Saturday, September 10, 2016

Fourth Person in US Diagnosed with Bacteria Resistant to a Last Resort Antibiotic

The latest case is a 2-year-old Connecticut girl who was diagnosed earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday.

She and three other Americans have been found to have E. coli bacteria that were resistant to an important medicine called colistin. Colistin is an old, powerful drug with significant side effects that is reserved for germs that already resist other important antibiotics.

Health officials have worried that the colistin-resistant bacteria will spread their special trait to bacteria already resistant to other medicines, setting the stage for true superbug infections that are impervious to all known antibiotics.

For example, researchers reported last week a worrisome case of a 76-year-old man treated in 2014 at a New Jersey hospital. In follow-up testing this year, he was found to have been infected by a germ that was resistant to both colistin and another class of antibiotics called carbapenems that are also reserved to treat especially tough bugs.

It was the first time this kind of double-resistance was reported in the U.S., though several other cases have been reported elsewhere in the world.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Tests Confirm Mosquitoes in Miami Beach Are Carrying Zika Virus

WASHINGTON — Florida announced on Thursday that for the first time mosquitoes in Miami Beach had tested positive for the Zika virus, a disappointing confirmation that the virus was still active in the area.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito that spreads Zika is famously difficult to fight, and experts often say that testing the bugs to find the virus is like looking for a needle in a haystack. The three samples that tested positive all came from a 1.5-square-mile area in Miami Beach where locally acquired cases of Zika had been confirmed.

The significance of the results depends on where the mosquitoes were collected, said Scott C. Weaver, the director of the Institute for Human Infections and Immunity at the University of Texas Medical Branch. If they are from in or around the houses of people with active infections, the chances of the bugs being infected are higher. If the virus was found in mosquitoes in a more distant location, that could point to a bigger infection area than previously thought.

A spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said state law prevented the disclosure of the traps’ location.

The department said in a statement that since May it had tested more than 2,470 mosquito samples, consisting of more than 40,000 mosquitoes. The three samples that the department announced on Thursday were the first to test positive.

Zika has mild symptoms — rashes and joint pain — for most people, but it can cause severe brain damage in fetuses of pregnant women who are infected. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are tracking more than 1,500 pregnant women who have been infected with Zika. So far at least 16 babies have been born with birth defects.

Florida is the only place in the continental United States where Zika is actively circulating, but the virus is spreading.

The first cluster of cases was in a Miami neighborhood called Wynwood. The outbreak in that area seems to have subsided, but health officials discovered a new cluster in Miami Beach on Aug. 18, and the C.D.C. warned pregnant women not travel there.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Mutant 'Super Lice' Outbreak Has Now Spread to Nearly Every State

From Country Living:

Back to school season is upon us, which means it’s time for new school supplies, first day of school pictures, and that dreaded four-letter word: lice. But this year, it’s not just exposure to regular lice that parents have to worry about: There’s now a treatment resistant “super lice” that’s spreading across the United States.

 A whopping 42 out of 48 states tested are overrun by this so-called super lice, according to a study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology. In these 42 states, according to NBC’s Today show, 100 percent of the lice tested were resistant to over-the-counter treatments.

In six other states - New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Oregon, New Mexico, and North Dakota - some, but not all, the lice tested were resistant to over-the-counter treatments.

 Alaska and West Virginia were not part of the study.

The problem, according to the Today show, is that lice have mutated, making it more difficult for the chemicals in over-the-counter treatments to lock on to the lice and eliminate it.

Last August, a study made waves when it found that at least 25 states had developed treatment resistant lice. Kyong Sup Yoon, Ph.D., who worked on that study and this latest one, suggests that the only way to effectively treat these lice are with different chemicals, ones that are typically available through a prescription.

“If you use a chemical over and over, these little creatures will eventually develop resistance,” Yoon said last year. “So we have to think before we use a treatment. The good news is head lice don’t carry disease. They’re more a nuisance than anything else.”

Dr. Robin Gehris, the chief of pediatric dermatology at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburg, told Today that if your child has head lice, it is more likely resistance lice than not. Gheris recommends that parents try to get rid of the infection by using over-the-counter treatment twice.

“Treat the entire head and leave it on for a few hours and then repeat a week later,” she told Today. “If you still see things moving after the second treatment it’s time to call the doctor.”

There are countless home remedies to treat lice, including putting mayonnaise, olive oil, and lotion on the scalp, but Dr. Gehris cannot guarantee their effectiveness.

To parents gearing up to send their kids back to school, keep the suggested plan of action in mind: use over the counter treatment twice, and if the problem persists, pay a visit to your doctor for a prescription treatment.


Rio 2016: Zika epidemic making Brazil a 'health mess' for Olympics

From Fox News Latino:

With more than 10,000 athletes participating at this year’s Rio Games and an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 people traveling to Brazil for the Olympics, the city is set to see record numbers of people descend on it in the next two weeks. What sort of precautions should all those people take while travelling to an area that's been designated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as being on high alert because of Zika?

Fox News Latino spoke with Dr. Manny Alvarez, Fox News Health’s senior managing editor, who says, in short, that Brazil is a "health mess.”

In February of 2016, the World Health Organization declared an international public emergency as evidence was confirmed that Zika can cause birth defects and neurological health problems in infants.

Brazil is the epicenter of the Zika virus. The virus is usually transmitted by infected mosquitos but it can also be sexually transmitted.

“Zika is a global problem, a global pandemic,” Alvarez told Fox News Latino.

“It's been a very fast spread of the virus among large populations, through the mosquitoes primarily. When you look at the effects, especially of pregnant women from this virus and the high affinity to attack the unborn child, and if it attacks in the first or second trimester, then you can see lethal and severe neurological complications. This is basically what we’re facing today,” Alvarez said.

