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How to Get the Best From Your Immune System - Smarter Living Guides
2019 | The New York Times | By Matt Richtel.

**“An Elegant Defense: The Extraordinary New Science of the Immune System.”"

The immune system is much less about exercising power than it is about finding balance. You can help train and maintain it. Here’s how:
(A) What Is the Immune System?
Our great defense system helps ward off the most dangerous of invaders......It is a common misconception that the immune system goes to war with every foreign organism. That would lead to scorched earth, nuclear winter. Instead, the job of the immune system is to take stock, monitor, assess and judge potential threats...if an invader is deemed a threat, the immune system has a narrow job: destroy the threat while doing as little collateral damage as possible. This response from the immune system is called “inflammation.” .....inflammation can feel like a stuffy nose, sore throat, tummy ache, fever, fatigue or headache. Yes, the symptoms of an immune response feel lousy, but you must suffer a little to keep the rest of your body healthy over the long term. And for your health and daily well-being, the key is to keep your immune system from underperforming or getting out of hand.
(B) IT’S ABOUT BALANCE
The immune system, often seen as a ruthless defender, seeks a steady state, not a police state.....a fiercely delicate combination of a bouncer and a ballet dancer. In fact, many molecules in this complex system are designed to send a signal that it should withdraw, pause an attack and stand down. Without these molecules, the state of inflammation that helps destroy threats would lay your body to waste..... Instead of boosting your immune system, you should be supporting it. And you should try to never undermine its delicate structures.
(C) The Immune System and the Beast
Let's take a moment to understand how (and why) our immune system acts in the face of a threat.....Our immune system took shape roughly 480 million years ago. All jawed vertebrates going back to the shark share its key properties. One property is priority setting.....an acute threat, e.g. a lion attack, the body’s network focuses wholly on that threat....the body goes into an emergency state known colloquially as “fight or flight.” During these periods, the body fires off powerful chemicals, including:

Epinephrine, which creates a kind of high for the body to subvert fatigue.
Norepinephrine, which also helps to subvert fatigue.
Cortisol, which helps the body maintain essential functions, like blood flow.

When these hormones are at work, we can feel generally O.K.,but .... the release of these fight-or-flight hormones dampens our immune response. ...it causes the immune system to withdraw.
(D) WHY THE IMMUNE SYSTEM WITHDRAWS
During times of real, acute stress — like threat of being eaten by a lion — our bodies can ill afford to waste resources dealing with illness. Viruses and bacteria, while dangerous, pale in comparison to the gigantic beast with razor-sharp teeth chasing us across the savannah. In that moment, our body needs all our energy, non-essential functions be damned. Step one: survive lion. Step two: deal with head cold.
(E) Sleep Is a Magic Bullet
Both you and your immune system need rest. ...If you don’t sleep, you will die — sooner. Studies show that lack of sleep leads to premature death through diseases like cancer and heart disease, and the reasons have everything to do with the immune system,
(F) SLEEP KEEPS YOUR SYSTEM IN BALANCE
This might sound contradictory. How can sleep can weaken the immune system, but also lead to inflammation?

Your immune system does not work as a binary system. It is not either on or off. It is made up of many molecules that send different signals, some urging inflammation and others restraining it. Your goal is to create an environment that doesn’t require your immune system to lose its natural balance.

Sleeplessness tips your immune system out of balance, hinders homeostasis, and turns the once elegant system into reckless pinballs of powerful molecules bouncing off your body’s bumper rails, and sometimes through them.

More concretely, it is a hard pill to swallow knowing there is no pill to swallow. The most important steps to support your immune system require discipline and habit.
(G) Exercise, Food and Meditation
Ward off illness with these three staples of a healthy body. ...the best things you can do for yourself when you’re sick are rest, eat well, don’t turn little things into lions, and remember that your immune system, if given your support, will likely do a darn good job of keeping you at harmony with the world.
allergies  bacteria  books  defensive_tactics  exercise  food  habits  homeostasis  howto  immune_system  inflammation  meditation  mens'_health  mindfulness  priorities  self-discipline  sleep  sleeplessness  steady-state  threats  viruses 
june 2019 by jerryking
We can only tackle epidemics by preparing for the unexpected
MAY 28, 2018 | FT| Anjana Ahuja.

