Alameda County [California] shines in study on contagious disease response
“Most public health departments are not meeting U.S. guidelines for quickly handling cases of contagious diseases, and a good number are ignoring phone calls from doctors reporting possible outbreaks, according to a national study published Wednesday. The good news is that at least one [San Francisco] Bay Area agency - the Alameda County Public Health Department -was a top performer in the study. […] The Rand Corp. study tested the disease-reporting systems at 74 public health departments selected at random. Researchers found that two-thirds of health departments they surveyed did not return phone calls from doctors reporting possible outbreaks within the 30-minute window recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But more disturbing is that nearly 40 percent of the health departments never returned at least one phone call from a doctor reporting a possible outbreak.” (San Francisco Chronicle, 03Jan08, Erin Allday) http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/01/03/BAU6U865B.DTL
The press release for the study is available at http://www.rand.org/news/press/2008/01/02/
Security Scares at US, UK, Israeli Posts [in Australia]
“The U.S., British and Israeli embassies each received packages containing a suspicious powder Wednesday, creating a security scare in which some staff was evacuated and police cordoned off nearby streets, police said. The powder proved to be harmless in each case, an Australian Federal Police spokesman said on condition of anonymity, citing police policy. Police would not detail their security response. They blocked traffic to the diplomatic precinct and a fire engine was sent to the scene.” (Google News, 03Jan08, AP) http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5jQ2t8wFJGIcAfN_0Gqu3HIymjDdAD8TTVST80
Hospital anthrax scare [in New Zealand]
“Powder used on New Zealand Post mail sorting machines could be the cause of a fourth anthrax scare in the Central North Island in a month. About 40 Rotorua Hospital staff working in the Edward Guy Building were evacuated when a white powder was found on the outside of an envelope yesterday. Three staff were decontaminated as a precaution.” (The Daily Post, 04Jan08, Matthew Martin) http://www.dailypost.co.nz/localnews/storydisplay.cfm?storyid=3759983&thesection=localnews&thesubsection=&thesecondsubsection=
Osiris Therapeutics Awarded Department of Defense Contract for Prochymal Fully Valued at $224.7 Million
“Osiris Therapeutics announced today that it has been awarded a $224.7 million contract, including purchase options, from the United States Department of Defense (DoD) to develop and stockpile Prochymal, an adult stem cell therapy, for the repair of gastrointestinal injury resulting from radiation exposure. Under the terms of the contract, the DoD will provide funding to Osiris for the development of Prochymal for acute radiation syndrome (ARS) in two stages, with an initial amount of $4.2 million in 2008.” (FOX Business, 03Jan08, BusinessWire) http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/industries/health-care/article/osiris-therapeutics-awarded-department-defense-contract-prochymaltm-fully_423618_10.html
A jihadi dirty bomb will be of Pak[istan] origin'
“A turmoil-hit Pakistan may stress that fears about its nuclear arsenal falling into the hands of Islamic extremists are ‘totally unfounded and nonsense’. But the scare is not so much about the safety of the actual nuclear weapons or warheads, as about radicals getting access to enriched uranium, nuclear components and know-how. ‘Attempts by Al-Qaida to acquire dirty bombs are quite well-established,’ said a senior official, who in the past has been linked with India's nuclear weapon programme.” (The Times of India; 01Jan08; Rajat Pandit, TNN) http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/A_jihadi_dirty_bomb_will_be_of_Pak_origin/articleshow/2665894.cms
Special Fund Aids Albania-U.S. Munitions Destruction Project: Nonproliferation and disarmament successes registered around the world
“The recently completed U.S.-Albania munitions destruction project marked another success in the effort for disarmament and nonproliferation of weapons. […] The project was carried out under the auspices of the State Department’s Nonproliferation and Disarmament Fund (NDF). It is one of many projects that the fund selectively tackles. Operating quietly since 1994, the fund tends to finance high-priority or especially difficult nonproliferation projects when money is unavailable through other agencies or departments that typically are involved in disarmament issues. A project could be undertaken in any corner of the world as long as it sets out to do the following: halt proliferation of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and associated technologies and delivery systems; destroy or neutralize existing conventional weapons or weapons of mass destruction, related materials and delivery systems; limit the spread of sophisticated conventional weapons and related technologies and delivery systems; and track, control and secure dangerous fissile or radiological materials or chemical agents and pathogens.” (U.S. Department of State,
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