Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Goo-goo Melamine, Part IV

Via ProMED-mail: Radio New Zealand reports that the melamine crisis in China has spread to 53,000 infants, 13,000 of whom are hospitalized. Rumors reach back to December 2007, and the UN wants an explanation:

The World Health Organisation has asked the Chinese authorities to explain why it took months for the tainted milk scandal to be made public.
The UN children's agency UNICEF has asked Chinese authorities to launch a full investigation into the matter.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Goo-Goo Melamine, Part III

Via ProMED-mail: The melamine death toll has risen to 4 Chinese infants (or possibly five, according to The Daily Yomiuri). Melamine has now been found by several countries in imported milk, yoghurt, coffee, and candy. Several African countries have banned Chinese milk.

A Japanese company has recalled some snacks manufactured in China, and the FDA has stepped up inspections:

Leon said the FDA is sampling bulk shipments of milk-derived products from Asia for possible contamination with melamine or other banned ingredients. The products being tested include whole milk powder, whey powder, milk concentrate, lactose, casein protein, and other milk derivatives.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Goo-goo Melamine, Part II

Via ProMED-mail: The New York Times reports that China's latest melamine scandal has spread to 6,244 infants and 22 dairy companies. Xinhua News Agency reports:

The State Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said it had tested 491 batches of baby milk powder produced by all the 109 companies in the country in a special inspection move.
69 batches from 22 companies nationwide were found containing melamine, a chemical which had tainted Sanlu's baby formula and led to kidney stone illness of more than 1,200 infants across the country.
The number of companies with melamine-tainted milk accounted for 20.18 percent of the total of milk powder companies in China. And the number of tainted batches accounted for 14.05 percent of the total batches tested.
The melamine content in the Sanlu brand reached 2,563 mg per kg, the highest among all the samples. In other samples, the range was from 0.09 mg to 619 mg per kilogram.

Xinhua also reports that 10,000 tons of contaminated formula will be destroyed.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Goo-goo Melamine

Via ProMED-mail: the FDA has issued an advisory against infant formula from China. At least 14 Chinese infants became ill, and powdered formula produced by the dairy concern Sanlu was subsequently found to contain melamine.

In response to reports of contaminated milk-based infant formula manufactured in China, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today is issuing a Health Information Advisory. This is to assure the American public that there is no known threat of contamination in infant formula manufactured by companies that have met the requirements to sell infant formula in the United States. Although no Chinese manufacturers of infant formula have fulfilled the requirements to sell infant formula in the United States, FDA officials are investigating whether or not infant formula manufactured in China is being sold in specialty markets which serve the Asian community.
The FDA is advising caregivers not to feed infant formula manufactured in China to infants. This should be replaced with an appropriate infant formula manufactured in the United States as mentioned below.

The Xinhua News Agency reports that the smoking formula has been removed from the shelves in China:

Hundreds of Carrefour and Wal-Mart stores in China are pulling Sanlu milk powder off shelves.
The withdrawal came after both the health authority and Sanlu confirmed the milk to be contaminated with a toxic chemical.
Dong Yuguo, spokesman for Wal-Mart China, said on Friday the company received notices to stop selling the formula.
Xinhua's reporter did not find Sanlu milk powder on shelves in one of the Wal-Mart stores in the Xuanwu District, Beijing, Friday afternoon. The store staff said the brand was ordered to be withdrawn.
Wal-Mart now has 109 stores in China.

This is hardly the first melamine incident. I have added a melamine label for reader convenience, and am updating the China advisory to: PlagueBlog recommends avoiding any pharmaceuticals, infant formula, food, animal feed, or edible components thereof originating in China. And the inedible components, too.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

A Potential Cure for Ebola

Via io9.com: PLoS reports on a potential cure for Ebola.

Here, we use a novel technology to measure penetration of Ebola virus into the cell in real time and show that Ebola virus stimulates phosphoinositide-3 kinase, a signaling molecule known to induce endocytosis. Importantly, drugs that interfere with this signaling inhibit infection by Ebola virus and block virus spread. This work provides a mechanistic insight into how Ebola virus manipulates the cell to start an infection, may explain part of virus induced pathogenesis, and provides a potential way to treat this deadly disease.