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Posts Tagged ‘pneumonia’

Rocky Mountain bighorn plagued by pneumonia

Posted by feww on October 3, 2010

Nine outbreaks of pneumonia across five states have killed about 1,000 bighorns

Image of the Day


Bighorn sheep in Montana. Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [via Reuters]

Researchers have shown that the plague is caused by contact between the wild bighorns and domestic sheep flocks that  graze in ever growing allotments.

“The study proves what a lot of us suspected all along: that domestic sheep are the biggest management challenge to the restoration of wild sheep,” said Kevin Hurley, a bighorn expert at Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

“To save the bighorn, wildlife agencies in several Western states where the disease has spread are killing not only sick bighorns but healthy animals that make contact with domestic flocks,” a report said.

“I know it sounds strange that we have to kill bighorns to save them, but we can’t allow an atomic ram to go back into the population and infect the rest of the band. It’s like gangrene—you cut off the toe to save the leg,” said Hurley.

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Posted in bighorn pneumonia epidemic, Bighorn sheep, Payette National Forest, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Why Influenza Kills

Posted by feww on January 22, 2010

Double trouble: Bacterial super-infection after the flu

American Journal of Pathology
Public release date: 22-Jan-2010

Current research suggests that the flu may predispose to secondary bacterial infections, which account for a significant proportion of mortality during flu pandemics. The related report by Lee et al, “A mouse model of lethal synergism between influenza virus and Haemophilus influenzae,” appears in the February 2010 issue of The American Journal of Pathology.

Bacterial cells of Staphylococcus aureus, which is one of the causal agents of mastitis in dairy cows. Its large capsule protects the organism from attack by the cow’s immunological defenses. Magnified 50,000X. USDA.

Influenza affects between three and five million people annually, causing up to 500,000 deaths worldwide. While most people will recover in one to two weeks, others will develop life-threatening conditions such as pneumonia or bronchitis. High-risk groups for seasonal influenza include the very young and old, people with compromised immune systems, and pregnant women. However, during influenza pandemics, mortality may be significant in previously healthy young adults.

A common complication of flu infection is a secondary “super-infection” by bacteria, which greatly increases the morbidity and mortality of the disease. The most common bacterial agents found following flu pandemics have been Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, Group A Streptococcus, and Staphylococcus aureus. Furthermore, reports of infection with antibiotic-resistant strains have been increasing in recent years.

To explore the mechanisms governing the increased pathogenesis of flu upon super-infection, a group led by Dr. Sally R. Sarawar of the Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies, San Diego, California confirmed that otherwise nonlethal influenza and H. influenzae infections cause high mortality rates in mice when flu infection precedes H. influenzae infection. Their data confirm a restricted time period for this heightened susceptibility and highlight that excessive bacterial, and not viral, growth is associated with increased lethality. The fact that this increased mortality was observed in both immunocompromised and immunocompetent mice suggests that even normal healthy people are at increased risk for complications following bacterial super-infection.

Lee et al suggest that the “lethal synergy between influenza virus and the bacterial respiratory pathogen, H. influenzae, is mediated by innate immunity. They observed that severe damage to the airways was an early event in the co-infected mice, eventually leading to death. This underscores the need for early antiviral and antibiotic treatment to combat severe disease in human patients and highlights the importance of vaccination and effective hygiene measures to prevent secondary bacterial infections during influenza infection. This new model will be useful for further investigating the mechanisms underlying severe disease caused by the interaction between influenza virus and bacteria, which may have resulted in numerous deaths during influenza pandemics and continues to constitute a significant clinical problem in susceptible individuals.” Currently ongoing studies suggest that this model may also be useful for identifying target molecules for the development of novel therapeutic agents and strategies. [EoPR]
Note: Image and caption not included in the press release.

What is Staphylococcus aureus? [Source: CDC]

Staphylococcus aureus, often referred to simply as “staph,” is a bacteria commonly found on the skin and in the nose of healthy people. Occasionally, staphylococci can get into the body and cause an infection. This infection can be minor (such as pimples, boils, and other skin conditions) or serious and sometimes fatal (such as blood infections or pneumonia). Staph. aureus is a common organism and can be found in the nostrils of up to 30% of persons. Person-to-person transmission is the usual form of spread and occurs through contact with secretions from infected skin lesions, nasal discharge or spread via the hands.

What is MRSA?

MRSA are staphylococci that are resistant to the antibiotic, methicillin, and other commonly used antibiotics such as penicillin and cephalosporins. These germs have a unique gene that causes them to be unaffected by all but the highest concentrations of these antibiotics. Therefore, alternate antibiotics must be used to treat persons infected with MRSA. Vancomycin has been the most effective and reliable drug in these cases, but is used intravenously and is not effective for treatment of MRSA when taken by mouth.


