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September 19, 2011 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times
The hit movie "Contagion" depicts a nightmare scenario: a bat virus jumps to pigs and then to humans, infecting them with abandon since they have no immunity to the novel bug. The virus circles the globe in a matter of days, causing coughs, fevers and seizures as scientists from the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scramble to identify the pathogen and develop a vaccine. Before they do, millions are infected and about a quarter of them die. Those who are not sickened hunker down at home or panic in the streets, scrounging for food and supplies until the outbreak can be contained.
April 26, 2014 | By Laura King
CAIRO - Middle East Respiratory Syndrome has come to Egypt. State television said Saturday that the country's first case had been discovered. It said the patient, who was hospitalized in Cairo, had recently traveled to Saudi Arabia, where the virus was first identified. Saudi Arabia had announced hours earlier that the death toll in the kingdom had reached 92. In addition, an Indonesian man who had traveled to Saudi Arabia died Friday after returning home, and the virus has been found elsewhere in the Middle East, including Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.
November 13, 1988
It is sad that within hours our government was trying to find and stamp out a "virus" that was killing files in computers across the nation, when in fact this is the same government that allowed for many years to go by before recognizing a virus, AIDS, that had already taken hundreds of lives and would stamp out thousands more. STEVEN C. REMS Long Beach
April 26, 2014 | By Laura King
CAIRO - With the appearance of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, in the Arab world's most populous country, health officials face a tough new challenge in confronting the often lethal virus. Egypt's Ministry of Health said Saturday that the country's first case had been discovered, identifying the patient as a 27-year-old Egyptian man who had been living and working in Saudi Arabia's capital, Riyadh. He was placed in quarantine at a Cairo hospital immediately upon his return.
August 9, 2008 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
Even viruses can suffer a viral infection, French scientists reported Thursday in the journal Nature in a discovery that may help explain how viruses swap genes and evolve so rapidly. A new strain of giant virus was isolated from a cooling tower in Paris and found to be infected by a smaller type of virus, named Sputnik, after the first man-made satellite. Sputnik is the first example of a virus infecting another virus to make it sick. The finding may shed light on how viruses mutate so quickly, a feature that can make them difficult to tackle with drugs and vaccines.
August 1, 2013 | By Emily Foxhall
A 78-year-old Carson man diagnosed by doctors with West Nile virus has died, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reported . Albert Shipman died Tuesday night in San Pedro, two weeks after being hospitalized with stroke-like symptoms, including memory loss and slurred speech, Shipman's son Alfonso told the newspaper. County health officials have not officially attributed the death to West Nile, the paper says.  In addition to Shipman, five people with West Nile cases have been reported in Los Angeles County this year.
October 31, 2013 | By Geoffrey Mohan
The search for an HIV vaccine has taken an important step forward after researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla managed to capture molecular images of a protein spike that allows the deadly virus to invade human immune cells to hack their genetic code. The ability to control and analyze that shape-shifting envelope trimer protein, which has evaded the best efforts of biochemistry for more than a decade, could offer researchers the ability to see whether they can induce natural antibodies to attack the virus' most vulnerable spot, a crucial step toward engineering a vaccine.
August 5, 2013 | By Christine Mai-Duc
A Torrance marsh has been temporarily closed amid heightened concerns over West Nile virus and the first confirmed death this year in Los Angeles County attributed to the disease. City officials said the closure of Madrona Marsh, effective immediately, was “a precautionary measure” and that the marsh will remain closed until the city receives more data from local vector control officials. Two weeks ago, one of the marsh's sentinel chickens contracted West Nile, according to vector control officials.
December 17, 2012 | By Louis Sahagun
An eerie new disease is cropping up among raccoons in Northern California and Oregon: brain tumors that may be linked to a previously unidentified virus discovered by a team led by UC Davis veterinarians and researchers. Necropsies conducted since 2010 have found brain tumors in 11 raccoons from Northern California and one from Oregon, the researchers said. All of the animals with tumors also had the virus scientists know as raccoon polyomavirus. "Previous to this, there had been two reports of a raccoon with a brain tumor over the past two decades," Patricia Pesavento, a pathologist at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and principal author of a study on the malady published earlier this month in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, said in an interview.
September 22, 2011 | By Karen Kaplan, Los Angeles Times/For the Booster Shots blog
At first, it looked like a breakthrough in the fight against chronic fatigue syndrome. Researchers said they found a mouse retrovirus called XMRV in the 68% of blood samples collected from 101 patients with chronic fatigue syndrome , while only 4% of blood samples from 218 healthy controls had evidence of the same virus. The research team said it was strong evidence that XMRV had something to do with causing chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). The report had added credibility because it was published in the prestigious journal Science.
April 23, 2014 | By Sherif Tarek
Eleven new cases of the occasionally fatal Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, were reported in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, two days after the nation's health minister was replaced. In the week ending Monday, 67 cases were reported of the SARS-like virus. One patient died in Riyadh on Monday, the same day that King Abdullah replaced minister Abdullah Rabeeah. Saudi official news outlets reported no specific reason for the ouster. Since the outbreak began in 2012, 272 people have been infected in the oil-rich kingdom, with 81 of them dying.
