Promising antimicrobial attacks virus, stimulates immune system
"A promising antimicrobial agent already known to kill bacteria can also kill viruses and stimulate the innate immune system, according to researchers at National Jewish Health. In a paper appearing online June 4 in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, Michael Howell, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, and his colleagues demonstrated that the synthetic compound CSA-13 can kill vaccinia virus [sic] in cell cultures and in mice. […] Vaccinia virus is closely related to the organism that causes smallpox and is used in smallpox vaccines. However, millions of people in the United States who have had eczema are susceptible to a serious and potentially fatal complication of the vaccination, known as eczema vaccinatum, which occurs when the vaccinia virus infects the skin. Dr. Howell is part of a team […] that is seeking protection against this complication so that eczema patients could receive the vaccination in case of a bioterrorist attack with smallpox. […] 'These experiments definitively showed for the first time CSA-13 can effectively fight vaccinia virus infections,' said senior author Dr. Leung. […] This research was funded entirely by the National Institutes of Health."
(Science Daily; 05Jun09)
Device helps Monterey County [CA] track swine flu, other diseases
"Monterey County's secret weapon in fighting and tracking diseases [...] pieces together strands of DNA that lab workers peeled apart. The two-hour process allows scientists to track the enzymes used to create DNA and identify viruses and bacteria. Because of the PCR, polymerase chain reaction, drug-resistant staph infections are identified more quickly and flu viruses narrowed down to species of origin. 'We use it for all kinds of things,' said laboratory director Gerry Guibert. Technicians have used the machine to pinpoint E. coli strains and identify probable swine flu cases. They haven't, though, used it for the purpose the anti-terrorism grant that provided it laid out identifying anthrax [bacteria] in case of an attack." (Californian; 04Jun09; Leslie Griffy)
University of Tennessee Health Science Center, University of Memphis nab $1.1M in federal research funds [to study tularemia and other subjects]
"The University of Tennessee Health Science Center and the University of Memphis have been awarded $1.1 million collectively in federal research funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. UTHSC was awarded two grants from the National Institutes of Health totaling $620,016. One study will focus on tularemia, a disease found in contaminated water, carried by infected rodents or used in biological warfare. The other study will focus on developing a new anti-tuberculosis agent." (Memphis Business Journal; 04Jun09) http://memphis.bizjournals.com/memphis/stories/2009/06/01/daily38.html
Umatilla depot to destroy mustard gas [Hermiston, OR]
"Workers at the Umatilla Chemical Depot [OR] have begun the process to incinerate the last of the chemical weapons stored there. Workers began delivering bulk containers filled with mustard blister agent to the depot's disposal facility […] after the state of Oregon gave final authorization […] to incinerate the agent. […] The work is expected to take one to two years, which should meet an April 2012 international treaty deadline. […] Workers finished destroying military nerve gas last November. [Since then], work has been under way […] to prepare the processing plant for the mustard incineration. […] Although there were far more containers of deadly VX and sarin nerve agent stored at the depot, the mustard agent made up more than half of the depot's stockpile by weight. […] While toxic, it is less lethal than the nerve agents, tak[ing] up to 24 hours to cause chemical burns. The [disposal] containers will be drained and the mustard destroyed in an incinerator. […] The containers will be sent to a furnace to be decontaminated." (Seattle Post-Intelligencer; 04Jun09; Source: AP) http://www.seattlepi.com/local/6420ap_or_mustard_agent.html
U.S., South Korean troops practice responding to chemical attacks
"While recent [North Korean] nuclear tests […] have grabbed the world's attention, reports […] indicate that an even bigger threat to South Korea and the world at large may be the chemical weapons being developed there. The Associated Press reported last week that it is 'widely believed the North has a chemical capability that it could unleash in the early stages of a land war.' A 2007 Popular Mechanics investigative report stated that […] North Korea has built 'one of the world's most extensive biochemical warfare programs.' [U.S. Army] Capt. Zach Brainard said Tuesday's joint training exercise had been in the planning stages for months, but the timing of it was 'convenient' given North Korea's recent acts of aggression. […] During the exercise, a chemical attack was simulated, after which U.S. and South Korean soldiers neutralized and cleaned up the area. The personnel and equipment were then cleaned and tested as they were run through various phases of decontamination." (Stars and Stripes; 04Jun09; Jon Rabiroff)
Domestic dispute leads to ricin investigation [Everett, WA]
"Police and federal authorities blocked off a suburban street Thursday about an hour north of Seattle, Washington, while searching a home for the deadly poison ricin. Hazmat crews entered the home while officials assured the public that there was no threat from the substance, which is made from castor beans and can be fatal if injected, inhaled or consumed. 'It is contained in this house. It's not a danger to the neighborhood,' said Roberta Burroughs, spokeswoman for the FBI's Seattle office. 'Why does someone need to have a potent, toxic poison? [...] It's against the law to produce or possess it. If it turns out to be ricin, there will be federal charges.' Authorities expected testing to determine on Friday whether the material they found in the house was ricin, Burroughs said. Agents had ruled out any connection to terrorism, she said. [...] 'When we arrived, we discovered a female outside the residence who was pretty bloodied up. She looked like she had gone through quite an event,' Everett police Sgt. Robert Goetz told CNN. As officers tended to the woman, Goetz said, other officers entered the home and found her husband on the floor, 'suffering from some kind of medical condition.' [...] Goetz said the woman found 'suspicious items' in her husband's office and contacted authorities. 'They recognized the items as possible ricin or items that could be developed into ricin,' Goetz said." (Cable News Network; 05Jun09; Patrick Oppmann)
Suspect ricin uncovered at house [Myrtle Grove, U.K.]
