• White Houses unveils new National Biodefense Strategy

    The Trump administration on Tuesday released a new National Biodefense Strategy, along with an order from President Donald Trump that directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to take the coordinating lead and establishes a cabinet-level biodefense steering committee. Some experts are praising the broad scope of the strategy, new elements that it covers, and the high-level attention and oversight built into the plan.

  • New FDA plan focuses on antibiotic development, stewardship

    The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week announced a multipronged strategy to address antimicrobial resistance (AMR) that emphasizes new measures to spur development of antibiotics and alternative therapies, promote antibiotic stewardship in animal health, advance antibiotic resistance surveillance, and enhance regulatory science.

  • U.K. charges Russians in novichok case, May says “not a rogue operation”

    British prosecutors have announced charges against two Russian men they believe poisoned former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter with a deadly nerve agent, and Prime Minister Theresa May says the government has concluded the suspects were officers of Russia’s military intelligence agency.

  • Gun owners are more politically active: study

    American gun owners in recent years have exhibited higher levels of political participation, not only in voting but in donating money to candidates and contacting elected officials, according to a new study. “Part of the reason majority opinions on gun control legislation aren’t turning into policy is that gun owners are a very strong political group who hold a lot of weight and hold a lot of influence despite being a minority in American politics,” said one researcher.

  • Recommendations for U.S. global health security strategy

    Investments in global health security programs at the federal level directly benefit U.S. national security and the economy by helping to prevent the cross-border spread of infectious disease outbreaks in other countries.

  • Unsecured, obsolete medical record systems and medical devices risk patient lives

    A team of physicians and computer scientists has shown that it is easy to modify medical test results remotely by attacking the connection between hospital laboratory devices and medical record systems. These types of attacks might be more likely used against high-profile targets, such as heads of state and celebrities, than against the general public. But they could also be used by a nation-state to cripple the United States’ medical infrastructure.

  • Mathematical model predicts viral outbreaks two years in advance

    Scientists have identified the cause of outbreaks of enterovirus, one of the most prevalent types of virus in the world. The findings may help the public and healthcare workers prepare for an outbreak up to two years before it occurs.

  • Bots, Russian trolls influenced vaccine discussion on Twitter

    Social media bots and Russian trolls promoted discord and spread false information about vaccines on Twitter, according to new research. Using tactics similar to those at work during the 2016 United States presidential election, these Twitter accounts entered into vaccine debates months before election season was underway.

  • Plugging an antibiotic pump

    Each year in the U.S., at least 23,000 people die from infections caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria. Using computer modeling, researchers from Sandia National Laboratories and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are helping to develop the means to prevent some of those deaths.

  • Three reasons the U.S. is not ready for the next pandemic

    In the midst of a pandemic, decisions must be made quickly. Quick decision-making can often be hindered by the absence of high-level leadership. The need for high-level leadership, coordination and a new strategy are essential to mitigate the threat of pandemics, but these fundamental pandemic preparedness gaps persist. The next great pandemic is coming. The true question is: Will we be ready when it does? Right now, that answer is no, because the country lacks the sufficient safeguards we have outlined. But if the United States chooses to elevate the issue of pandemic preparedness and biosecurity as a national security priority, we could be. Outbreaks are inevitable, but pandemics are not if we take action now.

  • Environmentally friendly farming can increase productivity

    A major new study, measuring a global shift towards more sustainable agricultural systems that provide environmental improvements at the same time as increases in food production, shows that the sustainable intensification of agriculture, a term that was once considered paradoxical, delivers considerable benefits to both farmers and the environment.

  • Ebola cases mounting in Congo as region prepares for more

    The Ebola outbreak on the eastern border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) grew by nine more confirmed cases Thursday, and one death. Six of the new cases (including the death) are from Mandima health zone in Ituri province. Ituri borders North Kivu province, the outbreak’s epicenter. The cases expand the number of cases in neighboring Ituri province. Outbreak total now stands at 66, which includes 39 confirmed and 27 probable cases. Lab testing results have brought the suspected number of cases down to 36 from 58.

  • Congo Ebola total grows to 52 as security concerns hamper epidemic containment efforts

    The World Health Organization (WHO), following a visit by top WHO officials to the latest outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), called for free and secure access for responders working in the affected conflict-affected area. A range of armed groups are active in the North Kivu province, creating challenging security issued for health teams who need to go deep into communities to identify and monitor possible cases, the WHO said. Conflict settings can also discourage community members from coming forward for treatment.

  • What are coastal nuclear power plants doing to address climate threats?

    Flooding can be catastrophic to a nuclear power plant because it can knock out its electrical systems, disabling its cooling mechanisms and leading to overheating and possible meltdown and a dangerous release of radioactivity. At least 100 U.S., European and Asian nuclear power stations built just a few meters above sea level could be threatened by serious flooding caused by accelerating sea-level rise and more frequent storm surges. More than 20 flooding incidents have been recorded at U.S. nuclear plants since the early 1980s. A number of scientific papers published in 2018 suggest that climate change will impact coastal nuclear plants earlier and harder than the industry, governments, or regulatory bodies have expected, and that the safety standards set by national nuclear regulators and the IAEA are out of date and take insufficient account of the effects of climate change on nuclear power.

  • Disaster planning saves lives

    There are a lot of scary threats in the world—extreme weather, terrorist attacks, deadly infectious diseases, mass shootings—but if health care organizations plan ahead for such disasters, lives can be saved. The first step for health care organizations preparing for emergencies is to accurately assess the kinds of hazards they may face, such as flooding, power outages, or violence, says an expert.