• Severity of firearm injuries increased over the past 20 years

    New research presented today at American Public Health Association’s (APHA) 2017 Annual Meeting and Expo revealed that the severity of firearm injuries has increased over the past twenty years, among those hospitalized for their injuries. Researchers noted that their findings have broad implications for public health beyond increased suffering on the individual level.

  • Improving public safety during severe weather, other disasters

    Our ability to observe and predict severe weather events and other disasters has improved markedly over recent decades, yet this progress does not always translate into similar advances in the systems used in such circumstances to protect lives. A more cohesive alert and warning system that integrates public and private communications mechanisms and adopts new technologies quickly is needed to deliver critical information during emergency situations. At the same time, better understanding of social and behavioral factors would improve the ways we communicate about hazards, inform response decisions such as evacuations, develop more resilient urban infrastructure, and take other steps to improve weather readiness.

  • Sandia’s international peer mentorship program improves management of biorisks

    The world is becoming increasingly interconnected. While this has definite advantages, it also makes it easier to spread disease. Many diseases don’t produce symptoms for days or weeks, far longer than international flight times. For example, Ebola has an incubation period of two to twenty-one days. Improving biosafety practices around the world to prevent the spread of diseases to health care workers and biomedical researchers is an important part of halting or minimizing the next pandemic, said Eric Cook, a Sandia National Laboratories biorisk management expert.

  • WannaCry report shows NHS chiefs knew of security danger, but management took no action

    A report from the parliamentary National Audit Office into the WannaCry ransomware attack that brought down significant parts of Britain’s National Health Service in May 2017 has predictably been reported as blaming NHS trusts and smaller organizations within the care system for failing to ensure that appropriate computer security measures such as software updates and secure firewalls were in place. But the central NHS IT organization, NHS Digital, provided security alerts and the correct patches that would have protected vulnerable systems well before WannaCry hit. This is not a cybersecurity failure in the practicalities, but a failure of cybersecurity management at the top level.

  • North Korea behind May 2017 WannaCry attack on British health services: U.K.

    The British government has said it was all but certain North Korea carried out the “WannaCry” malware attack which hobbled the IT systems of the NHS, Britain’s national health service, in May. The National Audit Office (NAO) released a report on Friday which found that hospitals and clinics were left exposed to cyberattack because they failed to follow basic cybersecurity recommendations. WannaCry attacks were not limited to the United Kingdom: More than 300,000 computers in 150 countries were also infected with the WannaCry ransomware. The malware crippled organizations — government agencies, global companies, small firms — by targeting computers with outdated security.

  • More than 1,300 suspected plague cases reported in Madagascar

    The World Health Organization (WHO) reported a total of 1,309 suspected cases, including 93 deaths, in an update 27 October on the plague outbreak in Madagascar. The case-fatality rate for the outbreak is now 7 percent. The numbers reflect an increase of 12 cases and 9 fewer deaths from the WHO’s previous update on 20 October.

  • The dangerous combination of civil war and threat of global pandemics

    There are thirty civil wars underway around the globe, where civilians are dealing with death and destruction as well as public health emergencies exacerbated by the deadly march of conflict. And yet today, of the nearly 200 countries on this planet, only six nations — three rich ones and three poor ones — have taken steps to evaluate their ability to withstand a global pandemic. “The bottom line is that despite the profound global threat of pandemics, there remains no global health mechanism to force parties to act in accordance with global health interests,” says one expert. “The unpredictability of a serious infectious outbreak, the speed with which it can disseminate, and the fears of domestic political audience can together create a powerful destabilizing force,” says another.

  • The pandemic potential of latest H7N9 flu strains

    During China’s unprecedented fifth wave of H7N9 avian influenza activity, worrisome changes to the virus emerged, including a shift to a highly pathogenic form with some infections able to resist neuraminidase inhibitors such as Tamiflu, and now researchers who put the virus through its paces in animal studies are warning that the virus could easily become more lethal and resistant to treatment.

  • 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.