The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) is reporting a cluster of a mystery respiratory illness. The ADPH says seven people have been admitted to a hospital with fever, cough and shortness of breath. Two of the patients have died.
The ADPH says lab samples are currently being tested at the ADPH Bureau of Clinical Laboratories and CDC's Respiratory Laboratory. The ADPH and CDC are both recommending the hospital use respiratory precautions, which includes staff wearing N95 masks.
NBC reports that state helath officials say there is no evidence of any flu virus, including the deadly new H7N9 strain in China. NBC also says none of the patients have been out of the country where they could have encountered MERS, the new Sars-like coronavirus.
A new CDC study has found that fecal contamination is common in public swimming pools in the U.S. The CDC collected samples of water from pool filters from public pools and tested the samples for genetic material (for example, DNA) of multiple microbes. The gross study found that 58% of the pool filter samples tested were positive for E. coli.
The CDC says the finding indicates swimmers frequently contaminate pool water when they have a "fecal incident in the water" or when feces rinse off of their bodies in the pool because they "do not shower thoroughly before getting into the water."
The CDC study also revealed that Pseudomonas aeruginosa was found in 59% of samples. Pseudomonas aeruginosa can cause rashes and ear infections.
The CDC advises swimmers to avoid swallowing the pool water in public pools because chlorine and other disinfectants do not kill the germs instantly. The CDC also recommends not swimming while you have diarrhea because you could contaminate the pool. More healthy swimming tips from the CDC can be found here.
There has been a likely case of human-to-human transmitted Sars-like coronavirus, nCoV, in France. Reuters reports that a 50-year-old man contracted the virus after sharing a hospital room with another patient who was confirmed to have the disease.
Despite these two cases showing human-to-human transmission is possible, experts say that the virus does not transmit quickly from person to person. The two men had shared a hospital room for about three days. The case does suggest that isolating nCoV patients is wise. 124 other people that were in contact with the patient have been screened and none were found the the virus.
Reuters quotes Professor Benoit Guery, head of the Lille hospital's infectious diseases unit, as saying, "Fortunately, this remains a virus that is not easily transmitted. I don't think the public should be concerned - it has been out there for a year and we have 34 cases globally."
Even with slow human-to-human transmission the virus is still a major concern as it has killed 18 of 34 patients. Wiredreports that there is also a hospital cluster in Saudi Arabia.
Suicides are now the tenth leading cause of death according to a new report in the CDC journal, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 38,364 people took their own lives in 2010 in U.S. The CDC found that annual suicide rates for U.S. adults aged 35 to 64 increased 28% over this period (from 13.7 suicides per 100,000 people in 1999 to 17.6 per 100,000 in 2010). Increases were particularly high among non-Hispanic whites and American Indians and Alaska Natives.
CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. said in a statement, "Suicide is a tragedy that is far too common. The stories we hear of those who are impacted by suicide are very difficult. This report highlights the need to expand our knowledge of risk factors so we can build on prevention programs that prevent suicide."
Researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy have discovered another type of human fat cell. The researchers say humans have two different kinds of brown fat cells and not just one kind as previously thought. Unlike white fat cells, which store the body's surplus energy in the form of fat, brown fat cells are able to burn energy and turn it into heat. A brown fat cell photographed via microscope is pictured above.
The researchers are calling the new type of brown fat tissue that they have discovered "classical brown fat." According to the Gothenburg study, young people have this classic brown fat tissue, but it seems to disappear during adolescence.
Professor Sven Enerback, co-director of the Sahlgrenska Center for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research, said in a statement, "We already know that those of us who have more brown fat tissue have a smaller risk of developing type 2 diabetes. With these new results, we should eventually be able to develop methods for stimulating the brown fat tissue, so that some of the surplus energy we store in the form of fat tissue can be converted into heat. Such a treatment could both prevent obesity and reduce the risk of developing obesity-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes."
The research was published here in Nature Medicine.
There continues to be new cases of the H7N9 bird flu strain in China. An image of the H7N9 virus from the CDC is pictured above. So far there have been 108 lab-confirmed cases and 22 deaths. Taiwan has also confirmed a case, but the person did not catch it in Taiwan. He was hospitalized after returning from Shanghai. He is in critical condition.
Reuters reports that a World Health Organization (WHO) expert called H7N9 a very dangerous virus at a briefing. Keiji Fukuda, the WHO's assistant director-general for health security, said, "When we look at influenza viruses, this is an unusually dangerous virus for humans. This is definitely one of the most lethal influenza viruses that we've seen so far."
A Bloombergstory about the outbreak in China describes a patient with very severe symptoms. A woman's lungs became so damaged she suffocated. Patients have also suffered from multi-organ failure, brain damage and muscle breakdown.
The WHO continues to report that there is no evidence of ongoing human-to-human transmission so far. They also have been unable to identify the source of infection.
The virus does currently have an extremely high-fatality rate for an influenza virus at around 20%. The current case number is very low (only a little over 100) so the actual fatality rate for the virus may be much less. There may be some people infected that are not sick and are going unnoticed and unreproted. But even a 1% fatality rate is high for the flu and could kill large numbers of people if it were to gain the ability to spread from person to person. The fatality rate for the 1918 influenza pandemic - which killed at least 50 million people - was over 2.5%.