"[Chance] Fortune favors the prepared [mind]"

Other pathogens on the WHO’s hit list for priority research include Ebola and the related Marburg virus; Lassa fever; Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever; Mers coronavirus; Sars; Rift Valley fever; Zika; and Disease X.

Many of these are being targeted by the billion-dollar Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, with a mission to develop “new vaccines for a safer world”. Cepi is backed by several national governments — including those of Japan and Norway — the Wellcome Trust, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The coalition has just announced that, following events in Kerala, it will prioritise a Nipah vaccine.

Disease X, incidentally, is the holding name for a “black swan” — an unknown pathogen that could glide in from nowhere to trigger panic. Preparedness is not all about facing down familiar foes. It is also about being ready for adversaries that have not yet shown their hand. [expand our imaginations. The next catastrophe may take an unprecedented form----Simon Kuper]
black_swan  catastrophes  chance  disasters  disaster_preparedness  epidemics  flu_outbreaks  panics  pathogens  preparation  readiness  unexpected  unknowns  viruses 
may 2018 by jerryking
Are you mentally prepared for a cyber attack?
JULY 5, 2017 | FT | by Madhumita Murgia.

“Cyber attacks are not benign. Even when no one suffers physical harm, the opportunity to cause anxiety and stress, instil fear and disrupt everyday life is immense,”.......journalists write about how companies and governments struggle to cope with the fallout from a cyber attack, but the longer-lasting impact on the human psyche has remained largely unexplored. Clearly, the anxiety prompted by cyber attacks is different from that associated with “traditional” acts of terrorism that cause deaths and injury to civilians. .... “Our analysis suggests that the psychological harm of cyber war can affect wellbeing nonetheless.” Identity theft, online threats of personal harm and the disclosure of confidential data such as medical records can cause significant distress........
........Samir Kapuria, a senior executive at Symantec, a global cyber-security company, is at the frontline of damage control, often helping clients after a cyber crime. He admitted that the corporate world was “in a state of urgency” when it came to dealing with the scale and virality of cyber attacks.

“The early 2000s was an era of mass cyber crime, when viruses like Stuxnet were released to disrupt with criminal intent. Today, with attacks like WannaCry and Petya, we are entering the era of intelligence,” says Kapuria, “moving from locks to surveillance to early detection.”
cyber_security  hackers  cyberthreats  malware  cyberattacks  psychology  panic  viruses  security_&_intelligence  Symantec  identity_theft  left_of_the_boom  surveillance  human_psyche  stressful  disaster_preparedness 
may 2018 by jerryking
Nathan Wolfe: No More Ebola Whac-A-Mole - WSJ - WSJ
By NATHAN WOLFE
Oct. 13, 2014 7:04

Ebola is not the first virus to threaten the world, and it won’t be the last. Stopping the current epidemic is vital, but the world can’t afford to go to sleep after it is stopped. Unless we prepare for the next epidemic, we will find ourselves forever nailing down outbreaks just in time to see the next ones pop up.
disease_surveillance  Ebola  pandemics  interconnections  zoonotic  flu_outbreaks  epidemics  Congo  viruses  disease  surveillance  preparation  disaster_preparedness 
october 2014 by jerryking
You can’t stop Ebola at airports - The Globe and Mail
ANDRÉ PICARD
The Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Oct. 07 2014

Ebola is spread by direct contact with a sick person’s bodily fluids – meaning saliva, feces, urine, blood, vomit or semen....For the past 600 years, quarantine has been used with varying degrees of success, and it has an unhappy history. It raises myriad political, ethical and socioeconomic issues.

