The other epidemic.
From 2006 to 2013, the United States had an average of 28 cases per annum of chikungunya
, a viral disease. So far, this year, there have been 1052
. Once confined to Africa and Southeast Asia, localized outbreaks have appeared in Italy, other parts of Europe, and the Americas. Although the first known locally acquired case appeared in the Caribbean in 2013, it has achieved epidemic levels with an estimated 738000 cases
. [more inside]
Vax: Gamifying Epidemic Prevention
"Players are tasked to prepare for an outbreak by vaccinating a network that resembles human social networks. After distributing vaccines, an infectious outbreak begins to spread and the player is tasked to quell the epidemic by quarantining individuals at risk of becoming infected." [more inside]
Bacterial diseases cause millions of deaths every year. Most of these bacteria were benign at some point in their evolutionary past, and we don’t always understand what turned them into disease-causing pathogens. In a new study, researchers have tracked down when this switch happened in one flesh-eating bacteria. They think the knowledge might help predict future epidemics. [more inside]
There's been an ebola outbreak
in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. With 122 cases so far, this is the worst outbreak since 2007's 264-case outbreak. The worst outbreak was 2000-2001's 425 cases. What makes this one different is the way it has spread so widely. [more inside]
"All you have to do is take a breath at the wrong time.
It will impact your lower lung, and the infection starts from there [...]. If you roll down the window driving from San Diego to Seattle, you could catch cocci while you're driving through, no question. That could happen, and it has happened." Valley Fever (coccidioidomycosis
) is a fungal infection endemic to certain areas of the Southwest. The CDC has described it as a "silent epidemic"
; between 1998 and 2011, reported cases increased tenfold
. It's often misdiagnosed
, but even when correctly-diagnosed, the prognosis can sometimes be grim: there is no vaccine
, the price of the first-line drug has skyrocketed
, and the treatments for more-severe cases often carry their own punishing side effects
. While many groups (including NASA) seek to halt the spread
, the disease continues to infect 20,000+ individuals each year. "It destroys lives
,” said Dr. [Royce] Johnson [...]. Divorces, lost jobs and bankruptcy are incredibly common, not to mention psychological dislocation."
[Eleven] days ago, The New Yorker’s Daily Comment blog published an essay by Michael Specter titled “What Young Gay Men Don’t Know About Aids,
” in which Specter points to the increase of “unprotected anal intercourse among gay men,” claims that “the rates of HIV infection will surely follow,” and then identifies the cause of this shift as the ignorance of my generation, who weren’t around to see the AIDS epidemic for themselves. The piece is a call to arms of sort, stating the need for increased public funding for HIV/AIDS prevention, and concludes by quoting Larry Kramer’s famous 1983 warning, “1,112 and Counting.” It’s a familiar argument—one that, in my lifetime, I have heard repeated ad nauseam and, I fear, largely misses what AIDS means to me and many other young gay men.
The Saudi Arabian government has been tight-lipped about the spread of Middle East respiratory syndrome
(MERS), a disease first discovered in 2012 that has "killed more than half of those who contracted it"
, "responding slowly to requests for information and preventing outside researchers from publishing their findings about the syndrome. [more inside]
A month after its release, Naughty Dog
's sweeping interactive epic The Last of Us
is being hailed as one of the best games of all time
, with perfect scores even from notoriously demanding critics
Inspired by an eerily beautiful segment from the BBC's Planet Earth
, the game portrays an America twenty years after a pandemic of the zombiefying Cordyceps
), leaving behind lush wastelands
of elegant decay
teeming with monsters
and beset by vicious bandits, a brutal military, and the revolutionary Fireflies.
Into this bleak vision of desperate violence
journey Joel, a gruffly stoic Texan with a painful past, and his ward Ellie, a precocious teenager who may hold the key to mankind's future.
Boasting tense, immersive gameplay
, compelling performances
from a diverse cast, a movingly minimalist score
from Oscar-winning Gustavo Santaolalla
, and an array of influences from Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men
to Cormac McCarthy's The Road
, it's already being slotted alongside BioShock Infinite
and Half-Life 2
as one of modern gaming's crowning achievements
. And while it's hard to disentangle plot from action, you don't have to buy a PS3 to experience it -- YouTube offers many filmic edits of the game, including this three-hour version of all relevant passages
And don't miss the 84-minute documentary
exploring every facet of its production. [more inside]
It's debatable whether the troubled World War Z
signals the end of the ongoing zombie craze, but the film that started it all is much more clear: Danny Boyle's
bleak, artful cult horror-drama 28 Days Later
, which saw its US premiere ten years ago this weekend.
