We begin with the latest measles news, via the Los Angeles Times:
California measles identical to type found in Philippines
As California health officials search for the origins of the Disneyland measles outbreak, some of their detective work is pointing to the Philippines.
This measles virus shares the same genetic material as the type most commonly found in the Philippines, according to lab tests of the virus.
The highly contagious disease is a much larger problem in the Philippines, where more than 50,000 were sickened and 110 were killed in the last year.
Scientists said the findings make it likely that the virus originated in the Philippines. But they still don’t know exactly how it got into the United States and ultimately to Disneyland.
Here the latest measles numbers nationally from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
And the map of their distribution, with the Disneyland-related cases singled out:
From the Oakland Tribune, a senatorial rant:
In Emeryville, Sen. Barbara Boxer slams anti-vaccination parents
Sen. Barbara Boxer pummeled parents who refuse to vaccinate their children during a tour of a YMCA Head Start school Wednesday where she promoted her bill requiring children in the program nationwide to be immunized.
Boxer made the comments in the midst of a national measles outbreak that started in California. She criticized parents who are not vaccinating their children because of unfounded concerns spread by people outside the medical establishment.
“All I’m saying is, we have doctors we can trust and you should listen to them and not some quack who comes up with a theory that is disproven,” Boxer said. “I say to all those people who have a theory that has been disproven, you are not acting in the right way for your family or for society. People don’t understand how dangerous this disease is. It blows my mind. You are not only endangering your child, but others and that is not right.”
NHK WORLD covers measures addressing an Asia outbreak:
Health ministry compiles dengue fever guidelines
Japan’s health ministry has released guidelines for handling a possible outbreak of dengue fever.
The recommendations are the first of their kind related to the mosquito-borne disease, which is commonly seen in the tropics and subtropics.
An expert panel compiled the guidelines on Wednesday. The move comes after an outbreak that began last August in Tokyo, which was the first in Japan in about 70 years. More than 160 cases of infection were confirmed.
From the Guardian, nuke ‘em:
Tsetse fly: can castration end one of Africa’s oldest development problems?
- Radiation castration is helping to eradicate tsetse populations that have been preventing farmers from using animals to work their land
From the Sahara to the Kalahari, the tsetse fly has plagued African farmers for centuries. Dating back to prehistoric times, this tiny insect – just eight to 17 mm long – has prevented farmers from using domestic animals to work the land, limiting production, yields and income. The economic impact of the tsetse fly on Africa has been estimated to be as much as $4.5bn. But a simple dose of radiation castration is helping to eradicate the pests in small pockets, enabling farmers to bring animals back into agriculture.
When tsetse flies bite, the parasites (trypanosomes) transferred cause sleeping sickness in humans, and nagana (animal African trypanosomiasis) in animals – mostly cows, horses, donkeys and pigs. The parasites cause confusion, sensory disturbances and poor coordination in humans, and fever, weakness and anemia in animals. Both can be fatal if left untreated.
“In areas with tsetse, people tend not to use intensive forms of agriculture where you use animals or manure on the fields,” says Marcella Alsan, assistant professor of medicine at Stanford University who has researched the tsetse fly’s impact on development. Farmers in these areas use slash and burn agriculture instead but “the issue with that strategy is that you can’t constantly use the land in the production cycle, so it supports fewer people,” says Alsan.
Xinhua covers a very hopeful development:
Experimental drug shown to block all HIV strains: study
U.S. researchers on Wednesday announced “a remarkable new advance” in the development of a potent drug to protect against infection of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, the deadly disease currently without cure.
They reported in the British journal Nature that an experimental protein-based drug they developed blocks every strain of HIV-1, HIV-2 and the simian version of the virus, SIV, that has been isolated from humans or rhesus macaques, including the hardest-to-stop variants.
The drug, named eCD4-Ig, also protects against much-higher doses of virus than occur in most human transmission and does so for at least eight months after injection.
And from Consumer Reports, cola cancer:
Another reason to cut back on soda
- Some soda contains a potential carcinogen, and a new Consumer Reports’ study shows many Americans drink enough to put their health at risk
The amount of soda you sip not only boosts your sugar intake and packs on pounds—it might also increase your risk for cancer.
