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Author Topic: Pestilences  (Read 13845 times)
Soldier4Christ
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« on: October 01, 2007, 10:23:04 AM »

Dengue fever surges in Latin America
Mosquitoes carrying virus thriving in urban slums scattered with trash, old tires

Dengue fever is spreading across Latin America and the Caribbean in one of the worst outbreaks in decades, causing agonizing joint pain for hundreds of thousands of people and killing nearly 200 so far this year.

The mosquitoes that carry dengue are thriving in expanded urban slums scattered with water-collecting trash and old tires. Experts say dengue is approaching record levels this year as many countries enter their wettest months.

"If we do not slow it down, it will intensify and take a greater social and economic toll on these countries," said Dr. Jose Luis San Martin, head of anti-dengue efforts for the Pan American Health Organization, a regional public health agency.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has posted advisories this year for people visiting Latin American and Caribbean destinations to use mosquito repellant and stay inside screened areas whenever possible.

"The danger is that the doctors at home don't recognize the dengue," said Dr. Wellington Sun, the chief of the CDC's dengue branch in San Juan. "The doctors need to raise their level of suspicion for any traveler who returns with a fever."

Dengue has already damaged the economies of countries across the region by driving away tourists, according to a document prepared for a PAHO conference beginning Monday in Washington.

Some countries have focused mosquito eradication efforts on areas popular with tourists. Mexico sent hundreds of workers to the resorts of Puerto Vallarta, Cancun and Acapulco this year to try to avert outbreaks.

Health ministers from across the region meet at the PAHO conference and San Martin said he will urge them to devote more resources to dengue fever.

The tropical virus was once thought to have been nearly eliminated from Latin America, but it has steadily gained strength since the early 1980s. Now, officials fear it could emerge as a pandemic similar to one that became a leading killer of children in Southeast Asia following World War II.

Officials say the virus is likely to grow deadlier in part because tourism and migration are circulating four different strains across the region. A person exposed to one strain may develop immunity to that strain - but subsequent exposure to another strain makes it more likely the person will develop the hemorrhagic form.

"The main concern is what's happening in the Americas will recapitulate what has happened in Southeast Asia, and we will start seeing more and more severe types of cases of dengue as time progresses," Sun said.

The disease - known as "bonebreak fever" because of the pain - can incapacitate patients for as long as a week with flu-like symptoms. A deadly hemorrhagic form, which also causes internal and external bleeding, accounts for less than 5 percent of cases but has shown signs of growing.

So far this year, 630,356 dengue cases have been reported in the Americas - most in Brazil, Venezuela, or Colombia - with 12,147 cases of hemorrhagic fever and 183 deaths, according to the Pan American Health Organization. With the spread expected to accelerate during the upcoming rainy season in many countries, cases this year could exceed the 1,015,000 reported in 2002, according to San Martin.

In Puerto Rico, where 5,592 suspected cases and three deaths have been reported, some lawmakers called this week for the health secretary to resign.

In the Dominican Republic, which has reported 25 deaths this year, the health department announced Thursday that it would train 2.5 million public school students to encourage parents and neighbors to eliminate standing water.

Researchers have not yet developed a vaccine against dengue and Sun said that for now, the only way to stop the virus is to contain the mosquito population - a task that relies of countless, relentless individual efforts including installing screen doors and making sure mosquitoes are not breeding in garbage.

"It's like telling people to stop smoking," he said. "They may do it for a while, but they don't do it on a consistent basis and without doing that, it's not effective."

While dengue is increasing around the developing world, the problem is most dramatic in the Americas, according to the CDC.

Health officials believe the resurgence of the malaria-like illness is due partly to a premature easing of eradication programs in the 1970s.

Migration and tourism also have carried new strains of the virus across national borders, even into the United States, which had largely wiped out the disease after a 1922 outbreak that infected a half-million people.

Mexico has been struggling with an alarming increase in the deadly hemorrhagic form of dengue, which now accounts for roughly one in four cases. The government has confirmed 3,249 cases of hemorraghic dengue for the year through Sept. 15, up from 1,924 last year.

The CDC says there is no drug to treat hemorrhagic dengue, but proper treatment, including rest, fluids and pain relief, can reduce death rates to about 1 percent.

San Martin said he use the meetings starting Monday to urge enforcement of trash disposal regulations, more investment in mosquito control and new incentives for communities to participate.

"It is a battle of every government, every community and every individual," he said.
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« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2007, 10:23:49 AM »

The banning of DDT claims even more lives.

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« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2007, 05:15:21 PM »

Schools Say Treatment-Resistant Staph Infections on the Rise

Saturday , October 13, 2007

RICHMOND, Va
Dangerous staph infections are on the rise at schools across the nation, officials report.

Several students have been hospitalized.

Schools say the outbreaks of staph infections are occurring mostely among athletes, and the germs include an antibiotic-resistant strain that is sometimes associated with serious skin problems and blood disorders.

The infections have forced districts to call off classes, cancel sporting events and disinfect entire buildings.

Many of the infections are being spread in gyms and locker rooms, where athletes perhaps suffering from cuts or abrasions share sports equipment.

In Virginia, a Newport News high school closed its weight room Thursday to be disinfected after at least four students were infected one with the drug-resistant strain. The drug-resistant patient, a football player, was hospitalized for three days.

On Friday, the high school in Galax, Va., postponed a football game because of an infection on its football team. School officials said they could not clean the equipment in time for the kickoff.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta does not track staph infections but confirmed that the cases seem to be more widespread than in the past.

"Most of these are mild infections," agency spokeswoman Nicole Coffin said. "They can be as simple as a pimple or a boil, or as serious as a blood infection."

The drug-resistant strain, called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus strain, or MRSA, can be especially stubborn. It resists treatment with penicillin and related antibiotics but can be treated with other drugs.

The potentially fatal germ typically thrives in health care settings where people have open wounds. But in recent years, outbreaks have also occurred in schools.

Virginia public schools spokesman Charles Pyle said the Education Department's health specialist has received about eight calls about the problem since school started. Last year, he received only two calls during the entire fall semester.

"We're not viewing this as something to be overly alarmed about," Pyle said.

He said the department will send information about prevention and treatment to Virginia's 132 school districts for distribution to schools and parents.

MRSA is spread mostly through personal contact, although sharing towels, razors or athletic equipment also can spread the bacteria. Frequent and thorough hand-washing is one of the most important preventive measures, said Coffin, of the CDC.

In neighboring Maryland, more than two dozen staph infections have been reported by four Anne Arundel County high schools over the past three weeks. School officials said cleaning crews have been scrubbing all 12 high schools with hospital disinfectant.

In western Ohio, 800 students at Troy Christian Schools were sent home early Tuesday as a precaution after at least one student contracted MRSA. Superintendent Gary Wilber said classrooms, lockers, student belongings, buses and other equipment were disinfected.

At least three other Ohio high schools disinfected their facilities after students reported staph infections.

Health officials in North Carolina and Florida also noted an increase in staph infections.

Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y., reported two cases of MRSA involving athletes last month, and at least two dozen athletes at three New Hampshire schools recently came down with skin infections.

Schools Say Treatment-Resistant Staph Infections on the Rise
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« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2007, 02:05:41 PM »

HIV-TB co-epidemic sweeps sub-Saharan Africa
Nov 2 09:09 AM US/Eastern

Drug-resistant tuberculosis and HIV have merged into a double-barreled epidemic that is sweeping across sub-Saharan Africa and threatening global efforts to eradicate both diseases, according to a report released Friday.

Over-burdened health systems are unable to cope with the epidemic and risk collapse, said the report, which calls for urgent measures to curb its spread.

A third of the world's 40 million HIV/AIDS sufferers also have TB, and the death rate for people infected with both is five times higher than that for tuberculosis alone.

The situation is aggravated by surging rates of multi-drug resistant (MDR) and extensively drug-resistant (XDR) TB precisely in those areas where the rates of HIV infection are highest.

MDR and XDR tuberculosis are resistant to some or all of the standard drugs used to fight the disease.

"Now the eye of the storm is in sub-Saharan Africa, where half of new TB cases are HIV co-infected," said Veronica Miller, co-author of the report and director of The Forum for Collaborative HIV Research, which issued the study.

"Unlike bird flu, the global threat of HIV/TB is not hypothetical -- it is here now," she said.

One third of the world's population carries the tuberculosis bacterium, but the disease remains latent in nine out of 10.

HIV, however, changes the equation: Of those whose immune systems have been compromised by HIV, 10 percent will develop active tuberculosis each year, according to the report.

"In today's world, a new TB infection occurs every second. When one considers that much of this transmission occurs in areas with high HIV prevalence, the imminent danger of a global co-epidemic is clear," said Diane Havlir, head of the World Health Organisation's TB/HIV working group.

TB control has been severely destabilised in regions with high rates of HIV, the study says.

In one community of 13,000 people outside of Cape Town, South Africa, the TB patient case load increased six-fold between 1996 and 2004, the researchers reported.

"There has been a staggering increase in TB in this community, and this has been replicated right across southern Africa," Stephan Lawn, a medical researcher at the University of Cape Town, said in a statement.

The report called for urgent coordinated action on the part of governments, researchers, drug companies and local communities.

The measures called for include fast diagnostic tests to detect all forms of TB in HIV-infected adults and children; new methods to rapidly map HIV and TB hotspots; new screening tools to identify new cases of drug-resistant TB; and better equipment for field laboratories in the most affected areas.

There are approximately nine million new cases of tuberculosis in the world every year, according to the WHO. In 2005, the disease killed 1.6 million people.

At the same time, an estimated 40 million people are living with HIV, according to the UN and the WHO. There were 4.3 million new infections in 2006 with 2.8 million (65 percent) of these occurring in sub-Saharan Africa.

In 2006, 2.9 million people died of AIDS-related illnesses.

In South Africa, HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of child mortality and accounts for 40 to 60 percent of all deaths nationwide, according to UNICEF.

HIV-TB co-epidemic sweeps sub-Saharan Africa
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« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2007, 03:43:09 PM »

 900,000 affected by Mexican floods By ANTONIO VILLEGAS, Associated Press Writer
19 minutes ago
 
VILLAHERMOSA, Mexico - Hundreds of thousands of Mexicans fled a flooded region of the Gulf coast Friday, jumping from rooftops into rescue helicopters, scrambling into boats or swimming out through murky brown water.

President Felipe Calderon, flying overhead, called it one of Mexico's worst recent natural disasters.

A week of heavy rains caused rivers to overflow, drowning at least 70 percent of the oil-rich state of Tabasco. Much of the state capital, Villahermosa, looked like New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, with water reaching to rooftops and desperate people awaiting rescue.

At least one death was reported and nearly all services, including drinking water and public transportation, were shut down. The flood affected an estimated 900,000 people their homes flooded, damaged or cut off by high water.

In a televised address late Thursday, the president called on Mexicans to donate emergency supplies as the government trucked in bottled water, food and clothing.

"The situation is extraordinarily grave. This is one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the country," Calderon said.

Mexicans across the country responded by contributing money and supplies. Television stations dedicated entire newscasts to the flooding and morning shows switched from yoga and home improvement to calls for aid. Friday was the Day of the Dead holiday, but banks opened to accept donations for flood victims.

Food and clean drinking water were extremely scarce in Tabasco state, and federal Deputy Health Secretary Mauricio Hernandez warned that there could be outbreaks of cholera and other waterborne diseases.

"With so many people packed together there is a chance that infectious diseases could spread," he said.

Officials tested for 600 suspected cases of cholera, but none was positive, he said. The waterborne sickness, which can be fatal, has not been reported in Mexico for at least six years.

The government also sent 20,000 Hepatitis A vaccinations and were giving booster shots to children to prevent outbreaks, Hernandez said.

Medical care was difficult, however, because at least 50 of the state's hospitals and medical centers were flooded.

Hotels, parking garages and other dry structures were converted into temporary shelters for those forced from their homes.
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« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2007, 09:53:12 AM »

Chicken-plant workers
test 'positive' for TB 
212 out of 765 processing employees infected
company says HIV-privacy laws nix screening


Alabama health officials have identified 212 workers who have tested positive for tuberculosis at a single poultry plant owned by one of the largest processors in the U.S.

In two batteries of skin tests last month, given to 765 fresh processing employees at the Decatur, Ala., plant owned by Wayne Farms LLC by the State Department of Public Health's Tuberculosis Control Division, 28 percent were found to be infected, including one with active tuberculosis disease, which is contagious. Doctors have yet to evaluate X-rays for 165 current workers who tested positive to determine if any more are contagious.

The testing was prompted by an earlier active TB case a former Wayne Farms worker.

Both employees with active TB are Hispanics born in countries where the disease is prevalent, heath officials said.

When the disease is latent, those with TB are not contagious, but the TB bacteria remains in the body for life unless it is treated. Once it becomes active it may cause permanent damage to the lungs and other organs and the airborne bacteria is easily spread by coughing, laughing or even talking. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 50 percent of those who have close contact with someone with active TB for 15 minutes will become infected.