He suggested that women who are thinking of having children in the near future or men with sexual partners who might be should reconsider traveling to Brazil.

Despite the 166,000 suspected and confirmed cases of Zika in Brazil, resulting in the births of nearly 1,800 infants with microcephaly, the Olympic show will indeed go on.

Ana Virela, 22, came to Rio for the games from Minas Gerais, in southwestern Brazil.

"I was really scared in the beginning, since we didn't know the virus was transmitted [sexually] as well as from the mosquito. We don't know how long the virus stays in our body, and I'm afraid of affecting a possible pregnancy," Virela told Fox News Latino. "But since it's winter, and mosquitos aren't that active, I chose to come."

She added, "We can't lock ourselves in the house."

"I am taking so many precautions, because I'm scared to death," Vanessa Ortis, 39, a California TV producer, told Fox News Latino. "I came because I spent so much money on tickets and the flight. It has always been my dream to come to Brazil. But I’m using a lot of repellent and praying."

In May, 150 doctors and scientists signed a letter urging the World Health Organization to move or postpone the Games. Before the letter was even posted, the International Olympic Committee announced the Games would proceed.


Sunday, July 31, 2016

Russian Bio Warfare Force Heads to Arctic as 'Zombie Anthrax' Hospitalizes 40

From Sputnik News:

 An anthrax outbreak has overtaken the remote Yamalo-Nenets district of western Siberia killing 1,500 reindeer since Sunday and forcing the hospitalization of 40 people in the first epidemic of the deadly pathogen since 1941 causing international health experts worry.

The infection appears to have spread among the local deer population as the virus was unleashed when the unseasonably hot summer heat thawed its host.

Spokesman for the Governor of Yamalo-Nenets, Dmitry Kobylkin cautioned the public that there is still some small possibility that the virulent pathogen is not anthrax saying, "As of now, there is no single diagnosis of the dangerous infection."

The cause of the anthrax outbreak that forced 63 local residents to be relocated is believed by authorities to have been sourced to a frozen carcass of a reindeer that died decades ago but that thawed in an unseasonably warm Siberian summer causing the Bacillus Anthracis bacteria to be released.

Temperatures in the Yamal tundra above the Arctic Circle have soared to highs of 95 degrees (35 degrees Celsius) compared to an average of 77 degrees (25 degrees Celsius) causing the melting of permafrost and long deceased animals.

The deadly pathogen continues to spread among the Nenet community’s reindeer causing them to die in droves as people stopped vaccinating reindeer against anthrax about a decade ago, after the region had gone half a century without any outbreaks.

It is believed to be too late for the local deer population because anthrax kills the animals within three days of infecting them, according to biology professor Vladimir Bogdanov of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Local authorities are now puzzled as to the best way to dispose of the dead, anthrax infected reindeer. The usual method of burning the carcass possesses substantial risks this season with much of Siberia already engulfed in wildfires.

Anthrax carries a mortality rate of 25% to 80% depending on the virulence of the particular strain.

Russian officials say that due to the remote location of the outbreak and its tendency to kill its host before they can spread the infection to others that the outbreak has been contained.


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Nobody Can Explain How a Mystery Case of Zika Spread in Utah

From Lucid Awakenings:

Health authorities in the US are baffled by a patient in Utah who appears to have contracted Zika virus through what could be a new channel of infection.

Zika virus is usually spread through mosquito bites (from Aedes aegypti mosquitoes) or through sexual transmission, but in this case neither of those appear to have been involved.

"This case is unusual, The individual does not have any of the known risk factors we've seen thus far with Zika virus," health officer Gary Edwards from the Salt Lake County Health Department told reporters during a news conference.

But although an incident of Zika spreading without mosquitoes or sex is alarming, researchers still don't fully understand what's going on just yet, so there's no need to panic.

The patient, whom Utah health officials say is the eighth Utah resident to be diagnosed with Zika, has since recovered from the virus.

The individual had not travelled to any areas where Zika is common, nor had sex with anybody who was infected (or who had travelled to a Zika area). Further, there is no evidence of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in Utah, so it's unlikely the patient was infected locally through an insect bite.

So how did this patient get Zika? Well, the most likely explanation looks to be the person's close contact with somebody infected by the virus – acting as a caregiver to an elderly Utah man who had contracted Zika through travel. The elderly man died in June – although it's not yet clear if Zika contributed to his death.

But the fact remains that nobody understands how the caregiver might have contracted Zika from the elderly patient, since the two did not share sexual contact, which is the only way scientists thought the infection could be spread directly from one person to another in the absence of mosquito-borne transmission.

"We don't have any evidence that suggests Zika can be passed from one person to another by sneezing or coughing or kissing or sharing utensils," Thomas R. Frieden, the director of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told media.

Nor by routine touching or hugging, added CDC incident manager Satish Pillai. The CDC is working with Utah health officials to investigate the case.

Zika has previously been detected in blood, semen, vaginal fluid, saliva, and urine, but while experts thought it required sexual contact for the infection to spread, the Utah case raises the possibility that Zika in rare circumstances might be able to transmit in these fluids outside of sex.

"This raises some interesting questions," said infectious disease specialist William Schaffner from Tennessee. "Was there a needle stick or injury? Or if not, possible contact with other bodily fluid like urine or saliva?"

Adding further to the strange nature of the incident is the unusually high levels of the virus that were in the deceased elderly patient. According to the CDC, his blood showed Zika levels more than 100,000 times higher than seen in other samples of infected people, although it's not yet known what impact this might have had on his transmissibility.

"However, there's a lot we don't know about Zika virus, and we are still doing a lot of investigation into whether Zika can be spread from person to person through contact with a sick person," said Pillai.