"Warmer temperatures are causing malaria to spread to higher altitudes, a study suggests."
"Chinese health authorities have identified a brand-new type of bird flu that killed an elderly woman in November and infected at least one other person in January. That trend prompted the experts to call for stepped-up surveillance to track the new H10N8 influenza virus in poultry markets and in human patients. 'The pandemic potential of this novel virus should not be underestimated,' the medical team wrote in a report published Wednesday by the journal Lancet. Genetic analysis of the H10N8 influenza virus revealed that it has two mutations that make flu viruses more virulent in mammals, [...]
"The Food and Drug Administration said there is no evidence that antibacterial soaps and washes actually prevent the spread of germs, and some products may even pose a health risk."
"Antibiotics aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do anymore. You know, kill infections. Since Alexander Fleming invented penicillin 75 years ago, nearly all bacteria have mutated into strains impervious to antibiotics. Those souped up bacteria now kill hundreds of thousands of people, at a minimum, each year. And according to a new issue of medical journal The Lancet focused on antibiotic-resistant bacteria, things could soon get a whole lot scarier."
"A strain of bird flu that scientists thought could not infect people has shown up in a Taiwanese woman, a nasty surprise that shows scientists must do more to spot worrisome flu strains before they ignite a global outbreak, doctors say."
"A European satellite that mapped Earth’s gravitational field in exquisite detail will be pulled down by gravity to its fiery destruction sometime in the next few days. Where and when it will crash no one knows. It could be almost anywhere on the globe. About 25 to 45 fragments of the one-ton spacecraft are expected to survive all the way to the surface, with the largest perhaps weighing 200 pounds. It is the latest in a parade of spacecraft falling from the sky in what are worryingly called 'uncontrolled entries.' About 100 tons of debris will fall from the sky this year alone." Oh, [...]
"Highly radioactive water overflowed barriers into Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, its operating utility said on Monday, after it underestimated how much rain would fall at the plant and failed to pump it out quickly enough." —That… can't be good.
"[W]hooping cough is resurgent: just under fifty thousand people caught it in 2012. This is mainly because protection from the current shots wanes over time. But, as the bug circulates, it is also morphing. Last February, researchers identified mutant strains of the bacteria in eleven patients in Philadelphia. These mutants, it turns out, appear to be the dominant form of the bug in this country. Whooping cough has evolved in a way that vaccine-preventable diseases rarely do."
"Researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai reported that a virulent new strain of influenza — the virus that causes the flu — appears to retain its ability to cause serious disease in humans even after it develops resistance to antiviral medications."
"A new study has found that global temperatures have not flat-lined over the past 15 years, as weather station records have been suggesting, but have in fact continued to rise as fast as previous decades, during which we have seen an unprecedented acceleration in global warming…. Two university scientists have found that the 'pause' or 'hiatus' in global temperatures can be largely explained by a failure of climate researchers to record the dramatic rise in Arctic temperatures over the past decade or more."
"This year is the seventh warmest since records began in 1850 and rising sea levels caused by climate change are aggravating the impact of storms such as Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Wednesday. More greenhouse gases in the atmosphere meant a warmer future, and more extreme weather, was inevitable, WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said in a statement during November 11-22 climate talks among almost 200 nations in Warsaw."
"The force of the report comes simply from assembling all the data in one place; the summary reads like a laundry list of the apocalypse—flood, drought, disease, starvation. Climate change, the group noted, will reduce yields of major crops by up to two per cent each decade for the remainder of this century. (One of the reasons for this is that heat waves, which will become more common as the world warms, depress the yields of staple crops like corn.) Since the global population is projected to grow throughout the century—to eight billion by 2025, nine billion by 2050, and almost eleven billion by 2100—this is obviously rather bad news. [...]
Is there any way to cook the killer doody off of chicken? Nobody can say for sure, but given how terrible people are in general, even the ones who are trying to reduce their consumption of mammals, maybe it is for the best if we scarf those wings down 'til we're all in the ground.
"Over the past two decades, bats have turned out to play host to all kinds of nasty viruses. Some of these can infect people; many, including Ebola and MERS, can be deadly. Most human outbreaks have been small, but the big fear is that a bat virus will mutate in a way that allows it to spread readily between people. This is what happened with SARS, which infected 8000 in almost 40 countries before being contained." —That's the lead-in to a slideshow entitled "Beware bats: Six species to avoid like the plague," which is pictures of bats. I am hard-pressed to recall something that seems like a more [...]
"Hong Kong has begun a mass cull of around 20,000 chickens after the deadly H7N9 bird flu virus was discovered in a batch of poultry imported from mainland China. Officials wearing masks and protective suits piled dead chickens into black plastic bags at a wholesale market in Hong Kong where the virus was discovered on Monday…. The discovery of the avian influenza virus came just days after Hong Kong introduced widespread testing of imported live poultry following growing public concern over the safety of imports, particularly from the mainland."
"Hong Kong confirmed its first case of deadly H7N9 bird flu on Monday in a further sign that the virus is continuing to spread beyond mainland China's borders."
"Experts are predicting the end of the world will take place on February 22, 2014, coincidently the grand finale of the Viking festival in York."
"The virus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome — an often-lethal lung disease related to SARS — has been found in a pet camel belonging to a recent human victim, Saudi Arabia’s Health Ministry announced Monday. The discovery adds credence to the prevailing theory that the virus originates in bats but usually reaches humans through camels."
[T]the United Nations is forming an 'International Asteroid Warning Group,' on the advice of an association of former astronauts, to share data about threatening asteroids. In a set of forthcoming recommendations, the Association of Space Explorers (ASE) will loosely outline the emergency steps that the UN's longstanding Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space must take if the asteroid warning group identifies an extinction-level space rock on a collision course with Earth."