From its iconic opening shots of an eerily abandoned London
(set to Godspeed You! Black Emperor's
brooding post-rock epic "East Hastings"
) to the frenzied chaos of its climax
, Boyle's film -- a dark yet humanist tale
of a world eviscerated by a frighteningly contagious epidemic of murderous rage -- reinvented and reinvigorated the genre that Romero built (though many insist its rabid, sprinting berserkers don't really count
And while sequel 28 Weeks Later
with its heavyhanded Iraq War allusions
failed to live up to the original (despite boasting one of the most viscerally terrifying opening sequences
in modern horror), and 28 Months
looks increasingly unlikely
, there remains a small universe of side content from the film, including music, short films, comics, and inspired-by games. [more inside]
Self-harm now takes more lives than war, murder, and natural disasters combined. Why are we killing ourselves, and how can we stop it?
Over the last five decades, millions of lives have been remade for the better. Yet within this brighter tomorrow, we suffer unprecedented despair. In a time defined by ever more social progress and astounding innovations, we have never been more burdened by sadness or more consumed by self-harm. And this may be only the beginning. If Joiner and others are right—and a landmark collection of studies suggests they are—we’ve reached the end of one order of human history and are at the beginning of a new order entirely, one beset by a whole lot of self-inflicted bloodshed, and a whole lot more to come.
Since mid-2011, a substantial rise in pertussis [Whooping Cough] cases has been reported in the state of Washington. In response to this increase, the Washington State Secretary of Health declared a pertussis epidemic on April 3, 2012. By June 16, the reported number of cases in Washington in 2012 had reached 2,520 (37.5 cases per 100,000 residents), a 1,300% increase compared with the same period in 2011 and the highest number of cases reported in any year since 1942 [Make sure you don't miss Figure 1]. Commentators are already drawing corellations
with the fact that Washington State leads the nation in vaccine non-compliance
, Washington State's recent cutbacks in public health funding
, and increases in the number of uninsured (PDF)
. [more inside]
'The stories about epidemics that are told in the American press—their plots and tropes—date to the 1920's, when modern research science, science journalism, and science fiction were born.' This is the story of how the media back then (January, 1930) helped fuel fears about a parrot-fever pandemic, and the subsequent public backlash
. (Via) [more inside]
In the mood for a good epidemic? Try the English Sweating Sickness
. To get a full picture of the horror and uproar a fast spreading disease with frighteningly sudden onset caused in Tudor England, here is an amazingly complete account by a contemporary physician
. The exact etiology of the disease is still a mystery
- perhaps a viral pulmonary disease
(PDF in link).
The Great Flu
— "Even at the lowest difficulty this game delivers a sense of just how hard it is to handle and contain the spread of a dangerous virus." (via
(aboriginal) communities in Canada often have levels of squalor and health outcomes comparable to developing nations
[PDF]. Abuse of alcohol and other drugs
is rife. Generally low health care levels in these communities has led to outbreaks
of H1N1 (swine flu). While the distribution of hand sanitizer might help control these outbreaks, the Canadian government is hesitant to do so out of fear that the alcohol-based sanitizer will be ingested
. Some argue that this is nothing more than continued paternalism
that has reduced the First peoples of Canada to their present state.
