Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden testified before a House subcommittee last week and acknowledged that recent lab safety breaches were part of an insufficient culture of safety.
The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing on Wednesday to review recent incidents at the CDC involving anthrax and other dangerous pathogens. In June, more than 80 workers at a CDC lab in Atlanta were potentially exposed to live anthrax. In the past month, additional reports emerged, adding urgency to a House Energy and Commerce Committee investigation, according to a committee press release. Continue reading…
New Scientist No 2978 15 July 2014
Biosecurity slip-ups in US labs handling anthrax and smallpox happened because of lack of oversight and failure to follow protocol, says new report. The incident has not yet made anyone ill, and poses negligible risk for the public, but it raises concerns about work with deadly pathogens.
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The Guardian Chris Del Mar 21 July 2014
Alarm bells have been ringing in Britain, the United States and the World Health Organization about antibiotic resistance. It seems the world is suddenly sitting up and beginning to worry about this looming catastrophe. Britain’s chief medical officer, Sally Davies, has called it a threat as great as terrorism or climate change.
The World Health Organization estimates that 25,000 people in Europe died last year directly because of resistance
ABC News Sophie Scott 22 July 2014
Researchers say they have made a major breakthrough in treating tuberculosis by combining three drugs, including two medications not licensed for use against the disease.
The New York Times Denise Grady 19 July 2014
The recently documented mistakes at federal laboratories involving anthrax, flu and smallpox have incited public outrage at the government’s handling of dangerous pathogens. But the episodes were just a tiny fraction of the hundreds that have occurred in recent years across a sprawling web of academic, commercial and government labs that operate without clear national standards or oversight, federal reports show.
Despite a significant increase in “high-level containment” labs set up to work with risky microbes, there has never been a national plan for how many of them are needed, or how they should be built and operated. The more of these labs there are, the G.A.O. warned Congress last week, the greater the chances of dangerous blunders or sabotage, especially in a field where oversight is “fragmented and largely self-policing.”
BBC News James Gallagher 16 July 2014
Pregnant women in the UK are to be routinely vaccinated against whooping cough to protect babies. Vaccination was introduced as a temporary measure after an outbreak of the disease in 2012 that killed 14 newborn children. Giving a jab to mothers passes protective antibodies on to the unborn child.
BioPrepWatch Sean Carlson 16 July 2014
The study discussed factors that contributed to the incident while highlighting actions taken by the CDC to prevent future accidents.
CDC Director Frieden takes questions on response to biological incidents
House subcommittee investigates CDC anthrax incidents
Sydney Morning Herald Dan Harrison 21 July 2014
Medical experts have called for action to tackle the growing problem of superbugs in nursing homes caused by the inappropriate use of antibiotics. In a paper to be published in the Medical Journal of Australia on Monday, Victorian researchers call for new guidelines and greater support for staff to address antibiotic overuse.
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ABC News Martin Cuddihy 17 July 2014
A cholera outbreak in South Sudan has claimed 60 lives and there are fears more people will die.
The disease is spreading beyond the nation’s capital of Juba and into remote areas where it is difficult to get health care.
USA Today Alison Young J
The director of one of the world’s most prestigious public health agencies went before Congress on Wednesday to try to explain laboratory blunders that included his scientists mishandling live anthrax and unknowingly contaminating other specimens with a dangerous strain of bird flu.
Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., chairman of an oversight committee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, said lab safety issues appear to be systemic at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Murphy, citing numerous reports issued by government watchdogs over the years, called the most recent incident “sloppy” and “inexcusable.”