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Blog posts tagged with 'cdc'

Sinking Teeth Into The Mysteries of Plague

Two plague victims in Aschheim-Bajuwarenring cemetery in Bavaria, Germany who died some 1500 years ago have been unearthed and are able to help provide an international team of scientists with a better understanding the type of virus that was responsible for their deaths sometime between 541 and 543. Thanks to the dental remains of these two unearthed plague victims, researchers using very sophisticated methods were able to extract DNA fragments of plague from the teeth from the skeletal remains and reconstruct the genome of what is now the oldest pathogen obtained to date. Yersinia Pestis or Y. Pestis is also known as plague. This bacterium was found to be responsible for the Justinian outbreak and the results showed that this was unique and distinct from various other strains that would later become the Black Death and other plague pandemics that would follow.

“This study raises intriguing questions about why a pathogen that was both so successful and so deadly suddenly died out. One testable possibility is that human populations evolved to become less susceptible,” says Edward Holmes, an NHMRC Australia Fellow at the University of Sydney.

Up until now little has been known about the exact cause of the Justinian epidemic’s origins or cause. The Justinian plague is thought to have been instrumental in bringing about the end of the Roman Empire and was, until the recent findings were too discover, responsible for the Black Death. The Justinian Plague is believed to have killed 30 to 50 million people, estimated to have been at least half of the world’s population at that time. Later the Black Death would emerge to ravage the medieval population killing 50 million Europeans between 1347 and 1351 some 800 years later. These recent findings now show that the Justinian plague was a unrelated strain from the plague that caused the Black Death.

The new results that are published in online edition of The Lancet Infectious Disease, show that the Justinian Plague was a distinct and separate genome of the same Pathogen know as Yersinia Pestis and not an evolutionary forefather or related to the same Yersinia Pestis strains responsible for the Black Death. Another pandemic that had taken hold in Hong Kong and spread across the globe is now more likely to be considered the precursor to the Black Death.

These findings would suggest that the Justinian pandemic strain also originated in Asia and not in Africa as some scientist originally thought. This would lead them to theorize that earlier epidemics, such as the Plague of Athens (430 BC) and the Antoine Plague (165 – 180 AD) may have also been unique and distinct emergence of related Yersinia Pestis strains.

“We know the bacterium Y. Pestis has jumped from rodents into humans throughout history and rodent reservoirs of plague still exist today in many parts of the world. If the Justinian plague could erupt in the human population, cause a massive pandemic, and then die out, it suggest it could happen again. Fortunately we now have antibiotics that could be used to effectively treat plague, which lessens the chances of another large scale human pandemic” says Dave Wagner, an associate professor in the Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics at Northern Arizona University.

These studies would suggest that the threat of an outbreak of Yersinia Pestis can occur at any time now, or in the future, is quite possible. Add to this, the possibility of some individual or person intent to using the pathogen as a weapon to wreck terror on an unsuspecting population raises the stakes even higher. New technologies are now available to health and safety teams in the early detection of such possible natural outbreaks and first responders now have the capabilities to be able to equip themselves with the latest tools required to easily and reliably detect not only Yersinia Pestis, but other possible pathogens that could be used as weapons against humanity. This ability to provide early detection is essential in containing and maintaining control of a terrorist planned outbreak and is crucial to preventing another full scale global population pandemic such as those seen in the past.

One of the biggest breakthroughs in rapid and reliable early detection of pathogens that can be utilized against terrorist is the BADD line of bio-warfare detection tests produced by AdVnt Biotechnologies LLC. Developed in response to the white powder incidents that occurred after 9/11, the tests were used in the detection of bio-warfare pathogens during the Iraq War. This line of tests gave first responders the ability to arrive at a possible bio-threat scene and test for powders and liquids left by suspected terrorist and ascertain within 15-minutes or less if the material held the potential of becoming a cause of wide spread contamination. This rapid testing with their on-the-scene detection capabilities helped to open windows of opportunities for immediate containment and control of a possible pandemic. AdVnt Biotechnologies was also the first to revolutionize the hand held assays when they were the first to develop a testing platform that allows for the collection of one suspicious sample of unknown origin to be tested against multiple targets on one detection test cassette. In the not too distant past, responders would have to collect up to 5 samples and run 5 tests one at a time to discover what active agent provided the danger of contamination. If there was very little or sparse material left behind, the residue would have to be sent off site to be examined while the clock was ticking. With the invention of AdVnt Biotechnologies ground breaking PS-5T Pro-Strip multi-agent rapid screening system, for the first time, responders have the ability to hit five different targets from one collected bio-threat sample. Saving time, saving resources, saving lives.

AdVntures in Mycotoxicology - A Beginners Guide

Informant 15-Minute Black Mold Detection Test

Being able to understand the differences in determining what constitutes the definition of Fungus, Mold, Mildew, Algae or even something basic as Slime can be a bit confusing. Some of these differences can be determined by taking a few moments to ‘look under the hood’ and see what these species are composed of and why they are given their own unique identification. You will want to pay close attention to the following lesson since there will be a test… Just kidding.

When it comes to understanding differences in a species it is always best to understand how to define them in order to know what sets each of them apart. In the case of Fungus, Mold, Mildew, and Algae this is of the utmost importance since the relationship of each is almost closely associated with the other either through mis-identification or by sharing true similarities.

Let us begin with gaining a understanding of Fungus, what exactly is it and how is it defined. Fungus or its’ plural Fungi is defined as any diverse group of eukaryotic single-celled or multi-nucleate organisms that live by decomposing and absorbing the organic material in which they grow. Think of the ‘Pods’ from ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’. OK, maybe not to that extreme but it does hint at one of Fungi’s more pervasive attributes of proliferation which we will cover shortly. Fungus is comprised of several genii of different species such as Mushroom, Molds, Mildew, Smuts, Rusts, and Yeasts. Fungus itself is considered to be of the kingdom Plantae. As we learned in our high school science class that eukaryotic means …“any organism having as its fundamental structural unit a cell type that contains a specialized organelles in the cytoplasm, a membrane-bound nucleus enclosing genetic material organized into chromosomes and an elaborate system of division by mitosis or meiosis, characteristic of all life forms except bacteria and blue-green algae and other primitive micro-organisms” so I know I won’t need to spend time explaining the definition so we can tackle more of the interesting concepts that lay before us. To refresh your memory of what you learned in your science lab, mitosis is the usual method of cell division and meiosis is the process of gamete formation, consisting of chromosome conjugation and a two cell division. After all, gamete formation is something we live with every day and should all be used to by now. As you have already learned, Mold and Mildew have been mentioned as being a part of the Fungi family and Fungus as a whole is not only a family but a royal one belonging to a kingdom. Now that’s impressive.

Now let’s move on to gaining a deeper understanding of Algae. I can sense your excitement about this and I totally understand. Algae is something of a horse of a different color and is defined as “any numerous groups of chlorophyll containing mainly aquatic eukaryotic organisms ranging from microscopic single-celled forms to multi-cellular forms that are able to grow 100 feet or more, this growth is distinguished from plants by the absence of having roots, stems, and leaves as they are defined and by a lack of nonproductive cells in the reproductive structures: Classified into six phyla Euglenophyta, Crysophyta, Pyrrophyta, Chlorophyta , Phaeophyta and Rhodophyta.” Did you notice there is no kingdom for this horse? The singular pronouncement is Alga. Alga is a latin word meaning ‘Seaweed’ and this meaning is retained in its’ translation so if you know your latin, then this is something you already knew so go to the head of the class. Now the next time you are in a Chinese restaurant and they serve you up a bowl of seaweed soup, be sure to ask for a side of Alga. You will be the life of the party.

Now do I really need to define Slime? What would any meaningful discussion be without it? Slime is defined as that gelatinous goo that shows up in the best creature feature and “is composed of a thin, glutinous mud, or any ropy (that being stringy) or viscous liquid matter or a viscous secretion of animal or vegetable origin.” Let’s face it, what would a jaw retracting space alien be without slime?

So now it is understood that there is a big difference in Fungus and Algae and both mold and mildew are related in a fuzzy, smelly, unwanted growth kind of way. Not unlike reality TV, only more interesting and includes slime as one of the main characters, although now it’s seems, slime, which can be found on fungus and algae may be considered a byproduct and not its own species.

Alas we have opened the proverbial “hood” so it’s timefor us to continue to dig a little deeper into the the fungus side of things. Beginning with the infamous and ever present Mold, “a growth of minute fungi forming on vegetable or animal matter (aka, organic), and usually appears as a downy or furry coating, and requires decay or dampness. ” The proper English spelling is written as mould and we all know the English are funny that way. With Mildew the difference gets to be a little more fuzzy in more ways then one. Defined as “a disease of plants, characterized by a cottony, usually whitish coating on the surface of affected parts, caused by any of various fungi, aka mold, and can include any discolorations which appear on fabrics, paper, leather, ect. When…and this is most important…exposed to moisture. ” Emphasis added and you may now consider yourself enlightened. But wait, it gets even better!…again…just kidding.

Molds include all species of microscopic fungi that grow in the form of multi-cellular filaments called hyphae. This is unlike another fungi that grow as a single cell which are commonly called yeast. The hypae form a connected network of tubular branches, it has DNA and is considered a single organism referred to as a colony or in more technical terms a mycelium. Molds do not form a specific taxonomic or phylogenetic grouping, but can be found in the divisions Zygomycota, Deureromycota and Ascomycota. I often tell people I am phylogenetic just to see the worried look on their faces. Then I cough and watch the fun unravel.

Although some molds can cause disease, three species have been singled out by the CDC to have this evil superpower. Now there are other types of Fungus that can cause health issues as well, but for now we will concentrate on the Mold part of the kingdom. Some molds can cause food spoilage and others are actually useful in bio-degrading or in producing edible food products, beverages, antibiotic, and enzymes. There are thousands of known varieties of mold and their primary energy source is organic matter which is broken down by enzymes released from the mycelia (you know, the hyphae) into simple compounds decomposing organic matter enabling decay and rot necessary in all eco systems (that’s were the bio-degradable properties kick in). The enzymes and ‘mycotoxins’ that are a byproduct of this breakdown process can also prevent or compete with other molds and micro-organisms making them competitive for territory and will keep other mold types or plants from growing. In the case of Black Mold, it is these ‘mycotoxins’ that can cause harm to human health. Molds do not require or need sunlight to receive energy, another thing that distinguishes this from other plant species.

Now for a word of warning for the more sensitive reader’s, the next portion of this lesson discusses the reproductive characteristics of our topic and we will be getting all up in to the private lives of mold so it is permissible for those who are sensitive to close your eyes during this portion of our study.

Mold reproduces asexually through small spores, which can remain airborne indefinitely. Spores are hardy little buggers and can survive in the most extreme environments. Some mold can even grow at temperature lows such as 2 degrees Celsius. When conditions do not promote mold growth, (even though an environment that is only 2 degrees Celsius does not seem to very promotional for growth), molds can remain alive but in a dormant state for a very long time in the harshest conditions. This is how mold growth can suddenly appear inside building structures long after the building was completed. Moving air is not conducive to mold growth since this tends to cause a lower humidity. Remember, moisture is key here. Since mold must grow on organic matter, their presence is only visible to the naked eye where conditions have allowed colonies to grow and proliferate. Molds come in a variety of colors but gray, green, white and black are the most common and it is important to note that color does not define any one species. Black Mold does not necessarily have to be black to be Black Mold, a common mistake.

If you should toxic have mold ever present in your home then try to get rid of it right away. It is vital that you clean the affected area and throw away any contaminated materials. If there are large areas in your home that are affected, it is recommended you consider a mold remediation service as soon as possible because the longer it grows the more damage it can cause and the more money it will devour. Since mold can be a serious health issue it is also a good idea to know if the growth in your house is toxic or more specifically, ‘mycotoxic’.

It is for this reason AdVnt Biotechnologies LLC, has developed a way to test mold growth with a simple do it yourself test that can be done in the privacy of your home and will reveal if the type of mold growth infesting your home can bring harm to yourself and your family. The INFORMANT 15-Minute Black Mold Detection Test can show results in as little as 3 to 15 minutes after introducing the collected mold sample to the test. Remember, for mold to reach toxic levels it has to come to a stage in its growth cycle that will allow it to release mycotoxin’s through the process of decay as it eats at whatever organic material it is consuming. In homes this can be anything from the papers located on the drywall, wood frames used to fortify walls, carpet, clothing, leather goods, discarded debris in a basement, the list is endless. AdVnt’s ‘INFORMANT 15-Minute Black Mold Detection Test was created using the same advanced bio-technologies being deployed by first responders around the world to detect bio-warfare agents such as Anthrax, Ricin, Botulinum and Plague. Using the same science of applying active antibodies and antigens as genetic markers, AdVnt’s patented technology is designed to react specifically to the target species of black mold as mentioned earlier to be hazardous to human health as determined by the CDC. AdVnt’s INFORMANT 15-Minute Black Mold Detection Test can detect the most minute samples of Stachybotrys, Penicillium and its close cousin Aspergillius.

There is one last subject that we should tackle before dismissing class. Aflatoxin. This toxin is any various related mycotoxins produced by Aspergillus and is suspected of causing liver cancer in humans and other animals. That is the same Aspergillus that can be detected with the INFORMANT 15-Minute Black Mold Detection Test.

The INFORMANT is sold only online from AdVnt Biotechnologie’s website at www.advnt.org. The advantage to using our INFORMANT 15-Minute Black Mold Detection Test means you will know that if your tests show positive for either of these three species that the results will be conclusive and reliable. Since the INFORMANT Uses antigens and antibodies to detect black mold on a genetic level there will be no cross reaction with any other types of mold species or proteins. As an added bonus, each test purchased comes with everything required to run two complete tests.