EJToday: Top Headlines
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Ten years after the anthrax attacks that followed 9/11, the nation has spent some $60 billion trying to put together a biodefense program. One reason Americans do not know the scale of the government's failure is the extreme secrecy with which the programs are conducted. Profits, politics, and the manipulation of public fears may be making the nation's vulnerability to the worst public health threats even worse.
"The figure is so astounding it appears to be a misprint at first glance. One in 110. That's the number of American children living with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), based on the most recently published estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)."
"In wake of last year's BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a new study from an environmental watchdog group contends that current federal standards underestimate the risk to pregnant women and children of cancer-causing contaminants that can accumulate in seafood from such spills."
Salmonella bacteria are pervasive in much U.S. chicken, and sicken an estimated 1 million people a year.
"When Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) recently suggested that the human papillomavirus vaccine — recommended for girls and young women to protect against cervical cancer — was dangerous and could cause mental retardation, the American Academy of Pediatrics pushed back hard. The AAP, which represents 60,000 pediatricians, issued a statement saying the claim had 'absolutely no scientific validity.'"
"At least 13 people in eight states have died after eating cantaloupe contaminated with listeria, in the deadliest outbreak of food-borne illness in the United States in more than a decade, public health officials said on Tuesday."
"A chemical found in the dogfish shark could be a safe and potent weapon against human viruses, say scientists."
"Although sleazy 'scratcher shops' with unskilled artists and dubious safety records are becoming a thing of the past, scientists are growing concerned about what's going into tattooed skin, not just how it got there."
"One year after 1,900 people were sickened and a half-billion Iowa eggs were recalled, government inspectors continue to find unsanitary conditions and inadequate protections against salmonella on Iowa’s egg farms. None of the violations have resulted in fines or penalties from state or federal agencies, and Iowa’s egg producers still aren’t required to tell state officials when they find salmonella on their farms."
The bubonic plague or Black Death that scourged Europe in the 1340s seems to have been far more virulent and contagious than the Yersinia pestis microbe that survives today. Now an old plague-era London cemetery is yielding DNA evidence that may begin to answer some of the mysteries.
"Yet another panel of scientists has found no evidence that a popular vaccine causes autism. But despite the scientists' best efforts, their report is unlikely to have any impact on the frustrating debate about the safety of these crucial medicines.
"The USDA announced the recall of 36 million pounds of Cargill ground turkey linked to multiple deaths."
"The CIA organised a fake vaccination programme in the town where it believed Osama bin Laden was hiding in an elaborate attempt to obtain DNA from the fugitive al-Qaida leader's family, a Guardian investigation has found." The ploy may have damaged the confidence of the Pakistani public in vaccine programs -- at a time when vaccinations against diseases like polio are needed.
"The terrifying E. coli outbreak in Europe appears to have been caused by vegetable sprouts grown on an organic farm in Germany, an agriculture official said Sunday as the toll climbed to at least 22 dead and more than 2,200 sickened."
"The bacterium that has killed more than a dozen Europeans, sickened nearly 2,000 more and raised international alarms would be legal if it were found on meat or poultry in the United States."