Quarantine derives from the Italian word quaranta (forty); its origins date back to 1348, when Venice ruled that ships must lay anchor for 40 days to avoid spread of the plague. (Forty days was arbitrary; it was inspired by the biblical 40 days of travails of Jesus.) Draconian measures didn’t stop the Black Plague, or smallpox, or tuberculosis or SARS or successive waves of pandemic influenza, and it won’t stop Ebola. Quarantine has some public health benefits, but it has been used, throughout history, to repress and stigmatize minorities, and to quash political dissent.

What works most effectively for quelling outbreaks of disease like Ebola is not quarantining huge populations, but isolating those who are sick and those in direct contact with them and at risk of infection....The lesson there is that disease containment requires swift, decisive action. It means focusing on the sick and those at high-risk.

Casting a too wide net, such as invoking travel bans and treating everyone who has travelled to or lives in West Africa as a modern-day Typhoid Mary, does not make us safer.

On the contrary, it only provides an illusion of security, and an excuse for prejudice to come bubbling to the surface.
Ebola  airports  Africa  public_health  travel  quarantines  André_Picard  dangers  false_confidence  viruses  illusions  embargoes  biblical  arbitrariness 
october 2014 by jerryking
Ebola: Can we learn from SARS? - The Globe and Mail
RICHARD SCHABAS AND NEIL RAU
Contributed to The Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Aug. 27 2014

here are four key things to know about Ebola:

1. It’s fundamentally spread from animal to human, not human to human.
This is an animal outbreak, with humans as collateral damage. The driving force is new infections acquired from animals. Human-to-human outbreaks are short-lived. This is not a single human outbreak starting from a “case zero.”

The specific animal reservoir for Ebola is unknown but is probably a jungle animal used for food, known as “bush meat.” The large number of cases in West Africa must be the result of more human contact with infected animals, either because there are more infected animals or because they are consumed or hunted more aggressively in West Africa than elsewhere. While identifying a specific animal host would certainly aid in prevention efforts, bush meat remains an important source of dietary protein and won’t be abandoned overnight as a food source. Ebola is a disease of poverty – a potentially deadly meal is better than no meal at all.

2. Unlike SARS, this outbreak won’t end quickly.

This is bad news for West Africa, which should expect a steady stream of new human infections.

3. Quarantine was abandoned a century ago.

There is an essential difference between quarantine and case isolation. Quarantine targets well people potentially incubating an infection; it’s impractical, ineffective and economically disruptive. Case isolation, on the other hand, targets individuals showing symptoms of disease and is the cornerstone of effective infection control.
4. Ebola may cause a scare, but it can’t cause an outbreak in Canada.
Ebola  SARS  flu_outbreaks  lessons_learned  disease  viruses  zoonosis  short-lived  collateral_damage  bad_news  Africa  West_Africa  infections 
september 2014 by jerryking
What We’re Afraid to Say About Ebola - NYTimes.com
By MICHAEL T. OSTERHOLMSEPT. 11, 2014

THE Ebola epidemic in West Africa has the potential to alter history as much as any plague has ever done.

There have been more than 4,300 cases and 2,300 deaths over the past six months. Last week, the World Health Organization warned that, by early October, there may be thousands of new cases per week in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria. What is not getting said publicly, despite briefings and discussions in the inner circles of the world’s public health agencies, is that we are in totally uncharted waters and that Mother Nature is the only force in charge of the crisis at this time.

There are two possible future chapters to this story that should keep us up at night.

The first possibility is that the Ebola virus spreads from West Africa to megacities in other regions of the developing world. This outbreak is very different from the 19 that have occurred in Africa over the past 40 years. It is much easier to control Ebola infections in isolated villages. But there has been a 300 percent increase in Africa’s population over the last four decades, much of it in large city slums. What happens when an infected person yet to become ill travels by plane to Lagos, Nairobi, Kinshasa or Mogadishu — or even Karachi, Jakarta, Mexico City or Dhaka?

