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Scientists find new way to improve MERS vaccines

Since the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) was discovered in 2012, more than 1,800 people have been infected with the disease and the fatality rate is a concerning 36 percent. There’s still no approved MERS vaccine for humans. However, promising new research reported in Nature Communications this week may help pave the way for a human vaccine – and give hope for a new era of protection against similar viral infections.

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Arkansas mumps outbreak raises concerns here in Minn.

The Arkansas Department of Health is investigating a mumps outbreak, possibly infecting more than 400 people, most of them children. This raises concerns right here in our state.

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CIDRAP joins global alliance to fight antimicrobial resistance

CIDRAP is one of the 9 founding organizations of CARA – Conscience of Antimicrobial Resistance Accountability – a unique global alliance to fight antimicrobial resistance. As part of CARA, CIDRAP will continue to be a critical informational platform for healthcare providers on the frontlines of the antimicrobial resistance crisis.

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In the news: No link between MMR vaccine and autism, even for children at risk for autism

In a new study published in JAMA, researchers yet again found no link between the MMR vaccine and autism, even for kids who are at risk for developing autism.

According to Forbes, “the likelihood of developing autism was actually lower for those at-risk children if they received the vaccine, though that finding was not statistically significant and no one would suggest that vaccination reduces autism risk. What vaccination reduces is disease, the kinds that can disable and kill children and the kind that is even more likely to cause serious complications in children with neurological conditions.”

The study’s findings were not surprising to infectious disease experts, including Mark Schleiss, M.D., a pediatric infectious disease physician at the University of Minnesota.

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Report maps complex challenges to Ebola vaccine efforts

As experimental Ebola vaccines start to head toward large clinical trials in Africa, a report released today by academic experts and a British charitable foundation spelled out the complexity of the challenges involved in providing a vaccine to help stop West Africa’s sprawling epidemic.

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CDC declares flu an epidemic

The U.S. is experiencing epidemic-level flu activity, the CDC announced yesterday.

The proportion of deaths related to pneumonia and influenza reached 6.8 percent as of December 20, 2014, which is considered the epidemic threshold. This demonstrates how easily the flu spreads, however an epidemic classification is typical with most flu seasons, the Washington Post reported.

“The CDC announcement confirms that we are entering a period of increased influenza transmission,” said Nick Kelley, PhD, research associate for the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. “We expect to see higher levels of influenza during this time of year, with peak transmission typically occurring in January.”

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