Photomicrograph of Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria, 675x Mag. A pus specimen, viewed using Pappenheim’s stain. Last century, infections by S. pyogenes claimed many lives especially since the organism was the most important cause of puerperal fever and scarlet fever. This media comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’sPublic Health Image Library (PHIL), with identification number #2110.

More information on MRSA from CDC:  Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus

In 2005, MRSA killed 19,000 people in the United States—more than 1.5 times as many people than died of AIDS that year.

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Posted in Group A Streptococcus, H. influenzae, immunocompromised, Staphylococcus aureus, Why Influenza Kills | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Toilet hands!

Posted by feww on October 15, 2008

14 October: The UN Hand-Washing Day

Millions around the world washed their hands with soap to mark the inaugural Global Hand Washing Day celebrations. Washing hands with water is simply not enough. Washing hands with soap, especially before preparing food and after using the toilet, can potentially save the lives of almost 3.5 million children every year who die from diarrhea and pneumonia. UNICEF


Global Hand Washing Day in Timor-Leste. Private industry and the public sector have joined together to establish the first-ever Global Hand Washing Day, raising awareness to the risk of disease this simple act can prevent. Location: Dili, Timor-Leste. Date: 14 October 2008. Photo # 201397 – UN Photo/Martine Perret. Image may be subject to copyright.

Toilet hands

Meanwhile, researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine swabbed over 400 commuters at bus and train stations in  five major UK cities, and discovered that more than one in four had bacteria from feces on their hands. The results were as follows:

Newcastle – men 53%, women 30%
Liverpool – men 36%, women 31%
Birmingham – men 21%, women 26%
Cardiff – men 15%, women 29%
London – men 6%, women 21%

Dr Val Curtis, director of the Hygiene Center at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: “We were flabbergasted by the finding that so many people had fecal bugs on their hands.

“The figures were far higher than we had anticipated, and suggest that there is a real problem with people washing their hands in the UK.

“If any of these people had been suffering from a diarrhea disease, the potential for it to be passed around would be greatly increased by their failure to wash their hands after going to the toilet.”

Professor Mike Catchpole, director of the Health Protection Agency’s Center for Infections, said: “These results are startling and should be enough to make anyone reach for the soap.

“It is well known that hand washing is one of the most important ways of controlling the spread of infections, especially those that cause diarrhea and vomiting, colds and flu.

“People should always wash their hands after using the toilet, before eating or handling food, and after handling animals. And remember to cover all cuts and scratches with a waterproof dressing.”

Cases of norovirus – the winter vomiting bug – are rising in the UK, the HPA said. About a million people in the UK are affected by the bug each year.

“Norovirus is the most common cause of gastrointestinal disease in the UK with peak activity in terms of numbers of cases and outbreaks during the winter months, from October to March.” BBC reported.

Professor Catchpole said: “Norovirus is highly infectious and easily spread in settings where people are in close contact with one another so good hygiene, including frequent handwashing, is really important.”

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Posted in diarrhea, fecal bacteria, norovirus, UK, winter vomiting bug | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Deadly virus infects 1,884, kills 20

Posted by feww on April 30, 2008

EV71 Hits China’s Anhui Province

A highly contagious virus has infected 1,884 people, killed 20 children and is spreading. The virus known as EV71 causes fevers, blisters and rashes on the victims’ hands and feet.

The outbreak of the lethal intestinal virus started in March in Fuyang City in the east China’s Anhui Province, according to Xinhua News Agency.


Experts from places out of Anhui Province examine a sick child in Fuyang City, east China’s Anhui Province, April 29, 2008. The Health Ministry of China sent Fuyang 35 medical experts from Hunan and Hubei provinces in central China to give better treatment to sick children on April 28. An outbreak of lethal intestinal virus Enterovirus 71 has altogether sickened 1,520 children in Fuyang, claiming 20 lives by the morning of April 29. A total of 585 have recovered and 412 are in hospital. Of those, 27 are seriously ill. (Photo and caption: Xinhua). Image may be subject to copyright. See FEWW Fair Use Notice!

As many as 540 children remain in hospital for further observation. The symptoms in children include fever, mouth ulcers, rashes and blisters hands and feet. Several children with severe pneumonia were admitted to hospitals between March 27-31. Some of the victims were diagnosed with brain, heart and lung damage. All of the victims are reported to be less than six, the majority being under two years old.

At least 27 are said to be in critical condition, according to the provincial health department.

Posted in blisters, fevers, foot and mouth, Fuyang City, health, politics, rashes, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »