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Category - Infectious Disease

New Zika Related Brain Disorder Discovered in Adults

The list of neurological threats related to Zika appears to be growing after a recent study concluded that the mosquito-born illness can cause a new autoimmune disease that attacks the brain and the spinal cord.

The condition is Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM), and it shares certain similarities with multiple sclerosis.

The study, led by Dr. Maria Lucia Brito Ferreira at Restoration Hospital in Recife, Brazil, had 151 patients who visited the hospital from December 2014 to June 2015.

All of these patients were infected with arboviruses, which is the family of viruses that include Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya. Six of those patients had Zika and developed symptoms consistent with autoimmune disorders. These six patients suffered from fevers and rashes, both of which are Zika related symptoms. Some patients also suffered from joint pain and r


HIV rates hit rock bottom

The latest global report on HIV-AIDS shows promising trends in controlling the epidemic, but some hurdles remain in improving access to life-saving treatments

A new report from UNAIDS in advance of World AIDS Day shows some impressive progress in the fight against HIV. There were 2 million new HIV infections around the world in 2014–15, the lowest since 2000, when 3.1 million people worldwide were diagnosed with HIV. Deaths from AIDS, the last stages of HIV infection, are also coming down, from a high of 2 million in the early 2000s to 1.2 million this year.

Much of that can be attributed to improved access to life-saving treatments with antiretroviral drugs (ARVs). UNAIDS says that 41% of people who are HIV positive are now being treated, nearly double the percentage in 2010. (Meanwhile, in the U.S., drugs that can prevent the transmission of HIV are proving successful, even in high-risk groups.)

While infections in sub-Saharan Africa remain


Study: Antibiotic Resistant Superbugs May Lead to 6.3K More Patient Deaths

For the past several years, the medical community has warned about the dangers of superbugs, which are potentially deadly strains of bacteria that no longer respond to antibiotics as treatment.

Well the proof is in the pudding---American scientists claims that a 30 percent decline in the efficacy of antibiotics may be responsible for some 6,000 deaths each year.

The team of scientists, lead by Professor Ramanan Laxminarayan from the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy in Washington, D.C., also set out to discover what would happen if antibiotic resistance increased by a third (which it’s apparently on track do).

The researchers focused particularly on pat


Ebola Aftermath: Ebola Nearly Blinds “Cured” U.S. Doctor

A U.S. doctor who thought he was cured of Ebola learned that wasn’t entirely true after his eye turned from blue to green and he nearly went blind.

Dr. Ian Crozier contracted the disease while treating other patients in Sierra Leone back in October 2014.  

After a long, draining bout with Ebola, Crozier’s medical team at Emory University Hospital declared him cured and released him.

However, in less than two months he returned to the hospital with fading sight, pain and pressure in his left eye. To make matters worse, his eye color turned from blue to green.

What doctors found was alarming---his


Could an Amish Missionary's Travels Be Behind the U.S. Measles Virus Resurgence?

A disease that was practically non-existent in the United States took the nation by surprise last year when a reported 644 measles cases popped up. As the medical community tried to pin down the origins of this outbreak, the anti-vaccine camp (including comedian/actress Jenny McCarthy, who publicly speaks out against them, tying vaccines to autism) was identified as a possible connection to sudden surge in measles. 

McCarthy, along with many others believe vaccines are dangerous and are a part of a movement that encourages parents to not vaccinate their children, which may be allowing the disease to spread more easily. 

Disneyland in Orange County, California was dubbed ground zero for the most recent outbreak.

However, a recent Vox.com article traces the beginning of the recent American measles surge to an Amish missionary worker’s travels in the Philippines.

The unnamed missionary worker, dubbed patient zero, travelled from O


Were we wrong? Professor says depression may be caused by parasitic, bacterial & viral infections

For the last six decades, it’s been widely accepted that clinical depression stems from various combinations of biological, psychological and environmental influences---it’s treated as an emotional disease connected to the brain.

Scientists have also observed that the brains of people who suffer from depression are markedly different from those who do not.  

There are certain neurotransmitters, primarily serotonin, which tend to be deregulated for people who have clinical depression, also known as Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), but there aren’t many answers as to why these areas of the brain differ in depressed people.

Dr. Turhan Canli, an integrative neuroscience associate professor at Stony Brook University, has stirred up a bit of controversy in the science community after making claims that depression may have less to do with brain chemistry, and more to do with a viral or bacterial infection, the Huffington Post report


Drug-resistant TB Spreading Fast Creating a Global Threat

A drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis is spreading at an alarming rate, posing a risk that the world has never faced, according to Medicins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

TB is branded one of the most lethal diseases by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It kills around 1.3 million out of the 8 million people that it infects.

The disease is spread from one person to another when an actively infected person sneezes or coughs and the airborne bacteria are inhaled by another person. It attacks the lungs, mostly as well as other vital organs. The symptoms, include persistent coughing, weight loss, fever, night sweats, loss of appetite, and fatigue.

Standard TB can be cured, but the lack of appropriate response globally has now led to the development of a drug-resistant strain.

In fact, a journal from TheLancet.com showed that some people in South Africa have incurable TB but are still released to the communi


How Shrink Wrap Can Help Spot Infection Disease Biomarkers

In the case of infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other deadly diseases, detection is always the key in preventing its spread. It also helps find the most potent treatments available. The current detection methods can be prohibitively costly. However some researchers have discovered a detection method that uses common shrink wrap, which could provide an effective yet affordable detection method of these infectious diseases.

This nanotechnology method, which is the subject of a paper published in the journal Optical Materials Express, can enhance the fluorescent markers during biosensing with the use of certain metals placed onto shrink wrap.

The accessibility and affordability of shrink wrap opens develop low-cost nanostructures that have the ability to enhance fluorescence a thousand times more so even in the lowest limits. This is according to the paper’s co-author Michelle Khine, a University of California, Irvine biomedica


How Safe Are Hospital Pillows

When some people say that they prefer to recover at home rather than in the hospital to avoid getting sicker than ever, they’re probably right. That’s because your expectations of a sterile room for new patients when you first come in may not be met. There are pathogens on the surfaces of the hospital room that are not easily removed even with the use of the strongest cleaning and disinfection techniques and chemicals. They are usually pathogens that cause healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).

HAIs are actually among the largest culprits in patient mortality and morbidity. These pathogens often come from the patient’s endogenous flora, although studies have estimated that around 20% to 40% of these HAIs are actually from the healthcare personnel’s contaminated hands as they got in contact with contaminated hospital surfaces or patients. Various researches have supported that environmental contamination does aid in the easy transfer of Vancomyn-re


Rise of New Zoonotic Diseases and Viral Outbreaks

Veterinarian treating a cow

Veterinarian treating a cow

The world has so far successfully controlled outbreaks of infectious diseases, but it seems like there’s no stopping the emergence of new microbes. Unfortunately, they’re not only affecting humans and animals, but the wildlife ecosystems as well.

The ecosystem has grown vulnerable to such attacks because of repeated human interventions. Large scale and accelerated production of livestock, the fast paced trade and global travel of both pet animals and domestic livestock, and our increasing disruption of ecosystems are all contributing factors. As a result, new breeds of zoonotic pathogens have emerged.

Aside from affecting human health, these new pathogens have also wreaked havoc on the social, economic, and even political aspects of various countries. Just look back to what happened in the world during the spread of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which cost the global economy around $42 billion, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS),