Demographics, Pandemics, Epidemics and Health
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Biosafety measures that are mandatory in the West are not always possible in developing nations. F. May/DPA/Newscom Biocontainment labs across the Asia-Pacific region all too often fail to live up to the term. An inspection of dozens of labs has found that nearly one-third of the biosafety hoods intended to protect workers from deadly pathogens did not work properly — an offence for which a Western lab could be shut down. In one facility, only a shower curtain enclosed a table on which the brains of rabid dogs were routinely dissected.
The packages that started arriving by FedEx on 12 October last year came with strict instructions: protect the information within and destroy it after review. Inside were two manuscripts showing how the deadly H5N1 avian influenza virus could be made to transmit between mammals. The recipients of these packages — eight members of the US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) — faced the unenviable task of deciding whether the research was safe to publish. The group deliberated. Soon, the rest of the NSABB's 22 voting members and two dozen non-voting members and advisers were drawn in.
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The nanotechnology sector, which generated about $225 billion in product sales in 2009, is predicted to expand rapidly over the next decade with the development of new technologies that have new capabilities. The increasing production and use of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) may lead to greater exposures of workers, consumers, and the environment, and the unique scale-specific and novel properties of the materials raise questions about their potential effects on human health and the environment. Over the last decade, government agencies, academic institutions, industry, and others have conducted many assessments of the environmental, health, and safety (EHS) aspects of nanotechnology.
PITTSBURGH -- Some people are absolutely sure gas drilling threatens public health, while others are absolutely sure it doesn't. Geisinger Health Systems is looking for more facts on the debate. "Our concern is getting reliable data so we know what to do for our patients," said David Carey, director of Geisinger's Weis Center for Research in Danville, Pa. Geisinger serves many patients who live in areas that have seen a recent boom in Marcellus Shale gas drilling. The gas-rich formation thousands of feet underground has generated jobs, billions of dollars and concerns about possible environmental and public health impacts from thousands of new wells.
I’ve written before about ancient diseases of the ice age , but this time I’m going even further back in time, to diseases that were present in the first human-like hominids. Although many human infections only developed after human settlements and animal domistication, early human ancestors would still have been fighting off bacteria and other nasty diseases. Some of these diseases are still around today.
Mosquitoes that carry the malaria parasite are becoming increasingly resistant to insecticides. J. Gathany/CDC The war to bring malaria to heel has made slow but steady progress during the past decade, with the overall mortality rate dropping by more than 25% since 2000.
An estimated 8.8 million people fell ill with tuberculosis (TB) in 2010 and 1.4 million died from the disease. Although antibiotics to treat TB were developed in the 1950s and are effective against a majority of TB cases, resistance to these antibiotics has emerged over the years, resulting in the growing spread of multidrug-resistant (MDR) TB. Due to challenges in timely and accurate diagnosis of drug-resistant TB, length and tolerability of treatment regimens, and expense of second-line anti-TB drugs, effectively controlling the disease requires complex public health interventions. The IOM Forum on Drug Discovery, Development, and Translation held three international workshops to gather information from local experts around the world on the threat of drug resistant TB and how the challenges it presents can be met. Workshops were held in South Africa and Russia in 2010.