Posts Tagged virus

The bacteria-eating virus that could one day power your mobile phone

  • Virus can turn movement into electricity
  • Could one day power your mobile phone or a pacemaker as you walk

Sam Shead

12:15 EST, 13 August 2012


02:13 EST, 14 August 2012

Countless scientists have mastered how to extract power from bacteria in the search for eco-friendly energy.

But they’ve now gone one step further and figured out how to harness energy from a virus that eats bacteria.

A team at the University of California, Berkeley has discovered how to generate electricity from a virus known as M13 bacteriophage.

Bioengineers believe they can harness the properties of a virus known as M13 batteriophage to generate electricity

Bioengineers believe they can harness the properties of a virus known as M13 batteriophage to generate electricity

The virus possesses a property known as piezoelectricity, which means it can translate mechanical energy into electrical energy.

The researchers believe the discovery could one day pave the way for mobile phones that can be charged while you walk and replace the toxic piezoelectric elements already used in mobile phones.

Shake to charge: The discovery could lead to phones powered using a bacteria eating virus

Shake to charge: The discovery could lead to phones powered using a bacteria eating virus

Most mobile phone microphones are piezoelectric because they need to convert energy from sound waves into electrical output that can be transmitted and then translated back into sound waves at the other end of the line. 

These piezoelectric components are made out of heavy, toxic metals such as lead and cadmium, according to bioengineer Seung-Wuk Lee.

However, many biomolecules such as proteins and nucleic acids are also piezoelectric.

M13 bacteriophage has the ability to generate electricity when compressed but lacks the toxicity of the traditional elements.

Lee and his colleagues found that the pencil-shaped M13 is potentially a perfect energy source because the virus is not harmful to humans.


The team found the virus could provide 25% of the power produced by a AAA battery

The team found the virus could provide 25% of the power produced by a AAA battery

It is also cheap and easy to make to the extent that scientists can get trillions of viruses from a single flask of infected bacteria.

The shape of the virus is important because M13 can be easily assembled into thin sheets.

To improve the electricity generating power of M13, Lee’s team tweaked the amino acid content of the virus’s outer protein coat by adding four negatively charged glutamate molecules.

The team stacked sheets of viruses on top of one another to amplify the piezoelectric effect.

The scientists found that when they attached a one square centimetre virus film to a pair of gold electroodes and pressed firmly on one of those electrodes, the film produced enough electricity to light up a liquid crystal display of the number ‘1’.

The result was 400 millivolts of power, or about one quarter the energy of a AAA battery.

Lee believes this shows that biomaterial piezoelectrics are feasible.

‘This will bring a lot of excitement to the field,’ says Zhong Lin Wang, an engineer at the Georgia Institute of Technology who was not involved in the study.

‘By utilising the properties of these biomaterials, we can find unique applications in the future.’

This pacemaker stops people regularly fainting

Possible devices include a pacemaker powered by the beating of one’s heart

Here’s what other readers have said. Why not
debate this issue live on our message boards.

The comments below have not been moderated.

DM, you could at least put the correct photo of the M13 phage, not just a ‘general virus’ photo. To everyone saying “What will it take to start an epidemic” “This will eventually kill us” etc, you really need to read. Bacteriophages are viruses that infect bacteria ONLY, animals don’t have the same recognition sites (And never will) as bacteriafor these bacteriophages to bind and infect the cell. They are specific ONLY to bacteria and only to certain species of bacteria.

Another day, another misuse of “bacteria”.

“This has to be one of the worst articles I’ve ever read DM. Since when can a virus that is simply formed from nucleic acid and a protein coat, eat bacteria? Viruses don’t eat. Surely you would expect the scientific reporting department not to be so dense?
– Gloria, Hertfordshire, 13/8/2012 20:37”
Actually, it’s called a Bacteriophage, which is Latin for Bacteria Eater, so the article is no worse than the scientific name. Of course they don’t actually “eat” bacteria, what they do is take over the bacteria and use it’s components to replicate themselves. These sort of viruses are not at all unusual, there are millions of different types, and most are highly specific and will only target one type of bacteria, or at most a few. They are totally harmless to all animals and plants, in fact it is felt that they could offer the solution to the problem of drug resistance in bacteria, as they can destroy specific bacteria without harming the host or other beneficial bacteria.

Yep bacteria has DNA ,and so do humans.

and this is how the end of the world begins…
virus in my phone? zombies anyone.

