Researchers have found a novel method for stopping the spread of influenza viruses, a finding that could lead to a universal treatment for flu. The method involves stopping the genetic process by which the virus replicates itself. Researchers can essentially flip a switch that stops RNA in its tracks.
In a successful test of a prototype nanotech vaccine patch, Australian researchers at the University of Queensland used a patch smaller than a postage stamp to deliver vaccine through the skin without needles, and with just 1/100th of the vaccine normally required to evoke a protective immune response, according to Pharmacy News.
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.
A game called The Great Flu, developed by virologists at Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, lets you unleash the flu virus of your choice on the world, then use your $2 billion budget to contain it through a palette of public health moves.
Playing it, I've certainly gained a little knowledge about the flu and a lot of empathy for the WHO.
The Hajj, a journey to Mecca that retraces the steps of Mohammed, is one of the religious pillars of Islam. Pilgrims making the Hajj are the primary reason why Saudi Arabia is one of the world's most visited tourist spots. Like a religious version of Orlando, Mecca and Medina draw about three million visitors every year, from every country in the world.
Unfortunately, the date for this year's Hajj, November 25th to the 29th, falls right smack dab in the middle of flu season, and Muslim countries from Morocco to Indonesia have begun wrestling with the problem of religious duty in a swine-flu world.
After weeks of waiting, after months of "will they or won't they" speculation, after fortnights of fear mongering and resultant hype backlash, the World Health Organization (WHO) has finally bit the bullet and declared H1N1 influenza a global pandemic.
Now, before you begin hording canned goods or accusing the media and the government of colluding to hype the disease for their own gain, take a second and look at what the WHO means by pandemic.
While the streets of Mexico City once again host the packed crowds, dense traffic, and general activity familiar to capitolinos before the outbreak of swine flu, other cities have now moved to stop the spread of the disease.
Here in New York City, a school assistant principal who contracted the flu died from complications related to the disease. However, even though Mitchell Wiener had an existing condition that contributed significantly to his death, 11 New York City schools remain closed.
I know, I know. You had moved on. It was fun while it lasted, but you sent H1N1 your breakup mix tape, gave it back the underwear it left in your apartment, and now you've started a new relationship happily reading about the new BMW 7-series or possible Supreme Court nominees. Well, unfortunately, swine flu is still out there, and swine flu news wants to get back together. This time, we can make it work.
More often than not, it's the newer diseases, like HIV or Ebola, that grab all the headlines. But those Johnny-come-lately microbes have nothing on one of the most dangerous, and most ancient, viruses that afflicts mankind: influenza.
While health care professionals spent last week figuring out how to staunch the spread of swine flu, a team of Canadian scientists already knew how to handle the outbreak. In 2007, the researchers studied the spread and containment of a deadly virus in an area even more important than Mexico or Asia: the World of Warcraft.