The death toll from the avian influenza A(H7N9) outbreak in China has reached 20. The total number of cases has grown to 102. 70 of these patients remain at the hospital, while 12 have been discharged. The World Health Organization (WHO) has been providing updates based on data supplied by health authorities in China.
An NPR report says the source of the virus is still a mystery. The NPR story says one source for transmission could be dust at the market. It is possible there is human-to-human transmission going on, but this has not been confirmed and the WHO says there is no evidence for it.
The WHO says more cases are expected as the source of infection remains unknown:
Investigations into the possible sources of infection and reservoirs of the virus are ongoing. Until the source of infection has been identified, it is expected that there will be further cases of human infection with the virus in China. So far, there is no evidence of ongoing human-to-human transmission.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that cases of influenza A(H7N9) have increased to 60. This is nearly double the number from five days ago.
13 of the 60 patients have died. The WHO says over a thousand close contacts of the patients are being monitored for symptoms. So far there has thankfully been no evidence of human-to-human transmission of the virus.
WHO's case data is coming from the Chinese National International Health Regulations (IHR) Focal Point. The WHO says there have been some relatively mild cases reported, which could mean there are more cases than the 60 cases officially confirmed.
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced ten new cases of influenza A(H7N9) virus in China today. This brings the total number of cases to 38. WHO says 10 of the 38 infected people have died.
WHO says in a FAQ that the exact source of A(H7N9) is unknown. The virus was found in a pigeon in a Shanghai market. There is still no evidence of ongoing human-to-human transmission. 760 close contacts with the confirmed cases are being monitored.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have been monitoring an outbreak of avian influenza A (H7N9) in China. The cases are the first time the virus has been detected in humans. There have been 11 lab-confirmed cases and four deaths according to the last WHO update. The first cases were announced on April 1st.
So far, there have been no cases involving human-to-human spread of the bird flu. WHO says people in close contact with the infected are being closely monitored, but none have developed any symptoms to date.
NBC reports that the CDC has announced plans to start working on a A(H7N9) vaccine just in case it is needed.
The Giant Inflatable Colon is a massive inflatable colon that is used to educate people and raise awareness about colorectal cancer. The huge colon is big enough for people to walk through and learn about polyps and what it looks like when signs of cancer first begin. The colon is currently on display in Miami. Colorectal cancer (CRC) is currently the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. The large visual aid was designed to help people better understand the colon and increase the likelihood they will get screened. Less than 50% of Americans get screened for colon cancer. Take a look:
The CDC has an article about Nolan the Colan, one of the instructional inflatable colons.
Memorial Sloan-Kettering researchers were able to treat people with recurrent B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) using an experimental immune therapy
technique. T cells were extracted from five patients, genetically modified to target the cancer cells, and returned to the patient's body. Scientific Americanreports that the researchers found the patients were rapidly cleared of the tumor after the modified T cells were reintroduced.
The study was published here in Science Translational Medicine. A
U.S. Newsstory says the experimental treatment is called adoptive T-cell therapy. It is still in its early experimental phase and not available out the research lab. Dr. Richard Besser says the procedure could potentially be used to fight other cancers. Take a look:
The CDC is warning about the emergence of a powerful new norovirus strain, GII.4 Sydney. The strain was first identified in Austrlia in March 2012. It is currently spreading around the U.S. The norovirus causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. One of the biggest dangers from the norovirus is dehydration. People infected with norovirus who are unable to drink enough liquids may require an emergency room visit so they can get fluid through an IV.
ABC's Dr. Richard Besser explains how you can avoid the norovirus, which is not easy as the annoying virus cannot be killed with hand sanitizers and can survive for weeks on hard surfaces. Use bleach to decontaminate infected surfaces and wash your hands repeatedly, especially after visiting the mall or a grocery store. Take a look:
CBS New Yorkreports that Hazel Sanchez, a New Jersey woman, is the first known case of borrelia miyamotoi, a new disease spread by ticks. The disease is spread by the same ticks that spread Lyme disease. The woman's symptoms included confusion, weakness and weight loss. Fortunately, lab technicians at Hunterdon Medical Center found the bacteria in her spinal fluid and cured her with an antibiotic. Take a look:
The bacteria was first discovered by Yale researchers in 2011. It is likely that other Americans have been made ill by the virus. The New Jersey case is the first known U.S. case.
A study of 13,000 people carried out at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden has identified occupations that carry a higher risk of asthma. The study found that total incidence was 1.3 asthma cases per 1,000 men, and 2.4 cases per 1,000 women.
The high-risk occupations for asthma include:
Spray painters, who are exposed to diisocyanates in paint
Plumbers, who handle adhesives and foam insulation
Cleaners, who handle detergents
Health care and social services personnel, who are exposed to detergents and latex in latex gloves, especially if the gloves contain powder
Food and tobacco industry workers, who are exposed to proteins from the vegetable kingdom
Hair stylists, who handle chemicals in bleach and nail beauticians, who use fast-acting glue.