BioPrepWatch Paul Tinder July 30, 2014
Scientists at the New York State Department of Health‘s Wadsworth Center Laboratories are using next-generation DNA sequencing techniques to pinpoint the source of Salmonella outbreaks.
By using benchtop whole genome sequencing equipment, clinical and public health labs are able to rapidly identify strains of Salmonella and speed up responses to potential outbreaks. Scientists at Wadsworth are applying the technology to follow outbreaks in real-time and test its effectiveness in a public health laboratory, according to a New York State Department of Health press release.
“Having this technology at our disposal will greatly enhance our capacity for protecting the public from foodborne illnesses, which sicken thousands of Americans every year,” Howard Zucker, the department’s acting commissioner, said. “Knowing the exact source of an outbreak can prevent illness from spreading and prevent many people from getting sick.”
Link to EID journal article
BioPrepWatch Bryan Cohen 25 July 2014
The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) said on Monday that microbiologists must take all steps possible to guarantee safety for themselves, their coworkers and the broader public from pathogenic microorganisms.
View ASM Statement on Recent Biosafety Lapses
BBC News 23 July 2014
Part of a city in north-west China has been sealed off and dozens of people placed in quarantine after a man died of bubonic plague, state media say. The man died in Yumen city, Gansu province, on 16 July.
The Guardian Graham Readfearn 25 July 2014
The Australian Academy of Science brought together 60 “early- and mid-career” scientists and researchers in Brisbane, hoping to influence how policymakers and governments respond to the impacts of climate change on public health. It asked them to tackle the complex interactions between increasing weather extremes and the impacts on health.
The academy aims to have a complete report with recommendations to present to policymakers, politicians and the public by December.
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.
View full-text (QH staff only)
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.