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Thread: Open Science Thread!

  1. #1

    Default Open Science Thread!

    I thought it'd be fun to have an ongoing thread to talk about current events in science- things that are interesting but not really big enough to warrant their own threads.

    To start off...

    There's an outbreak of chikungunya in the Caribbean! This is huge because chikungunya virus (CHIKV) has never been in the Western Hemisphere before. All the right environmental factors were here (people, Aedes mosquitos, climate) but for some reason it never crossed the Atlantic with the slave trade. This made prevailing thought that it required some sort of unknown factor to establish that the west lacks. Well, so much for that.



    Last week the World Health Organization reported two cases of chikungunya, a painful, mosquito-borne illness on the French part of St. Martin.

    Now the outbreak has grown to 10 cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday. And the outbreak is likely to get even bigger or spread to other islands.

    The culprit is a nasty virus that causes a high fever, headache and arthritis-like pain in the joints. Symptoms usually clear up within a week or so, and the illness is rarely fatal. But there is no vaccine or treatment for chikungunya.
    Link

    By contrast, the slave trade brought three of the four infectious Plasmodium spp to the west. The one that didn't make the jump doesn't really have a wide range. If diseases had the opportunity to come west with the slave trade but didn't, it's generally presumed that there's an unappreciated environmental barrier that exists. Yellow Fever is another case. All the right factors exist in East Asia for Yellow Fever virus as far as we appreciate them, but for some reason it's never found it's way there.

    Another article from CBS:



    The World Health Organization said on Dec. 6 that officials were alerted to two confirmed cases of chikungunya in people who were infected on the French St. Marten side of the island. The other side of the island, St. Maartens, is owned by the Netherlands.

    WHO authorities were alerted to the possibility of the outbreak when they were investigating dengue fever cases on the island. Five patients at this time had joint paints and fever, but they did not have dengue.
    Link

    Dengue Fever has similar symptoms, but unlike chikungunya, dengue is endemic in the tropical western hemisphere. The WHO watches for it but it's not exactly headlines when someone comes down with it.

    Also, poor research from whoever wrote the CBS article:



    That doesn’t mean it can’t spread to other countries. In the U.S.,105 cases of chikungunya fever were reported from 2004 to 2009, the CDC noted.
    Not technically incorrect but very misleading. People outside of chikungunya's endemic range get it all the time, but when you hear about someone in the US or Europe getting chikungunya, they got it while traveling to Africa/India/the Seychelles and they brought it back. On the contrary, it seems that CHIKV is now establishing a reservoir in St. Martin.

    The biggest concern in the US is going to be keeping it out of Puerto Rico. The CDC has pretty broad power to regulate travel to the US from other countries, but PR is American soil. Very little power to stop travel between (say) PR and Miami if an outbreak occurs there.

    Oh, chikungunya is pronounced exactly how it looks like it should be pronounced. It's fun to say.

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by AEsahaettr View Post
    There's an outbreak of chikungunya in the Caribbean! This is huge because chikungunya virus (CHIKV) has never been in the Western Hemisphere before. All the right environmental factors were here (people, Aedes mosquitos, climate) but for some reason it never crossed the Atlantic with the slave trade. This made prevailing thought that it required some sort of unknown factor to establish that the west lacks. Well, so much for that.
    the Atlantic slave trade dealt mainly with West Africans, whilst the virus originated in East Africa, around 1700AD, neatly just missing the boat, so to speak (and the aeroplane), in it's travels.
    anyways, it's now being spread by aviation (a product of modern science) and fat, lazy white-folk (those who invented modern science, aviation and who control and operate aeroplanes).
    another example of science, and white-folk, creating more problems than they solve.
    'well done' to all concerned. how smart thou art.


    yellow fever will probably most likely find it's way to Asia (if it hasn't already, but not been identified), but there are some stumbling blocks in the shape of deserts, oceans and a lack of suitable transportation to a destination. the latter is due to Africans and Africa not traditionally being held in high, or equal, regard by certain other peoples and thus tending to be entirely excluded from contemplation (the more recent Sino-African deals being the exception).
    racism as a force for good[in reducing the spread of disease]?

    the gaps in the details of commutation remind me of the issue of the 'non-spread' of Malaria to the British Isles, a presumption that was called into question by a look at the folk history of the south-east coast and a long-known illness called 'marsh sickness' which had all the symptoms of Malaria, but such reports were ignored by the 'betters' of the time/area.

  3. #3

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    I always assumed that it would be so difficult to contain anything in this day and age. Is it easier than I thought?? My issue was basically that I figured there'd be a few carriers (or even just ONE carrier) on a plane before they realized they were ill, thus spreading viruses all around. What would you say the chances are of one carrier on a plane spreading the virus to a large number of people in another country? I mean, not everyone will catch it nearby. Also, I was wondering, don't viruses usually start to spread before signs of infection? I mean, that's how they must be so successful in the first place, by going undercover for at least a little while.

  4. #4

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    Well algae biofuel seems to be getting closer to reality. Apparently they were recently able to make synthetic petrol out of it. i knew that they had previously gotten engergy out of the algae but never bona fide petrol substitute.

  5. #5

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    This is a great idea! Unfortunately I'm not up to date on scientific current events, but this gives me a reason to catch up. Keep the thread going, and I'll see what I can find and contribute.
    Last edited by BigKid25; 20-Dec-2013 at 22:30. Reason: Made a small typing error.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frogsy View Post
    Also, I was wondering, don't viruses usually start to spread before signs of infection? I mean, that's how they must be so successful in the first place, by going undercover for at least a little while.
    Not exactly. The problem is moreso that a person catches a virus in its endemic region and then flies somewhere else in the world before clinical prodrome hits. The mode of transmission (eg, coughing, sneezing, vomiting) are usually noticeable symptoms. The exception to this would be fecal-oral pathogens, as well as ones that can be spread through normal contact- sex, handshakes, etc.

    What stops a lot of pathogens from spreading is that they may have an obligatory intermediate host (eg, they spread ungulate-mosquito-human-mosquito-ungulate-mosquito-human-etc), or humans are an incidental dead end host. A number of viral hemorrhagic fevers follow the latter pattern.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigKid25 View Post
    This is a great idea! Unfortunately I'm not up to date on scientific current events, but this gives me a reason to catch up. Keep the thread going, and I'll see what I can find and contribute.
    Just post anything that sounds interesting. My thing is medical science and microbiology (though I've gained a good knowledge of general biology and some physics along the way). There's always a chance that someone who knows more than you do about whatever topic you can chime in. The Science Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and Fox News (yea, I'm surprised by two of those as well) generally have really good science reporting.

    For example, there was big news that made the rounds last winter about a baby being cured of HIV. If anyone posted a link to one of the articles about it, I could have explained how the child wasn't cured and exactly where the miscommunication happened between the scientist and the reporter who wrote up the source material that every other news outlet in the world copied.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ForeverSmall View Post
    Well algae biofuel seems to be getting closer to reality. Apparently they were recently able to make synthetic petrol out of it. i knew that they had previously gotten engergy out of the algae but never bona fide petrol substitute.
    I've always been curious what the issue is here. If the technology was there it's hard to imagine it not exploding overnight. I can only imagine that scaling doesn't yet make it cheaper than getting oil out of the ground.

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