‘Worst outbreak ever’: Nearly a million pigs culled in Nigeria due to swine fever

African swine fever has decimated the livelihoods of many farmers

© Kacper Pempel/Reuters
African swine fever has decimated the livelihoods of many farmers.

Hundreds of thousands of pigs have been culled by Nigerian farmers in response to an explosion of African swine fever (ASF). The outbreak began around Lagos and parts of neighbouring Ogun state earlier this year, pig farmers say, but has now spread to many other parts of the country.

In the absence of official data, farmers who spoke to the Guardian estimated that nearly a million pigs had been put down so far. Mrs Bello, a farmer at Lagos-based Oke-Aro, the largest pig co-operative in west Africa, who preferred not to give her first name, said the co-operative alone had culled around 500,000 pigs. So far the virus has spread to more than a quarter of Nigeria’s 36 states.

In the past decade, ASF has regularly surfaced in several parts of Africa. Between 2016 and 2019, more than 60­ outbreaks were reported across the continent.

But the recent wave of infections is the worst by far. “We have never experienced anything of this scale in the past. This is the worst and largest outbreak ever,” says Ayo Omirin, a pig farmer at Oke-Aro, who has lost more than 600 of his 800 pigs.

Another farmer, Lawrence Adeleke, who had been in the pig business for decades, recently died. The outbreak struck his farm in April, his son Adeleke Adedayo told the Guardian. Within two months, nearly all of the 100 or so pigs had died and the pens were shut down. In 2007, when a similar outbreak hit the farm, only three of nearly 100 pigs survived.

“When he returned from the farm the day we lost the last set of pigs, he stopped talking to anybody for three days. He was always absent-minded and withdrawn,” said Adedayo. “He only spoke about the losses in the farm. He talked about all his labours for many years vanishing in a few days. He felt he was too old to start all over again. We all felt helpless. On the morning of 2 June, his birthday, he died.”

The farmers who spoke to the Guardian estimated that the pig industry in the country has lost up to 20bn naira (£40m), and that more than 20,000 jobs are at risk. The outbreak comes at the same time as coronavirus, which has infected 17,148 people and led to 455 deaths, according to figures released by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

“A lot of pig farmers may not fully recover from their losses even in the next two years. Some farmers have left the industry already. At the moment, we have no clear picture of how the industry is going to bounce back,” said Omirin.

In recent years, the popularity of pig farming has grown in Nigeria. It is seen as an escape from poverty for low-income households and is also popular with the expanding middle class. By 2009, the pig population had risen from 2 million in 1984 to over 7 million, according to figures from the National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI). Numbers have probably doubled since then.

The government has taken some action in the crisis, distributing bags of seed and fumigating infected pens. But farmers say this is rarely enough to see them through the rough road to recovery or offset their losses.

“The government did nothing much,” said Bello, “when you consider that most farmers are now plunged into serious debts because of the loans they took to keep their farms.”

ASF is harmless to humans but in pigs and wild boar the fatality rate is nearly 100%, and there is no vaccine against it. Safety depends on controlling animal movement and ensuring hygiene in farms, slaughterhouses and abattoirs. In Nigeria, many farms are not up to the task.

“I suspect the outbreak started last year but the farmers were perhaps selling the infected pigs before it was noticed. This year the disease exploded,” said Dr Pam Luka, ASF researcher at the NVRI. “Activities like this only keep the virus circulating in the country in a cycle.”

A further problem comes from poor record keeping. According to Luka, local authorities rarely have any data for the outbreak. Figures kept by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), which should be notified of ASF cases, are significantly lower than the numbers quoted by farmers. OIE told the Guardian that they had received a notification about the recent outbreak on Tuesday.

Nigeria currently has no database for issues related to animals and disease outbreaks, says Luka; he is currently working with the government to build one..

He is also working with other scientists to understand how the virus is transmitted among pig farms in Africa. But he believes that the situation will only improve when farmers are more proactive and local authorities intensify safety measures and support for the pig industry.

Nervous and immune systems ‘need to talk’ for bone repair

bone

© Carolyn Meyers, Department of Pathology, Johns Hopkins Medicine
Photomicrographs from a recent Johns Hopkins Medicine study showing the importance of the peripheral nervous system in bone injury repair. Clockwise from bottom left: (A) Micro computed tomography image showing bone regrowth in mouse skull 14 days after injury (dashed black line is the original section of bone removed); (B) Image of bone repair (original section removed is between the white arrows) showing expression (green) of nerve growth factor, a protein produced by immune cells that stimulates the nerve regrowth necessary for bone healing to occur; and (C) high-magnification image of section in B designated by dashed white box (dashed white line in C is the edge of the healing bone).

In a December 2019 study, a team of Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers demonstrated in mice that repair of bone fractures requires the generation, growth and spread of nerve cells, or neurons, throughout the injured area. This, they showed, partly relies on a protein known as nerve growth factor (NGF). Now, the researchers have dug deeper into this process to better understand how the nervous and immune systems work together with NGF to enable nerve regrowth during bone repair.

In a new study, published in the May 26, 2020, issue of the journal Cell Reports, the researchers found once again in mice that two proteins — tropomyosin receptor kinase-A (TrkA) and NGF — bind together to stimulate innervation (the supplying of nerves), and subsequently, new bone at an injured site. What surprised them was that the NGF that mattered most in this process came from an unexpected source: macrophages, the white blood cells that alert the immune system to foreign invaders through inflammation, and then engulf and remove the attackers from the body.

“Previous research has shown that immune cells are clearly important in bone repair, but what we determined in our study is that macrophages and their inflammatory signals also kickstart nerve regrowth in injured bone,” says Aaron James, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and co-senior author of both studies.

In other words, James explains, the team’s experiments revealed “that NGF-TrkA signaling is how macrophages ‘talk’ to nerve fibers so that bone healing can begin.”

When bones are injured, there is a large release of the NGF neurotrophin (a protein that induces the survival, development and function of neurons). This activates sensory nerves to grow into the injured tissue. These sensory nerves play multiple roles, including alerting the body through pain that the bone is broken and regulating the healing process.

To define the mechanism by which bone is repaired, the researchers removed the same small piece of skull from each of the mice in the study. By manipulating various steps of the NGF-TrkA signaling pathway in different mice, the team found that: (1) the release of NGF coincides with the beginning of innervation, (2) bone injury stimulates the increased production of NGF, (3) inflammation at the injury site drives NGF production by macrophages (which are drawn by chemical signals released during inflammation), (4) increased amounts of NGF elicit new nerve formation in the injured tissue, (5) disrupting the production of NGF reduces innervation and impairs calvarial bone regeneration, and (6) NGF produced by macrophages is the neurotrophin required for bone repair.

“We now understand that nerve growth and bone repair are linked processes,” James says. “Knowing this, we may be able to find ways to maximize our innate healing capacities. Developing new methods to improve bone healing would greatly benefit many people, especially the elderly, where injuries such as hip fractures often lead to worse outcomes than heart attacks.”

More information: Carolyn A. Meyers et al. A Neurotrophic Mechanism Directs Sensory Nerve Transit in Cranial Bone, Cell Reports (2020). DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.107696 Journal information: Cell Reports

SOTT FOCUS: MindMatters: Try Not To Lie: The Value Of Honesty With The Self And Others

unpleasant truths

As the old adage goes, “The truth shall set you free.” But if that’s true then why do we quite often have such a difficult time of being honest with ourselves? And just as importantly, why do we struggle so much in being honest with others? Programmed or wired to deny that we have personal shortcomings – or fearing the consequences of honest communication about others’ failings – we quite often opt for the easy out, keeping things to ourselves and attempting to avoid the potential pain and discord that may come of telling it like it is. Like a festering wound, the lies we tell ourselves and accept from others infects the very quality and well being of our selves and the lives of those around us.

On this week’s MindMatters we discuss why one should have less fear of truthful communication – and a greater willingness to be honest. While there is always a risk of hurt, the uncertainty of misunderstanding, and the discomfort of vulnerability – what is easily overlooked is the greater meaning, understanding, and intimacy that may be added to one’s life and relationships – if we were only more honest (assuming the people around you share this value). At at time in human existence when we are struggling to make sense of complex and rapidly occurring world-changing events, how can we achieve a semblance of true understanding when, at square one, we are dishonest with ourselves and the souls immediately surrounding us?

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Running Time: 01:04:02

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Harrison Koehli (Profile)

Harrison Koehli co-hosts SOTT Radio Network’s MindMatters, and is an editor for Red Pill Press. He has been interviewed on several North American radio shows about his writings on the study of ponerology. In addition to music and books, Harrison enjoys tobacco and bacon (often at the same time) and dislikes cell phones, vegetables, and fascists (commies too).


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Elan Martin (Profile)

Born and raised in New York City, Elan has been an editor for SOTT.net since 2014 and is a co-host for MindMatters. He enjoys seeing and sharing what’s true about our profoundly and rapidly changing world.


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Corey Schink (Profile)

Corey Schink was born and raised in the Midwestern United States, where he worked on farms and as a welder, musician, and social worker. His interests in government, philosophy and history led to his writing for SOTT in 2012 and to becoming a SOTT editor and SOTT Radio co-host in 2014. He now resides in North Carolina, where he enjoys the magnificent views of the Appalachian Mountains.

BEST OF THE WEB: COVID Antibody Tests: Here Comes More Trickery and Fakery

covid test

COVID antibody tests are going to become a focus, now that many states and nations have partially or fully lifted their lockdown restrictions. As we enter another chapter in the long book of Operation Coronavirus, authorities are trying to implement widespread testing based on detection of antibodies (along with contact tracing or surveillance).

Now is the time to inform yourself about what the COVID antibody tests are and how they work, since there is a lot at stake here. Authorities are planning on upholding or violating your rights and freedom based on the results (and more importantly the interpretation of the results) of these tests.

In truth, we all possess the right to personal bodily autonomy and medical sovereignty, and being forced to undergo such a test is itself a violation of our inherent sovereign rights. However, regardless of what choice you personally make in that regard, it is crucial to understand how these tests work and what the results mean, because – rest assured – the results will be used against you if past history is any indicator of the intent of the NWO (New World Order) conspirators.

Antibody Theory

Before we jump into the COVID antibody test, let’s begin with some definitions. An antibody is a blood protein which your body produces to counteract a specific antigen. An antigen is a toxin or other foreign substance which the body recognizes as an invader. Antibodies combine chemically with substances which the body recognizes as alien as part of a healthy immune response.

In typical fashion, the Medical Industry (remember that Western Medicine is Rockefeller Medicine) has conflated antibodies with immunity, by claiming that high titers (or levels) of antibodies show strong immunity. However this is a fallacy coming from a materialistic viewpoint (everything must be measured) combined with a profit-driven motive (vaccines produce antibodies, so if the Medical Establishment can convince you that antibodies = immunity, then vaccines confer immunity, no questions asked). The truth is that immunity is far more mysterious than just a simple measurement of certain substances in the blood. Immunity has a strong bio-energetic component which cannot be measured! Here are some quotes from the whale.to website:

“A titer test does not and cannot measure immunity, because immunity to specific viruses is reliant not on antibodies, but on memory cells, which we have no way to measure. Memory cells are what prompt the immune system to create antibodies and dispatch them to an infection caused by the virus it “remembers.” Memory cells don’t need “reminders” in the form of re-vaccination to keep producing antibodies.” (Science, 1999; “Immune system’s memory does not need reminders.”) ACCESS to JUSTICE. MMR10 – IN EUROPE

“The fallacy of this (antibody theory) was exposed nearly 50 years ago, which is hardly recent. A report published by the Medical Research Council entitled ‘A study of diphtheria in two areas of Gt. Britain, Special report series 272, HMSO 1950 demonstrated that many of the diphtheria patients had high levels of circulating antibodies, whereas many of the contacts who remained perfectly well had low antibody.” – Magda Taylor, Informed Parent

“Just because you give somebody a vaccine, and perhaps get an antibody reaction, doesn’t mean a thing. The only true antibodies, of course, are those you get naturally. What we’re doing [when we inject vaccines] is interfering with a very delicate mechanism that does its own thing. If nutrition is correct, it does it in the right way. Now if you insult a person in this way and try to trigger off something that nature looks after, you’re asking for all sorts of trouble, and we don’t believe it works.” — Glen Dettman Ph.D, interviewed by Jay Patrick, and quoted in “The Great American Deception,” Let’s Live, December 1976, p. 57

“Many measles vaccine efficacy studies relate to their ability to stimulate an antibody response (sero-conversion or sero-response). An antibody response does not necessarily equate to immunity … the level of antibody needed for effective immunity is different in each individual … immunity can be demonstrated in individuals with a low or no detectable levels of antibody. Similarly in other individuals with higher levels of antibody there may be no immunity.”Trevor Gunn BSc

Then we have a quote from Dr. Stefan Lanka, whose viewpoints I highlighted in Deep Down the Virus Rabbit Hole – Question Everything:

“I’m absolutely sure that no antibody test in medicine has any absolute meaning. Especially in HIV antibody testing, it is clear that the antibodies that are detected in the test are present in everybody. Some people have them in higher concentrations, and some in lower concentrations, but only when you reach a very high level of antibodies — much higher than in any other antibody testing — are you considered to be “positive.” This is a contradiction in terms because in other antibody tests, the lower your level of antibodies, the higher your risk for a symptomatic infection. But with HIV they say you are “positive” only when you have reached a very high level of antibodies. Below this level, you are said to be negative.” – [1995] INTERVIEW STEFAN LANKA

Old Blood Samples Contain COVID Antibodies

Knowing that background to antibody theory, let’s take a look now at how they are applying it to COVID. I will be quoting David Crowe’s recent paper Antibody Testing for COVID-19 throughout this article. Crowe points out many major assumptions with the COVID antibody tests. One place to start is with tests which show antibody positive results. The question is: how do we know if they just acquired those antibodies recently, or if they had them for years? There is no way to know. If they had them for years, what is the antibody test proving? Nothing. Crowe writes:

“Almost 14% of saved blood from old donations tested positive in a Dutch study, and in the validation of the Cellex and Chembio tests, 4.4% and 3.6% of old samples were positive.The idealized antibody model is based on the date of infection as the starting point, but this date is never known with certainty. Even when someone came into contact with a COVID-19 RNA positive person on a certain date that is not a guarantee that this was the date of infection, given that, prior to the lockdown, people could apparently be infected while playing in the park, eating at a restaurant, walking down the street, attending a concert, or participating in any other now banned activity. When antibody surveys are performed, the vast majority of people who test positive had no idea that they had previously been infected, and cannot possibly be sure about the date.”

“But a far bigger problem is that the number produced is impossible to validate. When 1.5% of Santa Clara volunteers tested positive, it was assumed that that was truth. This ‘truth’ asserts that all of these people were RNA-positive at some point in the recent past. But there is absolutely no evidence for this. The ‘truth’ assumes that all the people were negative for COVID-19 antibodies prior to the assumed period of RNA-positivity. But there is absolutely no evidence for this.”

COVID Antibody False Positives

A second problem with COVID antibody test is false positives. Just like the PCR test was found to lead to as much as an 80% false positive rate in the actual diagnosis of COVID, so too can COVID antibody tests lead to false positives, meaning the test finds that you have COVID antibodies in your system when you are COVID negative. Something is clearly very wrong with a test that is supposedly designed to only detect antibodies to a particular disease, and then detects such antibodies in people without that disease! Crowe writes:

“Other problems with antibody tests include a significant number of samples testing antibody positive from people who were COVID-19 RNA negative (although some had ‘COVID-like’ symptoms), with no evidence that the person was ever infected. In one Chinese study the positive rate on presumably never infected people was 25%.”

Antibodies are Not Specific

Yet another problem with COVID antibody tests is that they test for antibodies which may not even be specific for COVID! Crowe writes:

” … different manufacturers found a significant percentage of samples positive for COVID-19 antibodies, that were known not to have COVID-19, but instead contained other viruses, bacteria or mycoplasma, or were from people with auto-immune conditions, indicating that the antibodies are not specific. For example, 10% of Hepatitis B samples were positive, 33% of Respiratory Synctitia Virus, 10% of auto-antibodies and 17% of Streptococcus.

I encourage readers to read Crowe’s paper in whole since it is an excellent synopsis of the problems of COVID antibody tests. Meanwhile, let’s return to the subject of antibodies, the innate immune system, the adaptive immune system and more.

Antibodies are Only Developed by your Immune System if its First Line of Defense Fails

Remember: innate (non-specific) immunity comes first. Humoral, adaptive, antibody-mediated immunity (specific) comes second, and is also referred to as “acquired immunity.” Jon Rappoport did an article (COVID: David Crowe’s brilliant new paper takes apart antibody testing) on Crowe’s paper. I was impressed by many of the comments below the article, and have reproduced several here. This comment is by Tim Lundeen (spelling errors and typos are left as written for all comments):

“One of the major issues (mentioned peripherally in this paper) is that you only develop antibodies when your innate immune system can’t clear an infection. So 60% to 85% of people are able to clear coronavirus using their innate immune system, and will NEVER develop antibodies. The innate immune system is your “generic”, it works against any infection. It’s the first line of defense. If it can’t totally clear an infection, then the adaptive immune system comes into play, makes antibodies, and then the antibodies clear the infection. There are a number of places where large numbers of people have been exposed to coronavirus in a contained space: cruise ships, military ships, and homeless centers. In all of these places, 60 to 85% of the people massively exposed showed NO coronavirus RNA, e.g. their innate immune system cleared the coronavirus, they were immune to it. So they did not, and never will, develop antibodies.”

This comment is by PFT:

“One thing people don’t understand. Not everyone needs or produces antibodies when infected. Antibodies are produced by the adaptive immune system, which is basically your army of last resort against pathogens and which takes 1-2 weeks to mobilize. The primary immune defense is the innate system made up of many cells and molecules that inhibit viral replication and kill them. They also coordinate with the adaptive immune system sending signals to mobilize and providing information on the location and nature of the pathogen. If the innate system clears the infection quickly, danger signals are no longer issued and the adaptive immune system is deactivated and stands down , so no antibodies or very few (below detection limits) are produced. So while antibody rates may be in the order of 20-40% of the herd, an unknown number of the herd are also immune by nature of having a more effective innate immune system.”

“The adaptive immune system has 2 components. Humoral and cellular responses. The former produces antibodies produced by B cells. The latter uses T cells. Helper T cells actually are important to activate the B cells to produce antibodies and cytotoxic T cells. Tregs prevent an excessive immune response, and activated cytoxic T cells are killing machines. Cellular immunity is important to actually kill infected cells. Antibodies don’t kill but only mark an infected call for destruction or block it from infecting an uninfected cell. Although both are important when the innate immune system needs their help, many believe cellular immunity is the more important and that it also has memory thats not as well understood.”

How the NWO Controllers Could Use COVID Antibody Testing For Nefarious Purposes

Antibody tests are clearly flawed in numerous ways – and this opens the door for them to be used (like so many other things) in the ‘name of science’ to achieve highly destructive agendas. It’s all about interpretation, which is a form of perception. I have stated emphatically many times that we are in the midst of a perception war. Operation Coronavirus is all about perception management, starting with controlling people’s perception of the true nature of viruses and disease. Perception is all important in the interpretation of the results.

For example, authorities could claim that people who are antibody positive must be isolated, quarantined and subjected to absurd unscientific rules (social distancing, mask wearing, etc.) because the antibodies are evidence they are currently infected or sick. On the other hand, authorities could claim that people who are antibody positive are now immune and well, since the antibodies show they already had COVID and successfully defeated it, and that people who are antibody negative must be monitored and feared, because without the antibodies they are not immune and could become infected and spread it to others (and thus ‘a threat to everyone’ or other such nonsense). A third example is that authorities could claim that if the number of people who are antibody positive remains below the level of ‘herd immunity’ (90% or so), then we must have mandatory vaccination (a long cherished NWO agenda) to ‘protect public health’ (or other such nonsense). The capacity to manipulate the meaning of the results is endless.

Rappoport himself has written for decades about the lack of logic when it comes to the interpretation of antibody tests. This quote is in reference to HIV antibody tests:

“Until AIDS testing took off in earnest in the mid-1980s, it was generally assumed that the presence of antibodies in a patient signified good health. The patient had contacted a germ, mounted an immune response, and the germ was neutralized.

