nprglobalhealth
nprglobalhealth:

Quick DNA Tests Crack Medical Mysteries Otherwise Missed
Researchers are developing a radical way to diagnose infectious diseases. Instead of guessing what a patient might have, and ordering one test after another, this new technology starts with no assumptions.
The technology starts with a sample of blood or spinal fluid from an infected person and searches through all the DNA in it, looking for sequences that came from a virus, a bacterium, a fungus or even a parasite.
Scientists at the University of California, San Francisco are reporting this week their first results from the technique, which relies on a technology calledNext Generation Sequencing.
One of their early patients is Andrea Struve, a 21-year-old San Franciscan who returned from 40 days in the Australian Outback last year with a nasty set of symptoms.
"I was in classes, sweating profusely with a fever and joint pain, and it just wasn’t fun, so that’s when I went to the doctor," she says.
Her doctor made a bunch of educated guesses about the underlying cause, but all the tests came back negative. So physicians enrolled Struve in a study at UC San Francisco to try out a different approach.
"As opposed to the way we normally diagnose infectious disease — meaning we target a single infectious agent at a time — this test works by detecting all the DNA present in clinical samples," says Dr. Charles Chiu, who is running the study.
Chiu extracted DNA from Struve’s blood and ran it through a superfast sequencing machine. He compared the DNA he found with a huge library of DNA sequences from all sorts of infectious agents. It turns out that she was infected with a virus related to chicken pox — one that normally causes a roseola rash in young children.
Continue reading.
Photo: Doctors used a rapid DNA test to identify a Wisconsin teen’s unusual infection with Leptospira bacteria (yellow), which are common in the tropics. (CDC/Rob Weyant)

nprglobalhealth:

Quick DNA Tests Crack Medical Mysteries Otherwise Missed

Researchers are developing a radical way to diagnose infectious diseases. Instead of guessing what a patient might have, and ordering one test after another, this new technology starts with no assumptions.

The technology starts with a sample of blood or spinal fluid from an infected person and searches through all the DNA in it, looking for sequences that came from a virus, a bacterium, a fungus or even a parasite.

Scientists at the University of California, San Francisco are reporting this week their first results from the technique, which relies on a technology calledNext Generation Sequencing.

One of their early patients is Andrea Struve, a 21-year-old San Franciscan who returned from 40 days in the Australian Outback last year with a nasty set of symptoms.

"I was in classes, sweating profusely with a fever and joint pain, and it just wasn’t fun, so that’s when I went to the doctor," she says.

Her doctor made a bunch of educated guesses about the underlying cause, but all the tests came back negative. So physicians enrolled Struve in a study at UC San Francisco to try out a different approach.

"As opposed to the way we normally diagnose infectious disease — meaning we target a single infectious agent at a time — this test works by detecting all the DNA present in clinical samples," says Dr. Charles Chiu, who is running the study.

Chiu extracted DNA from Struve’s blood and ran it through a superfast sequencing machine. He compared the DNA he found with a huge library of DNA sequences from all sorts of infectious agents. It turns out that she was infected with a virus related to chicken pox — one that normally causes a roseola rash in young children.

Continue reading.

Photo: Doctors used a rapid DNA test to identify a Wisconsin teen’s unusual infection with Leptospira bacteria (yellow), which are common in the tropics. (CDC/Rob Weyant)

nprglobalhealth
nprglobalhealth:

Experimental Malaria Vaccine Blocks The Bad Guy’s Exit
For the first time in decades, researchers trying to develop a vaccine for malaria have discovered a new target they can use to attack this deadly and common parasite.
Finding a target for attack is a far cry from having a vaccine. And the history of malaria vaccines is littered with hopeful ideas that didn’t pan out. Still, researchers in the field welcome this fresh approach.
Over the past four decades, researchers have developed about 100 potential vaccines for malaria. The best of the bunch is still only modestly successful in children, who are at greatest risk for the disease. The mosquito-borne parasite kills more than 600,000 children a year, mostly in Africa.
So Dr. Jonathan Kurtis, at the Rhode Island Hospital and Brown University, decided it was time for a fresh start. He had developed a severe case of malaria while he was an undergraduate studying abroad in Kenya. And he learned just how devastating this disease can be, not only killing young children but causing hundreds of millions of cases of debilitating illness every year.
Kurtis and his colleagues started with samples of blood that had been methodically collected from children in Tanzania by Drs. Michal Fried and Patrick Duffy at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Kurtis’ team carefully examined those samples to find small but crucial differences between children who got infected but didn’t fall seriously ill and children who developed a severe case of the disease.
"We’re finding the rare needle in a haystack," Kurtis says. "We’re finding the rare parasite protein that generates a protective immune response."
Continue reading.
Photo: A red blood cell infected with malaria parasites. Plasmodium is the parasite that triggers malaria in people. (NIAID)