The culprit? A chemical called 4-methylimidazole (4-MeI). This potential carcinogen is found in some types of caramel color, the artificial ingredient used to turn colas and other soft drinks brown. Every day, more than half of Americans between the ages of 6 and 64 typically drink soda in amounts that could expose them to enough 4-MeI to increase their cancer risk, according to a new analysis of national soda consumption conducted by scientists at Consumer Reports and the Center for a Livable Future at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The study was published today in the scientific online journal PLOS ONE.
This analysis was a follow-up to testing we did in 2013 to measure 4-MeI content in soft drinks. We looked at 110 samples of colas and other soft drinks purchased in California and the New York metropolitan region. Excluding a clear soda used as a control, we found that average 4-MeI levels in the samples we tested ranged from 3.4 to 352.5 micrograms (mcg) per 12-ounce bottle or can. There’s no federal limit for the amount of 4-MeI permitted in foods and beverages currently, but California requires manufacturers to label a product sold in the state with a cancer warning if it exposes consumers to more than 29 mcg of 4-MeI per day. We submitted our test findings to the California State Attorney General’s office, and we’ve also petitioned the federal government to set limits for 4-MeI in food.
From Channel NewsAsia Singapore, another smoking hazard:
Thai health ministry incensed over Chinese New Year joss sticks
Thailand’s health ministry has urged people to stop lighting joss sticks and placing them near ritual offerings of food during Chinese New Year, warning that consuming the food could cause cancer.
Joss or incense sticks are burnt by the faithful during religious rituals in Asia, and are common in the run-up to the Lunar New Year, which begins on Thursday.
The public health minister said on Wednesday the consumption of food exposed to incense ash could lead to heavy metal poisoning, but he stopped short of banning the tradition.
Meanwhile, from the London Daily Mail, another kind of health crisis:
From Environmental Health News, porcine pollution:
Pig poop fouling North Carolina streams; state permitting questioned.
The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources treats large swine farms – operations with thousands of pigs and up – as “non-discharge facilities,” exempt from state rules on having to monitor the waste they dump in rivers and streams. The case for that exemption is dubious, suggested Steve Wing, a professor and researcher at the University of North Carolina who co-authored the January study, published in “Science of the Total Environment.”
“You have evidence of pig-specific bacteria in surface waters, next to industrial swine operations,” he said.
For about a year, from 2010 to 2011, researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the University of North Carolina tested water both upstream and downstream from fields in eastern North Carolina where pig poop from large factory farms is applied.
From Florida Today, yet another form of oceanic pollution:
Fireproofing chemicals found in lagoon marine life
Flame retardants and pesticide byproducts are showing up at potentially toxic levels in sharks, rays and other marine life in the Indian River Lagoon and in the ocean just off Brevard County.
Little is known about the health effects of these long-lasting compounds on the marine food web or on those who eat lagoon seafood. But scientists point to their widespread presence as yet another example of the ominous effects long-term pollution is having on local waters.
Among the substances a new study found in samples of shark livers are byproducts of DDT and other pesticides banned decades ago.
From the Guardian, oh fercrissakes!:
Canadian mounties’ secret memo casts doubt on climate change threat
- Intelligence report identifies anti-petroleum movement as a threat to Canadian security and suggests those concerned with climate consequences occupy political fringe
The US security establishment views climate change as real and a dangerous threat to national security. But Canada takes a very different view, according to a secret intelligence memo prepared by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
The memo, stamped “Canadian eyes only”, repeatedly casts doubt on the causes of climate change – the burning of fossil fuels – and its potential threat.
The 44-page intelligence assessment of Canada’s environmental protest movement was prepared for the government of Stephen Harper, who is expected to roll out new anti-terror legislation.
In the memo, obtained by Greenpeace and seen by the Guardian, the RCMP repeatedly departs from the conclusions of an overwhelming majority of scientists – and the majority of elected leaders in the international arena – that climate change is a growing threat to global security.
After the jump, a California water woes crackdown, water woes in Brazil — slightly abated, California cracks down on bird-killing rat poison, Dutch ignored fracking earthquake dangers, another California refinery explosion, on to Fukushimapocalypse Now!, starting with an underage radioactive cleanup worker, a stern warning from a former Japanese prime minister, a welter of cracks in a Belgian reactor lead to a global inspection call, And Taiwan looks for an overseas nuclear waste reprocessor. . . Continue reading