Monday, 24 October 2011

First Ebola-Like Virus Native to Europe Discovered


 A team of international researchers has discovered a new Ebola-like virus -- Lloviu virus -- in bats from northern Spain. Lloviu virus is the first known filovirus native to Europe, they report in a study published in the journal PLOS Pathogens.
The study was a collaboration among scientists at the Center for Infection and Immunity (CII) at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, the Instituto de Salud Carlos III (ISCIII) in Spain, Roche Life Sciences, Centro de Investigación Príncipe Felipe, Grupo Asturiano para el Estudio y Conservación de los Murciélagos, Consejo Suerior de Investigaciones Científicas and the Complutense University in Spain.
Filoviruses, which include well-known viruses like Ebola and Marburg, are among the deadliest pathogens in humans and non-human primates, and are generally found in East Africa and the Philippines. The findings thus expand the natural geographical distribution of filoviruses.
"The study is an opportunity to advance the knowledge of filoviruses' natural cycle," said Ana Negredo, one of the first authors of the study.
Scientists at ISCIII analyzed lung, liver, spleen, throat, brain and rectal samples from 34 bats found in caves in Asturias and Cantabria, Spain, following bat die-offs in France, Spain and Portugal in 2002 affecting mainly one bat species.
They screened these samples for a wide range of viruses using the polymerase chain reaction, a molecular technique that allows scientists to amplify genetic material, and. detected a filovirus. Filoviruses include ebolaviruses and marburgviruses, two viruses associated with severe disease in humans and other primates..
CII scientists used high-throughput sequencing to characterize the virus' genome. When they compared it to other well-known filovirus genomes, they found that Lloviu virus represents a class of viruses distantly related to all ebolaviruses and that it may have diverged from ebolaviruses about 68,000 years ago.
"The detection of this novel filovirus in Spain is intriguing because it is completely outside of its previously described range. We need to ascertain whether other filoviruses native to Europe exist, and more importantly, if and how it causes disease," said Gustavo Palacios, the other first author of the study.
Filoviruses typically do not make bats sick, but because the team of researchers only detected Lloviu virus in bats that had died and whose tissues showed signs of an immune response, they think Lloviu may be a cause for concern. They also did not detect Lloviu virus in samples of almost 1,300 healthy bats.
Bats have important roles in plant pollination, spreading plant seeds and controlling insect populations, and pathogens that attack bat populations could have dramatic ecological and health-related consequences.
"The Lloviu virus discovery highlights how much we still need to learn about the world of emerging infectious diseases and the importance of global collaboration and the One Health initiative in addressing the challenge," said CII Director Dr. Ian Lipkin.
This research was funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, USAID PREDICT, the RICET Network on Tropical Diseases and the Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia in Spain.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

BlackBerry services collapse in 4 continents

NEW DELHI/LONDON: Large numbers ofBlackBerry users across Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa were cut off from the internet and messaging services, phone companies in the affected regions said on Monday. 

India is estimated to have one million users of BlackBerry. 

"We are working to resolve an issue currently impacting some BlackBerry subscribers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and India. We're investigating , and we apologize to our customers for any inconvenience caused whilst this is resolved ," Canada-based RIM said in a statement. 

Telecommunications companies in the Middle East and Europe laid the blame at the Canadian company's door. Khaled Hegazy, Vodafone Egypt's spokesman, said "there is a problem with the servers in Canada which is affecting service" in the region. He said they expected it would take about another four hours to resolve the issue, which first appeared to crop up at about 1000 GMT (3.30 pm IST). 

The extent of the outage wasn't clear. Vodafone UK said that customers across Britain appeared to be unable to access BlackBerry Messenger, a freeto-use instant messaging program which has helped make the handset popular with young people. Across the affected regions, BlackBerry Internet access appeared to be sporadic. Some users were able to send and receive messages, while others using the same service provider couldn't . 

"Millions of BlackBerry smartphone users have been cut off by a major fault at RIM, the Canadian company that makes the devices," UK's Daily Telegraph said in a report. "The glitch... was affecting online services for consumers all over Europe , the Middle East and Africa . All are served by a RIM data centre in Slough," it added. Hundreds of users flooded microblogging site Twitter, complaining about disruptions in BlackBerry services. 

Among the companies reporting problems were Qtel Qatar, Etisalat in the UAE, Dubai-based Du, Zain Kuwait, and the Bahrain Telecommunications Co. 

BIG LOSS TO APPLE

http://i1.cdnds.net/11/40/M/tech_steve_jobs.jpg Steve Jobs died as a result of respiratory failure, it has been confirmed.

Apple's co-founder passed away last Wednesday at the age of 56. His death certificate was released by the Santa Clara County Public Health Department on Monday.

The documents also confirmed that Jobs had a metastatic pancreas neurooendocrine tumour for five years and that the cancer had spread.

The papers also state that no autopsy was performed. Jobs's family confirmed in a statement last Wednesday that he passed away peacefully at his Palo Alto home.

Apple employees will hold a private memorial service for their former CEO on the morning of Wednesday, October 19 at the company's Cupertino headquarters, according to The AP.
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