This is what some scientists know about Europe’s E. Coli

Reuters
June 3, 2011

The deadly strain of E. coli that has killed at least 17 people in Europe and sickened 1,500 has never been seen in a human population and it may be the most toxic yet, health experts said on Thursday.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the outbreak.

1. What is E. coli? Escherichia coli (E. coli) are a group of bacteria that live in the intestines of many animals, including humans. Most strains are harmless, but others can cause illness ranging from diarrhea to pneumonia. E. coli infections can be mild to life-threatening.

2. How is E. coli spread? E. coli infections are caused by ingesting the feces of infected animals or humans, often via contaminated food or water. People can contaminate food by failing to wash their hands after using the toilet or changing a baby’s diaper, although person-to-person infection is rare. Feces from animals, ranging from cows to birds, can contaminate water or crops.

3. What is the strain? The strain that is sickening people in Germany and other parts of Europe, known as 0104:H4, is part of a class of bacteria known as Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli, or STEC. It is the first time the strain has caused an outbreak in humans. Symptoms of STEC infections vary for each person but often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody) and vomiting. Low fever (less than 101 degrees F/38.5 degrees C) also may be present. Most people recover within five to seven days.

4. What are the major complications of this strain? Hundreds of people sickened in the outbreak have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, a life-threatening complication of E. coli infections. The syndrome, which results in the destruction of red blood cells and severe kidney problems, usually arises about a week after diarrhea starts.

Symptoms of HUS include decreased frequency of urination, extreme fatigue and the loss of the skin’s pink color. Children, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems usually are at highest risk for HUS. In the case of this outbreak, healthy adult women have been hard hit.

5. What is the medical treatment? Experts said supportive therapy, including hydration, is important. Treatment for HUS includes dialysis for kidney failure and blood transfusions for anemia. Antibiotics should not be used, as there is no evidence that treatment with antibiotics is helpful. Antibiotics and antidiarrheal agents like Imodium also may increase risk of HUS.

Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Israeli American Microbiologist Linked to Deadly Fungus Cryptococcus

Infowars

The strange case of Joseph Moshe has resurfaced.

In August of 2009, Moshe was accused of making threats against the White House. He briefly made headlines during a stand-ofcryptococcusf with police in Los Angeles. During the confrontation, the Israeli scientist remarkably withstood five rounds of chemical agent tossed inside his car in the parking lot of the Federal Building in West Los Angeles.

It was later learned that Moshe had called into a radio talk show and said he wanted to supply evidence regarding tainted H1N1 swine flu vaccines being produced by Baxter BioPharma Solutions. Moshe claimed a Baxter lab in Ukraine was producing a bioweapon that would be passed off as a vaccine. He said the vaccine contained an adjuvant engineered to weaken the immune system. Replicated RNA from the virus, Moshe insisted, was responsible for the 1918 pandemic Spanish flu.

It was speculated Moshe worked for Israel’s Mossad.

In late October of 2009, Ukraine was hit by an especially aggressive and virulent form of hemorrhagic pneumonia. “The virus appears to be either a highly aggressive mutation of the globally-circulating H1N1 strain, or a combination of three different influenza strains now circulating in Ukraine,” Mike Adams wrote at the time.

“Moshe claimed that Baxter’s laboratory in the Ukraine out of all places was creating this biological weapon. All of this came out in the beginning of August, which is more than 2 months before the situation that is currently unfolding [in Ukraine]. For Moshe to correctly name the country where a new epidemic would be unleashed, requires either inside information, or an incredible coincidence as anyone with a basic knowledge of statistics can confirm for himself,”David Rothscum wrote on October 31.

The H1N1 flu “pandemic” turned out to be mostly government and media hype. It was later said the United Nations’ World Health Organization had connived with Baxter, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, and Sanofi-Aventis to create a pandemic scare in order to sell vaccines.

In January of this year, the WHO insisted it was not unduly influenced by drug companies to exaggerate the dangers of the H1N1 flu virus. The WHO subsequently appointed a committee to investigate the allegations but its credibility suffered a serious blow when it was learned Dr. John Mackenzie would be included in the investigation. Mackenzie has direct links with several vaccine and pharmaceutical companies and was influential in the WHO declaration of a level 6 pandemic in 2009.

