Thursday, November 17, 2005

SciAm on the Upcoming Flu Pandemic

Via Slashdot: This month's Scientific American has an article on Preparing for a Pandemic:

The threat of a flu pandemic is more ominous, and its parallels to Katrina more apt, than it might first seem. The routine seasonal upsurges of flu and of hurricanes engender a familiarity that easily leads to complacency and inadequate preparations for the "big one" that experts admonish is sure to come.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Murder Most Contagious

CTV reports on a man in Ontario charged with two counts of first-degree murder for transmitting HIV to two women who have since died.

That precedent was set in 1998, when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that a B.C. man was who failed to disclose his HIV-positive status before having consensual sex with two women was nevertheless guilty of aggravated assault.
When the two women died, that meant the assault charges were automatically bumped up to first-degree murder.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Bird Flu Reaches the Middle East

CTV reports a confirmed case of H5N1 influenza in a flamingo in Kuwait.

Mohammed al-Mihana of Kuwait's Public Authority for Agriculture and Fisheries said tests showed the flamingo had the deadly H5N1 flu strain, while a second bird -- an imported falcon -- had the milder H5N2 variant.
[...] There have been worries about outbreaks of bird flu in the Middle East because the region sits on important migratory routes. Migratory birds earlier spread the virus to Russia, Turkey and Romania.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Wave-Like Spread of Ebola Zaire

PLoS Biology published an article this month about the spread of Ebola:

In the past decade the Zaire strain of Ebola virus (ZEBOV) has emerged repeatedly into human populations in central Africa and caused massive die-offs of gorillas and chimpanzees. [...] Phylogenetic analyses place the earliest known outbreak at Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo, very near to the root of the ZEBOV tree, suggesting that viruses causing all other known outbreaks evolved from a Yambuku-like virus after 1976. The tendency for earlier outbreaks to be directly ancestral to later outbreaks suggests that outbreaks are epidemiologically linked and may have occurred at the front of an advancing wave.

Not in My Front Yard

Here in Boston, Maura Hennigan is running for mayor. She is against the construction of a biosafety level four lab in the city of Boston:

Over 150 scientists, including two Nobel laureates from Harvard have openly opposed the Biolab by sending a letter to Tom Menino. These 150 scientists, physicians, public health specialist, and academics oppose the Biolab being built in a densely populated urban area; there are 50,000 people within one mile and more than one million people within 10 miles of the proposed site.

The election is Tuesday, November 8th.