Microbiology in the News

Most stories are linked to the full newspaper article.


Wednesday 18 January

Meningitis jab ‘boosts protection’
A vaccine against one of the most common forms of childhood meningitis could reduce the number of deaths in the UK even further. The current vaccination programme protects against only some of the bacterial types involved. (BBC)

Indian TB cases 'can't be cured'
Tuberculosis which appears to be totally resistant to antibiotic treatment has been reported for the first time by Indian doctors. Concern over drug-resistant strains of TB is growing, with similar 'incurable' TB emerging in Italy and Iran.(BBC)

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External sources

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White-nose syndrome ravages North America bat numbers
At least 5.7 million bats across 16 US states and Canada have died from White-nose syndrome, scientists studying the fungal ailment say. The disease was first detected in a cave in New York state in 2006. (BBC)

Prove Tamiflu works, scientists challenge Roche
Scientists have challenged the makers of Tamiflu, Britain's first line of defence against emerging flu strains, to prove its effectiveness. They say that Roche, which makes the antiviral, has failed to supply them with full clinical trials data on the drug, despite repeated requests.(Telegraph)

Tuesday 17 January

La Nina 'may abet' flu pandemics
La Nina events may make flu pandemics more likely, research suggests. US-based scientists found that the last four pandemics all occurred after La Nina events, which bring cool waters to the surface of the eastern Pacific. (BBC)

Fake malaria drugs could 'put millions at risk'
Fake and poor quality anti-malarial drugs are threatening efforts to control the disease in Africa and could put millions of lives at risk, scientists say. The counterfeit medicines could harm patients and promote drug resistance among malaria parasites, warns the study, funded by the Wellcome Trust. (BBC)

Nasal spray recalled over contamination
Cans of Sterimar Isotonic spray which is used to cleanse the nasal passages and allievate allergies and colds, have been recalled after becoming contaminated. Two batches of the spray have been contaminated with bacteria found in hospitals, soil and water. (Telegraph)

Tamiflu maker accused of secrecy over trial data
The drug is a household name with millions of doses stockpiled against the threat of a potential flu pandemic and talked about alongside aspirin and penicillin as a wonder drug. But now scientists are set to raise serious questions about the effectiveness of Tamiflu, its side-effects and the opaque way drugs get approved for widespread use on the NHS. (Independent)

Monday 16 January

London 2012: Mass gathering risks disease spreading
Mass gatherings, such as the London 2012 Olympics, can be a hotbed of diseases from across the world, public health experts have warned. They say it can have consequences for the host nation and for people when they return to their own countries. (BBC)

Charities criticise London 'failing' HIV prevention programme
Charities have criticised the way HIV services in London are commissioned following the release of a report which highlights "significant management failings" and a "lack of strategy". (BBC)

Killer flu doctors: US censorship is a danger to science
America should not be allowed to dominate the debate over who controls sensitive scientific information that could be misused in biowarfare terrorism, say the scientists who created a highly dangerous form of bird-flu virus in a study that has been partially censored by the US government. (Independent)

Friday 13 January

Bird flu empties South Africa's ostrich farms
South Africa's ostrich farmers are struggling to cope after thousands of their birds were culled during one of the country's worst outbreaks of bird flu. Exports to Europe - the biggest market for South Africa's ostrich meat - have crashed since the EU banned the import of the low-cholesterol meat to stop the virus spreading. (BBC)

Totally drug-resistant TB at large in India
A strain of tuberculosis that is resistant to all existing TB drugs has emerged in Mumbai, India. "We currently have 12 confirmed cases, of which three are dead," says Zarir Udwadia of the Hinduja National Hospital and Medical Research Centre in Mumbai, and head of the team whose diagnoses of four cases has just been published. (New Scientist)

Wednesday 11 January

Confiscated bushmeat 'poses virus threat'
Scientists have documented potentially dangerous viruses entering the US through illegally imported wildlife products. Testing of meats confiscated at American airports has revealed the presence of several pathogens that could pose a risk to human health. (BBC)

Common virus may trigger MS nerve damage
For the first time we have an answer to what Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) may be doing in the brains of people with multiple sclerosis. RNA from the virus could be triggering the inflammation of nerve tissue characteristic of the disease. (New Scientist)

Monday 9 January

Death cap mushrooms kill two Chinese cooks in Australia
Chef mistook deadly fungi for edible variety and made them into stir fry in restaurant kitchen for himself and colleague. A chef and his assistant have died after eating poisonous mushrooms they cooked for themselves in the Australian restaurant kitchen where they worked. (Guardian)

Marks & Spencer breaks mould with packaging for 'longer-living' fruit

Next week M&S will become the first major retailer to roll out ground-breaking new packaging which it claims will extend the life of fruit stored in the fridge by up to two days, helping to cut domestic food waste. (Guardian)

Thursday 5 January

Walking keeps colds at bay but marathons can cause the flu say scientists
Too much exercise damages the immune system and makes people more prone to colds and flu, a study has found. On the other hand, a regular brisk walk can keep winter colds and flu at bay. Moderate exercise strengthens the body's defences against nose and throat infections such as the common cold, flu and sinusitis, according to expert Professor Mike Gleeson. (Telegraph)

Andrew Wakefield sues BMJ for claiming MMR study was fraudulent
Andrew Wakefield, the doctor who was struck off the medical register after triggering a health scare linking autism to the MMR vaccine, is suing the editor-in-chief of the British Medical Journal for defamation. (Guardian)

Wednesday 4 January

Hepatitis C vaccine: Oxford researchers' trial 'promising'

An early clinical trial of a hepatitis C vaccine has shown "promising" results, according to researchers at Oxford University. Designing a vaccine has been difficult as the virus changes its appearance, making it hard to find something to target. (BBC)


Last updated 17 January 2012