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Scientists wake up 30,000 year-old virus

The virus, Pithovirus sibericum, was found under 30m of frost in north-eastern Siberia. Credit: Julia Bartoli and Chantal Abergel, CNRS/AMU

A virus frozen in Siberia for around 30,000 years has been brought back to life after being uncovered by scientists.

The discovery of the virus, named Pithovirus sibericum, under 30m (100ft) of frost has prompted fears that other hidden strains such as smallpox could be exposed by the effects of global warming.

France's National Centre for Scientific Research, which was responsible for the finding in the Chukotka autonomous region, said in a release on its website that the findings "have important implications in terms of public health risks".

"The re-emergence of viruses considered to be eradicated, such as smallpox, whose replication process is similar to Pithovirus, is no longer the domain of science fiction," the organisation said. "The probability of this type of scenario needs to be estimated realistically."


'More than one million' Norovirus cases

There have been more cases of winter vomiting bug norovirus during 2012. Credit: ITV News

The number of cases of winter vomiting bug norovirus could rise to more than one million, according to new figures released by the Health Protection Agency.

Latest statistics show that there have been 3,538 laboratory confirmed cases of the virus during a 23-week period up until December 16th this year.

The amount of norovirus cases represents a small percentage of the actual numbers of norovirus activity as it is estimated that for each confirmed case, there are a further 288 unreported cases.

The latest figures eclipse last year's statistics at the same point.

Fewer at-risk patients get flu jab

Many people who risk becoming seriously ill if they get the flu have not yet been vaccinated against it.

Figures show the number of patients having the flu jab has declined Credit: David Cheskin/PA Wire

The number of pensioners who have received the vaccination has fallen from the same period last year.

And the number of other "at risk" patients, who are under the age of 65 and suffer from various medical complications, has also decreased.

Figures show that by the end of last week, 48.9% of patients aged 65 or older had the flu jab, but in the same week in 2011, 54.8% of pensioners had received it.


Employees with flu 'under pressure to go to work'

Employees are feeling confused about what to do when experiencing flu-like symptoms and under pressure to go to work like never before.

This could lead to faster spread of the flu virus in warm, enclosed environments full of people such as a typical office - which will ultimately cost business more and of course impact on the nation's health, which is why the flu vaccine is so important.

– Professor John Oxford, virologist at Queen Mary University of London

One in three flu sufferers pressurised to work

Workers are at risk of catching flu from colleagues who fear taking time off when they are ill, a new study has found.

Many workers say they feel pressured to go into work even if they have flu Credit: David Jones/PA Wire

One in three employees (32%) feel pressured to go into work even if they have the virus, despite 36% saying they fret about an impending outbreak of new flu strains, according to the research.

More than half (54%) of those who said they would still go into work claimed it was because bosses and co-workers would take them for shirkers.

The survey for The Co-Operative Pharmacy also found that 26% of workers are unsure about the difference between a cold and the flu.

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