Tag Archives: Epidemiology

* Deadly animal prion disease appears in Europe

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A highly contagious and deadly animal brain disorder has been detected in Europe for the first time. Scientists are now warning that the single case found in a wild reindeer might represent an unrecognized, widespread infection. Chronic wasting disease (CWD) was thought to be restricted to deer, elk (Cervus canadensis) and moose (Alces alces) in […]

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Plague-riddled prairie dogs a model for infectious disease spread

Every now and then, colonies of prairie dogs are wiped out by plague, an infectious disease most often associated with the Black Death of the 14th century. Plague doesn’t usually kill people these days, but it’s alive and well among the millions of ground-dwelling rodents of Colorado and other western states, notably the black-tailed prairie […]

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Researchers identify areas of plague risk in western United States

Researchers at SUNY Downstate Medical Center have identified and mapped areas of high probability of plague bacteria in the western United States. Their findings were published in a recent edition of the journal PeerJ. This investigation predicted animal plague occurrence across western states based on reported occurrences of plague in sylvan (wild) and domestic animal […]

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* Missing mice: gaps in data plague animal research

Reports of hundreds of biomedical experiments lack essential information. Two studies have unveiled widespread flaws in the reporting of animal experiments — the latest in a series of papers to criticize shoddy biomedical research. Whereas reports of clinical trials in major medical journals routinely state how many patients die or drop out of analysis during […]

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Cattle disease spread by vets, not cows

A cattle disease that affected more than 5,000 cows, over 500 of which were killed, was probably spread by vets farmers and cattle traders in Germany, according to one of the first research articles published in the new open access journal Heliyon. The authors of the study, from Friedrich-Loeffler-Institute (FLI), Germany, say farmers and people […]

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A lion tale: Humans cause most mountain lion deaths in Southern California

The biggest threat to Southern California mountain lions is us, confirms a comprehensive 13-year study of the population’s mortality and survival from the University of California, Davis. The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, combined genetic and demographic data to determine that even though hunting mountain lions is prohibited in California, humans caused more […]

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South Korean MERS outbreak spotlights lack of research

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The world is watching South Korea as the latest outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) unfolds. But how exactly the virus jumps to humans in the first place is still unknown, and clues to that puzzle lie thousands of kilometres away. The cluster of hospital-associated cases in South Korea — the largest MERS outbreak […]

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Artificial intelligence joins hunt for human–animal diseases

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Model predicts that the midwestern United States and Central Asia are at high risk for outbreaks of rodent-borne pathogens. The Northern flying squirrel carries diseases that can pass from animals to humans. Lyme disease, Ebola and malaria all developed in animals before making the leap to infect humans. Predicting when such a ‘zoonotic’ disease will […]

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* Humans, livestock in Kenya linked in sickness and in health

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If a farmer’s goats, cattle or sheep are sick in Kenya, how’s the health of the farmer? Though researchers have long suspected a link between the health of farmers and their families in sub-Saharan Africa and the health of their livestock, a team of veterinary and economic scientists has quantified the relationship for the first […]

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* Ebola: New studies model a deadly epidemic

On Dec. 26, 2013, a two-year-old boy living in the Guinean village of Meliandou, Guéckédou Prefecture was stricken with a rare disease, caused by the filament-shaped Ebola virus. The child is believed to be the first case in what soon became a flood-tide of contagion, ravaging the West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone and […]

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Study maps travel of H7 influenza genes

Certainly one reason is that influenza viruses have a history of jumping from other animals to humans, which, when the trans-species virus is new to the human population, generally means that human immune systems have no natural resistance. Another reason is that influenza viruses, with their rapidly mutating single-strand RNA genomes, are highly variable over […]

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Ebola by the numbers: The size, spread and cost of an outbreak

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa continues to rage, with the number of people infected roughly doubling every 3–4 weeks. More than 8,000 people are thought to have contracted the disease, and almost half of those have died, according to the World Health Organization. Although these estimates are already staggering, the situation on the ground […]

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* Avian influenza virus isolated in harbor seals poses a threat to humans

A study led by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital scientists found the avian influenza A H3N8 virus that killed harbor seals along the New England coast can spread through respiratory droplets and poses a threat to humans. The research appears in the current issue of the scientific journal Nature Communications. The avian H3N8 virus was […]

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Largest ever Ebola outbreak is not a global threat

Deadly Ebola probably touched down in Lagos, Nigeria, the largest city in Africa, on 20 July. A man who was thought to be infected with the virus had arrived there on a flight from Liberia, where, along with Guinea and Sierra Leone, the largest recorded Ebola outbreak is currently raging. The Lagos case is the […]

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* Biologist warn of early stages of Earth’s sixth mass extinction event

In a new review of scientific literature and analysis of data published in Science, an international team of scientists cautions that the loss and decline of animals is contributing to what appears to be the early days of the planet’s sixth mass biological extinction event. Since 1500, more than 320 terrestrial vertebrates have become extinct. […]

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US disease agency suspends pathogen shipments

Workers at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, accidentally shipped highly dangerous H5N1 influenza virus to another government laboratory in March, the agency revealed today. The news comes weeks after the CDC announced that dozens of its employees were potentially exposed to anthrax because its staff did not follow established […]

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Declines in large wildlife lead to increases in disease risk

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In the Middle Ages, fleas carried by rats were responsible for spreading the Black Plague. Today in East Africa, they remain important vectors of plague and many other diseases, including Bartonellosis, a potentially dangerous human pathogen. Research by Hillary Young, assistant professor in UC Santa Barbara’s Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology, directly links […]

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Whole genome sequencing provides researchers with a better understanding of bovine TB outbreaks

The use of whole bacterial genome sequencing will allow scientists to inexpensively track how bovine tuberculosis (TB) is transmitted from farm to farm, according to research presented this week at the Society of General Microbiology Autumn Conference. Bovine TB is primarily a disease of cattle, caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium bovis. The disease is hugely […]

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Emergence of H7N9 avian flu hints at broader threat

Evolutionary path shows related virus can infect some mammals, raising concerns about spread. Samples taken from ducks in Chinese poultry markets, like this bird in Changsha, revealed the presence of H7 influenza viruses. The H7N9 influenza virus did not emerge alone. Researchers have traced the evolution of the deadly avian flu currently spreading in China, […]

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H7N9 influenza: History of similar viruses gives cause for concern

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The H7N9 avian flu strain that emerged in China earlier this year has subsided for now, but it would be a mistake to be reassured by this apparent lull in infections. The virus has several highly unusual traits that paint a disquieting picture of a pathogen that may yet lead to a pandemic, according to […]

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New test for H7N9 bird flu in China may help slow outbreak, prevent pandemic

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Breaking research appearing online today in Clinical Chemistry, the journal of AACC, demonstrates that a recently developed diagnostic test can detect the new strain of influenza (H7N9) currently causing an outbreak in China. Since the end of March, 31 people have died from H7N9 infection, and the number of confirmed cases has climbed to 129. […]

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Bird flu in live poultry markets are the source of viruses causing human infections

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On 31 March 2013, the Chinese National Health and Family Planning Commission announced human cases of novel H7N9 influenza virus infections. A group of scientists, led by Professor Chen Hualan of the Harbin Veterinary Research Institute at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, has investigated the origins of this novel H7N9 influenza virus and published […]

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Insight on pandemic flu

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Pandemic flu continues to threaten public health, especially in the wake of the recent emergence of an H7N9 low pathogenic avian influenza strain in humans. A recent study published in PLoS ONE, a peer-reviewed scientific journal, provides new information for public health officials on mitigating the spread of infection from emerging flu viruses. Dr. Henry […]

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African forest elephant population plummeting

The population of African forest elephants plummeted 62% in the past decade, according to a new study. The figure, which the authors blame on ivory poachers, comes as policymakers discuss ways to curb the ivory market at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meeting in Thailand. “Hopefully […]

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Livestock density as risk factor for livestock-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, the Netherlands

To determine whether persons living in areas of high animal density are at increased risk for carrying livestock-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (LA-MRSA), we used an existing dataset of persons in the Netherlands with LA-MRSA carriage and controls who carried other types of MRSA. Results of running univariate and multivariate logistic regression models indicated that living […]

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UK badger cull tentatively supported by science

Somewhere beneath England’s rolling fields, there’s a badger with a price on its head. Sometime in the next two weeks, it will likely become the first of hundreds to be shot dead as part of a pilot cull licensed by the UK government to curb the spread of bovine tuberculosis to cattle – despite the […]

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Genome of malaria-causing parasite sequenced: Even when on different continents, organism features same mutations

Scientists at Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute have discovered that the parasite that causes the most common form of malaria share the same genetic variations — even when the organisms are separated across continents. The discovery raises concerns that mutations to resist existing medications could spread worldwide, making global […]

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Health experts narrow the hunt for Ebola

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Response efforts to outbreaks of Ebola hemorrhagic fever in Africa can benefit from a standardized sampling strategy that focuses on the carcasses of gorillas, chimpanzees, and other species known to succumb to the virus, according to a consortium of wildlife health experts. In a recently published study of 14 previous human Ebola outbreaks and the […]

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Nowhere to hide: Tigers threatened by human destruction of groundcover

The elimination of ground-level vegetation is bringing another of the world’s tiger subspecies to the brink of extinction, according to Virginia Tech and World Wildlife Fund researchers. The Sumatran tiger, native to Indonesia, could be the fourth type of tiger to disappear from the wild. This is due, in part, because of deforestation and the […]

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Latex gloves lead to lax hand hygiene in hospitals, study finds

Healthcare workers who wear gloves while treating patients are much less likely to clean their hands before and after patient contact, according to a study published in the December issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, the journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America. This failure of basic hand hygiene could be contributing […]

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