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Posts tagged "Flu"


Influenza Virus | kat m research

This negative-stained transmission electron micrograph (TEM) depicts the ultrastructural details of an influenza virus particle, or “virion”. A member of the taxonomic family Orthomyxoviridae, the influenza virus is a single-stranded RNA organism

Urgent search for flu source

Virologists know its name: H7N9. What they don’t yet know is whether this novel avian influenza virus — first reported in humans in China less than two weeks ago — will rapidly fizzle out, become established in animal hosts to fuel future human outbreaks, or morph into a virus that can spread easily between people and spark a deadly pandemic.

In a frantic effort to find answers, scientists are bearing down on H7N9 on multiple fronts. They are testing wild birds and thousands of domestic fowl; analysing the viruses they find; and trying to trace people who have been exposed to infected patients. Chinese health authorities say that they have 400 laboratories looking for genetic changes in the virus.

“We are going to be sitting with bated breath over the next month to find out what happens,” says Michael Osterholm, who heads the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy in Minneapolis. As Nature went to press, 24 human cases, including 8 deaths, had been reported in 11 cities, some a few hundred kilometres apart, in eastern China (seemap). So many cases in such a short time over such a wide area — up from three cases in two cities a week ago — is “a very concerning situation”, says Osterholm.

Scientists urgently want to find out which sources are stoking the human infections that result in flu-like symptoms and, in most reported cases, severe pneumonia. So far, investigations of the cases remain largely inconclusive: some patients had contact with poultry or other animals just before falling ill, whereas others had not. Late last week, the H7N9 virus was found in chickens, pigeons and ducks in live bird markets in Shanghai and Hangzhou — making markets the leading suspected source. Authorities have since culled tens of thousands of birds and closed down markets in Shanghai, Nanjing and Hangzhou.

The genetic sequences of the H7N9 viruses found in the birds are highly similar to those isolated from human patients, says Chao-Tan Guo, a virologist at the Zhejiang Academy of Medical Sciences in Hangzhou. Although the virus might have come from other sources, including mammals, the pattern of many human cases over a wide area in a short time could be explained by live markets alone, because birds from one or a few sources would be transported to multiple markets, says Malik Peiris, a flu virologist at the University of Hong Kong.

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Effects of influenza on the respiratory system

Left: Acute hemorrhagic and ulcerative laryngotracheitis
Right: Right lung - showing consolidation, grey hepatization (lower lobe), and congestive edema (upper lobe). There is a large hemorrhage in the center of the hepatized lobe.

Happy Flu Season!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again - even if the flu is just a few days of misery for you, it’s often far more serious than you might think for many others out there. It’s worth making sure you get the vaccine every year so you don’t spread infection, and, if you do get infected, stay the hell at home.

Hepatization is the conversion of a tissue or organ to a “liver-like” substance. In the lungs, this occurs when they become engorged with effused matter, such as red blood cells, neutrophils, and fibrin, which clog up the alveoli to the point that the lungs are impervious to air, where this has occurred. Grey hepatization is the second stage in lung hepatization - at this point, the red blood cells have broken down, leaving only the fibrinogen exudate and dead tissue behind.

Laryngotracheitis is an inflammatory response in the larynx and trachea. The trachea is lined with the same epithelial cells as much of the bronchial tree, and all influenza strains are able to infect those cells. This is why, whether you have a “light” case of the flu or a deathly-serious case, coughing and throat pain still occur. When the infection is bad enough, the coughing can lead to ulceration of the tissue below the epithelium, which can lead to bleeding into the lungs, or coughing up blood.

In cases involving “consolidation”, there is generally an opportunistic pneumonia taking hold. The bacterial exotoxins and sometimes the patient’s own immune system, break down epithelial cells that separate and define the alveolar sacs. The surface area given by these epithelial layers is what allows a high volume of oxygen to be absorbed with each breath we take. When those cell layers are destroyed, the oxygenation of blood is severely decreased.

Pathology of Influenza. Charles Winternitz, Isabel Wason, and Frank McNamara, 1920.


So, not to panic anyone, but there’s a flu outbreak. It’s pretty bad. You need to get a shot before you make everyone sick. See the outbreak map and Google trend data below, then use the widget below it to find the closest vaccine to you. Take an extra hour off work and do some shots before you make someone you love sick.

