CDC Reports First U.S. Case of Human-to-Human Transmission of 2019 Novel (Wuhan) Coronavirus

On January 19, 2020, an initial reported outbreak of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus manifested in the city of Wuhan, the capital of the Hubei province of China. Unfortunately, upwards of ten thousand cases of infection have been reported, with the death toll eclipsing 200, as of January 30, 2020.

As fears began to swell regarding the potential global implications of the virus, on the afternoon of January 30, the director of the World Health Organization officially declared a global emergency for the spreading Coronavirus, which had now begun leaking through national borders, worldwide, as travelers returned from the Chinese outbreak epicenter.

Although the first case of Coronavirus infection in the United States occurred on January 21 in the state of Washington, around 12:30pm ET on January 30, the CDC reported the first United States case of human-to-human transmission of the virus in Chicago, Illinois. As of that day, there have been 6 confirmed cases of infection and 92 unconfirmed, as they await the results of their screening.


Although, there is heightened anxiety at this time surrounding the potential implications of the spreading virus, there is no need for panic. Rather, take the precautions that you would normally apply to protecting yourself from the spread of germs, and keep your immune system in optimum shape by eating nutritious foods, while limiting (the best you can) exposure to stressful environmental conditions.

For more details about this first case of transmission and the most recent commentary on the virus, click the CDC link below. Stay tuned for the latest information from Science Lion Media, as we monitor the progression of the global Coronavirus outbreak.

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Parting with Honeybees is Such Sweet Sorrow

Traditionally speaking, when we hear about honeybees, we think about insects that sting. We also think about pollination and of course by proxy, honey.

These associations may only be fleetingly considered, but when you take a moment to really think about how significant the act of pollination actually is, you realize these little critters are way more important than they seem at first glance.

So what’s the big deal about pollination? Besides, when Spring comes around, pollen wreaks havoc on millions that suffer from allergies, so there can’t be anything good about it, right?


Pollination is crucial for the fertilization of all flowers to reproduce, whether it’s your typical daisy in a meadow, or a flower on your fruit or vegetable crop, with the latter being most important to our well-being as humans.

The process of pollination requires the transfer of pollen grains from a male flower to the receiving reproductive organs of the female flower; sometimes flowers are hermaphroditic and contain both male and female reproductive components, allowing for easier pollination.


Now, finding great pollen-producing flowers isn’t just an intuitive skill. You have to set out and find them! So, if you’re also wondering how honeybees communicate with their hive mates about where they’ve located the best pollen and nectar sources, take a quick moment to watch this short, cool video below (you’re gonna love it):

Who would have known honeybees could get their twerk on? 😀

Honeybees aren’t the only creatures that carry out this process, as various bird species also engage in the pollination of flowers, such as hummingbirds, spiderhunters, and honeyeaters, to name a few. As a matter of fact, 87.5% of plant flower species are visited by animals for pollination purposes. 75% of all crops used directly for human consumption worldwide are pollinated by insects, the majority of which are bees.

However, bird species for instance, are experiencing negative unintended consequences of climate change, which is limiting their ability to pollinate as they traditionally would. Definitely take a look at the article, Our Silent skies – 3.1 Billion Birds Lost, for more details on the crisis afflicting our birds.

Additionally, western honeybees are the most frequent floral visitor of crops, worldwide, and unfortunately, a concern over their well-being is growing as honeybee populations are dwindling across the globe. This also opens up the conversation to how this impacts the success of agricultural industries and our resulting food supply.

So what is leading to the decline in bees’ numbers, and hindering their ability to pollinate? I’ll list a few reasons:

Lack of biodiversity: Studies have shown that pollination is most successful with diverse populations of pollinators, as they tend to forage on the upper half of plants, while wild bees tend to pollinate closer to the ground. In settings where environmental conditions are windier, honeybees tend to leave the setting, but wildbees continue pollinating at the same rate.

However, when biodiversity is lower and only honeybees are present in those same harsh conditions, little to no pollination occurred. So some bees are just built to handle more stressful settings…honeybees, maybe not so much.

Honeybee competition: Interestingly enough, honeybees that are managed in apiaries by bee-handlers seem to out-compete wild bees and drive them from their natural habitats, thus reducing the diversity of bees in a given area.

Pollution: Research has shown that honeybees that are exposed to elemental heavy metals from pollutants in their environments, such as cadmium and lead, may negatively alter their feeding behavior.

Fortunately, there are other groups investigating certain gut microbes that can scavenge and metabolize these heavy metals that dwell within the bee host, and could serve as a probiotic of sorts for sickly honeybees. The use of pesticides have also been of concern when accounting for bee colony loss.

Infection: In conjunction with pesticide exposure, there have been outbreaks of parasite exposures and various other pathogens that have burdened bee populations worldwide, and veterinary researchers are hard at work to quell this issue.

As you can see, our sweet little honeybee friends are quite sensitive to their environments. We have to be mindful of not only what we’re doing to nature, but how nature is responding to our actions. They may be small, but honeybees play a huge role in our well-being, bigger than many of us may have realized. So, pay them some respect, and show them some love.


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Smoking or Vaping, There’s No Escaping – UPDATED

Traditional smoking of cigarettes has become less appealing to the public over time, and there is still a significant segment of society that partakes in this activity. Some willingly view this activity as an outlet for stress relief, while others have acknowledged their addiction and are open to quitting their habit with an implemented program. As the dangers of smoking have become more exposed over time, a variety of quitting mechanisms have arisen from gum, to skin patches, to other forms of pharmaceutical interventions. Unfortunately, with the use of these options, there has only been a 10% success rate in quitting smoking.

In 2003 the first commercially available E-cig was created by Hon Lik in China, and in 2006 the E-cig was introduced to the U.S. market. Today, the most influential player in the E-cig market is Juul, a startup which after launching in 2015 captured 70% of the E-cig market within 3 years. The intention was to provide a “healthy cigarette” and as opposed to attaching itself to the stigma of smoking, E-cig usage was popularly dubbed “vaping”. 


Instead of burning the nicotine-containing substance or other alternative, that main ingredient is suspended in a complex liquid which is heated to an aerosol for inhalation. Much contention has arisen over the effect heating may have on the ingredients, and whether enough reproducible research has been conducted on the health impacts of vaping. Over the course of marketing the product, a perception developed that this product could be used as a bridge to lead smokers to a non-smoking lifestyle, if desired. Unfortunately, controversy has struck, as a mysterious lung disorder initially described as “vaping associated pulmonary illness” (VAPI), and now reclassified as “E-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury” (EVALI) began impacting hundreds of vaping clients requiring them to be hospitalized, with over 3 dozen individuals dying from the symptoms, as of this post. Below is a list of states with some of the most EVALI-related cases, including some statistics from the current EVALI epidemic, as it has evolved over time:


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  • In our previous issue, according to the CDC, as of September 24, 2019, there had been 805 confirmed and suspected vaping-related cases in the U.S. and U.S. territories. By November 13*, they saw that number jump to 2,172 cases. Pertaining to deaths related to vaping, as of October 2, there had been 17 deaths reported. As of this publication, that number has more than doubled to 42, with 4 of those deaths occurring in California. This state is among the top 3 states reporting vaping-related cases.
  • Regarding what is physiologically leading to this outcome, research has shone the spotlight on what appears to be an infiltration of certain immune cell types that typically don’t represent the quiescent lung environment, seemingly caused by vaping. 


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  • In addition to having one of the highest number of reported cases amongst reporting states for lung illness related to vaping, Illinois has 4 vaping-related deaths reported to the CDC. To determine if these cases are legitimately related to vaping, teams including state investigators, clinicians, and public health officials are organized to align their findings with a validated case definition. If possible, interviews are also conducted with the patient to establish confirmation of the case.
  • Based on the cases investigated so far, all patients were reported to have been vaping leading up to their hospitalization status. Additionally, most patients used THC-containing products or a combination of nicotine-containing and THC-containing products; one subset of patients only used nicotine-containing vaping products. No consistent evidence of infection has been associated with these cases.
  • CDC officials have recently revealed that vitamin E acetate may be an ingredient included in THC-containing E-cigs and vaping products, to serve as a thickening agent. Although vitamin E is safe to use as a cosmetic or dietary supplement, previous research suggests vitamin E acetate may interfere with normal lung function, when inhaled.


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  • Indiana, a state with a high number of EVALI cases, shares the highest number of reported EVALI-related deaths which have risen to 4, as of this posting. Texas rounds out the top 3 reporting states for vaping-related cases, although it reported it’s first and only related-death in early October.
  • As of the latest statistics, 79% of total patients were under the age of 35 years old; 65% of patients were between the ages of 18 and 34. Roughly 70% of EVALI cases involved male patients, as of October 15, 2019. Alarmingly, 14% of patients were under 18 years old, as this product is prohibited for sale to minors. This implies that further enforcement of the law is needed.
  • The first reported double lung transplant surgery related to vaping was successfully conducted on a 17-year old boy from Michigan. Health officials declined to provide information on what the teen had vaped or how long he had been vaping. Regardless, the extent to which this vaping crisis has evolved and reared its ugly head continues to baffle and concern health care officials nationwide.


  • Minnesota is a moderately high reporting state as it pertains to lung illness cases; this includes 3 EVALI-related deaths being reported from this state, as of this posting.
  • Investigators are diligently working to uncover what may be the primary culprit in manifesting this mysterious lung illness, as this is still unknown. However, contrary to some E-cigarettes being marketed to contain zero percent nicotine, they have been found to contain the substance. The aerosolized liquids used in these vaping vectors typically contain:
  • Nicotine
  • Ultra-fine particles
  • Flavorings (such as diacetyl, which has been linked to serious lung disease)
  • Volatile organic compounds
  • Cancer-causing chemicals
  • Heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead

Although many countries have long banned the import of E-cigarette products, more bans are now cascading down from the U.S. federal government and sweeping across the country. There is simply too much controversy around not only the marketing practices of E-cig manufacturers, but also the safety of the vape fillers themselves when heated and inhaled.

A similar dark cloud of uncertainty hovers over the hookah community, too, as similar arguments have been made regarding the safety of the activity. It is best advised to avoid E-cig use until more substantiated reviews and studies are conducted, regarding the concerns therein. And of course, it is best to avoid the habit of smoking altogether. Check back for the latest news and updates on the U.S. vaping outbreak, as we revise our coverage on a regular basis.

*This content has been updated, as of November 14, 2019, to provide you with the most current coverage of the EVALI outbreak in the U.S.

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