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Health, Wellness, Sex and Body Discuss Malaria, Sleeping Sickness & the Tsetse Fly at the General Discussion; Granny thinks Uncle Ferd got bit by a tsetse fly `cause he likes to sleep inna hammock alla time... Tsetse ...

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Old 07-01-2017, 08:53 PM
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Granny thinks Uncle Ferd got bit by a tsetse fly `cause he likes to sleep inna hammock alla time...

Tsetse Fly's Weakness May Be Its Symbiotic Bacteria
June 30, 2017 - The fly that carries African sleeping sickness may carry the seeds of its own destruction, according to new research.
Scientists have detailed the unique relationship between the tsetse fly and bacteria in its gut the fly can't live without. The tsetse fly spreads African sleeping sickness to humans from wild animals and has caused several major epidemics in the past. The parasite responsible for sleeping sickness is one of the few pathogens able to pass from the blood into the brain. It disrupts the sleep cycle and leads to mood changes, confusion, tremors and ultimately organ failure. Researchers have long hoped to take advantage of a number of the fly's unusual properties. Like mammals, the tsetse fly lactates and gives birth to live young.

Dead tsetse flies are seen in a laboratory in Ghibe Valley, southwest of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The tsetse milk contains bacteria called Wigglesworthia that the mother passes on to its young. Despite having one of the smallest known genomes, Wigglesworthia is a big deal for the tsetse fly. Without it, the fly becomes infertile. In the report published Wednesday in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, researchers from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, and the University of Pavia in Italy described a number of ways that the tsetse fly depends on Wigglesworthia. The bacteria supply B vitamins that the fly can't produce on its own and doesn't get from blood, its only food source. Without B vitamins, the fly can't properly nourish its young, and they starve.

Proteins' roles

The scientists also examined the tissue that houses the bacteria. The fly produces a special protein that guides the bacteria where they are needed. Another protein hides the bacteria from the fly's immune system. This leaves the researchers with several attack strategies as they move forward. They could try to produce drugs that target Wigglesworthia directly, or unleash the flies' immune system on the bacteria, or block one of the several pathways that the bacteria use to support the fly. "There's a lot of potential places you could throw a wrench into the works," study co-author and entomologist Geoffrey Attardo told VOA. "It's just finding a place that's optimal."

Recent efforts to stem the spread of sleeping sickness have been largely successful. According to the World Health Organization, the number of reported cases fell from almost 40,000 in 1998 to just 2,804 in 2015. But researchers say it is still important to develop new control methods that are cheaper, easier to deploy and more effective. "During epidemics, the political will to address this is there, but then when the disease goes away, the control efforts stop," said Attardo. "Then flies come back in from wild areas, and the cycle starts again. And 20 or 30 years later, you have another epidemic."

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Studies Fuel Dispute Over Whether Banned Pesticides Harm Bees
June 29, 2017 Two major studies into how bees are affected by a group of pesticides banned in Europe gave mixed results on Thursday, fueling a row over whether the chemicals, called neonicotinoids, are safe.
The studies, one conducted across three European countries and another in Canada, found some negative effects after exposure to neonicotinoids in wild and honeybee populations, but also some positives, depending on the environmental context. Scientists who conducted the European research - in Britain, Hungary and Germany - told reporters their overall findings suggested neonicotinoids are harmful to honeybee and wild bee populations and are "a cause for concern." But scientists representing companies who funded the work - Germany's Bayer AG and Switerland's Syngenta AG - said the results showed "no consistent effect." Several independent experts said the findings were mixed or inconclusive.

The European Union has since 2014 had a moratorium on use of neonicotinoids - made and sold by various companies including Bayer and Syngenta - after lab research pointed to potential risks for bees, crucial for pollinating crops. But crop chemical companies say real-world evidence is not there to blame a global plunge in bee numbers in recent years on neonicotinoid pesticides alone. They argue it is a complex phenomenon due to multiple factors. A spokesman for the EU's food safety watchdog EFSA, said the agency is in the process of assessing all studies and data for a full re-evaluation of neonicotinoids, expected in November.

A bee flies over a sunflower on a field near Frankfurt, Germany

EFSA's scientific assessment will be crucial to a European Commission decision in consultation with EU states on whether the moratorium on neonicotinoid use should remain in place. The two studies published on Thursday, in the peer-reviewed journal Science, are important because they were field studies that sought to examine the real-world exposure of bees to pesticides in nature. Researchers who led the Canadian study concluded that worker bees exposed to neonicotinoids - which they said often came from contaminated pollen from nearby plants, not from treated crops - had lower life expectancies and their colonies were more likely to suffer from a loss of queen bees.

