Month: August 2010

Emerging Bulletin 2

Agricultural areas of Mexico recently affected by Hurricane Alex are now prone to ticks, parasites and fungi, according to a Mexican government survey. Heavy rains have made conditions in the area of Saltillo, Coahuila prime ground for the development of white mold and apple scab which will have an affect of approximately 5-10% decline in the apple harvest. Heat will also have an effect as tick populations are projected to increase and affect livestock with debilitating diseases such as Bovine Babesiosis or Cattle Fever. These developments, brought about by an acute environmental change could have a profound affect on the agricultural import market, especially for livestock if these issues are not vigilantly addressed by each individual producer. The Mexican Ministry of agriculture is providing resources for farmers to insure that cattle are protected from tick-borne disease.



Medical Travel and Disease

The New York Times reports this week that a new mutation has emerged which makes bacteria resistant to all antibiotics. The mutation has been discovered in India and Pakistan and is reported to be found in patients from the UK and the US who travel to this region to receive medical treatment. The mutation labeled NDM-1 according to the article has microbiologists and physicians worried that this could be the mother of all mutations. However, it is too early to tell if this is the case. How does a mutation come about and why is this mutation of concern?

Bacterial cells reproduce via cell division. A single bacterial cell creates a carbon of itself in multiplicative fashion. If a bacteria has basic characteristics (whether it causes disease or not), it will pass on those characteristics to it’s carbon copy. Bacterial cells obtain additional characteristics, such as antibiotic resistance through the uptake of a plasmid. A plasmid is a smaller, circular form of DNA which can give bacterial cells a variety of new characteristics and codes for ways by which the new characteristics can be expressed. Antibacterial resistance can be coded in bacteria in ways such as giving the bacteria the ability to synthesize enzymes to affect the antibiotics action or the bacteria can create structures called porins which shuffle antibiotics out of the cell. Plasmids, like the DNA that is innately in the bacterial cell is constantly undergoing evolutionary change and new characteristics can be created.

In a previous post, I discussed factors which have increased the spread of disease globally. Travel across the globe is one of the major ways by which disease can be introduced into susceptible populations. Medical travel to obtain treatments for a variety of aliments has been ongoing for many years. In this day and age, more and more people have used medical travel in the wake of loss of insurance, being denied claims or lower cost for certain medical treatments. Travelers returning from the India/Pakistan region to their home countries potentially could harbor this resistant bacteria. Only then and with time will we know if this is the super resistant bacteria that we have been fearing it’s arrival.

Emerging Bulletin 1 (Update)

The Japanese Macaque monkeys who were dying at the Kyoto University Primate Center were possibly dying from Simian Hemorrhagic Fever (SHF). Dr. C.J. Peters of the University of Texas Medical Branch stated that there have been outbreaks of SHF in macaque colonies in the US and Russia. The disease among macaques is very contagious but it does not affect humans and other non-human primates.

Source: (Archived 20100718.2403)