Accompanied by the rise in illegal immigration, tuberculosis is making a comeback in the U.S., often eluding diagnosis by doctors who are unfamiliar with the disease.

Last year, WND reported more than three-quarters of the 2,903 cases in California in 2005 were among foreign natives, with a total of 14,093 cases nationwide.

Scott Jones, interim director of the Tuberculosis Control Division told the Decatur Daily he was not surprised at the large number of employees who tested positive.

"The majority of the folks that we're dealing with in this situation are foreign born," Jones said. "I would expect about 30 percent of them to test positive."

Of particular concern to public health officials are emerging strains of drug-resistant TB brought to the U.S. by illegal aliens who bypass the screening regularly done with legal immigrants.

The drug-resistant TB recently killed more than 50 people in South Africa. It has been found in limited numbers in the U.S. 74 reported cases since 1993. The strain is nearly impossible to cure because it is immune to the best first- and second-line TB drugs. It is as easily transmitted through the air as the old TB.

There is another form of TB concerning U.S. health officials. It is called "multi-drug resistant." It responds to more treatments but can cost up to $250,000 and take two years to cure. This is the strain increasingly common throughout the world rising more than 50 percent from about 273,000 in 2000 to 425,000 in 2004, according to a study published in August in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

In the U.S., 128 people were found to have it in 2004, a 13 percent increase from the previous year.

Stan Hayman, sales and marketing director for Wayne Farms, told the Decatur Daily the company had offered to reimburse the state for the measures taken at the plant.

Jones, who noted his office has only two X-ray technicians in the Division of TB Control to cover the entire state, said the offer was appreciated, but "if Wayne Farms is interested in investing something, my recommendation to them would be to invest within their own facility to establish a pre-employment screening routine.

"If their intent is to invest, I wish they'd think about ways they can invest toward the future as opposed to reimbursing for a one-time event."

Hayman earlier told Huntsville's WHNT-TV News the company was looking for ways to pre-test employees before they're hired but said the law imposed limits on what could be done.

"The laws today don't truly allow for pre-employment screening. You know HIV and all of these over the years have built cases where personal information is very guarded," he said. "So we struggle a little bit with the laws today to say can we truly implement a pre-screening, pre-employment process."

Hayman also said, despite the large number of foreign-born Hispanic employees working at the Decatur facility, all have been verified as legally working in the U.S.

"When we offer application of employment to an individual we use what's called the pilot program," Hayman told WHNT-TV.

The pilot program checks Social Security numbers. Wayne Farms requires job applicants to fill out an I-9 form confirming their identity and right to work in the U.S. and to provide their Social Security number.

"The system will give you a go, no-go at that point when you put that information into it," said Hayman. "So we don't allow those people that come back with non compliant to ever start work for us without contesting it or giving us additional information on really who they are."

The two Hispanic workers with active TB went through the same Wayne Farms hiring process.

"They all went through that process. They all came back verified the information came back compliant. It was in the system. So they all went through the exact process we are talking about," said Hayman.

According to the company website, "Wayne Farms LLC is one of the top six fully integrated poultry processors in the United States. With a focus on quality every step of the way, 'from farm to fork,' more than 250 million chickens or 1.8 billion pounds of poultry are processed annually in our 13 facilities."

Humans cannot become infected with TB bacteria from chickens, and it cannot be transmitted through chicken meat.

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« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2007, 09:54:23 AM »

Quote
Humans cannot become infected with TB bacteria from chickens, and it cannot be transmitted through chicken meat.

For some reason that doesn't do much for me.

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« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2007, 10:53:27 AM »

Before I do what I do now, I worked as a Pharmacy Tech for 16 years.  One of the places I worked was for King County Jail Health and the King County TB clinic together.
ALL of the folks that were being treated for TB were immigrants!  Another reason that we are too late in closing the back door.
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« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2007, 01:39:39 PM »

Record 1 Million Cases of Chlamydia Reported in the U.S. Last Year

Tuesday , November 13, 2007

AP
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More than 1 million cases of chlamydia were reported in the United States last year the most ever reported for a sexually transmitted disease, federal health officials said Tuesday.

"A new U.S. record," said Dr. John M. Douglas Jr. of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More bad news: Gonorrhea rates are jumping again after hitting a record low, and an increasing number of cases are caused by a "superbug" version resistant to common antibiotics, federal officials said Tuesday.

Syphilis is rising, too. The rate of congenital syphilis which can deform or kill babies rose for the first time in 15 years.

