Blood cell infected with malaria parasite

Malaria is caused by the single-celled parasite Plasmodium. It is transmitted from one person to another by certain species of blood sucking mosquito. The parasite spends part of its complex life cycle inside red blood cells.

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Microbes are always hitting the headlines. Keep up to date with the latest microbiology news. Most stories are linked to the full article.

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  • Flu season has started says HPA

    21st December, 2012

    The Health Protection Agency has warned that this winter's flu season is under way after increases in the number of school children with the infection. It said there had been a rise in GP visits, outbreaks at schools and calls to NHS Direct about children aged five to 14. Symptoms include a sudden fever, cough, sore throat, as well as aching muscles and joints. Last winter was an incredibly mild flu season.

  • You and Yours investigation uncovers illegal HIV testing kits

    21st December, 2012

    A BBC investigation has found HIV home testing kits widely available online - including on Britain's biggest online retailer Amazon. Under the HIV Testing Kits and Services Regulations 1992 it is illegal to sell products which offer on-the-spot HIV results in the UK.

  • Antibiotics 'ineffective for coughs'

    19th December, 2012

    Antibiotics are ineffective in treating patients with persistent coughs caused by mild chest infections, the Lancet journal reports. About 2,000 patients across 12 European countries filled in an 'illness' diary. The study found that the severity and duration of symptoms in patients treated with antibiotics were no different to those given a placebo. But experts caution that if pneumonia is suspected, antibiotics should still be used due to the disease's severity.

  • Schmallenberg: Rapid spread of livestock virus

    19th December, 2012

    A disease that can lead to lambs and calves being stillborn or deformed has spread to every county in England and Wales. Some farmers are expected to lose livestock during the lambing season, which is just getting underway. Schmallenberg virus was first detected in the UK earlier this year in the south and east of England.

  • Winter bug cases '83% up on 2011'

    19th December, 2012

    Latest figures show there has been an increase in cases of norovirus - often known as the winter vomiting bug. The Health Protection Agency estimates there have been about 880,000 cases in England and Wales since the summer, 83% more than in the same period last year. Health Protection Scotland has also reported a rise in cases.

  • Malaria progress threatened by funding, says WHO

    18th December, 2012

    Recent gains in the fight against malaria could be reversed because funding has stalled, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said. Its latest World Malaria Report says 1.1 million lives were saved in the past decade but that the expansion in funding from 2004-09 halted in 2010-12. Less than half of the $5.1bn (£3.1bn) needed was spent last year. The WHO's latest figures - for 2010 - show some 219 million people were infected, with 660,000 people dying.

  • Virus rebuilds heart's own pacemaker in animal tests

    17th December, 2012

    A new pacemaker has been built inside a heart by converting beating muscle into cells which can organise the organ's rhythm, US researchers report. The heartbeat is controlled by electrical signals and if these go awry the consequences can be fatal. Scientists injected a genetically-modified virus into guinea pigs to turn part of their heart into a new, working pacemaker.

  • Winter vomiting bug: Hospitals ban visitors

    17th December, 2012

    Hospitals around the UK have been closing wards to visitors in the hope of preventing the spread of the winter vomiting bug, norovirus. Birmingham's City Hospital, Maidstone Hospital in Kent, and George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, all have patients with the infection. At Southampton more than 400 virus-infected passengers disembarked from a cruise ship.

  • Ash fungus genetic data released

    14th December, 2012

    The first genetic data on the fungus afflicting British ash trees has been released on the web by UK scientists. Part of the RNA of the fungus has been sequenced, revealing information about how the disease spreads. Researchers at The Sainsbury Laboratory and the John Innes Centre want international researchers to help analyse the preliminary data. The long term goal is to find out how the Chalara fungus causes ash dieback and where in the world it originated.

  • Ash dieback: Chalara fungus 'originated in Asia'

    12th December, 2012

    An increasing body of evidence suggests that ash dieback - the disease which has killed trees across Europe and is now in Britain - originated in Japan. Some scientists say the fungus now ravaging trees across Europe is the same as a native species from Japan. However, the Asian version of the fungus seems to cause no harm to the local Manchurian ash trees there.

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