Got my shot last week and I wasn’t even aware until a few days ago, this is very important don’t ignore it or scoff it off as something you can remedy at home. Go get your damn flu shots!


Could a Newly Developed RNA-Based Vaccine Offer Lifelong Protection From Flu?

A new experimental flu vaccine made out of mRNA that may work for life is now being developed.

Researchers said that the vaccine, made of the genetic material that controls the production of proteins, protected animals against influenza and, unlike traditional vaccines, it may work for life and can potentially be manufactured quickly enough to stop a pandemic.

Researchers explain that the current vaccines on the market work by instructing our immune systems to recognize two virus proteins called HA and NA. However, the problem is that these two proteins are constantly evolving, which is essentially why new vaccines are always needed.

Researchers believe that the secret for the everlasting vaccine against the multiple flu virus strains is to target something that never changes…

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Controversial Killer Flu Research Paused

Researchers developing extra-contagious strains of H5N1 avian influenza have agreed to pause their work for 60 days.

The moratorium, announced Jan. 20 in Nature and Science, is a response to public fear and alarm in the scientific community, which has split over whether the research could inadvertently lead to release of a nightmare disease.

Depending on perspective, the moratorium is either a genuine recognition of the need for broader discussion or a public relations gesture. Either way, it’s a chance for everyone to catch their breath without reaching for a mask.

Fear that the viruses “may escape from the laboratories has generated intense public debate in the media on the benefits and potential harm of this type of research,” the researchers wrote in an open letter declaring the moratorium. “To provide time for these discussions, we have agreed on a voluntary pause of 60 days on any research involving highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 viruses leading to the generation of viruses that are more transmissible in mammals.”

The controversy began in November when ScienceInsider reported that two teams of virologists — one led by Ron Fouchier of Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands , the other by Yoshihiro Kawaoka at the University of Wisconsin — had developed H5N1 strains capable of passing easily between ferrets, which are used as models for influenza infection in humans. Whether the strains are as easily transmissible between people isn’t known, but is considered possible.


2011 Review: The Year in Health Science

From the first voice box transplant ever to reversing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s by zapping the brain, it has been a fascinating, and on occasion downright weird, year in biomedicine. Who can forget the discovery that faecal transplants ease the symptoms of Parkinson’s? We’ve also reported pills that could prevent cancer, warned of the five small steps to a potentially lethal flu pandemic, and even had a reporter perform intimate acts inside an fMRI scanner to unlock the secrets of consciousness. Here are our top 10 favourite stories of the year.

Woman speaks after pioneering voice box transplant
First ever transplant of combined larynx, thyroid and windpipe has been a resounding success

Daily aspirin cuts risk of colorectal cancer
An aspirin a day reduces the risk of developing hereditary colorectal cancer and could be of benefit to those with a family history of other cancers

Sex on the brain: Orgasms unlock altered consciousness
Our intrepid reporter performs an intimate act in an fMRI scanner to explore the pathways of pleasure and pain

Faecal transplant eases symptoms of Parkinson’s
Diabetes and even obesity, as well as Parkinson’s disease, might be cured just by replacing the bacteria in your gut

Genes marked by stress make grandchildren mentally ill
A little thing called methylation means that parental neglect, or eating a poor diet, could lead to depression or schizophrenia two generations later

Genes from algae allow blind mice to see
Blind people could one day have their sight restored thanks to a treatment that borrows a gene from algae and installs it into the eye

Five easy mutations to make bird flu a lethal pandemic
A lethal form of bird flu that spreads easily between humans has yet to appear – but a new study suggests it might evolve easily

First viable sperm cells grown from scratch
For the first time viable mouse sperm have been grown outside the testes. If this works for human sperm, it could mean new treatments for infertile men

Anti-dengue mosquitoes released in Australia
Some 300,000 mosquitoes carrying a bacterium that limits their ability to spread dengue fever have been released in Queensland

Alzheimer’s damage reversed by deep brain stimulation
Brain shrinkage in people with Alzheimer’s disease can be reversed in some cases by zapping the degenerating tissue with electrical impulses


The federal government on Tuesday asked two science journals to censor parts of two papers describing how researchers produced what appears to be a far more dangerous version of the “bird flu” virus that has circulated in Asia for more than a decade.

The request is a first for the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB), a panel created after the anthrax bioterror attacks of 2001 to counsel the government on biological research that has potential to be used for nefarious purposes.

» via Washington Post