• Media reports influence the severity of pandemics

    Up-to-date media reports about the way an infectious disease is spreading could dramatically reduce the severity of an outbreak, according to a new mathematical model; there is a problem though: if the reports are untrue or exaggerated, then the next pandemic may be deadlier because people may not believe the media reports

  • Scientists: Full-body scanners' radiation underestimated, could pose cancer risk

    More and more scientists express their unease with the amount of radiation to which passengers are exposed as they are screened by full-body scanners at airports; experts say radiation from the scanners has been underestimated and could be particularly risky for children; they say that the low level beam does deliver a small dose of radiation to the body, but because the beam concentrates on the skin — one of the most radiation-sensitive organs of the human body — that dose may be up to 20 times higher than first estimated

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  • Calls in Canada for better protection against fertilizer bomb threat

    The Canadian Association of Agri-Retailers wants a comprehensive plan of action to prevent agricultural supplies such as fertilizers from becoming tools of terrorists; the association calls for an “integrated crop input security protocol” for Canada’s 1,500 agri-retail sites; this plan would include perimeter fencing, surveillance and alarm devices, lighting, locks, software, and staff training in various security techniques, at retail outlets; estimated cost: $100 million

  • Vast cleanup of Plum Island land since 2000

    DHS plans to sell Plum Island and replace its bio-research facilities with a brand new BioLab in Manhattan, Kansas; documents show that since 2000 there have been extensive efforts to remove vast amounts of waste and contaminants — hundreds of tons of medical waste, contaminated soil, and other refuse — from the island

  • Researchers sequence the human body louse

    As well as irritations from infestations with body lice or the closely related human head lice, the body louse may carry harmful bacteria that cause epidemic typhus and are classified as a bioterrorism agent; U.S. and Swiss scientists have sequenced the louse genome — a major step toward controlling the disease-vector insect

  • Emergent sells anthrax vaccine to U.S. allies

    European countries, worried about bioterror attacks, are working on a plan to stock vaccines regionally — a Baltic stockpile, a Nordic stockpile, and so on would help in covering countries that have not expressed a desire to form their own stockpiles; a Maryland-based companies is providing these European countries with anthrax vaccine

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  • North Carolina prepares for bioterrorism, epidemics

    North Carolina universities and state and federal agencies create the new North Carolina Bio-Preparedness Collaborative; the idea is to use computers to link all the disparate forms of data collected by various agencies quickly to root out indicators of new disease, or food-borne illness, or, in a worst-case scenario, an attack of bio-terrorism

  • Bill seeks to bolster U.S. ability to fight bioterror

    Bill calls for bolstering U.S. defenses against future bioterror attacks requiring the director of national intelligence to produce and administer a National Intelligence Strategy for Countering the Threat from WMD, which would be created in consultation with the homeland security secretary as well as other relevant agencies

  • George Mason University opens $50 million biomedical lab to fight bioterrorism

    George Mason University has opened a $50 million biomedical research laboratory as part of the U.S. effort to fight bioterrorism; research will focus on the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of infectious diseases and on pathogens the government thinks could be used in a bioterrorism attack

  • The optimal balance of vaccine stockpiles

    Once a disease has been eradicated there is a danger it could reappear, either naturally or as a result of an intentional release by a terrorist group; how much vaccine should be produced and stored for a disease that may never appear again — or which may infect hundreds of thousands tomorrow? modelers target optimal vaccine storage for eradicated diseases

  • Botox as a bioterror threat

    Botox may be used to straighten wrinkles and lift sagging body parts, but the proliferation of counterfeit Botox worldwide — fueled by consumer demand — has made the toxin, which is deadly in sufficient quantities, far more easily available for would-be bioterrorists than it was in the past

  • Oil spill threatens a range of Gulf coast food stocks

    University of Arizona researchers said more than 240 kinds of “historically eaten, place-based foods” are at risk for being lost from what has been a cornucopia for generations of Gulf Coast residents. The majority of food items on that list are there because of the oil spill; oysters, crayfish, brown shrimp, redfish, grouper are at risk, as well as Tabasco sauce, okra, and gumbo file

  • A first: plastic antibodies pass initial test

    Plastic antibodies, which mimic the proteins produced by the body’s immune system, were found to work in the bloodstream of a living animal; the discovery is an advance toward medical use of plastic particles custom tailored to fight an array of antigens

  • Video study finds risky food-safety behavior more common than thought

    New study finds that that risky practices in restaurants, cafeterias, and other food-service places happen more often than previously thought; one expert says: “Meals prepared outside the home have been implicated in up to 70 percent of food poisoning outbreaks, making them a vital focus area for food safety professionals”

  • FDA should adopt risk-based approach to food safety: report

    Experts say that for food inspection in the United States to be more effective, FDA should implement a risk-based approach in which data and expertise are marshaled to pinpoint where along the production, distribution, and handling chains there is the greatest potential for contamination and other problems