What if some idiot trys to break the battery?

isn’t that slavery forcing bacteria to gernerate electricity, don’t they have rights.

Does this not make you wonder if terminator is really so far fetched?

This has to be one of the worst articles I’ve ever read DM. Since when can a virus that is simply formed from nucleic acid and a protein coat, eat bacteria? Viruses don’t eat. Surely you would expect the scientific reporting department not to be so dense?

its like the matrix. we’ll be next!

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West Nile Virus spreads across the country

DALLAS – Most of the country is under watch for cases of the deadly West Nile Virus.

So far this year, 43 states have reported infections in people, birds, or mosquitoes.

Almost half of the record number of cases are in Texas.

Maryland health officials reported the first case in a person last week.

Nationwide, the CDC reports 636 cases so far this year, 26 of which were fatal.

Controversial aerial spraying is set to being in and around Dallas on Thursday night.  The first time they’ve doe that since 1996.

Health officials everywhere are urging people to use mosquito repellent whenever they’re outdoors because even if there is spraying in your area, it can’t kill all the mosquitoes.

Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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West Nile Virus Confirmed in Two Mobile County Zipcodes – WKRG

The Mobile County Health Department says sentinel chickens in two locations have tested positive for West Nile (WNV). The locations are in the 36613 ZIP Code area and the 36571 ZIP Code area.

The risk of encephalitis spread by mosquitoes typically coincides with periods of warmer weather, people should still assume that there are mosquitoes in their communities that are infectious for diseases such as WNV or other forms of mosquito-borne encephalitis such as eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) and St. Louis encephalitis (SLE).

Humans with WNV, EEE and SLE often have symptoms of high fever, severe headache, nausea, stiff neck, confusion, muscle weakness, paralysis, disorientation, and seizures that are severe enough to require medical attention. In rare cases, WNV, SLE, and EEE can cause coma or death. The seriousness of an illness may depend on a person’s health and age. WNV affects the elderly most severely, and EEE affects the young and elderly most severely.


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1 person dies from West Nile virus here

Vanderburgh County health officials said its teams are fully mobilized to continue fighting West Nile virus locally after authorities said Wednesday Indiana’s first death from the virus this year came in Vanderburgh County.

County Health Department officials said vector control units will continue fogging South Side neighborhoods where mosquito activity has been high at least through Friday, and two volunteer teams will be distributing information pamphlets about the mosquito-borne virus in the same area today.

“There is no reason for the public to panic,” said Health Officer Dr. Ray Nicholson. “There is every reason for the public to get rid of all standing water and help us out in any way they can to eliminate the mosquito population.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 26 people have died from the virus this year, most coming in Texas.

Some 693 cases of the virus have been reported in humans so far, the CDC said, the highest through the second week of August since West Nile was first detected in the United States in 1999.

Health officials declined to release any information on the victim, including the victim’s hometown. Those officials — including State Department of Health spokeswoman Amy Reel — said they could only confirm the death occurred in Vanderburgh County.

The state agency reported Indiana has six other confirmed cases in five counties: Fulton, Hamilton, Jackson, Marion, and Monroe.

“That was the only case in Vanderburgh County,” Reel said regarding the fatality.

There’s no vaccine or cure for the disease. Officials say it usually causes a milder form of the illness that can include fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands and rash.

“Most people do not die,” Nicholson said.

Nicholson said the local and national deaths prompted him to declare a health emergency Tuesday, the first time he’s done so in his five year-tenure as health officer.

The declaration essentially calls local CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) and MRC (Medical Reserve Corps) volunteers to execute an information canvassing mission in the fogging area.

CERT program manager Bryant Garibay said about a dozen members were out Wednesday and about 20 will be out today to revisit neighborhoods bounded by Pollack Avenue, I-164, Boeke Avenue, and U.S. 41.

“They’ll be passing out literature to educate the general public on the West Nile virus,” Garibay said.

That literature will likely include the following tips:

n Use insect repellent when outdoors, especially near dusk and dawn. Follow the label directions during application.

n Make sure screens on doors, windows and porches are in good repair to prevent mosquitoes from getting inside.

n Reduce mosquito breeding habitat by emptying buckets, removing discarded tires and changing the water in wading pools and bird baths once a week.

Health Department PIO Chris Allen said that area was targeted for factors including complaints and positive West Nile pool tests.

