• Biothreats$300K challenge to uncover emerging biothreats

    DHS S&T has launched the Hidden Signals Challenge, a $300,000 prize competition that seeks concepts for novel uses of existing data to uncover emerging biothreats. The Challenge calls upon data innovators from a wide variety of fields to develop concepts that will identify signals and achieve timelier alerts for biothreats in our cities and communities.

  • PlaguePlague total grows in Madagascar: WHO

    The World Health Organization (WHO) said in an update on Madagascar’s plague outbreak that the number of infections as of Saturday has climbed to 684, an increase of 297 cases since its last update on 9 October. Also, health officials in Seychelles are closely monitoring eleven people in hospital isolation, a step that follows the announcement late last week of a probable imported case in a man who had traveled to Madagascar.

  • PlagueMadagascar travelers bring plague to Seychelles

    The Seychelles Ministry of Health (MOH) yesterday reported an imported plague case in a 34-year-old man who had travelled to Madagascar and had been under passive surveillance since he arrived. Air Seychelles has cancelled all flights to and from Madagascar, and members of a basketball team who were under surveillance at a center have been discharged after none of them came down with symptoms.

  • HomicideHomicide the largest contributor to years of lost life among African Americans

    Homicide is the largest contributor to potential years of life lost among black Americans, according to a new study. Homicide was the 12th highest contributor to potential years of life lost for white Americas. Black Americans are disproportionately affected by homicide, but the amount invested in homicide research is dramatically underrepresented in public health. Research on heart disease, white Americans’ No. 1 cause of potential years of life lost, received 341 grants and almost 600 publications during 2015; research on homicide received just a handful of federal grants and publications.

  • PoliceMore than half of police killings in U.S. not officially documented on death certificates

    Official death certificates in the United States failed to count more than half of the people killed by police in 2015 — and the problem of undercounting is especially pronounced in lower-income counties and for deaths that are due to Tasers, according to a new Harvard study. In contrast, a database from the London-based Guardian newspaper captured a large majority of these deaths, the study found.

  • Gun safetyA public health approach to stemming gun violence

    Public mass shootings in the United States have become more frequent. Unfortunately, it appears that these killings are somewhat contagious. They also seem to be becoming more deadly—largely because of the weaponry at the killers’ disposal. “A lesson from public health is that it is usually more effective to change the environment than to try to change people. The U.S. should use the same harm reduction approach to gun violence that it uses to treat other public health threats, like automobile crashes or air pollution—employing a wide variety of methods to reduce the problem,” says a public health expert.

  • BiothreatsU.S. not prepared to identify perpetrators of biological attacks: Expert panel

    When violent attackers use biological agents to inflict harm, not only must law enforcement attribute the crime to the correct perpetrator, they must also identify the pathogens used and their sources exactly and quickly. That was the focus of a special meeting last week hosted by the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense.

  • PandemicsApp-based citizen science experiment to help predict future pandemics

    There are flu outbreaks every year, but in the last 100 years, there have been four pandemics of a particularly deadly flu, including the Spanish Influenza outbreak which hit in 1918, killing up to 100 million people worldwide. Nearly a century later, a catastrophic flu pandemic still tops the U.K. government’s Risk Register of threats to the United Kingdom. A new app gives U.K. residents the chance to get involved in an ambitious science experiment that could save lives.

  • Drug resistanceMassive increase in antimicrobials use in animals to lead to widespread drug resistance in humans

    The amount of antimicrobials given to animals destined for human consumption is expected to rise by a staggering 52 percent and reach 200,000 tons by 2030 unless policies are implemented to limit their use, according to new research. represent an alarming revision from already pessimistic estimates made in 2010, pushed up mostly by recent reports of high antimicrobial use in animals in China.

     

  • BiothreatsProposed budget cuts will weaken state, local ability to handle biological, chemical attacks

    Looming budget cuts within DHS are doing little to qualm concern that state and local infrastructure is unprepared to handle a biological or chemical attack. “We are much better prepared than we were” post-9/11,” said one expert “But we are not where we need to be, and the progress is, in some cases, somewhat fragile.”

  • Guns & public healthFirearm-related injuries account for $2.8 billion in ER, inpatient charges each year

    A study of more than 704,000 people who arrived alive at a United States emergency room for treatment of a firearm-related injury between 2006 and 2014 finds decreasing incidence of such injury in some age groups, increasing trends in others, and affirmation of the persistently high cost of gunshot wounds in dollars and human suffering. Although firearm-related deaths are the third leading cause of injury-related deaths in the United States, efforts to understand national trends in incidence, prevalence and risk factors, as well as a quantifiable financial cost of firearm-related injuries, have been limited.

  • Mass casualty incidentsMass casualty incidents and the overlap between trauma systems and hospital disaster preparedness

    A single patient with a gunshot wound (GSW) to a vital body part (e.g., head, chest, abdomen, or major artery) will stress a typical community hospital. The more than 500 people who were injured in Las Vegas on 1 October have been transported to a number of hospitals around Las Vegas and have overwhelmed some of the hospitals closest to the scene. A number of the injured are in critical condition and hence the death toll is likely to rise. Among other issues, this tragedy illustrates the overlap between trauma systems and hospital disaster preparedness.

  • Considered opinionBiological weapons and virtual terrorism

    By Daniel Wagner

    Terrorists find biological weapons attractive because these weapons are difficult to detect, are cost effective, and can be easy to use. Aerosols of biological agents are invisible, silent, odorless, tasteless, relatively easily dispersed — and they are 600 to 2000 times cheaper than other weapons of mass destruction. It has been estimated that the cost of a biological weapon is about 0.05 percent the cost of a conventional weapon to produce similar numbers of mass casualties per square kilometer.

  • RansomwareClear tactics, if only few easy solutions, for hospitals tackling ransomware

    Hospitals facing the prospect of ransomware attacks like the one that afflicted British hospitals in May can take many concrete steps to better protect themselves, but some of the most important measures — such as a national policy not to pay ransoms — may be tougher to formulate.

  • BiodefenseCongressional amendments restore Maryland BioLab4 funding

    Members of the Maryland congressional delegation attached amendments to the Homeland Security and Defense Department authorization bills to prevent the closure of the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC) at Fort Detrick, Maryland. President Trump’s budget for 2018 had eliminated funding for NBACC as part of cutting the budget of DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) by 28 percent. At the end of May 2017, the research center received a letter from DHS stating that the facility’s closing procedures should start on 1October, with anticipated decommissioning by 30 September 2018.