AuthorTopic: Killer Superbugs!  (Read 472 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.

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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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