NEWS SCAN: Smallpox antiviral sought, mass drug dispensing, peanut plant hazards missed, Chinese food safety, cell phone bugs

first_imgMar 6, 2009HHS seeks proposals for smallpox antiviralThe US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a request for proposals (RFP) on its Web site yesterday seeking 1.7 million treatment courses of a smallpox antiviral for the Strategic National Stockpile. The 5-year contract, offered through the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), would cover advanced development of the countermeasure. The contract requires that the smallpox antiviral for adults ages 18 to 64 require no more than 3 doses per day for up to 21 days and have a minimum shelf-life of 36 months. The contract includes options for intravenous and liquid formulations and the capacity to scale up production to make 12 million more courses.[Mar 5 HHS smallpox antiviral RFP]Bank drill to test countermeasure distributionIn one of the first exercises of its kind, banks in two Utah towns will test the logistics of handing out antibiotics or antiviral medications at bank drive-through windows to prepare for an influenza pandemic or bioterrorist attack. The Summit County Health Department is planning the drill, which will take place tomorrow at two Zions Bank branches in Coalville and Kamas, both located about 40 miles east of Salt Lake City. The exercise is funded by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Cities Readiness Initiative, the Salt Lake Tribune reported yesterday.Private inspector missed problems at Georgia peanut plantA private food safety inspector gave the Peanut Corp. of America’s (PCA’s) Georgia processing plant a “superior” rating after auditing it a year ago, though federal inspectors later found the plant had already been shipping Salmonella-tainted products for months before that, the New York Times reported yesterday. With government inspectors overburdened, many food companies pay for private food-safety inspections, which vary widely in their rigor, the report said. The man who inspected the Georgia plant was not aware that peanuts could harbor Salmonella, the story said.[Mar 5 New York Times report]Texas inspector failed to report unlicensed plant tied to outbreakA Texas agriculture inspector who visited the PCA peanut plant in Plainview, Tex., three times in recent years failed to note that it was operating without a state health department license, according to an Associated Press (AP) report today. The inspector, who was assigned to certify the plant to process organic products, wrongly indicated that the plant was licensed, which allowed it to escape state health inspectors’ notice, the story said. The facility came under investigation as a result of the current nationwide Salmonella outbreak linked to PCA products. Though the outbreak has been blamed mainly on the PCA plant in Georgia, the outbreak strain was found in samples from the Texas facility in February.[Mar 6 AP report]China passes new food safety lawIn response to several tainted food incidents, China on Feb 28 passed a new law that strengthens food safety regulation and boosts penalties for offenders, the Voice of America reported on Mar 2.The new law provides extra compensation for victims of tainted food, bans supervisory agencies from advertising food products, and makes people, such as celebrities, who advertise for tainted products liable for damages. Also, China’s departments of health, agriculture, quality supervision, industry, and commerce will share responsibility for monitoring the country’s food supply.MRSA and other bugs on healthcare workers’ cell phonesMobile phones are a source of nosocomial pathogens, and regularly cleaning the devices could reduce the number of infections in healthcare institutions, according to Turkish researchers who presented their findings today in the Annals of Clinical Microbiology and Antimicrobials. They took samples from the phones of 200 healthcare workers, along with samples from the workers’ hands, and found that 94.5% of the phones were contaminated with bacteria. Staphylococcus aureus strains were isolated from 52% of the phones, of which 37.7% were methicillin-resistant S aureus (MRSA). Gram-negative strains were isolated from 31.3% of phones, of which 39.5% were ceftazidime resistant. Only 10.5% of healthcare workers said they routinely cleaned their cell phones.[Mar 6 Ann Clin Microbiol Antimicrob study]Malaria drug looks promising for treating Hendra and Nipah virus infectionsA drug commonly used to prevent and treat malaria looks like a potential tool for blocking infections with Hendra and Nipah viruses, which cause encephalitis in humans, researchers reported in a Mar 4 early online edition of the Journal of Virology. The group, using a nonlethal engineered virus that contained Hendra proteins on its surface, found that chloroquine inhibited the action of a key enzyme, cathepsin L, that is essential for the growth of the two viruses. Researchers noted that chloroquine is inexpensive and has been widely and safely used for more than 50 years.[Mar 4 Journal of Virology abstract]Defunct infection-fighting gene revived after millions of yearsA gene that helps mammals fight infections like tuberculosis and salmonellosis died out very early in primate evolution but was resurrected eons later in the common ancestor of humans and great apes, according to scientists from the University of Washington and the Howard Hughes Medical institute. The gene, called human IRGM, died in the common ancestor of Old World and New World monkey species, but its remnant persisted through millions of years. The gene somehow became functional again in the ancestor of humans and great apes, possibly when a retrovirus inserted itself into the genome, the scientists report in PLoS Genetics.[Mar 5 University of Washington news release][PLoS Genetics article]last_img read more

