Mysterious New ‘Heartland Virus’ Discovered In Missouri

Two men from northwestern Missouri became ill after tick bites infected them with a previously unknown virus. 450x253 Mysterious New Heartland Virus Discovered In Missouri

Two men from northwestern Missouri became ill after tick bites infected them with a previously unknown virus.

tl;dr It’s new! Ticks are cocks. @NPR.org:

Two Missouri farmers have been infected with a brand-new tick-borne virus that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is calling the Heartland virus.

The men recovered but suffered serious illness that required hospital care and weeks of convalescence. Symptoms included fever, severe fatigue, headache and nausea. Their platelet counts plummeted, but even though platelets are necessary for blood clotting, the men didn’t suffer abnormal bleeding.

A report on the new virus is in the current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

So far, the Missouri men are the only known cases of Heartland virus in the world. But experts are sure they’ll find more. (more…)

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CDC: Zombies aren’t real

4048142375 fb06d62f5d 450x299 CDC: Zombies arent real

They may be pretty, but they're still not real. (img by Eric Jusino)

@HuffPo:

The horrific face-eating arrest in Miami and several other seemingly subhuman acts has many people wondering what’s behind this flesh-munching wave of terror.

A zombie apocalypse, however, is not what we should be worried about, at least according to the federal government.

Over the years the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a couple of tongue-in-cheek “zombie warnings,” which really are just disaster-preparedness stunts. But on Thursday, the agency made it official: Zombies don’t exist. (more…)

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Patient Zero

unnamed Patient Zero

Expose your diseases to friends, family, even perfect strangers!

Patient zero is a hybrid cell phone/meatspace game where Android users (suck it Apple) compete to infect the largest number of people possible.

Patient Zero is a virtual pandemic simulator where you get to infect real players. Infections get transferred by players coming within proximity of each other in the real world. Players infected with your virus will carry it and infect more players. See how quickly your unique virus spreads!

I wonder if they have plans to take the data they gain and see if it can be used to model actual epidemics and other disease maps.

I don’t wonder about having a device that constantly tracks where I am and what I’m going. Google totally does that anyway.

Also, it’s free. Knock yourself out; see if you can kill millions!

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Modelling air traffic to slow epidemics

Lost Links and Mid Air Collisions The Problems With Domestic Drones 450x277 Modelling air traffic to slow epidemics

"This is clearly an important species we're dealing with, and I don't think you or I or anybody has the right to arbitrarily exterminate them." (img by DoD)

A couple of academics at the Newcastle University, Jose Marcelino and Marcus Kaiser, tackled the very question that keeps us all up at nights, “How effective would shutting down air travel actually be in an epidemic?” The answer, according to their models, is lots.  Lots effective.

The problem is that it would choke society as much as it reins in the spread of disease. What’s way more interesting is that they were able to achieve the same level of spread reduction by grounding just one in five flights, isolating certain hops based on their likeliness to spread contagion globally.

They found that shutting entire airports only had a significant effect on spreading if it reduced travel by 95 per cent. By contrast,  they could achieve the same effect by removing just 18 per cent of flights between cities ranked by a network measure called edge betweenness.

At best shutting entire airports could only cut infections by 18 per cent whereas removing specific flights reduced infections by up to 37 per cent.

“Selecting highly ranked single connections between cities for cancellation was more effective, resulting in fewer individuals infected with influenza, compared to shutting down whole airports,” say Marcelino and Kaiser. This approach has the added benefit that it disrupts far fewer individuals.

Eventually, everyone will be exposed to the pathogen, that’s not in question. Even you, Japan, with your hand sanitizers and around-town face masks. And God help you ’cause you know your immune systems are shitier than shit.

This dovetails in nicely with a recent set of models by Fuck Yeah Molecular Biology tackling different types of zombie apocalypse scenario, based on several zompoc contagion precepts. (By the way the search term “zompoc precepts” yields delightfully few results.) Long and short: you better hope there’s a cure.  (more…)

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Zombievision: your town stripped to the essentials

zombiemap 450x270 Zombievision: your town stripped to the essentials

Not shown: millions of undead.

Map of the Dead isn’t really there to help you survive… it’s there to help promote a zombie game for iDevices. But that’s okay… it’s still an interesting way of looking at your surroundings as a list of supply points and danger zones (probably marked as such due to population density). Note that they often coincide.

The cool thing about games/maps like these is that they remind you that every single person around you is a potential threat, cover, or asset, which is really difficult to replicate in wide games with only a few people involved.

Next time you’re out playing fugitive in the park, have someone show up early and recruit civilian bystanders to add some randomality. Or play your game downtown at rush hour and see if you can use commuters as cover. Or go all out and try to recruit people to help you get from wherever you are to wherever you’re going. You’ll be forced to deal with other humans as actual thinking beings with their own motivations… it’s like Diplomacy in real time with strangers.

Pro-tip: be sure to let people know you’re playing a game so you don’t get arrested.

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Dirt don’t hurt

5218201316 b84a8cf6e7 z 450x427 Dirt dont hurt

"The spice must flow! Also, I will cure your allergies!" (img by Jay Reimer)

“How’s your wife? Is she in the states, yet?”

Chris sighed and looked up from his computer. “No. She’s back in Japan. Her last visit, she was pretty miserable. She hated how dirty everything was. In Japan, they have hand sanitizers right there in all public transit. It’s very clean.”

“So she doesn’t like dirt?”

“It’s not just that. She was incredibly sick the whole time she was here. She had a cold that laid her out for 2 weeks solid,” he said, and turned back to his desk, squinting quick past her photos.

I’ve had or overheard versions of this conversation enough to wonder if there’s something to the “dirty kids are healthy kids” idea that surfaces from time to time, even though the hypothesis doesn’t explain my own allergies/asthma, since I grew up in the woods, played in the dirt, and still can’t breathe very well around mold or during exercise unless I’m well and regularly medicated.

I know from firsthand experience that bacteria help me digest things (after getting mauled by a cat and taking a course of antibiotics, I’m very very aware of their effects on my gut), and I’m aware of icky-seeming things like fecal transplants and hookworm therapy, but I don’t know anyone who’s done it. It’s one thing to read about one persuasive success story on the news, but I’m not about to go out and get a head injury to become a genius, either.

Do you know someone who’s infected themselves with hookworm? What were the results?

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