Viruses

Mike the Mad Biologist

Category archives for Viruses

Or maybe wild-ass speculation. As the data continue to come in about the E. coli outbreak in Germany caused by E. coli O104:H4 HUSEC041 (well, everything but the public health and epidemiological data which are a contradictory, incoherent mess), it appears that one of the things that has made this strain so dangerous is its…

When I first saw the title of this PloSOne article, “Unauthorized Horizontal Spread in the Laboratory Environment: The Tactics of Lula, a Temperate Lambdoid Bacteriophage of Escherichia coli“, I thought, “Hunh?!? You can actually publish articles about laboratory contamination?”, but it’s actually a very interesting article. In short, the article describes the discovery of a…

Nonoptimality in Viral Evolution and Economics

While I’m not that big a fan of the project trying to find commonalities between economics and biology, largely because I think explanations of specific phenomena often reduce to those stupid fucking natural history facts, I was struck by this argument by economist Samuel Bowles about the assumption of optimality in the supposed tradeoff between…

This is not a needle exchange program center (from here) I’ve written before about the needle exchange legislation which is very good…in an imaginary world lacking parks, schools, and other places where children congregate. From Maine, we find out what this legislation really means: Such a position could conceivably pave the way for additional federal…

The Great Viral Filter Shortage

It’s not as bad as the Great Brooklyn Tampon Shortage, but it’s just become a lot harder to study marine viruses. There are two basic ways to figure out how many viruses are in a given sample, such as a milliliter of seawater. One method is to mix a bacterial (or algal) cell with a…

WASH YOUR DAMN HANDS!…And Clean Your Stuff

No, not that stuff (well, actually, yes, that stuff too, but I definitely don’t want to know about it). One of the important tools in fighting infectious disease is disinfecting surfaces. Which brings me to a recent paper about cruise ships and cleanliness. In June 2006, 43 norovirus outbreaks occurred on thirteen vessels. Noroviruses can…

For anything? Excluding very rare norovirus outbreaks, I can’t remember ever reading about school absentee rates like these from Grafton, MA: Grafton High School closed early today after more than a third of its students and more than a quarter of its staff stayed home sick. It is the only school in the state to…

One of the thing we need to pay attention to during TEH SWINEY FLOO! is the role of bacterial infections in flu-related mortality: a fair number of the deaths ultimately could result from a secondary bacterial infection by organisms like Staphylococcus (including MRSA), Streptococcus, and some of the Gram-negative organisms. Unfortunately, this is happening in…

Evolution: The Utility Defense

During one of the many framing-related flare ups (kinda like zits, aren’t they?), I argued that biologists have done the following things well while confronting creationism: Calling creationists fucking morons (because they are). Arguing that a better understanding of how life evolved is good in and of itself, and can imbue us with a certain…

…I was wrong. African-Americans and Latinos are already showing elevated numbers of swine flu hospitalizations in Massachusetts: