Read Chapter 35. The Patriots on 1DFF (x)

“Uhhh.” A student in my 11 a.m. discussion fidgeted awkwardly with the paper in her hand as she stood up from her desk. “Mutual masturbation?” 

Pressing my lips together in sympathy, I nodded. “Very good. Now who has the matching green dot on their card?” 

"…I do.” Another blushing kid, no older than 19, raised his hand hesitantly before rising as well. 

“Okay so.” I clapped my hands together. “Who can tell me if this is a form of safe sex?” 

When yet again, not a student raised their hand I cursed under my breath, very strongly considering scrapping the whole STD lecture I was assigned to give as a TA for Introductory Epidemiology and letting my students roam free to spread petulance across the earth. But if the gonorrhea outbreak that plagued sorority row back in 2012 at my undergraduate university taught me anything, it was that under the mild hilarity of watching other people suffer, there were important lessons to be learned i.e. watching who the fuck you stuck it in, or who you let stick it in you. 

Mashco-Piros: Missionaries and ‘human safaris’ initiate contact in Peru

It feels like a déjà vu: naked youths from an isolated indigenous group step warily through shallow water and approach the strangers. Emboldened by curiosity, or hunger perhaps, they accept colorful clothing and gifts of food, not knowing that they may be carrying an epidemiological bomb back to their people in the forest.

The Effect of Non-Vaccination.

This year the United States is experiencing a record number of measles cases. From January 1 to August 29, there have been 592 confirmed measles cases reported to CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD). This is the highest number of cases since measles elimination was documented in the U.S. in 2000.

  • The majority of the people who got measles are unvaccinated.
  • Measles is still common in many parts of the world including some countries in Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa, travelers with measles continue to bring the disease into the U.S.
  • Measles can spread when it reaches a community in the U.S. where groups of people are unvaccinated.

Let’s treat violence like a contagious disease

Gary Slutkin created one of the most successful anti-violence campaigns in recent history. But he’s not a police chief or a city mayor — he’s a doctor. He spent a decade treating AIDS, cholera and tuberculosis in Africa, and when he came home to the US, he saw a strange link: gun violence was spreading just like those diseases.

In his 2013 TEDMED talk, he explains how he helped curb gun violence by treating it like a disease. Watch it here »

Researchers Identify Disabling Protein that can Stop the Ebola Virus

Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin are collaborating with Mount Sinai Hospital in New York to help identify key vulnerabilities in the deadly ebola virus. the effort, which is led by Dr. Christopher Basler, PhD, Associate Professor of Microbiology at Mount Sinai and his team from the Icahn School of Medicine, have already uncovered key data about how disabling a protein in ebola virus cells can halt the virus in its tracks, thus stopping it from replicating and infecting whomever has been exposed and afflicted with the virus. The data was recently published in the July edition of the journal Cell Host and Microbe.

Dr. Basler reveals that ebola viruses are particularly deadly because they can essentially shut down a person’s innate immune system. The deactiviation of the immune system is caused by the viral protein VP35. When VP35 interacts with a critical cellular protein known as PACT, it stops PACT from turning on the immune system. By doing so, this is precisely what allows a virus like ebola to spread quickly throughout the body.

Dr. Basler explains that, “Ebola viruses are extremely lethal, and are a great threat to human health as a bioweapon. Currently, there is no approved vaccine or treatment. Our findings will hopefully pave the way for future antiviral treatments.”

In order to effectively experiment with how this interaction can be disrupted, UT researchers leveraged their special high containment facilities to infect healthy cells with Ebola virus cells that had mutated versions of VP35. According to an article on Eureka Alert, “the mutations disabled VP35′s ability to interact with PACT, therefore allowing it to activate the immune system and prevent the virus from replicating. Next, the researchers overexpressed PACT in healthy cells, and infected them with Ebola virus cells. They found that overexpressing PACT also inhibited viral replication.”

The next step will be to use this discovery to determine means by which this interaction be disrupted, or a means to overexpress PACT so that the deactivation of the immune system is thus neutralized.

read more and see the video here

more news about the Ebola virus


Actually, they – Naegleria fowleri – never went away … but they’re back in the news.  Nothing like a story about an organism that once in a blue moon gets inside someone’s nose (via pond water) and then, for no apparent reason, migrates up their olfactory nerves into the brain and starts eating.

These amoebas are found in fresh water, soil, thermal discharges of power plants, geothermal wells, and poorly-chlorinated swimming pools, according to the CDC.  Becoming infected with them is extremely rare, but also 98% fatal.

TOP:  The feeding structures of the amoeba Naegleria fowleri have a face-like appearance.  Image by D.T. John & T.B. Cole, Visuals Unlimited (via National Geographic News)

SECOND ROW:  Trophozoites of N. fowleri in culture.
(via Free Living Amebic)

Naegleria fowleri has three stages in its life cycle: cysts , trophozoites, and flagellated forms .

BOTTOM LEFT:  Trophozoite of Naegleria fowleri in CSF, stained with H&E.  Via wikidoc.   More laboratory images … 

BOTTOM RIGHT:   Histopathology of amoebic meningoencephalitis due to Naegleria fowleri. Direct fluorescent antibody stain.  [Wikipedia]

In humans, N. fowleri can invade the central nervous system via the nose (specifically through the olfactory mucosa and cribriform plate of the nasal tissues). The penetration initially results in significant necrosis of and hemorrhaging in the olfactory bulbs.

From there, the amoeba climbs along nerve fibers through the floor of the cranium via the cribriform plate and into the brain. The organism begins to consume cells of the brain piecemeal by means of a unique sucking apparatus extended from its cell surface.  {SEE TOP IMAGES]

It then becomes pathogenic, causing primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM or PAME). PAM usually occurs in healthy children or young adults with no prior history of immune compromise who have recently been exposed to bodies of fresh water.   (Naegleria fowleri - Wikipedia)

Measles At A Rock Concert Goes Viral

If you went to see the Kings of Leon concert on March 28 in Seattle, let’s hope you came home with nothing but great memories.

A young woman at that concert in Seattle has come down with measles, which can be spread for days by a person who’s infected but not yet sick. That’s bad news for the thousands of people who shared the concert hall with her, or were at the many other places she went that week.

And that’s why the Washington State Department of Health has published the unidentified woman’s schedule online.

"The reason we’re doing this is that it’s so highly contagious," says Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, who is chief of communicable disease control for Seattle and King County Public Health, which investigated the measles case. “It can stay in the air for hours after the contagious person has left. If we don’t treat these people, the chain of transmission can continue.”

The young woman became contagious on March 26, after visiting a family with measles cases that were linked to an outbreak in British Columbia. Unaware she was infected, she went to work at a bakery, filled her car up at a gas station, went to the concert, went to Pike Place Market and went out for sushi. All the while she was spreading viruses in the air.

So if you were at the Starbucks at 102 Pike Street between 11:15 a.m. and 2 p.m. on March 29 and you’re not sure if you’re immune to measles, the Washington State Department of Health wants you to see a health care professional immediately. You may be in the market for a quick shot of vaccine or immune globulin.

Continue reading.

Photo: This one’s virus-free: Matthew Followill, Nathan Followill and Caleb Followill of Kings of Leon performed in Los Angeles in December. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images for

What We Do—and Don’t—Know About Brain-Eating Amoebas

Jaclyn Skurie

National Geographic

Published July 31, 2013

A 12-year-old Arkansas girl has been in a hospital for over a week after being infected with a typically fatal parasite that enters through the nose and consumes brain tissue.

news release Friday from the Arkansas Department of Health says the source of the parasite is most likely a sandy-bottom lake at Willow Springs Water Park in Little Rock. A similar case was linked to the park in 2010.

