Thursday April 26, 2018

Microscopic Mites known as Chiggers cause Deadly Scrub Typhus, kill 140,000 people a year in Chile

Chiggers transmit the bacteria, Orientia tsutsugamushi , they spread through the lymphatic fluid and show a number of symptoms

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FILE - A fisherman walks on the shore of the fishing village Quetalmahue in Chile's Chiloe island, May 10, 2016. Scrub typhus has been confirmed in a cluster of cases on the island, far from places it usually strikes. Image source: VOA
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  • Sept 09, 2016: Microscopic biting mites known as chiggers leads to a deadly disease know as Scrub Typhus. Scientists quoted on Wednesday that “This disease is common in Southeast Asia and has been rapidly spreading in parts of South America and it could have become endemic there.

The bacteria that caused this disease were first identified in Japan in 1930 and it has been known since many years.

Scrub typhus is a tropical disease which kills at least 140,000 people a year in the Asia-Pacific region. This has been confirmed in a cluster of cases on a large island off Chile. This island is 12,000 kilometers away from its usual haunts on the other side of Pacific.

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Chiggers transmit the bacteria, Orientia tsutsugamushi , they spread through the lymphatic fluid and show a number of symptoms. Sudden illness with shaking chills, fever, severe headache, infection of the mucus membrane in the eyes, and lymph node swelling are the symptoms of this disease.

It was Mis conceptualized until 2006 that Scrub typhus was restricted to a limited area. This was called the “tsutsugamushi triangle,” which ranged from Pakistan in the west to far eastern Russia in the east to northern Australia in the south.

Wider distribution?

Researchers from Britain’s Oxford University and the Pontificia Universidad Católica and Universidad del Desarrollo in Chile while writing to “The New England Journal of Medicine” said that, cases found off Chile’s mainland, “suggest there may be a much wider global distribution than previously understood.”

Charles Nicolle received the 1928 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his identification of lice as the transmitter of epidemic typhus. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Charles Nicolle received the 1928 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his identification of lice as the transmitter of epidemic typhus. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Two cases of scrub typhus were found outside the triangle in the year 2006. One, in the Middle East, was caused by a previously unrecorded bacteria related to tsutsugamushi and namedOrientia Chuto. The second was found on Chiloe island, just off mainland Chile.

Paul Newton, director of the Lao-Oxford-Mahosot Hospital-Wellcome Trust Research Unit said “Scrub typhus is a common disease but a neglected one.”

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In January 2015 and again in early 2016 on the northern coast of Chiloe that is, in Ancud, three more cases were discovered.

This disease causes approximately a million clinical cases, and kills at least 140,000 people each year,there’s evidence of an even bigger burden of disease in another part of the world highlights the need for more research and attention to it.”

– prepared by Manthra Koliyer with inputs from VOA

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6-inch skeleton found in Chile not of alien: Study

Some of these mutations, though found in genes already known to cause disease, had never before been associated with bone growth or developmental disorders

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The skeleton found was not of an alien. IANS
  • The skeleton found in Chile is not of an alien
  • Instead of an alien, it could be an infant with a bone-ageing disorder
  • The discovery earlier held the interest of many

Ruling out the possibility of the extra-terrestrial origin of a mysterious six-inch skeleton discovered in Chile, scientists have found that it was of a female, likely a foetus, who had a rare, bone-ageing disorder.

Discovered more than a decade ago in an abandoned town in the Atacama Desert, the mummified specimen, nicknamed Ata, started to garner public attention after it found a permanent home in Spain.

Standing just six inches tall with an angular, elongated skull and sunken, slanted eye sockets, the Internet began to bubble with other-worldly hullabaloo and talk of ET. But the analysis by Stanford University School of Medicine scientists suggests that Ata was, without doubt, a human.

Earlier the skeleton was thought to belong to an alien. Pixabay

This was the skeleton of a human female that had suffered severe genetic mutations, according to the study published in the journal published in the Genome Research. Ata, though most likely a foetus, had the bone composition of a six-year-old, an indication that she had a rare, bone-ageing disorder, the study found.

To understand the genetic drivers at play, the researchers extracted a small DNA sample from Ata’s ribs and sequenced the entire genome. The skeleton is approximately 40 years old, so its DNA is modern and still relatively intact. Moreover, data collected from whole-genome sequencing showed that Ata’s molecular composition aligned with that of a human genome.

Wile a small percentage of the DNA was unmatchable with human DNA, that was due to a degraded sample, not extraterrestrial biology, said one of the researchers Garry Nolan, Professor at Stanford. The genomic results confirmed Ata’s Chilean descent and turned up a slew of mutations in seven genes that separately or in combinations contribute to various bone deformities, facial malformations or skeletal dysplasia, more commonly known as dwarfism.

Also Read: Do Aliens Exist? 10 Undeniable Reasons that will make you believe in Aliens!

Some of these mutations, though found in genes already known to cause disease, had never before been associated with bone growth or developmental disorders. Knowing these new mutational variants could be useful, Nolan said, because they add to the repository of known mutations to look for in humans with these kinds of bone or physical disorders.

“For me, what really came of this study was the idea that we shouldn’t stop investigating when we find one gene that might explain a symptom. It could be multiple things going wrong, and it’s worth getting a full explanation, especially as we head closer and closer to gene therapy,” said study co-author Atul Butte of the University of California-San Francisco. IANS