Tom Kunz has been studying bats throughout New England for more than four decades. In annual treks to remote caves, he and other researchers from Boston University capture bats, banding them to track their migration patterns and movement over the years. During trips to bat hibernacula—the bats' winter hideouts—he grew accustomed to cave walls covered in huddled masses of bats, tens of thousands strong. Aeolus Cave in Vermont, the largest bat hibernaculum in the northeast, has long been a winter home for more than 100,000 bats. Kunz regards them fondly, like old friends. What he sees today brings him to tears.
Flu season in the Southern Hemisphere is almost over—and now it's heading back our way. At the time this issue went to press, there were more than 162,000 confirmed cases and 1,154 deaths worldwide from "novel H1N1," a.k.a. swine flu, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes this figure is a gross underestimate, especially since only a fraction of people who have the flu go to the hospital.
Last May, scientists met in Geneva, Switzerland, to update the World Health Organization's plans for pandemic preparedness. It looks like a crisis could arrive sooner rather than later. Thanks to climate change and drug resistance, a handful of deadly organisms are spreading across the globe; some are poised to make a comeback in the U.S. after decades of absence.
Scientists have succeed in replicating flu pandemic antibodies from 90 year old survivors
By Stuart FoxPosted 08.18.2008 at 6:04 pm 4 Comments
Ninety years ago the Spanish flu swept across the globe, killing between 50 and 100 million people in only a few months. Since then, the specter of another flu pandemic dealing death and woe around the world has periodically terrified the medical and popular communities. But scientists searching for ways to prevent a similar outbreak in the form of the H5N1 bird flu have found a cure for the deadliest flu in the most unlikely place: nonagenarian immune systems.
The Black Plague, Third Pandemic and Spanish Flu wiped out hundreds of millions; they have nothing on today's worst diseases
By PopSci StaffPosted 07.02.2008 at 2:13 pm 8 Comments
What makes a disease deadly in the twenty-first century? Medicine has never been more advanced; our understanding of spread and infection, never more sophisticated. And yet, we may be poised for the largest and most devastating pandemic the human race has ever encountered.