But residents there shouldn’t be the only ones concerned.

“There’s a little delay between the time of testing and the time we find out about it,” Allen said. “So to be safe, I would assume it’s pretty much everywhere.”

Health officials said efforts are ongoing and may expand.

“We are very vigilant,” Allen said. “And we are going to continue spraying and canvassing the neighborhoods with information as long as necessary.”

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Jump in West Nile virus has cities scrambling to spray for mosquitos

Oklahoma is one of many states that has seen an alarming jump in West Nile virus cases. One death has been confirmed from the virus with a second suspected and people are worrying about the mosquitos that carry the disease. Many cities, including Dallas have decided to implement aerial spraying but Tulsa decided against that. John Baker, environmental public health manager for Tulsa Health Department told us “It was the cost and trying to find a licensed pest control company that could perform that kind of service.”

John told KRMG news while it seemed pretty neat, in the end the bucks were the big deal. “It just wasn’t that cost effective for what we knew at the time so we put the money into new spray units.”

Listen to the entire interview with John here.

So Tulsa stayed on the ground but John says they beefed up the fleet. “We went from two spray trucks to five” he said.  And those trucks don’t just wander around the area “we base our spraying activity on mosquito counts in our traps” John began. But there are other criteria as well. “Citizen request for spraying and then any positive mosquito pool or positive human.”

Oklahoma weather also makes the effectiveness of the spraying somewhat spotty. “If the wind is blowing much more than ten miles per hour it really renders our fog ineffective” John said. “We need that fog to hang low, and hang long.” It turns out to kill mosquitos, you need their help. “We need the mosquitos to come up out of the bushes and the grass and actually fly up into the billions of little tiny droplets of pesticide.”

Despite the uptick in West Nile cases, Baker told calls complaining about mosquitos are actually down. “We’ve only been getting maybe nine or ten a day and over this past weekend we only had ten.”

The Health Department traps and tests mosquitos around town.  Baker says those tests indicate the critter population is down and so are the infected samples. “So far we’ve tested since the first of July around 300, maybe 320 pools” Baker noted. “So far we’ve only had a total of 30 of those, about 10% test positive for West Nile.”

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State confirms year’s first human case of West Nile virus


The year’s first human case of West Nile virus has been diagnosed, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced Wednesday.

The patient is a man in his 60s who lives in Middlesex County north of Boston, according to the DPH. He was diagnosed with West Nile virus in late July and is recovering at a local hospital.

Based on this finding, health officials raised the West Nile virus threat level to moderate in Arlington, Belmont, Cambridge, Somerville and Watertown, the DPH said.

Separately, officials have also confirmed the first case of West Nile virus in a horse in Ludlow, and the threat level in that town has been raised to high.

West Nile virus infected mosquitoes have been found in 48 communities from nine counties so far during 2012, the DPH said.

There were six cases of West Nile virus in Massachusetts residents and one in a horse last year.

While West Nile virus can infect people of all ages, people over the age of 50 are at higher risk for severe disease, the DPH said. West Nile virus is usually transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Most people infected with West Nile virus will have no symptoms, but symptoms do occur, they include fever and flu-like illness, and in rare cases, more severe illness can occur.

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Dallas mayor declares emergency over West Nile virus

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Wed, 15 Aug 2012 22:40 GMT

Source: reuters



(Updates with more details, additional death in Texas, explanation of disease)

By Marice Richter

DALLAS, Aug 15 (Reuters) – The mayor of Dallas declared a state of emergency in the ninth largest U.S. city on Wednesday to combat the spread of West Nile virus infections, which have been more prevalent than usual in Texas and other states this year.

There have been more cases of West Nile virus reported so far this year than any year since the disease was first detected in the United States in 1999, the Centers for Disease Control said on its website.

Nearly half of the 693 human cases of the mosquito-borne West Nile virus infections reported this year to the CDC have been in Texas, along with 14 of the 26 deaths confirmed by the federal agency as of Tuesday.

The Texas health department said the number of cases of West Nile in the state had reached 465 and there had been 17 deaths. There is a lag in the CDC confirming cases and deaths.

The emergency declaration by Mayor Mike Rawlings followed a similar action last week by Dallas County officials and paves the way for aerial pesticide spraying to begin this week.

