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Researchers say H1N1 virus jumped to humans months ago

first_imgJun 11, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – At almost the same moment today that the World Health Organization announced recognition of an influenza pandemic, researchers from Hong Kong, the United Kingdom and the United States declared that the novel H1N1 virus responsible has been circulating undetected in humans for months—and that its components have been present in pigs for at least a decade.The group, led by Andrew Rambaut, PhD, of the University of Edinburgh’s Institute of Evolutionary Biology, said in a letter to the journal Nature that their findings demonstrate the critical need to ramp up disease-detection efforts in animals: “Despite widespread influenza surveillance in humans, the lack of systematic swine surveillance allowed for the undetected persistence and evolution of this potentially pandemic strain for many years.”If better surveillance had existed, they suggest, the first flu pandemic in 41 years might have been detected much earlier—because the novel H1N1 strain’s evolution tracks with the emergence of earlier and (as yet) more destructive pandemic strains.”All three pandemics of the 20th century seem to have been generated by a series of multiple reassortment events in swine or humans, and to have emerged over a period of years before pandemic recognition,” they write. “Our results show that the genesis of the [swine-origin influenza A H1N1 virus] epidemic followed a similar evolutionary pathway.”The study is the third in 3 weeks to pinpoint the origin of the novel H1N1 strain of flu in pigs in North America, where it underwent complex reassortment. On May 22, a group of 60 scientists led by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published in the journal Science an analysis of full or partial genomes from 76 viral isolates. And on June 4, scientists from the National Autonomous University of Mexico and the University of Illinois published in Eurosurveillance an analysis of 400 protein sequences.Taken together, the three papers demonstrate an uncharacteristic scientific openness that has been allowing analysis of the novel flu to move at a record pace. In the case of today’s paper, its authors have been posting their findings piece by piece on the Internet, in a multi-author wiki (http://tree.bio.ed.ac.uk/groups/influenza/), and their paper was released by Nature without embargo, in what the journal termed a “near-final version.”To reach their results, Rambaut and colleagues compared the downloaded genetic sequences of 2 isolates of the novel flu, 15 newly sequenced Asian swine flu strains, and 796 human, swine, and avian flu isolates. In addition, using a “molecular clock” technique, they calculated the rate of viral evolution of 30 isolates of the novel flu.Their study yielded a reconstruction of the sequence of reassortment events that produced the new strain. It graphically depicts how braided and complex the evolution of the novel flu has been. Along with it, they publish phylogenetic analyses (“family trees”) for the major genomic segments of the new virus that, by depicting the time gaps between known isolates, illustrate how little surveillance of swine influenza has been carried out.They conclude that the eight genomic segments of the novel H1N1 have been circulating in swine populations for a number of years, from 9.24 years at the shortest (for the PB1 gene) to 17.15 years at the outside (for the NA gene).The complete virus, they estimate, has been circulating in humans since approximately January 2009, and may have emerged as early as August 2008.”This genomic structure may have been circulating in pigs for several years before emergence in humans,” they said. “We urge caution in making inferences about human adaptation on the basis of the ancestry of the individual genes.”Movement of live pigs between Eurasia and North America is likely to have facilitated viral reassortment, they said. Notably, they found a striking resemblance to the novel H1N1 in a 2004 swine influenza isolate from Hong Kong that contained 7 out of 8 genes similar enough for them to dub it a “sister lineage.” They caution though that this does not prove a Eurasian origin for the new flu, but only provides evidence that its swine-flu progenitors were widely geographically distributed.Smith GJD, Vijaykrishna D, Bahl J, et al. Origins and evolutionary genomics of the 2009 swine-origin H1N1 influenza A epidemic. Nature 2009 (advance online publication Jun 11) [Abstract]See also: May 22 CIDRAP News story “Genetic study: Novel H1N1 likely originated in pigs”Garten RJ, Davis CT, Russell CA, et al. Antigenic and genetic characteristics of swine-origin 2009 A (H1N1) influenza viruses circulating in humans. Science 2009 (early online publication May 22) [Abstract]Jun 8 CIDRAP News story “Flu researchers call for enhanced swine surveillance”Nava GM, Attene-Ramos MS, Ang JK, et al. Origins of the new influenza A (H1N1) virus: time to take action. Eurosurveillance 2009 Jun 4;14(22) [Full text]last_img read more

USA Basketball: Before looking forwards to the FIBAWC it’s worth looking back at how the team got there