April 10, 2014 | By Monte Morin, This post has been updated, as indicated below.
It's a flu virus so deadly that scientists once halted research on the disease because governments feared it might be used by terrorists to stage a biological attack. Yet despite the fact that the H5N1 avian influenza has killed 60% of the 650 humans known to be infected since it was identified in Hong Kong 17 years ago, the “bird flu” virus has yet to evolve a means of spreading easily among people. Now Dutch researchers have found that the virus needs only five favorable gene mutations to become transmissible through coughing or sneezing, like regular flu viruses.
April 9, 2014 | By Aamera Jiwaji
Senegal has closed its borders with Guinea as West Africa braces against the spread of Ebola virus disease. The World Health Organization, which says the outbreak is presenting the toughest public health challenge in four years, has not recommended any trade and travel restrictions. Spread to Senegal is of particular concern because it is a leading tourist destination in the region, with arrivals topping 1 million in 2011, according to the World Bank. The outbreak has been blamed for 101 deaths in Guinea and 10 in Liberia.
March 20, 2014 | By Broderick Turner
The Clippers are starting to become whole again. The team has been short-handed for weeks in the backcourt, but guards Jamal Crawford, Darren Collison and even J.J. Redick practiced with the Clippers on Thursday. After practice, the Clippers said Collison and Crawford will both play Saturday when they face the Detroit Pistons at Staples Center, but Redick is still not close to returning. Collison missed the last two games with a stomach virus. Crawford, who has been out for five consecutive games and eight of the last nine with a strained left calf, will practice again Friday, giving him another day to get ready.
March 3, 2014 | By Geoffrey Mohan
A 30,000-year-old giant virus has been revived from the frozen Siberian tundra, sparking concern that increased mining and oil drilling in rapidly warming northern latitudes could disturb dormant microbial life that could one day prove harmful to man. The latest find, described online Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, appears to belong to a new family of mega-viruses that infect only amoeba. But its revival in a laboratory stands as “a proof of principle that we could eventually resurrect active infectious viruses from different periods,” said the study's lead author, microbiologist Jean-Michel Claverie of Aix-Marseille University in France.
February 26, 2014 | By Geoffrey Mohan
The seasonal flu has met its enemy, and it's calculus. A theoretical physicist and computational biologist analyzed the genetic code of thousands of strains of Influenza A that occurred over a 44-year period to create a model that accurately predicts which strain will prevail in the pitched evolutionary battle between human antibodies and the rapidly mutating virus. Their method proved more accurate for selecting an appropriate vaccine than the current method used by public health officials, according to a report published online Wednesday in the journal Nature.
January 23, 2013 | By Andrew Tangel, Los Angeles Times
NEW YORK - Federal prosecutors said they had foiled an international cyber-crime ring that targeted bank accounts in the U.S. and around the globe. The criminal charges, disclosed Wednesday, highlight the vulnerabilities of online consumer banking, which has become more popular in the digital age. It also comes just months after most every major U.S. bank suffered a relentless round of online attacks by Middle Eastern hackers. In the case unveiled Wednesday, three men - a Russian, a Latvian and a Romanian - allegedly created and spread a virus they called "Gozi" that infected more than 1 million computers around the globe, including at least 40,000 in the United States.
September 16, 2013 | By Ari Bloomekatz
San Gabriel Valley officials are sounding the alarm on the West Nile virus after the latest case was discovered last week in a chicken flock. The infected flock was located in Claremont, and it was the latest in a series of West Nile virus cases reported in the region. Last month, positive tests were confirmed in samples taken from mosquitoes in the city of Arcadia and from three chicken flocks in Arcadia, Irwindale and Monterey Park, according to the San Gabriel Valley Mosquito & Vector Control District.
February 23, 2014 | By Eryn Brown
A small number of children in California have come down with polio-like illnesses since 2012 -- suffering paralysis in one or more limbs and other symptoms -- and physicians and public health officials do not yet know why. A virus may play a role, said Dr. Carol Glaser, leader of a California Department of Public Health team investigating the illnesses, which are occurring sporadically throughout the state. The afflicted kids suffer severe weakness or paralysis, which strikes rapidly -- sometimes after a mild respiratory illness. Scans of the patients' spinal cords show patterns of damage similar to that found in polio sufferers , Glaser said. Two of the affected children tested positive for enterovirus-68, a virus that is usually associated with respiratory illness but which has been linked to polio-like illnesses as well.
February 19, 2014 | By Geoffrey Mohan
Infectious diseases linked to the colony collapse of honeybees appear to be spreading among wild bumblebees that pollinate crops worldwide, dealing a potential double blow to agriculture, according to a new study. Studies at 26 sites in England found that 1 in 5 bees suffered from deformed wing virus, which can ground and eventually kill the insects, according to a report published online Wednesday in the journal Nature. More than a third of the honeybees were infected, and about 11% of the bumblebees carried the virus - figures that researchers called highly conservative.
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