Monday, July 13, 2009

CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News, July 13, 2009

Nurse fights hospital over smallpox [OH]
"Nurse Amy Alexander thought at the time, it was the right thing to do - taking, at her boss' request, the smallpox vaccine so she could join a bioterrorism response team at Good Samaritan Hospital that would be ready if America's enemies ever tried to spread the deadly disease. Six years later, she sees it as perhaps the worst decision of her life. […] Alexander's doctors have detected 23 lesions on her brain stemming from her body's reaction to the smallpox vaccination. […] The suit, which seeks more than $5 million in damages, is scheduled to go to court in November, while the worker's compensation claim is to be heard next month. […] According to Alexander's Hamilton County Common Pleas Court lawsuit and her Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation claim, Good Samaritan officials monitored her for only five days after the inoculation, not the 21- to 28-day period recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The hospital also did not adhere to a CDC recommendation calling for serious adverse reactions to the smallpox vaccine to be reported within one week, the lawsuit charges." (Cincinnati Enquirer; 11Jul09; Barry M. Horstman)

UNC [University of North Carolina] Greensboro spinoff targets new uses for bioterror[ism] technology
"A technology first conceived of as a defense against bioterrorism nearly a decade ago by scientists at UNC-Greensboro is making a comeback through a company spinoff aimed at the water utility and food industries. […] The technology involves using specific genes to isolate DNA segments that indicate the presence of certain microbes or bacteria such as salmonella or E. coli in a way that allows contaminants to be identified within a few hours rather than two to four days, Bowers said. There's a lot of commercial potential in being able to effectively and quickly tell if food or water is somehow unsafe, he added. 'It seems like every day you pick up the paper and read about contamination that causes human illness,' Bowers said." (Business Journal; 10Jul09; Matt Evans)

Pentagon force protection agency to conduct biological release test
"The Pentagon Force Protection Agency (PFPA), in cooperation with Arlington County and other federal and local agencies, will conduct a comprehensive evaluation and operational response to a simulated biological release at the Pentagon on July 11 […]. It will provide valuable information for PFPA's response in the event of a biological release. The test consists of the release of a powder simulating a biological attack at the Pentagon South Parking Lot and the subsequent clean-up. […] Key to this test is the use of helicopters landing and taking off from the Pentagon South Parking Lot, and a decontamination unit at the Navy Annex. The simulant powder contains a harmless inert bacterium found in soil, water, and air. […] Dependant upon favorable weather conditions, there are four possible days for the test: July 11, 12, 18, or 19." (Trading Markets; 10Jul09)

Virginia to get $8.8 million in pandemic flu money
"Virginia will get $8.8 million in federal money to ramp up the public health and hospital systems to respond to pandemic flu. The dollars include $6.5 million for public-health preparedness and $2.26 million for hospital preparedness. The money is part of $350 million the U.S. Office of Health and Human Services is making available to states to deal with the H1N1 swine-flu virus that is causing a flu outbreak. […] 'We are very assertively working . . . to be as efficient as we can in planning how we will use that money and making sure that we can use it in a prudent way but also in a rapid way,' said Dr. Karen Remley, Virginia health commissioner." (WSLS 10 News; 11Jul09; Tammie Smith: Richmond Times-Dispatch)

The U.S. Army's new biomedical regulations
"The U.S. Army has proactively implemented changes to its safety and security programs […] in May [by] effecting major revisions to Department of the Army Pamphlet 385-69: Safety Standards for Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories. Pamphlet 385-69 establishes Army safety guidelines for the U.S. biological defense program and implements several changes to Army biosafety policies in an effort to enhance pathogen accountability and containment. [… The Pamphlet] makes the published Centers for Disease Control and Prevention biosafety guidelines, 'Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories' (BMBL), mandatory across army clinical diagnostic, biomedical, and veterinary research programs. [… It also] mandates that clinical laboratories supporting the U.S. Army Medical Department have qualified biosafety officers assigned. […] Pamphlet 385-69 directs specific personnel […] to perform a specific risk assessment for every research and diagnostic activity [… and] provides a more rigorously defined biosecurity framework than the BMBL alone. […] A large part of Army biodefense research is conducted by extramural investigators at federally funded research-and-development centers, government-owned and contractor-operated national labs, private industrial labs, private research foundations, and state or private universities. Pamphlet 385-69 clearly states that its provisions apply to all of these entities when they conduct research for the army. […] However, if Army standards are significantly more stringent than the BMBL or other prevailing biosafety guidelines for civilian research entities, the implementation of the revised Army guidelines may pose a problem for external biodefense research." (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists; 13Jul09; Ben Perman)

Army finds WWI mortar at schofield barracks, officials say munitions appears to hold chemical weapon [Honolulu, HI]
"World War I-era munitions found during excavation on training grounds at Schofield Barracks appears to carry chemical weapons, officials said. Teams found the liquid-filled 4-inch mortar on June 27. Schofield's Explosive Ordnance Disposal team was called in to investigate. 'We have the technical experts on site to assist in the safe handling and storage of this round until its disposal, and are coordinating with state and local officials to ensure appropriate safety procedures are implemented,' Col. Matthew T. Margotta said in a written statement. A team of specialists from Aberdeen Proving Ground, M[aryland], used specialized equipment on Tuesday to determine the mortar's contents. Tests indicated the mortar contained phosgene, a chemical that was used as a choking agent in chemical warfare, officials said. The mortar was found in the same area where other chemical munitions were found. Those were destroyed last year, […] officials said. The new discovery will remain in a contained area until teams destroy it." (KITV News Station; 10Jul09)

New oral agents may prevent injury after radiation exposure
"Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and collaborators have discovered and analyzed several new compounds, collectively called the 'EUK-400 series,' which could someday be used to prevent radiation-induced injuries to kidneys, lungs, skin, intestinal tract and brains of radiological terrorism victims. The findings, which appear in the June issue of the Journal of Biological Inorganic Chemistry, describe new agents which can be given orally in pill form, which would be more expedient in an emergency situation. According to a press release by EurekAlert, these agents are novel synthetic 'antioxidants' that protect tissues against the kind of damage caused by agents such as 'free radicals.' Free radicals […] are implicated in many different types of tissue injury, including those caused by radiation exposure. […] The BUSM researchers and their colleagues are developing agents that prevent injury even when given after the radiation exposure. […] More broadly, beyond the potential for treating victims of radiological terrorism, these compounds could also be useful drugs against a variety of diseases where an effective antioxidant has potential benefits, for example, various neurological, pulmonary, cardiovascular, and autoimmune disorders." (The Hindu; 12Jul09)

Toxin detection as close as an inkjet printer
"Office inkjet printer […] technology may soon be used to develop paper-based biosensors that can detect certain harmful toxins that can cause food poisoning or be used as bioterrorism agents. In a paper published in the July issue of Analytical Chemistry, John Brennan and his research team at McMaster University [Ontario, Canada], working with the Sentinel Bioactive Paper Network, describe a method for printing a toxin-detecting biosensor on paper using a FujiFilm Dimatix Materials Printer. The researchers demonstrated the concept on the detection of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitors such as paraoxon and aflatoxin B1 on paper using a 'lateral flow' sensing approach similar to that used in a home pregnancy test strip. The process involves formulating an ink like the one found in computer printer cartridges but with special additives to make the ink biocompatible. An ink comprised of biocompatible silica nanoparticles is first deposited on paper, followed by a second ink containing the enzyme, and the resulting bio-ink forms a thin film of enzyme that is entrapped in the silica on paper. When the enzyme is exposed to a toxin, reporter molecules in the ink change colour in a manner that is dependent on the concentration of the toxin in the sample. This simple and cost-effective method of adhering biochemical reagents to paper is expected to bring the concept of bioactive paper a significant step closer to commercialization. The goal for bioactive paper is to provide a rapid, portable, disposable and inexpensive way of detecting harmful substances, including toxins, pathogens and viruses, without the need for sophisticated instrumentation." (EurekAlert; 13Jul09)

Local firm's firefighter suit protects from multiple hazards [Dayton, OH]
"After years of development to meet what was once considered an impossible safety standard, Lion Apparel has created the first firefighting ensemble - turnout gear with hood, gloves, boots and self-contained breathing apparatus - to be certified under the National Fire Protection Association's [NFPA] standard for chemicals, biological agents and radiological particulates. The accomplishment is seen as a game-changing achievement as much as it underlines the heightened preparedness for a chemical or biological attack and the difficulty in protecting first-responders against such attacks. […] Nick Curtis and his Lion Apparel colleagues waited as a test subject wearing the potentially groundbreaking firefighting gear jumped, crawled, reached and dragged for 30 minutes. Dangerous particles (simulated) were blown into the test chamber at the firefighter. When he emerged, his ensemble was tested to see how many of the particles had penetrated the suit. 'We were on pins and needles,' said Curtis, Lion's vice president for global product development, 'In the beginning we didn't think it would be possible to do it.' Lion […] began working on the ensemble nearly three years ago, when the NFPA modified its 1971 standard to include an optional provision against chemical, biological and radiological threats. Once met, the standard alerts agencies that the protective ensembles are legitimate." (Dayton Daily News; 10Jul09; Kyle Nagel)

New hazmat device can solve suspect substances [VA]
"When you don't know what you've got - harmless powder? deadly anthrax spores? - you don't want to pick it up, no matter how many gloves you're wearing. […] You instead want something like the bright yellow StreetLab Mobile. It looks a lot like a cordless drill that has been lifting weights, but it's a laser tool that emergency workers can place on or near a suspicious substance and get an on-the-spot chemical analysis of what they're facing. And the Southside Regional Hazardous Materials Response Team - composed of fire-department specialists from Portsmouth, Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Chesapeake - is the first in the country to get one. […] The device works on solids, powders or liquids. Buttons are oversized so firefighters can manipulate them even in bulky protective garments. Information can be sent wirelessly to a computer at a nearby command post.
The device can be operated remotely or set on delay, so firefighters can leave for safety. If taken into a contaminated 'hot zone,' it can be cleaned. Faster analysis also helps minimize disruptions, such as when a public building might be closed. […] The analyzer costs $35,000, but GE Security offered a discount and hopes to obtain constructive feedback. […] A homeland-security grant paid for it, fire officials said."
(Virginian Post; 13Jul09; Matthew Bowers)

G8 concerned over threat of terrorists acquiring WMDs
"The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and their means of delivery poses a global challenge, said leaders of the world's most industrialized countries at their summit here. In a joint statement issued at their summit […], the leaders of Group of Eight (G8) industrialized nations added: 'The threat of terrorists acquiring WMDs continues to be cause for deep concern.' 'We are determined to continue working together to ensure that terrorists never have access to those weapons and related materials...We will further promote the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT), which plays an important role in developing its participants' capacity to confront this global threat on a determined and systematic basis, consistent with national legal authorities and obligations under relevant international legal frameworks,' the leaders said. […] 'The universalisation and reinforcement of the non-proliferation regime remains an urgent priority,' [the summit] stressed. 'We call upon all States still not party to the treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) to accede without delay,' the statement added." (Malaysia Sun; 09Jul09)

No comments: