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    Deadly fungal outbreak in Wisconsin linked to neighborhood construction / ArsTechnica · Friday, 31 March - 21:33

This micrograph shows the presence of the fungal agent Blastomyces dermatitidis, 1978.

Enlarge / This micrograph shows the presence of the fungal agent Blastomyces dermatitidis, 1978. (credit: Getty | CDC/Dr. Libero Ajello )

Toxic fungal spores wafting around a Wisconsin neighborhood—possibly spread by recent construction in the area—sparked an outbreak of rare infections that left one person dead, state health officials reported Friday in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report .

In all, the outbreak cluster included five pet dogs and four people, with the onset of symptoms spanning from October 2021 to February 2022. While two of the cases in people were mild, the other two required hospitalization, including the fatal case. The five dogs were reported to have mild to moderate cases.

The outbreak was caused by the poorly understood fungus Blastomyces ( B. dermatitidis and B. gilchristii ), which lurks in moist soil and decomposing organic matter, such as wood and leaves, often near water. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the fungus could exist throughout the eastern US , but its distribution is uneven. It's often found around the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys and the Great Lakes. Parts of Wisconsin and Minnesota are considered hotspots.

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    Two more dead as patients report horrifying details of eye drop outbreak / ArsTechnica · Friday, 24 March - 21:11 · 1 minute

Young man applying eye drops.

Enlarge (credit: Getty | UniversalImagesGroup )

Two more people have died and more details of horrifying eye infections are emerging in a nationwide outbreak linked to recalled eye drops from EzriCare and Delsam .

The death toll now stands at three, according to an outbreak update this week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A total of 68 people in 16 states have been infected with a rare, extensively drug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa strain linked to the eye drops. In addition to the deaths, eight people have reported vision loss and four have had their eyeballs surgically removed (enucleation).

In a case report published this week in JAMA Ophthalmology, eye doctors at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, part of the University of Miami Health System, reported details of one case linked to the outbreak—a case in a 72-year-old man who has an ongoing infection in his right eye with vision loss, despite weeks of treatment with multiple antibiotics. When the man first sought treatment he reported pain in his right eye, which only had the ability to detect motion at the point, while his left eye had 20/20 vision. Doctors noted that the white of his right eye was entirely red and white blood cells had visibly pooled on his cornea and in the front inner chamber of his eye.

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    Everything you need to know about the monkeypox health emergency / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 10 August, 2022 - 11:20 · 1 minute

A negative stain electron micrograph of a monkeypox virus virion in human vesicular fluid.

Enlarge / A negative stain electron micrograph of a monkeypox virus virion in human vesicular fluid. (credit: Getty | BSIP )

On May 7, health officials in the UK reported a case of monkeypox in a person who had recently traveled to Nigeria. The case was very rare but not necessarily alarming; a small number of travel-related cases of monkeypox pop up now and then. The UK logged seven such cases between 2018 and 2021 . But this year, the cases kept coming.

By May 16, the UK had reported six additional cases, mostly unconnected, and all unrelated to travel, suggesting domestic transmission. On May 18, Portugal reported five confirmed cases and more than 20 suspected ones. The same day, health officials in Massachusetts reported the first US case . Spain, meanwhile, issued an outbreak alert after 23 people showed signs of the unusual infection. Cases in Italy and Sweden followed .

In the past, monkeypox transmission largely fizzled out on its own. Experts did not consider the virus to be easily transmissible. Still, the cases kept coming. By May 26, the multinational outbreak had exceeded 300 cases in over 20 countries. At the time, the US had only nine cases confirmed, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that it presumed domestic community transmission was already underway. In early June, the global tally exceeded 1,300 from 31 countries, including 45 cases in the US.

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