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  • Research teams at the University of Georgia have successfully discovered a single-dose vaccine that provides complete protection against the Crimean-Congo Hemorraghic Fever, or CCHF, virus in mice, a disease that poses a public health risk and has the potential to cause a major epidemic. Results of the study have been published in Emerging Microbes and Infections. The study was led by associate professor Scott Pegan (pcitured above) at UGA’s College of Pharmacy department of pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control, led by Éric Bergeron. Since December 2015, the World Health Organization has maintained a list of Blueprint priority diseases in an effort to accelerate the research and development of urgently needed vaccines and drugs to treat them. This list includes diseases that have the potential to cause major epidemics and no effective treatment or vaccine exists to combat them. In February 2018, WHO reviewed its Blueprint for the prevention of epidemics and placed Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever at the top of the priorities list. This tickborne viral disease is found throughout Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East and Asia and has the potential to emerge in Western Europe as evidenced by two recent cases in Spain. First described in Crimea in 1947 and later in the Congo in 1956, CCHF has a high fatality rate: Between 10% and 40% of cases end in death. In some regions, the fatality rate is as high as 80%. CCHF is acquired through bites from infected ticks of the genus Hyalomma and is also spread by contact with infected animals, such as goats and sheep, or handling infected animal tissue during slaughter. This virus can be spread from human to human in hospitals, placing medical workers at risk. Travelers to regions where infected ticks are found may also contract CCHF. Often occurring in remote regions, CCHF is difficult to prevent. There is no therapeutic treatment for this disease. Antiviral drugs, such as ribavirin, have not proven effective as a method to treat CCHF. Previously developed CCHF vaccine approaches have required multiple dosing, which is difficult to provide during a severe outbreak. Up until now, there has been no effective single-dose vaccine to prevent CCHF. Not only is CCHF a threat to world health, it also poses a threat to national defense. The CCHF virus can be weaponized, and U.S. military forces are exposed to this risk in areas of strategic importance, such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Consequently, the CCHF virus is included in Bioterrorism Category A by the Centers for Disease Control, along with Ebola and the Marburg virus, among other potential bioterrorism agents. The good news is that when a state-of-the-art CCHF mice model received the new replicon particle, single-dose vaccine, they were completely protected against the CCHF virus. The vaccine not only provides complete protection with a single dose but can be handled in the lab without the biosafety risks of using live virus. Although it closely mimics the structure of the CCHF virus, the replicon particle has been genetically altered to limit its replication to a single cycle so that it cannot proliferate and spread. Safe and effective in mice, this promising new vaccine may help reduce the threat of CCHFV, although further study is needed to fully understand the immune response involved, determine efficacy of vaccine timing and describe the mechanism of protection. “The success of this replicon particle vaccine marks a fundamental step forward in the CCHF field in the effort to find a viable strategy to combat this disease,” said Pegan. UGA and the CDC have filed a joint patent for the new vaccine. The article, “Single-dose replicon particle vaccine provides complete protection against Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus in mice,” was published in Emerging Microbes and Infections. The study was funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
  • From the Hall County Sheriff’s Office... Several Hall County Sheriff’s Office deputies and civilian staff members are ready for citizens to drop by and drop off their unwanted prescription medication as part of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, April 27.    “The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows year after year that the majority of misused and abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including someone else’s medication being stolen from the home medicine cabinet,” according to the DEA.    This year, the Sheriff’s Office will be at two locations for the event:    Kroger 7380 Spout Springs Road, Flowery Branch, GA 30542  Walmart 3875 Mundy Mill Road Oakwood, GA 30566    The idea is simple, free for participants and anonymous. The public can bring unwanted pills or patches to either location where the Sheriff’s Office will collect them between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The drugs are then weighed and disposed of per DEA guidelines.    The Sheriff’s Office participated at just one location last fall but managed to collect medication from 48 people, filling three large contractor-sized garbage bags. They weighed a combined 288 pounds.    While special events are a good way for residents to clean out medicine cabinets, the Sheriff’s Office has two permanent medication drop boxes that are available year-round. They’re accessible during regular business hours in the lobbies of the Headquarters at 2859 Browns Bridge Road in Gainesville and South Precinct at 7345 Cody Drive in Flowery Branch.
  • There is a call for volunteers for Saturday work at the Sandy Creek Nature Center. The habitat restoration volunteer work day gets underway at 9 o’clock tomorrow morning in the Claypit Pond Trail area of the Nature Center off Old Commerce Road in Athens.  They’re handing out free tree saplings in Statham: today’s event at the Statham Public Library is marking Abor Day.  This is festival weekend in Braselton: the annual Braselton Antique and Artisan Festival begins today and continues through Sunday.  It’s called the Georgia Bigfoot Conference: it gets underway today and wraps up tomorrow at the Rabun County Civic Center in Clayton. Hundreds of Bigfoot believers and other crypto-zoologists are expected to take part. 
