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This cow and swine flu virus can infect humans: what we know so far



Influenza D, a relatively recent addition to the alphabet of influenza viruses, most commonly affects cattle. But experts are closely monitoring the threat it could potentially pose to humans.

Veterinarians first identified influenza D in pigs in 2011 and then identified the main carrier of the virus: cattle. Since then, scientists have been watching for any signs that this bovine flu is infecting humans, as is sometimes the case with avian and swine flu. There is currently no definitive evidence, but there are troubling hints that human infection is possible, and that if luck favors the virus on several key fronts, it could begin to spread among humans.

“I think it’s fair to say that influenza D has everything it needs to infect people scientifically,” says Feng Li, a virologist at the University of Kentucky who helped identify the virus as a new type of influenza.

Scientists have identified four different types of influenza virus, most of which infect humans. Influenza vaccines distributed in the US each fall are adapted to two strains of influenza A and B. Influenza C is very common, but usually mild except in some cases in infants, and there is no vaccine against it. Influenza D is the most recently identified type and the only one that has not been confirmed to infect humans.

Influenza D is believed to be most prevalent in cattle. All-Russian survey in 2014 and 2015 showed that about 75 percent of the animals carried antibodies to the virus. It only causes a mild infection in cattle, according to Mayar Maggioli, a veterinary immunologist at Oklahoma State University. “It’s a very hidden disease,” she says. “He’s very well adapted.” Infected cattle can have symptoms that are not all that different from the flu we all know: runny nose or watery eyes, increased heart rate and respiratory rate, fever, cough, or decreased appetite. “This is very similar to what we see in humans,” Maggioli says. Experiments have shown that vaccination can protect cattle from infection, but no commercially available vaccine for them.

It’s less clear whether people can get influenza D. “There is evidence that this can happen, but it’s far from conclusive,” says Richard Webby, a virologist at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Tennessee. “The data that’s out there can go in any direction.” NPR reported on the virus the ability to jump to people last month.

Influenza D is of particular concern to human scientists who spend long hours in close contact with cattle, especially in confined spaces. And recent studies have found signs of the virus in this population. A 2022 study found viral particles in nasal swabs from pastoralists.but viruses can be present without actively infecting a person. A 2016 study found that cattle workers carry antibodies that respond to influenza D.but influenza C is similar enough that antibodies to the latter can also react to the former, Webby says.

Although scientists have extensive experience in monitoring the potential spread of influenza from animals, these efforts have focused on birds and pigs, not cattle. This is because avian and swine flu have caused pandemics in humans, including the 1918 flu pandemic, which was caused by a virus that originated in birds, and the 2009 swine flu pandemic. Bovine viruses, as far as scientists know, have never wreaked such havoc. recent bird flu infected nearly 60 million poultry in the US but has only infected one person, and no human cases have been reported in the U.S. since April 2022, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“In terms of influenza, cows have certainly never been considered in side-effect studies,” Webby says, though he notes that some groups are starting to look more closely at human-bovine interactions. “It’s definitely an under-explored interface. We absolutely need to know more about this.”

If influenza D were to infect humans, the first sign would likely be respiratory symptoms in livestock workers, and even studies that show potential human immune responses to the virus have not documented a single sick worker. The second key piece of information could be that people without direct contact with cattle have started to get sick, suggesting human spread of the virus.

Even if these two events took place, there is no certainty that influenza D would have catastrophic consequences for humans, especially given its relatively beneficial effects on cattle. “In a human, I think it should probably be mild in terms of illness,” Li says. But “as we all know, Mother Nature cannot be predicted.”

All three experts Scientific American said there was no guarantee that the virus would not eventually infect humans. “We absolutely have to treat this with respect. We should definitely learn more about this,” says Webby. “This is not to say that there is no risk from this virus at all. I think that would be a naive statement.”

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Webb Space Telescope discovers massive protoclusters of galaxies in the early universe



The protocluster of seven galaxies was first confirmed at a redshift distance of 7.9.

According to the European Space Agency – the James Webb Space Telescope’s international partner with NASA and the Canadian Space Agency – the term “redshift” refers to how the wavelength of light is stretched and seen as being “shifted” towards the red. electromagnetic spectrum.

The higher the redshift, the farther and back in time the source is.

In this case, the protocluster of galaxies formed just 650 million years after the Big Bang, according to data collected by the telescope. Using this data, astronomers calculated the future development of the cluster, finding that it would likely increase in size and mass to resemble the Coma cluster.


The seven galaxies highlighted in this James Webb Space Telescope image have been confirmed to be at a distance that astronomers call redshift 7.9, corresponding to 650 million years after the Big Bang. This makes them the earliest galaxies not yet confirmed spectroscopically as part of an evolving cluster. (Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, T. Morishita (IPAC). Image Processing: A. Pagan (STScI))

The Coma Cluster contains thousands of galaxies and is over 20 million light-years across.

Measurements made by the telescope’s near-infrared spectrograph, one of Webb’s instruments, were key to confirming the distance to galaxies and their high speeds, moving with a halo of dark matter at more than two million miles per hour.

“This is a very special, unique place of accelerated evolution of galaxies, and Webb has given us an unprecedented opportunity to measure the speeds of these seven galaxies and confirm with certainty that they are connected together in a protocluster,” Takahiro Morishita from the California Institute of Technology IPAC. , the lead author of the study, published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, said in a statement.

coma cluster

Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys has taken in most of the Coma Cluster, spanning several million light-years across. (Source: NASA, ESA and Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA). Credit: D. Carter (Liverpool John Moores University) and Coma HST ACS Treasury Team.)


Galaxy clusters represent the largest concentrations of mass in the known universe, and they can drastically warp the fabric of space-time in a process called “gravitational lensing.”

The researchers were able to view the Pandora Cluster to see the protocluster thanks to this magnification effect.

A technician stands next to the James Webb Space Telescope.

GREENBELT, MD – NOVEMBER 2: A technician stands next to the James Webb Space Telescope during assembly on November 2, 2016 at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. ((Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images))

The seven galaxies confirmed by Webb were first identified as candidates for observation using the Hubble Space Telescope’s Frontier Fields program, which devoted Hubble’s time to observations using gravitational lensing. However, while Hubble cannot detect light beyond the near infrared, Webb was designed to observe infrared wavelengths.

The observatory detailed the spectroscopic data in addition to the images.


NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope will have 200 times the Hubble infrared field of view in a single image and will be able to identify more galaxy protocluster candidates. The launch of this mission is scheduled for May 2027.

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As Arcturus Grows, Los Angeles Wastewater Coronavirus Grows



Coronavirus levels have risen in Los Angeles County sewage, possibly as a result of a more contagious sub-variant of Omicron dubbed Arcturus.

The latest strain, officially known as XBB.1.16, is likely responsible for the rise in coronavirus cases in India, where there have been a number of anecdotal reports of what has been a rare symptom of COVID-19, especially in children: pink eye.

Arcturus invented higher percentage of coronavirus cases nationwide. It was estimated to account for 10% of US cases in the week ending Saturday; the previous week was about 6%; and the week before it was 3%.

California Department of Public Health estimates Arcturus accounts for about 7% of coronavirus cases in the same week. The agency said Thursday that at least three cases of Arcturus have been identified in Los Angeles County.

It’s still too early to tell if Arcturus is associated with higher rates of conjunctivitis than older variants of the coronavirus.

But the health agency said people “should be aware that itchy, watery, or red eyes can be a sign of a COVID-19 infection, and these symptoms shouldn’t be simply ignored due to pollen or seasonal allergies, especially if someone is more vulnerable to it.” be diagnosed with a serious illness.

pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, can cause eye damage if left untreated. Officials are urging people to use home coronavirus tests to determine if they are infected.

Rising sewage levels in Los Angeles County could be an early sign of an increase in the spread of coronavirus, health officials said, although reported cases are still relatively stable, as are hospitalizations and deaths. There have been 54 COVID-19 deaths in Los Angeles County in the past week. There were 44 deaths in the previous week and 59 the week before.

Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said that because Arcturus is associated with recent strains of the coronavirus, COVID vaccines and therapeutics such as Paxlovid are expected to continue to be reasonably effective against severe illness and death.

“While we are facing the reality that a new strain of Omicron is becoming dominant and it is not yet possible to predict the consequences, I am confident that the tools available to us, including vaccines, therapies and testing, can limit poor outcomes,” Ferrer said. in a statement on Thursday.

However, it is still important that people get the updated COVID-19 vaccine. Only about 40% of Los Angeles County seniors aged 65 and over received the updated COVID-19 vaccine, which was introduced in September.

COVID-19 remains a major cause of death, even as the intensity of the pandemic has declined significantly. In 2022, COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in Los Angeles County, after coronary heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease, according to a preliminary data analysis by the Department of Public Health.

Remainder of main causes of death in Los Angeles County last year were stroke, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, unintentional drug overdose, hypertension, and pneumonia/flu.

However, COVID-19’s third place represents an improvement from 2021, when the disease was the leading cause of death. In 2020, COVID-19 was the second leading cause of death after coronary heart disease.

These results show how the risk of contracting COVID-19 has decreased for the general population. By mid-2021, there was a lot of vaccination, and by mid-2022, therapeutic drugs against COVID.

About 260,000 COVID-19 death were registered nationally in 2022. There were about 472,000 deaths in 2021 and about 355,000 deaths in 2020. The country has recorded over 40,000 deaths from COVID-19 this year.

Older people who are not vaccinated or have not been vaccinated are the most likely to die from COVID-19.

While some health experts are less likely to wear masks given the lower levels of transmission of the coronavirus, they say they are still trying to take sensible steps to avoid infection. Reducing the risk of infection is especially important if you are older, in a high-risk group, or have an underlying medical condition.

If you contract a coronavirus infection, “you still have to self-isolate for five days, so it’s kind of a bummer,” the doctor said. Peter Chin-Hong, infectious disease expert at the University of California, San Francisco.

However, Chin-Hong said he no longer had problems eating at closed restaurants.

