Providence & UCLA Team Up to Prevent deadly Chagas disease – the leading cause of heart failure worldwide.

Deadly Chagas disease is transmitted by the kissing bug, aka ‘love bug’ – cousin to the bedbug.

February is American Heart Month and a good time to spotlight one of the leading causes of heart failure worldwide – and one that is preventable through simple screenings.

Chagas disease, caused by the chagas bugs found in Central America and some areas of the U.S., can lie dormant in victims for decades, then manifest itself with devastating consequences.For the past eight years, Providence Health & Services has teamed with the Center of Excellence for Chagas Disease at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center in Sylmar to screen for chagas.

UCLA cardiologist Sheba Meymandi, M.D., program director, believes all migrants from Central America, from infants to age 60, should be screened for the disease, which is curable in its early stages.

“Complications of chagas are horrific,” Meymandi said. “We have a lot of patients who need heart transplants. But if you catch them before complications, you either cure them or slow the progression.”

Eight years ago, Providence adopted the prevention program as a community outreach project, providing volunteers who screen patients.

Last month, Providence contributed $20,000 to the program for outreach in the community as part of its ongoing financial support.

A recent screening coordinated by Providence volunteers resulted in blood samples from 100 people.

The disease is caused by the chagas bug, which bites humans then defecates. Scratching the bite can result in the feces entering the bloodstream, causing a disease victims unknowingly carry for decades. The sooner one discovers the disease, the better the chance of cure, or medication to prevent its escalation.

The parasite exists in our country, but living conditions and the likelihood the species behaves differently result in fewer cases of chagas disease.

This article is a news release provided by Providence Health & Services.

BedBugs reported in some of NYC’s swankiest hotels. They were always there; and it’s getting worse. More important to follow as BedBugs transmit deadly Chagas disease.

February 8, 2016 | by Leonard Greene | New York Daily News
It’s not just the fleabags and flophouses.

Bedbugs have been reported in some of the city’s swankiest hotels with a list that includes the Waldorf Astoria the Millennium Hilton and the New York Marriott Marquis.

According to the Bedbug Registry, a nationwide database of bedbug reports and complaints, bedbug sightings in New York hotels have jumped more than 44 percent between 2014 and 2015.

The Millenium Hilton at 55 Church Street in New York New York.
Google Maps Street View

The Millenium Hilton at 55 Church Street in New York New York.

The data focused on establishments that are members of the Hotel Association of New York City.

Of the 272 association members, 65 percent, or 176 members, have had a guest file at least one complaint about bedbugs at the property.

NR

Michelle Bennett/Getty Images/Lonely Planet Image

Taxi cabs outside Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

Eighteen hotels had a combined 363 complaints, representing 42 percent of all bedbug complaints.

“I stayed in room 2306 for one night,” a Millennium Hilton guest wrote in a complaint to the hotel in 2014. “I found blood on my sheets and a live bug on my bed. I ended up with 60 plus bites.”

At the Times Square Doubletree guest said a stay there last year left hundreds of bite marks on the face, neck arms and hands.

“Extreme case of bed bug attacked on my entire upper body,” the guest wrote.” Went home to Florida a day early and ended up in my local emergency room.”

Research Entomologist Jeffrey White shows off some bedbugs at a informational bedbug conference at 201 Mulberry Street in Manhattan Wednesday.

Warga, Craig/New York Daily News

Last month, a California couple posted a YouTube video about their $400-a-night Central Park hotel room nightmare. The couple found dozens of bedbugs beneath their mattress at the Astor on the Park Hotel.

Lisa Linden, a spokeswoman for the hotel association, said hotels in New York are addressing the issue.

“Bedbugs are a global issue that extend beyond hotels,” Linden said.

”Every member of the Hotel Association of NYC that we are aware of has an active anti-bedbug program in place. If a problem arises, it is dealt with immediately and effectively.”

Scientists who recently studied the bloodsucking creatures in the city’s subway system discovered a genetic diversity among bedbugs depending upon the neighborhood where they were found.

They said the discovery could lead to better insecticides.

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Watch this BedBug go from flat to FAT

FYI – A 2014 Penn State Study confirms that Chagas CAN be transmitted by bed bugs and that bed bugs carry 40 other pathogens and MRSA.  ~A. Steiner~

February 8, 2016 | Christopher Terrell Nield | The Conversation
The bedbug problem is getting worse. Infestation horror stories have popped up in most major cities and a pest control team was even asked recently to exterminate bedbugs on an offshore oil rig.

We tend to associate bedbugs with dirty living conditions, but this is a myth – they don’t actually choose dirty homes over clean ones.  Unusually for many blood-sucking insects, bed bugs haven’t (yet) been implicated in spreading disease to the humans they bite, so that’s one small thing in their favour, though they are suspected of carrying organisms that cause leprosy, oriental sore and the bacterial brucellosis, and may be able to transmit Chagas disease.

After feasting on human blood the same bedbug goes from flat (00:25) to fat (3:25).

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Messing with BedBugs’ Genes Could Carry Other Risks?

Bed Bugs Will Outlive All Of Us Unless We Screw With Their Genes

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photo:  Bluejake/Sara Bibi/Gothamist

Bed bugs, like cockroaches and new seasons of The Bachelor, seem impossible to eradicate from the face of the Earth, no matter how many exterminators our landlords call to spray that one time and then never, ever again. But Science says there’s some small hope for the extinction of a moviegoer’s biggest fear—screwing with their genome.

Scientists have managed to map the genome of the common bed bug, revealing some fun things about the little suckers. For instance, bed bugs are actually able to break down toxins, like the ones an exterminator might use, to render them harmless, allowing them to survive even when you try to whack them with bug killer. They’ve also been MUTATING, producing genes that make them resistant to certain insecticides and making it all the more difficult to eradicate an infestation. Another fun fact is that bugs’ genes vary from location to location—a Brooklyn bed bug will have a different genetic sequence from a Queens bed bug, though both are equally disgusting.

Bed bugs also inbreed, and their sex is quite violent. This violent sex has been well-documented, and for those of you who have not yet seen Isabella Rossellini’s bed bug porno, you’re welcome, and sorry:

The takeaway here is that bed bugs have been able to hold us hostage for a long time, but scientists might be able to murder them, provided they make a few genetic tweaks. First, though, let’s kill all the mosquitoes.

[A. Steiner:  So…..Messing with Genes Could Carry Other Risks – YES!]

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Genome of BedBug shows close relationships to Kissing Bug, one of several vectors for deadly Chagas disease, and the body louse. Both have tight associations with humans.

February 2, 2016 | News from Weill Cornell Medical College

Researchers Sequence First Bedbug Genome.  Scientists have assembled the first complete genome of one of humanity’s oldest and least-loved companions: the bedbug. The new work, led by researchers at the American Museum of Natural History and Weill Cornell Medicine, and published Feb. 2 in Nature Communications, could help combat pesticide resistance in the unwelcome parasite. The data also provides a rich genetic resource for mapping bedbug activity in human hosts and in cities, including subways.

male and female bedbugs – both fed and unfed – comparison with apple seeds

“Bedbugs are one of New York City’s most iconic living fossils, along with cockroaches, meaning that their outward appearance has hardly changed throughout their long lineage,” said one of the paper’s corresponding authors Dr. George Amato, director of the museum’s Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics. “But despite their static look, we know that they continue to evolve, mostly in ways that make it harder for humans to dissociate with them. This work gives us the genetic basis to explore the bedbug’s basic biology and its adaptation to dense human environments.”

The common bedbug (Cimex lectularius) has been coupled with humans for thousands of years. This species is found in temperate regions and prefers to feed on human blood. In recent decades, the prevalence of heated homes and global air travel has accelerated infestations in urban areas, where bedbugs have constant access to blood meals and opportunities to migrate to new hosts. A resurgence in bedbug infestations since the late 1990s is largely associated with the evolution of the insects’ resistance to known pesticides, many of which are not suitable for indoor application.