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India’s ‘superfood’ jackfruit goes global

first_imgGreen, spiky and with a strong, sweet smell, the bulky jackfruit has morphed from a backyard nuisance in India’s south coast into the meat-substitute darling of vegans and vegetarians in the West.Part of the South Asia’s diet for centuries, jackfruit was so abundant that tons of it went to waste every year.But now India, the world’s biggest producer of jackfruit, is capitalizing on its growing popularity as a “superfood” meat alternative — touted by chefs from San Francisco to London and Delhi for its pork-like texture when unripe. “The jackfruit tacos have been a hit at each and every location. The jackfruit cutlet — every table orders it, it’s one of my favorites!”James Joseph quit his job as a director at Microsoft after spotting Western interest in jackfruit “gaining momentum as a vegan alternative to meat”. “There are a lot of enquiries from abroad… At the international level, the interest in jackfruit has grown manifold,” Varghese Tharakkan tells AFP from his orchard in Kerala’s Thrissur district.The fruit, which weighs five kilograms on average, has a waxy yellow flesh when ripe and is eaten fresh, or used to make cakes, juices, ice creams and crisps. When unripe, it is added to curries or fried, minced and sautéed. In the West, shredded jackfruit has become a popular alternative to pulled pork and is even used as a pizza topping.”People love it,” Anu Bhambri, who owns a chain of restaurants in the US and India, explains.  Jack of all fruits The COVID-19 crisis, Joseph says, has created two spikes in consumer interest. “Coronavirus caused a fear for chicken and people switched to tender jackfruit. In Kerala, lockdown caused a surge in demand for mature green jackfruit and seeds due to shortage of vegetables due to border restrictions,” he explains. Global interest in veganism was already soaring pre-pandemic, buoyed by movements such as Meat Free Mondays and Veganuary, and with it the business of “alternative meats”.Concerns about health and the environment — a 2019 UN report suggested adopting more of a plant-based diet could help mitigate climate change — mean consumers are turning to brands such as Impossible and Beyond Meat for plant-based replications of chicken, beef, and pork. But they are also using substitutes long popular in Asia such as soy-based tofu and tempeh, and wheat derivative seitan, as well as jackfruit.This boom has meant more and more jackfruit orchards have sprung up in the coastal state.”You get a hard bite like meat — that’s what is gaining popularity and like meat it absorbs the spices,” comments Joseph.His firm sells jackfruit flour which can be mixed with or used as an alternative to wheat and rice flour to make anything from burger patties to local classics such as idli.Joseph worked with Sydney University’s Glycemic Index Research Service to establish any health benefits. “When we did a nutritional analysis, we found jackfruit as a meal is better than rice and roti [bread] for an average person who wants to control his blood sugar,” he adds. India has one of the highest diabetes rates in the world and is expected to hit around 100 million cases by 2030, according to a study by The Lancet. center_img ‘Secrets of success’As global warming wreaks havoc on agriculture, food researchers say jackfruit could emerge as a nutritious staple crop as it is drought-resistant and requires little maintenance.Tharakkan has not looked back since he switched from growing rubber to jackfruit on his land, and has a variety that he can cultivate year-round. “When I cut down my rubber trees everyone thought I had gone crazy. But the same people now come and ask me the secret of my success,” he smiles. In Tamil Nadu and Kerala alone, demand for jackfruit is now 100 metric tons every day during the peak season yielding a turnover of $19.8 million a year, says economics professor S. Rajendran of the Gandhigram Rural Institute.But there is rising competition from countries such as Bangladesh and Thailand.Jackfruit’s newfound international fame is a massive turnaround for a plant that while used in local dishes, has long been viewed as a poor man’s fruit.Each tree can yield as 150-250 fruits a season. In Kerala, where it is believed to have originated, deriving its name from local word “chakka”, Tharakkan recalls it was not unusual to see notices in private gardens asking people to take away the fruit for free because they were so plentiful, they would simply rot and attract flies.  And while India’s jackfruit growers — like the wider agriculture sector — have been hit as the nationwide coronavirus lockdown causes a shortage of labor and transport, international demand shows no sign of slowing. Sujan Sarkar, the Palo Alto-based executive chef of Bhambri’s restaurants, believes even meat-eaters are becoming jackfruit converts.He adds: “It’s not only vegetarians or vegans, even the meat-eaters, they just love it.” Topics :last_img read more