At the time, some 200 million doses of H1N1 vaccine and funding of approximately $12 million were pledged to fight the virus.

In February of 2009, Bloombergreported that Baxter had accidentally contaminated samples with the bird flu virus. The contamination was discovered when ferrets at a lab in the Czech Republic died after being inoculated with vaccine made from the samples. The virus material was supposed to contain a seasonal flu virus and was contaminated after “human error,” according to Baxter.

Dan Even, writing for Haaretz, reported earlier this week that a report had linked the deadly Cryptococcus gatti fungus to labs in the United States and the Nes Tziona Biological Institute in Israel. “The report also linked an Israeli American scientist, Dr. Joseph Moshe, to the spread of the fungus,” writes Even.

An outbreak of the fungus killed six people in Oregon and was predicted to move into northern California and possibly farther, according to experts. “No one knows how the species got to North America or how the fungus can thrive in a temperate region,” notes Christine Dell’Amoreof National Geographic News. Cryptococcus gattii is an airborne fungus native to tropical and subtropical regions, including Papua New Guinea, Australia, and parts of South America.

However, much like the H1N1 virus, the threat posed by the “killer” fungus appears to be little more than corporate media sensationalism.

“At its peak, we were seeing about 36 cases per million per year, so that is a very small number,” Christina Hull, an assistant professor of medical microbiology and immunology and of biomolecular chemistry at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison, told Bloomberg Businessweek on April 30.

Joseph Moshe is currently scheduled for a court hearing on his mental status on August 24, 2010, in California.

Pentagon Virus Detector Knows You Are Sick Before You Do

WIRED

Imagine knowing you’ll be too sick to go to work, before the faintest hint of a runny nose or a sore throat. Now imagine thatviruspreemptive diagnosis being transmitted to a national, web-based influenza map — simply by picking up the phone.

That’s the impressive potential of an ongoing Pentagon-funded research project, spearheaded by geneticists at Duke University. Since 2006, they’ve been hunting for a genetic signature that can accurately assess, well before symptoms appear, whether someone’s been infected with a virus. Eight months into a $19.5 million grant from Darpa, the Pentagon’s out-there research agency, the expert behind the program is anticipating a tool with implications far beyond military circles.

Dr. Geoffrey Ginsburg, director of Duke’s Institute for Genome Science & Policy, is collaborating with a team of colleagues to create a gadget that can detect viral infection hours before the sniffles. Between 2006 and 2009, his team made rapid strides in identifying 30 genetic markers, found through blood samples, that are activated by a virus.

They’ve since moved to human trials, testing 80 people in four studies. Healthy participants were exposed to three different viral strains. Their blood, saliva and urine were then tested for “viral specific signatures,” that would characterize illness.

“Traditionally, we’ve diagnosed these conditions by testing for the actual pathogen, but that’s a slow process and it’s not effective until you’re already symptomatic,” Ginsburg told Danger Room. “To look at the actual host response instead is a really novel approach.”

It’s an approach that Darpa sees as a tactic to boost war-zone performance. By checking soldiers for genetic markers of illness before they’re deployed, the military hopes to optimize the outcome of a given mission. The idea would also prevent an outbreak of illness in close military quarters, by quarantining troops before they have a chance to infect others.

But what Ginsburg and company didn’t anticipate was just how widespread the benefits of the Darpa initiative would be. Not only have they found a specific genetic signature that indicates viral infection, but the team has concluded that viruses and bacterial infections trigger different genes. Which means physicians could one day know whether to prescribe antibiotics, which can treat bacteria but not viruses. The drugs are so overused and wrongly prescribed, experts at a recent congressional hearingwarned that Americans face “a post antibiotic era.”

“This would eliminate the ‘default’ of giving antibiotics, which is a significant public health concern,” Ginsburg said. “So what we’d have, essentially, is a tool to drastically improve clinical judgment in a day-to-day setting, which wasn’t a Darpa goal, but a corollary benefit because we had a chance to find these specific signatures.”

