Mike the Mad Biologist

Category archives for Viruses

The CDC’s expert committee has released its recommendations for who should receive the swine flu vaccination (TEH SWINEY FLOO!):

I’ve been meaning to get to a really interesting article titled “Killing niche competitors by remote-control bacteriophage induction.” So, let’s talk about your nose.

Unnecessary Bioterrorism Hysteria

A recent post about the looming specter of bioterrorism by William Lind due to ‘biohacking’ seems overblown to me. But before I get Lind, what I find particularly disturbing about hyping a non-existent bioterror threat is that it makes combating infectious disease–the stuff that kills millions worldwide–much harder due to unnecessary regulations and restrictions. Onto…

Orent Is at It Again

Wendy Orent, having decided that Paul Ewald is the end-all and be-all of evolutionary epidemiology, is again repeating the mantra that pandemics will evolve to become less deadly. Never mind that, as ScienceBlogling Greg Laden reminds us, the first wave of the 1918 pandemic was far milder than the lethal second wave. Orent, in The…

Re Swine Flu: Thank You, Marc

For keeping the big picture in mind when it comes to influenza–as the CDC decides to proceed with seasonal influenza vaccine production:

Tamiflu, Influenza, and Resistance…

…Oh my? The CDC is being very smart about this issue. As long time readers of this blog will know, the Mad Biologist is very concerned about the evolution of resistance to antibacterials (antibiotics) and antivirals. One such antiviral is Tamiflu which is used to treat influenza infections.

Probably not. I have no idea how serious this swine flu outbreak will be. As I noted yesterday, it could evolve to cause less severe symptoms or more severe symptoms–right now, nobody knows for certain. But I find the possible overreaction by the public to be disturbing (I think the public health system has adopted…

Nonoptimal Virulence and Avian Influenza

Since TEH SWINE FLU!!!11!!! is a hot topic, I thought this post about how infections could evolve increased virulence after switching animal hosts was relevant. From the Murky Depths of the Mad Biologist’s Archives: There’s no reason to think that an epidemic influenza strain won’t become more deadly….

Before I get to the ongoing calamity, the economic impact of a nation-wide viral epidemic in horses in 1872 is worth considering (italics mine):

I’ve said this many times before, but it’s worth repeating again: whether it’s an influenza pandemic, or ‘just’ annual influenza (which, in the U.S., kills double the number of people as HIV/AIDS), what actually does the killing is the secondary bacterial infection, not the virus.