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Welcome to Monday Micro, your bite sized digest of microbial mayhem.

Today is World Pneumonia Day, organized by the Global Coalition against Child Pneumonia, to raise awareness of pneumonia. The stats are amazing. Pneumonia is the world’s leading killer of children under 5, with 1 child dying every 20 seconds. Watch their incredible video to learn more:

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If you want to do something, make a donation to the GAVI Alliance which is dedicated to improving access to immunisation in poor countries.

Speaking of vaccines, the UK’s Department of Health has announced that from next September children under 4 months of age will be offered a vaccine against rotavirus, which causes vomiting and diarrhoea. The move is expected to halve the numbers of cases in the UK.

While on viruses, a paper just out in PLOS One by Yun-Hsiang Chen and colleagues suggests a rather unusual source for new anti-flu drugs [1]. Methamphetamine. They found that human epithelial lung cells exposed to methamphetamine were much less susceptible to the human influenza H1N1 virus. The mechanism seemed to be reducing virus propagation by decreasing viral protein synthesis, rather than by suppression of the cells immune response.

And finally, while not strictly micro, check out this fantastic visualisation by Simon Rogers of the Guardian on the causes of death in the UK in 2011. Data is indeed beautiful!

Reference:
1. Chen Y-H, Wu K-L, Chen C-H (2012) Methamphetamine Reduces Human Influenza A Virus Replication. PLoS ONE 7(11): e48335. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048335