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Raptors fans apologize to Kevin Durant by setting up account to donate to his charity

first_img“That’s not what Canada is about,” the website reads. “We got really excited about winning our first championship, ever! When we saw one of the best players on earth leave the game with injury, it made that championship feel so much closer.  We got too excited and we screwed up. We are Canadian, so naturally, we are sorry. “We want to make it up to you! Kevin Durant is one of the best human beings in basketball. His work with the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation has earned him awards like the ESPN Humanitarian of The Year and NBA Community Assist Award. The KDFC raises funds to enrich the lives of at-risk youth from low-income backgrounds through educational, athletic and social programs. Related News A number of Raptors fans cheered when Kevin Durant went down with an injury in Game 5 on Monday and they’re trying to make it up to him.An account has been set up to give money to Durant’s charity as an apology for some fans’ actions. Kevin Durant injury update: Warriors star had surgery to repair ruptured Achilles tendon Warriors planned to offer Kevin Durant long-term deal with anytime opt-out, report sayscenter_img “Raptor Nation – Let’s show KD our true colours and support his humanitarian efforts. WE THE NORTH!”Durant revealed Thursday on Instagram he ruptured his Achilles in Game 5. When he initially went down, a number of fans cheered and waved goodbye to the star forward but Raptors players did all they could to stop them. After a few seconds, it was evident his injury was serious and the stands went quiet.Then, as he was helped off the court by his teammates and a staffer, Toronto fans chanted “K.D, K.D.”last_img read more

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CDC: Antibody Tests Wrong up to Half the Time

first_imgAtlanta, GA — The CDC is reporting that COVID-19 antibody tests are wrong up to half of the time.The agency made the revelation on its website saying the results from those tests should not be used to determine if a person can go back to work or to be allowed in a group setting. The CDC is also urging medical professionals to use the most error-free test that is available to them and added it might be necessary to test patients twice.Where to get an antibody test locally here.last_img

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Hauled Out

first_imgBy John Burton RED BANK – Labor Day is now long gone, kids are back in school and the air has taken on a distinctly autumnal nip. That means boat owners, who may have been putting off the inevitable, are thinking about the coming winter and their crafts.“The first cold snap, that’s what wakes everybody up,” said Don Kimber, service manager at Irwin Marine, located in Marine Park.Mechanics at Irwin Marine prepare a boat for winter stoarge.“Everybody kind of forgets about their boats,” as they think about everything else going on like getting the kids settled in school and other responsibilities, he said. “But it’s better to get it done now,” before the severe weather gears up.As the temperature drops, people’s boats, like their homes or cars, can face damage if not prepared. Irwin likened the larger cabin cruisers he sees to small condos. It’s important to drain water and oil and drain and replace the propylene antifreeze (a more environmentally friendly cousin to what is used in cars) to get it ready.“A boat’s a big investment,” Kimber stressed. “Like anything, you take care of it, it’ll take care of you.”Irwin Marine provides the services needed to haul boats out of water and then store them indoors or out. Other options include putting them on trailers or keeping them in the water.If boats are taken out of the water for the season, Kimber said, they get power washed, the engines are winterized and – importantly – the oil and filters are changed. “Oil as it breaks down is corrosive. So you want all of that out of it,” he said.Many owners ask Kimber and his crew to apply shrink-wrap to their boats that are being hauled out of the water. The work, which provides an airtight seal, is done using propane torches. Mechanics also can apply the wrap to boats that will remain in the water. However Kimber said he tends to “shy away from doing it” because it’s really difficult to get a good tight fit that way.Many boat owners decide to keep the vessels in the water over the winter, and that is all right, too. The key is the prep work, Kimber said. Irwin can provide an additional service to protect the boats by pumping warm air through a series of lines just below the surface, surrounding the boats, when the air temperature begins to dip below 32 degrees.Kimber has some recommendations for owners before they bring in their the boats. He has noticed that many people don’t do enough to protect the craft’s exterior, which can take a beating over the summer and winter.“The UV rays just bake it,” he noticed.Owners should also top off the gas tank, but not completely fill it, leaving a little room. Boat fuel in this state has about 10 percent alcohol, which tends to absorb moisture. “If gasoline isn’t prepped properly,” he advised, “your fuel system just gets contaminated.”This week Kimber has begun fielding more calls from owners looking to winterize their boats. The calls were not unexpected.“It’s getting busier and busier,” he said.Last year Irwin serviced about 150 boats, ranging in size from 11 feet to about 47 feet; many of those had spent the summer docked at the Marine Park marina. He expects about the same number this year.Irwin charges $50 a foot for the winterizing service, and offers an a la cart menu of services and charges accordingly.Kimber has been working nearly 30 years at Irwin, which has been in business and run by the Irwin family since 1884. He expects to be busy servicing the boats until the holiday season.Just a few short months later, beginning in March, it all starts up again. That’s when “we’re putting people back in the water,” he said. RB business sees sure seasonal sign as boats come out of the waterlast_img read more