"Police said the suspected ricin was found in a jam jar at the property in Myrtle Grove, Burnopfield. Durham Police said there was no threat to the public. Mr [Ian] Davidson is being questioned by Durham officers and the North East Counter Terrorism Unit at a police station in West Yorkshire. [...] The substance was examined in tests by scientists in Scotland and is to be sent under escort to the Ministry of Defence's chemical biological warfare facility at Porton Down for further examination. [...] Assistant Chief Constable Michael Barton, of Durham Police, said: 'Specialist police officers have been carrying out a meticulous search of the property [...] They have uncovered a substance, which we believe has traces of ricin.'"
(British Broadcasting Company; 05Jun09)
Are we ready to deal with an anthrax scare?
"In 2001, letters containing anthrax spores were sent to several media organisations and two Democrat senators in the United States. The attacks killed five people. What happened in the US can happen here too, as many rogue regimes across the world are still believed to have stockpiles of chemical and biological agents that can be used to launch attacks. With the threat of a chemical, biological and nuclear warfare lurking around, the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) has embarked on a pilot project to train young doctors in dealing with such a scenario. [...] The elite research organisation [DRDO] has proposed an addition to the syllabus of the regular MBBS [bachelor of medicine and bachelor of surgery] course for the orientation of future doctors about chemical and biological warfare. 'We have suggested students should be taught CBRN scenario as a subject,' Selvamurthy said. The DRDO recently organised a display of its Mobile Decontamination Vehicle (MDV), which remains the only option in case of any CBRN attack. But top DRDO officials agreed there is a serious dearth of doctors to deal with such a situation." (Mid Day; 04Jun09; Nupur Singh) http://www.mid-day.com/news/2009/jun/040609-biological-warfare-chemical-Democrat-senators-doctors-Nuclear.htm
White powder found at UVU [Utah Valley University] tests negative for anthrax [spores], agents
"It's not anthrax [sic, or] another biological agent. [Authorities are] testing to see if white powder found Thursday at Utah Valley University might be the deadly toxin ricin. […] A man discovered the powder on a table near the ROTC [Reserve Officers' Training Corps] Office. […] Emergency teams evacuated the building and […] sent the material to a nearby lab, where it came back negative for anthrax [sic] or other agents. […] A unit from a Lehi National Guard post is […] testing for ricin. If that test is also negative, there may be no further analysis. A couple hundred students and faculty may have been in the building when the discovery was made. No one […] has reported any signs of illness." (Columbia Broadcast System, KUTV; 04Jun09; Brian Mullahy) http://www.kutv.com/content/news/local/story/White-Powder-Found-At-UVU-Tests-Negative-For/6ETtoXBTU0aMf2gQLmbsiw.cspx
Health and Welfare office evacuated after anthrax scare; It was a false alarm [Boise, ID]
"A Boise [ID] Health and Welfare office was evacuated after receiving an envelope with a white powdery substance Wednesday afternoon. It turned out to be a false alarm. Boise Fire Department hazardous materials workers were called to 3232 W. Elder St., northwest of Vista and Interstate 84 at 1:03 p.m. from an employee of the building. […] Crews were told a letter was mailed to the building that, when opened, contained a white powdery substance. Haz mat crews did not find powder in or near the envelope, fire officials said. As a safety precaution, about 80 people were evacuated from the building. […] Two employees who had direct contact with the letter were detained for their safety, but have been released." (Idaho Statesman; 03Jun09; Kathleen Kreller) http://www.idahostatesman.com/boise/story/790936.html