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Exclusive: CDC installing cameras in labs in agency-wide safety push
29 Jan 2015 at 5:26am
By Julie Steenhuysen ATLANTA (Reuters) - The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has introduced camera monitoring of workers in its highest-level biosafety laboratories as it seeks to restore public faith in its procedures after a series of mishaps, agency officials tell Reuters. The mishaps have raised major questions over safety practices at more than 1,000 laboratory and support facilities that make up the CDC, whose role is to monitor and prevent outbreaks of disease. The move to monitor workers will allow lab directors and senior scientists to ensure they have followed safety protocols exactly, Leslie Dauphin, interim director of laboratory safety, told Reuters in an interview. "That is what the camera system helps with." The agency is expected to release details within a week of its own investigation into the Ebola mishap.
UNICEF makes record appeal to help 60 million children in crisis
29 Jan 2015 at 4:24am
By Magdalena Mis LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The U.N. Children's Fund launched a record $3.1 billion appeal on Thursday to enable it to help children caught up in a "new generation" of conflicts and disasters round the world, $1 billion more than it sought in 2014. A series of more complex and destructive crises, natural disasters and emergencies such as the Ebola epidemic, are putting some 60 million children in extraordinary danger of violence, hunger, disease and abuse, UNICEF said. "From deadly natural disasters to brutal conflicts and fast-spreading epidemics, children across the world are facing a new generation of humanitarian crises," Afshan Khan, UNICEF director of emergency programs, said in a statement.
Nigeria H5N1 bird flu spreads to four more states, total 11
29 Jan 2015 at 3:44am
An outbreak of H5N1 bird flu in Nigerian poultry farms has spread to four more states, raising the total of affected areas to 11, the agricultural and rural development minister said on Thursday. Africa's most populous country and biggest economy was the first country on the continent to detect bird flu, in 2006 when chicken farms were found to have the H5N1 strain. In 2007, Nigeria recorded its first human death from the disease. "At the time of my briefing the nation on January 21, 2015, seven states had reported cases of the bird flu.
WHO: Ebola response shifts to ending epidemic
29 Jan 2015 at 3:21am
LONDON (AP) ? Health officials are now focused on ending the biggest-ever Ebola outbreak rather than just slowing the deadly virus' spread, the World Health Organization said Thursday.
Norway finds first case of mad cow disease, says food safe
29 Jan 2015 at 3:14am
Norway reported its first ever case of mad cow disease on Thursday, saying the instance was an isolated one and telling consumers it was still safe to eat beef and drink milk. Tests at a British laboratory confirmed the disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), in a 15-year-old cow, which had been slaughtered, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority said. A new variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, nvCJD, killed dozens of people in Europe beginning in the mid-1990s.
Obama budget to propose spending lift for military, domestic programs
29 Jan 2015 at 3:03am
By Jeff Mason WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's budget will call for an increase in domestic and military spending that would end spending caps known as "sequestration," a White House official said, setting up a new source of conflict with Republicans in Congress. Obama intends to announce his plans during a meeting with congressional Democrats in Philadelphia on Thursday. The fiscal 2016 budget, which the White House intends to unveil on Monday, would fund a host of programs that Republicans are unlikely to support. It is the latest salvo by the Democratic president lobbed at a Congress controlled by the opposition party and follows a defiant State of the Union address last week that critics said betrayed an unwillingness to seek compromise.
UN warns Ebola epidemic 'not yet contained'
29 Jan 2015 at 2:39am
The Ebola epidemic is decreasing but is still present in a third of the areas of the three worst affected west African nations, UN Ebola coordinator David Nabarro warned Thursday. Nabarro was speaking at the African Union headquarters, as leaders gather a day ahead of a summit meeting where Ebola is a key issue for discussion. The worst outbreak of the virus in history has seen nearly 9,000 deaths in a year -- almost all in the three west African countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone -- and sparked a major health scare worldwide. Only 99 new cases were confirmed in the week up to January 25, the first time the figure has dropped below 100 since June 2014, the World Health Organization said Thursday in Geneva.
Weekly Ebola cases below 100, WHO says endgame begins
29 Jan 2015 at 2:10am
The number of new confirmed Ebola cases totalled 99 in the week to Jan. 25, the lowest tally since June 2014, the World Health Organization said on Thursday, signalling the tide might have turned against the epidemic. "The response to the EVD (Ebola virus disease) epidemic has now moved to a second phase, as the focus shifts from slowing transmission to ending the epidemic," the WHO said. "To achieve this goal as quickly as possible, efforts have moved from rapidly building infrastructure to ensuring that capacity for case finding, case management, safe burials, and community engagement is used as effectively as possible." The outbreak has killed 8,810 people out of 22,092 cases, almost all of them in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. Cases and deaths have fallen rapidly in Liberia and Sierra Leone in the past few weeks, with 20 deaths recorded in Liberia in the 21 days to Jan. 25 -- less than one a day.
Republican bills take aim at EPA science, rulemaking
29 Jan 2015 at 2:00am
Already limited in its ability to evaluate toxic chemicals, the agency is targeted by Republican legislation the White House pledges to veto
UNICEF makes record appeal to help 60 million children in crisis: TRFN
29 Jan 2015 at 1:52am
By Magdalena Mis LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The U.N. Children's Fund launched a record $3.1 billion appeal on Thursday to enable it to help children caught up in a "new generation" of conflicts and disasters round the world, $1 billion more than it sought in 2014. A series of more complex and destructive crises, natural disasters and emergencies such as the Ebola epidemic, are putting some 60 million children in extraordinary danger of violence, hunger, disease and abuse, UNICEF said. "From deadly natural disasters to brutal conflicts and fast-spreading epidemics, children across the world are facing a new generation of humanitarian crises," Afshan Khan, UNICEF director of emergency programmes, said in a statement.
AstraZeneca bets on 'genetic scissors' for range of new drugs
29 Jan 2015 at 1:01am
By Ben Hirschler LONDON (Reuters) - AstraZeneca said on Thursday it had struck four research agreements in the hot area of genome editing as it bets on a new "genetic scissors" technology to deliver better and more precise drugs for a range of diseases. The academic and commercial tie-ups will allow British-based AstraZeneca to use so-called CRISPR technology across its entire drug discovery platform in areas such as oncology, cardiovascular, respiratory and immune system medicine. CRISPR, which stands for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, allows scientists to edit the genes of selected cells accurately and efficiently. The collaborations with Britain's Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, the Innovative Genomics Initiative in California, the Broad Institute and Whitehead Institute in Massachusetts, and Thermo Fisher Scientific build on an in-house CRISPR programme at AstraZeneca that has been running for over a year.
MSF in Sudan to pull out of war-torn Blue Nile, parts of Darfur-statement
28 Jan 2015 at 11:53pm
The Brussels-based section of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) will pull out of war-torn parts of Sudan due to a lack of cooperation from authorities, the medical charity said on Thursday, as the country sees an uptick in violence. Sudan has faced a rebellion in Darfur since 2003 and a separate but linked insurgency in Blue Nile and South Kordofan since the secession of South Sudan in 2011. The group said that total denial of access to Blue Nile state, forced closure of activities in East Darfur and administrative obstacles in South Darfur had made its work in those conflict-hit areas impossible. "Our experience is that the Sudanese government arranges meetings specifically to prevent international aid, rather than to facilitate it," Bart Jassens, the director of operations for MSF in Brussels, said in a statement.
Race Is On to Find Treatment For Mystery Illness Paralyzing Children
28 Jan 2015 at 11:29pm
A mystery illness that?s left dozens of children barely able to move has many parents on edge and doctors racing to find answers.
Trial finds GSK Ebola shot is safe and provokes immune response
28 Jan 2015 at 11:23pm
By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - First results from a human trial of an Ebola vaccine from GlaxoSmithKline show it is safe and generates an immune response, scientists said on Wednesday, but larger trials are needed to see if it protects and if a booster is needed. The vaccine is being developed by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and GSK against the Zaire strain of Ebola -- the one circulating in West Africa -- and the first doses for a larger trial arrived in Liberia last week. Johnson & Johnson and Bavarian Nordic have a vaccine in early-stage clinical tests. The early-stage Phase I trial of GSK's vaccine was primarily designed to test safety, but Adrian Hill, who led the work at Oxford's Jenner Institute, said it was "encouraging" that the shot also prompted responses from the immune system.
As smokers spark up e-cigs to quit, traditional aids suffer
28 Jan 2015 at 10:06pm
By Jilian Mincer NEW YORK (Reuters) - When Marty Weinstein decided to quit smoking, he took a friend's advice and tried electronic cigarettes rather than government-approved nicotine replacement products. Weinstein, 58, has gone from a pack a day nine months ago to the equivalent in nicotine of four or five cigarettes. "But I'm now so much healthier." E-cigarettes, metal tubes that heat liquids typically laced with nicotine and deliver vapor when sucked, are transforming the market for smoking cessation products and slowing the $2.4 billion in global sales of long-standing aids such as nicotine patches and gums. E-cigarette makers in the United States are barred from explicitly marketing the products as smoking cessation devices, but have found ways to appeal legally to smokers who are thinking of quitting.