AuthorTopic: 🦠 Killer Superbugs!  (Read 42462 times)

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🦠 Killer Superbugs!
« on: January 13, 2017, 07:33:08 AM »
The emergence of new strains of bacteria that are resistant to all anti-biotics is becoming ever more prevalent.  This thread will be for covering all such stories.

Kick off article below.


A Woman Was Killed By a Superbug Resistant to All 26 American Antibiotics

She won’t be the last.

Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria, the same species that killed the Nevada woman CDC

    Sarah Zhang 6:00 AM ET Health

Yesterday morning, I published a story about the silent spread of resistance against the antibiotic of last resort, colistin—a major step toward the emergence of a superbug resistant to all antibiotics. While reporting this story, I interviewed Alex Kallen, an epidemiologist at the CDC, and I asked if anyone had found such a superbug yet. “Funny you should ask,” he said.

Funny—by which we all mean scary—because yesterday afternoon, the CDC also released a report about a Nevada woman who died after an infection resistant to 26 antibiotics, which is to say all available antibiotics in the U.S. The woman, who was in her 70s, had been previously hospitalized in India after fracturing her leg, which led to an infection of the bone. There was nothing to treat her infection—not colistin, not other last-line antibiotics. Scientists later tested the bacteria that killed her, and found it was somewhat susceptible to fosfomycin, but that antibiotic is not approved in the U.S. to treat her type of infection.
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The woman was isolated so that her superbug would not infect other patients in the hospital. And subsequent samples from other patients near her in the hospital have not turned it up. If this superbug is somehow gone from the hospital and gone from the U.S., that would be great news. But even if so, other pan-resistant superbugs are likely to emerge.

Here’s why: The most worrisome kind of colistin resistance is caused by a single gene called mcr-1. The bacteria that killed this woman did not have mcr-1; it’s still unclear how they became resistant. Other cases of colistin resistance have emerged before though. What makes mcr-1 special is that sits on a loop of free-floating DNA called a plasmid, which bacteria of different species can pass back and forth. And there are many plasmids out there with genes that confer resistance to this or that class of antibiotics.
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E. coli bacteria

Resistance to the Antibiotic of Last Resort Is Silently Spreading

Where might bacteria go to hang out and swap plasmids? Well your gut is a big bag of bacteria. One day, you might pick up some bacteria with a plasmid carrying resistance to colistin. Years later, you might pick up some bacteria with a plasmid carrying resistance to carbapenems. And so. They start swapping plasmids. All this time you are healthy, and these bacteria just lurk in your gut, not causing much trouble. Then you get sick, your immune system is down, and you take antibiotics for an infection. The antibiotics kill everything but the resistant bacteria, which have by now collected all the resistance genes and no competition. That’s how you get a pan-resistant infection.

The danger isn’t just that a single pan-resistant bacteria emerges and terrorizes the world. It’s that pan-resistant bacteria can keep emerging independently. The nightmare might go away, only to come back somewhere else.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2020, 06:59:27 PM by RE »
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China bird flu deaths surge in what could be the worst season ever
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2017, 01:38:09 AM »
The Bird Flu Scare is BACK!

Let's see, since bird flu last made the MSM, we've been through Ebola, Zika, MRSA...

Guess it's time to recycle.


China bird flu deaths surge in what could be the worst season ever

FILE PHOTO: Chickens are seen at a poultry farm on the outskirts of Hefei, Anhui province, November 20, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

As many as 79 people have died from H7N9 bird flu in China last month, the government said, stoking worries that the spread of the virus this season could be the worst on record.

January's fatalities were up to four times higher than the same month in past years, and brought the total H7N9 death toll to 100 people since October, data from the National Health and Family Planning Commission showed late on Tuesday.

Authorities have repeatedly warned the public to stay alert for the virus, and cautioned against panic in the world's second-largest economy.

But the latest bird flu data has sparked concerns of a repeat of previous health crises, like the 2002 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

"It's mid-February already and we are just getting the January numbers. With the death rate almost catching up with SARS, shouldn't warnings be issued earlier?" said one user of popular microblog Sina Weibo.

Other netizens in the Chinese blogosphere worried about the pace of infections, and called for even more up-to-date reports.

China has come a long way in learning how to communicate to the public and to respond to health crises since the SARS outbreak, when official reports of infections were criticized for their slowness and irregularity.

The People's Daily, the official paper of the ruling Communist Party, warned people in a social media post to stay away from live poultry markets, saying it was "extremely clear" that poultry and their excrement were the cause of the infections.

Chinese chicken prices sank to their lowest levels in more than a decade on Wednesday, hammering meat processors' share prices amid fears that bird flu could hit demand in one of the world's top poultry markets.


China, which first reported a human infection from the virus in March 2013, has seen a sharp rise in H7N9 cases since December. The official government total is 306 since October, with 192 reported last month.

But others estimate a higher number of infections.

The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota last week estimated China had at least 347 human infections so far this winter, eclipsing the record of 319 seen three years ago.

On a week-to-week basis, it was difficult to tell if H7N9 cases were still rising in China or have peaked, CIDRAP said in a report on its website on Feb. 10.

Some provincial health departments in China announce individual cases as they are confirmed, while others wait to include them in their monthly updates.

"An important factor in the past waves of H7N9 cases among humans in China has been rapid closure of live poultry markets," said Ian Mackay, a virologist at the University of Queensland in Australia.
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"This season there seems to have been a slower response to the outbreak, which may be leading to greater numbers of human exposures to infected birds."

The National Health and Family Planning Commission has yet to respond to a request from Reuters seeking comment on the recent bird flu deaths.

Most of the H7N9 human infections reported this season have been in the south and along the coast.

Beijing on Saturday reported its first human H7N9 case this year. The patient is a 68-year-old man from Langfang city in neighboring Hebei province.

A second human case was reported on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Ryan Woo and Josephine Mason; Additional reporting by Nick Heath, Christian Shepherd and Dominique Patton in BEIJING; Editing by Randy Fabi)
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The big one is coming, and it's going to be a flu pandemic
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2017, 10:27:19 AM »

The big one is coming, and it's going to be a flu pandemic


By Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Chief Medical Correspondent

Updated 8:06 AM ET, Fri April 7, 2017
Expert: 'There will be a pandemic'

    Unlike seasonal flu, pandemics occur when a completely new or novel virus emerges
    Gupta: Developing and deploying a pandemic flu vaccine just 24 weeks faster, would save many lives

"CNN Films' "Unseen Enemy," premieres Friday, April 7 at 10 p.m. ET, 11 p.m. PT, on CNN."

(CNN)Experts say we are "due" for one. When it happens, they tell us, it will probably have a greater impact on humanity than anything else currently happening in the world.

And yet, like with most people, it is probably something you haven't spent much time thinking about. After all, it is human nature to avoid being consumed by hypotheticals until they are staring us squarely in the face.

Such is the case with a highly lethal flu pandemic. And when it comes, it will affect every human alive today.

Pandemic flu is apolitical and does not discriminate between rich and poor. Geographical boundaries are meaningless, and it can circle the globe within hours. In terms of potential impact on mankind, the only thing that comes close is climate change. And, like climate change, pandemic flu is so vast, it can be challenging to wrap your head around it.

When most people hear "flu," they typically think of seasonal flu. No doubt, seasonal flu can be deadly, especially for the very young and old, as well as those with compromised immune systems...
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Hawaii sees spike in brain-infecting parasite
« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2017, 05:36:05 PM »

 CBS/AP April 10, 2017, 12:33 PM
Hawaii sees spike in brain-infecting parasite

A highly magnified image of rat lungworm parasite larva.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Health officials in Maui, Hawaii, said six cases of a brain-invading parasite called rat lungworm disease have been reported on the island over the past three months.

Three of the cases have been confirmed, while a seventh involves a Maui woman who believes she contracted the parasite on the Big Island, Maui District Health Officer Dr. Lorrin Pang said Tuesday.

Hawaii’s second largest island has seen only two cases of the disease -- known to the medical community as Angiostrongylus -- in the past decade.

Rat lungworm disease is a condition in which parasitic worm larvae infect people’s brains. It is carried by rats and transmitted by snails and slugs.

Officials say residents can reduce the risk of contracting the potentially life-threatening disease by thoroughly washing fruits and vegetables before consumption.

Experts are still determining the best way to get rid of the invasive slugs, Pang said. Smashing, burying or burning them does not deter rats from eating them and restarting the cycle of rat lungworm.

“The slug is easy to kill, but the parasite, it’s not so easy,” he said.

State epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park said there is an average of about 10 rat lungworm cases each year statewide and that the recent spike is concerning. A vast majority of Hawaii’s cases are reported on the Big Island.

The infection can cause a rare type of meningitis that triggers severe headaches and stiffness of the neck, tingling or painful feelings in the skin or extremities, fever, nausea and vomiting, according to the state Department of Health Disease Investigation Branch. Temporary paralysis of the face and light sensitivity may also occur.

“If you could imagine, it’s like having a slow-moving bullet go through your brain and there’s no rhyme or reason why it’s going to hang out in this part of the brain or that part of the brain,” Park said.

There is no specific treatment for the infection, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most infections resolve spontaneously, but sometimes surgery is required to remove portions of inflamed intestine.
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Plague: Fleas in Arizona Test Positive for Easily Spread and Fatal Disease
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2017, 12:50:59 AM »

 Tech & Science
Plague: Fleas in Arizona Test Positive for Easily Spread and Fatal Disease
By Jessica Firger On 8/14/17 at 2:45 PM

Fleas in two Arizona counties are carrying bubonic plague, an infectious disease that took the lives of millions of people in the Middle Ages, according to news reports. So far there have been no reported illness and deaths.

Health officials in Navajo and Coconino counties in Arizona recently issued a warning to the general public after fleas in the northern part of the state tested positive for Yersinia pestis, the bacteria that causes the bubonic plague. Humans can contract the plague in a number of ways. In addition to flea bites, people can pick up the bacteria by handling the fluids or tissue of a rodent or another animal that has the illness. The plague can also be transmitted through bodily fluids such as respiratory droplets.

“Navajo County Health Department is urging the public to take precautions to reduce their risk of exposure to this serious disease, which can be present in fleas, rodents, rabbits and predators that feed upon these animals,” the public health warning states, ABC news reported. “The disease can be transmitted to humans and other animals by the bite of an infected flea or by direct contact with an infected animal.”

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The plague is primarily found on the West Coast of the U.S., especially the southwestern U.S. when cool summers follow wet winters. At the end of June, three people in New Mexico tested positive for the plague as well, according to NPR.

Dr. Amesh Adalja, a public health committee member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and senior associate at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security says the area of the country is vulnerable to the transmission of the plague bacterium.

“Western parts of the United States have had ongoing plague transmission in rodents for over a century,” he says.

Although incidents of plague are minimal these days the risk still exists so people should be vigilant “when dealing with rodents and clear areas of their property that may be attractive to rodents,” says Adalja. He adds that it’s also important for health care providers to be aware of cases and learn to spot symptoms of illness, and to be aware of diagnostic testing and treatment protocols for the illness.

The infectious bacteria that causes plague is rare in the U.S. today. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease and Prevention, an average of seven human cases are diagnosed each year. In 2015, four people in the U.S died from the illness. Worldwide there are roughly 300 cases of the plague each year, according to the World Health Organization.

Symptoms of the plague include sudden onset of fever, headache, chills, and weakness and one or more swollen, tender and painful lymph nodes (called buboes). This form is usually the result of an infected flea bite. The bacteria multiply in the lymph node closest to where the bacteria entered the human body. The disease can be treated effectively with a course of antibiotics, but left untreated the plague can spread to other parts of the body. Without appropriate medical care the illness can be deadly; up to 60 percent of people infected with the pathogen die from it. 
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California's deadly hepatitis A outbreak could last years, official say
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2017, 05:51:56 AM »

California's deadly hepatitis A outbreak could last years, official says

Police officers try to help the homeless find services in San Diego, where poor sanitation has contributed to a hepatitis A outbreak. (John Gastaldo / San Diego Union-Tribune)
By Soumya KarlamanglaContact Reporter

    Diseases and Illnesses Hepatitis

California’s outbreak of hepatitis A, already the nation’s second largest in the last 20 years, could continue for many months, even years, health officials said Thursday.

At least 569 people have been infected and 17 have died of the virus since November in San Diego, Santa Cruz and Los Angeles counties, where local outbreaks have been declared.

Dr. Monique Foster, a medical epidemiologist with the Division of Viral Hepatitis at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters Thursday that California’s outbreak could linger even with the right prevention efforts.

“It’s not unusual for them to last quite some time — usually over a year, one to two years,” Foster said.

That forecast has worried health officials across the state, even in regions where there haven’t yet been cases.

Many are beginning to offer vaccines to their homeless populations, which are considered most at risk. Doctors say that people with hepatitis A could travel and unknowingly infect people in a new community, creating more outbreaks.
San Diego, Santa Cruz and L.A.

San Diego County declared a public health emergency in September because of its hepatitis A outbreak.

Since November, 481 people there have fallen ill, including 17 who died, according to Dr. Eric McDonald with the county’s health department. An additional 57 cases are under investigation, he said.

Hepatitis A outbreak

    481 cases in San Diego County
    70 cases in Santa Cruz County
    12 cases in L.A. County
    6 cases elsewhere in the state

    Sources: County health departments, California public health departments

Hepatitis A is commonly transmitted through contaminated food. The only outbreak in the last 20 years bigger than California’s occurred in Pennsylvania in 2003, when more than 900 people were infected after eating contaminated green onions at a restaurant.

California’s outbreak, however, is spreading from person to person, mostly among the homeless community.

The virus is transmitted from feces to mouth, so unsanitary conditions make it more likely to spread. The city of San Diego has installed dozens of handwashing stations and begun cleaning streets with bleach-spiked water in recent weeks.

McDonald said county health workers have vaccinated 57,000 people in the county who are either homeless, drug users or people in close contact with either group.

“The general population — if you’re not in one of those specific risk groups — is at very low risk, and we’re not recommending vaccinations,” he said.

The outbreak has also made its way to Santa Cruz and L.A. counties, where 70 and 12 people have been diagnosed, respectively.

Officials from both counties say they’ve vaccinated thousands of homeless people and will continue to do so.

New cases linked to the outbreak might not appear for weeks, because it can take up to 50 days for an infected person to show symptoms, said Santa Cruz public health manager Jessica Randolph.

“I don’t think the worst is over,” Randolph said.

A man passes behind a sign warning of an upcoming street cleaning along 17th Street in San Diego.
A man passes behind a sign warning of an upcoming street cleaning along 17th Street in San Diego. Gregory Bull / Associated Press
Where next?

Tenderloin Health Services, a clinic in the San Francisco neighborhood known for its large homeless population, has been offering hepatitis A vaccines to its patients for weeks. The clinic recently held an event in which workers gave shots to 80 people in three hours, said Dr. Andrew Desruisseau, the clinic’s medical director.

“The cases in San Diego and the magnitude of the epidemic there certainly set off alarms in the Bay Area,” he said. So far, there have been 13 hepatitis A cases in San Francisco, but none associated with the outbreak.

Desruisseau said 90% of the clinic’s patients are homeless and many also have other liver problems or are drug users, making the disease especially dangerous.

Typically, only 1 out of every 100 people with hepatitis A dies from the disease, but it appears to have killed a higher rate of people in San Diego because of the population affected, experts say.

All 17 people who have died in the San Diego outbreak had underlying health conditions, including 16 who had liver problems such as hepatitis B or C, McDonald said.

Desruisseau said he was particularly concerned about conditions on the streets in San Francisco.

“With all of the housing crisis and gentrification in San Francisco, we’re seeing a much more condensed homeless population,” he said. “We have a lot of obstacles in keeping it a very sanitary place for our clients.”

Doctors and nurses in several California counties are beginning to offer vaccines to their homeless populations, as recommended by the state health department. Typically only children and people at high risk are vaccinated for hepatitis A.

In Orange County, which has had two hepatitis A cases linked to the outbreak, public health workers have given out 492 vaccines, mostly to homeless people, officials said. County nurses have also been visiting shelters and parks to vaccinate people.

Some officials, including in Riverside and Sacramento counties, also said they were reviewing their sanitation protocols for homeless encampments. An L.A. councilman recently called for more toilets in neighborhoods such as skid row and Venice in light of the local hepatitis cases.

Many have blamed San Diego’s outbreak on a lack of public bathrooms near homeless encampments.

In Oakland, city workers, represented by SEIU Local 1021, sent a letter to City Hall last month saying they feared a hepatitis A outbreak in the region’s homeless community. So far, there haven’t been any cases in Oakland or the rest of Alameda County, but city safety steward Brian Clay said he believed the city has allowed unsanitary conditions in homeless encampments.

Oakland city officials did not respond to a request for comment.

“There’s syringes, there’s human feces, there are dead animals, rats alive, and dead rats … pee bottles, five-gallon buckets used as toilets,” Clay said. “We’re definitely concerned about this added threat of hepatitis A.”

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Twitter: @skarlamangla


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3:30 p.m.: This article was updated with additional details about the outbreak.

This article was originally published at 12:10 p.m.
Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
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Galveston man dies of flesh-eating bacteria from Harvey
« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2017, 12:12:00 AM »

Galveston man dies of flesh-eating bacteria from Harvey

Galveston man dies of flesh-eating bacteria from Harvey
Tuesday, October 24, 2017 09:06AM
A Galveston man's death last week is being blamed on a flesh-eating bacteria contracted in Hurricane Harvey's floodwater.

Galveston County Health District said the 31-year-old man was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis, a rare bacterial infection that kills soft tissue. The man died on Oct. 16.

According to health officials, the man recently worked on repairing several homes damaged by Harvey flooding.

This marks another death stemming from a bacterial infection directly from Harvey. Nancy Reed, 77, died after falling in a home contaminated by flood water. Reed had contracted the virus, according to Harris County Medical Examiner's Office.

Another man in Missouri City had a mosquito bite infected as he kayaked through floodwaters. He underwent three surgeries but is on the road to recovery.

READ MORE: Flesh-eating bacteria strikes Missouri City man during Harvey

Medical officials emphasized proper wound care in preventing infections. They urged people to adhere to the following:

    Keep open wounds covered with clean, dry bandages until healed.

    Don't delay first aid of even minor, non-infected wounds (like blisters, scrapes or any break in the skin).

    Avoid contact with natural bodies of water (lakes, rivers, oceans) if you have an open wound or skin infection.

    Wash hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub if washing is not possible.

    Seek medical attention for redness, swelling or fever.
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Offline Eddie

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Re: Killer Superbugs!
« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2017, 05:28:30 AM »
Nasty strains of bacteria in coastal bays have been killing more people every year here. It's the rising water temperatures. The usual situation is that someone is swimming or fishing in one of the shallower bays. They get a cut or scratch infected and it just goes ballistic in a day or two, before they realize it's much of a problem.

Not surprising Harvey is spreading it around.
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MOAR Scarlet Fever: Scientists Confused
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2017, 12:49:46 AM »
They just can't figure out this tough problem.  ::)


Scarlet Fever: A Sudden and Dramatic Outbreak Has Been Recorded in England, and Scientists Can’t Explain Why
By Katherine Hignett On 11/28/17 at 10:12 AM
Scarlet Fever

Public health experts have discovered a dramatic resurgence of scarlet fever in England. A disease in decline since the 19th century, scientists cannot explain the sudden increase.

Rates of scarlet fever have been falling around the world for centuries. Characterized by a red rash like sandpaper, the disease can lead to kidney failure, sepsis and even death. It is caused by bacteria linked to strep throat, and most commonly affects children.

Published in Lancet Infectious Diseases, Theresa Lamagni and her team searched through Public Health England’s records from 1911 to 2016. They came across a sudden escalation of scarlet fever cases in 2014. More than 15,000 cases were reported that year–three times those in 2013, and the highest rate for 50 years. Rates continued to rise through 2015 and 2016, which saw 17,696 and 19,206 cases respectively.

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Following the 1924 development of a scarlet fever test and vaccine by Gladys Henry Dick and George Frederick Dick, the disease declined in the United Kingdom and the United States. The advent of penicillin in the 1940s stifled the disease further, leading to substantially lower rates around the world. Before these interventions, however, the prevalence of the disease had been dropping for at least 200 years. Just like today’s increase, the researchers note, no one really knows why this happened.

"Whilst current rates are nowhere near those seen in the early 1900s, the magnitude of the recent upsurge is greater than any documented in the last century," said Lamagni, who works at Public Health England. "Whilst notifications so far for 2017 suggest a slight decrease in numbers, we continue to monitor the situation carefully...and research continues to further investigate the rise."
International outbreaks of scarlet fever

11_28_Baby feet There has been a vast increase in scarlet fever cases in England, and experts do not know why. Amy the Nurse/Flickr

This is not the first time scarlet fever has reemerged in recent years. Asia has seen epidemics of scarlet fever, with the most recent claiming two lives in Hong Kong in 2011. Academics linked these deaths—the first recorded in Hong Kong for a decade—to an antibiotic-resistant strain of the disease.

Antibiotic resistance is escalating around the world, with multidrug resistant Escherichia coli (E.coli) bacteria recently observed among U.S. children.

Reasons for the sudden English outbreak elude researchers. The researchers speculate that the resurgence could be driven in part by an increase in media coverage of scarlet fever, leading to better reporting. However, concrete evidence for such an explanation is lacking.
Stark impact on public health

The public health implications of the resurgence in England have been “substantial," the authors write. Finding the causes, they say, must be a priority. "We encourage parents to be aware of the symptoms of scarlet fever and to contact their general practitioner if they think their child might have it," Lamagni said.

In a linked comment, also published in The Lancet, University of Queensland researchers Mark J. Walker and Stephan Brouwer urge a global response to local outbreaks of scarlet fever. “Heightened global surveillance for the dissemination of scarlet fever is warranted,” they write, citing the unexplained resurgence of the disease.

“The current upsurge is both real and truly falls beyond that previously documented suggesting an exceptional cause and not simply reflecting a natural cycle,” they continue. “Further understanding of the drivers behind the rise is essential to guide future prevention strategies.”
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Stopping the Rise of Superbugs by Making Them Fight For Food
« Reply #9 on: December 18, 2017, 02:36:33 AM »
What could possibly go wrong?  ::)


Stopping the Rise of Superbugs by Making Them Fight For Food

A new strategy prevents parasites from adapting to drugs by intensifying the competition between them.

The history of antibiotics is a history of running in place. Two years after the first of these life-saving drugs—penicillin—was mass-produced, bacteria that resisted the drug became widespread, too. With grim inevitability, the same events have unfolded for every other drug. Every time scientists identify a new substance that can hold back the tide of infectious disease, resistant superbugs surge over that barrier in a matter of years.

The evolution of drug-resistant microbes is unavoidable, but it’s not instantaneous. And one might reasonably wonder why. Microbes have been around for billions of years. They have had, quite literally, all the time in the world to invent every possible biochemical trick, including ways of defusing antibiotics that they themselves use to kill and suppress each other. So why aren’t all microbes already resistant to all drugs?

“The reason is that resistance, like any superpower, comes at a cost,” says Nina Wale, from the University of Michigan. For example, microbes could create pumps that flush out any killer drugs, but those pumps cost energy to build and maintain. These costs mean that, under normal conditions, resistant microbes grow more slowly than their susceptible peers, and are almost always outcompeted. But antibiotics tip the balance of this competition by finally giving the resistant microbes a huge advantage; their susceptible rivals die off, and they can finally take over.

“That’s our in,” says Wale. “Competition is the force that keeps resistance down in nature. Maybe we can harness that competition to keep them down before they even get going.” She and her colleagues, led by Andrew Read at Pennsylvania State University, have devised a way of preventing the evolution of drug-resistant microbes, by putting them at a competitive disadvantage even when antibiotics are around.

