Monday, March 30, 2009

Norovirus Lockdown

Via an unnamed source: the Boston Globe reports that a norovirus outbreak has closed Babson College in Wellesley, Mass.

About 100 students have fallen ill since Wednesday. The decision to close the school was made [Sunday] after the virus escalated amongst the students, said Dr. Marcia Testa-Simonson, vice chair of the Wellesley Board of Health.
[...] The school is closed and students who live on campus are asked to stay on campus. The school is aiming to reopen Wednesday, said Mary Suresh, director of the Wellesley Health Department.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Scabies at Logan

Via an unnamed source: WBZ TV reports on a small scabies outbreak among TSA workers at Logan Airport in Boston.

TSA officials say all their workers wear gloves so the public should not be concerned about getting scabies.
It is still unclear how the employees got scabies in the first place.
According to the CDC, scabies is caused by an infestation of the skin by human itch mites that burrow under the skin and lay eggs.

It's unclear to PlagueBlog how the gloves that failed to protect the TSA workers are supposed to have protected the public.

Friday, March 20, 2009

90% Mortality Rates

Via ProMED-mail: The Hartford Courant reports a 90% mortality rate for the state's bats from white-nose syndrome.

Jenny Dickson, the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection wildlife biologist supervising the detection and control of white-nose syndrome in the state, said Tuesday that visits to two sample caves in Litchfield County in the past two weeks revealed veritable bat catacombs. Dickson's team of wildlife experts found thousands of dead bats floating like dead fish in standing water, or stacked on top of each other along the flat ledges of the cave walls.
"It was grim, and you don't have to be a scientist to realize the implications for the environment inside those caves," said Dickson. "This is a massive, unprecedented die-off, with significant potential impacts on nature, especially insect control."

Bats from all over the Northeast migrate through Connecticut, so expect more mosquitoes this summer.

In other 90% mortality news, a German researcher pricked herself instead her intended mouse victim with a needle full of Ebola-Zaire last week. She's still in isolation, showing no symptoms and being treated with an experimental vaccine. See the AAAS blog for more information.