The CDC reports that malaria cases in the U.S. have reached a 40-year high. There were 1,925 malaria cases in th U.S. in 2011 according to a report in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). This is the highest number since 1971 and a 14% increase over 2010. The CDC says there were 5 malaria deaths in 2011. Nearly all the cases were acquired overseas in Africa and India.
CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D, M.P.H, says in a release, "Malaria isn't something many doctors see frequently in the United States thanks to successful malaria elimination efforts in the 1940s. The increase in malaria cases reminds us that Americans remain vulnerable and must be vigilant against diseases like malaria because our world is so interconnected by travel."
The CDC release says common symptoms of malaria are varied but patients typically have a fever. The CDC says other common symptoms include "headache, back pain, chills, increased sweating, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and cough." The CDC says people traveling to countries where malaria transmissions are occurring can prevent the disease by using the following methods: "antimalarial drugs, insect repellent, insecticide-treated bed nets, and protective clothing." The CDC has a chart about some of the antimalarial drugs available here.
A new blood test is being developed by researchers at Duke University that may help tell whether a respiratory infection is caused by a virus or a bacteria. The researchers say the test is 90% effective. The blood test looks at how the body's immune system is responding to an infection. CBS Newsreports that the test looks for a genetic "signature" specific to a viral infection. Take a look:
The new test was reported in Science Translational Medicine. A press release from Duke says the blood test is moving close to a clinical trial.
Study co-senior author Geoffrey S. Ginsburg, M.D., Ph.D., director of Genomic Medicine and professor of medicine at Duke University School of Medicine, says in the release, "In instances such as pandemic flu or the corona-virus that has erupted in the Middle East, it's extremely important to diagnose a viral illness far more accurately and speedier than can be done using traditional diagnostics. Current tests require knowledge of the pathogen to confirm infection, because they are strain-specific. But our test could be used right away when a new, unknown pathogen emerges."
A robot is helping to disinfect hospital rooms at the Rose Medical Center in Denver. The robot from Xenex blasts the rooms with UV light to destroy microorganisms that can cause hospital acquired infections. Xenex says its robotic device uses pulsed xenon ultraviolet (UV-C) light that is 25,000 times more powerful than sunlight to destroy harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi and even bacterial spores. Take a look:
A measles outbreak reported at Texas megachurch where pastor preached against child vaccinations. CNN says there have been at least 16 cases that originated at the church, including nine children. The pastor of the church, Kenneth Copelan, has long preached against child vaccinations and has linked vaccinations to autism. Take a look:
NBC Newsreports that the number of cases at the Eagle Mountain International Church has grown to 21 and is expected to continue to climb. NBC says the pastor's daughter, Terri Pearsons, is now urging followers to get vaccinated.
The deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus has been discovered in an Egyptian Tomb Bat in Saudi Arabia. Experts have been trying to track the source of the mysterious MERS outbreak since it was first discovered in September 2012. 70 of the nearly 100 cases have been in Saudi Arabia. The novel coronavirus has killed 47 people so far.
Over a six-week period during field expeditions in October 2012 and April 2013, the researchers collected more than 1,000 samples from seven bat species in regions where cases of MERS were identified. Analysis was performed using polymerase chain reaction and DNA sequencing. One fecal sample from an Egyptian Tomb Bat (Taphozous perforatus) collected within a few kilometers of the first known MERS victim's home contained sequences of a virus identical to those recovered from the victim.
W. Ian Lipkin, MD, director of the Center for Infection and Immunity and a co-author of the study, said in a statement, "There have been several reports of finding MERS-like viruses in animals. None were a genetic match. In this case we have a virus in an animal that is identical in sequence to the virus found in the first human case. Importantly, it's coming from the vicinity of that first case."
The researchers note that bats are the reservoirs of viruses that can cause human disease including rabies, Hendra, Nipah, Marburg, and SARS. Egyptian Tomb Bats eat insects so it is unlikely the virus is being transmitted through a bat bite. Ziad Memish, MD, Deputy Minister of Health, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and lead author of the study, says it is probably an intermediate host. Memish says, "Given that human-to-human transmission is inefficient, we speculate that an as-yet-to-be determined intermediate host plays a critical role in human disease."
Exposure to bat droppings, guano, is one possible vector in the spread of the virus from tomb bats to humans. Dr. Jonathan H. Epstein, a veterinarian with the EcoHealth Alliance who helped trap the bats, told the New York Times that people could inhale the virus through dried bat guano in a manner similar to the way people contract hantavirus from dried mouse droppings.
The new research was published here in the CDC journal, Emerging Infectious Diseases.
