bacteria played a role in 1918 pandemic flu deaths
from los angeles times: Most deaths in the 1918 influenza pandemic were due not to the virus alone but to common bacterial infections that took advantage of victims' weakened immune systems, according to two new studies that could change the nation's strategy against the next pandemic. "We have to realize that it isn't just antivirals that we need," said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and coauthor of one study. "We need to make sure that we're prepared to treat people with antibiotics," said Fauci, whose study will be released online this month by the Journal of Infectious Diseases. In both studies, scientists analyzed a trove of historical documents from around the world, examining firsthand accounts, medical records and autopsy reports. Writing about the 1918 influenza outbreak in the August issue of the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, researchers reported that few deaths were swift, which is what scientists believed characterized a viral pandemic. Instead, they found most deaths occurred a week to two weeks later - indicating the deaths were the result of opportunistic bacterial infections.
carolina group backs away from new lab
from fcw: A North Carolina group is backing away from actively supporting siting the proposed $450 million National Bio-and Agro-Defense Facility in that state. Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi and Texas are also in the competition... “We want the DHS to still consider us,” Green said, “But we will no longer do outreach and public education on the program.” Consortium members are concerned that members of the Butner, N.C. community claim that their worries about environmental effects and about the potential risk of pathogen release from the lab are not being adequately addressed, Green said.
labs that perform bioterrorism research proliferating
from courant: The number of individuals performing bioterrorism research on deadly pathogens across the country has jumped to nearly 15,000, and most of them are authorized to work with anthrax, federal records obtained by The Courant reveal. The proliferation of labs working on vaccines for potential biological weapons — which started after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and subsequent anthrax mailings — has drawn heavy criticism from experts worried that too many people have access to dangerous materials. The recent revelation that an American scientist, Bruce Ivins, was about to be charged as the anthrax mailer has only increased those concerns. "We just went tearing down this road without thinking about the potential risks, including who was going to have access to all of these biological weapons," said Elisa Harris, a senior research scholar at the Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland.
US food prices to post biggest rise since '90
from reuters: U.S. consumers should brace for the biggest increase in food prices in nearly 20 years in 2008 and even more pain next year due to surging meat and produce prices, the Agriculture Department said on Wednesday. Food prices are forecast to rise by 5 percent to 6 percent this year, making it the largest annual increase since 1990. Just last month, USDA forecast food prices would climb between 4.5 and 5.5 percent in 2008. “It’s a little bit of a surprise how strong some of the numbers were in July,” USDA economist Ephraim Leibtag, who prepared the forecast, said in an interview. “We’ve been waiting for some moderation, but especially with some of the meat prices and how much has come through relatively recently (at the retail level) leads me to believe the overall number may be a little bit higher for the year,” he added.
reactor shut down after fire at california nuke plant
from ap: Authorities are investigating a fire at a California nuclear plant that forced a reactor to be shut down. Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant spokeswoman Sharon Gavin said Monday that there was no danger of a radiation leak after a fire the day before. The blaze was in a non-nuclear part of the plant. Gavin says one of two reactors was shut down as part of standard safety procedures. She doesn't know when it will be restarted. The plant started supplying electricity in 1985 and generates power for about 3 million homes in northern and central California.
49 babies die during clinical trials at 'all india institute of medical sciences'
from china view: As many as 49 babies, many of whom had not even celebrated their first birthday, have died at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) while being subjected to clinical trials for testing new drugs and therapies over the last two and a half years. Responding to a Right to Information (RTI) query on clinical trials on babies, the AIIMS administration admitted on Monday that of the 4,142 babies -- 2,728 of whom were below the age of one -- who were enrolled for clinical trials by the institute's department of pediatrics, 49 had died since Jan. 1, 2006. The department conducted 42 sets of trials on babies during this period.
fda says bisphenol is ok for young & old
from ap: Despite ongoing safety concerns from parents, consumer groups and politicians, a chemical used in baby bottles, canned food and other items is not dangerous, federal regulators said Friday. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) scientists said the trace amounts of bisphenol A that leach out of food containers are not a threat to infants or adults. The plastic-hardening chemical is used to seal canned food and make shatterproof bottles. It also is used in hundreds of household items, ranging from sunglasses to CDs.
uk: fat children ‘should be taken from parents’ to curb obesity epidemic
from times online: Grossly overweight children may be taken from their families and put into care if Britain’s obesity epidemic continues to escalate, council chiefs said yesterday. The Local Government Association argued that parents who allowed their children to eat too much could be as guilty of neglect as those who did not feed their children at all. The association said that until now there had been only a few cases when social services had intervened in obesity cases. But it gave warning that local councils may have to take action much more often and, if necessary, put obese children on “at risk” registers or take them into care. It called for new guidelines to be drawn up to help authorities deal with the issue.