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Leafs get some payback to start KIJHL season; off to Okanagan for two-game road swing

first_imgIt was the second time during the season the Leafs were penalized for using an ineligible player.However, Ohlhausen said there would be no suspensions of coaches or fines to the teams this season after Hockey Canada insisted the KIJHL revert to its disciplinary rules.“(Hockey Canada) wanted us to return to their rule,” Ohlhausen explained.“If a teams uses an ineligible player, they lose the points regardless of the score.”Ohlhausen is hopeful news of Kelowna’s demise will send ripple affects through the league and its coaches and manager.“I hope so,” Ohlhausen said before heading off to the Eddie Mountain Division to take in games in Golden and Fernie this weekend.“I don’t like taking points away from the teams because it’s not the kids making the mistakes, it’s the team officials. The players don’t know who is listed on the roster, only coaches and manager know that.”The extra two points moves Nelson to within two points of division leading Beaver Valley and Castlegar — both tied for top spot in the Neil Murdoch Division with eight points.Nelson travels to the Okanagan this weekend with stops Friday in Princeton, against the Posse, and Saturday, in Osoyoos, against the Coyotes.Both teams are starting the season slow with Princeton sporting a 3-2 record in five games and Osoyoos batting .500 with a 1-1-0-0-1 mark.BLUELINES: There’s not much to report on the player from for Nelson. Leaf brass has invited a few new players into camp, but did not make any changes to the roster last week. . . . Forward Jordan Davie leads Nelson in scoring with four goals. Davie is tied with Brendan Smith in points, each with four. . . . Leaf netminder Joseph Barton leads the goaltenders with two wins in two games. . . . Next home game for Nelson is Friday, October 2 when Beaver Valley Nitehawks invade the NDCC Arena. Game time is 7 p.m. . . . The Hawks host Columbia Valley Friday before traveling to Castlegar Sunday at 1 p.m. for a Murdoch Showdown against the Rebels. Grand Forks host Kelowna Saturday before travelling to Spokane to face the Braves Sunday. The Nelson Leafs got some payback, albeit a season later, when the Green and White picked up two points in Kootenay International Junior Hockey League standings after the Kelowna Chiefs were caught using an ineligible person on opening day of the current campaign.The Chiefs were penalized two points for having an ineligible trainer on the roster and improving Nelson’s record to 3-1 record to start the season.“(Kelowna) played a someone not approved by Hockey Canada Registry,” KIJHL president Bill Ohlhausen told The Nelson Daily Friday.“And they (Kelowna) lost points.”The Chiefs opened the season by scoring a 3-0 shutout on the score sheet over the Leafs.Kelowna iced the same lineup the next night, but lost 3-2 to the Nitehawks in Beaver Valley.Leaf brass know full well what the Chiefs are going through after coach and GM Dave McLellan was suspended for a month last season for using an ineligible player for the nine games.Nelson also had eight points stripped from the season record.last_img read more

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After Hashim Amla, JP Duminy also ruled out of limited-overs tour of Australia

first_imgSouth Africa have suffered a double blow ahead of their limited-overs tour of Australia in November.All-rounder JP Duminy has become the latest injury setback for South Africa after Hashim Amla was ruled out of the tour with a finger injury.Duminy will have to undergo surgery on an injury to his right shoulder.The southpaw, who was announced as the marquee player for the Cape Town Blitz, will also miss the Mzansi Super League (MSL). He will be replaced by Quinton de Kock.Proteas team manager, Dr Mohammed Moosajee said: “JP aggravated a pre-existing shoulder injury during the recently concluded series against Zimbabwe. The injury will require surgical management thus ruling him out of the immediate tour of Australia and the upcoming MSL. At the moment we can’t say how long he will be out for, that is dependent on the results from the surgery.”The Proteas squads for three ODIs and a T20I for the Australia tour will be announced on Friday.Amla has been given time to fully recover from a finger tendon injury which he suffered during the Caribbean Premier League.”As a selection group we’ve discussed that with him already,” coach Ottis Gibson said. “We’re going to give him as much time as possible to get himself ready for the next set of cricket he’s got coming up.”last_img read more

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