first_imgView this post on Instagram Behind the scenes with Jeff Van Gundy’s USA Team during Window 5 of the Qualifiers where they secured the qualification for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 in China! #FIBAWC #ThisIsMyHouseA post shared by FIBA Basketball World Cup (@fibawc) on Dec 11, 2018 at 9:00am PST https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/6/4d/reggie-hearn-usa-basketball_1lemfkjrgpi961q46vdf8gsoud.jpg?t=-1605063871&w=500&quality=80 https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/d3/bc/jeff-van-gundy-usa-fiba_lyi88exuuob81uzwiljvl48q2.jpg?t=-1598987807&w=500&quality=80 The exact composition of the final roster may prove to be another juggling act for USAB. Of the 35 man National Team Roster, a number of players have key decisions to make this summer which may impact on their availability for the World Cup.12 players will be entering free agency, which could heavily impact their decision making. Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, Kemba Walker, Tobias Harris, Khris Middleton, DeMarcus Cousins, DeAndre Jordan, Isaiah Thomas and Harrison Barnes will all have question marks as to whether or not they can commit to the USA World Cup campaign. In addition, having suffered a ruptured achilles ruling him out for at least 12 months, John Wall is already a no-go.Even if all of those players decided to withdraw from consideration, the remaining pool of 22 players is enough to create a more than enviable roster. The NBA is serious about having a strong presence in China, with the World Cup being a factor in the decision to push the start of 2019 NBA season back, according to the Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor.  The appointment of Van Gundy, despite his sabbatical from coaching, was a huge positive for USAB. The style of play in FIBA competitions is significantly different to the three-point heavy, offense-oriented game we see in the NBA today. The slower, more physical approach seen in FIBA competition seemed to resonate with the era of basketball in which Van Gundy enjoyed his greatest success.When talking with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on the Woj Pod, Van Gundy drew comparisons between his team USA coaching experience and his NBA tenure; “FIBA basketball is like 90s NBA Playoff basketball. Where post play is still emphasised, where offensive rebounding is a major factor and the physicality is like 90s NBA Playoffs as well. So, you have to ask the players who are in today’s NBA game to re-imagine how the game is going to be played. And it’s hard for them because they’re not used to (it). You know the difference between FIBA basketball and the NBA right now is that, (in) the NBA there’s freedom of movement, in FIBA basketball, it’s freedom to get your teeth knocked out when you come into the lane”.Unlike his NBA experience though, Van Gundy did not have the benefit of weeks of training camps, an 82 game season and then Playoffs to bond and build his team. Of the experience, Van Gundy said to FIBA Media “ you never have continuity of roster, so you have different players all the time and then you have a short amount of time with them. So it’s a two-game season in these windows, that makes it definitely very unique.”Building a United StateAcross the 12 qualification games, the American roster comprised of 54 different players, of whom 52 saw court time. In an era of NBA basketball when players consider themselves brands and, sometimes, substance is overlooked in lieu of style, USAB achieved something unique. Despite such a high turnover of players (each player averaged just 2.52 games throughout the qualifiers), team USA were able to plug and play with each other. And, in spite the fact that the G Leaguers responsible for successfully getting the USA to the World Cup will most-likely play no part of the final roster in China this September, not a single one complained about the duty in hand.As seamless as it appeared from the outside, there were some obstacles in terms of convincing players to join the roster. Van Gundy told Woj it required “more (recruiting) than I thought”. The coach continued “when you offer them a spot on the national team, I think basically all of them are interested but what they’re trying to determine, with whoever they trust, is what’s best for me to better my career? And that means how can I get to the NBA best? And, frankly, if everyone was being honest, there’s no sure path. Playing for the national team – that’s not a sure path. Staying the the G League – that’s not a sure path either. But they had to wrestle with and oftentimes a couple of guys accepted and then had second thoughts and declined at the very last minute.” Fortunately for USAB, Men’s National Team Director Sean Ford was on hand to ensure that quality players with the right mindset were always onboard, as Van Gundy told Woj “he (Sean) picked the right guys, because he had high character guys who (not only) cared deeply about winning but also about representing the country well and we zero problems on the road. I couldn’t have been more proud of the guys Sean selected and how they conducted themselves. Great representatives of USA Basketball and our country”.Refreshingly, without celebrity players, the focus was all about the name on the front of the jersey, not the back.Having collected the most caps throughout qualifying with 9, Reggie Hearn of the Stockton Kings (G League affiliate of the Sacramento Kings) was the teams defacto lynchpin. Hearn, spoke to FIBA Media about the process of representing the USA in their pursuit of qualification:  “It’s definitely an honour. We, I don’t know how the other guys feel, but I kinda feel like the “Junior Varsity”, so to speak, qualifying the varsity. And it takes all of us, you know, with the way that FIBA is doing the scheduling now those guys’ (NBA players) NBA teams aren’t going to let them go and play so it’s on us to qualify the country. And if we don’t do it, those guys don’t get to come in and finish the job so, I think they realise you know the sacrifice that we’re making. You know to get away from our teams and come and play for the country. But at the same time we recognise that we’re getting these guys (NBA players) there so they can finish the job.”The road to ChinaDespite the lack of their elite NBA talent, team USA flourished on the court. Outscoring opponents by an impressive 18.33 points per game, USAB won five games by thirty or more points, and a sixth game by 57 (versus Uruguay).Their 86.2 points per game ranked third overall in the Americas, trailing just Canada and Argentina. Ever present across the top of the stat sheet, USA ranked second in rebounds (44.4rpg), fourth in assists (18.4 apg) and third in efficiency.In an interesting crossover between the difference in playstyle between the American and FIBA game, USA made 38.9% of their 3-pointers in the World Cup Qualifiers. This rate was the highest percentage from behind the arc amongst all teams in the Americas region.Van Gundy shared his thoughts with FIBA Media on what goes into building a successful team“You’ve got to have high basketball character, with high basketball intelligence. Then you try to get enough guys who can score, enough guys who know their game and are willing to be passers and ball movers. Then you’ve got to get everybody to commit to defending and rebounding”.  As the old coaching adage goes, Defense wins championships. And it was Team USA’s defense that laid the foundation to their qualification. On the subject, Van Gundy said “That (defense) should be the hallmark of our team, great defense, great rebounding and then transition offense”. Of the twelve teams that competed in Round Two in the Americas, only Brazil could best the USA’s stingy defense, which gave up just 67.83 points per game.However, qualification wasn’t entirely plain sailing for FIBA’s number one ranked team. On Thursday 28 June 2018, in their fifth game, USA suffered their second ever loss to Mexico, going down 78-70 in Mexico City. America were stunned right out of the gate by an 18-0 run in the first quarter, which ultimately proved too big of a hole to climb out of.The USA would stumble once more when they visited their old rivals, Argentina, on 29 November. Despite a quick start, El Alma Argentina, doggedly fought their way back into the game and two runs of 8-0 and 10-0 in the third quarter put the game out of reach for the Americans.  The qualification of the USA to any FIBA tournament is normally something that happens with a level of certainty usually reserved only for death and taxes. But, whilst the US had successfully secured their place to the big dance in China following the fifth qualifying window, the manner in which they did so was anything but ordinary.With FIBA’s new qualification system in place, 10 out of the 12 qualifiers clashed with the NBA regular season or preseason training camps. For the first time since Boris Stankovic’s suggestion to drop the “amateur-only” clause from FIBA competitions, USA Basketball (USAB) were faced with the prospect of having to qualify without the use of the country’s top 342 players. It was time to make a rather drastic decision.What unfolded was a storyline not too far removed from a Hollywood underdog movie. Team USA handed the reins, and fate of the country, to a man who had not coached in ten years. And surrounded him with a rag-tag collection of players, from the outskirts of the NBA fraternity. A collection of G League players, scrapping to keep their professional basketball dreams alive.Blast from the pastFollowing the departure of Mike Krzyzewski, after collecting (another) Olympic gold in Rio, Team USA appointed Gregg Popovich as head coach for both the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup and 2020 Olympic Games.However, Popovich’s responsibilities as Head Coach of the San Antonio Spurs conflicted with the FIBA qualification schedule and meant USAB needed to appoint a world-class coach, who was unrestricted by the demanding schedule of the NBA.Cue Jeff Van Gundy, the former Head Coach of the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets. Despite having not being actively involved in coaching in over a decade, Van Gundy has continued to be directly involved with the highest level of basketball as an analyst/colour commentator for ESPN. FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Groups are IN! The #WorldGotGame! #FIBAWC starts on August 31 2019!A post shared by FIBA Basketball World Cup (@fibawc) on Mar 16, 2019 at 5:00am PDTBy the time the final roster is announced for the World Cup, it is likely that the team will be made up of some of the NBA’s biggest names. USA Basketball fans should remember though how the team reached this tournament.center_img At the FIBA Basketball World Cup live draw – USA basketball learned that it will compete against Turkey, the Czech Republic and Japan in the opening round in Shanghai. Travis Trice – The 6-0 guard for the Wisconsin Herd (Milwaukee Bucks’ G League Affiliate), ran the offense for the USA in all six round two games. Averaging 24.6 minutes per contest, Trice’s 35 total assists were the most amongst all players in the Americas in the second round. He bolstered those dimes with a steady 12 points per game, underpinned by an impressive 48.3% from three. Team USA would have their revenge though, hosting Argentina in the final game of the qualifiers. Down one point, with a single second on the clock, USA ran a box inbound play, leading to Reggie Hearn curling to the near corner. Argentina’s defense was impressive, and all over Hearn, as the guard rose up and hoisted an off-balance long two, stumbling off the court as the ball hit nothing but net on it’s way though. On top of being a revenge game, and with both teams having already qualified for China, the victory also ensured the Americans qualified as the highest seed in Group E, edging out Argentina.  🇺🇸🚨 ALL THE ANGLES OF REGGIE HEARN’S @TISSOT BUZZER BEATER!#FIBAWC #ThisIsMyHouse #ThisIsYourTime @USAbasketball pic.twitter.com/DS6yFuVP5W— Basketball World Cup (@FIBAWC) February 26, 2019That moment was akin to winning the gold medal for this “Junior Varsity” team. The players celebrated wildly on court, knowing that the mission was complete and that their role in the country’s journey to the World Cup had now come to an end.The Men Whose Names Time ForgotBy the time September rolls around, Gregg Popovich will be at the helm and the twelve man squad will resemble an All-NBA team.The USA will be heavily favoured to win their sixth World Cup and, though they won’t receive a winners medal, here are two of the “Junior Varsity” squad who probably deserve one.Reggie Hearn – The consistent heart of this team, Hearn appeared in 9 of the USA’s qualifying games. Only an ankle sprain prevented him from reaching double digits in caps, as he missed his team beating Uruguay to open round two. Averages of 9.7ppg and 3.2 rpg are pretty impressive in just 21 minutes of action, add to that his jaw-dropping 48.8% from three and the value he added to USAB being able to spread the floor is clear. And, to cap it off, he hit the buzzer-beating game winner to secure USA’s spot at the top of the group. Notably, Hearn joined the likes of LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony (and many more) to be named USA Basketball’s Athlete of the Year.  View this post on Instagram https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/b4/96/travis-trice-usa-fiba_7iv6q6230ayr1abgockp1ojk1.jpg?t=-1604973367&w=500&quality=80 These guys came through when it mattered the most.📽️ Sights & Sounds from the USA Men’s World Cup Qualifying Team’s thrilling 84-83 @FIBAWC Qualifying win over Argentina ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/AQ08J6Vyrp— USA Basketball (@usabasketball) February 28, 2019 Expect the likes of Steph Curry, James Harden and Anthony Davis to all be involved when the tournament begins in China. But when you’re watching those games, don’t forget those scenes of Reggie Hearn and his teammates leaving it all out on the floor and getting that job done of qualifying USA basketball for the tournament in the first place.last_img read more


first_imgPramerica Systems Ireland has celebrated a historic milestone when it hired its 1,000th employee – in its Letterkenny outlet.The Pramerica team nail their Donegal colours to the mast!Heather Smith joined the well-known local employer as a systems tester.Heather is from England, studied Japanese at Oxford University and spent a couple of years working in Japan. “The company is extremely proud to reach this historic milestone,” said Caroline Faulkner, senior managing director and chief information officer.“We’re very proud of the organization we have built for Prudential and the positive financial impact we have on the local community and our strong ties with local educational institutions,” adds Faulkner.Pramerica is a software and contact centre subsidiary of U.S.-based Prudential Financial, Inc that provides technology and operations services for PFI businesses in the United States.Pramerica Roundabout. Photo:- Clive WassonIt was established in 2000 as a software development operation with 88 employees. Since then, the company has evolved into a multifunctional global business solutions centre with 1,000 employees, Faulkner noted. Most recently, Pramerica has expanded its services to PFI’s offices in Poland and Japan, offering new opportunities for Japanese-speaking systems testers – including its 1,000th employee, Heather.Heather moved to Ireland in 2010 from the Netherlands. She recently moved to County Donegal from Drumfries to accept her position at Pramerica.She and her partner have two daughters ages 12 and 14. She spends her free time travelling and enjoying hiking and other outdoor activities. In fact, Heather is a member of rowing clubs in the United Kingdom, Japan and the Netherlands. She is also a swim coach for 8- through 15-year old children.“Pramerica is one of the most recognizable brands in Ireland,” said Heather.“I’m excited about being a member of such a respected company and I look forward to providing relevant contributions with my new colleagues.” Pramerica staff members are also actively involved in their local communities.Last year employees volunteered close to 7,000 hours of time in a number of company-sponsored projects. In doing so, they awarded top youth volunteers across Ireland through the Pramerica Spirit of the Community programme; raised awareness for disability, cancer, depression, homelessness, vulnerable youth and distressed animals, and shared their knowledge with young people in the community through initiatives such as Coder Dojo.Pramerica also partners with a number of educational institutions locally and nationally and has a unique link with Mulroy College in Milford through the Schools’ Business Partnership.PRAMERICA TAKES ON ITS 1,000TH EMPLOYEE – IN LETTERKENNY! was last modified: March 4th, 2014 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:donegalletterkennypramericalast_img read more