“Bedbugs all but vanished from human lives in the 1940s because of the widespread use of DDT, but unfortunately, overuse contributed to resistance issues quite soon after that in bedbugs and other insect pests,” said Louis Sorkin, an author on the paper and a senior scientific assistant in the Museum’s Division of Invertebrate Zoology. “Today, a very high percentage of bedbugs have genetic mutations that make them resistant to the insecticides that were commonly used to battle these urban pests. This makes the control of bedbugs extremely labor intensive.”

The researchers extracted DNA and RNA from preserved and living collections, including samples from a population that was first collected in 1973 and has been maintained by museum staff members since then. RNA was sampled from males and females representing each of the bug’s six life stages, before and after blood meals, in order to paint a full picture of the bedbug genome.

When compared with 20 other arthropod genomes, the genome of the common bedbug shows close relationships to the kissing bug (Rhodnius prolixus), one of several vectors for Chagas disease, and the body louse (Pediculus humanus), which both have tight associations with humans.

Click here to read complete article.

 

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Bed Bugs show resistance to pesticides: What to do now? Build a wall!

Why chemicals used to fight bed bugs aren’t working any longer was revealed in a new study that compared today’s bed bugs with those that have been isolated in a lab for 30 years.

February 1, 2016 | by Lonnie Shekhtman  | The Christian Science Monitor

The chemicals used to fight bed bug infestations are no longer working, say scientists from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and New Mexico State University. The tiny pests have developed a resistance to the most commonly used type of insecticides, called neonicotinoids, or neonics, which is part of the reason there has been a resurgence of them in the last couple of decades.

“While we all want a powerful tool to fight bed bug infestations, what we are using as a chemical intervention is not working as effectively it was designed and, in turn, people are spending a lot of money on products that aren’t working,” Troy Anderson, an assistant professor of entomology in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said in an announcement last week.

In an experiment, researchers compared bed bugs from homes in Cincinnati and Michigan that had been previously exposed to neonics with those that a researcher has kept isolated in a lab for 30 years, dating back to a time before the insecticides were used commercially.

In results published Thursday in the Journal of Medical Entomology, Dr. Anderson and Alvaro Romero, an assistant professor of entomology at New Mexico State University, reported that the bed bugs that had been isolated in a lab for 30 years died when treated with a small amount of neonics. Those collected from homes in Cincinnati and Michigan showed much higher resistance to the chemical treatment.

The team also tested bedbugs from New Jersey that were already resistant to pyrethroids, another class of widely used insecticides often mixed with neonics, but had been isolated from neonics since 2008. Those bugs were more susceptible to the insecticides than the ones from Cincinnati and Michigan, but not as much as the isolated bedbugs.

“Companies need to be vigilant for hints of declining performance of products that contain neonicotinoids,” Dr. Romero said in a study announcement.

“For example, bed bugs persisting on previously treated surfaces might be an indication of resistance. In these cases, laboratory confirmation of resistance is advised, and if resistance is detected, products with different modes of action need to be considered, along with the use of non-chemical methods,” he said.

Bed bugs are particularly burdensome in apartment buildings, where they can spread to many units. They are also more problematic for low-income, elderly, and disabled people who can’t spot the tiny red bug and often don’t have the means to get rid of them, say researchers from Virginia Tech.

Bed bugs thrive in beds, couches, and around electrical outlets and cause hundreds of bites a night.

“When well-off people get bed bugs, it’s an inconvenience. But when low-income families get them, there aren’t many options,” said Molly Stedfast, who worked with bed bugs as a graduate entomology student at Virginia Tech in 2013.

“Those who can’t afford the treatments,” she says, often end up living with bed bugs for a long time.

Virginia Tech’s pest lab recommends a nontoxic, non-neonic treatment that can be applied to the inside perimeter of an apartment. The treatment is diatomaceous earth, a dust made from fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae. Researchers said this dust has been used to control pests for more than a century. It clings to the bed bugs as they walk through it, absorbs moisture, and kills them via dehydration.

“We treat the perimeter of the apartment to isolate infestations in one unit and not allow them to spread. It is a lot less expensive to treat one apartment than every unit in the building,” said Dini Miller, a professor of entomology at Virginia Tech.

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

Announcement: Bedbug Genome Assembled

Bed_Bugs_CommentarayScientists have assembled the first complete genome of bedbugs, which existed in some form even before humans were around to invent beds.