Aerial spraying also is being used elsewhere, including in neighborhoods in New York City and Sacramento, California, to combat the spread of West Nile virus. Officials say such spraying is the most effective way to fight the mosquitoes that carry the disease despite safety concerns about exposing people to chemical pesticides.

“We are on track to have the worst year ever for West Nile virus in Texas,” said Christine Mann, a spokeswoman for the Texas health department, adding that the number of cases was triple the previous high year of 2003.

It is not clear why the number of West Nile cases in Texas is so high. It could be related to a warmer winter and rainy spring that has contributed to an increased mosquito population, Mann said.

West Nile virus usually flares up in the summer because it is most often transmitted by mosquito bites. People infected can suffer fever and aches that can become severe or even cause death, especially of the elderly, children and other at risk groups. There is no specific treatment for the West Nile infection. (Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Greg McCune. Editing by Andre Grenon)

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WEST NILE VIRUS: Outbreak is county’s most severe

For information on insect repellents, go to the Centers for Disease Control website:

To report swarms of mosquitoes, call the San Angelo health department at 325-657-4493.

West Nile virus has killed one person and hospitalized three others in the most severe outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease ever seen in Tom Green County.

Dr. Irv Zeitler, vice president of medical affairs at Shannon Medical Center, said Tuesday the four cases have come into the center since July 27. He declined to specify the date of death for the fatality out of concern that it might identify the patient.

“It’s very unusual for us to have this many neuroinvasive cases in such a short period of time,” said Zeitler, a family practice doctor. “We thought it would be appropriate to get the information out to folks about prevention.

“The risk is not high, but it is present.”

West Nile virus first appeared in Texas in 2002, and the first cases in Tom Green County were recorded the same year. The disease is transmitted by mosquitoes, and most people — 80 percent — who are infected show no symptoms. Another 20 percent get mild symptoms including fever and aches. But 1 percent of those infected get the neuroinvasive iteration of the disease, which can be fatal.

Working backward from the four neuroinvasive cases, the statistical probability suggests about 400 people in the county might be infected, of whom 80 might have the milder symptoms.

Zeitler said there appeared to be no geographic pattern in the four cases and they seemed to have nothing in common, such as being near water. “The real risk is being outside and being exposed to mosquitoes,” he said.

There is no anti-virus or vaccine for West Nile, Zeitler said, and people who seek medical help are given symptomatic treatments such as hydration and pain control medication.

“Often with symptomatic treatment, there’s a good outcome,” he said. “What cures this disease is our own immune system.”

He said the neuroinvasive form is seen almost exclusively in people older than 50 who often have other health problems and an increased risk of complications. Any conditions that affect the immune system — or conditions requiring immunosuppressive medication such as chemotherapy, organ transplants or even steroid medication for asthma — put people at greater risk of developing the more severe form of West Nile, he said.

“Symptoms mimic a stroke,” Zeitler said. “People come in with very severe headaches, often confused. There could be vocal paralysis or visual changes, depending on what part of the brain is swelling.”

The diagnosis is confirmed with a blood test and sometimes a lumbar puncture, he said.

Sherian Briley, marketing director for San Angelo Community Medical Center, said the hospital has not reported any West Nile cases this year.

Texas State Department of Health records show that one neuroinvasive case occurred in Tom Green County in 2002 and another in 2003, but neither was fatal.

The identity of the person who died this year from the disease is not a matter of public record, but Sandra Villareal, director of public health for the city of San Angelo, said the victim was a resident of Eden and the fatality would be reported for Concho County, not Tom Green County.

The outbreak this year is Texas-wide. Christine Mann, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of State Health Services, said 16 deaths and more than 380 cases have been confirmed around the state, many of them in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where nine deaths have been reported.

“Texas is on track to have the worst year ever for West Nile,” she said. Reasons for the strength of the outbreak are not yet clear, she said, but contributing factors could include a warm winter followed by heavy spring rains, creating favorable conditions for mosquitoes.

The city of San Angelo uses chemical spray delivered by trucks to keep mosquito populations down, although with the drought they haven’t been unusually busy, Rick Dickson, the city’s director of operations, said Tuesday.

“Right now, we’re just spraying hot spots like … Red Arroyo, places where mosquitoes breed,” he said. The city will respond to individual householders’ reports about swarms of mosquitoes, he said.

“We check on complaint areas,” he said. “A lot of people have standing water on their property, and we get complaints after rains.”

“People don’t realize how little water it takes for mosquitoes to breed,” he said. “We try educate homeowners.”

