Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Press release] How long can Ebola live? No one really knows — ScienceDaily

How long can Ebola live? No one really knows

December 10, 2014

How Long Can Ebola Live?

Pitt researcher publishes article showing that the literature is lacking, receives NSF grant to conduct further study
Contact:

Cara Masset

412-624-4361

Cell: 412-316-7508

PITTSBURGH—The Ebola virus travels from person to person through direct contact with infected body fluids. But how long can the virus survive on glass surfaces or countertops? How long can it live in wastewater when liquid wastes from a patient end up in the sewage system? In an article published Dec. 9 in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters, Kyle Bibby of the University of Pittsburgh reviews the latest research to find answers to these questions.

HeKyle BibbyKyle Bibby and his co-investigators didn’t find many answers.

“The World Health Organization has been saying you can put (human waste) in pit latrines or ordinary sanitary sewers and that the virus then dies,” says Bibby, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. “But the literature lacks evidence that it does. They may be right, but the evidence isn’t there.”

Bibby and colleagues from Pitt and Drexel University explain that knowing how long the deadly pathogen survives on surfaces, in water, or in liquid droplets is critical to developing effective disinfection practices to prevent the spread of the disease. Currently, the World Health Organization guidelines recommend to hospitals and health clinics that liquid wastes from patients be flushed down the toilet or disposed of in a latrine. However, Ebola research labs that use patients’ liquid waste are supposed to disinfect the waste before it enters the sewage system. Bibby’s team set out to determine what research can and can’t tell us about these practices.

The researchers scoured scientific papers for data on how long the virus can live in the environment. They found a dearth of published studies on the matter. That means no one knows for sure whether the virus can survive on a surface and cause infection or how long it remains active in water, wastewater, or sludge. The team concluded that Ebola’s persistence outside the body needs more careful investigation.

To that end, Bibby recently won a $110,000 National Science Foundation grant to explore the issue. His team will identify surrogate viruses that are physiologically similar to Ebola and study their survival rates in water and wastewater. The findings of this study will inform water treatment and waste-handling procedures in a timely manner while research on the Ebola virus is still being conducted.

December 12, 2014 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Op-Ed: Have we learned anything about global disease epidemics?

Op-Ed: Have we learned anything about global disease epidemics?

From the post By Karen Graham   Oct 19, 2014 in Health at Digital Journal

flu-5_1

The headlines in the opening to this story are not taken from today’s newspapers. They were published in the Chicago Tribune 96 years ago. From 1918 to 1919, the world was in the throes of the greatest plague in recorded history. It was called the Spanish Flu, named for the country where people thought it had originated..

The headlines we are seeing today over fear of the spread of the Ebola virus are very real. Many of the events that have already taken place — such as the cruise ship being banned from entering Belize — adds to our fears, although the restrictions were probably unnecessary. We are a country that is totally unprepared for an epidemic of national proportions, yet this is not the first time wehave been tested.

The headlines in the opening to this story are not taken from today’s newspapers. They were published in the Chicago Tribune 96 years ago. From 1918 to 1919, the world was in the throes of the greatest plague in recorded history. It was called the Spanish Flu, named for the country where people thought it had originated……

October 21, 2014 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , , | Leave a comment

BBC – Future – Should we diagnose rare diseases with smartphones?

English: Biosafety level 4 hazmat suit: resear...

English: Biosafety level 4 hazmat suit: researcher is working with the Ebola virus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BBC – Future – Should we diagnose rare diseases with smartphones?.

From the 17 October 2014 BBC article

s fear of the Ebola virus escalates, Eric Topol thinks that we’re missing an important weapon. And you just need to reach into your pocket to find it. “Most communicable diseases can be diagnosed with a smartphone,” he says. “Rather than putting people into quarantine for three weeks – how about seeing if they harbour it in their blood?” A quicker response could also help prevent mistakes, such as the patient in Dallas who was sent home from hospital with a high fever, only to later die from the infection.

