• Anthrax vaccine contract worth up to $1.25 billion over five years

    Emergent BioSolutions has been awarded a contract to supply the U.S. government with FDA-licensed anthrax vaccine; the 5-year contract a has a total value of up to $1.25 billion; the first 8.5 million doses will be delivered before the end of the year

  • New Zealand relaxes passenger X-ray screening requirement

    To save money and speed up the processing of international passengers, New Zealand no longer requires 100 percent screening of bags of passengers entering the country; Kiwi farmers are worried about the move carry the risk of introducing animal disease into the country; the 100 percent screening mandate was imposed after a foot and mouth outbreak in 2001

  • U.S. inspects only 2 percent of all imported food

    Each year one in six Americans — 48 million people — gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases; the FDA uses a risk-based system to isolate foods with high risk of contamination, but physically inspects only about 2 percent of all imported food

  • Millions of yet-to-be-described viruses found in raw sewage

    There are roughly 1.8 million species of organisms on planet Earth, and each one is host to untold numbers of unique viruses, but only about 3,000 have been identified to date; a new study reveals a vast world of unseen viral diversity that exists right under our nose — in ordinary raw sewage, to be precise

  • Report: anthrax antibiotic should be stockpiled locally

    A new report describes a plan for the United States to be better prepared in the event of a bioterrorist attack using anthrax; the report recommends that public health officials in high-risk areas should consider stockpile anthrax antibiotics in local locations to make it easier to dispense quickly to an area of need, rather than continuing to use the single national stockpile

  • Contaminated cantaloupe outbreak deadliest in decade

    The recent listeria outbreak that has sickened seventy-two people and killed as many as sixteen, is shaping up to be the deadliest U.S. food-borne disease outbreak in more than a decade

  • Elusive killer parasite being traced in Peru

    Chagas disease, primarily seen in South America, Central America, and Mexico, is the most deadly parasitic disease in the Americas; Penn epidemiological study takes snap shot of long-term Chagas disease outbreak

  • Real-time disease monitoring can help improve diagnoses

    Discovering epidemics or knowing when one is brewing is particularly difficult at the local level as doctors lack a broader perspective of what is occurring; to help provide local doctors with better information that could help stem the spread of infectious diseases, public health officials are pushing for the creation of a real-time national disease monitoring system

  • Study finds traces Japanese radiation in U.S. rain and food

    A recently published government study found that following the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan, elevated levels of radiation were detected in U.S. rain water as well as vegetables and milk

  • Japanese attenuated smallpox vaccine shows promise in U.S. trial

    An attenuated smallpox vaccine that was developed in Japan in the 1970s compared well with a conventional smallpox vaccine in a phase 1-2 clinical trial in the United States

  • FDA unveils new outbreak response network

    Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration unveiled its new streamlined approach for responding to foodborne illness outbreaks; under the “CORE” Network, the FDA Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation Network, the FDA will bring together multidisciplinary teams consisting of epidemiologists, veterinarians, microbiologists, environmental health specialists, emergency coordinators, and risk communications specialists

  • Mapping the spread of drug-resistant influenza

    The movie “Contagion” is not based on real events, but it is not science fiction, either: certain strains of influenza are becoming resistant to common treatments; a team of researchers map out how this phenomenon is happening globally

  • Budget cuts could hurt biodefense efforts

    With lawmakers struggling to reduce spending and cut the deficit, funding for government programs aimed at thwarting biological threats could face severe budget cuts; while the budget for overall civilian biodefense increased by 17 percent, that number is deceiving as federal agencies consolidated and combined several key programs under larger budget line item headings

  • Biological weapons: U.S. must not repeat the failure of imagination

    Joel McCleary, a biological weapons expert, is the chairman and co-founder of Q Global and the founder of PharmAthene; he argues that the U.S. government has not done enough to protect the nation against a biological attack, warns of the need for presidential leadership, and underscores the dangers of biological weapons

  • Emergency medical response in a post-9/11 Washington, D.C.

    Beverly Pritchett, the senior deputy director of the Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Administration at the D.C. Department of Health, is a 27-year veteran of the U.S. Army Medical Service Corps; Pritchett discusses improvements made to the city’s emergency medical response capabilities, the integration of smartphones and social media into disaster response plans, and the need for continued funding to sustain the gains made in public health over the past ten years