There was certainly no consensus that antibodies meant present or future disease across the board. In other words, if millions of people in China had encountered H5N1 (bird flu) viruses and showed antibodies to these viruses, it would be expected that they would remain healthy. Except that with the onset of AIDS research, everything was stood on its head.

People who were tested and called HIV-positive – meaning they had antibodies to the virus – were said to be sick or on a sure road to becoming sick. So now we have another level of the AIDS testing hoax. Why were people being tested for antibodies to HIV? Why was that method presumed to be significant at all? Why wasn’t the presence of antibodies to HIV taken as a sign of health?

Millions of people all over the world have been subjected to the Elisa and Western Blot HIV tests – both of which have the sole objective of finding antibodies to HIV. Why have these tests been elevated to the status of present or future disease detectives?

While writing AIDS INC. in 1988, I had a very interesting conversation with a doctor at the US National Institutes of Health. He told me that when an HIV vaccine eventually went into testing (and when it was later released for use on the public), every person who got the vaccine would be given a special letter. The letter would say that the person had received the vaccine. The letter would say that if, at any time, the person was subsequently tested for HIV and came up positive – meaning he had antibodies to HIV – this should NOT be taken as a sign of present or future illness. In this case, the person was actually immune to HIV, because he had “received” his antibodies from the vaccine.

I almost fell off my chair. I said, “Let me get this straight. If a person develops antibodies naturally to HIV, he is told he is either sick now or will get sick. But if gets his antibodies – the same antibodies – to HIV from a vaccine, he is told he is immune to the virus.” The doctor gave me no clear response. This explosive contradiction has been studiously ignored by the mainstream press and by the entire AIDS establishment network. By conventional standards (not mine), the whole point of a vaccine is to confer immunity to a germ by producing antibodies to that germ in the body. That is the essence and the standard of a “good vaccine.” And yet, in the case of AIDS research, all this was turned upside down. Suddenly, HIV positive meant: the patient has antibodies to HIV and this is a sign that he will become very ill and most likely die. To sum up: not only are both HIV antibody tests (Elisa and Western Blot) unreliable in finding true positives, as opposed to false positives, the WHOLE IDEA of using the presence of antibodies as an unmistakable sign of present or future illness is without merit.”[1988/2006] The Massive Fraud Behind HIV Tests by Jon Rappoport

He also writes in a more recent article about COVID antibody tests:

“Chicago Tribune, April 3: “A new, different type of coronavirus test is coming that will help significantly in the fight to quell the COVID-19 pandemic, doctors and scientists say.” “The first so-called serology test, which detects antibodies to the virus rather than the virus itself, was given emergency approval Thursday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.” “The serology test involves taking a blood sample and determining if it contains the antibodies that fight the virus. A positive result indicates the person had the virus in the past and is currently immune.”

Got that? A positive test means the patient is now immune to the virus and can walk outside and go back to work. NBC News, April 4, has a somewhat different take: “David Kroll, a professor of pharmacology at the University of Colorado who has worked on antibody testing, explained that the antibodies [a positive test] mean ‘your immune system [has] remembered the virus to the point that it makes these antibodies that could inactivate any future viral infections’.” “What the test can’t do is tell you whether you’re currently sick with coronavirus, whether you’re contagious, whether you’re fully immune — and whether you’re safe to go back out in public.” “Because the test can’t be used as a diagnostic test, it would need to be combined with other information to determine if a person is sick with COVID-19.”Oops. No, this really isn’t a diagnostic test, it doesn’t tell whether the patient is immune and can go back to work. Excuse me, what??

And there you have it. The official word on the COVID antibody test from official sources. It’s yes, no, and maybe. Public health officials can SAY whatever they want to about antibody tests: a positive result means you’re immune, it means you have an infection, it means you’re walking on the moon eating a hot dog.

Generally speaking, before 1984 a positive antibody test was taken to mean the patient had achieved immunity from a germ. After 1984, the science was turned upside down; a positive result meant the patient “had the germ” and was not immune. Now, with COVID-19, if you just read news headlines, a positive test means the patient is immune; but if you read down a few paragraphs, a positive test means the patient is maybe…maybe not…immune. Maybe infected, maybe not infected. Maybe sick, maybe not sick. And, on top of all that, antibody tests are known to read falsely positive, owing to factors that have nothing to do with the virus being tested for.”

Conclusion

So, as the world rushes into COVID antibody testing and contact tracing, it is always worth examining the basis of the official narrative, because without fail it turns out to be built on lies and propaganda. High antibody levels don’t equate to immunity, and they can mean anything under the sun depending on how they are interpreted. We know the plan is for digital certificates and immunity passports. Will these immunity passports be based on (unreliable) antibody tests before the they roll out a COVID vaccine? Stay aware and question every aspect of this agenda.

Makia Freeman is the editor of alternative media / independent news site The Freedom Articles and senior researcher at ToolsForFreedom.com. Makia is on Steemit and FB

BEST OF THE WEB FLASHBACK: What is the Zika virus epidemic covering up? Big Pharma vaccines, GM-mosquitoes, and frankenfood

Zika

Correlation does not mean causation. Is the Zika virus being used as a scapegoat for Pharma’s dangerous adverse effects?

The world of modern medicine has since its inception been one of controversies, scandals and cover ups. Each such episode has bettered the other and is done with a finesse that appears clearly criminal in intent. The Zika virus episode is one of the best examples of this and hides a very cruel agenda behind it.

On February 1st 2016, the WHO declared the Zika virus epidemic a global public health emergency. This was even before it formally sat for a Skype meeting on February 2nd. What caused this urgency? The Zika virus, WHO claimed, had caused an epidemic of microcephaly in Brazilian children around 4000 of who had been affected since October 2015. Microcephaly is a condition where children are born with a small size of the skull and sometimes with under developed brains.

Experts cautioned that the virus was spreading fast and Latin America was threatened. Soon cases were reported from the USA, spread through sex, concretizing the official narrative on the “ferocious spread” of the virus. In the UK the public was reminded that the virus was only a plane ride away. Ireland advised condom use. Zika was also linked to a kind of paralysis called the Guillain Barre Syndrome, an auto-immune disorder where the body attacks its own nerve cells. The WHO put Zika in the same category as the Ebola; both belong to the same category of a virus family called Flavoviridae. The priority, it was said, was to protect pregnant women and babies from harm.

Even before this declaration by the WHO, on January 22nd the Government of Brazil had gone into an overdrive to contain the epidemic. The Health Minister requested women to avoid pregnancy, asked the pregnant women to report to doctors for a checkup, and employed 200,000 soldiers in a fumigation drive to kill mosquitoes. Pregnant women were heart broken in the country. Many considered aborting and some even went ahead and conducted illegal abortions, as abortions are not legal in the country. The media was flush with news and every TV channel and print media highlighted this global crisis. Experts suggested that genetically modified mosquitoes used against the dengue carrying mosquitoes in Brazil should also be used against Zika as the vector, the Aedes aegypti variety was the same.