Question... What has killed more people than have died in the First World War... No, not another War, But a Pandemic, The Influenza Pandemic of 1918
. [more inside]
Running Like Wildfire
— Imagine a national disaster that stopped 99% of American transportation
in its tracks; shut down
the country; halted shipping and trade; hobbled counter-insurgency operations
, and helped Boston
burn down. It spread
from Canada southward to Cuba and westward to the Pacific, crippling
all that Americans took for granted: their cities
and towns; their supplies of food and consumer goods; their jobs, businesses, and the national economy
. Such was the Great Epizootic of 1872
In 1962, in a mission-run girls' boarding school in Kashasha, Tanzania, a student started laughing uncontrollably. Her laughter spread throughout the school, and the girls grew violent when teachers tried to calm them. Administration closed the school, sent some girls home, and the "epidemic of laughing and crying
" spread to villages up and down the Bukoba district. [more inside]
Sick City - Maps and Mortality in the Time of Cholera
] reviews Stephen Johnson's "The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic"*
. Dr John Snow became the acknowledged modern father of epidemiology by identifying water as the transmission vehicle of a cholera outbreak in Victorian England. [more inside]
Upon the Nazi invasion of Poland, pediatrician Eugeniusz Łazowski and his friend Stanisław Matulewicz fabricated a fake typhus epidemic
to save Polish Jews from the Nazis
. Knowing that typhus-infected Jews would be summarily executed, non-Jews were injected with the harmless Proteus OX19
, which would generate false positives for typhus. [more inside]
Obesity has been called an epidemic in the United States.
Looking at an interactive statistic [CNN, flash]
of the state-by-state numbers is sobering mf
64% of adults are overweight and approx 25% are obese
The usual suspects have so far been a culture of low-exercise mf
high-consumption (due to urban sprawl, driving
, TV, ... ),
and bad diet
(the ubiquity of
with its high levels of fat, sugar and salt. Recently the high fructose levels in the common American diet has also been noted.
Fructose comprises 50% of table sugar and up to 90% of high-fructose corn
syrup (HFCS), both ingredients found in copious
amounts in most American 'convenience' foods.
[Wikipedia: Fructose#References, Wikipedia:HFCS]).
Now it seems that a
is a common virus, the
, which may really make obesity
an actual epidemic. [Int. Journal of Obesity
The Global Trouble AlertMap
Are you curious about that chemical spill in Minnesota
? Or how about the bio hazard situation in Honduras
? The Havaria Information Systems AlertMap is updated in (near) real-time and the wealth of bad news is fairly astonishing. Plus they've got RSS
feeds for whatever bad (or locationally relevant
) news you want delivered. There are USA only maps
, Europe only maps
too (slow day, just a fire
Previously (focused on bird flu tracking though several comments note how freakin' cool the map is)
CDC Recommends it for Everyone between 13 and 60
This seems like a very expensive proposition. It appears more people are living with this virus without knowing about it.
Doctor Larry Brilliant (mentioned before)
spoke at TED this year, calling himself the "luckiest man in the world." He played witness to the last case of Smallpox, and played a significant role in making it the last case. Inspiring/terrifying video here,
long, with some graphic
images of smallpox.
Back in 1974, Brilliant's technique for early detection in India was to take graphic photos door to door, asking if anyone inside looks like this
. Now, as head of Google's philanthropic efforts, he's advocating systems for "early detection, early response." Unsurprisingly, Google, etc, are an important piece of that system: can we detect what's happening before it can spread?
One of the first responses to Brilliant is up already, a means for doctors to immediately text epidemiological information straight into a global spatial database.
It's a rough and promising start, and its fascinating that it's coming from the bottom up, instead of NGOs like the Red Cross.
Is H5N1 flu transitioning
to a human-to-human illness? Recent reports of familial clusters
suggest that it may be, though there are certainly other possible explanations, such as families living in environments contaminated by virus-laden bird feces. On the other hand, it would seem that epidemiologists are growing increasingly interested in the possibility that these clusters are indicative of human-to-human transmissions. Further, the virus may be inching towards being asymptomatic, which isn't as good as it sounds: if people can carry the virus and transmit it to others without showing symptoms, it will be very difficult to impossible to tell who is a vector and highly difficult to control any emerging epidemic.
China isn't known for being open
about most things, including the spread of deadly diseases. (Many will remember China's original attempt to cover up SARS
. As the International Society for Infectious Diseases
reports, a prominent WHO
virologist has made a claim that China has now experienced at least 300 human avian flu deaths and is actively attempting to cover this information up. "We are systematically deceived," he is reported to have said. "At least 5 medical co-workers who should be reporting on the
situation in the provinces were arrested, and [other] publication-willing
researchers were threatened with punishments."
Bush Considers Military Role in Flu Fight
If the flu (say) breaks out in New Jersey, why not use the New Jersey National Guard. Just what is the guard for? Simply to be sent overseas for our bringing freedom to nations not having what we believe we have?
Greta got a blog.
Greta Van Susteren is blogging now, or at least posting articles on foxnews.com and using the word 'blog' in the process. You can read her thoughts on the grave epidemic
of missing white women this country faces!
Over the past month, people in Qinghai province, China
have been reporting that migratory birds in the mostly-rural region were dropping dead of an unknown disease, later diagnosed as a few hundred cases of "an isolated case"
[sic] of influenza strain H5N1
, a.k.a. bird flu
. Three weeks later, the Chinese government admitted
that actually about a thousand birds had died of bird flu
in the province. Now there are reports saying that at least 8,000 animals--not just birds--have died
from the flu, including not only breeds of fowl not previously known to be affected by the virus, but non-avian species, too.
Every national park and bird sanctuary in China has been closed for weeks
, since the first reports surfaced of an outbreak. But today, disturbing photos started appearing on Chinese language news websites, supposedly taken at the closed Qinghai Lake Nature Reserve
. They appear to show thousands of dead birds
(warning, disturbing images
- Engrish version via Babelfish here
) on the island in the middle of Qinghai Lake, China's largest saltwater lake and a rest-stop for migratory birds from all across southeast Asia. Nervous pandemic-watchers are debating
whether the photos are real or doctored, but compared to previous photos
of the once-lively
birding spot, something definitely seems to be wrong. [ much more inside >> ]
1.7 million deaths in the U.S. and 180-360 million dead globally.
That's the estimate of the impact of the next influenza pandemic
from Michael Osterholm, published
in today's New England Journal of Medicine
. He warns that almost every public health response to the inevitable emergence of pandemic influenza A strain is unplanned or inadequate: A vaccine would take minimum six months (and millions of fertilized chicken eggs); there are no plans to setup and staff the temporary isolation wards or replace dead health-care workers; nor are there detailed plans for handling the number of dead bodies. Given the deeply interconnected nature of the global economy a pandemic would be impossible to stop and wreak havoc in every nation. "Frankly the crisis could for all we know have started last night in some village in Southeast Asia," said
Dr. Paul Gully, Canada's deputy chief public health officer. "We don't have any time to waste and even if we did have some time, the kinds of things we need to do will take years. Right now, the best we can do is try to survive it. We need a Manhattan Project yesterday."
The Church Awakens
"The AIDS pandemic is the greatest humanitarian crisis," Casey said. "It just begs a reaction from the church."
The church is now in full reaction mode. More than 2,000 Christian medical professionals, church leaders, and students gathered for the ninth annual Global Missions Health Conference, November 11-13, at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. They spoke not only of statistics that confirmed the extent of the pandemic (43 million people living with HIV/AIDS; 8,000 deaths each day; 14 million orphans), but of working together.
Half of young Americans to get STDs
- so say several collected studies by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and others. Can the Bush administration's plan to double abstinence-only spending
solve this problem? Or can the argument be made that keeping condoms out of the classrooms causes more STDs than prevents?
Vatican declares fresh Death all around.
It seems the Vatican is telling people in countries with high AIDS infection not to use condoms, because the virus is small enough to pass through the porous latex. The World Health Organization believes condoms do reduce the risk of AIDS transmission. To which the Vatican's Cardinal Trujillo replied: "They are wrong about that... this is an easily recognisable fact."
SARS much more deadly than first estimated.
Analysis of the latest statistics on the global SARS epidemic reveals that at least 10 per cent
of people who contract the new virus will die of the disease. The low death rates of about four per cent cited until now by the World Health Organizatio n and others are the result of a statistical difficulty, well known to epidemiologists, that hampers the early analysis of new disease outbreaks. [...] A better current estimate of the deadliness of SARS may be the number of deaths as a proportion of resolved cases. Those numbers for Hong Kong, Canada and Singapore are 15.8, 18.3 and 13.7 per cent
With an increase in the number of cases of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
at the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children, Canada now poses more of a direct threat to the American way of life than all of the weapons in Iraq combined. As the relationship between these two North American real estate holders continues to deteriorate, are we Canadians to expect border closings and escalated hostility due to this?
CDC posts medical alert for atypical pneumonia.