On the findings of the European study, researchers told a briefing in London that exposure to neonicotinoid crops harmed honeybee colonies in two of the three countries and reduced the reproductive success of wild bees across all three. They noted, however, that results from Germany showed a positive effect on bees exposed to neonicotinoids, although they said this was temporary and the reasons behind it were unclear. "This represents the complexity of the real world," said Richard Pywell, a professor at Britain's Center of Ecology and Hydrology who co-led the work. "In certain circumstances, you may have a positive effect ... and in other circumstances you may have a negative effect" Overall, however, he said: "We are showing significant negative effects on [bees'] critical life-cycle stages, which is a cause for concern."

Several specialists with no direct involvement in the study who were asked to assess its findings said they were mixed. Rob Smith, a professor at Britain's University of Huddersfield, said the results were "important in showing that there are detectable effects of neonicotinoid treatments on honeybees in the real world", but added: "These effects are not consistent." Lynn Dicks at the University of East Anglia said the findings "illustrate the complexity of environmental science." "If there was a really big effect of neonicotinoids on bees, in whatever circumstances they were used, it would have shown up in both of these studies," she said. Norman Carreck, an insect expert at Britain's Sussex University, said: "Whilst adding to our knowledge, the study throws up more questions than it answers."

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Old 08-03-2017, 07:42 AM
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Moving Malaria Treatment Closer to Home...

As Warming Brings More Malaria, Kenya Moves Treatment Closer to Home
August 01, 2017 When it rains in Emusala village, a person sick with a fever can find it hard to get to the nearest health center, which requires a trip along the slippery footpaths that lead to the nearest main road some 10km (6 miles) away, in the heart of Western Kenya's Kakamega County. But if the fever spells the onset of malaria, rapid diagnosis and treatment are essential.
That's where Nicholas Akhonya comes in. With the aid of a simple medical kit and his mobile phone, Akhonya, a trained community health volunteer, is able to diagnose villagers with malaria in their own homes, offer treatment, and refer acute cases and pregnant women to health facilities for specialized care. Malaria cases are on the increase in Kenya, and experts attribute the upsurge to changes in the climate. According to Dr. James Emisiko, coordinator for the Division of Vector Borne and Neglected Tropical Diseases in Kakamega County, mosquitoes breed particularly well in stagnant water in warm temperatures. The females feed on human blood in order to produce eggs, and if a mosquito carrying the malaria-causing plasmodium parasite bites a person, it is likely to infect them.

Miriam Opechi, a community health volunteer in Emusala village, in Western Kenya's Kakamega County, carries out a malaria test on a resident sick with a fever

Kenya's recent drought the harshest in East Africa since 2011 followed by sporadic rainfall in the middle of this year has created a perfect breeding environment for mosquitoes, Emisiko told Thomson Reuters Foundation. The result is an upsurge of malaria cases, especially in the Western Kenya region and around Lake Victoria. "The only way to control deaths from this life-threatening disease is to ensure that all fever cases are tested wherever the patients are, malaria-positive cases [are] treated and all complicated cases referred to nearby health centers," the doctor said.[ He said that parents in rural areas often initially give painkillers to children with fever. When families finally seek proper medical attention, it is often too late for those who have malaria to respond to simple anti-malarial drugs, and they require expensive hospitalization instead.

Calling in the Volunteers

To tackle the problem, for the past two years county governments in malaria-prone areas have worked with non-governmental organizations to train community health volunteers to diagnose the disease in patients' homes, using rapid diagnostic kits. The volunteers then treat those who test positive, and refer complicated cases to the nearest health center. "In case of any complication, all I need is to have power on my mobile phone so that I can communicate with medical experts using the toll-free number for further advice," said Akhonya, one of the volunteers. The U.S.-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that there are 6.7 million new clinical cases of malaria in Kenya each year and 4,000 deaths, most of them in Western Kenya.

Community health volunteers in Emulsala village, in Western Kenya's Kakamega County, use mobile phones to report serious malaria cases to better equipped clinics and hospitals

According to Moses Makokha, clinical officer in charge of the Bumala-A sub-county health center in Busia County, some malaria cases can be fatal little more than 24 hours after symptoms occur, especially in children below the age of five years and pregnant women. In pregnant women, malaria can lead to miscarriage or other serious complications, Makokha said. "It is always an easy disease to manage - but only if it is identified at the onset of the fever and treated immediately using the correct medication," Makokha said. Kakamega County's government has trained 4,200 community health volunteers to manage simple malaria, working with Community Asset Building and Development (CABDA), a local NGO, and with support from Amref Health Africa, an international Kenyan medical charity headquartered in Nairobi.