In a public health debate on France 24 TV channel on 26th January however the experts were cautious. Through their body language and careful choice of words they opined that the epidemic was perhaps not so serious. Brazil was probably overreacting to the crisis as it was hosting the Olympics in August 2016 and also the Paralympics in September. Clearly it had to show action on the ground to prove that strong steps were being taken to curb the epidemic. As they became more and more uncomfortable dealing with the subject of the interview, the Zika virus, the anchor had to wonder if this was another swine flu scare that had led to vaccine stockpiling worldwide and that had to be destroyed later leading to huge losses to Governments and profits to the manufacturer. An expert then conceded that common sense measures at the point of origin were usually enough to contain the spread of vector borne diseases.

Even as the hysteria mounted and the Health Minister of India called an extraordinary meeting to discuss India’s response to the public health emergency and the WHO predicted a global disease burden of 4 million with outbreaks in 20 countries, crucial information began to emerge in the independent media that shocked well read and educated people throughout the world. There was something very wrong in the way the WHO, Governments, other medical agencies and the media was fanning the issue.

The Zika virus was discovered in the year 1947 by the Rockefeller Foundation when it was isolated from monkeys from the Zika forest in Uganda in a laboratory. Since then the Foundation owns the patent to this virus. The first human case being detected in the year 1954 was found to cause a very mild form of disease involving low fever, sore body, headaches, and a mild rash in very few people. The rest did not show any symptoms at all. The symptoms were resolved in a few days. Prior to 2007 only 14 cases were recorded. Even as a bigger spread was recorded in French Polynesia in 2014 (338 cases) nobody took the virus seriously. So what changed in 2015? Why did 4,180 babies come down with microcephaly in Brazil? What about the cases of Guillain Barre Syndrome? These were never associated with the Zika since its discovery almost 70 years ago.

Experts in the field of genetics observed something very curious. The Zika virus had currently emerge exactly from those areas where the GM mosquitoes were released in 2015 to contain the dengue! The mosquitoes were released by a company called Oxitech in collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). Could one virus have been replaced with another?

As Brazil started scrutinizing the 4,180 cases of microcephaly more surprises emerged. Alerted by a circular to report cases of microcephaly pediatricians in the country had clearly exceeded their brief by reporting every child that appeared to have small skulls. Having small skulls is not unusual in Brazil. As on February 4th only 404 of those cases were confirmed to be microcephaly. Worse, the Zika virus was found in only 17 of them! In other words, only 4.2% of microcephaly cases in Brazil have been shown to have any connection to Zika. That means 96% of microcephaly cases have no link to Zika. There was evidently no epidemic, and the role of the Zika virus is severely questioned. And yet the WHO went ahead with the global public health emergency declaration. Again, why?

What can cause microcephaly? According to medical texts, the condition can be genetic, fusing of bone sutures (gaps) in the skull preventing growth of the brain, due to complications in pregnancy or faulty delivery leading to deprivation of oxygen in the brain, exposure to drugs, alcohol or toxic chemicals in the womb, infections in the womb due to rubella or varicella viruses etc, severe malnutrition, inability of the body to break down a chemical, and any other insult or injury. Researchers than began investigating what could have happened to pregnant mothers during their pregnancy.

Brazil is a country that is reckless in the use of pesticides in its agricultural fields. Many of them are banned and are linked to congenital defects (defects to fetuses in the womb). Brazil also cultivates GM crops and uses the dangerous herbicide Glyphosate which has also been linked to birth defects in experiments with laboratory animals. Combined with rampant malnutrition in Brazilian women, pesticide and herbicide poisoning was a deadly mixture. The agency behind pushing GM crops into Brazil was once again the BMGF.

While investigating the procedures directed at pregnant women in the year 2015, shocking facts emerged. Acting as per a WHO decision to inject pregnant women with vaccines despite contraindications the Brazilian Government had allowed its pregnant women to become the equivalent of guinea pigs. Besides the tetanus vaccines (provided as Diptheria Tetanus vaccines), the women had also received the Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR) vaccine in pregnancy. What is worse a DTaP vaccine was mandated for pregnant women in 2014. Citing a shortage of the DTaP vaccine the highly reactive DTP vaccine was also administered. Clearly huge risks had been inflicted on the unsuspecting women. None of these vaccines are known to be safe during pregnancy and the MMR and the DaPT/DPT vaccines are lapses that cannot be condoned. The rubella virus in the MMR vaccine and the pertussis component in the DPT vaccine are known to cause microcephaly. In the USA alone, where the DaPT is administered to pregnant women, 25000 cases of microcephaly are likely to occur every year.

The DTaP vaccine initiative to vaccinate pregnant women was financed by BMGF funds. BMGF also heavily funds vaccination programmes in developing nations through its funded ally, the GAVI which receives the second largest funding from the BMGF. This BMGF is therefore coincidentally linked with all that could have gone wrong in the entire picture. The agency is also the third largest donor to the WHO which declared an emergency in great haste. If a vaccine to prevent Zika emerges, and GM mosquitoes are released globally to contain Zika, the gainer once again would be the BMGF. What an interconnected net of coincidence! If the GM mosquito, herbicides, pesticides and vaccines link to microcephaly in children can be covered up under the Zika protest, the beneficiary once again would be the BMGF which would not be questioned for its failings even as it continues to gain from these dangerous ventures.

In the future we can expect the Zika to be blamed for more and more conditions as the mere presence of the virus is being linked to illnesses and conditions in the patient. This is like blaming the firefighters present in the fire scene for the fire as they are present whenever there is a fire! Called ‘correlation does not mean causation’, this principle is not being applied here for obvious reasons. There have to be scapegoats for medicine’s dangerous adverse effects. It would be wonderful if those scapegoats can call for further interventions that result in more business and more profits. Already there is a call to legalize the banned DDT as a mosquito repellant.

Thus even before the emergency was declared, the truth was out. There is no epidemic. The Zika virus is not the culprit. There has been a cover up to crimes of immense proportion at ground zero. An entirely new market has been opened up for drug and vaccine manufactures and research agencies will receive enough funding to clinch a faulty link. There will be a vaccine for a probable vaccine induced disorder. Vaccination of pregnant women can continue throughout the globe with the blame being shifted to the Zika virus for adverse effects. Countries that object to abortions will be asked to frame laws to legalize them. Pregnant women will be frightened into abortions and to stay away from sex. Large scale vaccinations of adults will become mandatory opening up new markets as the childhood vaccination market is getting saturated.

Modern medicine has gained in this entire episode as it has once again been able to expand its markets, cover up its criminal pursuits, further its de-population agenda, and strengthen the fear of disease in populations. The common man has lost his family freedom and choices, health, and is now fearful of an imaginary enemy.

About the author

Jagannath Chatterjee is a vaccine researcher and author of a number of articles on the subject that have appeared in newspapers and journals in India. He also writes for websites. A campaigner of 30 years standing against vaccines he is a vaccine victim being affected severely by the MMR vaccine in 1979 when he was 17 and preparing for a career in medicine. He blogs at www.currenthealthscenario.blogspot.in

Study suggests 60% of people naturally RESISTANT to SARS-COV2

t cells

A new study has found that Sars-Cov-2, the virus linked to Covid19, maybe five times more widespread than previously thought, and therefore five times less deadly.

The research, conducted by a team of scientists at the University Hospital in Zurich, is titled: “Systemic and mucosal antibody secretion specific to SARS-CoV-2 during mild versus severe COVID-19”, and found that Sars-Cov-2-specific antibodies only appear in the most severe cases, or about 1 out of 5.

The authors infer from this that antibodies are inexplicably absent from the majority of mild cases of covid19. But, given the known inaccuracy of the diagnostic tests and the well-documented tendencies to over-diagnose by clinical observation, another potential explanation would appear to be that the absent antibodies were due to the fact the subjects had never actually been infected with SARS-COV-2 in the first place, and their ‘mild’ cold-like symptoms were due to some other pathogen, like…the common cold.

However, if the authors are indeed correct in their estimation, this might mean SARS-COV-2’s infection rate (IFR) would need to be revised downward yet again. If 80% of those infected really do not produce antibodies then there is a live possibility the virus is present in many more people than usually supposed. Which would in turn potentially reduce the IFR, possibly considerably.

In the early stages, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated the virus’ IFR to be as high as 3.4%. The models based on those numbers have, however, been shown to be wildly inaccurate.

Many experts, such as Prof John Ioannidis from Stanford, predicted the WHO’s IFR numbers would be proven incorrect when the widespread population studies were finished.

The dissenting experts appear to have been vindicated by the serological studies, using blood tests looking for Sars-Cov-2 antibodies done across different populations all over the world, which routinely suggest that the IFR is closer to 0.3% than the WHO’s initial figure of 3.4%.

From Japan to Iceland to Los Angeles, the numbers returned were between 0.06 and 0.4. Within the range of seasonal influenza.

As a result of these studies, the US CDC’s most recent “estimated IFR” is between 0.26% and 0.4%. Roughly 1/10th of the initial estimates.

Another study from last month meanwhile has found evidence up to 60% of people may be partially resistant to SARS-COV-2 without ever being exposed to it.

Importantly, we detected SARS-CoV-2-reactive CD4+ T cells in ∼40%-60% of unexposed individuals, suggesting cross-reactive T cell recognition between circulating “common cold” coronaviruses and SARS-CoV-2.

In other words, large numbers of people may be immune or resistant to this virus because they have already been infected by other coronaviruses.

This may not be surprising, given the close relationship between most coronaviruses, but it is a further indicator that this virus, known to be harmless in the vast majority of cases, is neither especially unique nor especially dangerous.

The evidence continues to mount that the original estimates of the danger posed by this virus were massively exaggerated.

Swiss Policy Research continue to have detailed write-ups on this and many other developments.

SOTT FOCUS: Objective:Health: – ITN – Dietary Guidelines Whisleblowers; Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccinations

O:H header

Welcome to another addition of “In the News”, where we look through some of the latest health headlines and give the Objective:Health take.

A whistleblower, or whistleblowers, have come forward from the committee for the Dietary Guidelines for Americans stating there are very problematic issues with the process of coming up with the guidelines every five years. Anyone paying attention will be thoroughly unsurprised by this news. We discuss the ramifications.

Also in the news, the New York State Bar Association has come up with some recommendations based on what has been learned from the COVID-19 fiasco. And what tops the list? Mandatory vaccinations, of course!

Join us for our discussion on these topics and more on this episode of Objective:Health.

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Running Time: 00:46:09

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Internet trolls: The motivations of malcontents

Internet troll

© Alexander Pavlov/Shutterstock


Disruption is reinforcing to trolls

Internet trolling can be thought of as a deliberate behaviour to produce conflict or distress, or both, by posting material that is discourteous, provocative, inflammatory, or intimidating. The prevalence of trolling behaviour is hard to estimate, but at least 1% of social media users have experienced this personally over the last year. This figure can be as high as 70%, depending on the study consulted, and the methods used to collect these data.

Trolling used to be conceptualised as an activity in which an individual was engaged, being targeted from one person usually to another; however, increasingly we are seeing a rise in what might be termed “societal trolling” — disruptive tactics targeted from one group to another, often in a political context.

The questions that arise are: Why is trolling done? Are the motivations the same in individual and societal trolling? Are there similarities between online trolling and mass-disruptive actions conducted in the real world?

There are many motivations for disruptive protest, including legitimate ones based on, for example, experienced oppression. However, do such potentially legitimate contexts of protest provide opportunities for others to engage in disruption for disruption’s sake, under the cover of mass anonymity; and are the motivations of these people similar to the online troll?

One study of political trolling found that a group with a known purpose to disrupt society would engage in both sides of any debate to polarise opinion and sow discontent. For example, the same organisation got involved in Twitter debates about the Black Lives Matter movement and the safety of vaccines, simultaneously supporting both sides of both debates. The tweets from the organisation were associated with particular accounts that fed into five broad categories: Right Troll, Left Troll, News Feed, Hashtag Gamer, and Fearmonger, employed to different ends.(1)

The evidence certainly suggests that trolling has moved beyond the individual, but are the underlying characteristics of “traditional” social media trolls, and the new breed of online political provocateurs, different? We should not assume that, just because somebody is political, they have different motivations than if they were non-political. To analyse the motivations, both the personality and the context need to be understood.

The personality of the online troll is quite straightforward — unpleasant, but understandable. In a sample of 733 individuals(2), “primary psychopathy” but not “secondary psychopathy” predicted levels of trolling. That is to say, the internet troll was less impulsive, less neurotic, and less emotionally reactive (traits of secondary psychopathy), but was more callous, more manipulative, and more lacking in remorse (traits of primary psychopathy).

The troll was also able to predict, with alarming accuracy, what would emotionally hurt others, and felt none of their emotional experience (lack of empathy). The troll’s primary motivation was to cause, and enjoy, social mayhem.

A similar result was found in a study that pulled apart the characteristics of the psychopath, by assessing their “dark tetrad” traits(3). It was found that psychopathy and sadism predicted trolling, but narcissism and Machiavellianism did not. This study also found that “negative social potency” (being reinforced by causing disruption) was associated both with the dark tetrad personality traits, and with online trolling. Those seeking negative social potency enjoyed psychologically and emotionally harming others, and achieved this by exerting a negative social influence and power.