The team proved this concept by studying mice infected with malarial parasites. When Wale and her colleagues treated the mice with the drug pyrimethamine, resistant parasites emerged as expected. But these parasites have a weakness: They’re uniquely hungry for a substance called PABA, which they convert into folate, an essential nutrient. Normally, malarial parasites have other ways of making folate. But these alternatives are shut down by the same mutations that make the parasites resistant to pyrimethamine. So when the parasites evolve to resist the drug, they also become uniquely dependent on PABA for their folate-making needs.

When Wale deprived them of PABA, she not only delayed the emergence of resistant parasites, but completely prevented it. “I was bowled over,” she says. “I plotted the data, and I was sitting on my bed, shaking slightly.”

It’s not that the lack of PABA starves the resistant parasites outright; instead, it makes them less competitive than the susceptible ones. When Wale infected the mice only with resistant parasites, they still became sick. But whenever she infected them with both resistant and susceptible ones, the latter always took over, allowing the pyrimethamine to do its job. That’s encouraging, Wale says, especially because she used tens of thousands of resistant parasites in these competitive experiments—far more than would normally exist when they first emerge in the real world. “Even when the horse has bolted and resistance is already here, by intensifying competition, we can buy ourselves more time,” she says.

Here’s the future that Wale envisions. Rather than simply seeing parasites as targets, we view them as organisms in their own right. We work out the nutrients they need, and how those requirements change as they evolve resistance to drugs. We then identify chemicals that deprive them of said nutrients. These “resource limiters” aren’t meant to kill the parasites, but to put the resistant ones at a perpetual disadvantage so a standard antibiotic can finish off the rest. It’s like “developing anti-spinach” to stop Popeye from becoming strong, Wale says.

“It’s promising,” says Heather Hendrickson, from Massey University. And it’s clearly very effective in this particular setup involving mice and malaria. Whether it would work for other superbugs, including bacteria like staph or E. coli, is a matter of detail. “It will really rely on the strength of competition between the resistant and susceptible versions, and the degree to which we can tip the scale in favor of the drug-susceptible ones,” she says.

Of course, it’s possible that microbes will evolve to resist the resource limiters too. But Wale thinks that’s unlikely. Usually, microbes evolve to resist drugs by getting rid of them, neutralizing them, or changing the molecules that they are designed to attack. But those solutions “wouldn’t work against not being given something,” Wale says.
Related Story

The Plan to Avert Our Post-Antibiotic Apocalypse

If the approach pans out more broadly, it might give us more options for controlling infectious diseases, beyond just developing more antibiotics. That task has become increasingly difficult. Only a few new antibiotics are in development, and no major new types have emerged for decades. But there are plenty of potential resource-limiting drugs around. They’re often ignored because they don’t kill microbes outright, but they don’t need to be lethal to thwart the emergence of resistance. If scientists can identify these substances, and pair them with existing antibiotics, they could prolong the usefulness of our current arsenal.

“It’s going to be very challenging to find these types of [resource-limiting] compounds,” says Tara Smith, from Kent State University. For example, scientists have long talked about using substances that soak up the metals that microbes require, but that idea “is still more theoretical than practical.” Still, “it’s a good example of the outside-of-the-box thinking we need to preserve antimicrobials.”

“This idea of having something that goes along with an antibiotic and reduces the likelihood of resistance is a very productive field,” says Ramanan Laxminarayan, from the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics, and Policy. Some groups are working on substances that stop antibiotics from reaching the gut, and fomenting the evolution of resistant superbugs there. Others are developing chemicals that attack resistance genes directly, transforming superbugs back into their civilian alter egos. “These are all different strategies to just coming up with new antibiotics, and I think this is obviously the right way to go,” Laxminarayan says.

“This should certainly be at the forefront of the strategies we test and employ,” says Pamela Yeh from the University of California, Los Angeles. “I think our long battle with antibiotic resistance show us that we'll continue to lose ground against resistant pathogens if we don't consider the environment of the pathogen along with the pathogen itself.”
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A Federal Ban on Making Lethal Viruses Is Lifted
« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2017, 06:46:43 AM »
What could possibly go wrong?  ::)


A Federal Ban on Making Lethal Viruses Is Lifted

The N.I.H. will create expert panels to assess controversial
research into creating pathogens that easily infect humans.

By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr.DEC. 19, 2017

Federal officials on Tuesday ended a moratorium imposed three years ago on funding research that alters germs to make them more lethal.

Such work can now proceed, said Dr. Francis S. Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, but only if a scientific panel decides that the benefits justify the risks.

Some scientists are eager to pursue these studies because they may show, for example, how a bird flu could mutate to more easily infect humans, or could yield clues to making a better vaccine.

Critics say these researchers risk creating a monster germ that could escape the lab and seed a pandemic.

Now, a government panel will require that researchers show that their studies in this area are scientifically sound and that they will be done in a high-security lab.

The pathogen to be modified must pose a serious health threat, and the work must produce knowledge — such as a vaccine — that would benefit humans. Finally, there must be no safer way to do the research.

“We see this as a rigorous policy,” Dr. Collins said. “We want to be sure we’re doing this right.”

In October 2014, all federal funding was halted on efforts to make three viruses more dangerous: the flu virus, and those causing Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

But the new regulations apply to any pathogen that could potentially cause a pandemic. For example, they would apply to a request to create an Ebola virus transmissible through the air, said Dr. Collins.

There has been a long, fierce debate about projects — known as “gain of function” research — intended to make pathogens more deadly or more transmissible.

In 2011, an outcry arose when laboratories in Wisconsin and the Netherlands revealed that they were trying to mutate the lethal H5N1 bird flu in ways that would let it jump easily between ferrets, which are used to model human flu susceptibility.

Tensions rose in 2014 after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention accidentally exposed lab workers to anthrax and shipped a deadly flu virus to a laboratory that had asked for a benign strain.
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That year, the N.I.H. also found vials of smallpox in a freezer that had been forgotten for 50 years.

When the moratorium was imposed, it effectively halted 21 projects, Dr. Collins said. In the three years since, the N.I.H. created exceptions that funded ten of those projects. Five were flu-related, and five concerned the MERS virus.

That virus is a coronavirus carried by camels that has infected about 2,100 people since it was discovered in 2012, and has killed about a third of them, according to the World Health Organization.

Critics of such research had mixed reactions. “There’s less than meets the eye,” said Richard H. Ebright, a molecular biologist and bioweapons expert at Rutgers University.

Although he applauded the requirement for review panels, he said he would prefer independent panels to government ones.

He also wanted the rules to cover all such research rather than just government-funded work, as well as clearer minimum safety standards and a mandate that the benefits “outweigh” the risks instead of merely “justifying” them.

Marc Lipsitch, an epidemiologist who directs the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at the Harvard School of Public Health, called review panels “a small step forward.”

Recent disease-enhancing experiments, he said, “have given us some modest scientific knowledge and done almost nothing to improve our preparedness for pandemics, and yet risked creating an accidental pandemic.”

Therefore, he said, he hoped the panels would turn down such work.

Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said he believed some laboratories could do such work safely, but wanted restrictions on what they could publish.

“If someone finds a way to make the Ebola virus more dangerous, I don’t believe that should be available to anybody off the street who could use it for nefarious purposes,” he said.

“Physicists long ago learned to distinguish between what can be publicly available and what’s classified,” he added, referring to nuclear weapons research. “We want to keep some of this stuff on a need-to-know basis.”
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First they were living in tents, now the hospitals are in tents.


Flu 'War Zone' Cripples California Hospitals; Tents Set Up to Handle Influx of Patients
By Pam Wright5 hours

Young and Fit But Still Died From Flu
A 21-year-old man who prided himself on fitness died from the flu after not taking it seriously. Now his family is sharing his story as a warning.
At a Glance

    California hospitals have been overwhelmed with flu patients this year.At least 42 people younger than 65 have died in the state. Some hospitals have set up tents to triage the ill.

The flu epidemic that has hit the entire nation has been particularly brutal in California, where the situation at area hospitals is being charazterized as a "flu war zone."

According to the Los Angeles Times, hospitals are so overwhelmed by the influx of flu patients that they have been forced to fly in nurses from out of state and are turning away ambulances. Some have set up tents in parking lots to triage the inordinate numbers of flu patients coming for care, while scheduled, voluntary surgeries are being postponed to free up resources.

“Those are all creative things we wouldn’t typically do, but in a crisis like this, we’re looking at,” Michelle Gunnett, a nurse who oversees emergency services for a Southern California hospital system, told the Times.

When Candysse Miller of Redlands, California, took her 88-year-old father to a nearby emergency room on Jan. 6, the standing-room-only facility was filled with visibly ill people sneezing and coughing.

“It was like a flu war zone,” Miller told the Times. “I’m not a germophobe or anything, but that will quickly make you one.”

Dr. James McKinnell, an infectious disease specialist at Torrance Memorial Medical Center, said some of the patients are very ill, many sick with multiple strains of the flu, others with the flu and pneumonia.

“There’s a little bit of a feeling of being in the trenches. we’re really battling these infections to try to get them under control,” McKinnell told the Times. “We’re still not sure if this is going to continue … but it certainly is an inauspicious start.”

Health care workers at Kaweah Delta Medical Center in the Central California city of Visalia have been working double and triple shifts to treat patients.

“It’s like a MASH unit,” Dr. Ed Hirsch, the hospital’s chief medical officer, told KRON.

Cases of influenza have reached epidemic proportions, touching nearly all parts of the United States and killing at least 20 children, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. In California, at least 42 people younger than 65 have died since October, the Times reports.

On Tuesday, doctors with the CDC sat down with the media and health care professionals to provide an update.

"This year what we're seeing is called H3N2 and we know from past seasons when we look back over 10 to 15 years, this virus causes the most hospitalizations, more illnesses," said Dr. Alicia Fry, CDC Epidemiology & Prevention Branch, Influenza Division.

The most recent flu activity.

Fry said it's still too soon to tell whether this season is any worse than any others in the past.

"It seems like a bigger flu season than normal. In reality, when we look in a couple of weeks and we look back, it may be a typical flu season like we have every year," Fry said.

(MORE: Hospitals Desperate for IV Bags in Flu Season)

According to a CDC weekly report released last week, the flu is widespread in all states except Hawaii and the District of Columbia. At least 60,000 cases of the flu have been reported. Numbers are expected to rise with the new weekly CDC flu report that will be released on Friday.

The CDC notes that this year's vaccine is only expected to be about 32 percent effective because H3N2 tends to mutate. The strains used in the vaccine are determined months before the season actually begins so it's difficult to be 100 percent accurate.

"How well the vaccine works can depend in part on the match between the vaccine virus used to produce the vaccine and the circulating viruses that season," the CDC notes. "It’s not possible to predict what viruses will be most predominant during the upcoming season."

During this year's flu season in Australia, the vaccine was only 10 percent effective.

Still, the CDC recommends that all people over the age of five get the shot to reduce the symptoms of the virus.

"It's not too late to get a flu vaccine — as long as flu is spreading vaccination should continue," the CDC's Kristen Nordlund told "It’s important to know that it takes about two weeks for protection to set in."

(MORE: Places You’re More Likely to Catch the Flu)

According to the CDC, people at high risk for flu complications include children younger than five, adults 65 years and older and pregnant women. Those with medical conditions such as asthma, chronic lung or heart disease, diabetes and obesity are also at risk for flu complications, including pneumonia.

Anti-virals like Tamiflu are effective in lessening the symptoms of H3N2, but are most effective if administered within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms.

The CDC recommends individuals presenting with symptoms like fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue seek medical attention as quickly as possible.
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😷 Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report
« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2018, 12:52:16 AM »
Quite a few Dead People so far from this year's Flu Season.  If it makes it over to Africa to incubate and recombine with some Ebola virus, we might have another Spanish Flu of 1918 in the making for next year.  Or worse.


Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report

Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report

FluView: A Weekly Influenza Surveillance Report Prepared by the Influenza Division

2017-2018 Influenza Season Week 3 ending January 20, 2018

All data are preliminary and may change as more reports are received.


During week 3 (January 14-20, 2018), influenza activity increased in the United States.

  • Viral Surveillance: The most frequently identified influenza virus subtype reported by public health laboratories during week 3 was influenza A(H3). The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza in clinical laboratories slightly increased.
  • Pneumonia and Influenza Mortality: The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was above the system-specific epidemic threshold in the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Mortality Surveillance System.
  • Influenza-associated Pediatric Deaths: Seven influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported.
  • Influenza-associated Hospitalizations: A cumulative rate of 41.9 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 population was reported.
  • Outpatient Illness Surveillance:The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) was 6.6%, which is above the national baseline of 2.2%. All 10 regions reported ILI at or above region-specific baseline levels. New York City, Puerto Rico, and 39 states experienced high ILI activity; the District of Columbia and five states experienced moderate ILI activity; three states experienced low ILI activity; and three states experienced minimal ILI activity.
  • Geographic Spread of Influenza:The geographic spread of influenza in Puerto Rico and 49 states was reported as widespread; Guam reported regional activity; the District of Columbia and one state reported local activity; and the U.S. Virgin Islands reported sporadic activity.

National and Regional Summary of Select Surveillance Components

HHS Surveillance Regions*Data for current weekData cumulative since October 1, 2017 (week 40)
Out-patient ILINumber of jurisdictions reporting regional or widespread activity§% respiratory specimens positive for flu in clinical laboratoriesA(H1N1)pdm09A (H3)A (Subtyping not Performed)B Victoria lineageB Yamagata lineageB lineage not performedPediatric Deaths
Influenza test results from public health laboratories only
Nation Elevated 51 of 54 26.7% 1,530 15,376 299 184 1,750 730 37
Region 1 Elevated 6 of 6 20.2% 54 657 2 4 85 1 0
Region 2 Elevated 3 of 4 20.7% 58 625 5 1 68 46 2
Region 3 Elevated 5 of 6 23.2% 297 1,351 2 20 244 15 1
Region 4 Elevated 8 of 8 25.2% 259 1,076 63 4 95 124 7
Region 5 Elevated 6 of 6 27.5% 217 3,354 34 21 245 47 5
Region 6 Elevated 5 of 5 30.5% 190 755 16 2 117 78 7
Region 7 Elevated 4 of 4 24.8% 27 763 19 0 169 5 0
Region 8 Elevated 6 of 6 22.3% 74 1,405 14 10 211 8 1
Region 9 Elevated 4 of 5 23.9% 228 4,550 130 117 322 296 12
Region 10 Elevated 4 of 4 27.5% 126 840 14 5 194 110 2

*[url=][/url] † Elevated means the % of visits for ILI is at or above the national or region-specific baseline § Includes all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands ‡ National data are for current week; regional data are for the most recent three weeks

U.S. Virologic Surveillance:

WHO and NREVSS collaborating laboratories, which include both public health and clinical laboratories located in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia, report to CDC the total number of respiratory specimens tested for influenza and the number positive for influenza by virus type. In addition, public health laboratories also report the influenza A subtype (H1 or H3) and influenza B lineage information of the viruses they test and the age or age group of the persons from whom the specimens were collected.

Additional virologic data, including national, regional and select state-level data, can be found at: [url=][/url]. Age group proportions and totals by influenza subtype reported by public health laboratories can be found at: [url=][/url].

The results of tests performed by clinical laboratories are summarized below.

Week 3Data Cumulative since October 1, 2017 (Week 40)
No. of specimens tested 50,276 513,252
No. of positive specimens (%) 13,421 (26.7%) 83,450 (16.3%)
Positive specimens by type
Influenza A 10,536 (78.5%) 68,517 (82.1%)
Influenza B 2,885 (21.5%) 14,933 (17.9%)
INFLUENZA Virus Isolated View National and Regional Level Graphs and Data | View Chart Data | View Full Screen | View PowerPoint Presentation

The results of tests performed by public health laboratories, as well as the age group distribution of influenza positive tests, during the current week are summarized below.

Week 3Data Cumulative since October 1, 2017 (Week 40)
No. of specimens tested 2,209 39,400
No. of positive specimens* 1,349 19,869
Positive specimens by type/subtype
Influenza A 1,136 (84.2%) 17,205 (86.6%)
A(H1N1)pmd09 144 (12.7%) 1,530 (8.9%)
H3N2 914 (80.5%) 15,376 (89.4%)
Subtyping not performed 78 (6.9%) 299 (1.7%)
Influenza B 213 (15.8%) 2,664 (13.2%)
Yamagata lineage 127 (59.6%) 1,750 (65.7%)
Victoria lineage 8 (3.8%) 184 (6.9%)
Lineage not performed 78 (36.6%) 730 (27.4%)

*The percent of specimens testing positive for influenza is not reported because public health laboratories often receive samples that have already tested positive for influenza at a clinical laboratory and therefore percent positive would not be a valid indicator of influenza activity. Additional information is available at [url=][/url].

INFLUENZA Virus Isolated View National and Regional Level Graphs and Data | View Chart Data | View Full Screen | View PowerPoint Presentation

INFLUENZA Virus Isolated View Interactive Application | View Full Screen

Influenza Virus Characterization:

Close monitoring of influenza viruses is required to better assess the potential impact on public health. CDC characterizes influenza viruses through one or more tests including genomic sequencing and hemagglutination inhibition (HI) (i.e., hemagglutination inhibition (HI) and/or neutralization assays). These data are used to monitor for changes in circulating influenza viruses and to compare how similar currently circulating influenza viruses are to the reference viruses used for developing influenza vaccines. Antigenic and genetic characterization of circulating influenza viruses can give an indication of the influenza vaccine's ability to produce an immune response against the wide array of influenza viruses co-circulating, but annual vaccine effectiveness estimates are needed to determine how much protection has been provided to the population by vaccination.

For nearly all influenza-positive surveillance samples received at CDC, next-generation sequencing is performed to determine the genetic identity of circulating influenza viruses and to monitor viruses for evidence of genetic changes. Viruses are classified into genetic clades/subclades based on analysis of the genetic sequences of the HA gene segments. However, genetic changes do not always result in antigenic change. Extensive genetic variation may exist in circulating viruses, with no evidence of substantial antigenic drift. Antigenic drift is evaluated by comparing cell-propagated circulating viruses with cell-propagated reference viruses representing currently recommended vaccine components.

CDC has antigenically or genetically characterized 1,041 influenza viruses collected during October 1, 2017 – January 20, 2018, and submitted by U.S. laboratories, including 181 influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses, 561 influenza A(H3N2) viruses, and 299 influenza B viruses.

  • A (H1N1)pdm09: Phylogenetic analysis of the HA genes from 181 A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses showed that all belonged to clade 6B.1. Eighty-five A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses were antigenically characterized, and all were antigenically similar (analyzed using HI with ferret antisera) to the reference 6B.1 virus A/Michigan/45/2015, representing the recommended influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 reference virus for the 2017–18 Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccines.
  • A (H3N2): Phylogenetic analysis of the HA genes from 561 A(H3N2) viruses revealed extensive genetic diversity with multiple clades/subclades co-circulating. The HA genes of circulating viruses belonged to clade 3C.2a (n=461), subclade 3C.2a1 (n=93) or clade 3C.3a (n=7). One hundred ninety four influenza A(H3N2) viruses were antigenically characterized, and 191 (98.5%) A(H3N2) viruses tested were well-inhibited (reacting at titers that were within fourfold of the homologous virus titer) by ferret antisera raised against A/Michigan/15/2014 (3C.2a), a cell propagated A/Hong Kong/4801/2014-like reference virus representing the A(H3N2) component of 2017–18 Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccines.

Influenza B Viruses

  • B/Victoria: Phylogenetic analysis of 43 B/Victoria-lineage viruses indicate that all HA genes belonged to genetic clade V1A, the same genetic clade as the vaccine reference virus, B/Brisbane/60/2008. However, a small number of viruses had a 6-nucleotide deletion (encoding amino acids 162 and 163) in the HA (abbreviated as V1A-2Del). Sixteen (59.3%) B/Victoria lineage viruses were well-inhibited by ferret antisera raised against cell -propagated B/Brisbane/60/2008 reference virus, representing a recommended B virus component of 2017–18 Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccines. Eleven (40.7%) B/Victoria lineage viruses reacted poorly (at titers that were 8-fold or greater reduced compared with the homologous virus titer) with ferret antisera raised against cell-propagated B/Brisbane/60/2008, and these viruses had the V1A-2Del HA.
  • B/Yamagata: Phylogenetic analysis of 256 influenza B/Yamagata-lineage viruses indicate that the HA genes belonged to clade Y3. A total of 152 influenza B/Yamagata-lineage viruses were antigenically characterized, and all were antigenically similar to cell propagated B/Phuket/3073/2013, the reference vaccine virus representing the influenza B/Yamagata-lineage component of the 2017–18 Northern Hemisphere quadrivalent vaccines.

The majority of U.S. viruses submitted for characterization come from state and local public health laboratories. Due to Right Size Roadmap considerations, specimen submission guidance to laboratories is that, if available, 2 influenza A(H1N1)pdm09, 2 influenza A(H3N2), and 2 influenza B viruses be submitted every other week.. Therefore, the numbers of each virus type/subtype characterized should be more balanced across subtypes/lineages but will not reflect the actual proportion of circulating viruses. In the figure below, the results of tests performed by public health labs are shown on the left and CDC sequence results (by genetic clade/subclade) are shown on the right.

Genetic Characterization View Chart Data | View Full Screen | View PowerPoint Presentation

Antiviral Resistance:

Testing of influenza A (H1N1)pdm09, influenza A (H3N2), and influenza B virus isolates for resistance to neuraminidase inhibitors (oseltamivir, zanamivir, and peramivir) is performed at CDC using a functional assay. Additional influenza A (H1N1)pdm09 and influenza A (H3N2) viruses from clinical samples are tested for mutations known to confer oseltamivir resistance. The data summarized below combine the results of both testing methods. These samples are routinely obtained for surveillance purposes rather than for diagnostic testing of patients suspected to be infected with antiviral-resistant virus.

High levels of resistance to the adamantanes (amantadine and rimantadine) persist among influenza A (H1N1)pdm09 and influenza A (H3N2) viruses (the adamantanes are not effective against influenza B viruses). Therefore, data from adamantane resistance testing are not presented below.

Neuraminidase Inhibitor Resistance Testing Results on Samples Collected Since October 1, 2017




Virus Samples tested (n)

Resistant Viruses, Number (%)

Virus Samples tested (n)

Resistant Viruses, Number (%)

Virus Samples tested (n)

Resistant Viruses, Number (%)

Influenza A (H1N1)pdm09


2 (1.1)


0 (0.0)


2 (1.1)

Influenza A (H3N2)


0 (0.0)


0 (0.0)


0 (0.0)

Influenza B


0 (0.0)


0 (0.0)


0 (0.0)

On December 27, 2017, a Health Advisory was released by CDC providing: 1) a notice about increased influenza A(H3N2) activity and its clinical implications; 2) a summary of influenza antiviral drug treatment recommendations; 3) an update about approved treatment drugs and supply this season; and 4) background information for patients about influenza treatment. More information is available at [url=][/url].

The majority of recently circulating influenza viruses are susceptible to the neuraminidase inhibitor antiviral medications, oseltamivir, zanamivir, and peramivir; however, rare sporadic instances of oseltamivir-resistant and peramivir-resistant influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses and oseltamivir-resistant influenza A(H3N2) viruses have been detected worldwide. Antiviral treatment as early as possible is recommended for patients with confirmed or suspected influenza who have severe, complicated, or progressive illness; who require hospitalization; or who are at high risk for serious influenza-related complications. Additional information on recommendations for treatment and chemoprophylaxis of influenza virus infection with antiviral agents is available at [url=][/url].

Pneumonia and Influenza (P&I) Mortality Surveillance:

Based on National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) mortality surveillance data available on January 25, 2018, 9.1% of the deaths occurring during the week ending January 6, 2018 (week 1) were due to P&I. This percentage is above the epidemic threshold of 7.2% for week 1.

Background: Weekly mortality surveillance data include a combination of machine coded and manually coded causes of death collected from death certificates. Percentages of deaths due to P&I are higher among manually coded records than more rapidly available machine coded records. Due to the additional time needed for manual coding, the initially reported P&I percentages may be lower than percentages calculated from final data. Previous longer backlogs in manual coding have been resolved and death records are now coded within 10 days from receipt of a death record by NCHS.

Region and state-specific data are available at [url=][/url]

INFLUENZA Virus Isolated View Regional and State Level Data | View Chart Data | View Full Screen | View PowerPoint Presentation

Influenza-Associated Pediatric Mortality:

Seven influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported to CDC during week 3. One death was associated with an influenza A(H3) virus and occurred during week 2 (the week ending January 13, 2018). Two deaths were associated with an influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 virus and occurred during weeks 1 and 3 (the weeks ending January 6, 2018, and January 20, 2018, respectively). Three deaths were associated with an influenza A virus for which no subtyping was performed and occurred during weeks 52 and 1 (the weeks ending December 30, 2017, and January 6, 2018, respectively). One death was associated with an influenza B virus and occurred during week 2.

A total of 37 influenza-associated pediatric deaths have been reported for the 2017-2018 season.

Additional data can be found at: [url=][/url].

Click on image to launch interactive tool

View Interactive Application | View Full Screen | View PowerPoint Presentation

Influenza-Associated Hospitalizations:

The Influenza Hospitalization Surveillance Network (FluSurv-NET) conducts population-based surveillance for laboratory-confirmed influenza-related hospitalizations in children younger than 18 years of age (since the 2003-2004 influenza season) and adults (since the 2005-2006 influenza season).

The FluSurv-NET covers more than 70 counties in the 10 Emerging Infections Program (EIP) states (CA, CO, CT, GA, MD, MN, NM, NY, OR, and TN) and additional Influenza Hospitalization Surveillance Project (IHSP) states. The IHSP began during the 2009-2010 season to enhance surveillance during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. IHSP sites included IA, ID, MI, OK and SD during the 2009-2010 season; ID, MI, OH, OK, RI, and UT during the 2010-2011 season; MI, OH, RI, and UT during the 2011-2012 season; IA, MI, OH, RI, and UT during the 2012-2013 season; and MI, OH, and UT during the 2013-2014, 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17, and 2017-18 seasons.

Data gathered are used to estimate age-specific hospitalization rates on a weekly basis, and describe characteristics of persons hospitalized with influenza illness. The rates provided are likely to be an underestimate as influenza-related hospitalizations can be missed, either because testing is not performed, or because cases may be attributed to other causes of pneumonia or other common influenza-related complications.

A total of 11,965 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations were reported between October 1, 2017 and January 20, 2018. The overall hospitalization rate was 41.9 per 100,000 population. The highest rate of hospitalization was among adults aged ≥65 years (183.1 per 100,000 population), followed by adults aged 50-64 (44.2 per 100,000 population) and children aged 0-4 years (27.0 per 100,000 population). Among 11,965 hospitalizations, 10,612 (88.7%) were associated with influenza A virus, 1,295 (10.8%) with influenza B virus, 28 (0.2%) with influenza A virus and influenza B virus co-infection, and 30 (0.3%) with influenza virus for which the type was not determined. Among those with influenza A subtype information, 2,360 (86.4%) were A(H3N2) and 372 (13.6%) were A(H1N1)pdm09 virus.

Among 1,445 hospitalized adults with information on underlying medical conditions, 1,038 (71.8%) had at least one reported underlying medical condition; the most commonly reported were cardiovascular disease, metabolic disorder, obesity, and chronic lung disease. Among 148 hospitalized children with information on underlying medical conditions, 83 (56.1%) had at least one underlying medical condition; the most commonly reported were asthma, neurologic disorder, and obesity. Among 115 hospitalized women of childbearing age (15-44 years) with information on pregnancy status, 29 (25.2%) were pregnant.

Additional FluSurv-NET data can be found at: [url=][/url] and [url=][/url].

Click on graph to launch interactive tool

Data from the Influenza Hospitalization Surveillance Network (FluSurv-NET), a population-based surveillance for influenza related hospitalizations in children and adults in 13 U.S. states. Cumulative incidence rates are calculated using the National Center for Health Statistics’ (NCHS) population estimates for the counties included in the surveillance catchment area.

View Interactive Application | View Full Screen | View PowerPoint Presentation

Click on graph to launch interactive tool2

FluSurv-NET data are preliminary and displayed as they become available. Therefore, figures are based on varying denominators as some variables represent information that may require more time to be collected. Data are refreshed and updated weekly. Asthma includes a medical diagnosis of asthma or reactive airway disease; Cardiovascular diseases include conditions such as coronary heart disease, cardiac valve disorders, congestive heart failure, and pulmonary hypertension; does not include isolated hypertension; Chronic lung diseases include conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchiolitis obliterans, chronic aspiration pneumonia, and interstitial lung disease; Immune suppression includes conditions such as immunoglobulin deficiency, leukemia, lymphoma, HIV/AIDS, and individuals taking immunosuppressive medications; Metabolic disorders include conditions such as diabetes mellitus; Neurologic diseases include conditions such as seizure disorders, cerebral palsy, and cognitive dysfunction; Neuromuscular diseases include conditions such as multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy; Obesity was assigned if indicated in patient's medical chart or if body mass index (BMI) >30 kg/m2; Pregnancy percentage calculated using number of female cases aged between 15 and 44 years of age as the denominator; Renal diseases include conditions such as acute or chronic renal failure, nephrotic syndrome, glomerulonephritis, and impaired creatinine clearance; No known condition indicates that the case did not have any known high risk medical condition indicated in medical chart at the time of hospitalization.

View Interactive Application | View Full Screen | View PowerPoint Presentation

Outpatient Illness Surveillance:

Nationwide during week 3, 6.6% of patient visits reported through the U.S. Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network (ILINet) were due to influenza-like illness (ILI). This percentage is above the national baseline of 2.2%.(ILI is defined as fever (temperature of 100°F [37.8°C] or greater) and cough and/or sore throat.)

Additional ILINet data, including national, regional and select state-level data, are available at [url=][/url].

national levels of ILI and ARI View National and Regional Level Graphs and Data | View Chart Data | View Full Screen | View PowerPoint Presentation

On a regional level, the percentage of outpatient visits for ILI ranged from 2.9% to 11.7% during week 3. All 10 regions reported percentages of outpatient visits for ILI at or above their region specific baselines.

ILINet State Activity Indicator Map:

Data collected in ILINet are used to produce a measure of ILI activity* by state. Activity levels are based on the percent of outpatient visits in a state due to ILI and are compared to the average percent of ILI visits that occur during weeks with little or no influenza virus circulation. Activity levels range from minimal, which would correspond to ILI activity from outpatient clinics being below, or only slightly above, the average, to high, which would correspond to ILI activity from outpatient clinics being much higher than average.

During week 3, the following ILI activity levels were experienced:

  • New York City, Puerto Rico, and 39 states experienced high activity (Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming).
  • The District of Columbia and five states experienced moderate ILI activity (Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, and Vermont).
  • Three states experienced low ILI activity (Alaska, North Dakota and Utah).
  • Three states experienced minimal ILI activity (Delaware, Maine, and Montana).
Click on map to launch interactive tool

*This map uses the proportion of outpatient visits to health care providers for ILI to measure the ILI activity level within a state. It does not, however, measure the extent of geographic spread of flu within a state. Therefore, outbreaks occurring in a single city could cause the state to display high activity levels. Data collected in ILINet may disproportionally represent certain populations within a state, and therefore, may not accurately depict the full picture of influenza activity for the whole state. Data displayed in this map are based on data collected in ILINet, whereas the State and Territorial flu activity map is based on reports from state and territorial epidemiologists. The data presented in this map are preliminary and may change as more data are received. Differences in the data presented here by CDC and independently by some state health departments likely represent differing levels of data completeness with data presented by the state likely being the more complete.

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« Last Edit: January 28, 2018, 02:55:15 AM by RE »
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Child death toll in flu season hits 53 as hospitalizations soar
« Reply #13 on: February 03, 2018, 12:17:52 AM »
My niece died from the flu when she was 17.  It kicked off juvenile diabetes which went undiagnosed and she died from a diabetic coma.  If one of your friends or relatives has a bad case of the flu, make sure her blood sugar levels are taken.


