Lyme disease risk analysisDec022015

Ixodes_pacificus_8686Researchers with the B.C. Centre for Disease Control have just completed the province’s first systemic analysis of the threat of Lyme disease carried by certain types of ticks.

Dr. Muhammad Morshed, program head of zoonotic diseases and emerging pathogens at the B.C. CDC, said 150 traps were placed at 12 different locations around the province — Belcarra, Burnaby Mountain, Coquitlam, Cranbrook, Cultus Lake, Duncan, Nanaimo, Okanagan, Penticton, Sechelt, Squamish and West Vancouver, in 2013 and 2014 to catch ticks and mice. Mice were measured as they’re one of the primary ways infant ticks can get the disease. Mice, Morshed said, are a source of blood feed for ticks — particularly young ones — and can carry Lyme disease without any negative effects.

Both results came back low after hundreds of rodents and ticks were caught. This was reassuring for researchers as in eastern parts of North America, as many as 30-40% of ticks can be infected. Locally, the number is just 0.56%.

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Genetically modified mosquito can resist malaria infectionDec012015

mosquito 18762_loresUS scientists say they have bred a genetically modified (GM) mosquito that can resist malaria infection.

The scientists put a new “resistance” gene into the mosquito’s own DNA, using a gene editing method called Crispr.

And when the GM mosquitoes mated – their offspring inherited the same resistance, PNAS journal reports.

In theory, if these mosquitoes bite people, they should not be able to pass on the parasite that causes malaria.

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Link between Zika Fever and birth defects in BrazilDec012015

dengue 9183_loresThe Brazilian health ministry has confirmed a link between a mosquito-borne virus from Africa, Zika Fever, and a high incidence of birth defects.

The fever, it said, is behind a spike in cases of micro-encephalitis – an inflammation of the brain contracted in the first months of pregnancy.

It has recorded two adult deaths and 739 cases of the disease, which can stunt the growth of the foetus’s head.

A World Health Organization team arrives in Brazil next week.

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Canada Communicable Disease Report: focus on antibiotic resistanceNov192015

In the latest issue of CCDR, read about how normal flora can now be manufactured to treat Clostridium difficile and potentially other conditions, learn how optimal vaccine use can minimize the need for antibiotics, and see how the Canadian Institutes of Health Research has been funding research on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) innovation. In the ID News section read about the use of nanotechnologies to treat HIV, tuberculosis and yeast infections, and learn about a new protein inhibitor to treat malaria. This is the last in a series of theme issues to highlight the three pillars of Canada’s Federal Action Plan on AMR: Surveillance, Stewardship and Innovation.

CCDR: Volume 41S-5, November 19, 2015