There is travel alert for those traveling from Asian countries around and in China. It seems that this type of pnenumonia has been found in North America. Symptoms include fever and hard-of-breathing. More articles about the disease here.
The bird flu is back. Despite denials
by the Hong Kong government, the World Health Organization announced
yesterday that two people were killed by the same virulent species-jumpingstrain of influenza that caused the 1997 panic
. It's certainly less gruesome than the ebola outbreak
going on in Congo right now, but, unlike ebola, the flu is highly contagious. [more inside]
to fight AIDS in Africa comes with some strings attached, it turns out. Bush is limiting the funds
that clinics which perform abortions can receive. Is it moral to politicize an epidemic?
3.1 million in 2002 comes out to some 8,500 a day, 354 an hour, and almost 6 a minute. Each minute. Each hour. Each day. Deaths. Of AIDS.
"China's catastrophic mismanagement of its AIDS crisis has come to this:
Xie Yan is trying to give away her son. Ms. Xie's husband died last year of AIDS, and she has the virus as well. They are the victims of government-backed blood-selling schemes that have left about one million people infected here in Henan Province in central China. Multiply Ms. Xie's heartache a millionfold, and you understand the cost of the Chinese government's cover-up of its AIDS crisis. If China continues to be more concerned with hiding the tragedy than confronting it, then today's Chinese leaders could kill millions of people over the next two decades. We in the West must exert strong pressure on China to act quickly to address the AIDS challenge."
The Demon in the Freezer
An article by the author of The Hot Zone
. " The water contained the
whole molecules of life from variola, a parasite that had colonized us thousands
of years ago. We had almost freed ourselves of it, but we found we had
developed a strong affinity for smallpox. Some of us had made it into a
weapon, and now we couldn't get rid of it. I wondered if we ever would, for the
story of our entanglement with smallpox is not yet ended".
The West Nile virus has leapfrogged into California.
Don't you find it suspicious that there are no subversive theories of how this virus showed up at all in New York, and now in California?
Is this the big one?
With some 18,000 sick and over 700 people having died of the flu in a country the size of France over the past couple of months, I find it odd that the media seems obsesessed with the US / Iraq thing and missing children.
The 1918 flu epidemic killed some 675,00 Americans alone, with a global tally in excess of 20 MILLION killed.
Some of the photos taken back then are pretty grim
. It seems the power of influenza is that it (ahhem) mutates
and thats why it could once again be a big killer. Cynical as it might sound, as a race maybe we need
something like this to teach us that we've got a lot more in common with each other than skin colour and religion might otherwise lead us to believe. ObDisclaimer: I'm unemployed right now, have maybe six months of canned goods in the flat; if this hits London, I ain't opening my door to nobody
From NPR (The MetaFilter giveth, the MetaFilter taketh away...) Remembering Tuskegee
600 low-income African-American males, 400 infected with syphilis are monitored for 40 years. Even though a proven cure (penicillin) became available in the 1950s, the study continues until 1972 with participants denied treatment. Perhaps as many as 100 died of syphilis during the study (Allen, 1978). Additional resources.
Thirty years ago is not that long a time.
No More Malaria?
The first step has been taken to making mosquitoes incapable of passing on malaria. But, should we?
seems to be on the rise. Working in a hospital lab I've seen an increase in tests for HPV
It's enough to make one wonder if sex is worth the risk.
with comprehensive links, thanks to Sister Mary Elizabeth of the Sisters of St. Elizabeth of Hungary and AEGIS
(AIDS Education Global Information System), "...a service the Centers for Disease Control calls 'the best of its kind'..." (See How Aegis Began) People making a difference.
"A mysterious epidemic, hitherto unknown, which had struck terror into all hearts by the rapidity of its spread, the ravages it made, and the apparent helplessness of the physicians to cure it." — on syphillis, in the 16th centruy.
Highlights from the CBC's 1996 Ideas shows on AIDS in historical perspective, available in real audio for downloading or streaming. I remember stopping the car and listening to the whole thing four years ago: "The programs underline how a whole series of biological, psychological and social factors shape the public's perception of disease, and society's response to it. The strengths and limits of past approaches to detecting sexually transmitted diseases are explored, in order to shed light on approaches that could be used to control AIDS today."