first_img Jul 22, 2005, CIDRAP News story on virulence of strain in 2003 US monkeypox outbreak See also: Finally, the study’s authors described their use of a T-cell quantification method for diagnosis. T cells that retain memory of a specific virus will release antiviral factors (interferon-gamma and tumor necrosis factor–alpha) upon reexposure to the virus. By immunostaining against these factors, it is possible to count relative numbers of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells that specifically react to the tested virus. The researchers measured the responses of T cells isolated from vaccinia-immune, monkeypox-infected, and naive subjects. They found that CD8+ cell counts could distinguish between people recently exposed to orthopoxviruses (through monkeypox infection) and those with old exposure from a vaccination or no exposure at all. However, one of the three people who developed no clinical monkeypox symptoms fell below the threshold for recent exposure by this test. In the new article, the authors outline three methods of detecting monkeypox and vaccinia immune response. They first examined whole, killed vaccinia and monkeypox cells using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) testing. With this technique, they found that people who had never received the smallpox vaccine had very low (<100 ELISA units [EU]) antibody levels. People who received the vaccine but were not exposed to monkeypox had higher vaccinia titers (100-4,400 EU) and a monkeypox-vaccinia antibody ratio of 1:1, indicating only the effects of antibody cross-reactivity rather than monkeypox-specific antibodies. Finally, people infected with monkeypox but never vaccinated against smallpox had high levels of monkeypox antibodies compared with vaccinia antibodies. Aug 11, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – Researchers have identified three people whose previous smallpox vaccinations may have protected them from monkeypox during the 2003 US outbreak. Despite exposure to monkeypox-infected prairie dogs in Wisconsin, these three subjects did not show any clinical signs of the disease. New laboratory results suggest that they developed antibodies to the monkeypox virus but never developed the disease because of their prior smallpox vaccinations. Prior to 1972, approximately 50% of people in the United States received smallpox vaccinations. In 1979, smallpox was declared eradicated, and currently the only known stocks of the virus are at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, and the Russian State Centre for Research on Virology and Biotechnology, Koltsovo, Novosibirsk Region, Russian Federation. However, some experts suspect that additional stocks may still exist and could be used in a bioterrorist attack. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Oregon National Primate Research Center. Because current laboratory techniques cannot distinguish readily between monkeypox and vaccinia antibodies, the authors developed a second ELISA test using specific protein fragments. The compared the genomes of the monkeypox and vaccinia viruses and selected proteins present only in monkeypox. Several of these gene products showed promise as potential diagnostic tools for monkeypox diagnosis. Aug 19, 2003, CIDRAP News story on earlier research by Slifka group [includes link to abstract of study, which was published online Aug 17] Of the eight people who were exposed to both vaccinia (though a prior smallpox vaccination) and monkeypox (through contact with infected prairie dogs), three never developed any clinical symptoms of the disease, though they had high antibody levels indicative of recent orthopoxvirus exposure. These results raised the possibility of persistent immunity following smallpox vaccination in the distant past. Other possibilities for the scenario exist as well, as evidenced by a recent study regarding possible low virulence of the monkeypox virus in the 2003 US outbreak (see below). Second, they point to the utility of the new laboratory techniques in diagnosing monkeypox infections in Africa. They speculated that the techniques presented in the article could ease the problem of diagnosis in an area where outbreaks are frequent, saying "An advantage of using the immunologic assays described here is that a positive diagnosis can be made retrospectively because of persisting immunity."center_img Finally, the authors emphasized the importance of this further evidence of persistent smallpox immunity in the US population over age 35. “The main (albeit speculative) point of this current study, ” the authors emphasized, “is that our findings . . . show that some level of protective immunity probably exists in contemporary subjects who have received smallpox vaccination in the distant past.” Such immunity could prove critical in limiting fatalities from an intentional release of smallpox. Vaccina, the virus used in smallpox vaccines, and the monkeypox virus are closely related members of the viral orthopox family. The authors of a Nature Medicine report published online Aug 7 suggest that antibodies to vaccinia were sufficiently cross-reactive to protect these people from monkeypox. The study’s senior author, Mark Slifka, told the Associated Press that their findings could be beneficial in the event of a smallpox bioterrorist attack. Editor’s note: This article was revised Aug 15, 2005, to include additional information regarding earlier related research. Assessing the level of immunity in the US population has been a subject of great interest in recent years. A prior study by Slifka’s group measured antibody levels in people years after smallpox vaccination and found that antibodies and T-cell responses may persist for as long as 75 years after vaccination. However, some experts found flaws with the authors’ interpretation of their results (see links below), and it has so far proven impossible to verify whether the levels of antibodies measured in vaccinated people would protect them in the case of smallpox exposure. The recent monkeypox outbreak provided a rare opportunity to study the persistence of immunity, as antibodies against vaccinia are cross-reactive to monkeypox. Hammarlund E, Lewis MW, Carter SV, et al. Multiple diagnostic techniques identify previously vaccinated individuals with protective immunity against monkeypox. Nat Med 2005 (published online Aug 7) [Abstract] Aug 21, 2003, CIDRAP News story on critique of Aug 17, 2003, study Jul 10, 2003, CIDRAP News story on monkeypox outbreak The authors highlighted three important ramifications of their findings. First, they described how “our diagnostic approaches confirmed monkeypox infection in individuals whose infections were previously listed as probable or suspect.” Though these people showed clinically indicative signs of the disease, their serologic testing came back negative or equivocal. Retrospective testing using whole-cell ELISA, T-cell immunostaining, and/or peptide ELISA was able to confirm the exposure. Sep 12, 2003, CIDRAP News story in which Slifka et al rebut critique abovelast_img read more

first_imgThe University of Wisconsin volleyball team will go to battle this weekend against Illinois (10-8, 0-6 Big Ten) and Northwestern (15-2, 4-2 Big Ten). The Badgers (11-3, 4-2 Big Ten) are currently ranked No. 8 in the country and are in a four-way tie for third place in the Big Ten.One of the teams involved in the four-way tie is the No. 7 Illinois Fighting Illini, who the Badgers will play on Saturday night. Prior to that, the weekend action will start with the Northwestern Wildcats Friday night at the UW Field House.Northwestern (10-8, 0-6 Big Ten) is looking to snap their six-game losing streak dating back to Sept. 21, but the task is not an easy one, especially with the game taking place in Madison. The six losses have come at the hands of four top 20 teams.Men’s Soccer: Badgers tally season-high four goals in defeat of RutgersThe University of Wisconsin men’s soccer team (6-4-2, 3-1 Big Ten) beat fellow Big Ten opponent Rutgers (2-8-1, 1-4 Big Read…The Wildcats are sitting in a tie for the last place in the Big Ten with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and are still searching for their first conference win. The Badgers cannot get complacent in this game like in their most recent loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes. A loss that was a wake-up call for Wisconsin after dropping two games back in the Big Ten standings.With only 10 calendar days between games, the Badgers will once again take on the Fighting Illini (15-2, 4-2), but this time around the game will be at the UW Field House. The last time these two teams squared off, the Badgers beat the Illini (3–1) off an impressive hitting night.Illinois’ only other loss this season came against No. 3 Nebraska in Urbana-Champaign. The Badgers will have to contain Jacqueline Quade, who is hitting .289 with 258 kills, capturing 4.16 k/s. The Illini’s starting setter, Jordyn Poulter, will also play a key role as she has already tallied 709 assists this season while averaging 11.44 a/s.Something special brewing in Milwaukee: How the Crew got this farIn recent weeks, the best team in baseball hasn’t been the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox or the Read…Both teams will play a game on Friday night before the Saturday night game, but the Badgers will have the advantage as they play at home against Northwestern, whereas Illinois will take on No. 3 Minnesota up in Minneapolis.Wear pink, as it is Breast Cancer awareness night Friday. At the UW Field House, the match starts at 8 p.m., while the match against the Illinois Fighting Illini will begin at 7 p.m. Saturday night. For both games, you can catch the action live on or listen live with The Badger Rewind, 92.1.last_img read more

first_imgDear Editor,There is something seriously and fundamentally wrong with the accounting and financial management systems of the Mayor and Councillors of the City of Georgetown (M&CC), and it needs to be urgently and comprehensively addressed before the municipality is destroyed.Even though it is clear that the elected Council is not in charge, as it should be; but rather just the Mayor, Finance Chairman, the Town Clerk, and a few other powerful Councillors, all will have to take the blame when the day of reckoning comes.Almost every conceivable municipal fee has been jacked up, including a special fee which is being applied to both commercial and industrial waste, either solid or liquid; barbers and hairdressers’ licences; property rates (increased by 10 percent), certificate of compliance fees (increased by a whopping 750 %), the illegal container fee is to be increased, market stall rents have spiralled upwards, and in spite of all of this revenue increase, the city is more broke than ever.All of this is because council maintains a massive and highly paid staff of over 800 employees, while at the same time retaining a huge cadre of extremely well-paid contractors.Then there is the scandal of the council deducting National Insurance Scheme, Guyana Revenue Authority and Credit Union contributions from employees’ salaries but not paying these monies over to those entities, which is clearly a violation of the laws of Guyana. Should SOCU and SARA not be called in?The Auditor General’s Office has been unable to audit the books for years, because of the disappearance of records, yet it is well known that the council is in a perpetual state of financial crisis, with no proper accountability or transparency for the billions of dollars it received and spent over the last three years.The members of the Council’s Finance Committee seem to be operating in an ivory tower, approving massive expenditure for items that have not been tendered for or undergone competitive bidding, and without contracts being presented to full Council for examination and approval.Then there is the big scam involving many persons who were granted amnesty, reductions or waivers on interest on rates and taxes owed to the council, but without the requisite approval being given.Almost every citizen of our capital is aware that the City Council is being mismanaged. Flooding of our city is becoming a norm, due to the drains and canals not being cleaned, with some not being cleaned for years. Most of the municipality’s buildings are falling, including the main City Hall building, the city abattoir, and all of the markets. But who will bell the cat?There must be a forensic audit of the Council done now, before everything collapses and disappears. Sincerely,Mark Roopanlast_img read more

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first_imgNothing can bog down your sales cycle like a long, drawn out scoping process. Find out why one simple solution can accelerate implementation and lead to more — and happier — customers.As the dominant model for software companies shifts from traditional perpetual licenses to Software as a Service (SaaS), there is no consensus on how to best present and price implementation services as part of a SaaS solution. To accelerate sales and increase customer satisfaction, however, packaging implementation services into distinct offerings is critical for SaaS vendors.The Problem: Why Your Sales Get Bogged Down in Scoping and OnboardingIn the traditional enterprise software model, installation and training services are typically scoped and priced on an individual, customer-by-customer basis.  This often requires a “discovery” step in the midst of the sales cycle to collect the information needed to deliver a custom proposal.This approach is not without its benefits. For starters, the risk associated with delivering the project is reduced, since more information can be used to determine the price, the scope, and the exclusions to be written into the statement of work. It also creates the opportunity for a services team member to build a trusted advisor relationship with the prospect to help close the deal.On the downside, interrupting the sales cycle with a scoping step has the potential to disrupt, delay, and derail a sale.  These negatives are exacerbated in the SaaS model, which is predicated on making the entire process of acquiring and accessing the solution simpler for the customer. The good news is that by packaging implementation and training services into a set of distinct offerings, SaaS vendors can realize significant benefits not only in selling services but in delivering projects as well.Example: Offering Services in 3 Distinct PackagesPackageLevelValue PropositionGuided Implementation Services PackageGoodWe will help your team complete the implementation by providing training, tools, and methods based on best practices.Managed Implementation Services PackageBetterWe will prepare a joint project plan, and we will provide a project manager and key resources to complete tasks alongside your team to ensure a rapid and deep implementation.Comprehensive Implementation Services PackageBestWe will assume responsibility for the full implementation project, completing all technical implementation tasks included on a comprehensive project plan.Big Payoffs of Packaging Implementation ServicesHow do you determine the right packaging and prices for your customers?buyer insightsBuyer Insights Research: Eliminate the Guesswork1) Streamlined SalesWith well-structured, distinct service offerings the sales process can actually proceed without a scoping step. Instead, the sales team — often in the person of a sales engineer — can help the customer select the implementation services package that best reflects their situation. This prevents the disruption that results from introducing new participants from the services team in the sales process, and eliminates the risk that the scoping process will surface new objections. Ideally, the result is a shortened sales cycle with a higher close rate.2) Better ProjectsWhen SaaS vendors package their implementation services into distinct offerings, they gain the benefit of the learning curve.  The basic principle of the learning curve is that the more times a structured process is repeated, the faster and better it will be executed (a concept that is well proven, well documented, and the foundation of manufacturing models).The hitch is that you only get the benefit of the learning curve if you do the SAME THING repeatedly, which is not the case if every project is unique. Distinct, well-defined, and well-structured service offerings allow the delivery team to hone a systematic model for delivering each of the defined packages. The payoff is not only better project outcomes — you will also see substantial cost savings and improved margins.3) Happier CustomersNo matter how much effort goes into scoping a custom project, the potential for misaligned expectations always looms over the kickoff meeting. We have all been in a room when the expectations set during the sales process clash against the realities of the (often unread) statement of work, and the phrase “I thought that was included” causes an uncomfortable silence.With a portfolio of implementation services packages, the customer is forced to think through which package meets their needs best. The result is lowered potential for frustration based on misaligned expectations, because the customer made a deliberate decision to select a specific package of well-defined services.Bottom LinePackaging implementation services into distinct offerings does not ensure faster sales, successful projects and happier customers for a SaaS vendor, of course. Other key tasks include developing a successful services pricing strategy, ensuring an effective feedback model back to the product team, and implementing a training and certification model that ensures the delivery team is fully qualified to deliver the packages. But designing a set of implementation services packages that present the customer with clear options for different service levels is definitely a critical first step.Photo by: Beck Gusler AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to PrintPrintShare to EmailEmailShare to MoreAddThis2last_img read more