The current Ebola outbreak in the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone has received a lot of media attention, with terrifying news headlines such as “Deadliest Ever Outbreak of Ebola” appearing across the globe . And this is indeed the largest outbreak recorded to date, with approximately 1,093 people infected and 660 deaths as of July 29, 2014 . But how exactly … Continue reading Why the West African Ebola Outbreak Is the Deadliest Ever
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has been detected in a baby girl from Mississippi born with HIV and believed cured after very early treatment, disappointing the families involved and researchers. Millions of people have died of AIDS and millions more are infected with the virus. High-Activity Antiretroviral Treatment (HAART) is a life-saving combination of drugs that can hold the virus’ progression in check. However, HAART … Continue reading “Mississippi Baby” Relapse is a Setback in the Effort to Cure HIV
One of my earliest memories is of the chaos caused by a kamikaze bee that flew through an open window in my family’s pickup truck during an otherwise pleasant country drive. It saddens me to imagine a future where children are deprived of the bee-related traumatic experiences that I had growing up, but lately the world’s bee populations have been mysteriously dying. Bees contribute heavily … Continue reading Buzzkill: Where have all the bees gone?
Should the discovery of an infectious virus in the permafrost worry us? Scientists have uncovered a so-called ‘giant virus’ in permafrost that has melted as a result of progressive climate change. The virus, Pithovirus sibericum, was isolated from melted samples of Siberian permafrost and was able to infect amoebas even after being frozen for thousands of years. Could ancient human pathogens also be uncovered and … Continue reading Killer viruses lurking in permafrost? Probably not, but here’s what they can teach us…
Since the first discovery of virus by Martinus Beijerinck in 1898, viruses have been classified in a number of different ways. First, viruses were considered a poison, then a life-form, next demoted to classification as a biological chemical, and finally correctly characterized as non-living organic matter. Their current classification is based on three tenets of life that viruses don’t exhibit – the ability to synthesize … Continue reading Pandoraviruses: Relics of a hidden domain of life?