  • The state Labor Department says Gainesville’s unemployment rate is again the lowest in the state, checking in at an even 3 percent in March, with a twenty percent drop in claims for jobless benefits. Gainesville’s unemployment rate was 3.2 percent in February.    Overall, March was a very good month,” says Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “Georgia’s economy, just like the nation’s, is running strong. Our communities are consistently adding jobs and unemployment rates are falling. The numbers continue to improve.”    Gainesville ended March with 94,900 jobs. That’s an increase of about 3,500 from the job total as of a year ago and it’s up 300 from last month’s total.    Gainesville also posted gains for jobs in:   Private services.    The unemployment rate fell in March, dropping by 0.2 percentage points to settle at 3 percent. A year ago, the rate was 3.2 percent.    Nationally, the rate for March remained unchanged at 3.8 percent.   The labor force decreased in March by 155 to reach 103,407. That number is up by 1,505 from the total of March 2018.    Gainesville ended March with 100,301 employed residents. The number climbed by 56 in March and was up by 1,699 over March 2018’s total.   The numbers of unemployment claims fell in March by 20 percent and were up by 32 percent from the same period last year.     Claims were down in:  Administrative/support services  Construction.
  • Athens-Clarke County Police say woman was shot and seriously wounded: details are sketchy, but a police report says the woman, who was shot in the upper torso, was dropped off at a local hospital, possibly by a boyfriend who then left the scene.  Athens-Clarke County Police say there are road rage charges for a man from Lincoln County: 30 year-old Nico Lockhart is accused of ramming the car of the mother of his children; police say his three young children were in the car at the time of the incident on Chase Street.  There was a Thursday plane crash in Elbert County. The single-engine craft went down near Elberton just off Brewers Ridge Road Thursday afternoon. The 82 year-old pilot was taken to Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center with minor injuries. Nobody else was on board. The FAA and NTSB continue to investigate the cause.    A Hall County teenager is arrested on child molestation charges: 18 year-old Bryan Zavala (pictured above) was booked into the Hall County jail, accused of molesting a 15 year-old girl.   Police in DeKalb County were, at last report, still trying to track down the shooter who used a BB gun or a pellet gun to shoot at students at an elementary school in Stone Mountain. No serious injuries were reported; investigators say the shots appeared to come from off-campus.    The FBI says there is now $30,000 in reward money in the ongoing search for suspects in last month’s robbery of an armored car in Atlanta. It happened on March 21 on Moreland Avenue in Atlanta, when the car’s crew was held up by a masked man with a gun. 

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS — Saturday, April 27, 2019, has been declared Mecole Hardman Jr. Day in the Northeast Georgia town of Bowman, where he was born and raised. Perhaps they should’ve earmarked Thursday, April 25, instead. The speedy Georgia wide receiver very well could be drafted then, in the first round of the NFL Draft. More likely, Hardman will be selected on Day 2. At least that’s where he falls in most of the pre-draft mocks of which there are too many. It’s highly unlikely he will be drafted on Day 3, or Mecole Hardman Day in Bowman. Bowman city hall and all local government offices will be closed Saturday, April 27th in honor of Mecole Hardman Jr. Day so that our we can take time to celebrate with our families. We hope that you have an enjoyable holiday as well. #4 #MecoleHardmanJrDay @MecoleHardman4 pic.twitter.com/A52Qq9b2Bu — Bowman Georgia (@CityofBowmanGA) April 23, 2019 No matter where and when he goes, it’s a safe bet that Hardman will be a pro for a good long while. After all, last time we checked, there is a market for receivers/kick returners that can run 4.3-second 40s at will. “They see the potential,” Hardman said of his NFL evaluations. “They’ve seen two years of film, combine and pro day. They see that I can play.” Here are three things to know about Hardman as he prepares to hear his name called in the 2019 NFL Draft: Elite speed Say whatever you want about Hardman’s resident skills as a football player. There’s no substitute for one thing he brings to field — raw, unmitigated speed. Hardman was electronically timed at 4.33 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. That was fifth in this year’s combine and Hardman actually was disappointed with it. He wanted to run in the 4.2s, which he says he’s done before. His stints on the UGA track team as a sprinter early in his career would seem to validate that. Great versatility It’s almost hard to remember that Hardman began his career on the defensive side of the ball. Playing Hardman at cornerback was the decision that the Bulldogs made when they recruited the former 5-star prospect out of Elbert County High School. In Elberton, Hardman primarily played quarterback out of a wing-T set and occasionally played safety on defense in important and closely-contested games. To his credit, Elbert County coach Sid Fritts said from the outset, “I’d rather see him with the ball in his hands.” And the Bulldogs came to that conclusion as well as the cornerback experiment ended after one season in which his only touch was a 17-yard kickoff return. 