Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sustainable grass

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have been given a 2.1 million dollar grant from the US Department of Agriculture to develop draught resistant grass that needs less maintenance and requires less water. 

Silverwood Park, MN Sept. 2012 - Dry grass - photo N. Carlson
They will attempt to replace Kentucky Blue grass with fine fescue grass.  The grass grows slower and is more draught resistant.  Unfortunately it does not do as well in high temperatures and there will be a need to breed high temperature tolerance into the grass.

It makes sense to incorporate several kinds of grass seed into a lawn if you can get them to grow at a similar rates.  It will reduce the chance of a disease wiping out the lawn.  There is also a move to a more diverse plant mix in the lawn or redefine the lawn with more native plant species.

Park in Minnesota - N. Carlson


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Hospital acquired fungal meningitis

An interactive tool for tracking the outbreak is available through Health Intelligence.

Update from the Boston Globe Liz Kowalczyk: Visible mold was found in the vials in green globs or white hairs.  Mold was also growing on materials in the NECC.  Mold was found in the clean rooms used for preparation.  The lab was using non sterile materials and located adjacent to a recyling center.

Mike Stobbe from AP reports on theories about how the steroids got contaminated.  An additional fungus, Exerohilium spp. has been implicated

NBC news reports on Fungal Meningtitis sickens 12, kills 2 at at outpatient treatment centers in Tennessee and North Carolina.  Patients received lumbar epidural injections contaminated with Aspergillus spp. 

CNN reports that the Meningitis outbreak has spread to 5 states with 4 dead.  It is linked to Aspergillus contamination of Methylprednisone acetate.

Video is available from USA Today

The FDA has  Id'd the (NECC) NEW England Compounding Center as the source.

Aspergillus fumigatus - photo N. Carlson

The CDC has a fact sheet on Fungal Meningitis.  It is rare but can be life threatening.

Summary of NECC indictment - 7 minutes