• Plague total grows in Madagascar: WHO

    The World Health Organization (WHO) said in an update on Madagascar’s plague outbreak that the number of infections as of Saturday has climbed to 684, an increase of 297 cases since its last update on 9 October. Also, health officials in Seychelles are closely monitoring eleven people in hospital isolation, a step that follows the announcement late last week of a probable imported case in a man who had traveled to Madagascar.

  • Madagascar travelers bring plague to Seychelles

    The Seychelles Ministry of Health (MOH) yesterday reported an imported plague case in a 34-year-old man who had travelled to Madagascar and had been under passive surveillance since he arrived. Air Seychelles has cancelled all flights to and from Madagascar, and members of a basketball team who were under surveillance at a center have been discharged after none of them came down with symptoms.

  • App-based citizen science experiment to help predict future pandemics

    There are flu outbreaks every year, but in the last 100 years, there have been four pandemics of a particularly deadly flu, including the Spanish Influenza outbreak which hit in 1918, killing up to 100 million people worldwide. Nearly a century later, a catastrophic flu pandemic still tops the U.K. government’s Risk Register of threats to the United Kingdom. A new app gives U.K. residents the chance to get involved in an ambitious science experiment that could save lives.

  • Harnessing AI to catch disease fast

    Up to 27,000 microbiology laboratories around the world could benefit from a ground-breaking automation technology. The Automated Plate Assessment System (APAS) can automatically screen microbiology culture plates for the presence of various disease-causing pathogens, revolutionizing the workflow in modern microbiology labs. The smart software uses artificial intelligence to analyze microbial growth in much the same way as a microbiologist would, but with faster and more consistent results.

  • Halting the spread of zika, dengue, and chikungunya

    Researchers have created a mathematical model that can serve as a guide to make monthly predictions on when people are at greatest risk for contracting mosquito-borne viruses, such as dengue, Zika and chikungunya, due to climate conditions. This model can be used as a tool to create early warning systems to help halt the spread of these potentially deadly viruses.

  • Zika reached Miami at least four times, Caribbean travel responsible

    With mosquito season looming in the Northern Hemisphere, doctors and researchers are poised to take on a new round of Zika virus infections. Now a new study by a large group of international researchers led by scientists explains how Zika virus entered the United States via Florida in 2016—and how it might re-enter the country this year.

  • Sanitizers made of paper kill bacteria dead

    Imagine wearing clothes with layers of paper that protect you from dangerous bacteria. Now you can: Researchers have invented an inexpensive, effective way to kill bacteria and sanitize surfaces with devices made of paper. The motivation for the invention was to create personal protective equipment that might contain the spread of infectious diseases, such as the devastating 2014 outbreak of Ebola in West Africa.

  • Preventing yellow fever resurgence

    Many people might not have heard of the Aedes aegypti mosquito until this past year, when the mosquito, and the disease it can carry – Zika – began to make headlines. But more than 220 years ago, this same breed of mosquito was spreading a different and deadly epidemic in Philadelphia and just like Zika, this epidemic is seeing a modern resurgence, with Brazil at its epicenter. “The challenge with diseases like yellow fever and Zika is that the conditions that foster an outbreak are not always avoidable, especially in tropical climates, and therefore a vaccine is needed to prevent infection,” says one expert.

  • Improving speed, effectiveness of clinical trials during an epidemic

    Mobilization of a rapid and robust clinical research program that explores whether investigational therapeutics and vaccines are safe and effective to combat the next infectious disease epidemic will depend on strengthening capacity in low-income countries for response and research, engaging people living in affected communities, and conducting safety trials before an epidemic hits, says a new report. Using key lessons learned from the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, the report outlines how to improve the speed and effectiveness of clinical trial research while an epidemic is occurring, especially in settings where there is limited health care and research infrastructure.

  • A big-picture look at the world’s worst Ebola epidemic: West Africa, 2013-2016

    The 2013-2016 West African Ebola epidemic dwarfed all previous central African outbreaks of the virus, sickening more than 28,000 people and killing more than 11,000 of them. New study of the epidemic reveals insights into factors that sped or slowed the rampage – for example, that the epidemic unfolded in small, overlapping outbreaks with surprisingly few infected travelers sparking new outbreaks elsewhere, each case representing a missed opportunity to break the transmission chain and end the epidemic sooner. Scientists call for using real-time sequencing and data-sharing to contain future viral disease outbreaks.

  • Improving predictions of outbreaks of Ebola, Lassa fever

    Many of the major new outbreaks of disease, particularly in Africa, are so-called zoonotic infections, diseases that are transmitted to humans from animals. The Ebola virus, for example, which recently killed over 11,000 people across Africa, was most likely transmitted to humans from fruit bats. Potential outbreaks of diseases such as Ebola and Lassa fever may be more accurately predicted thanks to a new mathematical model developed by researchers at the University of Cambridge. This could in turn help inform public health messages to prevent outbreaks spreading more widely.

  • Monitoring the emergence of infectious diseases

    Zoonotic diseases that pass from animal to human are an international public health problem regardless of location — being infected with Campylobacter from eating undercooked chicken in the U.K. is not uncommon, for example — but in lower-income countries the opportunities for such pathogens to enter the food chain are amplified.

  • WHO issues list of bacteria for which new antibiotics are urgently needed

    WHO today published its first ever list of antibiotic-resistant “priority pathogens” – a catalogue of twelve families of bacteria that pose the greatest threat to human health. The list was drawn up in a bid to guide and promote research and development (R&D) of new antibiotics, as part of WHO’s efforts to address growing global resistance to antimicrobial medicines.

  • Risk of Ross River Virus could be next global epidemic

    Australia’s Ross River Virus (RRV) could be the next mosquito-borne global epidemic according to a new research. The virus has been thought to be restricted largely to Australia and Papua New Guinea where it is harbored by marsupial animals, specifically kangaroos and wallabies, and spread by mosquitoes. The research shows that the virus may have been circulating silently in the South Pacific ever since a large epidemic of more than 500,000 cases in 1979-80, thought to have been started by an infected Australian tourist who travelled to Fiji.

  • Device rapidly, accurately, inexpensively detects Zika virus at airports, other sites

    About the size of a tablet, a portable device that could be used in a host of environments like a busy airport or even a remote location in South America, may hold the key to detecting the dreaded Zika virus accurately, rapidly and inexpensively using just a saliva sample. While scientists across the world are scrambling to find some sort of immunization, researchers are working to develop a diagnostic tool to reduce the impact of the outbreak until a vaccine is identified.