February 2, 2016 | by Elizabeth Kolbert | The New Yorker

In the great contest that is life, the common bedbug, Cimex lectularius, qualifies as a winner. This is true not just in the Donald Trumpian sense of being extremely difficult to get rid of but in the long-term evolutionary sense of surviving multiple geological epochs. A creature that looked very much like a bedbug was scuttling around during the time of the dinosaurs; a sort of proto-bedbug has been found in amber that’s almost a hundred million years old. It’s not clear what that bug fed on, but it’s believed that long before modern humans—and therefore beds—existed, Cimex lectularius sucked on bats’ blood. When humans took to living in caves, bedbugs descended from the bats and began feeding on people. (There are still bedbugs that prefer bats, and scientists have proposed that the lineage that prefers humans is in the process of becoming a separate species.)

Today, researchers from the American Museum of Natural History and Weill Cornell Medicine announced that they had assembled the complete genome of Cimex lectularius. The same team is working on the cockroach genome; both projects are part of an effort to better understand so-called “living fossils.” A paper on the bedbug genome is appearing today in the journal Nature Communications.

“Bedbugs are one of New York City’s most iconic living fossils,” George Amato, one of the paper’s authors and the director of the museum’s Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics, noted. The bedbug genome turns out to consist of almost seven hundred million base pairs. This is significantly larger than the fruit-fly genome (a hundred and twenty million base pairs), but not nearly as large as the locust genome (six billion base pairs). In addition to sequencing the bedbug’s genome, the researchers also looked at gene expression over the bug’s life cycle, which spans five instar stages. From this, they concluded that the “first blood meal of the bedbug is the most dynamic period of the bedbug’s transcriptional activity.”

Bedbugs are so-called true bugs. Members of this group also include cicadas, aphids, and leafhoppers, and all share a common arrangement of mouthparts. As anyone who has suffered an infestation knows, bedbugs use their mouthparts, or proboscises, to seek out blood vessels. Then they inject anticoagulants into their victims, to prevent themselves from, in effect, choking. The researchers found that bedbugs possess several classes of genes that code for anticoagulant proteins, including for proteins usually associated with snake venom. This doesn’t mean that bedbugs are any more closely related to snakes than other insects, just that they’ve come up with some of the same strategies.

“What we’re really finding is a structural motif—something about the sequence of amino acids that is probably involved in preventing blood from clotting in the same way a snake venom protein is, but doesn’t share an evolutionary history,” Mark Siddall, another author of the paper and a curator at the Museum of Natural History, explained.

The ancient Greeks were already complaining about bedbugs in the fifth century B.C.; references to bedbugs appear in Aristophanes and then in Aristotle. The bugs seem to have travelled with humans along ancient trade routes; by the seventh century A.D., they were in China, and by the eleventh century in Germany. From Europe, bedbugs migrated to North America and Australia with the colonists.

Bedbugs suffered a population crash in the mid-twentieth century, with the introduction of pesticides like D.D.T. But they have since evolved resistance to many of the chemicals used against them, and their numbers have roared—or, if you prefer, snuck—back up. A recent study by researchers at Virginia Tech and New Mexico State University found that bedbugs have already evolved resistance to neonicotinoids, a class of pesticides that has been in use for only twenty years or so. (The study shows that it takes something like five hundred times the amount of neonicotinoids to kill bedbugs from populations that have been exposed to the chemicals as it takes to kill bugs from populations that have never been exposed.) The researchers who put together the bedbug genome identified several genes that may be involved in pesticide resistance; this information could potentially be used to create more effective bug killers.

“It turns a light on for people to begin in a logical way to explore these areas that we’ve identified,” Amato said.

By combining the information from the genome with information from DNA swabs taken from New York City subway stations, the researchers were also able to map relationships among the city’s bedbug populations. This effort suggests that even bedbugs have a hard time getting across Manhattan.

“We found more north-south connectivity for the bedbugs than we found east-west,” Siddall observed. “And that’s reflecting what we already know to be true.”

Trending today: #Bedbugs are developing a strong resistance to most common insecticides

February 2, 2016 | by Ryan Biek | Newsy

Bedbugs are reportedly building up a strong resistance to some of the most powerful insecticides due to overuse, which means we might need to turn to non-chemical solutions to get rid of them.

Researchers from Virginia Tech and New Mexico State University tested the most common class of insecticide called neonicotinoids, or neonics, which is often combined with pyrethroids in commercial treatments for bedbugs.

Bedbugs are developing a strong resistance to most common insecticides photo

They took a group of bedbugs that came from homes in Ohio and Michigan, which had previously been exposed to neonics, and compared those bedbugs to a population that has been kept in isolation for 30 years, before the insecticide was used.

A third group of bedbugs that was resistant to pyrethroids but never exposed to neonics was also included in the study.

Depending on the specific types of neonic tested, the Ohio and Michigan bedbugs were hundreds to tens of thousands of times more resistant than the isolated group.

The third group’s results were in the middle: more resistant than the isolated group but less resistant than the Ohio and Michigan bedbugs.

Because that third group had never been exposed to neonics, the researchers believe the bedbugs may have a pre-existing resistance mechanism.

The researchers said more non-chemical methods need to be used to combat bedbug infestations. However, they noted the most resistant bedbugs in the study only came from two areas, and not all of the U.S. may be facing this level of resistance.

Zika has nothing on deadly Chagas disease. Chagas disease is a much bigger problem.

February 1, 2016 | by Cal Crilly | Global Research

“Although a causal link between Zika infection in pregnancy and microcephaly has not, and I must emphasize, has not been established, the circumstantial evidence is suggestive and extremely worrisome,” WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said, reported by Reuters. “An increased occurrence of neurological symptoms, noted in some countries coincident with arrival of the virus, adds to the concern.”

Pesticides in Brazil and Pernambuco state are more likely to be the cause of microcephaly and birth defects than Zika virus and the links below speak for themselves.

“The farmers of Brazil have become the world’s top exporters of sugar, orange juice, coffee, beef, poultry and soybeans. They’ve also earned a more dubious distinction: In 2012, Brazil passed the United States as the largest buyer of pesticides.

This rapid growth has made Brazil an enticing market for pesticides banned or phased out in richer nations because of health or environmental risks.”

Why Brazil has a big appetite for risky pesticides

“According to the latest figures available from Brazil’s health ministry, published on 20 January, 3,893 cases of microcephaly have been recorded since the start of 2015. Pernambuco accounts for 1,306 of those, around a third of the total. In 2014, there were 150 cases across the whole of Brazil.” [1]

City at centre of Brazil’s Zika epidemic reeling from disease’s insidious effects

The most obvious cause of birth defects in this area is direct contact and absorption of pesticides.

“A study of pesticide use on tomatoes in the Northern State of Pernambuco, Brazil, indicates high exposure to pesticide workers and poor application methods which threaten the ecology of the area.”

“Women washed the pesticide application equipment, generally in the work environment, without protective clothing or without observing the recommended three-fold washing process. [2]

Poisoning assessment

Many of the pesticides used were hazardous organochlorine and OP insecticides. Of the workers interviewed, 13% suffered some type of acute poisoning that required first-aid treatment; 28% reported nausea during application of pesticides; and the majority experienced some symptoms immediately after exposure. 36% reported health problems related to the immune system (frequent itching of skin, eyes, and nose; or fever); 36%, skeletal/muscular problems (pains in joints); 33%, central and peripheral nervous system problems (dizziness, numbness in superior limbs, alterations in sleep patterns, and vomiting); 28%, digestive system problems; 25%, sensory organ problems; 18%, cardiovascular problems; 13%, respiratory system problems; and 11%, with urinary-genital system problems

Reproductive effects

Of the women workers, 32% reported being pregnant more than five times, 53% reported having prenatal examinations, 97% reported that they were not poisoned by pesticides during pregnancy. Almost three-quarters of the women (71%) reported miscarriages, and 11% reported having mentally and/or physically impaired offspring.

Neuro-psychological symptoms

Symptoms of minor psychiatric disturbances were observed in 44% of women and 56% of men surveyed (in the general Brazilian population, the prevalence is 5% to 15%)”

“The results of the laboratory analysis showed the maximum residue limits (MRLs) are regularly exceeded: methamidophos in 25% of the samples, and ETU in 78%. ETU can cause goitres (a condition in which the thyroid gland is enlarged), birth defects and cancer in exposed experimental animals. ETU has been classified as a probable human carcinogen by the US EPA. The organochlorine insecticide, endosulfan, which is banned for use on tomatoes was detected in 28% of samples at levels of up to 510 parts per billion.”

“It is important to introduce education on the hazards of pesticides and good agricultural practices in the school curriculum as many children accompany their family members into the fields”

Tomato production in Brazil:  Poor working conditions and high residues threaten safety

“Pesticides were found in the milk from 11 farms and one milk cooler (Fig.1), totalizing 12 positives milk samples. The main pesticide was fenthion, detected in four samples of 12 (33.33%), followed by dimethoate (25%), coumaphos (8.33%) and malathion (8.33%). In CB group, the pesticides detected were carbofuran (25%), aldicarb (16.67%) and carbaryl (8.33%). In some samples, two or more active principals were detected, what explains percentages over 100%. The frequency of pesticides found in this study is in agreement with Araújo et al. (2000) that noted that the most pesticides commonly used in Pernambuco are from OP class, followed by CB and pyrethroids.” [3]

Organophosphorus and carbamates residues in milk and feedstuff supplied to dairy cattle

“It is very well known that acute or chronic increase of retinoic acid (RA)levels leads to teratogenic effects during human pregnancy and in experimental models.

The characteristic features displayed by RA embryopathy in humans include brain abnormalities such as microcephaly, microphtalmia and impairment of hindbrain development; abnormal external and middle ears (microtia or anotia), mandibular and mid facial underdevelopment, and cleft palate. Many craniofacial malformations can be attributed to defects in cranial neural crest cells.” [4]

Pesticides Used in South American GMO-Based Agriculture

“There has been ongoing controversy regarding the possible adverse effects of glyphosate on the environment and on human health. Reports of neural defects and craniofacial malformations from regions where glyphosate-based herbicides (GBH)…” [5]

Glyphosate-Based Herbicides Produce Teratogenic Effects on Vertebrates by Impairing Retinoic Acid Signaling

“The report says that national consumption of agrochemicals is equivalent to 5.2 litres of agrochemicals per year for each inhabitant. Agrochemical sales increased from USD 2 billion in 2001 to 8.5 billion in 2011. The report names GM crops as a key cause of the trend: “Importantly, the release of transgenic seeds in Brazil was one of the factors responsible for putting the country in first place in the ranking of agrochemical consumption – since the cultivation of these modified seeds requires the use of large quantities of these products.” [6]

The report continues:

“The cropping pattern with the intensive use of pesticides generates major harms, including environmental pollution and poisoning of workers and the population in general. Acute pesticide poisoning is the best known effect and affects especially those exposed in the workplace (occupational exposure). This is characterized by effects such as irritation of the skin and eyes, itching, cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, spasms, breathing difficulties, seizures and death.

“Already chronic poisoning may affect the whole population, as this is due to multiple exposures to pesticides, that is, the presence of pesticide residues in food and the environment, usually at low doses. Adverse effects of chronic exposure to pesticides may appear long after the exposure, and so are difficult to correlate with the agent. Among the effects that can be associated with chronic exposure to pesticide active ingredients are infertility, impotence, abortions, malformations, neurotoxicity, hormonal disruption, effects on the immune system, and cancer.”

Brazil’s National Cancer Institute Names GM Crops as Cause of Massive Pesticide Us [7]

Health information systems and pesticide poisoning at Pernambuco [8]

Most of this is not new, with Pernambuco it’s just concentrated.

The Long Battle Over Pesticides, Birth Defects and Mental Impairment

There may be links with mosquitos and Zika virus but time will tell, if they manage to reduce the mosquito problem with more insecticides that may be a good thing but if birth defects keep rising in these areas it will be the pesticide use to blame.

If that happens we might have to start thinking about what on earth we are doing?

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!