“And probably the only time I can wear a mask is in the hospital,” he said, and possibly on the plane, noting that he wore the mask on a recent flight when he was next to a group of returning passengers. from Europe. “And they were all sneezing and coughing, and none of them were wearing masks.”

State epidemiologist D. Erica Peng said in a recent briefing that if she sees an increase in the incidence of COVID-19, she will probably still check on her family before they dine indoors with her parents.

And in an interview last week, Ferrer said that while she now eats in a closed restaurant more often than before, she would like to do so in a well-ventilated area with few people. She said she feels comfortable going to sporting events and concerts, although she may wear a mask if it is very crowded or if she is inside.

“I, like everyone else, have activities that I enjoy and people that I enjoy spending time with. And I want, as far as possible, to find ways to do that,” Ferrer said. “I am one of those categories of people who are at increased risk. So I want to be smart about it and reduce the risks where possible, but still be able to do a lot of the things that I really love to do.”

With widespread access to updated COVID vaccines and therapeutics, “which is different now, I think we have a lot more protection,” Ferrer said. “So we need to balance reducing our risk and not staying too isolated from the people or activities we love.”

Deciding how much risk to take is a personal choice, she said.

“None of us should be judgmental,” Ferrer said. “For people at higher risk, it remains important to reduce risk in reasonable ways when they see fit.”

Spring is a time when there are usually few cases of coronavirus.

This “means that your chances of running into someone who tests positive for COVID-19 are reduced,” Ferrer said. “And if you go to a well-ventilated restaurant that isn’t very crowded, your chances of being exposed are certainly much less than when our transmission rates are higher.”

Testing is important to control spread, especially if you have symptoms.

When the national public health emergency ends on May 11, the federal requirement for health insurance companies to reimburse insurers for eight over-the-counter rapid COVID tests per month will also be lifted.

But even after May 11, many Californians will still have access to tests that must be reimbursed by their insurance company. thanks to SB 510 another SB 1473, each person insured under health plans administered by the state Department of Managed Health will still be required to cover the cost of eight over-the-counter rapid tests per month. This includes health insurance, which many people get from their employers, as well as Medi-Cal managed plans and Covered California plans.

Beginning Nov. 11, insurers regulated by the State Department of Managed Health will still have to pay for COVID tests if provided online, but may charge for tests purchased out of network.

Free home tests also available at a number of locations in Los Angeles County, including county libraries, vaccination sites run by the County Department of Public Health, food banks, and nursing centers. Los Angeles County seniors aged 65 or older, or people who cannot leave their home, may request two free tests be mailed to them.

Los Angeles County residents who need help accessing COVID-19 resources can call (833) 540-0473 seven days a week from 8:00 am to 8:30 pm.

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Tiny worms stoned to benefit science



Researchers gave microscopic hydras cannabinoids to monitor their eating habits, and in 2000 a study at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh injected THC into the cerebrospinal fluid of rats and placed them on chocolate cake batter. Conclusion? The active ingredient in marijuana was effective in giving food to rats that were injected with THC. ate more greedily.

Now new study extended the study to one of the most studied organisms on the planet, Caenorhabditis elegans, a type of roundworm often used in laboratory experiments. Because about two-thirds of human disease genes are present in worms, and about one-third of human genes in general, the results could open the door to further research into the human nervous system.

Experimentally induced snacks

But first, scientists at the University of Oregon’s Institute of Neurology had to answer some basic questions about the worms’ tiny nervous system.

The worms usually feed on bacteria from decaying plants, and after birth they prefer more nutritious varieties. The researchers isolated them and gave them anandamide, a cannabinoid found in both worms and mammals. They then gave the worms five different bacterial meals and measured how aggressively they pumped them into their bodies.

As in humans, the cannabinoid increased the worms’ interest in fatty foods and decreased their interest in bland foods.

Read more: Experiments showing how marijuana can treat dementia

hedonistic worms

For the second experiment, the researchers created a “T-maze” that would allow the worms to wriggle and choose between a nutrient-poor pile of bacterial sweet candy or a nutrient-rich pile. In one iteration of the course, the scientists added a paralytic substance to the bacteria to see if the worms could sniff out a more palatable pile on the first try. In any case, before leaving, the worms received an “inedible” snack laced with anandamide.

Again, they concluded that the cannabinoid leads to richer, “hedonic” eating, as if the worms are eating for pleasure. The researchers also found that smell plays an important role in the worms’ hedonism, as those with the smell-reducing genetic mutation were much more conservative in their consumption.

Read more: Medieval monks were full of worms

What causes chewing gum?

The paper proposes that the chewing process begins with the activation of specific receptors in the endocannabinoid system by either an extrinsic (THC) or intrinsic cannabinoid. From there, the system tunes the olfactory neurons to pick out the food that triggers the appetite.

The endocannabinoid system causes the feeling of hunger when the body lacks resources. This is why marijuana smokers often experience hunger for foods that are high in sugar and fat and cannot be satiated no matter how much they eat. So the system plays an important role in obesity, and so one millimeter long worms could one day help research in this area.

Read more: If Marijuana Gives You Indigestion, You’re Not Alone

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