Archive for the ‘Infectious disease’ Category

Measles is killing more people in the DRC than Ebola—and faster

July 15th, 2019
A man receives a vaccine against Ebola from a nurse outside the Afia Himbi Health Center on July 15, 2019 in Goma.

Enlarge / A man receives a vaccine against Ebola from a nurse outside the Afia Himbi Health Center on July 15, 2019 in Goma. (credit: Getty | PAMELA TULIZO )

As the world anxiously monitors the outbreak of Ebola in Democratic Republic of the Congo, health officials note that a measles outbreak declared last month in the country has killed more people—mostly children—and faster.

Since January 2019, officials have recorded over 100,000 measles cases in the DRC, mostly in children, and nearly 2,000 have died. The figures surpass those of the latest Ebola outbreak in the country, which has tallied not quite 2,500 cases and 1,665 deaths since August 2018. The totals were noted by World Health Organization Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in a speech today, July 15, at the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland.

"Frankly, I am embarrassed to talk only about Ebola," Dr. Tedros said (he goes by his first name). He gave the speech in response to two new developments in the Ebola outbreak. That is that two Ebola responders were murdered in their home in the DRC city of Beni, and that officials on Sunday had identified the first case of Ebola in Goma, a DRC city of over one million at the border with Rwanda.

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Posted in democratic republic of Congo, ebola, Ebola Outbreak, global health, Infectious disease, measles, measles outbreak, outbreak, public health, science, virus, WHO | Comments (0)

Prominent anti-vaxxers lose New York court case over religious exemptions

July 12th, 2019
Anti-vaccine advocate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. during a public hearing on vaccine related bills in 2015.

Enlarge / Anti-vaccine advocate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. during a public hearing on vaccine related bills in 2015. (credit: Getty | Portland Press Herald)

A New York State Supreme Court Justice on Friday rejected a request by 55 anti-vaccine families to block a recently passed state law eliminating exemptions to school vaccination requirements on the basis of religious beliefs.

According to the families’ attorneys, Justice Michael Mackey cited other court decisions that have held that states have the power to impose such restrictions to protect public health from the spread of infectious disease. Justice Mackey added that the families were unlikely to succeed if they tried to continue with the case.

Nevertheless, the attorneys in the case—Michael Sussman and the prominent anti-vaccine advocate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.—vowed to keep fighting. Kennedy’s anti-vaccine nonprofit, Children’s Health Defense, released a statement saying, “While this decision is a set-back, it isn’t the final decision. The case will move forward with more decisions to come.”

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Posted in anti-vaccine, exemption, Infectious disease, measles, outbreak, religious freedom, science, vaccination public health | Comments (0)

Savage tick-clone armies are sucking cows to death; experts fear for humans

July 11th, 2019
Scary arachnid is fat.

Enlarge / Engorged Haemaphysalis longicornis female tick. (credit: Commonsource)

Ravenous swarms of cloned ticks have killed a fifth cow in North Carolina by exsanguination—that is, by draining it of blood—the state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services warned this week.

Experts fear that the bloodthirsty throngs, which were first noticed in the United States in 2017, will continue their rampage, siphoning life out of animals and eventually transmitting diseases, potentially deadly ones, to humans.

Just last month, infectious disease researchers in New York reported the first case of the tick species biting a human in the US. The finding was “unsurprising” given the tick’s ferocious nature, according to Dr. Bobbi S. Pritt, director of the Clinical Parasitology Laboratory in Mayo Clinic. And it’s “extremely worrisome for several reasons,” she wrote in a commentary for the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

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Posted in Asian longhorned tick, cattle, cow, Haemaphysalis longicornis, Infectious disease, Invasive species, parasites, public health, science, ticks, vector-borne diseases | Comments (0)

Mysterious illness that paralyzes healthy kids prompts plea from CDC

July 10th, 2019
13-year-old boy recovering in a Denver hospital from a suspected case of human enterovirus 68 during a 2014 outbreak.

