The U.N. health agency may have decided way back in 1996 that the remaining stores of live smallpox virus--kept in facilities in Atlanta and Russia--be destroyed, but the virus has remained alive so researchers can examine it, creating vaccines and other cures. Now the U.S. has asked for the virus to stay extant for another five years for the same reason.
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 half-decade study to track the flu's travels could lead to better vaccines
By Dawn StoverPosted 04.16.2008 at 2:59 pm 2 Comments
Flu travel patterns
Seasonal influenza strains typically emerge in Asia and spread to the rest of the world along the routes shown here.
Courtesy of NASA/University of Cambridge
Where does the flu come from? Scientists at the University of Cambridge and the World Health Organization's Global Influenza Surveillance Network tracked the migrations of flu viruses and discovered that the most common originate in East and Southeast Asia and spread in a distinctive pattern around the world. Understanding how these viruses evolve and travel will lead to better vaccines against flu epidemics that currently infect 5 to 15 percent of the world's population each year.
The number of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis cases may be rising even faster than we realize
By Matt RansfordPosted 03.14.2008 at 1:52 pm 0 Comments
The World Heath Organization has released the results of a four-year study of patients in 81 countries which shows that rates of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) are at their highest levels yet recorded. Extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis, which is nearly untreatable, has appeared in 45 of those countries. At face value, this sounds like bad news, but the true global reality may be even worse. Only six nations in Africa, where tuberculosis has the highest incidence, were able to provide any data.