And Ginsburg has a more elaborate vision for the devices, which he hopes to see shrink down from “suitcase size” to that of “a diabetic glucometer,” which would use a finger pinprick to test for illness.

“Imagine a sensor attached to your telephone, that instantly diagnoses viral agents and transmits that to a central community database,” he said. “Google used searches to beat the CDC at tracking H1N1 — this would be surveillance that could take that to the next level.”

Ginsburg anticipates a suitcase-sized device in the war-zone within “a couple years,” and says the devices are already showing excellent accuracy 24 hours before an infected patient becomes symptomatic. In an effort to validate the results in a real-world setting, his team has turned to Duke’s campus, using crowded dorms — already human petri dishes of infection — as improvised research labs.

Now, Ginsburg’s biggest concern is that the devices will be ready before the Food and Drug Administration, who’ve yet to establish regulatory benchmarks for genetic tests, knows what to do with them.

“The major uncertainty, in my mind, is the regulatory atmosphere,” he said. “These are such a new diagnostic tool, the FDA is still trying to figure out not only how to supervise them, but whether they even need to.”

Which is a barrier for the doctor’s office, but not necessarily the war-zone.

“There’s a lot of motivation within the Pentagon to get this going,” he said. “So they might have a way around the rulebook.”

NVIC Calls for more monitoring of H1N1 Vaccine Reactions

NVIC

U.S. and Australia Report Vaccine Safety Signals

Washington, D.C. April 29, 2010 – In response to an April 23, 2010 report by the H1N1 Vaccine Safety Risk Assessment Working side effectsGroup (VSRAWG) of the National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC) identifying three potential pandemic H1N1 vaccine safety signals for neuroimmune (Guillain-Barre¢ Syndrome, Bell’s palsy) and blood disorders (thrombocytopenias), the National Vaccine Information Center is urging an expansion of influenza vaccine safety monitoring and assessment. NVIC’s call coincides with Australia halting use of the 2010 trivalent seasonal influenza vaccine containing a pandemic H1N1 vaccine component in children under age five due to an unusual number of nationwide reports of high fever, vomiting and convulsions leading to hospitalizations and a report of at least on child death.

NVIC Consumer Rep on Safety Oversight Committee

DHHS created the VSRAWG to provide independent oversight of federal post-marketing monitoring of pandemic H1N1 vaccine adverse events. Among the experts serving on the risk assessment team is Vicky Debold, PhD, RN, who is also the consumer member of the FDA Vaccines & Related Biological Products Advisory Committee. The VSRAWG’s main objective is to conduct rapid reviews of adverse events associated with the 2009 pandemic H1N1 vaccine to assess potential causation, as well as establish priorities for additional investigations.

BS, Bell’s Palsy, Blood Disorder, Convulsions, Fevers

In four months, millions of healthy and chronically ill American children, pregnant women and adults will be told by their doctors to get a flu shot that contains the 2009 pandemic H1N1 vaccine component.” said NVIC co-founder & president, Barbara Loe Fisher. “The potential safety signals in the U.S. and Australia underscore the need to expand and improve vaccine safety surveillance systems to make sure that all signals are being picked up and responded to quickly ….

Related Breaking News: The Swine Flu Theory Behind Bad Reactions to Flu Vaccine

“The exposure to last year’s swine flu outbreak may have caused children to be more susceptible to experiencing severe reactions that are now manifested through recent influenza vaccinations. That is one of the theories as to why more than 250 children in WA have been administered to the hospital for experiencing adverse reactions after being inoculated with the seasonal flu vaccine. The death of two year old Ashley Epapara has also been associated with bad reactions toward the vaccination. To date, a total of 55 children had been reported to experience febrile convulsions after getting vaccinated while an additional 196 suffered less serious reactions such as fever and vomiting. According to an infectious diseases expert at the Australian National University, Professor Peter Collignon, a possible theory could be that the children’s exposure to swine flu last year could have made their immune system react aggressively to an injected dose of the vaccine that includes the strain of H1N1.”  International Business Times.