Such findings about personality traits replicate in the worlds of politics and political actions. Psychopathy and narcissism are associated with an interest in political matters (with narcissism also predicting a lack of knowledge about such matters). Both psychopathy and narcissism also predict engagement in politics: “Our results imply that individuals exhibiting higher levels of Narcissism are not only less knowledgeable but also more interested in politics and more likely to participate when given the opportunity.”(4) Apparently, these are quite widespread political traits, as another study(5) of a dataset of expert ratings of political candidates, competing across a large number of elections worldwide, found that around 25% of them could be termed “populists.” These individuals scored low on agreeableness, and (somewhat disturbingly) low on emotional stability and conscientiousness. Also disturbingly, the populists had high scores for narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism.

The personalities of online trolls, and those of some political activists, seem to be similar. The unanswered question is whether such political activists are not quite as committed to a particular viewpoint as they suggest, but are more committed to gaining the reinforcement that they need — which, if they are anything like the internet troll, is their joy in disrupting and distressing others.

The power of the context to allow this to occur can be seen in a further study of trolling(6). An experiment simulated an online discussion, and the number of trolling posts was noted as a product of the context. In addition to personality, both negative mood, and exposure to witnessing trolling posts from others, increased the chances that an individual would become a troll — experiencing both factors together doubled this probability. Suggesting that when many people are behaving badly together, and they are in a low mood requiring bolstering, the psychopath or sadist will use anonymity to inflict distress on others. In a further large study, people whose identities were strongly connected with a particular position implied that they would commit violence in support of their views, but only those people with a callous, and manipulative, personality actually did exhibit destructive behaviour(7).

This seems to be one of those rare areas where we know more about the motivations of the digital-world behaviour than we do of the real-world behaviour — online trolls are psychopathic and/or sadistic individuals, who like to inflict distress for their own ends (possibly because they are sad and low).

In the real world, political disruption offers the same contextual variables of anonymity, and exposure to a high number of examples of disruptive behaviour. We know that political trolls’ sole purpose is discord and division. We know many politicians have “dark” traits. But, we need to ask how many political agitators are motivated by the personal power and satisfaction that distressing others bring them — are they all trolls together?

References

1. Linvill, D. L., & Warren, P. L. (2020). Troll factories: Manufacturing specialized disinformation on Twitter. Political Communication, 1-21.

2. March, E. (2019). Psychopathy, sadism, empathy, and the motivation to cause harm: New evidence confirms malevolent nature of the Internet Troll. Personality and Individual Differences, 141, 133-137.

3. Craker, N., & March, E. (2016). The dark side of Facebook®: The Dark Tetrad, negative social potency, and trolling behaviours. Personality and Individual Differences, 102, 79-84.

4. Chen, P., Pruysers, S., & Blais, J. (2020). The Dark Side of Politics: Participation and the Dark Triad. Political Studies, 0032321720911566.

5. Nai, A., & Martinez i Coma, F. (2019). The personality of populists: provocateurs, charismatic leaders, or drunken dinner guests? West European Politics, 42(7), 1337-1367.

6. Cheng, J., Bernstein, M., Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil, C., & Leskovec, J. (2017, February). Anyone can become a troll: Causes of trolling behavior in online discussions. In Proceedings of the 2017 ACM conference on computer supported cooperative work and social computing (pp. 1217-1230).

7. Gøtzsche-Astrup, O. (2019). Partisanship and violent intentions in the United States.

#FluorideTrial: Scientist says he was threatened because of fluoride study – Week 1 in review

poison water

#FluorideTrial: Experts Admit Fluoride is a Pesticide

The first week of the historic water fluoridation trial wrapped up on Friday afternoon after four days of occasionally tense testimony from expert witnesses with the Fluoride Action Network (FAN) and the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). One expert witness claimed he had been coerced into signing a statement downplaying his study which claimed fluoride is a neurotoxicant. Another witness confirmed that at least one type of fluoride is a pesticide being added to the water supply.

Attorneys with FAN argue that water fluoridation violates the 1970 Toxic Substances Control Act provisions which prohibit the “particular use” of a chemical which has been found to present an unreasonable risk to the general public. Under section 21 of the TSCA citizens are allowed to petition the EPA to regulate or ban individual chemicals.

The EPA is represented by lawyers from the Department of Justice who are presenting experts from the corporate firm Exponent Inc. The government is defending water fluoridation and seeking a dismissal of the petition by the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs in the case include: FAN, Moms Against Fluoridation, Food & Water Watch, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology and the Organic Consumers Association.

FAN attorney Michael Connett called 3 witnesses throughout the week, including Howard Hu MD, Bruce Lanphear MD, Philippe Grandjean MD, and Kathleen Thiessen PhD. Connett told the court that the EPA has previously relied on the research of all of these experts in the past on other toxicants like lead and mercury. Two of these experts have been authors of key fluoride studies funded by US government agencies. Connett noted that the EPA chose to use experts from Exponent rather than their own agencies experts.

The EPA did their part to question the Fluoride Action Network’s witnesses and diminish their credibility. Dr. KathleenThiessen made a powerful admission when interviewed by FAN attorney Connett, stating that sodium fluoride is a pesticide that is being added to the water supply. However, during cross examination of Thiessen, the EPA asked if she is personal friends with the Connett family, including Paul Connett, Director of the Fluoride Action Network, and Michaell Connett, the lawyer representing FAN. Thiessen said yes she is friends with the family. The EPA pressed further, asking if she had attended meetings sponsored by FAN, whether she is on the group’s mailing list, if she has appeared in interviews on their websites, and if she helped Paul Connett with his book The Case Against Fluoride.

Dr. Thiessen answered affirmatively to these questions but denied it had any influence on her conclusions that fluoride is harmful. When questioned whether or not she has been advocating for removing fluoride for decades, while maintaining a friendship with the plaintiffs, Thiessen said yes, but emphasized that her position was based on science. The EPA then showed the court emails between plaintiff’s attorney Michael Connet and Thiessen. Connett sent Thiessen a list of studies to review and the EPA was attempting to show the judge that the plaintiff’s may have influenced Thiessen’s opinions and statements.

Dr. Howard Hu provided further background on his research on fluoride, testifying on the difficulty of getting his research funded by the National Institute of Health and the steps for publication in the Environmental Health Perspectives journal. Hu stated that his study found a loss of around 3 or 4 IQ points and this impact on population should not be ignored. He also discussed the parallels to lead neurotoxicity.

Corruption of Fluoride Science

One of the strongest witnesses for the plaintiffs was Danish environmental epidemiologist Dr. Phillip Grandjean, known for his work on the neurotoxicity of mercury. Granjean helped the EPA establish safe regulatory levels for mercury in the diet.

Dr. Grandjean stated that he had been threatened or coerced by a colleague at the Harvard Dental School after one of his studies concluded that fluoride was a neurotoxin. When DOJ lawyer Debra Carfora asked Grandjean about a statement he signed downplaying the significance of the results, Grandjean stated that the Harvard press department put the statement together and added his name to it. The statement said the researchers still agreed with the CDC position that water fluoridation is safe. Dr. Grandjean did not elaborate upon who threatened him or how often such threats may happen in his field. He also stated that the “fluoride lobby” infiltrated a World Health Organization committee seeking to exclude any mention of harmful effects of fluoride.