"Hopefully we will not see this turn into a trend," said Dr. Khalil Ghanem, an infectious diseases specialist at Johns Hopkins University's School of medicine.

The CDC releases a report each year on chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, three diseases caused by sexually transmitted bacteria.

Chlamydia is the most common. Nearly 1,031,000 cases were reported last year, up from 976,000 the year before.

The count broke the single-year record for reported cases of a sexually transmitted disease, which was 1,013,436 cases of gonorrhea, set in 1978.

Putting those numbers into rates, there were about 349 cases of chlamydia per 100,000 people in 2006, up 5.6 percent from the 329 per 100,000 rate in 2005.

CDC officials say the chlamydia record may not be all bad news: They think the higher number is largely a result of better and more intensive screening.

For more than 10 years, the CDC has recommended annual screening in sexually active women ages 15 to 25. Meanwhile, urine and swab tests for the bacteria are getting better and are used more often, for men as well as women, said Douglas, director of the CDC's Division of Sexually Transmitted Disease Prevention.

About three-quarters of women infected with chlamydia have no symptoms. Left untreated, the infection can spread and ultimately can lead to infertility. It's easily treated if caught early.

Health officials believe as many as 2.8 million new cases may actually be occurring each year, he added.

Gonorrhea is a different story.

In 2004, the nation's gonorrhea rate fell to 113.5 cases per 100,000 people in 2004, the lowest level since the government started tracking cases in 1941.

But since then, health officials have seen two consecutive years of increases. The 2006 rate about 121 per 100,000 represents a 5.5 percent increase from 2005.

Health officials don't know exactly how many superbug cases there were among the more than 358,000 gonorrhea cases reported in 2006. But a surveillance project of 28 cities found that 14 percent were resistant to ciprofloxacin and other medicines in the fluoroquinolones class of antibiotics.

Similar samples found that 9 percent were resistant to those antibiotics in 2005, and 7 percent were resistant in 2004. The appearance of the superbug has been previously reported, and the CDC is April advised doctors to stop using those drugs against gonorrhea.

Douglas said it doesn't look like the superbugs are the reason for gonorrhea's escalating numbers overall, but they're not sure what is driving the increase.

Other doctors are worried. The superbug gonorrhea has been on the rise not only in California and Hawaii, where the problem has been most noticeable, but also in the South and parts of the Midwest.

"Suddenly we're starting to see the spread," Ghanem said.

Syphilis, a potentially deadly disease that first shows up as genital sores, has become relatively rare in the United States. About 9,800 cases of the most contagious forms or syphilis were reported in 2006, up from about 8,700 in 2005.

The rate rose from 2.9 cases per 100,000 people to 3.3, a 14 percent increase.

For congenital syphilis, in which babies get syphilis from their mothers, the rate rose only slightly from the previous year to 8.5 cases per 100,000 live births.

Record 1 Million Cases of Chlamydia Reported in the U.S. Last Year
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« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2007, 02:11:17 PM »

Bird flu confirmed in Britain
Nov 14 02:40 AM US/Eastern

Veterinary authorities confirmed an outbreak of the potentially lethal Asian strain of bird flu in eastern England on Tuesday, in a new blow to the British farming industry.

More than 6,000 poultry were ordered to be slaughtered at the site in Suffolk, where an exclusion zone was imposed on Monday after a suspected outbreak was found.

"I can now confirm that the strain of avian influenza found in the infected premises is the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 strain," said deputy chief veterinary officer Fred Landeg.

"It is of the Asian lineage. It is closely related to strains of the highly pathogenic avian influenza found this summer in the Czech Republic and in Germany," he added.

On Monday, officials ordered the slaughter of poultry at the farm, which houses free-range turkeys, ducks and geese, while the Food Standards Agency reassured consumers that poultry meat and eggs were still safe to eat, so long as they were cooked properly.

The cull involves some 5,000 turkeys, more than 1,000 ducks and 500 geese. About 100 turkeys were found dead on Sunday, and overnight between Sunday and Monday a further 80 birds died.

Ducks and geese were not displaying symptoms, Landeg added.

Hilary Benn, the environment secretary, told parliament Tuesday that officials were doing their "darnedest" to ensure the disease did not spread, and said the anti-viral drug Tamiflu had been given to all those who were involved in the poultry cull.

A three-kilometre (1.8-mile) radius protection zone and a 10-kilometre surveillance zone has been imposed around the farm in the county of Suffolk, where there was an outbreak of H5N1 in February.