The second possibility is one that virologists are loath to discuss openly but are definitely considering in private: that an Ebola virus could mutate to become transmissible through the air. You can now get Ebola only through direct contact with bodily fluids. But viruses like Ebola are notoriously sloppy in replicating, meaning the virus entering one person may be genetically different from the virus entering the next. The current Ebola virus’s hyper-evolution is unprecedented; there has been more human-to-human transmission in the past four months than most likely occurred in the last 500 to 1,000 years. Each new infection represents trillions of throws of the genetic dice.
Ebola  epidemics  viruses  flu_outbreaks  contagions  West_Africa  developed_countries  uncharted_problems  megacities  developing_countries 
september 2014 by jerryking
Leafy Greens Cause the Most Illnesses—Mushrooms, the Least
January 30, 2013 | Business Week |By Venessa Wong.

The average American eats only 4 pounds of mushrooms each year, compared to 30 lbs. of lettuce.

Also, greens such as lettuce and spinach cause illness more frequently because they are consumed more often, not because they are grown or harvested in a riskier way than other vegetables...In fact, the problem with leafy greens has less to do with farming than with handling. Many were tainted with norovirus, which causes stomach flu, and “were most often contaminated during preparation or service by a sick food handler,” the report found. Infected persons are contagious “from the moment they begin feeling sick until at least three days after they recover” and can spread the virus through vomit and stool, according to the CDC.
illness  fresh_produce  product_recalls  Waudware  salads  CDC  food_safety  mushrooms  traceability  viruses 
april 2013 by jerryking
Six Months to Act: The SARS Epidemic
April 25, 2003 | WSJ | By DONALD S. BURKE.

Louis Pasteur, father of microbiology, wisely counseled that "Chance favors the prepared mind." For the moment, chance is on our side. But we have just six months to complete the job of the global eradication of the SARS coronavirus. After that, when the seasonal epidemic flares next year, it will be too late.
epidemics  HIV  viruses  SARS  seminal_moments  chance  preparation 
june 2012 by jerryking
What history can teach us about SARS
Apr. 14, 2003 | TIME |By Pete Davies .As scientists race to unravel the mysteries of SARS, one issue high on their agenda will be the likelihood that the new virus is a cross-species transmission in which the virus has mutated from its animal carrier so that it can infect humans, who have no immunity from the alien invader. The most obvious examples of this are HIV and influenza, and the latter disease has disturbing parallels with SARS. The flu virus lives usually in the stomachs of waterfowl, and the two are co-adapted — the birds don't get sick. It is widely believed among virologists, however, that with the domestication of ducks in southern China 2,000-3,000 years ago, flu jumped species.

This region has always had high densities of people living in close proximity to large populations of pigs and chickens. It's not known in which order, but with this ready pool of targets near at hand, flu has transferred from ducks to all three species — and once established, it can swap back and forth between its different new hosts with devastating effect. The virus survives and thrives by constantly mutating — so that just as our immune systems recognize and kill off one strain, a new one emerges against which our defenses don't work. Most are minor adaptations, the product of genetic "drift." Every now and then, however, something more dramatic occurs: a genetic "shift." Also termed "a reassortment event," this is the creation of a wholly new strain with genetic elements taken from viruses found in different species.
China  epidemics  genetic_drift  genetic_shift  viruses  flu_outbreaks  SARS  proximity  zoonosis  zoonotic  genes  HIV  influenza 
may 2012 by jerryking
Gut Infections Are Growing Much More Lethal - NYTimes.com
By DENISE GRADY
Published: March 19, 2012

Gastrointestinal infections are killing more and more people in the United States and have become a particular threat to the elderly, according to new data released last week. Deaths from the infections more than doubled from 1999 to 2007, to more than 17,000 a year from 7,000 a year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. Of those who died, 83 percent were over age 65.

