• German police arrest man for building a biological weapon

    The police in Cologne, Germany, on Tuesday arrested 29-year old Sief Allah H. for trying to build biological weapons in his apartment. He came to Germany in 2016 and had been under police surveillance for terrorist sympathies. In mid-May he ordered 1,000 castor seeds — the main ingredient for used in ricin toxin — and a coffee grinder from an online store. In June he managed to produce the toxin June.

  • “Red flag” gun laws linked to reduction in firearm suicides

    Risk-based firearm seizure laws – also known as “red flag,” risk warrant, gun violence restraining order, or extreme risk protection order laws – provide ways for law enforcement to seize guns from individuals considered to pose an imminent risk of serious harm to themselves or others. Nearly 23,000 Americans died in suicide incidents involving a firearm in 2016. A new study provides evidence that risk-based gun seizure laws are saving lives.

  • Ebola case count reaches 60 as DRC neighbors take precautions

    The Ebola case count in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has now reached 60, as an official from the World Health Organization (WHO) announced 2 more suspected cases. There are now 37 confirmed cases, 14 probable, and 9 suspected, 2 more suspected cases than yesterday. The death toll still sits at 27. Former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Thomas Frieden, writing in Science, said the Ebola vaccine is only a tool—not a disease game-changer.

  • Biosecurity reduces invasions of plant pathogens over a national border

    A major new study examines more than a century of fungal pathogens, finding well-aimed biosecurity measures cut the spread of unwanted fungi into a nation, even in the face of increased globalized trade. “Although trade is closely tied to the number of new invasions we have from fungal pathogens, if we have targeted biosecurity we can start to break down this link,” said the study’s lead author.

  • Accelerating data solutions to identify emerging biothreats

    Biothreats — harmful pathogens that are either naturally or deliberately released — pose a risk to national security and public health. Biothreats are hard to immediately identify, but with new technologies and data sources, such as the wealth of open data generated by “smarter” cities, emergency managers may be able to detect and respond to an emerging problem more quickly.

  • U.S. pigs consume nearly as many antibiotics as people do

    A new report is taking the U.S. pork industry to task for irresponsible use of medically important antibiotics, saying the amount of antibiotics used in pigs is nearly the same as that used to treat humans. The report estimates that 27.1 percent of all medically important antibiotics sold in the United States are for pig production, while a roughly equivalent amount—27.6 percent—is sold for use in human medicine. The report argues that the heavy use of antibiotics in pig and other livestock production is contributing to the rise and spread of antibiotic resistance in both animals and people.

  • Increased IT security at hospitals does not equal fewer cyberattacks, breaches

    The Verizon Data Breach report indicates the health care sector is the top target for cyberattacks. And, as hospitals do more to guard against attacks, it’s not necessarily translating into fewer data breaches, according to new research. Researchers found that the increased use of information technology security systems by hospitals did not equal fewer breaches, contrary to predictions.

  • 25 more ill, 4 new deaths in E coli outbreak tied to Arizona lettuce: CDC

    A multistate Escherichia coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce grew by 4 deaths and 25 cases, according to the CDC. The CDC has now confirmed 197 cases in 35 states and 5 deaths in this outbreak. No single grower or supplier of romaine lettuce has been implicated in this outbreak, but produce from the Yuma, Arizona, growing region has been identified as the likely source of the harmful bacteria.

  • RAND to help oversee high-quality research on gun violence

    Every day in the United States, close to 100 people are killed by guns, and for every death, two more are injured. The gun-related murder rate in the U.S. is 25 times higher than the rate in 22 other high-income nations. About two-thirds of gun deaths in the United States are suicides. The RAND Corporation has been selected to help oversee a philanthropic fund that will support high-quality research on issues related to gun violence.

  • Gun violence research gets $50 million boost from private funders

    In one swoop, a new $50 million initiative to boost funding for gun violence research is poised to eclipse the federal government’s efforts to understand the epidemic. Experts in the field say the fund, created by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, could advance understanding of the causes and effects of gun violence and inform public policy.

  • Bolstering the body’s defenses against public health, national security threats

    Military service members, first responders, and civilian populations face severe threats from pathogens with pandemic potential, toxic chemicals, and radioactive materials, which can all quickly and powerfully overwhelm the body’s innate defenses. And though significant public and private investment has been focused on the development of traditional medical countermeasures such as drugs, vaccines, and biologics to guard against the worst effects of these health threats, current countermeasures are often limited in their effectiveness and availability during emergencies. PREPARE aims to develop new class of generalizable medical countermeasures that safely and temporarily tune activity of protective genes.

  • Fragile supply chain causing antibiotic shortages, resistance threat

    A white paper released yesterday argues that a fragile global supply chain that’s dependent on a small number of antibiotics manufacturers, along with a financially unstable economic model, are responsible for shortages of antibiotics on a global and national level. Because of these shortages, some patients in need of antibiotics are being treated with lower-quality medications that don’t cure their infections and increase the risk of resistance.

  • Floridians to face more frequent, intense heatwaves

    By the late twenty-first century, if atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations reach worst-case projections, Floridians could experience summer heatwaves three times more frequently, and each heatwave could last six times longer than at present, according to new research. “More extreme heatwaves in Florida would have profound impacts on human health as well as the state’s economy,” says a researcher.

  • Clade X pandemic exercise: Preventing the worst outcomes in future pandemics

    The outbreak of a moderately contagious and moderately lethal novel pathogen precipitated a catastrophic end to the scenario in Clade X, the day-long pandemic tabletop exercise hosted by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. The scenario opens with the present-day outbreak of a new, serious respiratory disease in Germany and Venezuela. Clade X quickly causes widespread, worldwide anxiety as case counts and deaths mount. Within a year, 150 million people die from the disease—15 million in the United States alone.

  • Winners announced in $300K biothreat prize competition

    DHS S&T the other day announced the grand prize winner of its $300,000 Hidden Signals Challenge. The prize competition called for the design of an early warning system to keep communities safe by using existing data sources to uncover emerging biothreats.