• Acoustic gunshot sensor technology may benefit shooting victims

    A number of U.S. cities have installed acoustic gunshot sensor technology to accurately locate shooting scenes and potential gunshot victims, but the effectiveness of this technology for saving lives had not been studied until now. A new study shows that the technology contributes to quicker hospital arrival times and equal survival rates despite more severe injuries.

  • Simulation technology to predict refugee destinations, improving aid efforts

    A computer simulation of refugees’ journeys as they flee major conflicts can correctly predict more than 75 percent of their destinations, and may become a vital tool for governments and NGOs to help better allocate humanitarian resources.

  • S&T funds training of the next generation of animal health experts

    Transboundary Animal Diseases (TADs) are highly contagious with high morbidity and mortality. These diseases quickly cross-national borders, negatively impacting a country’s economic stability and public health by reducing exports, food quality and quantity, and the availability of livestock products and animal power. They pose serious threats to a country’s well-being, and scientists around the world are continuously investigating new methods to prevent their spread. This past summer, DHS S&T funded two programs — Texas A&M University’s Bench to Shop program and Kansas State University’s Transboundary Animal Disease Fellowship — to train the next generation of animal health experts.

  • About 2.1 million Americans using wells high in arsenic

    About 44 million people in the U.S. get their drinking water from private wells. A new study by the U.S. Geological Survey and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 2.1 million of them may be getting their drinking water from private wells considered to have high concentrations of arsenic, presumed to be from natural sources.

  • NOAA-funded effort to better predict droughts

    On average, droughts cost an estimated $9 billion in damages every year in the United States, according to NOAA. A single drought in 2012, which spread across the U.S. and brought very dry conditions to Michigan, caused some $32 billion in damage nationwide, mostly due to widespread harvest failure. Scientists work to develop a better system to predict droughts.

  • Animal agriculture in U.S. increasingly threatened

    The increasing rate of emerging and reemerging animal diseases, along with threats and attempts by those with nefarious intent to attack food and agriculture, point to the need to reduce the biological risk to America’s food and agricultural sector. That is the finding of a new report released Tuesday by the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense.

  • Heading off the post-antibiotic age

    Worldwide deaths from antibiotic-resistant bugs could rise more than tenfold by 2050 if steps aren’t taken to head off their spread. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned of the danger of a “post-antibiotic age,” tracing the spread of antibiotic resistance to rampant overprescribing, to the widespread use of the drugs to promote livestock growth, and to the relative trickle of new drugs being developed as possible replacements.

  • Battling fires increases firefighters’ exposure to carcinogens

    The threat of getting burned by roaring flames is an obvious danger of firefighting, but other health risks are more subtle. For example, firefighters have been found to develop cancer at higher rates than the general population. Now researchers have measured how much firefighters’ exposure to carcinogens and other harmful compounds increases when fighting fires.

  • $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.

  • Plague 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.

  • Madagascar 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.

  • Homicide 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.

  • More 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.

  • A 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.

  • U.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.