nprglobalhealth:

Experimental Malaria Vaccine Blocks The Bad Guy’s Exit

For the first time in decades, researchers trying to develop a vaccine for malaria have discovered a new target they can use to attack this deadly and common parasite.

Finding a target for attack is a far cry from having a vaccine. And the history of malaria vaccines is littered with hopeful ideas that didn’t pan out. Still, researchers in the field welcome this fresh approach.

Over the past four decades, researchers have developed about 100 potential vaccines for malaria. The best of the bunch is still only modestly successful in children, who are at greatest risk for the disease. The mosquito-borne parasite kills more than 600,000 children a year, mostly in Africa.

So Dr. Jonathan Kurtis, at the Rhode Island Hospital and Brown University, decided it was time for a fresh start. He had developed a severe case of malaria while he was an undergraduate studying abroad in Kenya. And he learned just how devastating this disease can be, not only killing young children but causing hundreds of millions of cases of debilitating illness every year.

Kurtis and his colleagues started with samples of blood that had been methodically collected from children in Tanzania by Drs. Michal Fried and Patrick Duffy at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Kurtis’ team carefully examined those samples to find small but crucial differences between children who got infected but didn’t fall seriously ill and children who developed a severe case of the disease.

"We’re finding the rare needle in a haystack," Kurtis says. "We’re finding the rare parasite protein that generates a protective immune response."

Continue reading.

Photo: A red blood cell infected with malaria parasites. Plasmodium is the parasite that triggers malaria in people. (NIAID)

nprglobalhealth
nprglobalhealth:

Deadly MERS Virus Detected In Florida
The second U.S. case of a dangerous new virus from the Middle East has been found in Florida, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday.
The patient is a health care worker from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, who developed symptoms May 1 while traveling to Orlando, Fla., to visit family, the CDC said.
MERS is a life-threatening respiratory infection that first emerged on the Arabian Peninsula in 2012. The virus is related to one that causes the common cold and SARS, which sparked a worldwide alarm in 2003.
There have been 538 confirmed MERS cases reported globally, including 148 deaths. Most cases have occurred in Saudi Arabia. But travelers have carried the virus to other parts of the world, including the U.K., France and Malaysia.
State and federal health officials are working to make sure the virus does not spread in Florida, CDC Director Thomas Frieden said in a telephone briefing for reporters. But there’s no reason for widespread alarm.
"Our experience with MERS, so far, suggests the risk to the public is extremely low," Frieden said. The virus doesn’t appear to spread easily from one person to another, he added.
Nevertheless, officials are tracking down hundreds of people who may have had contact with the patient during flights to London, Boston, Atlanta and Orlando.
Continue reading.
Photo: A farmworker in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, wears a mask to protect against Middle East respiratory syndrome earlier this month. The MERS virus is common in camels. (Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images)

nprglobalhealth:

Deadly MERS Virus Detected In Florida

The second U.S. case of a dangerous new virus from the Middle East has been found in Florida, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday.

The patient is a health care worker from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, who developed symptoms May 1 while traveling to Orlando, Fla., to visit family, the CDC said.

MERS is a life-threatening respiratory infection that first emerged on the Arabian Peninsula in 2012. The virus is related to one that causes the common cold and SARS, which sparked a worldwide alarm in 2003.

There have been 538 confirmed MERS cases reported globally, including 148 deaths. Most cases have occurred in Saudi Arabia. But travelers have carried the virus to other parts of the world, including the U.K., France and Malaysia.

State and federal health officials are working to make sure the virus does not spread in Florida, CDC Director Thomas Frieden said in a telephone briefing for reporters. But there’s no reason for widespread alarm.

"Our experience with MERS, so far, suggests the risk to the public is extremely low," Frieden said. The virus doesn’t appear to spread easily from one person to another, he added.

Nevertheless, officials are tracking down hundreds of people who may have had contact with the patient during flights to London, Boston, Atlanta and Orlando.

Continue reading.

Photo: A farmworker in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, wears a mask to protect against Middle East respiratory syndrome earlier this month. The MERS virus is common in camels. (Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images)

united-nations
united-nations:

A new report by the World Health Organization (WHO) states that antibiotic resistance – when bacteria change so antibiotics no longer work in people who need them to treat infections – is now a major threat to public health.“Without urgent, coordinated action by many stakeholders, the world is headed for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades can once again kill,” says Dr Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Health Security. This report starts a global effort led by WHO to address drug resistance.

united-nations:

A new report by the World Health Organization (WHO) states that antibiotic resistance – when bacteria change so antibiotics no longer work in people who need them to treat infections – is now a major threat to public health.

“Without urgent, coordinated action by many stakeholders, the world is headed for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades can once again kill,” says Dr Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Health Security. 

This report starts a global effort led by WHO to address drug resistance.

nprglobalhealth
nprglobalhealth:

New Virus Related To Smallpox Is Found In Republic Of Georgia
Two herdsmen in the country of Georgia have been infected with a brand-new virus, scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.
The newly identified virus is a second cousin to smallpox. And, like smallpox, it causes painful blisters on the hands and arms‎. Other symptoms include a fever, swollen lymph nodes and overall weakness, CDC scientists reported at a meeting in Atlanta.
"We consider this family of viruses very important because smallpox could be used as a bioterrorism agent," says disease detective Neil Vora, who led the team that made the discovery.
The virus doesn’t yet have a name, Vora says, because so little is known about it.
We haven’t found any evidence of human-to-human transmission, so far,” Vora tells Shots. “But how many people are getting sick? Are animals getting sick? We don’t know … We don’t know if it has caused any deaths.”
Both of the men who caught the virus fully recovered. But related viruses, such as cowpox, can be deadly for people with suppressed immune systems. And smallpox had a fatality rate of about 30 percent before the illness was eradicated in 1980.
Continue reading.
Photo: Disease detective Neil Vora of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looks for the new smallpox-like virus in Georgian cattle. (Darin Caroll/CDC)

nprglobalhealth:

New Virus Related To Smallpox Is Found In Republic Of Georgia

Two herdsmen in the country of Georgia have been infected with a brand-new virus, scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

The newly identified virus is a second cousin to smallpox. And, like smallpox, it causes painful blisters on the hands and arms‎. Other symptoms include a fever, swollen lymph nodes and overall weakness, CDC scientists reported at a meeting in Atlanta.

"We consider this family of viruses very important because smallpox could be used as a bioterrorism agent," says disease detective Neil Vora, who led the team that made the discovery.

The virus doesn’t yet have a name, Vora says, because so little is known about it.

We haven’t found any evidence of human-to-human transmission, so far,” Vora tells Shots. “But how many people are getting sick? Are animals getting sick? We don’t know … We don’t know if it has caused any deaths.”

Both of the men who caught the virus fully recovered. But related viruses, such as cowpox, can be deadly for people with suppressed immune systems. And smallpox had a fatality rate of about 30 percent before the illness was eradicated in 1980.

Continue reading.

Photo: Disease detective Neil Vora of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looks for the new smallpox-like virus in Georgian cattle. (Darin Caroll/CDC)

nprglobalhealth
The Ebola hemorrhagic disease is terrifying, as the virus punches microscopic holes in the endothelial lining of blood veins, vessels, and capillaries, causing blood to leak from its normal pipelines coursing through the body. Within hours, the punctures enlarge … and blood pours into the intestines, bowels, and respiratory channels. As the victims become feverish — raging in pain and hallucinations — their tears drip red with blood.
Laura Garrett in her article “Don’t Kiss The Cadaver,” about the Ebola outbreak in Guinea (via nprglobalhealth)