Midnight In The Desert — disease

Rare Bacterial Illness Hitting The U.S.

Posted by K R on

Rare Bacterial Illness Hitting The U.S.

Zika isn’t the only mosquito-borne illness to strike the United States. An outbreak of a rare bacterial illness is being reported in several states. The illness first appeared in Wisconsin, with 59 reported cases and has spread to Illinois and Michigan. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), it has been linked to 20 deaths. There is cause for concern because only 5-10 cases of the illness have been reported annually in every state. The Elizabethkingia anopheles bacteria was first discovered in the Anopheles gambiae mosquito, a species associated with meningitis, in 1911 in Gambia. It is named after...

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Could Alien Diseases Wipe Out Humanity?

Posted by K R on

Could Alien Diseases Wipe Out Humanity?

Space exploration is an essential enterprise for humanity. We need to go deeper into space to understand more about our planet and the universe, to pinpoint potential new homes in case this one goes kaput, to find new resources for mining metals and minerals, and maybe even to locate some intergalactic brothers and sisters. The space program has led to the development of new technologies and has been a source of hope for most of humankind. But with every scoop of extraterrestrial soil our rovers dig up, come some fears. The scoop could contain alien bacteria that might thrive here...

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Sexual Transmission of Zika More Common Than Previously Believed

Posted by K R on

Sexual Transmission of Zika More Common Than Previously Believed

Meet Zika, the latest virus that turns out to be a sexually transmitted disease. The mosquito-borne pathogen is getting a little extra help from humans who are passing it among themselves via sexual contact. And it is happening a lot more often than scientists previously knew. Earlier this week the World Health Organization announced that transmission of the virus via sexual contact is “more common than we thought.” The U.S. is now feeling that reality firsthand. Yesterday, officials from Florida, the state that has amassed the highest number of travel-related cases of Zika, announced its first case of virus transmission...

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Possible Cause for Microcephaly Outbreak May Not Be Zika Virus

Posted by K R on

Possible Cause for Microcephaly Outbreak May Not Be Zika Virus

The microcephaly outbreak in Brazil, which coincided with the spread of the Zika virus, continues to stun the world, even months after the incident was first reported. Pregnant women all over the world have been advised to take caution. The Zika virus infection has been linked to newborn babies with the birth defect microcephaly. This is a congenital condition in which babies are born with unusually tiny heads. The notion, however, has recently been challenged by a group of Argentine physicians. The group suspects that the Zika virus is not to blame for the rise in microcephaly cases, but that...

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An innovative suitcase lab used to fight Ebola could help us untangle the Zika epidemic

Posted by K R on

An innovative suitcase lab used to fight Ebola could help us untangle the Zika epidemic

The World Health Organization has declared Zika a global health emergency, because it believes the risks are high enough for a global response. And yet, we understand little about the virus and its effects on people. Zika’s links to neurological conditions, such as microcephaly—abnormal brain development in newborns—remain unproven. A team of Brazilian and African scientists (link in Portuguese) believe rapid and thorough testing for Zika will be key to solving that mystery. Given Brazil’s vast size and limited infrastructure, though, they’re having to deploy an inventive diagnostic tool to achieve that: A suitcase-sized laboratory. Since the beginning of the...

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