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The Universe is permeated by hot, turbulent, magnetized plasmas. Turbulent plasma is a major constituent of active galactic nuclei, supernova remnants, the intergalactic and interstellar medium, the solar corona, the solar wind and the Earth’s magnetosphere, just to mention a few examples. Energy dissipation of turbulent fluctuations plays a key role in plasma heating and energization, yet we still do not understand the underlying physical mechanisms involved. THOR is a mission designed to answer the questions of how turbulent plasma is heated and particles accelerated, how the dissipated energy is partitioned and how dissipation operates in different regimes of turbulence. THOR is a single-spacecraft mission with an orbit tuned to maximize data return from regions in near-Earth space – magnetosheath, shock, foreshock and pristine solar wind – featuring different kinds of turbulence. Here we summarize the THOR proposal submitted on 15 January 2015 to the ‘Call for a Medium-size mission opportunity in ESAs Science Programme for a launch in 2025 (M4)’. THOR has been selected by European Space Agency (ESA) for the study phase.
The concomitant occurrence of a case of haemolytic–uraemic syndrome (HUS) and 62 cases of mild gastroenteritis in schools of a small rural community in southern Italy induced the health authorities to suspect a foodborne outbreak of shiga-toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) infection. The schools were closed and the catering service involved was investigated. However, STEC were not isolated from the HUS case or from the 56 cases of gastroenteritis examined, and the HUS case and the outbreak of gastroenteritis were probably just coincidental. A retrospective cohort study failed to show any correlation with consumption of school meals and suggested that the outbreak probably started outside the school setting and then spread within the schools by person-to-person transmission. All the cases examined were negative for common enteric pathogens and the responsible agent for the cases of gastroenteritis was not identified. The concern raised in the small community by the occurrence of a severe case of HUS and the lack of a rapid epidemiological assessment excluding the occurrence of a STEC outbreak, turned an epidemic episode of mild gastroenteritis into a public health emergency with relevant socioeconomic consequences. Prompt intervention in outbreaks following timely and effective risk communication are crucial for taking the most appropriate control measures and avoiding the spread of fear and panic in the community.
The antimicrobial susceptibility of isolates of Salmonella enterica serotypes Typhimurium, Enteritidis, and Infantis isolated from humans, foodstuffs and farm animals in Italy between 1999 and 2001 was examined. All the isolates were susceptible to cefotaxime and ciprofloxacin, but high rates of resistance were observed for several other drugs, especially for S. Typhimurium. The rates of resistance and multiresistance were generally higher among animal and food isolates than in human strains; conversely, no significant difference was observed between animal and food isolates. Among S. Typhimurium, multiresistance was more common in bovine, poultry and rabbit strains than in swine isolates, and was rare in strains from pigeon. Resistance to trimethoprim–sulphamethoxazole was mainly found in isolates of swine and human origin. This study confirms the role of livestock as a reservoir of drug-resistant Salmonella spp. and underlines the need for integrated surveillance systems of antibiotic resistance that consider isolates not only from human disease but also from the animal reservoirs and the food vehicles.
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