Further restrictions are in place in a wider area as a "precautionary measure" as well as a ban on poultry movements, bird fairs and pigeon racing.

Landeg said the operation to contain the latest outbreak would be tough. The similarities between the British and European strains suggested the turkeys could have caught the virus from a wild bird through contact on a farm lake.

But he said all potential sources of the virus would be investigated.

The new bird flu cases are the latest blow to hit the British farming industry, after the first foot-and-mouth disease cases in six years were found in August and the country's first ever cases of bluetongue disease in cattle.

Ireland immediately imposed a ban on the import of British birds for gatherings and shows.

Irish Agriculture Minister Mary Coughlan said a simultaneous ban was being introduced in British-ruled Northern Ireland as a precautionary all-island approach to the threat of the introduction of bird flu.

In the February bird flu outbreak some 159,000 turkeys were killed as a precaution at a plant near Holton in Suffolk, prompting some countries to impose import bans on British poultry.

An official report said it was most likely the virus reached the flock via imported turkey meat from Hungary.

Britain's first case of H5N1 was detected in a dead swan in eastern Scotland in April 2006.

The H5N1 strain first emerged in Asia in 2003, and has caused some 205 deaths in humans, with Indonesia and Vietnam among the worst hit countries, according to World Health Organisation figures.

Scientists fear that H5N1 will eventually mutate into a form that is much more easily transmissible between humans, triggering a global pandemic.

The original source is thought to have been wild migratory birds.

H5N1 has mainly affected Asia and some parts of Africa, but the Food and Agricultural Organisation warned last month that the virus could be transmitted to poultry in Europe by ducks and domestic geese seemingly in good health.

Besides Indonesia and Vietnam, deaths have been recorded in Azerbaijan, Cambodia, China, Egypt, Iraq, Laos, Nigeria, Thailand and Turkey.

Bird flu confirmed in Britain
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« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2007, 02:23:16 PM »

CDC: New respiratory bug has killed 10 By MIKE STOBBE, AP Medical Writer
1 hour, 12 minutes ago
 


ATLANTA - A mutated version of a common cold virus has caused 10 deaths in the last 18 months, U.S. health officials said Thursday.

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Adenoviruses usually cause respiratory infections that aren't considered lethal. But a new variant has caused at least 140 illnesses in New York, Oregon, Washington and Texas, according to a report issued Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The illness made headlines in Texas earlier this year, when a so-called boot camp flu sickened hundreds at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. The most serious cases were blamed on the emerging virus and one 19-year-old trainee died.

"What really got people's attention is these are healthy young adults landing in the hospital and, in some cases, the ICU," said Dr. John Su, an infectious diseases investigator with the CDC.

There are more than 50 distinct types of adenoviruses tied to human illnesses. They are one cause of the common cold, and also trigger pneumonia and bronchitis. Severe illnesses are more likely in people with weaker immune systems.

Some adenoviruses have also been blamed for gastroenteritis, conjunctivitis and cystitis.

There are no good antiviral medications for adenoviruses. Patients usually are treated with aspirin, liquids and bed rest.

In the CDC report, the earliest case of the mutated virus was found in an infant girl in New York City, who died last year. The child seemed healthy right after birth, but then became dehydrated and lost appetite. She died 12 days after she was born.

Tests found that she been infected with a form of adenovirus, called Ad14, but with some little differences, Su said.

It's not clear how the changes made it more lethal, said Linda Gooding, an Emory University researcher who specializes in adenoviruses.

Earlier this year, hundreds of trainees at Lackland became ill with respiratory infections. Tests showed a variety of adenoviruses in the trainees, but at least 106 and probably more had the mutated form of Ad14, including five who ended up in an intensive care unit

In April, Oregon health officials learned of a cluster of cases at a Portland-area hospital. They ultimately counted 31 cases, including seven who died with severe pneumonia. The next month, Washington state officials reported four hospitalized patients had the same mutated virus. One, who also had AIDS, died.

The Ad14 form of adenovirus was first identified in 1955. In 1969, it was blamed for a rash of illnesses in military recruits stationed in Europe, but it's been detected rarely since then. But it seems to growing more common. The strain accounted for 6 percent of adenovirus samples collected in 22 medical facilities in 2006, while none was seen the previous two years, according to a study published this month in the medical journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

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« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2007, 01:26:48 PM »

Virulent New Form of Cold Virus Worries Experts
Thursday, November 15, 2007 8:49 PM

WASHINGTON -- A new and virulent strain of adenovirus, which frequently causes the common cold, killed 10 people in parts of the United States earlier this year and put dozens into hospitals, U.S. health officials said on Thursday.

A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report detailed cases of people ill in May of 2006 and from March to June of 2007 with a strain of the virus called adenovirus 14 in New York, Oregon, Washington state and Texas.

"Whether you're a healthy young adult, an infant or an elderly person, this virus can cause severe respiratory disease at any age," said John Su, who investigates infectious diseases for the CDC and contributed to the report.

"What makes this particular adenovirus a little different is that it has the capability of making healthy young adults severely ill. And that's unusual for an adenovirus, and that's why it's got our attention," Su said in a telephone interview.

Two of the 10 people who died from the new strain were infants, Su said. The CDC report said about 140 people were sickened by the virus and more than 50 hospitalized, including 24 admitted to intensive care units.

One of those who died was a 19-year-old female recruit at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas where other cases were found.

"Adenoviruses are notorious for causing illnesses, particularly in military recruits," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

A CDC spokesman said there was no evidence the virus was currently causing disease anywhere in the United States.

Adenoviruses frequently cause acute upper respiratory tract infections like the common cold, but also can cause other illnesses including inflammation of the stomach and intestines, pink eye, bladder infection and rashes.

Colds caused by adenoviruses can be very severe in the very young and the very old as well as in certain other people, like those with compromised immune systems.

DIMENSION OF THE PROBLEM

Dr. William Schaffner, a spokesman for the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, said an important next step is for public health officials to determine the dimension of the problem.

"I think this is a big alert to those of us in infectious diseases and public health to gather the appropriate specimens and see how widely distributed this virus is," said Schaffner, chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee.

The first case described in the report was that of an infant girl in New York City who died in May 2006. Seven other people died in Oregon, including an infant. And a patient with AIDS died in Washington state.

Su said it was possible people outside the four states were sickened by the new strain of the virus.

"The cases described in this report are unusual because they suggest the emergence of a new and virulent Ad14 (adenovirus 14) variant that has spread within the United States," according to the CDC report.

There are 51 types of adenoviruses, the CDC report said.

Virulent New Form of Cold Virus Worries Experts
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« Reply #12 on: November 21, 2007, 08:02:53 PM »

South Africa has world's highest number with AIDS

Tue Nov 20, 4:35 PM ET

GENEVA (AFP) - More than three-quarters of AIDS-related deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa and South Africa is now officially the country with the highest prevalence of HIV in the world, according to a new UN report to be published Wednesday.

Improved monitoring of the pandemic has led the United Nations to revise its estimates, particularly in Southern Africa and Asia, resulting in a major revision in the assessment of India's epidemic, the country previously thought to be worst-hit.

"South Africa is the country with the largest number of HIV infections in the world," read the UNAIDS annual report on the epidemic for 2007.

While the report did not give a figure, the South African government currently estimates some 5.5 million of the country's 48 million population are living with the disease.

While AIDS continued to be the leading cause of death in Africa, sub-Saharan Africa was the worst affected region.

"More than two out of three (68 percent) adults and nearly 90 percent of children infected with HIV live in this region, and more than three in four (76 percent) AIDS deaths in 2007 occurred there, illustrating the unmet need for antiretroviral treatment in Africa."

Women in the region bear the brunt of the disease.

"Unlike other regions, the majority of people (61 percent) living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa are women," the report found.

"It is estimated that 1.7 million people were newly infected with HIV in 2007, bringing to 22.5 million the total number of people living with the virus" that causes AIDS.

Southern Africa was the worst affected in the region with national adult HIV prevalence over 15 percent in eight countries.

"While there is evidence of a significant decline in the national HIV prevalence in Zimbabwe, the epidemics in most of the rest of the subregion have either reached or are approaching a plateau."

The UN data showed that adult HIV prevalence was either stable or has started to decline in many parts of Africa.

According to the report, Kenya and Zimbabwe were some of the countries where the slowing trend of new infections was most evident, with similar shifts in Burkino Faso, Ivory Coast and Mali.

Worldwide, new infections of AIDS were levelling off, and of the 2.5 million people newly infected overall, more than half come from sub-Saharan Africa.

South Africa has world's highest number with AIDS
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« Reply #13 on: November 29, 2007, 02:41:16 PM »

Ebola outbreak in Uganda kills 16

By GODFREY OLUKYA, Associated Press Writer Thu Nov 29, 11:03 AM ET

KAMPALA, Uganda - An Ebola outbreak has killed at least 16 people in western Uganda, a senior Ministry of Health official said Thursday.

Dr. Sam Zaramba, the health service director general, said laboratory tests in South Africa and the United States confirmed 51 Ebola cases, and of those 16 patients died.

The first case was reported Nov. 10 in Bundibugyo district, 210 miles west of the capital, Kampala, Zaramba said. The Ministry of Health has set up an isolation facility at the main hospital in Bundibugyo, where all the Ebola cases have been reported, he said.

Officials are closely following all the people who have had contact with any of the 51 people with the disease, he said.

Ebola attacks the body's internal organs, and can cause bleeding from the ears, eyes and elsewhere. It is transmitted by close contact with infected animals or humans.

Uganda last had an outbreak of Ebola in October 2000, when 173 people died.

The World Health Organization says more than 1,000 people have died of Ebola since the virus was first identified in 1976 in Sudan and Congo. Primates, hunted by many central Africans for food, can carry the virus.

Ebola outbreak in Uganda kills 16
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« Reply #14 on: December 04, 2007, 12:39:57 PM »

Whooping cough makes comeback 
Pertussis kills 1, strikes 8,000 in all 50 states, closes schools, colleges

Cover your mouth when you cough.

Wash your hands frequently.

And don't knowingly expose yourself to those infected with an illness you may have thought was a thing of the past.

That's the advice from public health officials who report small outbreaks of whooping cough, or pertussis, in all 50 states with some pockets resulting in school closings and even one infant death.

The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta reports some 8,000 cases in the U.S. this season.

At Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C., the campus has been shut down for an early Christmas break as a result of a major outbreak among students and staff. Some of the 30 infected with the bacterial disease at Bob Jones reportedly had been vaccinated against the illness as infants, suggesting those inoculations are not holding up after 20 years.

The fall semester officially ended prematurely a full week before the scheduled date.

The state Department of Health and Environmental Control said that it is working with the school to make sure all necessary precautions are being taken to prevent the spread of the disease.

(Story continues below)

"Because pertussis is so highly contagious, as a precautionary measure we have altered our schedule for the end of first semester and final exams to enable students to leave Dec. 7 rather than Dec. 13 as originally scheduled," said a statement from University spokesman Jonathan Pait. "We are encouraging our students to study diligently, take into consideration their health and the health of others, and immediately visit our health offices should they experience symptoms."

Whooping cough is an infection of the respiratory system, characterized by severe coughing spells that end in a "whooping" sound when the person breathes in.

The first symptoms of whooping cough are similar to those of a common cold:

    * Runny nose

    * Sneezing

    * Mild cough

    * Low-grade fever

The bacterial disease is highly contagious and can be treated with antibiotics. There is a vaccination against pertussis available for children 6 years old and younger.

Some have linked a resurgence in the disease since 2005 with illegal immigrants.

During the Thanksgiving holiday, officials in Sonoma County in California confirmed the death of an infant from whooping cough and issued a warning to pediatricians and schools.

While it is an illness that most adults can easily beat, newborn babies are especially at risk when it comes to whooping cough. Whooping cough is treatable with antibiotics, but if undiagnosed in an infant, it can be deadly. The baby who died was less than two months old. It was the first reported death this year from pertussis.

"There is this reservoir of this bacteria in the community; it resides in teenagers and adults, pregnant mothers and the like," explains Dr. Gary Greensweig, chief medical officer at Santa Rosa Hospital. "So when infants are exposed to it, what happens is they tend to get into trouble."

Some 20 other cases have been reported in the county.

Last month the Greenwood School District in Neillsville, Wis., also battled an outbreak, with 32 positive diagnoses of pertussis.

Officials there noted effective ways to avoid spreading the infection include covering your mouth and washing your hands frequently and thoroughly.

Health officials acknowledge the vaccine against pertussis is not 100 percent effective. And no one is quite certain how long it protects. In fact, it appears to last longer in some than others. Boosters are now being suggested for children as young as 11.

Whooping cough is a disease that affects the lungs. The pertussis bacteria is spread from person to person through the air on respiratory droplets and attaches itself to the hairs that line the respiratory tract, preventing them from working properly.

The Kutztown School District in Pennsylvania has been dealing with a dozen cases of the whooping cough this season.

Some 16 cases in Stanly County in North Carolina resulted in treatment for more than 2,000 people who had come in contact with the infected. Meanwhile, half a dozen cases have been reported among students in Selah, Washington, near Yakima.

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