Mann said this time of year is the peak of the West Nile season.

“We may be better able to analyze the causes for this once the season is complete,” she said.

Repellents, coverings vital to protection

Follow these guidelines to protect yourself from mosquito bites:

Apply insect repellent to exposed skin. Generally, the more active ingredient a repellent contains, the longer it can protect you from mosquito bites. A higher percentage of active ingredient in a repellent does not mean your protection is better — just that it will last longer. Choose a repellent that provides protection for the amount of time you will be outdoors.

Repellents may irritate the eyes and mouth, so avoid applying repellent to the hands of children.

Whenever you use an insecticide or insect repellent, read and follow the manufacturer’s directions for use, as printed on the product.

Spray clothing with repellents containing permethrin or another EPA-registered repellent since mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing. Do not apply repellents containing permethrin directly to exposed skin. Do not apply repellent to skin under your clothing.

When weather permits, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when you are outdoors.

Place mosquito netting over infant carriers when you are outdoors with infants.

Consider staying indoors at dawn, dusk and in the early evening, which are peak mosquito-biting times.

Install or repair window and door screens so mosquitoes cannot get indoors.

Help reduce the number of mosquitoes in areas outdoors where you work or play by draining sources of standing water. Such actions reduce the number of places mosquitoes can lay their eggs and breed.

At least once or twice a week, empty water from flower pots, pet food and water dishes, birdbaths, swimming pool covers, buckets, barrels and cans.

Clean out clogged rain gutters.

Remove discarded tires and other items that could collect water.

Be sure to check for containers or trash in places that may be hard to see, such as under bushes or under your home.

Note: Vitamin B and “ultrasonic” devices are not effective in preventing mosquito bites.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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DuPage reports first West Nile case

A Downers Grove woman in her 50s has contracted the first reported human case of West Nile virus in DuPage County this year, the county’s health department announced Tuesday.

Department spokesman David Hass said the county was notified Tuesday about the case. He did not have details about the woman’s condition.

West Nile virus has been found in mosquito batches across the state. At least six human cases have been reported this year in Cook County.

“We have been expecting this, simply because the weather is very conducive to the kind of mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus,” Hass said.

About 1 in 5 people infected with the virus develop symptoms including fever, headache, body aches, joint pain, vomiting and diarrhea. Fewer than 1 percent develop a serious neurological illness like meningitis.

People over 50 and those with medical conditions including cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease and organ transplants are at greater risk for serious illness, according to the DuPage County Health Department.

People with milder illnesses typically recover on their own. In more severe cases, patients need to be hospitalized for treatment.

[email protected]

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Be careful to avoid mobile malware – ihotdesk

The term ‘computer virus’ could soon be changed to ‘device virus’ as people’s communications methods evolves.

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Category IT Consultancy
Article date 15 August 2012
Be careful to avoid mobile malwareThe term ‘computer virus’ could soon be changed to ‘device virus’ as people’s communications methods evolves.

Indeed, while viruses and other malicious threats have been around almost as long as computer technology itself, it seems that the cybercriminals who create them are now turning their attention towards mobile tech.

The days of people working solely off desktop PCs are now long gone with tablets and smartphones now being utilised by many people so the fact that the online bad guys are targeting them should come as no surprise.

But this doesn’t mean that you’re going to get your phone invaded by malware every time you download a new app.

As Fahmida Y. Rashid pointed out on IT Pro Portal recently, mobile threats are still take up a small proportion of the total number of threats out there and, providing you’re sensible, the chances of stumbling upon one are remote.

But why take the risk?

If you download apps only from recognised stores such as Apple’s App Store or Google’s Play Store then the chances of your device being breached are slim to known. The risk of coming across a rogue app, though, increases when downloading items from unofficial app stores or sites.

“When looking at apps, do some research on the developer and the company. Search the name on Google to see if the company is reputable, and to learn about the developer’s history,” Ms Rashid advised. “And yes, this level of caution tends to favour well-established developers over newcomers.”

She also suggested that you be wary of the reviews posted on apps because many developers post fake ones to lure you into a false sense of security.

Ms Rashid also said you should question any apps which ask for access to your social networking profile after they have been downloaded. All too often people grant apps permissions without really thinking about why.

Breaking news from ihotdesk, IT security solutions in LondonADNFCR-8000229-ID-801429764-ADNFCR

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