This rare form of parasitic meningitis—primary amebic meningoencephalitis(PAM)—is caused by an amoeba called Naegleria fowleri. That microscopic amoeba—part of the class of life called protozoans—is a naturally occurring organism that normally feeds on bacteria and tends to live in the sedimentary layer of warm lakes and ponds.

(See “Giant Amoebas Found in Deepest Place on Earth.”)

To find out more about Naegleria fowleri, National Geographic got in touch withJonathan Yoder, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who collects and analyzes data on the microscopic amoeba.

How does this amoeba called Naegleria fowleri infect a human?

Under certain conditions, Naegleria fowleri can develop flagella—threadlike structures that enable it to rapidly move around and look for more favorable conditions. When people swim in warm freshwater during the summer, water contaminated with the moving amoeba can be forced up the nose and into the brain.

This causes headache, stiff neck, and vomiting, which progresses to more serious symptoms. Between exposure and onset, infection generally results in a coma and death after around five days.

Where is it found?

We see it in warm freshwater or in places with minimal chlorination. It is not uncommon to detect the amoeba if you sample freshwater in warm weather states.

Can it live in swimming pools?

There have been no evident cases of contamination in the United States in well-maintained, properly treated swimming pools. Filtration and chlorination or other types of disinfectant should reduce or eliminate the risk.

But it does get a bit trickier—there was a case in Arizona about ten years ago where a kid swam in a pool filled with water from a geothermal hot water source before it was treated. Unfortunately, the kid became ill and died.

Are cases of infection becoming more common?

We don’t have data that says infection from Naegleria fowleri is becoming more common. In the last few years there have been four to five cases per year.

What has changed recently is that cases have appeared in places we had never seen before—like Minnesota, Indiana, and Kansas. This is evidence that the amoeba is moving farther north. In the past it was always found in warmer weather states.

read more

A load of eggs weighs down this Casque-headed Treefrog (Hemiphractus fasciatus). Mama frog will carry these eggs on her back until they hatch as mini-frogs — no free-swimming tadpoles here! These frogs are threatened with extinction, by the deadly chytrid fungus, and are one of 11 species of high conservation concern being bred in captivity in Panama.

(via: Live Science)                                     (photo: Edgardo Griffith)

Watch on

The Alphabet of Epidemiology

After watching this, I washed everything I own. There is not enough soap in the world … how are we not all dead?

(Stay for the rap at the end, it’s amazing!)

Should you be afraid of the Ebola threat?

If you’re able to read this post, chances are you don’t have to worry. Arthur Reingold, head of epidemiology at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, puts fears of an Ebola epidemic to rest in an interview with Vox.

VOX: Some airlines are enacting travel bans since the outbreak. Are they justified then?

Arthur Reingold: The virus is not transmitted through coughing and sneezing, or through sitting next to someone on a bus or the like. The idea that the virus can somehow mutate and become more readily transmissible from person to person through coughing or sneezing—those are Hollywood scenarios. The idea that Ebola can become more readily transmissible through casual contact is unrealistic and not something we are concerned about.

Read the interview with Art Reingold on the Ebola epidemic

Your Living Conditions as a Child May Be Detectable In Your DNA for Life

Findings published today in the International Journal of Epidemiology suggest that socio-economic status and living standards early in life may actually cause changes to your DNA that you carry with you for life, regardless of how your living conditions change along the way.

Some adult diseases—type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, etc.—have been linked to socio-economic disadvantages in early life. But we don’t really know why or how. Researchers in Canada and the UK may have just found the key.

Their sample size is admittedly small, but what they found was significant. In 40 research patients in the UK that are participating in an ongoing study that has documented many aspects of their lives, researchers looked at differences in gene methylation. Methylation is an epigenetic modification to one’s DNA that changes a gene’s activity, generally reducing that activity within the genome.

Various factors can influence methylation, including environmental conditions.