Another NIH fubar? 300 vials labeled influenza, dengue found at government lab

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It’s beginning to look like the Three Stooges are in charge of deadly pathogen storage at the National Institutes of Health these days. The lab that is supposed to be super safe and super secure has again revealed a major mistake.

Curiously, the report at Fox reveals that it’s the SAME SCIENTIST who uncovered 300 vials of major pathogens that should have been under lock and key and catalogued.  I’m not sure who this plucky scientist is, but I think I’d be watching my back. Someone will have to take the fall for this ‘oversight’.

According to FDA Deputy Director Dr. Peter Marks, the forgotten samples are a mystery. Of course, they’re digging into why vials of dengue, rickettsia, and influenza have just been lying about, so don’t worry, ok?  We’re all as safe as houses, right? Yeah, right.  As I’ve said before, these announcements, coming one right after another, feel more like a prelude to a plague than midnight confessions. I’m glad the Lord is in charge, aren’t you?

 

via 300 vials labeled influenza, dengue found at lab | Fox News.

Replacing the Entire US Biosecurity Board Won’t Make Us Safer

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NIH-CDC-HypodermicJust what the heck is going on with the NIH and the CDC lately? These two agencies are supposed to make you and me feel safer, right? But if you’ve been paying attention, you will have noticed that the CDC ‘accidentally’ contaminated your everyday variety of influenza (H9N2) with H5N1 (avian flu), a mistake which has the potential to equip the deadly bird flu with the capability to more readily infect humans.

Oh, but the unlocked vials of anthrax found in a CDC hallway closet isn’t a problem, right? But then we have their reckless antics in exposing as many as 86 people to the deadly bacillus.

And how about all those vials of old smallpox that the NIH recently uncovered–with LIVE virus inside?

No, these items aren’t the plot points of my next biotech thriller. Sadly, these events may only be the tip of the iceberg. However, as I type, my tinfoil hat radar is abuzz, which makes we wonder WHY media are reporting these massive blunders now? As illegals flood across our southern border, there is a huge risk for the spread of diseases to which you and I might not have immunity. Is the government trying to prepare us for the ‘big one’? Oh, but there’s more. Yesterday, it was announced that the entire membership of the US Biosecurity Board has been asked to step aside and make room for a brand new roster of ‘newbies’. With the spate of ‘accidents’ happening at our most secure laboratories and the threat of novel infective agents hovering near our borders, wouldn’t we be better prepared if seasoned board members remained?

Honestly, I’m beginning to WISH these stories were fictional plot points, because I’m getting a very bad feeling about it all.

To read more about the board roster changes, see: Wholesale roster change coming for US biosecurity board | CIDRAP.

Deadly Illness in Nicaragua Baffles Experts | NYTimes.com

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What? 20,000 mystery deaths in a decade? Where is the media attention to this one? Yes, it’s in today’s online version of the NYT, and you can find a few other mentions in the past few years, but for the most part this story is vastly under-reported.  If this were going on here in the United States, we’d have pharmaceutical companies lining up to find a fix!

When I read this article a few minutes ago, it struck me that Derek and I talked about this very outbreak a few years ago on PID Radio, and researchers still have no idea what is causing this fatal kidney disease other than it appears to center on men who work in sugar cane fields. Since the women and children also consume the sugar, it probably isn’t the cane itself, but it might be a consequence of herbicide use.  For now, it’s a mystery, but that is little comfort to the women living in the Island of Widows (what some locals call the villages near cane fields).

If you want to know more, check out the report at the NYT: Deadly Illness in Nicaragua Baffles Experts – NYTimes.com.

Report: How the Brain Deletes Old Memories

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I often tell friends and family that the only way my brain can hold any more information is by deleting some files.   Apparently, current research conducted at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada has proven me right.

However, to my amazement, the report casually mentions a direct relationship between antidepressants such as Prozac and neurogenesis.  Moreover (so says the article), the forgetfulness that precipitates when brain cells divide to create new ones is lauded as helpful by psychologists. Now, that really surprises me! Not only is our society being lulled into forgetful ‘sleep’ through pharmacology, we’re now told it’s healthy!

Crazy world, huh? Now, I’ll go off and forget I ever wrote this….

Read all about it via How the Brain Deletes Old Memories | Science/AAAS | News.

Stanford scientists create circuit board modeled on the human brain

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Can you say ‘transhumanism’?

Stanford scientists have developed faster, more energy-efficient microchips based on the human brain – 9,000 times faster and using significantly less power than a typical PC. This offers greater possibilities for advances in robotics and a new way of understanding the brain. For instance, a chip as fast and efficient as the human brain could drive prosthetic limbs with the speed and complexity of our own actions.

read more via Stanford scientists create circuit board modeled on the human brain | Stanford News Release.

The Official Site for Author & Analyst Sharon K. Gilbert