The volunteers are supplied with test kits and basic drugs to treat the disease at no cost to patients. Treating malaria at the village level, among other interventions, has helped reduce the prevalence of the disease in Kakamega County from 38 percent in 2013 to 27 percent in 2016, according to County Health Executive Peninah Mukabane. "This is one of the success stories that we are all proud of," Ephy Imbali, CABDA's executive director, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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BASF Unveils New Mosquito Net in Battle Against Malaria
July 13, 2017 A new mosquito net made by German chemicals company BASF has been given an interim recommendation by the World Health Organization (WHO), containing a new class of insecticide that the company hopes will aid the fight against malaria.
Death rates from malaria have dropped by 60 percent since 2000, according to the WHO, but attempts to end one of the world's deadliest diseases which kills around 430,000 people a year are under threat as mosquitoes become increasingly resistant to measures such as insecticide-treated bed nets and anti-malarial drugs. BASF's new net is based on chlorfenapyr, which has been used in agriculture and urban pest control for over two decades, but BASF reworked it to make it effective on mosquito nets and meet targets for the public health market.

Two children and their mother rest under a mosquito net in the small village of Walikale, Congo

It said the net will provide protection for at least three years or 20 washes. The new Interceptor G2 insecticide-treated net is expected to be available to health ministries and aid organizations beginning toward the end of this year, BASF said. A WHO spokesman said the Geneva-based organization's interim recommendation meant it still had to evaluate the net's public health impact and it was requesting more data from the chemicals company.

BASF is also waiting for the WHO to evaluate another chlorfenapyr product, an indoor spray for walls and ceilings called Sylando 240SC. "This development breakthrough strengthens my personal belief that we really can be the generation to end malaria for good," said Egon Weinmueller, head of BASF's public health business.


Malaria Genome Study Reveals Savvy Parasite
July 13, 2017 The malaria parasite owes its devastating success to a finely tuned genome that can survive attacks and evade human immune defenses because it retains only the bare essential genes it needs to thrive, scientists have found.
In a detailed study analyzing more than half the genes in the genome of Plasmodium, the parasite that causes malaria, researchers found that two-thirds of those genes are essential for survival. This is the largest proportion of essential genes found in any organism studied to date, they said.

This is a colorized electron micrograph of a malaria-causing Plasmodium parasite, right, attaching to and invading a human red blood cell. The inset shows the attachment point at higher magnification.

The scientists discovered that the parasite often disposes of genes that produce proteins that give its presence away to its host's immune system. This allows malaria to swiftly change its appearance to the human immune system and hence build up resistance to a vaccine, posing problems for the development of effective shots. "Our study found that below the surface the parasite is more of a Formula 1 race car than a clunky people carrier: The parasite is fine-tuned and retains the absolute essential genes needed for growth," said Julian Rayner, who co-led this study at Britain's Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.

Good and bad

He said this discovery, published Thursday in the journal Cell, had both positive and negative implications. "The bad news is it can easily get rid of the genes behind the targets we are trying to design vaccines for, but the flip side is there are many more essential gene targets for new drugs than we previously thought," he said. Malaria kills about half a million people a year, the vast majority of them children and babies in the poorest parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Beyond that, almost half the world's population is at risk of becoming infected with malaria, and more than 200 million people fall sick with it each year, according to World Health Organization figures. Despite decades of scientific endeavor, the genetics of Plasmodium parasites have proved tricky to decipher.

This is partly because they are ancient organisms and about half their genes have no similar genes homologs in any other organism, Rayner's team explained, making it difficult for scientists to find clues to their function. Francisco Javier Gamo, a malaria expert at GlaxoSmithKline, a British drugmaker active in this field of research, said the highest achievement for malaria scientists would be to discover genes that are essential across all of the parasite life cycle stages. "If we could target those with drugs, it would leave malaria with nowhere to hide," he said.

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Old 09-22-2017, 08:02 AM
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New strain of 'super malaria' in SE Asia...

Alarm as 'super malaria' spreads in South East Asia
22 Sept.`17 - The rapid spread of "super malaria" in South East Asia is an alarming global threat, scientists are warning.
This dangerous form of the malaria parasite cannot be killed with the main anti-malaria drugs. It emerged in Cambodia but has since spread through parts of Thailand, Laos and has arrived in southern Vietnam. The team at the Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit in Bangkok said there was a real danger of malaria becoming untreatable. Prof Arjen Dondorp, the head of the unit, told the BBC News website: "We think it is a serious threat. "It is alarming that this strain is spreading so quickly through the whole region and we fear it can spread further [and eventually] jump to Africa."

