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 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 Magazine Rob Brown 17 July 2014
Nearly 40 years ago, a young Belgian scientist travelled to a remote part of the Congolese rainforest – his task was to help find out why so many people were dying from an unknown and terrifying disease.
BioPrepWatch Lisa Sievers 15 July 2014
Health experts recently expressed disagreement regarding how to combat the ongoing ebola virus outbreak in West Africa. International response teams called for the use of experimental drugs or vaccines to stop the spread of the disease.
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
ABC News Sophie Scott Alison Branley and Simon Santow
The number of people diagnosed with HIV in Australia remains at 20-year highs.
Annual data released from the Kirby Institute shows 1,235 new cases were diagnosed last year.
The figures have been released ahead of a global AIDS conference in Melbourne next week.
They show that HIV rates have been steadily rising in Australia since 1999 and more than 26,000 people are now living with the virus.
ABC News 15 July 2014
ABOUT 400 people in an eastern Victorian town have been told to take an HIV test after a health worker was found to have been infected.
Almost 400 people in a town in Victoria’s east will be tested for HIV after coming into contact with a health worker who had been diagnosed with the virus.
Victorian Health Minister David Davis said the medical practitioner did not know they were HIV positive and concerns have been raised that they may have passed on the virus to their patients.
(US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases 14 July 2014) Analysis of clinical samples from suspected Lassa fever cases in Sierra Leone showed that about two-thirds of the patients had been exposed to other emerging diseases, and nearly nine percent tested positive for Ebola virus. The study, authored by USAMRIID and published in this month’s edition of Emerging Infectious Diseases, demonstrates that Ebola virus has been circulating in the region since at least 2006 — well before the current outbreak.
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The Guardian UK Tania Browne 10 July 2014
The discovery of intact vials of smallpox in a storeroom last week demonstrates the need to maintain samples of the virus in secure facilities for future vaccine research.
Scientific American Dina Fine Maron 11 July 2014
The third recent mistake in handling of pathogens is a “wake-up call,” says Centers for Disease Control head. Recent incidents have occurred with H5N1, Anthrax samples, and smallpox.
CDC closes two labs after safety breaches
Inquiry into US government labs finds flu virus cross-contamination