SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

2696

Globally, approximately 170,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) have been reported, including an estimated 7,000 deaths in approximately 150 countries (1). On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic (2). Data from China have indicated that older adults, particularly those with serious underlying health conditions, are at higher risk for severe COVID-19-associated illness and death than are younger persons (3). Although the majority of reported COVID-19 cases in China were mild (81%), approximately 80% of deaths occurred among adults aged ≥60 years; only one (0.1%) death occurred in a person aged ≤19 years (3). In this report, COVID-19 cases in the United States that occurred during February 12-March 16, 2020 and severity of disease (hospitalization, admission to intensive care unit [ICU], and death) were analyzed by age group. As of March 16, a total of 4,226 COVID-19 cases in the United States had been reported to CDC, with multiple cases reported among older adults living in long-term care facilities (4). Overall, 31% of cases, 45% of hospitalizations, 53% of ICU admissions, and 80% of deaths associated with COVID-19 were among adults aged ≥65 years with the highest percentage of severe outcomes among persons aged ≥85 years. In contrast, no ICU admissions or deaths were reported among persons aged ≤19 years. Similar to reports from other countries, this finding suggests that the risk for serious disease and death from COVID-19 is higher in older age groups.

1344

An estimated 30 million passengers are transported on 272 cruise ships worldwide each year* (1). Cruise ships bring diverse populations into proximity for many days, facilitating transmission of respiratory illness (2). SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019 and has since spread worldwide to at least 187 countries and territories. Widespread COVID-19 transmission on cruise ships has been reported as well (3). Passengers on certain cruise ship voyages might be aged ≥65 years, which places them at greater risk for severe consequences of SARS-CoV-2 infection (4). During February-March 2020, COVID-19 outbreaks associated with three cruise ship voyages have caused more than 800 laboratory-confirmed cases among passengers and crew, including 10 deaths. Transmission occurred across multiple voyages of several ships. This report describes public health responses to COVID-19 outbreaks on these ships. COVID-19 on cruise ships poses a risk for rapid spread of disease, causing outbreaks in a vulnerable population, and aggressive efforts are required to contain spread. All persons should defer all cruise travel worldwide during the COVID-19 pandemic.

500

Dromaeosaurids (Theropoda: Dromaeosauridae), a group of dynamic, swift predators, have a sparse fossil record, particularly at the time of their extinction near the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary. Here we report on a new dromaeosaurid, Dineobellator notohesperus, gen. and sp. nov., consisting of a partial skeleton from the Upper Cretaceous (Maastrichtian) of New Mexico, the first diagnostic dromaeosaurid to be recovered from the latest Cretaceous of the southern United States (southern Laramidia). The holotype includes elements of the skull, axial, and appendicular skeleton. The specimen reveals a host of morphologies that shed light on new behavioral attributes for these feathered dinosaurs. Unique features on its forelimbs suggest greater strength capabilities in flexion than the normal dromaeosaurid condition, in conjunction with a relatively tighter grip strength in the manual claws. Aspects of the caudal vertebrae suggest greater movement near the tail base, aiding in agility and predation. Phylogenetic analysis places Dineobellator within Velociraptorinae. Its phylogenetic position, along with that of other Maastrichtian taxa (Acheroraptor and Dakotaraptor), suggests dromaeosaurids were still diversifying at the end of the Cretaceous. Furthermore, its recovery as a second North American Maastrichtian velociraptorine suggests vicariance of North American velociraptorines after a dispersal event during the Campanian-Maastrichtian from Asia. Features of Dineobellator also imply that dromaeosaurids were active predators that occupied discrete ecological niches while living in the shadow of Tyrannosaurus rex, until the end of the dinosaurs' reign.

384

In December, 2019, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), a novel coronavirus, emerged in Wuhan, China. Since then, the city of Wuhan has taken unprecedented measures in response to the outbreak, including extended school and workplace closures. We aimed to estimate the effects of physical distancing measures on the progression of the COVID-19 epidemic, hoping to provide some insights for the rest of the world.

271

On February 28, 2020, a case of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was identified in a woman resident of a long-term care skilled nursing facility (facility A) in King County, Washington.* Epidemiologic investigation of facility A identified 129 cases of COVID-19 associated with facility A, including 81 of the residents, 34 staff members, and 14 visitors; 23 persons died. Limitations in effective infection control and prevention and staff members working in multiple facilities contributed to intra- and interfacility spread. COVID-19 can spread rapidly in long-term residential care facilities, and persons with chronic underlying medical conditions are at greater risk for COVID-19-associated severe disease and death. Long-term care facilities should take proactive steps to protect the health of residents and preserve the health care workforce by identifying and excluding potentially infected staff members and visitors, ensuring early recognition of potentially infected patients, and implementing appropriate infection control measures.

238

Following a single blind, cross-over and non-randomized design we investigated the effect of 7-day use of chlorhexidine (CHX) mouthwash on the salivary microbiome as well as several saliva and plasma biomarkers in 36 healthy individuals. They rinsed their mouth (for 1 min) twice a day for seven days with a placebo mouthwash and then repeated this protocol with CHX mouthwash for a further seven days. Saliva and blood samples were taken at the end of each treatment to analyse the abundance and diversity of oral bacteria, and pH, lactate, glucose, nitrate and nitrite concentrations. CHX significantly increased the abundance of Firmicutes and Proteobacteria, and reduced the content of Bacteroidetes, TM7, SR1 and Fusobacteria. This shift was associated with a significant decrease in saliva pH and buffering capacity, accompanied by an increase in saliva lactate and glucose levels. Lower saliva and plasma nitrite concentrations were found after using CHX, followed by a trend of increased systolic blood pressure. Overall, this study demonstrates that mouthwash containing CHX is associated with a major shift in the salivary microbiome, leading to more acidic conditions and lower nitrite availability in healthy individuals.

232

Technological innovations may enable next-generation running shoes to provide unprecedented mobility. But how could a running shoe increase the speed of motion without providing external energy? We found that the top speed of running may be increased more than 50% using a catapult-like exoskeleton device, which does not provide external energy. Our finding uncovers the hidden potential of human performance augmentation via unpowered robotic exoskeletons. Our result may lead to a new-generation of augmentation devices developed for sports, rescue operations, and law enforcement, where humans could benefit from increased speed of motion.

224

When individuals exchange helpful acts reciprocally, increasing the benefit of the receiver can enhance its propensity to return a favour, as pay-offs are typically correlated in iterated interactions. Therefore, reciprocally cooperating animals should consider the relative benefit for the receiver when deciding to help a conspecific. Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) exchange food reciprocally and thereby take into account both the cost of helping and the potential benefit to the receiver. By using a variant of the sequential iterated prisoner’s dilemma paradigm, we show that rats may determine the need of another individual by olfactory cues alone. In an experimental food-exchange task, test subjects were provided with odour cues from hungry or satiated conspecifics located in a different room. Our results show that wild-type Norway rats provide help to a stooge quicker when they receive odour cues from a hungry rather than from a satiated conspecific. Using chemical analysis by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), we identify seven volatile organic compounds that differ in their abundance between hungry and satiated rats. Combined, this “smell of hunger” can apparently serve as a reliable cue of need in reciprocal cooperation, which supports the hypothesis of honest signalling.

190

Since December 2019, an outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) emerged in Wuhan, and is now becoming a global threat. We aimed to delineate and compare the immunologic features of severe and moderate COVID-19.

156

The pandemic coronavirus infectious disease (COVID-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), is rapidly spreading across the globe. In this issue of the JCI, Chen and colleagues compared the clinical and immunologic characteristics between moderate versus severe COVID-19. The authors found that respiratory distress on admission is associated with unfavorable outcomes. Increased cytokine levels (IL-6, IL-10 and TNFα), lymphopenia (in CD4+ and CD8+ T cells), and decreased IFNγ expression in CD4+ T cells are associated with severe COVID-19. Overall, this study characterized the cytokine storm in severe COVID-19 and provides insights into immune therapeutics and vaccine design.