the reality in public health. And they’re expected to keep on coming.

Last night, Borio and Cox published an article in the New England Journal of Medicine arguing that despite the hopes of some public health experts, both vaccines and drugs will need to be tested against control groups that include a placebo. It’s key guidance for vaccine makers like Johnson & Johnson JNJ -0.2%, GlaxoSmithkline, and Inovio, and for the many companies looking to test Ebola treatments including Mapp Pharmaceutical and Chimerix.

I challenged the regulators: if Ebola virus disease is so very deadly, why do we need control groups?

One reason, Cox said, is that what’s called supportive care – fluid replacement, electrolytes, support with blood products when that’s possible – seems to be very effective, effective enough to make it hard to tell whether it’s the drug or the supportive care that is helping. And ethically, patients in a study would get that. “It’s really not placebo per se, but it’s the best available standard of care that patients would receive in a clinical trial,” Cox said.

With vaccines, the need to have a control group is even greater, Borio said. In Liberia, the number of Ebola cases is going down. If vaccines had been widely distributed a few months ago without employing a control group, we’d be attributing that decrease to those vaccines.

“It’s really imperative to be able to use those limited supplies of vaccine doses in a way that will allow us to learn if they’re safe and effective for this outbreak and for generations to come – because future outbreaks will occur,” she said.

But if supportive care is so great, why not get that to the people suffering and dying in West Africa, instead of making this a research project? That’s what Jonathan Bush, the co-founder and chief executive of electronic records firm AthenaHealth, wanted to know.

“Guys, it seems to me that when we give people the standard of care they actually mostly live,” Bush said. “You give somebody the six liters of fluid that they’re blasting out of themselves for long enough then we win and Ebola loses.”

campbell 12-04-2014 11:16 AM



BETHESDA, Md. (WJZ) — A big breakthrough in the fight against Ebola right here in Maryland. A possible vaccine gets “promising results” in a clinical trial at NIH. The president cheered the progress but says this fight is far from over.

Christie Ileto has more on the push to keep this an urgent priority.

The clinical trials are gaining ground but this leap in science is just a small step in the fight against Ebola.
Vaccine trials and airport screenings for those coming from Ebola-infected countries are ramping up, while health officials make room for more testing labs.
The US now has 35 Ebola-ready treatment centers—three of which are in Maryland! With 16,000 others infected in West Africa, it’s a fight health officials say needs funding to slow the deadly surge of Ebola.

campbell 12-04-2014 11:18 AM



IBM has engineered a way for everyone to join the fight against Ebola ? by donating processing time on their personal computers, phones or tablets to researchers.

IBM has teamed with scientists at Scripps Research Institute in southern California on a project that aims to combine the power of thousands of small computers, to each attack tiny pieces of a larger medical puzzle that might otherwise require a supercomputer to solve.

"This could let us do in months what it would otherwise take years and years to do," said Erica Ollmann Saphire, a biomedical researcher at Scripps.

The free downloadable software, available at, works on Windows or Mac computers and Android mobile devices, although not Apple Inc.'s iPhone or iPad. Litow said it's designed to only use idle capacity when a device is connected to the Internet. Otherwise it isn't in use, so it won't slow other functions. On mobile devices, the program only works when the device is charging and connected to Wi-Fi, to avoid draining batteries or running up wireless charges.

Users can choose when their device connects to the grid network and whether it should happen automatically, Litow said. IBM also promises to respect volunteers' privacy and says the software can't access or alter any other files on a device.

The grid computing program breaks down large computing problems into thousands of smaller tasks, assigns them to individual devices and then compiles the results. Volunteers can get progress reports on each project, and IBM promises to make the resulting data available to any interested researcher.

lifishing007 12-04-2014 12:24 PM


Originally Posted by campbell (Post 7810662)

I heard about this a few weeks (months?) ago. Thought there was some controversial issues about privacy.

campbell 12-06-2014 03:56 PM



AMRAVATI, India — A deadly epidemic that could have global implications is quietly sweeping India, and among its many victims are tens of thousands of newborns dying because once-miraculous cures no longer work.

These infants are born with bacterial infections that are resistant to most known antibiotics, and more than 58,000 died last year as a result, a recent study found. While that is still a fraction of the nearly 800,000 newborns who die annually in India, Indian pediatricians say that the rising toll of resistant infections could soon swamp efforts to improve India’s abysmal infant death rate. Nearly a third of the world’s newborn deaths occur in India.

“Five years ago, we almost never saw these kinds of infections,” said Dr. Neelam Kler, chairwoman of the department of neonatology at New Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, one of India’s most prestigious private hospitals. “Now, close to 100 percent of the babies referred to us have multidrug resistant infections. It’s scary.”

These babies are part of a disquieting outbreak. A growing chorus of researchers say the evidence is now overwhelming that a significant share of the bacteria present in India — in its water, sewage, animals, soil and even its mothers — are immune to nearly all antibiotics.

Newborns are particularly vulnerable because their immune systems are fragile, leaving little time for doctors to find a drug that works. But everyone is at risk. Uppalapu Shrinivas, one of India’s most famous musicians, died Sept. 19 at age 45 because of an infection that doctors could not cure.
Indeed, researchers have already found “superbugs” carrying a genetic code first identified in India — NDM1 (or New Delhi metallo-beta lactamase 1) — around the world, including in France, Japan, Oman and the United States.

Some studies have found that developing countries have bacterial rates of resistance to antibiotics that are far higher than those in developed nations, with India the global focal point.

Bacteria spread easily in India, experts say, because half of Indians defecate outdoors, and much of the sewage generated by those who do use toilets is untreated. As a result, Indians have among the highest rates of bacterial infections in the world and collectively take more antibiotics, which are sold over the counter here, than any other nationality.

A recent study found that Indian children living in places where people are less likely to use a toilet tend to get diarrhea and be given antibiotics more often than those in places with more toilet use. On Oct. 2, the Indian government began a campaign to clean the country and build toilets, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi publicly sweeping a Delhi neighborhood. But the task is monumental.

“In the absence of better sanitation and hygiene, we are forced to rely heavily on antibiotics to reduce infections,” said Ramanan Laxminarayan, vice president for research and policy at the Public Health Foundation of India. “The result is that we are losing these drugs, and our newborns are already facing the consequences of untreatable sepsis,” or blood infections.

Some health experts and officials here say that these killer bugs are largely confined to hospitals, where heavy use of antibiotics leads to localized colonies.

But India’s top neonatologists suspect the large number of resistant infections in newborns in their first days of life demonstrates that these dangerous bacteria are thriving in communities and even pregnant women’s bodies.

Besides being desperately crowded, many hospitals are unhygienic, allowing the bugs to flourish. A Unicef survey of 94 district hospitals and health centers in Rajasthan last year found that 70 percent had possibly contaminated water and 78 percent had no soap available at hand-washing sinks, while 67 percent of toilets were unsanitary.

In Haryana, for instance, almost every baby born in hospitals in recent years was injected with antibiotics whether they showed signs of illness or not, Dr. Suresh Dalpat, deputy director of child health in the state of Haryana, said in an interview. “Now, with proper training, we are bringing that down.”

The most frequent causes of resistant newborn infections in India are bacteria like Klebsiella and Acinetobacter, which are found in untreated human waste. Such bacteria rarely infect newborns in developed nations, said Dr. Paul.

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