3. High ceiling As good as he was as a wideout for Georgia, Hardman remains relatively raw as a receiver. In two full seasons at the position, he finished his UGA career with only 950 yards on 59 receptions and 10 TDs. He had some problems hanging onto the football his first season in 2017 and even struggled with drops some as a junior last season. But he showed great strides last season and his skills should only improve working full time on his game. Meanwhile, what makes Hardman a particularly valuable commodity for NFL teams is his skills as a returner. Last year, he finished second in the nation in punt returns with a 20.1-yard average and he also averaged 25.2 yards a return on kickoffs. “He has been elite from a special teams standpoint, and still think he has great upside at the wide receiver position,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said after Hardman’s UGA Pro Day performance last month. “He will flourish at the next level, but he hasn’t even reached his full potential.” MORE ON DAWGS IN DRAFT 3 things about Georgia CB Deandre Baker As many as 10 Bulldogs could be drafted TE Isaac Nauta eyes draft, reflects on G-Days past Towers’ Take: Appropriate that skipping bowls could lower draft stock The post 3 things about Mecole Hardman Jr., Georgia football speed demon appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Riley Ridley, Georgia football’s 2018 go-to receiver, has been chomping at the bit to go to the NFL and join his big brother for quite a while. The big question now is, which day will it become official: Thursday (first round), Friday (second or third round) or Saturday (rounds four through seven)? RELATED: Could Riley Ridley and Deandre Baker go first round of NFL draft? Ridley was a hot commodity after leading the Bulldogs receivers his season (44 catches, 579 yards, 9 TDs) and finishing his UGA career with five catches for a team-high 61 yards in the Sugar Bowl. But a lackluster showing at the NFL combine, followed by Ridley’s decision to decline to re-test at Georgia’s Pro Day, has put his stock in question. The 6-foot-1, 199-pound junior ran a 4.58 40-yard dash in Indianapolis and ranked near the bottom of the chart with a 30.5-inch vertical leap. Ridley, however, made it clear he had no concerns where his test numbers were concerned. RELATED: Where is Riley Ridley NFL draft potential after Georgia Pro Day? “I put my best foot forward every time I step on the field,” Ridley said at Georgia Pro Day on March 20. “What I put out at the combine is what I put out, and I’m happy about it. “I’m in a blessed position in my life, so it’s all smiles for me.” Here are three things about Ridley: Best vs. Bama Ridley was at his best against the Crimson Tide’s vaunted press-man defense two consecutive years, producing game film that left NFL scouts salivating. Ridley had a career-best six catches for 82 yards in the CFP Championship Game versus Alabama as a sophomore. He followed up with a team-high five catches for 59 yards and a touchdown versus the Tide in the 2019 SEC Championship Game. Amazingly, while those two games account for only 5 percent of the games he played in, he produced 13.7 percent of both his career catches (11 of 80) and receiving yards (141 of 1,026) in those contests. Family ties Ridley’s older brother is former Alabama and current Atlanta Falcons WR Calvin Ridley. The bothers are close, so much so that Calvin Ridley has continued to coach up and mentor Riley Ridley on a daily basis. “He was videoing the routes I was running and afterward he showed me the ways I can work on those routes,” Riley Ridley said, asked about Calvin’s presence at Georgia Pro Day. “After this, I’m going to get back with him and watch that film and learn ways to improve.” Legendary advice Riley Ridley was afforded the unique opportunity to train with legendary NFL receivers Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens leading up to the NFL combine “Wherever you go, when you get there, there’s got to be something special about (expletive) Riley Ridley that makes him special that separates him from everybody else,” Johnson told him. “Whether it’s the way you work, your hands, the feet, the routes, whether it’s being consistent. It’s got to be something.” Ridley is considered among the best route runners on the draft board, and he is statistically among the best at making contested catches. DawgNation 2019 NFL Draft coverage Georgia football could have as many as 10 selected in NFL draft  The UGA football players best suited to go to Atlanta Falcons in draft 3 things about Deandre Baker, Georgia football All-American 4 Georgia football players already on 2020 Senior Bowl radar Isaac Nauta, SEC’s top blocking tight end, recalls G-Day The post 3 things about Riley Ridley, Georgia football go-to receiver in 2018 appeared first on DawgNation.