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Zika may not spread by kissing: Study



zika virus
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New York, Aug 3:  Casual contact like kissing or sharing a fork or spoon does not increase the risk of transmission of Zika virus as the infection may not spread through saliva, US researchers have found.

Scientists believe that mosquito bites are the source of most Zika virus infections in people. After infection, the Zika virus is present in blood and saliva for up to about two weeks, but it remains in bodily fluids like breast milk for weeks and semen for months.

“The viral loads in the saliva in general are low, but there are also anti-microbial components in saliva making that low level of virus even less infectious than it might be in another medium,” said Christina Newman, a scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“Saliva is also viscous stuff. That hinders the ability of the virus to move and get to cells that they could infect,” added Dawn Dudley, a scientist at the university.

For the study, published in the journal Nature Communications, the team infected rhesus macaque monkeys with the strain of Zika virus that has been circulating in North and South America in recent years, and saliva was collected from the infected monkeys.

The researchers swabbed the tonsils of five uninfected monkeys with the saliva, and swabbed the tonsils of three monkeys with a concentrated high dose of Zika virus in solution.

None of the saliva-swabbed monkeys developed an infection — nor did a pair of monkeys who had infected saliva swabbed in their nostrils or eyelids.

However, all three monkeys who had high-dose virus applied directly to their tonsils in the absence of saliva got infected (though the infection took slightly longer to develop than in monkeys infected under their skin), the researchers said.

The study’s infected monkeys had very little active virus in their saliva, compared to the amounts typically passed into people or monkeys by mosquito bites.

“Transmission via saliva is theoretically possible, but it would require extraordinarily high viral loads that just aren’t present in the vast majority of infected people,” said Tom Friedrich, Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the Florida Department of Health has announced the first sexually transmitted Zika case in 2017, health officials said in a statement.

There is no evidence of ongoing transmission of Zika by mosquitoes in any area of Florida, the report said, while adding that it is important to remember Zika can also be transmitted sexually and precautions should be taken if couples are travelling to places where Zika is active.



Israel opens probe into Facebook after data scandal



Cambridge Analytica data scandal

JERUSALEM: Israeli authorities said Thursday (Mar 22) they had launched an investigation into Facebook’s activities following a scandal over the hijacking of personal data from millions of the social network’s users.

Israel’s privacy protection agency “informed Facebook” of the probe after revelations over data transfers from the tech giant to consultant Cambridge Analytica, the agency said.

It said it was also looking into “the possibility of other infringements of the privacy law regarding Israelis”, it said in a statement released by the justice ministry.

Britain’s Guardian newspaper has reported that Israeli hackers offered material to Cambridge Analytica.

But an Israeli justice ministry spokeswoman said the probe did not involve hackers, focusing rather on whether Israeli users’ rights were violated.

Under Israel’s privacy law, personal data may only be used with consent and for the purpose for which it was handed over, the privacy protection agency said.


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Middle East

Loud explosion heard outside busy hotel in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu

Explosion hits busy road outside popular hotel in central Mogadishu.



Somalia Car Bombing

MOGADISHU: 16 people killed and 20 injured in a bomb attack at the entrance of  Wehliye hotel in Mogadishu. Most of the casualties are auto rickshaw drivers and passengers, according to witnesses.

The death toll is expected to rise.

The attacked was claimed by al-Shabab, Reuters news agency reported, citing the armed group’s military operation spokesman.

Al-Shabab, which is fighting to overthrow Somalia’s internationally recognised government, is frequently carrying out attacks in and around the capital.

More to follow.

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Twitter’s chief information security officer quits




San Francisco, March 22: As tech companies reel under mounting pressure to prevent their platforms from data breach and fake news, Twitter’s Chief Information Security Officer Michael Coates has decided to quit.

In a tweet on Thursday, Coates who joined Twitter in 2015 announced his departure from the micro-blogging website.

“Twitter has been an amazing ride, but as I mentioned internally a few weeks back, my time is coming to an end. I’m confident to leave the program with an amazing security team,” Coates tweeted.

According to The Verge, Coates’ interim replacement is Joseph Camilleri, a senior manager for information security and risk.

Coates’ departure comes soon after reports surfaced that Facebook’s Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos is planning to leave the company by August.

Facebook is facing the heat after Cambridge Analytica, a British consulting company, was accused of harvesting data of up to 50 million Facebook users without permission and using the data to help politicians, including US President Donald Trump and the Brexit campaign.

Meanwhile, Michael Zalewski, Director of Information Security Engineering at Google, has also announced his departure from that company after 11 years.


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