Child death toll in flu season hits 53 as hospitalizations soar
Kim Painter, Special for USA TODAY Published 2:01 p.m. ET Feb. 2, 2018 | Updated 4:44 p.m. ET Feb. 2, 2018

 Health officials say flu season continues to get worse, and there are weeks of suffering ahead. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Friday reported 42 states had heavy flu-related patient traffic last week, up from 39 the week before. (Feb. 2) AP


Sixteen more children have died in a flu season that's recorded 53 child deaths and has seen hospitalization rates at their highest in nearly a decade, federal health officials said Friday.

“This is a very difficult season,” said Anne Schuchat, acting director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Weeks after officials hoped the epidemic might have peaked, it is instead going strong, with illnesses widespread in 48 states and flu activity high in 42 states and the District of Columbia, as of the last full week of January.

"There’s lots of flu occurring simultaneously across most of the U.S.,” said Dan Jernigan, director of the CDC’s influenza division. That coast-to-coast onslaught “is an unusual pattern for flu in the U.S.”

Schuchat and Jernigan told reporters that the overall season now looks worse in some ways than the last severe outbreak, in 2014-2015, but it’s too soon to say what the final toll will be. In that last severe season, an estimated 56,000 people, including 148 children, died. A total of 53 child deaths have been reported so far this year.

The overall impact of the flu is highest among people over age 65, followed this year by people ages 50 to 64, CDC hospitalization data show.

Other details from CDC:

• Since this flu season started, Americans have been hospitalized for the illness at a rate of 51.4 per 100,000 people, the highest level seen since CDC started keeping comparable statistics in 2010.

• The 16 children reported to have died in the last week of January were the most to die in a single week since the 2014-2015 season.

• A total of 7.1% of visits to health care providers in late January were for flu-like illnesses, a weekly intensity level surpassed just twice in the past 15 years, during the severe flu season of 2003-2004 and in 2009, when a new swine flu virus caused a pandemic.

Even before the flu season started, doctors said it could be on the tough side, because the dominant strain of virus was predicted — correctly — to be a type of influenza A called H3N2. The strain tends to cause worse illnesses than other strains, and vaccines tend to be less effective fighting it.

CDC officials have been guessing the current vaccine might prevent 30% of H3N2 infections, but preliminary data from Canada, released this week, suggest effectiveness is lower —around 17%. Earlier data from Australia put the number at 10%. CDC will put out its own vaccine effectiveness estimate later this month, Schuchat said.

Staying hydrated and eating good food is essential when you're sick. Watch the video to find out what is best for the flu. Time

In the meantime, the CDC continues to recommend the flu vaccine, not only to prevent the flu but potentially lessen its severity, Schuchat said. Strains of the flu with greater vaccine susceptibility are expected to become more common as the season progresses, she added.

Some spot shortages of vaccines and anti-viral medications have been reported, but nationwide supplies are adequate, Schuchat said.

And there are some signs of improvement in some places: Oregon fell off the list of states with “widespread” flu — a possible harbinger of lessening misery in the Western part of the country, Schuchat said.

“We are not out of the woods yet, but there are steps everyone can take to fight the flu,” she said, including staying home when you are sick, covering your coughs and frequently washing your hands.
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⚕️ The killer disease with no vaccine
« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2018, 03:03:18 AM »

The killer disease with no vaccine
By Dr Charlie Weller Head of Vaccines, Wellcome Trust

    4 hours ago

Image copyright Alamy

Since the beginning of the year, Nigeria has been gripped by an outbreak of a deadly disease. Lassa fever is one of a number of illnesses which can cause dangerous epidemics, but for which no vaccine currently exists.

Lassa fever is not a new disease, but the current outbreak is unprecedented, spreading faster and further than ever before.

Health workers are overstretched, and a number have themselves become infected and died.

The potentially fatal disease is a so-called "viral haemorrhagic fever", which can affect many organs, and damage the body's blood vessels.

But it is difficult to treat.

Most people who catch Lassa will have only mild symptoms such as fever, headache and general weakness. They may have none at all.

However, in severe cases, it can mimic another deadly haemorrhagic fever, Ebola, causing bleeding through the nose, mouth and other parts of the body.

About 1% of cases are thought to be fatal, but women who contract the disease late in pregnancy face an 80% chance of losing their child, or dying themselves.
Lassa fever outbreak in Nigeria


fatality rate

    1081 suspected cases (1 January - 25 February)

    317 confirmed cases

    14 health care workers affected in six states

Nigeria Centre for Disease Control

More than 1,000 suspected cases of Lassa have been reported across Nigeria since January, according to the country's Centre for Disease Control.

About 90 people are thought to have died so far, but the true number may be much higher, because Lassa is so hard to diagnose.

In the early stages it's almost impossible to distinguish from other common diseases like malaria and dengue.

With no readily available test, the only way to confirm a diagnosis is to analyse a blood or tissue sample in one of small number of specialised laboratories.

The disease was first identified in the Nigerian town of Lassa in 1969, after an outbreak in a mission hospital.

It has since been seen in many West African countries including Ghana, Mali and Sierra Leone.

However, this outbreak is causing particular concern because the number of cases is unusually high for the time of year.

Health officials are working to understand why.

Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption Multimammate rodents spread Lassa virus via their urine and droppings

Outbreaks can be influenced by seasonal weather conditions, which affect the numbers of the virus's natural host - the multimammate rat.

These small mammals are common across West Africa, where they easily find their way into homes.

Another possibility is that the high number of cases reflects heightened public awareness.

Or it's possible that something about the virus has changed.

Most people catch Lassa fever from anything contaminated with rat urine, faeces, blood or saliva - through eating, drinking or simply handling contaminated objects in the home.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Authorities have banned the consumption of raw garri, a popular Nigerian food, which it says can spread Lassa fever

It can also pass from person to person through bodily fluids, meaning healthcare workers and people taking care of sick relatives without protective equipment are particularly at risk.

The incubation period for Lassa is up to three weeks. Researchers are trying to work out whether - like Ebola - Lassa can stay in the body and be passed on through sexual contact even after illness subsides.

Nigeria has a strong public health system, and is used to dealing with epidemics like this.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is working with Nigerian authorities to help coordinate the response and the UK government has deployed a team of experts from its Public Health Rapid Support Team.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Sales of rat poison are said to have soared in areas where cases of Lassa have been confirmed

Those living in affected areas are being advised to take basic precautions: blocking holes that may allow rats to enter their homes, disposing of rubbish in covered dustbins, and storing food and water in sealed containers.

People are advised to wear protective gloves when caring for anyone who may have Lassa fever, and to carry out safe burial practices.

Despite these measures, the fight against Lassa - and other infectious diseases - is hampered by a lack of effective medical tools like diagnostic tests, treatments and vaccines.

It is likely that a vaccine could be found for Lassa - reducing the possibility of an outbreak becoming a global health emergency - but as with other epidemic diseases that mainly affect poorer countries, progress has stalled.

Vaccine development is a long, complex and costly process. This is especially true for emerging epidemic diseases, where a prototype vaccine can usually only be tested where there is an outbreak.

A new organisation called CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations) - set up in 2017 with financial support from the Wellcome Trust, national governments and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation - hopes to accelerate vaccine production.

Lassa is one of the diseases on its hit list and it's hoped one or more promising vaccines will be ready for large-scale testing in the next five years.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Ebola claimed more than 11,000 lives across West Africa in the 2014-2015 outbreak

The WHO has drawn up a list of other serious, but often poorly understood diseases, with the potential for devastating outbreaks, including MERS, Nipah, Rift Valley Fever and, of course, Ebola.

It plans to highlight gaps in our knowledge of these diseases and to begin further research.

But research alone isn't enough.

Stronger health systems are needed in the countries where epidemics are most likely to arise.

This could mean building better healthcare facilities and training staff to recognise and respond to outbreaks.

It will also mean working with communities to understand how to identify outbreaks at an early stage and prevent their spread.

About this piece

This analysis piece was commissioned by the BBC from an expert working for an outside organisation.

Dr Charlie Weller is head of vaccines at the Wellcome Trust, which describes itself as a global charitable foundation working to improve health for everyone. Follow her at @DrCharlieWeller.
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