On the specific harmful effects of fluoride, Dr. Grandjean stated in his deposition that, “the weight of epidemiological evidence leaves no reasonable doubt that developmental neurotoxicity is a serious human health risk associated with elevated fluoride exposure.” Dr. Grandjean has also stated that efforts to control human fluoride exposure need to focus on pregnant women and small children.

During his testimony Grandjean took particular issue with statements made by the EPA’s expert Dr. Cheng. “What she has written should not be relied upon… This is not science, this is simply a misleading report.” Grandjean elaborated, stating, “I’m embarrassed that the EPA would recruit Dr. Chang, who has already tried to kill some of my work on polyfluorinated chemicals, that they would recruit her to write this report full of biases. I get a little upset about it… I’m sorry to see what has happened to a colleague that works for a product defense firm.”

This issue of the EPA’s experts working for Exponent was a theme of several of the plaintiffs’ witnesses. At least two of the EPA’s witnesses – Ellen Chang, ScD and Joyce Tsuji, PhD – are employed by Exponent Inc, a firm accused of paying the U.S. government to defend dangerous chemicals. Plaintiff’s witness Dr. Lamphear also called out the scientists working for Exponent as industry friendly “rent-a-white-coats.”

The apparent conflicts of interest were the topic of conversation again on Friday when FAN attorney Michael Connett cross examined the government’s witness Dr. Joyce Tsuji, a board-certified toxicologist and a Fellow of the Academy of Toxicological Sciences, who specializes in risk assessment of chemical exposures. Connett asked Dr. Tsuji if she has been funded by mining and smelting companies which “release arsenic into the air.” Connett also asked Tsuji if the majority of her projects have been funded by industry. Tsuji agreed that most of her work has come from industry funded sources.

The afternoon ended with plans for Dr. Tsuji to be cross examined by the plaintiff’s attorneys. Court will resume on Monday June 15, at 8:30 am pacific.

Parasite infection closely linked to gastrointestinal microbiome

Scientists

© Tishkoff laboratory
Scientists Meagan Rubel and Eric Mbunwe process fecal samples in a hunter-gatherer village at dusk.

Parasite infections are a constant presence for many people who live in tropical regions, particularly in less industrialized areas. These often chronic conditions are at best unpleasant; more seriously, children with parasite diseases that cause diarrhea can die of malnutrition or dehydration.

In Genome Biology, a study led by University of Pennsylvania scientists investigated the links between parasite infection and the gut microbiome. Using genetic methods to characterize the gastrointestinal microbiome of 575 ethnically diverse Cameroonian people representing populations from nine villages with meaningful differences in lifestyle, the researchers discovered that the presence of parasites was strongly associated with the overall composition of the microbiome.

“We found that we could look at someone’s microbiome and use it to predict whether someone had a gastrointestinal parasite infection,” says Meagan Rubel, who completed her doctorate degree at Penn and is now a postdoc at the University of California, San Diego. “Whether or not it was parasites changing the microbiome or something in the resident microbiota of a person that made them more susceptible to infection, we can’t say, but the association was strong.”

Rubel led the study in collaboration with Penn’s Sarah Tishkoff, a Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor in the Perelman School of Medicine and School of Arts and Sciences, and Frederic Bushman, a microbiologist in the medical school. In addition to the microbiome and parasites, the research also examined markers of immune function, dairy digestion, and pathogen infection, a rich dataset.

The investigation entailed six months of field work, collecting fecal and blood samples from Mbororo Fulani pastoralists, cattle herders with a diet high in meat and dairy; Baka and Bagyeli rainforest hunter-gatherers, who practice a limited amount of farming but also forage for meat and plant-based foods; and Bantu-speaking agropastoralists, who both grow crops and raise livestock. As a comparison group, the study included data from two groups of people living in urban areas of the United States, with a diet heavier in animal fats, proteins, and processed foods.

In the field, the researchers tested for malaria and a number of other pathogens that infect both the blood and gastrointestinal system.

Cameroon

© Tishkoff laboratory
André Essiane and Eric Ngwang, members of the field research team, record patient health, informed consent, and ethnography information for study participants in southern Cameroon.

Of the 575 people tested in Cameroon, the researchers found nearly 40% were infected with more than one parasite before receiving an antiparasitic treatment, with hunter-gatherers, on average, most likely to be co-infected with multiple parasites. In particular, the team found that four soil-transmitted gut parasites tended to co-occur at a rate much higher than chance: Ascaris lumbricoides, Necator americanus, Trichuris trichiura, and Strongyloides stercoralis, or ANTS.

“Gut parasites are a global public health concern,” says Rubel. “And you tend to see several of these parasites together in resource-poor settings where people may not have access to clinical care, piped water, and soap, so there’s more opportunity for them to be transmitted.”

Back in the lab at Penn, the researchers used genomic sequencing tools to take a snapshot of the participants’ gut microbiomes. The composition of the microbiome, they found, could accurately predict a person’s country (U.S. or Cameroon) and lifestyle (urban, pastoralist, agropastoralist, or hunter-gatherer). But after these two variables, the presence of ANTS parasites could be predicted with greater accuracy by the microbiome structure than any other variable the research team studied. Taken together, the microbiome could predict the presence of these four gut parasites with roughly 80% accuracy.

Infection with these parasites also led to upticks in immune system activation, specifically turning on pathways that promote inflammatory responses. Parasite infection was also associated with a greater likelihood of having bacteria from the order Bacteroidales, which are known to play a role in influencing digestion and immune system function.

In a second part of the study, the Penn-led team assessed the relationship between the gut microbiome and milk consumption in the Fulani pastoralist population. Earlier work by Tishkoff and colleagues illuminated how genetic mutations enabling lactose digestion arose in pastoralist communities in Africa, selected through evolution because of the important nutritional benefits of consuming dairy. In looking at the Fulani’s microbiomes, they also tended to have an abundance of bacterial genes capable of breaking down galactose, a component of lactose, and fats, compared to other groups. “This enrichment of genes could help you extract more nutrition from the food you eat,” Rubel says.

The researchers believe their findings, the largest-ever study on the link between gut microbiome composition and parasite infection from sub-Saharan Africa, can open new possibilities for future work. “The kinds of microbiome markers we found could be useful to predict the type of pathogens you have, or to shed light on the interplay between the microbiome and the immune system,” says Rubel.

Eventually, she adds, more research could even illuminate strategies for purposefully modulating the microbiome to reduce the risk of a parasite infection or minimize the harm it causes to the body.

More information: Meagan A. Rubel et al, Lifestyle and the presence of helminths is associated with gut microbiome composition in Cameroonians, Genome Biology (2020). DOI: 10.1186/s13059-020-02020-4 Journal information:Genome Biology