Polio has returned to Syria after a long absence, and other dangerous diseases are on the increase
August 23, 2013
Edible vaccine supporter and head of the Biodesign Institute for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology, Dr. Charles Arntzen has recently responded to questions about the issue of overpopulation with the following sardonic remarks, “Has anybody seen Contagion? That’s the answer! Go out and use genetic engineering to create a better virus [to wipe out the population]“.
According to the Institute for which Dr. Arntzen works,
“Infectious disease causes 35 percent of deaths worldwide, and is the world’s biggest killer of children and young adults. Our researchers are focused on basic bacterial and viral infectious disease processes as well as the design and use of vaccines and protein therapeutics to combat infectious diseases. These include newly emerging pathogens and potential biological warfare agents.
More than 120 dead dolphins have washed up dead along the East Coast this summer. Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Service say the culprit could be morbillivirus, an infectious pathogen.
Federal scientists investigating an unusually high number of dead bottlenose dolphins washing up on the East Coast said on Thursday the carcasses are showing up at a rate that is seven times higher than usual.
More than 120 dead animals have been discovered since June from New Jersey to Virginia, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Service said.
The Fairfax County Health Department is investigating three confirmed tuberculosis cases at Lee High School, county officials said Thursday.
About 430 families of students and staff members who might have been exposed to the infectious disease received letters from the school system this week offering a free medical screening. Potentially deadly if not treated quickly, the bacterial disease can spread through coughing, sneezing and laughter. Tuberculosis generally attacks the lungs.Health and school officials said the disease was diagnosed this month in two students at the Springfield high school after an initial case was discovered in December.
Oct. 13, 2008: Lucila Huerta, tends to her husband Guadalupe, who is suffering from Valley Fever and other medical problems, in their apartment in Madera, Calif. (AP)
FRESNO, Calif. – California and federal public health officials say valley fever, a potentially lethal but often misdiagnosed disease infecting more and more people around the nation, has been on the rise as warming climates and drought have kicked up the dust that spreads it.
The fever has hit California’s agricultural heartland particularly hard in recent years, with incidence dramatically increasing in 2010 and 2011. The disease — which is prevalent in arid regions of the United States, Mexico, Central and South America — can be contracted by simply breathing in fungus-laced spores from dust disturbed by wind as well as human or animal activity.
The fungus is sensitive to environmental changes, experts say, and a hotter, drier climate has increased dust carrying the spores.
“Research has shown that when soil is dry and it is windy, more spores are likely to become airborne in endemic areas,” said Dr. Gil Chavez, Deputy Director of the Center for Infectious Diseases at the California Department of Public Health.
Longstanding concerns about valley fever were heightened last week when a federal health official ordered the transfer of more than 3,000 exceptionally vulnerable inmates from two San Joaquin Valley prisons where several dozen have died of the disease in recent years. A day later, state officials began investigating an outbreak in February that sickened 28 workers at two solar power plants under construction in San Luis Obispo County.
Although millions of residents in Central California face the threat of valley fever, experts say people who work in dusty fields or construction sites are most at risk, as are certain ethnic groups and those with weak immune systems. Newcomers and visitors passing through the region may also be more susceptible.
Nationwide, the number of valley fever cases rose by more than 850 percent from 1998 through 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2011, there were more than 20,400, with most cases reported in California and Arizona.
In California, according to the CDC, valley fever cases rose from about 700 in 1998 to more than 5,500 cases reported in 2011. The disease has seen the sharpest rise in Kern County, followed by Kings and Fresno counties.
Out of the 18,776 California cases between 2001 and 2008, 265 people died, according to the state health department.
Arizona saw an even steeper rise: The number of reported cases there went from 1,400 in 1998 to 16,400 in 2011, with the highest rates of infection occurring in Maricopa, Pima and Pinal counties.
Drought periods can have an especially potent impact on valley fever if they follow periods of rain, said Prof. John Galgiani, director of the Valley Fever Center for Excellence at the University of Arizona. Rainfall leads to fungus bloom, but limits dust.
“When it dries up, that’s when the fungus goes into the air,” Galgiani said. “So when there is rain a year or two earlier, that creates more cases if drought follows.”
Another reason for the increase in cases, Galgiani said, is new residents, who are more susceptible to the disease, relocating to areas with the spores.
In addition, the CDC and the California Department of Public Health say improved reporting methods and better diagnosis also partially explain the increase in valley fever.
Despite that, an estimated 150,000 valley fever infections go undiagnosed every year, the CDC says. That’s because valley fever is difficult to detect and there’s little awareness of the disease, experts say. The fever often causes mild to severe flu-like symptoms, and in about half the infections, the fungus — called Coccidioides — results in no symptoms.
But in a small percent of cases, the infection can spread from the lungs to the brain, bones, skin, even eyes, leading to blindness, skin abscesses, lung failure, even death.
“Valley fever is a very common problem here, and it devastates people’s lives,” said Dr. Royce Johnson, professor of medicine at UCLA and chief of infectious diseases at Kern Medical Center. “But many patients don’t know about it, and some physicians are only vaguely aware of it because half of our physicians come from out of state.”
Dale Pulde, a motorcycle mechanic in Los Angeles County, said he contracted the disease three years ago after traveling to Bakersfield in Kern County and was coughing so hard he was blacking out; he spit blood and couldn’t catch his breath. For two months, doctors tested him for everything from tuberculosis to cancer until blood tests confirmed he had the fever.
After two lung operations, Pulde gave up his job and is on disability. He says he has to take anti-fungal medication that costs him more than $2,000 per month out of pocket. He had to sell his house in Sylmar, Calif., to raise money for his treatment.
“When I found out that health officials knew about (this disease) and how common it is, I was beside myself,” said Pulde, now 63. “Why don’t they tell people?”
California public health officials say they are working to educate and train the public and doctors to recognize the illness.
The state has trained county health departments about the fungus, Chavez said. It has also included information on valley fever in a newsletter the California Medical Board sends to the state’s licensed physicians. The CDPH website and social media feature information and data about the disease, including advice to limit outdoor activities on dry, windy days.
As prison officials gear up to move inmates from the endemic areas, doctors and patients say more needs to be done, including funding research to work on a cure.
“If the state is so concerned about prisoners, they should be worrying about all of us who live and work in the valley,” said Kathy Uhley, a former realtor from Los Banos who contracted the fever last year.
April 20, 2013
Would you still eat that turkey burger if you knew it contained antibiotic resistant bacteria? Maybe not. But if you eat turkey, there’s a good chance you are ingesting some of these potentially lethal “super bugs”. The same holds true for beef, chicken, and pork, according to a recent analysis from the Environmental Working Group.
The EWG analyzed tests recently released from the federal government, and what they found was that a great deal of American meat is contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. More specifically, the EWG found the following contamination levels:
- 81% of raw ground turkey
- 69% of pork chops
- 55% of raw ground beef
- 39% of raw chicken
With the vast majority of U.S.-made pharmaceuticals going into livestock production, how could this possibly be? It’s because the superbugs are created in part by an overabundance of antibiotics. Sounds a little backwards, right? Well, bacteria are living things; they evolve and change to survive just like humans or animals do. And to this end, when something threatens them, they adjust to build defenses. This is how powerful bacteria become impervious to potent antibiotics.
MedicalNewsToday reports that 30 million pounds of antibiotics were sold in 2011. This marks an increase of 22% since 2005. And somewhere around 80% of those drugs went to meat production. As we pump more and more antibiotics into the food system, we will likely see a greater concentration, variety, and fallout of these superbugs.
The EWG says the source of the problem isn’t being addressed. The cause of proliferation of illness and bacteria among livestock is largely the conditions in which we raise them. In other words, large scale feeding operations where cattle, chicken, and other livestock are forced to live on top of each other in their own filth certainly does nothing to encourage healthy animals.
“Congress should also fully fund the Conservation Stewardship Program, which encourages conservation activities on grassland, pastureland and rangeland. This program, run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, could be used to support ranchers who raise animals on pasture and employ practices that fortify health.
For example, unlike operations that confine a large number of animals to a small area, rotational grazing allows animals access to open space. This practice improves herd health and reduces the risk of infection or sickness that would otherwise spread easily,” the Environmental Working Group reports.
Antibiotic resistant superbugs found in livestock can and will make their way into humans. One already has. Known as Pig MRSA, Methcillin-resistant Staphoylococcus aureus CC398 is no longer just for pigs. That having been said, if you knew your turkey burger was infected with a “superbug”, would you still eat it?
Until the issue is addressed, it’s important to consider limiting meat consumption. Some farmers are doing their part by not only being independent from large-scale CAFO’s, but also by replacing antibiotics with natural substances like cinnamon and oregano oil.
Elizabeth Renter’s article first appeared at NaturalSociety.com.
This article was posted: Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 1:29 pm
Strains of drug-resistant flu are said to be able to pass from one human to another
Increasing numbers of cases of swine flu are being detected that are resistant to Tamiflu, the drug the UK and rest of the world stockpiled to fight a pandemic, according to scientists calling for greater global monitoring.
Even more worryingly, these strains of flu are appearing in patients who have never been treated with the drug, which means the strains are able to pass from one human to another.
Tamiflu, generic name oseltamivir, is one of the few treatments available for pandemic swine flu, although it is thought to be of limited effectiveness. The reluctance of the manufacturer Roche to release all the trial data has made it difficult to ascertain how limited. Nonetheless the drug can save lives if used early in the course of the illness.
Resistance to the drug has been shown before, but the new Australian data on its steady growth and the apparently easy transfer from one person to another of Tamiflu-resistant flu strains will alarm public health experts.
The data comes from Dr Aeron Hurt, of the World Health Organisation collaborating centre for reference and research on influenza in Melbourne. He and his colleagues have found that approximately 2% of H1N1pdm09/swine flu cases are resistant to Tamiflu. While that is not large, an increasing proportion of the patients have never been treated with the drug – so they have contracted a form of flu that is already resistant to it.
In 2011, the team detected the most widespread cluster to date of Tamiflu-resistant H1N1 swine flu cases in Newcastle, New South Wales. This, they say, is further evidence of the ability of this drug-resistant strain to circulate in the community.
Tamiflu-resistant strains of H1N1pdm09 have been identified in Europe but only on an ad hoc basis, said Hurt. “However, the trend observed in Australia of a greater proportion of resistant cases being detected in untreated community patients is also being observed both in the USA and Europe,” he said.
Hurt, who presented his findings to the annual scientific meeting of the Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases in Canberra, said animal studies had confirmed that the latest drug-resistant strains could be passed on more easily than drug-resistant strains in the past.
“Sustained global monitoring for the emergence of resistance is important to underpin public health and guidance for clinical management. Surveillance schemes should assess frequency of resistance in the community and in specific patient groups receiving treatment, such as severely immunocompromised, seriously ill patients in hospital, and patients not responding to antiviral therapy,” said Hurt.
“Further studies to better understand influenza-virus infections in these patients and to improve antiviral treatment strategies are needed.”