Enlarge / 13-year-old boy recovering in a Denver hospital from a suspected case of human enterovirus 68 during a 2014 outbreak. (credit: Getty | Cyrus McCrimmon)

After a record number of cases in 2018 of a rare, puzzling illness that causes paralysis in otherwise healthy kids, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are urging doctors to hasten reporting and boost data collection before the next big wave of illness hits—which is expected in 2020.

The illness is called acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, and is marked by the sudden onset of limb weakness (usually upper limb), paralysis, and spinal lesions seen on MRI scans. It most often occurs in children. It’s unclear what causes it and why instances are increasing—though officials suspect that a relative of poliovirus is involved. There is no specific treatment, and doctors can’t predict how affected patients will fare; some regain muscle strength and recover full use of paralyzed limbs over time, some don’t. In rare cases, AFM can cause respiratory failure and death.

AFM first gained attention in 2014, when health officials noted a spike in the polio-like condition nationwide and began carefully documenting cases. Since then, health officials have seen a distinct every-other-year pattern to the illness.

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Posted in acute flaccid myelitis, AFM, CDC, enterovirus, immune responses, Infectious disease, motor neurons, MRI, muscle weakness, neurological condition, paralysis, polio, science, west nile | Comments (0)

Antivaxxers turn to homeschooling to avoid protecting their kids’ health

July 8th, 2019
Stylized photograph of a boy writing at a desk.

Enlarge / A boy at school. (credit: Getty | Florian Gaertner )

Anti-vaccine advocates in New York are encouraging parents to homeschool their children rather than protect them from serious diseases, according to a recent report in The Wall Street Journal.

The move by New York anti-vaccine groups comes just weeks after state lawmakers eliminated exemptions that allowed parents to opt their children out of standard school vaccination requirements on the basis of religious beliefs. Very few religions actually have objections to vaccinations, and the ones that do tend to have relatively few followers. But many parents who reject vaccines based on falsehoods and misinformation about their safety have claimed religious objections as a way to dodge immunization requirements.

As cases of measles in the United States have exploded in recent years—largely due to a small but loud band of anti-vaccine advocates misinforming parents—states are now cracking down on non-medical exemptions. New York, which has faced a massive and prolonged outbreak since last September, is the fifth state to eliminate religious exemptions. It joins California, Maine, Mississippi, and West Virginia. Overall, lawmakers in 26 states have recently introduced bills aimed at tightening rules on who can receive exemptions, according to The Hill.

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Posted in anti-vaccine, CDC, exemptions, Infectious disease, measles, measles outbreak, new york, outbreak, public health, science, vaccination | Comments (0)

Anti-vax teen that fought ban amid chickenpox outbreak loses in court—again

July 1st, 2019

Judges in Kentucky have handed down another legal defeat to the unvaccinated teenager who sued his local health department for banning him from school and extracurricular activities amid a chickenpox outbreak earlier this year.

The Kentucky Court of Appeals on Friday quietly sided with the health department, saying that it was acting well within its powers to protect public health. The appeals court quoted an earlier ruling by the US Supreme Court saying that “Of paramount necessity, a community has the right to protect itself against an epidemic of disease which threatens the safety of its members.”

The Northern Kentucky Health Department declared the latest court decision a “resounding victory for public health in Kentucky,” in a statement.

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Posted in anti vacine, chickenpox, Infectious disease, public health, science, vaccine | Comments (0)

Hard-to-kill poop parasites that lurk in swimming pools on the rise, CDC warns

July 1st, 2019
What's going on in that swim diaper?

Enlarge / What's going on in that swim diaper? (credit: Getty | BSIP)

Whatever you do this summer, don’t drink the pool water.

Outbreaks of the gastrointestinal parasite cryptosporidium have been spurting upward since 2009, with the number of outbreaks gushing up an average of 13% each year, according to researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The germ spreads via the fecal-oral route and causes explosive, watery diarrhea that can last for up to three weeks. Most victims pick up the infection from recreational waters, such as swimming pools and water parks.

The main trouble is that crypto is extremely tolerant of chlorine and can happily stay afloat in well-treated pools for more than seven days. Thus, sick swimmers are the main source of infection—often young children who have yet to master toilet skills and also have more of a tendency to gulp pool water. An infected person can shed 100 million parasite eggs in one bout of diarrhea. Knocking back just 10 or fewer eggs in contaminated pool water can lead to an infection.

