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November 26, 2013 | By Monte Morin, This post has been updated, as indicated below.
The 2009 H1N1 "swine flu" epidemic killed up to 203,000 people across the globe -- a death toll 10 times greater than initially estimated by the World Health Organization, researchers say. In a study published Tuesday in the journal Plos Medicine, epidemiologists used data on respiratory deaths in 20 nations to calculate a global mortality rate for the pandemic. Prior to this research, the WHO counted just 18,631 lab-confirmed cases of H1N1, a viral infection of the airways.
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.
October 15, 2013 | By Carol J. Williams
The Islamic world's annual pilgrimage to Mecca came to an orderly and peaceful conclusion Tuesday, with less than half as many Muslims taking part in the hajj this year due to fears that a Middle East-based respiratory illness could spread among the throngs of faithful. At least 51 people have died in Saudi Arabia over the last year from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, a virus related to SARS, which killed hundreds worldwide a decade ago. Limits on visas for foreigners hoping to take part in the pilgrimage that all able-bodied Muslims are expected to fulfill at least once in their lifetime cut the number arriving from abroad to 1.38 million, the Public Statistics Department said in a statement carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency.
October 9, 2013 | By Eryn Brown
After they got married last year, Homaira and Jahan Hamid decided they would embark on the hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia "as soon as possible," before parental duties began to crowd out their religious obligations. When the Northridge couple discovered that a mysterious and sometimes deadly virus had emerged in the desert kingdom, killing more than 40% of the people it was known to have infected, they briefly reconsidered. The hajj - which every able Muslim must attend at least once in their lives - annually draws to Mecca as many as 3 million people, all gathered together.
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.
August 27, 2013 | By Carla Rivera
San Gabriel Valley residents are being urged to take precautions while outdoors after tests confirmed West Nile virus activity in three cities in the region, authorities said Tuesday. 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. The samples were collected in the last few weeks from the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Santa Anita Racetrack in Arcadia, the Santa Fe Dam Recreational Area in Irwindale, and an area near Garvey Ranch Park in Monterey Park.
August 22, 2013 | By Paresh Dave
A Los Angeles digital marketing company scammed "a substantial number" of Angry Birds players through deceptive banner ads, according to a Federal Trade Commission complaint. Jesta Digital agreed to a $1.2-million settlement with the FTC. On top of that, the company agreed to give refunds to customers who were duped. The ads targeted the hundreds of millions of Android device owners who use the free version of the mobile game Angry Birds , the FTC complaint said. Jesta ads in the app and other places online said that a virus had been detected on the device.
August 21, 2013 | By Paresh Dave
Remember the sneaky trick played by software makers? Download a free program and somehow it would automatically install an unwanted "search toolbar" on your computer's Internet browser. That annoying ploy hasn't disappeared on mobile phones. At least 50 million Android smartphones have downloaded a free app from the Google Play store called Brightest Flashlight Free that installs an unnecessary search feature on phones. The app activates a phone's camera light when launched - helpful.
August 9, 2013 | By Monte Morin
A transfusion of blood tainted with West Nile virus most likely caused the death of a hospitalized cancer patient in 2012, according to a new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on Friday, researchers urged doctors to suspect the virus in patients who had lowered immunity and had recently received transfusions. "Although WNV is rarely transmitted through screened blood products, clinicians should consider WNV disease in patients with compatible symptoms who were recently transfused," wrote lead author Dr. Sharon Kelly, a pathologist at Presbyterian/St.
August 6, 2013 | By Christine Mai-Duc
Recreational activities, classes and tours have been relocated from a Torrance preserve after the marsh was temporarily closed amid heightening concerns over the West Nile virus and the first confirmed death this year in Southern California due to the disease. City officials said that the closure, effective immediately, was "a precautionary measure" based on data from the local vector control office and that the marsh will remain closed indefinitely. In the meantime, regularly scheduled classes and tours are being moved from the marsh to a nature center across the street.
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