Disease

Chikungunya Outbreak in the Philippines

Health officials M’lang, North Cotabato on the southern island of Mindanao have declared a chikungunya outbreak after some 50 people contracted the mosquito borne viral disease in the past week.

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease in Vietnam

After reporting about 50,000 hand, foot and mouth disease cases in 2016, Vietnamese health officials with the General Department of Preventive Medicine are warning the public to take protective measures as more than 2100 cases have been seen in 57 localities so far in 2017.

More Bird Flu Cases in China

The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (February 16) received notification from the National Health and Family Planning Commission that 61 additional human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9), including seven deaths, were recorded from February 6 to 12.

New Antibiotic Discovered

A new antibiotic, produced by bacteria found on a species of African ant, found in Kenya is very potent against antibiotic-resistant ‘superbugs’ like MRSA according to scientists. Researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the John Innes Centre (JIC) discovered a new member of the Streptomyces bacteria family, isolated from the African fungus-growing plant-ant Tetraponera penzigi.

Disease

Spread of Ebola slows in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone, the country worst affected by Ebola, reported nearly 250 new confirmed cases in the past week but the spread of the virus there may be slowing, the World Health Organisation said this morning.

The death toll from Ebola has reached 8,235 out of 20,747 known cases worldwide over the past year. Overall, 838 health workers have been infected, with 495 dead.

The WHO’s weekly report was based on figures reported by authorities in nine countries.

Revolutionary New Antibiotic Kills Drug-Resistant Germs

Scientists have discovered a new class of antibiotics that can kill a wide range of dangerous, drug-resistant bacteria.

Moreover, in lab experiments, bacteria didn’t develop resistance to the new drug, called Teixobactin, and in fact may need several decades to do so because of the drug’s special mode of action, the researchers said.

The problem of drug-resistant bacteria is a serious public health threat, and finding new antibiotics to tackle resistant bacteria is a difficult job. Existing methods for isolating promising compounds from bacterial cultures often turn up only the types of antibiotics already in use, according to the study.

In the new study, however, the researchers developed fresh methods to find antibiotics. They studied 10,000 strains of bacteria that live in the soil, and grew them in their natural habitat. The researchers then isolated compounds made by the bacteria and tested them against disease-causing bacteria.

The new antibiotic, Teixobactin, was one of those compounds. In experiments in mice, the researchers showed Teixobactin was effective in treating animals infected with bacteria such as Mycobacterium tuberculous (which causes tuberculosis) and Staphylococcus aureus (which can infect people’s skin and other tissues). Some strains of these bacteria are already resistant to one or more of antibiotics, making infections extremely difficult to treat in people.

Disease

Antibiotic ‘Apocalypse’ Warning

The rise in drug resistant infections is comparable to the threat of global warming, according to the chief medical officer for England. Bacteria are becoming resistant to current drugs and there are few antibiotics to replace them. Experts say it is a global problem and needs much more attention. Antibiotics have been one of the greatest success stories in medicine. However, bacteria are a rapidly adapting foe which find new ways to evade drugs. MRSA rapidly became one of the most feared words in hospitals wards and there are growing reports of resistance in strains of E. coli, tuberculosis and gonorrhoea. While the full effects of global warming lie some time in the future, the apocalyptic scenario is that when someone needs a new hip in 20 years he might well die from a routine infection because we’ve run out of antibiotics.

The World Health Organization has warned the world is heading for a “post-antibiotic era” unless action is taken. It paints a future in which “many common infections will no longer have a cure and, once again, kill unabated. Research is not happening quickly enough. “We need resources for surveillance, resources to cope with the problem and to get public information across.” The drugs companies have run out of options as all the easy drugs have been made. “We have to be aware that we aren’t going to have new wonder drugs coming along because there just aren’t any.”

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Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak in Melbourne, Australia

Victoria’s health department has ordered the testing of cooling towers in the busy Melbourne suburb of Footscray, after a fatal outbreak of legionnaires’ disease. A man aged in his 50’s died in hospital this morning and four others have been admitted.