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Today's Headlines: August 10, 2017

Biological Agents & Infectious Diseases

Nigeria: Lassa Fever Infects Three HCWs in Lagos ( Avian Flu Diary) Lassa fever is Viral Hemorrhagic Fever endemic to a number of West African nations, commonly carried by multimammate rats, a local rodent that often likes to enter human dwellings. Exposure is typically through the urine or dried feces of infected rodents, and roughly 80% who are infected only experience mild symptoms. Go to article


Domestic Preparedness & Response

Hurricane Season, Already Busy, May Get Even Busier ( New York Times) Government forecasters said Wednesday that the Atlantic hurricane season, already a busy one, may be the busiest since 2010 and is likely to produce two to five major hurricanes. Go to article


Government Affairs & National Security

Hearing Loss of US Diplomats in Cuba Blamed on Covert Device ( Washington Post) The two-year-old US diplomatic relationship with Cuba was roiled Wednesday by what US officials say was a string of bizarre incidents that left a group of American diplomats in Havana with severe hearing loss attributed to a covert sonic device. Go to article


Global Health Security

Lives and Livelihoods: The Economic Impact of Ebola in West Africa ( International Affairs Review) The Ebola epidemic ravaged West Africa in 2014; 28,600 people were infected and 11,300 died. The virus not only caused a public health crisis, but also crippled the affected countries' economies. During the outbreak, the international community responded too late and initially provided insufficient funding. Go to article

Cholera in Yemen: War, Hunger, Disease--and Heroics ( Lancet: Infectious Disease) The harms done by war are many and complex. Death, injury, and displacement are the most obvious, but infection is also closely intertwined with conflict. Across the Middle East and Africa, outbreaks of infection have occurred as a direct effect of war, compounded by food and water shortages, displacement, and damage to infrastructure and health services. Nowhere is this web of interconnections more clear than in the cholera epidemic in Yemen. Go to article

A Short History of Biological Warfare: From Pre-history to the 21st Century ( Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction) This short monograph reviews the history of biological warfare from prehistory to the present. It covers what we know about the practice of BW and briefly describes the programs that developed BW weapons based on the best available research. To the extent possible, it primarily draws on the work of historians who used primary sources, relying where possible on studies specifically focused on BW. Go to article


Medicine & Public Health

Improving Regional Influenza Surveillance Through a Combination of Automated Outbreak Detection Methods: the 2015/16 Season in France ( Eurosurveillance) The 2014/15 influenza epidemic caused a work overload for healthcare facilities in France. The French national public health agency announced the start of the epidemic - based on indicators aggregated at the national level - too late for many hospitals to prepare. Go to article

Ohio Doughnut Shop Linked to Norovirus Outbreak; 200-plus Ill ( Food Safety News) A doughnut shop in suburban Toledo, OH, remained closed Thursday as county health inspectors continued an investigation into a norovirus outbreak that has sickened more than 200 people. Mama C's Donuts & Coffee on Conant Street in the Toledo suburb of Maumee, OH, voluntarily closed on Tuesday after public health officials informed the owners of illnesses among customers, according to multiple media outlets in the area. Go to article


Science & Technology

Antibiotic Susceptibility Testing in Less Than 30 Min Using Direct Single-cell Imaging ( PNAS) Antibiotic resistance is a global threat to human health. The problem is aggravated by unnecessary and incorrect use of broad spectrum antibiotics. One way to provide correct treatment and slow down the development of antibiotic resistance is to assay the susceptibility profile of the infecting bacteria before treatment is initiated and let this information guide the choice of antibiotic. Here, we present an antibiotic susceptibility test that is sufficiently fast to be used at the point of care. We show that it is possible to determine if a urinary tract infection is caused by resistant bacteria within 30 min of loading a urine sample, even if the bacterial concentration in the urine is very low. Go to article

Pew to Launch Information-sharing Platform to Spur Antibiotic Discovery ( Pew Charitable Trusts) The Pew Charitable Trusts announced today that it will create a digital platform allowing researchers to share data, ideas, and insights to spur the discovery of innovative new antibiotics needed in the battle against the growing global threat of drug-resistant bacteria, or superbugs. Go to article

Scientists Hack a Computer Using DNA ( MIT Technology Review) In what appears to be the first successful hack of a software program using DNA, researchers say malware they incorporated into a genetic molecule allowed them to take control of a computer used to analyze it. The biological malware was created by scientists at the University of Washington in Seattle, who call it the first "DNA-based exploit of a computer system." Go to article

Birth of CRISPR'd Pigs Advances Hopes for Turning Swine into Organ Donors ( STAT) Bioengineer Luhan Yang swiped through the photos on her phone until she got to one that made her beam: It showed her crouching down by a pudgy, wide-eyed newborn she calls "my baby." This newborn is a pig, and it's the first to be born with dozens of genetic changes that could enable scientists to turn swine into a source of organs for human transplants, Yang and her colleagues reported on Thursday in Science. Go to article

Strengthening the Disaster Resilience of the Academic Biomedical Research Community Protecting the Nation's Investment ( National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine: Health and Medicine Division) The US has experienced and continues to face the threat of disasters, and, like all entities, the academic biomedical research community can be affected. The academic biomedical research community is a hub of employment, economic productivity, and scientific progress. Given the crucial contribution and substantial integration of these institutions into the national fabric, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine convened an expert committee to develop recommendations and guidance to enhance the disaster resilience of the academic biomedical research community. Go to article


Other 21st Century Threats

Alaskan Towns at Risk from Rising Seas Sound Alarm as Trump Pulls Federal Help ( The Guardian) The US government's withdrawal from dealing with, or even acknowledging, climate change may have provoked widespread opprobrium, but for Alaskan communities at risk of toppling into the sea, the risks are rather more personal. Go to article

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