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Harvard and Radcliffe win Guggenheim Fellowships

first_imgThe John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation announced its 2009-10 fellowship awardees on April 8. Five Harvard faculty members were named Guggenheim recipients, as well as one fellow from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The winners include: Peter Galison, Pellegrino University Professor; Ingrid Monson, the Quincy Jones Professor of African-American Music; Alexander Rehding, professor of music; Jessica Eve Stern, lecturer on law, Harvard Law School; Jeannie Suk, assistant professor of law, Harvard Law School; and Priya Natarajan, fellow, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.The Guggenheim Foundation disburses more than $273 million in fellowships to nearly 16,700 individuals who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts. For more about the foundation, visit www.gf.org.last_img read more

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After Student Wakes Up From Coma, Classmates Redo Graduation For Him (WATCH)

first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMoreWhen a Pennsylvania teen literally slept through his high school graduation week, his classmates were willing to re-stage the entire milestone ceremony for him.WATCH: Gymnast Falling on Her Head Saved By Coach With Ninja MovesScott Dunn was injured in a car crash just days before he was set to receive his diploma, and remained in a coma for days, missing his graduation. Three weeks after the ceremony, when his classmates were already well into their summer vacations, Dunn was suddenly back on his feet. We don’t know who organized it, but half of those graduating seniors from East Juniata High School returned to the gymnasium with their caps and gowns, giving their friend a celebration do-over.To cheers from the crowd, Dunn was able to walk across the stage and pick up his diploma.CHECK OUT: High School Implements Later Start Times, Sees Dramatic Improvements“I’m speechless, to know this many people are behind me,” Dunn told WPVI News.(WATCH the video from ABC) — Photo: news videoMove Your Classmates, Share This…AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMorelast_img read more

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Speaker relates hydrology and theology

first_imgMost people do not associate fresh water scarcity and religion, but visiting speaker Dr. Christiana Peppard suggested a definite correlation in her lecture “What does Hydrology have to do with Theology?” on Tuesday night at Saint Mary’s.Peppard said the United Nations and the Vatican have demonstrated a link between the two concepts, establishing that the accessibility of water exists is also a life issue.“Water should be regarded primarily as a human right and not as an economic commodity,” Peppard said. “It is a good of creation intended for all, now and in the future.”She said although water is a fundamental right, many still cannot access it, but people who use this resource every day may grow used to it and dismiss its importance.“Water becomes invisible because it’s clean, we don’t need to think about it and we take it for granted,” Peppard said. “It cannot be substituted or replaced by anything else. Because it is non-substitutable, it is something that fits in uncomfortable ways with economic logic.”Disparity in accessibility to water serves as a major ethical issue, according to Peppard.“The invisibility of water in our lives is a privilege,” Peppard said. “Many people in the world don’t share that privilege. Many people in the world spend parts of their days wondering whether or not the water will be available today in the faucets or in a town pump, and if it’s available, how long it will run for, and if it runs for a while, whether it will be clean. Still others lack any kind of water infrastructure at all.”Peppard said a relationship between hydrology and theology can be traced back to the book of Genesis in the Bible, as water existed even before humans and animals did.“Before there was life, there was water,” Peppard said. “Human survival has always been linked to the availability of sufficient quantities of fresh water.”She said scholars of religion and ecology discovered connections between these two studies through a detailed analysis of where water appears both in Bible passages and in religious traditions.“The landscape is in the text, in a certain way,” Peppard said. “You could also think of rituals and practices. Baptism is the foundational sacrament for the Christian community, of course. What do we learn about water’s theological or ethical significance through that sacrament?”People share a global responsibility to make the world a better place through understanding the moral significance of water, she said.“The fact of the matter is that access to water is a condition for any kind of life, and it is vital,” Peppard said. “The absence of clean, fresh water in so many places is what has brought this issue to the attention of the U.N., the Vatican and numerous environmental and social justice organizations.”According to Peppard, the omnipresence of water makes it an elaborate issue, but that does not mean people should not attempt to understand its complexity.“No matter what stage of your education you are in, there are questions all of us can ask,” Peppard said. “Your career choices are also ethical choices. Where you put your energy and actions are ethical choices, not just pragmatic choices based on your degree.”Tags: Center for Spirituality lecture series, hydrology, saint mary’s, Theologylast_img read more

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first_img Star Files Mandy Gonzalez View Comments Rise up! The annual Arthur Miller Foundation Honors, celebrating the power of public school arts education, are going virtual. Presented by Broadway.com, this year’s third annual gala celebration is set to stream on November 16 on our YouTube channel.The event will be hosted by Hamilton original Broadway cast member and Arthur Miller Foundation (AMF) Master Artist Council member Sasha Hutchings, who is co-producing alongside AMF Executive Director, Jaime Hastings. Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg have signed on as event co-chairs alongside Rebecca Miller, Sandi Farkas and Janine and Michael Smith. Broadway.com Editor-in-Chief Paul Wontorek will direct.The celebration will raise funds for the Foundation’s theater education programs. This year, the Foundation will honor Tony-nominated writer Dominique Morisseau (Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations) with the AMF Legacy Award. The Foundation will also recognize NYC public school theater teacher Lisanne Shaffer with the AMF Excellence in Arts Education Award.The virtual gala will include performances from several Hamilton alums and their talented loved ones, including Tony winner and former vlogger Leslie Odom, Jr. and his wife Nicolette Robinson, Phillipa Soo and her husband Steven Pasquale, Javier Muñoz and Mandy Gonzalez. The evening will also include a special appearance by Chiké Okonkwo and performances by New York City public school students impacted by the program. Additional performers and appearances will be announced later.To honor the legacy of great American playwright Miller and his own public school education, the Arthur Miller Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides greater access and equity to quality theater education for public school students. AMF partners with the NYC Department of Education to support in-school theater education, by providing theater teachers with the resources they need to build, grow and sustain quality theater programs. Additionally, AMF has a scholarship program with The City College of New York, which aims to diversify and increase the number of theater teachers in public schools. Javier Muñoz Leslie Odom Jr.center_img Phillipa Soo Nicolette Robinson Steven Pasquale View All (6)last_img read more

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‘British Cycling: The Way Forward’ sees reintroduction of club and group…

first_img Related National governing body British Cycling has announced the next step in its plan to resume all sanctioned cycling activities in England, with coaching and group activity beginning to return from this week.The organisation has also announced that planning is underway to resume certain competitive events – such as time trials and downhill mountain biking – as the next stage of the process.The current suspension of sanctioned club and coaching activity was due to lift on 4 July, however with the support of new guidance published on safe delivery, certain activities are now permitted to return with immediate effect.Further details in the ‘British Cycling: The Way Forward’ update include that:Club activities and coaching sessions can resume, providing they are delivered in line with UK Government guidance on group sizes and social distancing.The suspension of recreation programmes – such as HSBC UK Breeze and Guided Rides – will remain in place until 4 July, to enable Breeze Champions and Ride Leaders to access new training materials on safely leading group rides at the end of this month.While it is still not yet possible to reintroduce racing, the organisation, with its seven Discipline Commissions, is currently working on plans to reintroduce certain racing formats at the next stage of the process.British Cycling notes that this latest announcement moves to stage 3 of a six-stage plan, with stage 6 being a return of all sanctioned activity.British Cycling’s Cycling Delivery Director, Dani Every, said “Today’s announcement is an important next step in our plan to safely reintroduce activities, and I want to thank all of the riders, clubs, coaches and other stakeholders for their patience as we have developed our planning over recent weeks.“We know that many will have concerns about how and when to resume activities, and through today’s update we want to empower people and equip them with the necessary tools to deliver their activities with confidence. We will continue to develop this as the wider landscape evolves, and I’d encourage anybody with questions to get in contact with our team for further support.“The nationwide enthusiasm for cycling we have seen develop over recent months should give us cause for optimism and excitement, and we are keen to ensure that our incredibly popular recreation programmes are able to provide invaluable support to riders as they continue their personal journeys.”As announced in a previous update on 27 May, the suspension on regional racing and non-competitive events (such as sportives) is currently due to run until 1 August 2020, and then to 1 September 2020 for international and national level races.These suspensions are being reviewed on a fortnightly basis. British Cycling will give four weeks’ notice of any extension or curtailment of the suspension of regional-level racing and non-competitive events. It will give six weeks’ notice of any extension or curtailment of the suspension of international and national level races. British Cycling is also updating its guidance to support operators of cycling facilities.The latest announcement will be followed by a series of webinars aimed at supporting clubs, groups and coaches with the new guidance.Dani Every continued, “I am pleased to say that our plans to reintroduce certain racing disciplines are now being developed with the support of our Discipline Commissions, to establish how we can safely deliver events while complying with Government guidance.“I know that this is something our riders, teams and officials are keen to hear more about and we will be announcing further details on this next month.”The Great Britain Cycling Team will be resuming group activity but following different protocols to clubs as they follow the Government’s Return to Elite Training Stage 2 guidance, which allows training to resume in ‘clusters’ or small groups.These elite riders have permission within this guidance to train closer to each other than the general social distancing rules permit. As part of this process, a return to group road riding will begin for the Great Britain Cycling Team squads from this week.Riders will be completing any group training within their cluster to ensure that should a COVID-19 case be discovered the minimum number of riders and staff will be required to isolate for a 14 day period, and the track and trace process to identify contacts within training sessions and group rides can be completed.British Cycling adds that it remains in close contact with colleagues at Scottish Cycling and Welsh Cycling regarding the current differences in guidance on sport, social distancing and gatherings across England, Scotland and Wales – and how this will impact upon the return to activities.www.britishcycling.org.uklast_img read more

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Morrison’s tumultuous tenure on Prairie Village city council comes to a close

first_imgDavid Morrison at Monday’s city council meeting.One of the most provocative forces on the Prairie Village city council in recent years will be leaving his seat — for good, this time.Ward 5 councilman David Morrison lost his reelection bid on Tuesday at the hands of Courtney McFadden, the woman appointed to fill the remainder of his term after he was ousted from his seat by Johnson County Judge David Hauber in October 2013. Hauber had determined that Morrison’s actions to provide unauthorized access to city hall to a homeless man with a criminal record and a history of drug addiction were sufficient grounds for his ouster from office. (The man, Kelley Malone, was hit by a car and killed in October 2015).Morrison acknowledged he had used poor judgement in letting Malone stay overnight at city hall, but contended he had done so out of a humanitarian concern for a friend. In December 2013, then-Mayor Ron Shaffer appointed McFadden to fill the remainder of Morrison’s term. McFadden quickly made allies on the council, and was seen as a bridge between some of the longer-tenured members of the council and the fresh crop that had been elected since 2012.But Morrison appealed Hauber’s ruling to the Kansas Court of Appeals shortly after being removed from his seat, and the court ordered he be reinstated on the council in fall 2014.Morrison was first elected in 2008 after mounting an aggressive door-to-door campaign against incumbent Nancy Wallerstein that was focused on the preservation of Meadowbrook Country Club. He won his second term in 2012 unopposed. But discontent with Morrison among his constituents grew in the wake of his ouster, which cost the city thousands of dollars in legal fees. On Tuesday, Ward 5 voters delivered McFadden the most decisive victory of any candidate on the northeast Johnson County ballots with a 70-30 margin.McFadden will be sworn in along with Serena Schermoly, who defeated incumbent Ruth Hopkins on Tuesday, at Prairie Village’s next city council meeting.last_img read more

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first_imgFive high school girls golfers have sued the Shawnee Mission and Blue Valley School Districts over the districts’ recent decisions to suspend all student sports and activities this fall amid the COVID-19 pandemic.The plaintiffs, which include four students on the Shawnee Mission East High School girls golf team and one student on the Blue Valley West High School team, are seeking a temporary restraining order that will allow them to start competing immediately.The only golfers named in court filings are twin sisters Hope and Hanna Robinett, both 18 years old and going into their senior years at SM East. The other three are minors suing through their parents: James and Julie Hepler; Billy Roman; and Todd Misemer.In documents filed in Johnson County District Court Wednesday, the five — through their lawyers — argue that golf is the “ultimate social distancing sport,” and that the districts’ decisions to suspend all extracurricular activities without considering “inherent safety differences” between sports was “unnecessarily broad.”“There can’t be a safer thing for high school kids to do than play golf,” the girls’ lead lawyer John Duggan, with Overland Park-based law firm Duggan, Shadwick, Doerr and Kurlbaum, told the Post in a phone interview. “These girls want to get back on the course. They’re highly competitive and they want to have their seasons.”Plaintiffs argue golf at “lower risk”Shawnee Mission East’s girls’ golf squad is the defending Kansas Class 6A state team champion. Court filings note that the Blue Valley West student who joined their suit, identified in court documents as J.M., is the Kansas Class 6A defending individual champion.The golfers’ court filings note that the National Federation of State High School Associations lists golf as a “lower risk” sport and that some public golf courses in Johnson County reopened early on during the pandemic in March, following “Safe Golf Recommendations” issued by the county.The girls, through their lawyers, argue their due process rights and “freedom to expressive association” are being violated by the decision to postpone fall sports and activities in Shawnee Mission and Blue Valley. They also say they’ll miss out on the chance to compete with other highly rated high school golf teams around the metro, including those in De Soto and Lawrence, which are currently forging ahead with fall seasons.They say they will “not have opportunities to showcase their talents for college recruiters and potentially earn college scholarships to prestigious schools” and that they will “suffer emotional damage if not permitted to compete … especially the seniors at the end of their high school careers desiring one last chance to chase their dreams and goals with friends and teammates.”Duggan said there is a hearing set for Friday morning, when a judge will consider the request for a temporary restraining order. If instituted, he said, the girls would be able to begin competing immediately, while the order lasts.Both the Shawnee Mission East and Blue Valley West squads’ seasons were originally set to start Monday, Aug. 31.County’s “gating criteria” still a concernThe Shawnee Mission School District did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the lawsuit.In the court filings, the golfers argue that Shawnee Mission Superintendent Mike Fulton “acted without policymaking authority” when he announced Aug. 18 that all students in Shawnee Mission — some 27,000 students, in total — would begin the academic year on Sept. 8 learning remotely and that all extracurricular activities, including golf, would be suspended indefinitely starting Aug. 21.Fulton’s announcement came after the Shawnee Mission Board of Education, on July 27, approved a resolution affirming the district’s plan to reopen amid the ongoing pandemic. The plan, the resolution noted, was “designed to ensure that the district has a safe plan to deliver instruction … to be informed by actionable criteria articulated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment.”JCDHE then released its “gating criteria” a day later on July 28. This included two primary metrics aimed at helping schools in Johnson County determine how fully they should reopen — percent positive tests and new cases of COVID-19. On Wednesday, JCHDE’s “gating criteria” showed the 14-day average of percent positives at 11.4% and new cases increasing at more than 120 per 100,000, both data points putting county schools in the “red zone” for reopening.County health officials have argued, including at a “virtual town hall” hosted by Shawnee Mission Schools Wednesday, that COVID-19 trends countywide continue to move in the wrong direction and could make in-person instruction and activities potentially unsafe.But the golfers’ filings note that at multiple public meetings in August — after the July 27 resolution was adopted by the board — the Shawnee Mission Board of Education never voted again on motions to formally adopt JCDHE’s “gating criteria.”One of the plaintiff’s parents, James Hepler, addressed the board on Aug. 24 during public comments, arguing that golf was a “safe, naturally social-distanced, outdoor sport … which students should be permitted to play.” Hepler noted at that meeting that Johnson County had “actively encouraged its citizens to play golf during the pandemic.”The Kansas High School Activities Association recently approved an “alternative season” for fall sports to be conducted in the spring, if schools decide to delay fall seasons in 2020. For girls golf, that alternate season would start March 1 and include two fewer competitions than a typical fall season. The spring “alternative” would also not include state championships.Duggan suggested that’s an important motivation for the defending state-champion SM East golfers to compete now.“Let the girls have their season, a chance to defend their title,” he said.last_img read more

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Throwing Light on the Dark Side

first_imgHuffington Post:Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there may have been someone who had not heard of “the dark side.” But I seriously doubt it. Whether you are a Star Wars aficionado or not, there is no doubt that these hugely popular movies have saturated the culture and the common vocabulary. As Jedi knight Obi-Wan Kenobi explained to the innocent young Luke Skywalker in the original 1977 film, the once-virtuous Darth Vader was seduced by the dark side of the Force, his destructive power fueled by rage and hate. The dark side is all the galaxy’s evils rolled together.Of course, Star Wars creator George Lucas did not invent the metaphor of the dark side. Not even remotely. From Shakespeare to the Bible and other sacred texts, darkness has been inextricably linked with malevolence and condemnation, and light with goodness. But why? Where does this seemingly universal metaphor come from, and how does it shape our psychology?One popular idea is that metaphors are rooted in basic sensory experience. The dark side may help us understand and communicate abstract ideas like immorality and evil, but the metaphor gets its power from our actual perceptions of the world around us. At least that’s the theory, which University of Kansas psychological scientist Promothesh Chatterjee and his colleagues decided to put to the test in a couple of simple laboratory experiments.Read the whole story: Huffington Post More of our Members in the Media >last_img read more

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NEWS SCAN: Black Death pathogen sequenced, egg safety gaps, rotavirus vaccine benefit

first_imgAug 30, 2011 Black Death bacterium highly similar to modern-day plague pathogenA team of international researchers has confirmed by DNA sequencing that Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that causes modern-day plague, was the pathogen responsible for the Black Death, which killed about a third of Europe’s population in the 14th Century. The researchers discovered the ancient strain to be quite similar but not entirely identical to modern strains, according to their study in Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences yesterday. They concluded, however, that the small differences they found would not explain the dramatic differences in the manifestations of ancient versus modern plague, including much higher death rates in the ancient form. Using DNA extracted from the bones and teeth of bodies from a London mass burial site used from 1348 through 1350 for plague victims, they were able to sequence about 99% of one of the bacterium’s three plasmids, which house some of its genetic material. From sequencing that PCP1 plasmid they not only confirmed the 14th-Century pathogen to be Y pestis, as previous studies have reported, but they found it be relatively unchanged for almost 700 years. They wrote, “We feel confident that the PCP1 plasmid presented here did not contribute to the purported differences between ancient and modern forms of the disease.” The minor variants that they identified have not been reported before, they said, and the variant that they sequenced “may no longer exist.” In a New York Times story yesterday, plague expert Mark Achtman from University College Cork in Ireland said that much more DNA from the ancient strain needs to be sequenced, as the plasmid portion contains only a fraction of the organism’s entire genome. The study authors said they plan to do just that.Aug 29 Proc Natl Acad Sci studyAug 29 New York Times article Iowa news investigation finds gaps in egg safety systemAn investigation by the Des Moines Register has revealed gaps in state and federal egg safety systems, despite new federal regulations designed to reduce Salmonella in shell eggs, according to an Aug 27 report. The paper’s review of records it obtained under the Freedom of Information Act found that some of the state’s biggest egg producers aren’t meeting minimum federal standards designed to reduce the risk of Salmonella enteritidis contamination. For example, the investigation found that egg farm inspections are announced days in advance and that egg producers aren’t required to tell government inspectors or state officials when tests for Salmonella are positive. Inspectors at one farm, which was visited by US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspectors in May for the first time, had “immediate concerns” about its written Salmonella prevention plan. In other instances, the Register found that FDA redacted some findings, such as the size of rodent infestations and brand names under which the eggs are sold. FDA officials did not comment for the story. Iowa, the nation’s top egg producer, has had no egg recalls since the massive one in 2010 that sickened nearly 2,000 people in multiple states. New federal egg safety rules started taking effect in 2010 for the largest farms, those that have 50,000 or more laying hens.center_img Study: Rotavirus vaccine has benefited unvaccinated groupsThe introduction of the rotavirus vaccine in 2006 led to decreased hospitalizations for rotavirus and unspecified gastroenteritis not only in young children but also in older children and adults, according to a report by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases (JID). Rotavirus caused 58,000 to 70,000 pediatric hospitalizations per year before routine rotavirus vaccination of US infants began in 2006, the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) said in a press release. The CDC researchers used the National Inpatient Sample, a database on inpatient stays at more than 1,000 hospitals in 42 states, to find data on rotavirus and cause-unspecified gastroenteritis hospital discharges from 2000 through 2008. They found that both types of hospitalizations were significantly reduced in 2008 in 3- to 24-year-olds, who were not eligible for vaccination, with the greatest reductions in March, the peak month for rotavirus in the pre-vaccine era. Also in March, the team found significant reductions in rotavirus admissions for patients 25 and older and in admissions for severe diarrhea in the elderly. “We speculate that vaccinating infants curtailed rotavirus transmission in the community, resulting in fewer infections across the entire population,” first author Dr. Joseph Lopman said in the press release. About 10,000 hospitalizations of children 5 and older were prevented in 2008, the team estimated.Aug 30 JID reportAug 30 IDSA press releaselast_img read more

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News Scan for Jun 19, 2014

first_imgDengue identified as source of Sudan febrile illness outbreakAn outbreak of an unknown febrile illness that initially prompted suspicion for hemorrhagic fever or Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) has been diagnosed as dengue fever, the World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday in a statement.As of Jun 17, 738 cases, including 6 deaths, had been reported. Health officials received reports of 57 new suspected cases on Jun 16 and Jun 17—36 from Port Sudan and 21 from Tokar, both in Red Sea state.The WHO said no suspected MERS-CoV cases have been reported from Red Sea state and that hemorrhagic fever cases reported earlier were determined to be dengue fever. It said the area has been hit by dengue outbreaks several times since 2003, with the worst one in 2010 that sickened 4,008 people and killed 12.Red Sea state, one of 15 states in Sudan, is in the northeastern part of the country on the Red Sea coast and is across from Saudi Arabia. A serologic study of dromedary camels in Egypt that had been imported from Sudan published last fall found evidence that some were infected with MERS-CoV or a closely related virus.Despite no MERS-CoV detections, health officials are actively looking for cases in hospitals and clinics, the WHO said.Over the past few weeks Sudan’s health ministry, the state health ministry, and the WHO have put control measures in place to curb transmission in the affected area, such as strengthening the surveillance system and conducting training activities aimed at improving diagnosis and case management. The WHO said health officials have also endorsed a joint action plan, with the support of global health partners, that addresses vector control and health promotion.Nearby South Sudan has been battling a cholera outbreak centered in Juba county that as of Jun 4 had sickened 1,306 people, 29 of them fatally. The outbreak began on Apr 23, with 11 districts of Juba county reporting cases. The WHO in a Jun 4 statement said the risk of spread to surrounding states is high, but the surveillance and response capabilities outside of Juba are poor.Jun 18 WHO statement Sep 5, 2013, CIDRAP News story “Study reveals more signs of MERS-CoV in camels” Jun 4 WHO statement US chikungunya cases jump to 80 as Cuba notes first casesUS cases of chikungunya have doubled, to 80, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said, and Cuba has reported its first cases.The 80 US cases include 23 locally acquired infections in Puerto Rico and 57 imported cases, the CDC said in a Jun 17 update. One imported case was in a traveler to Indonesia; the rest were in patients who had visited the Caribbean, the site of a 170,000-plus-case outbreak.”To date, no local transmission has been identified in the continental United States,” the agency said of the mosquito-bornedisease. Last week the CDC reported 39 cases, including only 1 from Puerto Rico.Florida has the most chikungunya cases, 34, followed by 6 in Virginia. No other state has more than 3 cases.Jun 17 CDC updateCuba’s ministry of health, meanwhile, has confirmed six chikungunya cases. Five of the patients had recently returned from Haiti, while the sixth had traveled to the Dominican Republic, according to a Miami Herald Cuba story yesterday.Most cases were linked to “illicit commerce,” the health ministry said, adding that all patients are recovering.Jun 18 Miami Herald story Arbovirus profile shows big drop in severe WNV infectionsA profile of US arboviral diseases that occurred in 2013 found a big decline in the incidence of severe West Nile virus (WNV) infections from 2012, the year a large multistate outbreak occurred, according to a CDC report today in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).While WNV was the most common cause of arboviral neuroinvasive disease in adults, La Crosse virus was the most likely cause of the disease in children, according to the CDC. WNV activity was still localized in 2013, with more than half of neuroinvasive cases reported from just six states: California, Texas, Colorado, Illinois, North Dakota, and Oklahoma.CDC researchers noted that more Jamestown Canyon virus disease cases—22 of them—were reported in 2013 than in any other year, with first cases reported in eight states: Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. The agency said, however, that the increase could reflect the new availability of an immunoglobulin test for the disease and that incidence reported in earlier years could be underestimates.Two states, Arkansas and Connecticut, reported their first eastern equine encephalitis virus cases last year.Arbovirus disease numbers vary from year to year, and the complex ecology makes outbreaks difficult to predict, the CDC said. Because no vaccines are available, surveillance and prevention efforts are the keys to preventing the diseases.Jun 19 MMWR report Maker of candidate flu drug enters licensing agreementBoston-based Vertex Pharmaceuticals has entered a licensing agreement with Janssen Pharmaceuticals of Titusville, N.J., for global development and sales of its VX-787 influenza drug candidate, Vertex said in a press release yesterday.”Vertex will receive an up-front payment of $30 million from Janssen and has the potential to receive additional development and commercial milestone payments as well as royalties on future product sales,” the release said. VX-787 is a new class of flu drug that is designed to inhibit virus replication, including recent H1 and H5 strains, the company added.Vertex announced in March 2013 that a phase 2a study of VX-787 showed statistically significant improvements in viral and clinical measures of flu infection, but the high-dose arm of the study—whose participants received 1,200 milligrams (mg) of the drug for 1 day and 600 mg for 4 days—contained only 14 people.Jun 19 Vertex news release Mar 4, 2013, Vertex news release on phase 2a triallast_img read more

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