Just to follow-up on the recent posts, the Minnesota State Fair has decided to allow the public access to the swine barn this year, even in light of heightened risk of H3N2v flu. You can read all the details about the decision here.
Courtesy wattpublishingI don’t know if you are following the recent news about a new flu strain or not but it looks like the strain (H3N2v) is now in MN. Pigs can spread this virus to other pigs and humans through airborne droplets (coughs and sneezes). If you are a meat eater, don’t worry you can’t catch it by eating pork.
Will you be visiting the pig barns at the Minnesota State fair this year?
One case of the new swine flu (H3N2v) has been confirmed in MN. For information about this new strain see the fact sheet posted at flu.gov . I’ve heard 3 different reports on how concerned we should be about the situation:
Do you think Dr. Osterholm is being alarmist or is the threat real? Will you be visiting the swine barn at the fair? What questions do you have about the situation? Do you need more information? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Courtesy titanium22The Minnesota State Fair starts next week and as you prepare to go, you just might want to assess your flu risk in the swine barn.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota have just announced the results of a study they conducted at the 2009 fair, testing pigs for the H1N1 flu virus that was spreading widely across the nation at that time.
Their findings showed that 19 percent of the pigs they tested at the fair that year had the virus. Some appeared to be perfectly healthy, exhibiting no flu symptoms. Two pig exhibitors from that year's fair from the same family came down with the flu from pigs they were showing, researchers added.
Adding some urgency to the announcement of the study is a new nationwide outbreak of a different strain of swine flu this year: H3N2v. More than 150 people across the country have come down with symptoms of this new flu.
So does this mean you should stay away from the pig barn? Not entirely, fair officials say. Veterinarians will be conducting extensive testing of all pigs coming to the fair this year. And the fair has issued this guidelines to help people decide how much time, if any, they should spend with the pigs.
• Avoid eating in the barns
• Use hand-washing stations after visiting
• Skip the barn if you feel ill
People who are at high risk for flu should also consider avoiding the swine exhibit entirely – including children younger than 5, pregnant women, people 65 and older and those with chronic conditions.
You may now resume eating your pork chop on a stick, but first share with Science Buzz readers your thoughts about visiting the pig barn at this year's fair.
Back in 1998, a British doctor named Andrew Wakefield did a study on twelve children, and wrote a paper claiming that a link existed between childhood vaccinations and autism.
Naturally, this freaked out a lot of parents, and lots of folks stopped having their kids vaccinated. Consequently, infection rates of diseases that are totally preventable with vaccines—like measles and whooping cough—went up.
Then, other scientists were unable to reproduce Wakefield's experiment, which kind of made it seem like it was wasn't accurate to begin with. Wakefield couldn't even reproduce his experiment. Nonetheless, lots of people stuck to the idea that autism is caused by vaccines, or by ingredients in vaccines. When these ingredients were removed because of the concern, people picked other ingredients to blame. Still scientists could find no link between any of the components of vaccines and autism.
Meanwhile, most of the other scientists involved with Wakefield's research removed their names from the published results. And then The Lancet, the respected medical journal that originally published Wakefield's research, actually retracted the study, because it was so inaccurate. And then Wakefield had his medical license, because his poor research was so irresponsible. Still Wakefield and his supporters insisted that the link existed, and that he was the target of a global conspiracy.
Now, there's another nail in a coffin that just won't stay shut: a journalist (who has signed a statement saying that he has no financial interest in the debate) has found that Wakefield's original research on the twelve children was fraudulent. Wakefield misrepresented the medical histories of his subjects to make it appear that they had developed autism after receiving the vaccine for mumps, measles and rubella, when, in fact, some of the subjects had shown signs of autism before receiving the vaccine, and some had not developed autism at all.
During all this, Wakefield accepted $674,000 from lawyers preparing a lawsuit against vaccine manufacturers. Eh... whoops.
The new information suggests that not only was Wakefield's research inaccurate, he deliberately falsified it.
It's an interesting story, but as Dr. Max Wiznitzer points out in the article linked to above, the medical and scientific communities already knew Wakefield was a fraud, and Wakefield's followers aren't likely to change their positions now, so it's a little bit of a moot point.
Wakefield himself says that the truth is in his book, which he wants you to buy.
A few months ago, I shared a video created by the Podcast Crew in the Kitty Andersen Youth Science Center (http://www.smm.org/kaysc/) at the Science Museum of Minnesota. The Podcast Crew were a group of high school staff who worked to create a series of web-based videos about infectious diseases for the Disease Detectives exhibit (www.diseasedetectives.org). We worked from January through August learning video production skills, learning about different infectious disease topics, talking to experts and folks on the museum floor.
Well, earlier this month, one of our videos, Malaria Worldwide, screened at the Walker Art Center as part of the All City Youth Film Festival, and I wanted to share that here as well. You can watch the video here, which features interviews with folks at the MN Department of Health and Metro Mosquito Control District as well as some cows from the U of M Ag School.
Courtesy CDC/ Janice Haney CarrPicture yourself lying in a bed with a hole cut out under you to collect buckets full of unstoppable diarrhea. Now imagine your child lying there. Finally, pretend you are not one of the lucky ones lying on a cholera cot in a hospital, but are lined up outside a hospital in the street.
Cholera is an ugly disease.
The bacteria makes a toxin that shreds the intestinal lining, causing white flecks that look like rice to be passed in huge volumes of watery diarrhea. In hospitals, these “rice water stools” are collected and measured in buckets so body fluids can be replaced. Adults can lose up to 22 liters a day while battling this devastating infection. Without fluid and electrolyte replacement, most victims die from shock.
Lucky patients that recover often still carry the bacteria and can infect others. They can even re-infect themselves.
Cholera bacteria can survive outside the human body in water. They do especially well in dirty water. Unsanitary conditions are breeding grounds for Vibrio cholera.
I read this morning in the New York Times that cholera has spread from the Hatian countryside to the crowded, unsanitary camps of the earthquake survivors in Port-au-Prince. The camps don’t have clean toilets and are often flooded when it rains. Over a million people live in filth and poverty. According to the article, health officials predict that over 270,000 people could get sick with Cholera over the next few years.
People like you, and me, and our kids.
What can you do to help? Support aid organizations that are mobilizing to get clean water, water purification supplies, and medical supplies to Haiti. Once the supplies arrive though, it’s up to the Hatian government to make sure workers are able to get them to the people most in need. Let’s hope they do.
Courtesy Disease Detectives Earlier this year I got the chance to work as the crew of high school staff in the Kitty Andersen Youth Science Center (http://www.smm.org/kaysc/) at the museum to create a series of web-based videos about infectious diseases for the Disease Detectives exhibit. We worked from January through August learning video production skills, learning about different infectious disease topics, talking to experts and folks on the museum floor. We're just getting the videos online now, and all of our videos will be on the exhibit website soon (www.diseasedetectives.org) but I wanted to share them here as well.
For this video, titled "Got Beef? The Story Behind Antibiotics and Livestock" the crew to a slaughter house on in South St. Paul, the Minnesota Department of Health, U of M St. Paul (at 7AM to see the cows grazing), Mississippi Market Co-op, and did hours of research, prep, and post production.
Got Beef? The Story Behind Antibiotics and Livestock from Disease Detectives on Vimeo.
You can check out the video here.
Courtesy Public domain (via Dartmouth)An outbreak of cholera in Haiti is causing doctors and other aid workers concern. Cholera is an infection of the intestines caused by Vibrio cholerae a bacteria often found in contaminated food or drinking water. The bacteria can spread through crowded and unsanitary areas via contact with feces of infected persons. Cholera outbreaks often take place in crowded and impoverished areas, or in war zones. Symptoms include severe abdominal cramps, watery diarrhea, vomiting and rapid dehydration. Left untreated, cholera can be deadly within 24 hours. When detected, treatment involves replenishment of lost fluids and electrolytes. Improved sanitation and personal hygiene practices such as frequent hand washing can help stop the spread of the disease. So far, cholera has killed more than 300 people in Haiti, and most of the nearly 4000 recorded cases have occurred in the region of Arbonite, a rural area unaffected by the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated much of the country last January. The outbreak has been slowing lately, but officials are concerned it could still spread through the hundreds of refugee tent camps located in the overcrowded capital of Port-au-Prince.
Courtesy DesmodusHoly moly!
Vampire bats have been attacking people living in the Amazon rainforest in Peru! And it turns out that the bats have rabies! 500 people have been attacked, and four people have died (all of the fatalities, tragically, have been kids).
The articles I found on the attacks don't make a link between the attacks and the rabies—it seems that some South American populations of vampire bats just have a higher incidence of rabies. (Bats, in general, have a relatively low incidence of the disease; only 0.5% of bats carry the virus.)
It's unusual for vampire bats to attack humans. Typically they will feed on the blood of sleeping animals, but if their prey species become scarce, they will sometimes turn to humans for food. According to the BBC article on the attacks, some experts believe that destruction of the bats habitat, and the ensuing scarcity of prey, have caused them to attack humans, or that the attacks are the result changing temperatures in the Peruvian Amazon in recent years.
In any case, I'd get prepared if I were y'all. Holy water, crosses, wooden stakes, and tennis rackets.