• SuperbugsNevada woman killed by superbug resistant to every known antibiotic

    A 70-yer old woman in Nevada has died after a superbug which infected her proved resistant to every available type of antibiotic. The woman was already infected in India, where she had an extended stay, and was hospitalized there several times. She returned to Nevada in August 2016. She was admitted to a hospital shortly after her return, but died a month later after treatment with twenty-six different antibiotics was futile.

  • Emerging threatsNew framework needed for estimating the social cost of carbon: Report

    To estimate the social cost of carbon dioxide for use in regulatory impact analyses, the federal government should use a new framework that would strengthen the scientific basis, provide greater transparency, and improve characterization of the uncertainties of the estimates, says a new report by the National Academies of Sciences. The report also identifies a number of near- and longer-term improvements that should be made for calculating the social cost of carbon.

  • Public healthSt. Jude's cardiac devices vulnerable to hacking: FDA

    The FDA confirmed that St. Jude Medical’s implantable cardiac devices are vulnerable to hacking. Once hackers gain access to the device, they could deplete the battery or administer incorrect pacing or shocks. The devices — pacemakers and defibrillators — are used in heart patients.

  • Food securityWhitefly: a formidable threat to food security

    Researchers have sequenced the genome of the whitefly (Bemisia tabici), an invasive insect responsible for spreading plant viruses worldwide, causing billions of dollars in crop losses each year. The genome study offers many clues to the insect’s remarkable ability to resist pesticides, transmit more than 300 plant viruses, and to feed on at least 1,000 different plant species.

  • PrivacyHealth wearable devices pose new consumer and privacy risks

    Watches, fitness bands, and so-called “smart” clothing, linked to apps and mobile devices, are part of a growing “connected-health” system in the U.S., promising to provide people with more efficient ways to manage their own health. These personal health wearable devices, which are used to monitor heart rates, sleep patterns, calories, and even stress levels, raise new privacy and security risks, according to a new report.

  • Chemical weapons$19 million to develop drugs to treat victims of chemical weapons attacks

    First used by the German military against Allied troops in the First World War and in subsequent wars including the Iran-Iraq conflict during the 1980s, chemical weapons were more recently used by the Assad regime in Syria and by ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded Rutgers University a five-year grant for more than $19 million for research that would lead to the development of drugs to treat toxicity from chemical agents used in a terrorist attack.

  • EbolaSymptomless Ebola – questions need to be answered before the next outbreak

    By Edward Wright

    Scientists know that Ebola can cause anything from severe hemorrhagic fever to no symptoms at all (asymptomatic infections). What wasn’t known, until now, is the number of people who experienced asymptomatic infections during the 2013-2016 outbreak of Ebola in West Africa. While the new report of asymptomatic cases of Ebola virus infection is not unique, it does raise important questions that need to be answered. Over the last couple of years, governments and global public health agencies have increased resources to tackle these questions. Hopefully, we will be better equipped and prepared for the next outbreak.

  • SuperbugsSupercomputer simulations help develop new approach to tackle antibiotic resistance

    Supercomputer simulations at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have played a key role in discovering a new class of drug candidates that hold promise to combat antibiotic resistance. Researchers combined lab experiments with supercomputer modeling to identify molecules that boost antibiotics’ effect on disease-causing bacteria.

  • Blood systemChanges required to fortify U.S. blood system against financial, biological threats

    The U.S. blood system collects, tests, processes, and distributes the blood that is ultimately used in clinical practice. In 2013, more than 14 million units of blood were collected in the United States from about 15.2 million individuals, with 13.2 million units transfused. Medical advances have reduced the demand for blood in the United States, creating financial pressure on the nation’s blood collection centers and threatening their future survival.

  • BiosecurityImproving biosafety, biosecurity in West Africa

    The Defense Threat Reduction Agency and United States Strategic Command Center for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction (DTRA/SCC-WMD) have selected CH2M to lead efforts in West Africa to broaden its Cooperative Biological Engagement Program (CBEP) on the African continent and reduce the threat of infectious diseases. The CBEP, developed by the Department of Defense to address global health security issues, was used in 2014 to support international efforts to combat the Ebola virus outbreak and other threats to global health security.

  • ResilienceIsrael Red Cross affiliate building underground blood bank to ensure supply during crises

    Magen David Adom, the Israeli affiliate of the Red Cross, is building an underground blood bank in order to secure the country’s blood supply in case of attacks or natural disasters. “With all blood transfusions stored in an underground space, the facility will ensure that they remain unharmed even when the building is under a massive barrage of missiles,” Magen David Adom director said. The terror organization Hezbollah has an estimated arsenal of over 130,000 rockets capable of firing at Israel — more than the combined amount of the twenty-seven non-U.S. NATO member states.

  • GunsStronger gun laws linked to decreased firearm homicides

    Stronger firearm laws are associated with reductions in firearm homicide rates, concludes a study which reviewed all available articles published in peer-reviewed journals from January 1970 to August 2016 that focused specifically on the connection between firearm homicide and firearm laws. Specifically, the laws that seemed to have the most effect were those that strengthened background checks and those that required a permit to purchase a firearm. Laws that banned assault weapons, improved child safety, or aimed to limit firearm trafficking had no clear effect on firearm homicide rates. Laws that aimed to restrict guns in public places had mixed results.

  • MalariaUltra-long acting pill releases daily doses of medicine for a month

    Imagine swallowing a pill today that continues releasing the daily dose of a medicine you need for the next week, month, or even longer. Investigators have developed a long-acting drug delivery capsule that may help to do just that in the future. To test the capsule’s real-world applications, the team used both mathematical modeling and animal models to investigate the effects of delivering a sustained therapeutic dose of a drug called ivermectin, which is used to treat parasitic infections such as river blindness. Ivermectin has an added bonus of helping keep malaria-carrying mosquito populations at bay.

  • Killer haze2015 Indonesian fires exposed 69 million to “killer haze”

    More than 69 million people living in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia were exposed to unhealthy air quality conditions during the 2015 wildfires in Equatorial Asia during the autumn of 2015. The wildfires are linked to as many as 17,270 premature deaths. “The wildfires of 2015 were the worst we’ve seen for almost two decades as a result of global climate change, land use changes, and deforestation. The extremely dry conditions in that region mean that these are likely to become more common events in the future, unless concerted action is taken to prevent fires,” said one researcher.

  • Killer fogMystery of historic 1952 London killer fog, current Chinese haze solved

    Few Americans may be aware of it, but in early December 1952 a killer fog that contained pollutants covered London for five days, causing breathing problems and killing more than 12,000 people of all ages, sending more than 150,000 to hospitals, and killing thousands of animals in the area. It is still considered the worst air pollution event in the European history. The exact chemical processes that led to the deadly mix of fog and pollution have not been fully understood over the past sixty years – until now. Scientists have now established that coal burning was the main culprit: sulfuric acid particles were formed from sulfur dioxide released by coal burning, and this process was facilitated by nitrogen dioxide, another co-product of coal burning. The study shows that similar chemistry occurs frequently in China, which has battled air pollution for decades.