• BiodefenseBiodefense Panel welcomes key provision in defense authorization bill

    In October 2015, the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense found that insufficient federal coordination on strategy, budgeting, and policy; inadequate collaboration with other levels of government and the private sector; and lagging innovation in areas like biosurveillance and medical countermeasure development make the United States vulnerable to biological attacks and infectious disease outbreaks. The Panel welcomed the passing by the House of the National Defense Authorization Act, H.R. 4909, which includes a provision addressing one of the Panel’s most important recommendations.

  • Zika virusA tool to help public health decisions on Zika virus to be cost-effective

    A new study presents a cost-effectiveness tool that can help guide decisions regarding resource allocation to fund interventions targeted at curtailing the ongoing Zika virus outbreak. Analyses using the tool suggest that proposed funds to combat Zika in the United States and other countries would be cost-effective, based on quantification of the serious health conditions associated with Zika infection.

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  • EpidemicsHow will the next leader of WHO tackle future health emergencies?

    In light of heavy criticism of the World Health Organization’s handling of the Ebola outbreak, the election process for the next director general will be under intense scrutiny. Experts outline the key questions on epidemic preparedness for prospective candidates.

  • Zika virusSenate approves $1.1 billion to fight Zika virus

    The Senate on Tuesday voted 68-29 to allocate $1.1 billion in emergency funding to fight the Zia virus threat. The funds fall short of the White House’s request of $1.9 billion, but are significantly more than House Republicans’ $622 million anti-Zika proposal. The House will debate the measure on Wednesday.

  • Public healthMaryland identifies health vulnerabilities resulting from climate change

    As world leaders convened in Washington, D.C. a couple of weeks ago for the Climate Action 2016 summit, a new report by Maryland public health leaders details the impacts of climate change on the health of Marylanders now and in the future. The report examines the relationship between exposure to extreme weather events and risk of selected health outcomes including food and waterborne illnesses, hospitalization for heart attacks and asthma, and motor vehicle accidents.

  • Zika virusNSF awards $1.7 million in rapid response grants to study Zika virus

    Zika, discovered in Uganda in 1947, has been documented since the 1950s along the equatorial belt from Africa to Asia. In 2014, the virus spread eastward to French Polynesia, and in 2015 to Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean (including Puerto Rico) and South America, where the outbreak continues. To find new ways of halting the spread of Zika — fast becoming a major public health threat — the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Environmental Biology’s Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases (EEID) Program has funded nine rapid response, or RAPID, grants totaling $1.7 million.

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  • Zika virusA new paper-based test for the Zika virus

    By Anne Trafton

    A new paper-based test developed at MIT and other institutions can diagnose Zika virus infection within a few hours. The test, which distinguishes Zika from the very similar dengue virus, can be stored at room temperature and read with a simple electronic reader, making it potentially practical for widespread use.

  • Zika virusIsraeli tech ready to take on Zika-carrying mosquito

    By Viva Sarah Press

    The mosquito-borne Zika virus, according to new reports, is even more dangerous than first believed. While better information about prevention has helped slow the rate of infection in some areas, the health community is still urgently searching for a vaccine or drug treatment. The world seeks a medical intervention, but Biofeed’s no-spray green product targets the insects directly.

  • AnthraxDeveloping new anthrax vaccine

    The Texas A&M Center for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing (CIADM) will produce an intranasal anthrax vaccine candidate under a task order issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This is the first task order issued to the Texas A&M center and will enhance protection from anthrax disease. The Texas A&M facility is one of three CIADMs — and the only academically-based center — established as public-private partnerships with BARDA in 2012 to enhance the nation’s emergency preparedness against emerging infectious diseases.

  • Public healthThe long history of lead poisoning in the U.S.

    While state and federal officials continue to criticize each other for failing to guarantee safe drinking water, the question of exactly who is responsible for crises like in Flint, Michigan, lies at the root of the problem. “The crisis in Flint brought the true costs of a neglected infrastructure to the nation’s attention, but in the finger-pointing there are deeper debates over public and private responsibility and the impact of dysfunctional politics on public health,” says one expert.

  • Coastal resilienceFloods, coastal erosion may expose contents of UK landfills

    The contents of historic coastal landfill sites in England and Wales could pose a significant environmental threat if they erode, according to a new study. The main risks to these landfills come from the effects of climate change, including erosion and flooding with salt water from storm surges and higher water levels.

  • Electromagnetic radiation Measuring electromagnetic radiation exposure

    Society demands continuous implementation of new transmission systems due to ongoing development of communication technologies. These systems work by emitting electromagnetic waves. As a result, population is exposed to a significant increase of environmental radiation levels. Researchers from UPM have developed a portable device that allows continuous monitoring the exposure levels to electromagnetic radiations of a person who wears such device.

  • Chemical weaponsNew drug to combat the effects of nerve agents

    Sarin is a colorless, odorless liquid fatal even at very low concentrations. Serious sarin poisoning causes visual disturbance, vomiting, breathing difficulties and, finally, death. A ground-breaking study describes the development of a new drug which counteracts the effects of sarin gas.

  • Water safetyMore corrosion-resistant water pipes could preventing another Flint, Mich. health crisis

    Corrosion-related damage costs more than three percent of the United States’ Gross Domestic Product (about $503.1 billion, going by 2013 numbers). With documented public water problems in Flint, Michigan, and Hoosick Falls, New York, caused by corrosion, understanding how copper is affected at the atomic level is critical to avoiding problems in future pipes.

  • MalariaIllegal mining in Colombia linked to malaria outbreak

    The Colombian National Health Institute recorded 18,524 malaria cases in 2015. The year before, only 4,730 malaria cases were recorded. The sharp increase in the number of malaria cases in different areas of Colombia has been linked to illegal open-cast mining. Stagnant water and poor sanitary conditions have been discovered at these often hidden rural locations.