THE OUTBREAK

Monthly Archives: October 2013

Novel diseases and pandemics have captured our global attention. Yet, for all we hear about them, what do we actually know — or perhaps more accurately, not know about them? Here we dispel common myths about novel diseases and pandemics. Dr. William Karesh of EcoHealth, with the help of Catherine M. Machalaba, MPH, confronts these myths one by one: Myth 1. They’re just a public health problem. (Actually, they interface with nearly every… Read More

Happy Halloween, everyone!  Check out this interview with a real-life zombie by a real-life Wildlife Vet and epidemiologist Dr. Billy Karesh of EcoHealth. All in all, much of zombie apocalypse mythology is analogous to epidemic theory. Follow the HuffPost ‘interview’ here.

Ten years after the SARS outbreak, EcoHealth Alliance scientists and an international group of collaborators have uncovered genome sequences of a new virus closely related to the SARS coronavirus that erupted in Asia in 2002 – 2003, which caused a global pandemic crisis. For the first time ever, the group was able to isolate the live SARS-like virus from bats allowing scientists to conduct detailed studies to create control measures to thwart… Read More

After taking an in-depth look at the basic biology of a fungus that is decimating bat colonies as it spreads across the U.S., researchers report that they can find little that might stop the organism from spreading further and persisting indefinitely in bat caves. The aptly named fungus Pseudogymnoascus (Geomyces) destructans causes white-nose syndrome in bats. The infection strikes bats during their winter hibernation, leaving them weakened and susceptible to starvation and… Read More

A new study led by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and University of Perugia (UNIPG) researchers has shown that egg development in the mosquito species primarily responsible for spreading malaria depends on a switch in the female that is turned on by a male hormone delivered during sex.   Blocking the activation of this switch could impair the ability of the species, Anopheles gambiae, to reproduce, and may be a viable… Read More

In a spooky coup, a parasitic worm hijacks a snail’s brain and makes the snail sacrifice itself to a hungry bird. Carl Zimmer, a contributor to National Geographic’s “Phenomena” science salon and author of the book “Parasite Rex,” explains how the snail’s death helps the parasite perpetuate its sneaky species.

Provincial officials and vet clinics are cautioning dog owners about an outbreak of distemper among raccoons in the Eastern Passage area [Quebec], and reminding owners to take precautions. The Eastern Passage Village Veterinary Clinic posted a message on its Facebook page early last week [21-27 Oct 2013] warning clients about several recent reports of raccoons with distemper in the area. A Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist confirmed the localized outbreak had… Read More

WHO has been informed of two laboratory-confirmed cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection in Saudi Arabia on 18 and 19 October 2013, and three laboratory-confirmed cases on 18 September 2013. Of the five laboratory-confirmed cases, two died. The ages of the five patients range from 35 to 83 years old; four men and one woman; two from Medinah and three Riyadh. Four patients had underlying medical conditions. Two patients… Read More

Rebecca Kreston of Discover Magazine writes about the prevalence and role of Yersinia pestis in today’s society. “Plague has adapted to our new modern world and the constraints imposed by durable housing and public health infrastructures; it now causes smaller outbreaks and isolated cases instead of sweeping pandemics, with unconventional vectors and via unexpected means. No longer a plague but as much a pest as ever.” Follow the source here: ‘Plague It… Read More

The US Food and Drug Administration is appealing to dog and cat owners in Canada and the US for information as it struggles to solve a mysterious outbreak of illness and deaths among pets that ate jerky treats. In a notice to consumers and veterinarians published on Tuesday, the agency said it has linked illnesses from jerky pet treats to 3,600 dogs and 10 cats since 2007 in all 50 US states… Read More