Two thirds of the deaths were caused by a bacterium, Clostridium difficile, which people often contract in hospitals and nursing homes, particularly when they have been taking antibiotics. The bacteria have grown increasingly virulent and resistant to treatment in recent years.

But researchers were surprised to discover that the second leading cause of death from this type of illness was the norovirus. It causes a highly contagious infection, sometimes called winter vomiting illness, that can spread rapidly on cruise ships and in prisons, dormitories and hospitals.
bacteria  mens'_health  digestive_systems  colons  colorectal  infections  viruses  virulence  guts  microbes  microbiome  Clostridium_difficile  gastrointestinal 
march 2012 by jerryking
Where Germs Lurk on Planes - WSJ.com
DECEMBER 20, 2011
Where Germs Lurk on Planes
What to Do When Stuck at 30,000 Feet Next to Sneezers and Coughers
By SCOTT MCCARTNEY
germs  viruses  flu_outbreaks  airports  mens'_health  airline_industry  travel  airlines  disease  safety  illness 
december 2011 by jerryking
The 21st century's Hiroshima ProQuest
Aug 6, 2005 | The Globe and Mail pg. A.17 | Preston ManningThe same science that can be used to develop genetically-based cures for human diseases can also be used to produce mutated smallpox bacteria or influenza viruses even more virulent than their predecessors and highly resistant to any known treatment. And if the sun of human progress should again become obscured by the storm clouds of war -- war itself transformed by the increasing scope and sophistication of terrorism -- how long will it be before the plan for utilizing mutated viruses and terrorist-induced pandemics as instruments of mass destruction appears on the underground blackboard of some terrorist cell capable of implementing it?

The third pebble

What exactly is the most disruptive and lethal dimension of the "dark side" of the life sciences -- the genetic equivalent of the first A-bomb -- and how might this destructive force be delivered to target populations to accomplish the political purposes of those desiring to unleash it?

While a terrorist attack on military or civilian populations utilizing such techniques would have immediate impacts on public health, the greater damage to human life and society will most likely be through the panic and terror that such a biological attack or pandemic will trigger throughout the general population. And this panic won't be transmitted by air, water, or utility system, but by the mass-communications network of 21st-century society, in particular the electronic media of radio, television, the Internet, cell phones, and personal computing devices. It is the electronic mass media that will most likely prove to be the B-29s of the age of genetics and bioterrorism.
life_sciences  genetics  viruses  ProQuest  Preston_Manning  21st._century  terrorism  threats  WWI  WWII  bioterrorism  panics  mass_media  virulence  pandemics  digital_media  dark_side 
october 2011 by jerryking
Chimp to Human to History Books - The Circuitous Path of AIDS - NYTimes.com
By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr.
Published: October 17, 2011