A virus similar to MERS was also discovered recently in dromedary camels.
Scientists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School have shown that the extra copy of chromosomes 21 responsible for Down syndrome can be silenced in the laboratory using patient-derived stem cells. The discovery provides the first evidence that the underlying genetic defect responsible for Down syndrome can be suppressed in cells in culture (in vitro). The scientists say the discovery "paves the way for researchers to study the cell pathologies and identify genome-wide pathways implicated in the disorder, a goal that has so far proven elusive."
Jeanne B. Lawrence, PhD, professor of cell & developmental biology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and lead author of the study, said in a statement, "The last decade has seen great advances in efforts to correct single-gene disorders, beginning with cells in vitro and in several cases advancing to in vivo and clinical trials. By contrast, genetic correction of hundreds of genes across an entire extra chromosome has remained outside the realm of possibility. Our hope is that for individuals living with Down syndrome, this proof-of-principal opens up multiple exciting new avenues for studying the disorder now, and brings into the realm of consideration research on the concept of 'chromosome therapy' in the future."
The research was published here in the journal, Nature.
CBS News reports that poison parsnip is proving to cause people more serious skin ailments than poison ivy. The wild parsnip can cause a skin condition called phytophotodermatitis. A warning from Iowa State says a skin reaction occurs when the plant juice gets on the skin and the skin is exposed to sunlight. The reaction causes skin reddening, burns and blisters. Iowa State says a dark red or brownish discoloration can develop after the blisters that does not go away for months to as long as two years. It grows quickly and can be found on the side of roads. Take a look:
A new study published in the journal, Radiology, has found that the brain scans of people who frequently head the ball in soccer are similar to those who have suffered traumatic head injuries. Heading is often used in professional soccer. There was even a famous head-butt during the World Cup of a player heat-butting another player. 37 soccer players underwent diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging in the study.
Dr. Michael Lipton says changes to the brain were seen in players making a range between 885 to 1,500 headers a year. Memory scores were impacted in players with headers of over 1,800 a year. Take a look:
The number of MERS-CoV cases - the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus - have increased to 70. There have been a total of 39 deaths. The World Health Organization (WHO) says it has received lab-confirmed cases of MERS in the following countries: Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). France, Germany, Italy, Tunisia and the United Kingdom have reported cases, but these cases involved people who had been traveling in the Middle East.
A recent report said MERS spreads easier and is deadlier than SARS. This may turn out to be true, but it is also possible there are infected people with no symptoms that are not being recorded and this is skewing the results. CBS NEwsreports that Dr. Mark Pallansch, director of the Division of Viral Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, says, "Right now our assessment of risk in the United States is still low. We do not believe there is reason for undue concern."
WHO is currently not advising special screening at points of entry with regard to the MERS outbreak. WHO is also not currently recommend the application of any travel or trade restrictions.
Middle East Respiratory Symptom Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) continues to spread slowly in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia has reported 3 more deaths from the SARS-like respiratory virus. The virus has now sickened at least 49 people and killed 30.
UPI reports that the World Health Organization (WHO) reported cases in healthcare workers, which is not a good sign because it indicates the virus is capable of spreading from human to human.
A Forbesstory reports that MERS may have a longer incubation period than experts previously thought. The incubation was initially thought to be 1 to 9 days and now they think it may be as long as 12 days.
Experts are still try to find the source of the virus. The WHO is not currently recommending any travel or trade restrictions.
The dreaded norovirus is a highly infectious virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea. The highly contagious norovirus spreads easily from person to person. One way people contract the virus is by touching a surface touched by an infected person. Researchers from the University of Southampton have found that copper and copper alloys will rapidly destroy norovirus.
Professor Bill Keevil, Chair in Environmental Healthcare at the University of Southampton and lead researcher, presented his work at the American Society for Microbiology's 2013 General Meeting last week. His presentation showed norovirus was rapidly destroyed on copper and its alloys. Alloys those containing more than 60 per cent copper prove to be particularly effective. The contamination model used was designed to simulate fingertip-touch contamination of surfaces.
Professor Keevil says, "Copper alloy surfaces can be employed in high-risk areas such as cruise ships and care homes, where norovirus outbreaks are hard to control because infected people can't help but contaminate the environment with vomiting and diarrhoea.
"The virus can remain infectious on solid surfaces and is also resistant to many cleaning solutions. That means it can spread to people who touch these surfaces, causing further infections and maintaining the cycle of infection. Copper surfaces, like door handles and taps, can disrupt the cycle and lower the risk of outbreaks."
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."