Failing treatments

In a letter, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, the researchers detail the "recent sinister development" that has seen resistance to the drug artemisinin emerge. About 212 million people are infected with malaria each year. It is caused by a parasite that is spread by blood-sucking mosquitoes and is a major killer of children. The first choice treatment for malaria is artemisinin in combination with piperaquine.

Malaria is caused by a parasite spread by blood-sucking mosquitoes

But as artemisinin has become less effective, the parasite has now evolved to resist piperaquine too. There have now been "alarming rates of failure", the letter says. Prof Dondorp said the treatment was failing around a third of the time in Vietnam while in some regions of Cambodia the failure rate was closer to 60%. Resistance to the drugs would be catastrophic in Africa, where 92% of all malaria cases happen.

'Against the clock'

There is a push to eliminate malaria in the Greater Mekong sub-region before it is too late. Prof Dondorp added: "It's a race against the clock - we have to eliminate it before malaria becomes untreatable again and we see a lot of deaths. "If I'm honest, I'm quite worried." Michael Chew, from the Wellcome Trust medical research charity, said: "The spread of this malaria 'superbug' strain, resistant to the most effective drug we have, is alarming and has major implications for public health globally. "Around 700,000 people a year die from drug-resistant infections, including malaria. "If nothing is done, this could increase to millions of people every year by 2050."

Alarm as 'super malaria' spreads in South East Asia - BBC News
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Old 10-13-2017, 07:28 AM
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Latest Drug-resistant Malaria Strain May Skirt 'Superbug' Status...

Latest Drug-resistant Malaria in Mekong Region May Skirt 'Superbug' Status
October 12, 2017 Som Aun contracted malaria after moving to the Thma Baing district of Cambodia's Koh Kong province in 2002. Four years later, two of his children contracted the disease.
For five years, his son, An, now 19, and daughter, Sreyna, now 12, remained infected because no effective treatment was available, he told VOA Khmer. "Sometimes the disease is healed for one month, but it would come back in the next two months," he said, adding they both exhibited high fevers and chills. His children, who work in banana plantations, were in and out of clinics, and "after they took medicines, they would be fine for a period of time, then they would have to go to the hospital if they were in serious condition," Aun said. The family resorted to hospitals infrequently, because transportation cost 200,000 riel to 300,000 riel (or about $50 to $75). Researchers are increasingly alarmed by the emergence of a strain of drug-resistant malaria in Cambodia, a so-called "superbug" that stares down the most commonly used anti-malaria drugs.

A malaria patient rests in the only hospital in Pailin, western Cambodia.

The superbug, first identified in 2008 in Cambodia, has spread into parts of Vietnam, Thailand and Laos. Last month, scientists from the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU) published a letter in The Lancet saying the superbug's spread throughout the Mekong area was a serious threat to malaria control and eradication. "A single mutant strain of very drug resistant malaria has now spread from western Cambodia to north-eastern Thailand, southern Laos and into southern Vietnam and caused a large increase in treatment failure of patients with malaria," says letter co-author Arjen Dondorp, and Oxford professor, in a MORU release. MORU is a collaborative effort involving Thailand's Mahidol University, Oxford University and the U.K.-based Wellcome Trust. "We are losing a dangerous race," Nicholas White, one of the letter's co-authors, said in the release. "The spread of this malaria 'superbug' has caused an alarming rise in treatment failures forcing changes in drug policy and leaving few options for the future."

Local officials not concerned

Huy Rekol, director of Cambodia's National Center for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control (CNM), said he was not worried by the drug-resistant malaria. "In our country, we don't need to worry about matters of death or resistance because we have efficient drugs to use every day," he said. Malaria in Cambodia is caused by two types of viruses transmitted by female mosquitoes, according to the CNM. It identified several factors leading to a rise in malaria infections in 2015, including increasing mobility of people living in malaria-affected areas. Rekol said that about 10,000 infections were detected in 2017, but all those identified as contracting malaria were treated. He said that any resistance was "manageable," adding that more should be done to prevent transmission in the first place.

A village malaria worker shows his malaria medicine kit at O'treng village on the outskirts of Pailin, Cambodia

Nguyen Thi Khe, a former official at the government Institute of Public Hygiene, told VOA Vietnamese that malaria was "not a serious issue in Vietnam right now," a sentiment that was repeated by other officials. Dondorp said it was worrying that Cambodian malaria officials appeared to be unconcerned by the reports of drug resistance, which he said could undo the gains of recent years. "In northeastern Thailand, Srisaket province is affected, almost all of Cambodia is affected, as well as southern Laos, and South Vietnam," Dondorp said in an email to VOA. In an email, he said, "The evolution and subsequent transnational spread of this single fit multidrug-resistant malaria parasite lineage is of international concern."

A risk to Africa?
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