Dr. Jacques Pépin, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec, performs a remarkable feat. He documents
Our story begins sometime close to 1921, somewhere between the Sanaga River in Cameroon and the Congo River in the former Belgian Congo. It involves chimps and monkeys, hunters and butchers, “free women” and prostitutes, syringes and plasma-sellers, evil colonial lawmakers and decent colonial doctors with the best of intentions. And a virus that, against all odds, appears to have made it from one ape in the central African jungle to one Haitian bureaucrat leaving Zaire for home and then to a few dozen men in California gay bars before it was even noticed — about 60 years after its journey began.
AIDS  disease  Congo  primates  HIV  viruses  origin_story 
october 2011 by jerryking
Q&A: Poisoned Pictures on the Web - NYTimes.com
June 7, 2011, 6:57 am
Q&A: Poisoned Pictures on the Web
By J.D. BIERSDORFER
viruses  malware 
june 2011 by jerryking
A Tale of Two Viruses
MAY/JUNE 2011 | Foreign Policy | James Lewis
letters_to_the_editor  Stuxnet  viruses  malware 
may 2011 by jerryking
Health Danger of Parties Past—Hepatitis C - WSJ.com
SEPT. 20, 2010 | Wall Street Journal | By MELINDA BECK.
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, generally caused by viruses,
with symptoms ranging from slight to severe. Versions A through C are
the most common. * Hep A: Transmitted via contaminated water or food,
particularly in countries with poor hygiene. Hep B: 2 billion people
world-wide infected with hep B, mostly through infected blood or body
fluids. It can become chronic and lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer,
but most adults clear the virus without treatment and are then immune. *
Hep C: Spread by blood-to-blood transmission, with few symptoms either
in early stages or for decades later. About 20% of chronic cases develop
into cirrhosis or liver cancer. Curable in about 50% of cases by
chemotherapy. * Hep D: Caused by a small RNA virus that only propagates
in the presence of hep B, greatly increasing the chance of cancer,
cirrhosis and death. * Hep E: Transmitted by fecal-oral contamination in
unsanitary conditions.
hepatitis  mens'_health  Melinda_Beck  disease  viruses 
september 2010 by jerryking
Precursor to H.I.V. Was in Monkeys for Millennia, Study Says - NYTimes.com
By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr.
Published: September 16, 2010 "What happened in Africa in the early 20th century that let a mild monkey disease move into humans, mutate to become highly transmissible and then explode into one of history’s great killers, one that has claimed 25 million lives so far? "
AIDS  history  viruses  HIV  primates 
september 2010 by jerryking
A Gazillion Tiny Avatars - Opinionator Blog - NYTimes.com
December 15, 2009, 9:30 pm
A Gazillion Tiny Avatars
By OLIVIA JUDSON
Olivia_Judson  viruses  evolution 
december 2009 by jerryking
Zoonotic Diseases
October 2007 Zoonotic Diseases | National Geographic | by David Quammen
National Geographic Contributing Writer
pandemics  zoonotic  epidemics  viruses  SARs 
may 2009 by jerryking
The Age of Pandemics - WSJ.com
MAY 2, 2009 | Wall Street Journal | By LARRY BRILLIANT
Modernity--population growth, climate change and increased contact
between humans and animals--is causing more new viruses with pandemic
potential to jump from their traditional animal hosts to humans.
Brilliant outlines what the world needs to do to prepare.

Indeed, to the epidemiological community, the Influenza Pandemic of 2009 is one of the most widely anticipated diseases in history. ....The current pathogen creating the threat is actually a mixture of viral genetic elements from all over the globe that have sorted, shifted, sorted, shifted, drifted and recombined to form this worrisome virus.....Here's the good news: Compared with a few years ago, the world is somewhat better prepared to deal with pandemic influenza. There have been training meetings, table-top exercises, dry runs and preparedness drills at virtually every level of government and civil society. ......Here's the bad news: Today, we remain underprepared for any pandemic or major outbreak, whether it comes from newly emerging infectious diseases, bioterror attack or laboratory accident. We do not have the best general disease surveillance systems or "surge" capacity in our hospitals and health-care facilities......And there is worse news: The 2009 swine flu will not be the last and may not be the worst pandemic that we will face in the coming years. Indeed, we might be entering an Age of Pandemics........In our lifetimes, or our children's lifetimes, we will face a broad array of dangerous emerging 21st-century diseases, man-made or natural, brand-new or old, newly resistant to our current vaccines and antiviral drugs.....Bioterror weapons are cheap and do not need huge labs or government support. They are the poor man's WMD.....
21st._century  bad_news  bioterrorism  disaster_preparedness  disease  disease_surveillance  epidemics  flu_outbreaks  genetic_drift  genetic_shift  infections  influenza  man-made  modernity  pandemics  pathogens  preparation  sorting  surge_capacity  underprepared  viruses  zoonotic 
may 2009 by jerryking

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