Edinburgh scientists identify pandemic threat viruses

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have released a list of over 30 viruses that are the most likely candidates to cause the next major pandemic.

In a report published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases scientists Professor Mark E J Woolhouse, Liam Brierley, Chris McCaffery and Dr Sam Lycett detail the methodology used to identify the 37 viruses that should be most closely monitored as potential pandemic threats.

“Of human transmissible virus, 37 species have so far been restricted to self-limiting outbreaks. These viruses are priorities for surveillance because relatively minor changes in their epidemiologies can potentially lead to major changes in the threat they pose to public health. On the basis of comparisons across all recognized human viruses, we consider the characteristics of these priority viruses and assess the likelihood that they will further emerge in human populations.”

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Emergent BioSolutions to supply $1 billion of Anthrax vaccine to US Strategic National Stockpile

Maryland based biopharmaceutical company Emergent BioSolutions Inc has signed a contract to supply the US Government with almost $1 billion worth of anthrax vaccines.

Emergent BioSolutions announced that the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is progressing its anthrax preparedness strategy with multiple contracts for the company’s anthrax vaccines.

Emergent has signed a follow-on contract with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) valued at up to $911 million to supply approximately 29.4 million doses of BioThrax (Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed) to the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) by September 2021. BioThrax is the only anthrax vaccine licensed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is indicated for both pre-exposure prophylaxis and post-exposure prophylaxis of anthrax disease.

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Does Donald Trump Believe Nuclear War Is Inevitable?

In an article for Mother Jones American liberal political journalist David Corn explores President-elect Donald Trump’s thoughts and views on nuclear war. Whether it is inevitable, or whether it can be prevented.

“In just seven weeks, a man known for being ill-tempered, thin-skinned, narcissistic, and erratic will take control of the US nuclear arsenal. Donald Trump will have the authority and power to launch any combination of the country’s 4,500 nuclear weapons. At any time and for any reason he deems fit, Trump could destroy a nation and, through miscalculation, the world…

“Can a man who has said he views nuclear war as almost unavoidable but who couldn’t be bothered to learn the fundamentals of nuclear policy be the “good leader” who can steer humanity past the greatest of all threats? Trump’s campaign comments about nuclear weapons and the possibility of using them have not been reassuring. His previous remarks suggesting he believed nuclear war was all but inescapable are the stuff of nightmares.”

FULL STORY : www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/12/donald-trump-nuclear-war-weapons-inevitable

DATE : Mother Jones

SOURCE : 8 December 2016

UK Government declares Prevention Zone to protect poultry against Avian Flu

The UK Chief Veterinary Officer has declared a Prevention Zone to help protect poultry from a strain of Avian Flu in Europe.

The Government Chief Vet has declared a Prevention Zone introducing enhanced biosecurity requirements for poultry and captive birds, helping protect them from a strain of avian flu circulating in mainland Europe.

The zone covers England and will remain in place for 30 days until 6 January 2017. Declarations have also been made by the Scottish Government and Welsh Government. It does not include Northern Ireland.

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Washington state unprepared for megaquake

There is reckoned to be an 84% chance of a major earthquake during the next 50 years along the Seattle fault in Washington state, USA.

Journalists at The Seattle Times have been investigating the state’s preparedness for a major earthquake similar, or greater, in magnitude to the 2001 Nisqually earthquake.

They highlight a number of areas where much needs to be done to protect the state’s schools, hospitals and other public institutions.

The Seattle Times also suggests that the area is long overdue for a megaquake 2,000 times more powerful than the Nisqually quake. This would be a ‘full rip 9.0’ event caused by a massive shift of tectonic plates off the Pacific Coast. There has not been a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake since 1700, but scientists know that magnitude 8.0 quakes happen once every 250 years on average.

In 2009 geologists at Oregon State University predicted a 10% – 14% probability that the Cascadia Subduction Zone will produce an event of magnitude 9.0 or higher in the next 50 years. In 2010 further research reckoned the risk could be as high as 37% for earthquakes of magnitude 8.0 or higher.

The Seattle Times science reporter Sandi Doughton exploring this issue : Full-Rip 9.0: The Next Big Earthquake in the Pacific Northwest (2014).

