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Today's Headlines: March 20, 2017

Biological Agents & Infectious Diseases

Bird Flu Cases Revive Fear of Repeat of Major 2015 Outbreak ( agrinews.com) The detection of a highly pathogenic strain of bird flu at a Tennessee chicken farm has poultry farmers stepping up security in an attempt to prevent an outbreak like the one in 2015 that required the destruction of millions of chickens and turkeys in the Midwest. The appearance of milder forms of bird flu at a Wisconsin turkey farm and another Tennessee chicken farm has heightened concern. Go to article

Brazil Yellow Fever Update: Health Ministry Acquires 12 Million Vaccine Doses ( Outbreak News Today) The Brazil Ministry of Health announced Friday they have acquired 12 million yellow fever vaccine doses in an effort to strengthen vaccination in affected areas.  Of this total, 8.46 million were produced by Fiocruz/BioManguinhos (subordinated to the Ministry) and another 3.5 million will be sent by the International Coordination Group. Go to article

Mumps Outbreak Tied to Vaccine Shortfalls ( Fox Business) As an elevated number of mumps cases are being reported across the country since the start of 2017, some health officials and doctors say it may be time to consider adding a third vaccination dose to current immunization guidelines. Go to article


Global Health & Security

The World Is Completely Unprepared for a Global Pandemic ( Harvard Business Review) In 2003 a doctor with SARS unknowingly infected several guests while staying at a Hong Kong hotel, and overnight the virus reached across the globe. China is currently battling a bird flu that kills nearly half of the people infected. If Ebola, which transmits through fluids, were spread by air, or if Zika, which has reached over 50 countries, were as deadly as Ebola, we would be facing an unprecedented catastrophe. An uncontrolled outbreak or bioterror attack could result in a contagion that kills over 30 million people. Go to article

White House Releases FY18 Budget Blueprint ( KFF.org) The White House released its budget blueprint on March 16, 2017 providing initial information on its budget request for FY18 (the full budget request is expected in May). While detail on funding levels for most global health programs is not specified, the blueprint does include total funding for the US Agency for International Development and the Department of State and highlights some specific global health programs and related areas. Go to article

Empowering Community Health Workers with Telecommunications Tools: Lessons from the Savar Textile Building Collapse, the Ebola Epidemic, and Everyday Global Health Care Delivery ( PLOS: Blogs) In the spring of 2013, on a cloudy morning in Dhaka, Bangladesh, the world witnessed the worst industrial disaster1 in history: the collapse of the Savar Textile building in Bangladesh. Warning of cracks in the structure of the unauthorized eight story textile building went unheeded by building owners, causing the deaths of thousands of textile workers. Go to article

#CuriousGoat: How to Prepare for a Pandemic ( NPR) No matter how you slice it, outbreaks are becoming more common. Overseas, there's been Ebola, Zika and yellow fever. And here at home, we're seeing a surge in tick-borne diseases, with Lyme leading the way. Go to article


Government Affairs & National Security

FBI's Secret Spyware Tracks Down Teen Who Made Bomb Threats ( Wired) FBI agents trying to track the source of e-mailed bomb threats against a Washington high school last month sent the suspect a secret surveillance program designed to surreptitiously monitor him and report back to a government server, according to an FBI affidavit obtained by Wired News. Go to article


Medicine & Public Health

The Tiny Trump Budget Cut That Could Blind America to the Next Zika ( The Atlantic) The science community is still reeling from the huge cuts proposed by President Trump's budget blueprint. If it passes would slash $5.8 billion from the National Institutes of Health, $2.5 billion from the Environmental Protection Agency, $900 million from the Office of Science at the Department of Energy, and $250 million from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. If Congress approves the budget, it would "set off a lost generation of American science," as my colleague Adrienne LaFrance reported. Go to article

Ex-CDC Chief Opposes Public Health Block Grants in Trump Budget ( Reuters) Burried in the cuts to science and public health in President Trump's newly released budget blueprint is a longtime conservative proposal to award lump sums of money to states - block grants - to let them decide how to respond to public health issues such as the Zika virus. Go to article


Science & Technology

CRISPR, Microbes and More Are Joining the War Against Crop Killers ( Nature) The first thing Broc Zoller does every morning is check the weather forecast. For the past five years, California farmers like him have struggled through historic drought. Now they face the opposite problem. Go to article

Scientists Brace for a Lost Generation in American Research ( The Atlantic) The work of a scientist is often unglamorous. Behind every headline-making, cork-popping, blockbuster discovery, there are many lifetimes of work. And that work is often mundane. We're talking drips-of-solution-into-a-Petri-dish mundane, maintaining-a-database mundane. Usually, nothing happens. Go to article

Trump Plan Eliminates a Global Sentinel Against Disease, Experts Warn ( New York Times) The federal budget to stop these threats is infinitely smaller than the Pentagon's, and the Trump administration's proposed cuts to the National Institutes of Health, and particularly its plan to eliminate the Fogarty International Center at the NIH, would, global health experts say, make America vulnerable again. Go to article


21st Century Threats

Trump Administration Would Resurrect Yucca Mountain and Nuclear Energy ( Forbes) Recall Yucca Mountain, the site that was intended to be the permanent burial for the nation's 70,000 tons of radioactive nuclear waste? It has laid practically lifeless since 2010, although it may now get a new lease on life given that the Trump administration has budgeted money to relicense it. Go to article

What Biosecurity and Cybersecurity Research Have in Common ( Slate) Biosecurity and cybersecurity research share an unusual predicament: Efforts to predict and defend against emerging threats often expose and create vulnerabilities. Go to article

Doctors Warn Climate Change Threatens Public Health ( Scientific American) Growing up in southwestern Pennsylvania, Patrice Tomcik had never heard of Lyme disease--an infectious, flu-like illness transmitted by ticks. But in the last few years, five of her friends have caught it, she's had to have her dog vaccinated and she regularly finds herself pulling ticks off her children. It can be disconcerting, she said, having to worry about an illness that she had never been exposed to in the past. Go to article

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