It’s a provocative claim, but Topol is not shy about calling for a revolution in the way we deal with Ebola – or any other health issue for that matter. A professor of genomics at the Scripps Research Institute in California, his last book heralded “the creative destruction of medicine” through new technology. Smartphones are already helping to do away with many of the least pleasant aspects of sickness – including the long hospital visits and agonising wait for treatment. An easier way to diagnose Ebola is just one example of these sweeping changes.

October 17, 2014 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Repost] The mathematics behind the Ebola epidemic

The isolation ward of Gulu Municipal Hospital,...

The isolation ward of Gulu Municipal Hospital, Gulu, Uganda, during an outbreak of Ebola hemorrhagic fever in October 2000 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the 9 October 2014 EurekAlert

……

“A major benefit of our method is that we can use it to calculate unreported cases and therefore the true scale of the epidemic,” asserts Stadler. Official patient figures only take into account those cases reported to the health authorities. The actual number of infected persons is generally significantly higher. Using the data made available to them, the ETH researchers were able to calculate an unreported case rate of 30% (i.e. patients of which blood samples were not taken). “However, this applies only to the situation analysed in Sierra Leone in May and June. We do not have any blood samples since June at all,” claims Stadler.

Virus family tree created

The researchers were also able to calculate the incubation period for Ebola (five days – this value is subject to significant uncertainty) and the infectious time. Patients can pass on the virus from 1.2 to 7 days after becoming infected.

…….

October 13, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

New tool detects Ebola, Marburg quickly, easily

Abstract Image

Boston University researchers develop portable diagnostic device

From a November 22, 2010 Eureka news alert

BOSTON (11-22-10) — Boston University researchers have developed a simple diagnostic tool that can quickly identify dangerous viruses like Ebola and Marburg. The biosensor, which is the size of a quarter and can detect viruses in a blood sample, could be used in developing nations, airports and other places where natural or man-made outbreaks could erupt.

“By enabling ultra-portable and fast detection, our technology can directly impact the course of our reaction against bio-terrorism threats and dramatically improve our capability to confine viral outbreaks,” said Assistant Professor Hatice Altug of the Boston University College of Engineering, who co-led the research team with Assistant Professor John Connor of the Boston University School of Medicine.

Traditional virus diagnostic tools are effective, but require significant infrastructure and sample preparation time. The new biosensor developed at Boston University directly detects live viruses from biological media with little to no sample preparation. The breakthrough is detailed in the Nov. 5 online edition of Nano Letters….

….

“Our platform can be easily adapted for point-of-care diagnostics to detect a broad range of viral pathogens in resource-limited clinical settings at the far corners of the world, in defense and homeland security applications as well as in civilian settings such as airports,” said Altug.

Connor noted an additional, significant advantage of the new technology. “It will be relatively easy to develop a diagnostic device that simultaneously tests for several different viruses,” he observed. “This could be extremely helpful in providing the proper diagnosis.”

The new biosensor is the first to detect intact viruses by exploiting plasmonic nanohole arrays, or arrays of apertures with diameters of about 200 to 350 nanometers on metallic films that transmit light more strongly at certain wavelengths. When a live virus in a sample solution, such as blood or serum, binds to the sensor surface, the refractive index in the close vicinity of the sensor changes, causing a detectable shift in the resonance frequency of the light transmitted through the nanoholes. The magnitude of that shift reveals the presence and concentration of the virus in the solution.

“Unlike PCR and ELISA approaches, our method does not require enzymatic amplification of a signal or fluorescent tagging of a product, so samples can be read immediately following pathogen binding,” said Altug. Ahmet Yanik, Altug’s research associate who conducted the experiments, added, “Our platform can detect not only the presence of the intact viruses in the analyzed samples, but also indicate the intensity of the infection process.”

The researchers are now working on a highly portable version of their biosensor platform using microfluidic technology designed for use in the field with minimal training.

 

 

 

November 23, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health News Items, Public Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: