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Deadly pig virus slowed by steps taken since U.S. outbreak gave 'heads up'

TORONTO - The head of an agency tracking pig health says a deadly virus that has hit swine farms in at least two provinces would be spreading more swiftly throughout the country if it weren't for stricter measures taken after a U.S. outbreak. Canadian Swine Health Board executive director Robert Harding said the emergence of porcine epidemic diarrhea in the United States last May gave the pig industry and governments here a "heads up" that, along with more vigilant farm practices in recent years, has helped minimize its impact thus far.

Ohio Department of Agriculture finds new pig virus

(Reuters) - A new swine virus, distinct from the deadly PEDv pig virus, has been found in fecal samples taken from four different farms in Ohio last month and early this month, the Ohio Department of Agriculture said on Wednesday. This is only the second time the virus has been reported and the first time it has been seen in the United States, said Yan Zhang, a scientist in the department's Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory.

Jordanian dies of MERS virus

A man has died in Jordan after being infected with the MERS virus, the kingdom's first fatality from the respiratory disease in more than a year, news reports said Saturday. Another man was reported to have died of the H1N1 virus, or swine flu. "Two men in their eighties have died in Jordan, one from the coronavirus MERS and the other from H1N1," the daily Al-Rai cited health ministry official Bassam Hajawi as saying. It quoted him as saying the ministry had "raised precautionary and alert levels across the kingdom".

S. Korea reports new suspected cases of bird flu

SEJONG, Feb. 3 (Yonhap) -- Two new suspected bird flu cases have been reported this week, the government said Monday, as quarantine authorities stay on watch for any new signs after heavy traffic of people during the Lunar New Year holiday. The additional cases were reported Sunday at a duck farm in Eumseong, North Chungcheong Province, and a chicken farm in Jeongeup, North Jeolla Province, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

MERS in hospitals significant but underplayed; Steps needed to stop spread

The spread of MERS coronavirus infections in hospitals in affected countries is a significant but underappreciated problem, infection control experts wrote in a journal editorial published Monday. "The concentration of vulnerable patients, the frequent movement of patients, and the many daily contacts make health-care facilities the perfect breeding ground for MERS-CoV transmission," the authors warned in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. "Focus on the health-care setting may prevent continued human-to-human transmission among at-risk patients."

DNA from ancient plague points to modern peril

"In some cases death came immediately; in others, after many days," the historian Procopius wrote as a terrifying disease scythed through Constantinople in 542 AD. "With some, the body broke out with black pustules about as large as a lentil and these did not survive even one day, but all succumbed immediately. Vomiting of blood ensued in many, without visible cause, and immediately brought death." What Procopius observed first hand was the Plague of Justinian, named after the Eastern Roman emperor he served and who contracted the disease but survived.

DNA from ancient plague points to modern peril

"In some cases death came immediately; in others, after many days," the historian Procopius wrote as a terrifying disease scythed through Constantinople in 542 AD. "With some, the body broke out with black pustules about as large as a lentil and these did not survive even one day, but all succumbed immediately. Vomiting of blood ensued in many, without visible cause, and immediately brought death." What Procopius observed first hand was the Plague of Justinian, named after the Eastern Roman emperor he served and who contracted the disease but survived.

Scientists decode genome of plague that struck 800 years before Black Death

TORONTO - It's not nearly as well-known as the Black Death, but the sixth-century Justinian plague was just as deadly, wiping out an estimated 30 million to 50 million people in only two years as it spread across Asia, North Africa, Arabia and Europe. Now an international team of researchers, including Canadian disease detectives, have determined the two pandemics resulted from distinct strains of the bacterium that causes plague.

Mexico's flu deaths up 322 pct in a week

Mexico City, Jan 25 (EFE).- Mexican health authorities said 103 people died of the flu in the week that ended Jan. 23, up 322 percent from the 32 fatalities reported between Jan. 1 and Jan. 16. "There have been 135 (flu) deaths so far this year," 123 of which have been caused by the AH1N1 virus, the Health Secretariat said in a statement Friday. Between Jan. 1 and Jan. 23, Mexico's National Epidemiological Surveillance System tallied 1,517 flu cases, which accounted for 18 percent of all cases of acute respiratory infection nationwide, the secretariat said.

Wynne says no risk to humans after pig virus found on Ontario farm

TORONTO - Officials are deciding whether or not to slaughter a herd of pigs infected with porcine epidemic diarrhea virus at a hog farm in southwestern Ontario after the Canada Food Inspection Agency confirmed the outbreak Friday. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture received word from the federal agency's lab in Winnipeg confirming what provincial officials had suspected on Thursday.
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