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Posted in CDC, crypto, Infectious disease, parasite, parasitic infection, public health, science | Comments (0)

A deadly, drug-resistant fungus has swept the globe—here’s how it spreads

June 27th, 2019
The director of the German National Reference Centre for Invasive Fungus Infections holding a petri dish of the yeast <em>Candida auris</em> in January 2018.

Enlarge / The director of the German National Reference Centre for Invasive Fungus Infections holding a petri dish of the yeast Candida auris in January 2018. (credit: Getty | Nicolas Armer)

Patients infected with a deadly, drug-resistant fungus are dripping with the dangerous germ, which pours into their surroundings where it lies in wait for weeks to find a new victim. That’s according to fresh data reported from the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology recently in San Francisco.

The data fills in critical unknowns about how the fungus, Candida auris, actually spreads. The germ is a relatively new threat, considered an emerging pathogen by experts—and it's emerging quickly with an unusual ability to lurk and kill in healthcare settings.

It was first identified in 2009 in Japan. Studies since have tracked the globetrotting fungus backward and forward in time, from South Korea in 1996 to an outbreak in New York health facilities that began in 2013 and lasted until 2017. In all, C. auris has made an appearance in more than 30 countries, usually leaving a body count wherever it goes.

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Posted in candida auris, CDC, drug resistance, fungus, healthcare, Infectious disease, microbiology, multi-drug resistance, mycology, pathogenic fungus, public health, science, superbugs | Comments (0)

North Korea reveals explosive HIV outbreak—after claiming to be disease-free

June 25th, 2019
This undated picture released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on October 18, 2016, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) inspecting the newly built Ryugyong General Ophthalmic Hospital in Pyongyang.

Enlarge / This undated picture released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on October 18, 2016, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) inspecting the newly built Ryugyong General Ophthalmic Hospital in Pyongyang. (credit: Getty | KCNA)

North Korea is experiencing an explosive outbreak of HIV amid limited access to diagnostic testing and treatments, according to an exclusive report by Science.

Independent researchers and government health officials tell the outlet that the isolated East Asian country confirmed its first HIV case in 1999 and has quietly watched infections balloon to over 8,300 cases in the last few years. The researchers and North Korean officials have submitted a report on the matter to the new medical preprint server medRxiv, which is scheduled to go live on Tuesday, June 25.

The case estimate stands in stark contrast to a celebration in Pyongyang last year on December 1—annual World AIDS Day—in which government officials declared that North Korea is an “AIDS-free zone” and that there is “not a single AIDS patient” in the country.

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Posted in HIV, HIV/AIDS, Infectious disease, North Korea, outbreak, preprint, public health, sanctions, science | Comments (0)

Anti-vaxxers defeated: NY bans exemptions as doctors vote to step up fight

June 14th, 2019
Actress Jessica Biel supporting prominent anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in an effort to protect non-medical vaccine exemptions.

Enlarge / Actress Jessica Biel supporting prominent anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in an effort to protect non-medical vaccine exemptions. (credit: Instragram)

Anti-vaccine advocates received a blow in New York Thursday as state lawmakers banned non-medical exemptions based on religious beliefs—and there may be more blows coming.

]Also on Thursday, the American Medical Association adopted a new policy to step up its fight against such non-medical exemptions. The AMA, the country’s largest physicians’ group and one of the largest spenders on lobbying, has always strongly support pediatric vaccination and opposed non-medical exemptions. But under the new policy changes, the association will now “actively advocate” for states to eliminate any laws that allow for non-medical exemptions on the books.

“As evident from the measles outbreaks currently impacting communities in several states, when individuals are not immunized as a matter of personal preference or misinformation, they put themselves and others at risk of disease,” AMA Board Member E. Scott Ferguson, M.D. said in a statement. “The AMA strongly supports efforts to eliminate non-medical exemptions from immunization, and we will continue to actively urge policymakers to do so.”

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Posted in anti vacine, California, Infectious disease, measles, new york, outbreak, science, vaccine | Comments (0)