SOURCE : Seattle Times – Washington state woefully unprepared for megaquake

DATE : 7 December 2016

Antibiotic resistance developing in Channel Islanders?

The government of Jersey is concerned that the islanders are developing resistance to antibiotics.

Around 250 people get a prescription for an antibiotics in Jersey every day. This represents a prescription rate 25% higher than in England.

The Jersey government is encouraging islanders to be more cautious in taking antibiotics to help prevent resistance developing :

“We can’t stop antibiotic resistance but we can slow it down by preserving the antibiotics we currently have for now and future generations. We need to act fast and together before we enter an era where no antibiotics work.”

SOURCE : Island of Jersey – Antiobiotic Resistance

NEWS COVERAGE

Anthrax Cow Death on Southern Indiana farm in the USA

Anthrax (Bacillus anthracis) has been diagnosed on a beef cattle farm in Southern Indiana, USA.

A veterinarian collected tissue samples for laboratory testing after the animal died unexpectedly. Only a single, mixed‐breed bull died; other animals in the herd have not shown clinical signs.

The infected animal was incinerated on‐site, and the farm was placed under a 30‐day quarantine and observation order by the Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH). BOAH advised vaccination for all other animals in the herd.

BOAH have stated that the situation does not pose a public health threat. While humans can contract anthrax from animals, the risk is low. Anthrax is not transmitted from person to person. Only people who had direct contact with the infected animal are at any risk of infection, and that risk in this case is believed to be minimal at this time. All of those individuals have been notified and are being followed up with appropriately by health officials.

While anthrax is not an uncommon finding in livestock in Western states, this is unusual for Indiana. BOAH’s historic records do not indicate the last time this disease was found in the state.

SOURCE : Animal Health Advisory notice from Indiana State Board of Animal Health

DATE : 1 December 2016

NEWS COVERAGE

The end of the world : How NASA will deal with a killer asteroid

Although the odds of an asteroid striking Earth are extremely low (a 5,000-foot asteroid is only expected to hit the Earth about once every 1 million years), NASA does have a plan of action, in case an errant space rock were making its way towards the planet.

When a survey discovers what could be a new near-Earth object (NEO), it gets logged with the Minor Planet Center in a public forum.

If a newly discovered object does look like it is on a course that would bring it near Earth in the next six days, the Minor Planet Center’s system sends out an automated text message or email to a select group of people at the center and NASA.

If the asteroid actually looks like it has a chance of striking the planet NASA notifies the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and then soon after, issues a press release to inform the public.

FULL STORY : http://mashable.com/2016/12/04/what-happens-killer-asteroid-strike

DATE : 4 December 2016

SOURCE : Mashable

Near-Earth Asteroid 2016 VA – very close encounter

The near-Earth asteroid 2016 VA was discovered by the Mount Lemmon Sky Survey (part of the Catalina Sky Survey) in Arizona (USA) on 1 November 2016 and announced later the same day by the Minor Planet Center.

The object was going to have a very close encounter with the Earth, at 0.2 lunar distances (c 80,000 km).

The asteroid was believed to be 7 to 22 meters wide, was traveling about 48,000 mph (77,000 km/h) relative to Earth during the close encounter.

FULL STORY : www.virtualtelescope.eu/2016/11/02/near-earth-asteroid-2016-va-very-close-encounter-eclipse-01-nov-2016

DATE : 2 November 2016

SOURCE : The Virtual Telescope Project 2.0

US Develops New Missile Defense Interceptor Able to Destroy Multiple ICBM Threats

The US Missile Defense Agency is in the early stages of developing a next-generation ‘Star Wars’-type technology capable of destroying multiple incoming enemy targets out of space with a single interceptor.

The new system, called Multi-Object Kill Vehicle, or MOKV, is designed to release from a Ground Based Interceptor and destroy approaching Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) and also take out decoys traveling alongside the incoming missile threat.

If the guidance systems of a ‘kill vehicle’ technology on a Ground Base Interceptor (GBI) cannot differentiate an actual nuclear-armed ICBM from a decoy then the incoming missile is more likely to get through and avoid being destroyed. MOKV is being developed to address this threat.

FULL STORY : www.scout.com/military/warrior/story/1670393-starwars-icbm-interceptor-hits-many-targets

DATE : 28 December 2016

SOURCE : Scout Warrior

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