Sunday, July 31, 2016

Russian Bio Warfare Force Heads to Arctic as 'Zombie Anthrax' Hospitalizes 40

From Sputnik News:

 An anthrax outbreak has overtaken the remote Yamalo-Nenets district of western Siberia killing 1,500 reindeer since Sunday and forcing the hospitalization of 40 people in the first epidemic of the deadly pathogen since 1941 causing international health experts worry.

The infection appears to have spread among the local deer population as the virus was unleashed when the unseasonably hot summer heat thawed its host.

Spokesman for the Governor of Yamalo-Nenets, Dmitry Kobylkin cautioned the public that there is still some small possibility that the virulent pathogen is not anthrax saying, "As of now, there is no single diagnosis of the dangerous infection."

The cause of the anthrax outbreak that forced 63 local residents to be relocated is believed by authorities to have been sourced to a frozen carcass of a reindeer that died decades ago but that thawed in an unseasonably warm Siberian summer causing the Bacillus Anthracis bacteria to be released.

Temperatures in the Yamal tundra above the Arctic Circle have soared to highs of 95 degrees (35 degrees Celsius) compared to an average of 77 degrees (25 degrees Celsius) causing the melting of permafrost and long deceased animals.

The deadly pathogen continues to spread among the Nenet community’s reindeer causing them to die in droves as people stopped vaccinating reindeer against anthrax about a decade ago, after the region had gone half a century without any outbreaks.

It is believed to be too late for the local deer population because anthrax kills the animals within three days of infecting them, according to biology professor Vladimir Bogdanov of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Local authorities are now puzzled as to the best way to dispose of the dead, anthrax infected reindeer. The usual method of burning the carcass possesses substantial risks this season with much of Siberia already engulfed in wildfires.

Anthrax carries a mortality rate of 25% to 80% depending on the virulence of the particular strain.

Russian officials say that due to the remote location of the outbreak and its tendency to kill its host before they can spread the infection to others that the outbreak has been contained.


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Nobody Can Explain How a Mystery Case of Zika Spread in Utah

From Lucid Awakenings:

Health authorities in the US are baffled by a patient in Utah who appears to have contracted Zika virus through what could be a new channel of infection.

Zika virus is usually spread through mosquito bites (from Aedes aegypti mosquitoes) or through sexual transmission, but in this case neither of those appear to have been involved.

"This case is unusual, The individual does not have any of the known risk factors we've seen thus far with Zika virus," health officer Gary Edwards from the Salt Lake County Health Department told reporters during a news conference.

But although an incident of Zika spreading without mosquitoes or sex is alarming, researchers still don't fully understand what's going on just yet, so there's no need to panic.

The patient, whom Utah health officials say is the eighth Utah resident to be diagnosed with Zika, has since recovered from the virus.

The individual had not travelled to any areas where Zika is common, nor had sex with anybody who was infected (or who had travelled to a Zika area). Further, there is no evidence of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in Utah, so it's unlikely the patient was infected locally through an insect bite.

So how did this patient get Zika? Well, the most likely explanation looks to be the person's close contact with somebody infected by the virus – acting as a caregiver to an elderly Utah man who had contracted Zika through travel. The elderly man died in June – although it's not yet clear if Zika contributed to his death.

But the fact remains that nobody understands how the caregiver might have contracted Zika from the elderly patient, since the two did not share sexual contact, which is the only way scientists thought the infection could be spread directly from one person to another in the absence of mosquito-borne transmission.

"We don't have any evidence that suggests Zika can be passed from one person to another by sneezing or coughing or kissing or sharing utensils," Thomas R. Frieden, the director of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told media.

Nor by routine touching or hugging, added CDC incident manager Satish Pillai. The CDC is working with Utah health officials to investigate the case.

Zika has previously been detected in blood, semen, vaginal fluid, saliva, and urine, but while experts thought it required sexual contact for the infection to spread, the Utah case raises the possibility that Zika in rare circumstances might be able to transmit in these fluids outside of sex.

"This raises some interesting questions," said infectious disease specialist William Schaffner from Tennessee. "Was there a needle stick or injury? Or if not, possible contact with other bodily fluid like urine or saliva?"

Adding further to the strange nature of the incident is the unusually high levels of the virus that were in the deceased elderly patient. According to the CDC, his blood showed Zika levels more than 100,000 times higher than seen in other samples of infected people, although it's not yet known what impact this might have had on his transmissibility.

"However, there's a lot we don't know about Zika virus, and we are still doing a lot of investigation into whether Zika can be spread from person to person through contact with a sick person," said Pillai.


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Brain Eating Vaccines The Govt. Doesn't Want You To Know About


The Disturbing Dual-Use Of Gene Editing

From Activist Post:

Dual-use may be best understood by considering the functions of a knife. Used against an enemy, a knife can be deadly. In the hands of a skilled surgeon, a knife may be life-saving, removing a gangrenous appendage or excising a cancerous mass.

Wikipedia defines dual-use this way: “In politics and diplomacy, dual-use is technology that can be used for both peaceful and military aims. More generally speaking, dual-use can also refer to any technology which can satisfy more than one goal at any given time.”

Behind the debate over the Iran nuclear deal lurked the dual-use issue. On the one hand, there were those claiming that Iran had every right to develop nuclear power in pursuit of peaceful aims. In the other camp were those who maintained that possession of nuclear technology was a path towards developing nuclear weapons, and in the hands of a regime hostile to America’s purported friend and ally, Israel, was too dangerous to be allowed to manifest.

Dual-use has implications reaching beyond nuclear science. Those watching the development of what is termed “biodefense” are uncomfortably aware that the production of countermeasures for biological weapons also necessitates the development and possession of the weapon itself. Increasingly, accusations are being levied that countermeasure research may be a “cover” for weapons development.

In the biological sciences, the debate concerning dual-use technology just ramped up a notch.

Recently, the office of the US Director of National Intelligence issued a report declaring that genome editing constituted a “weapon of mass destruction.” Stated the report: “Given the broad distribution, low cost, and accelerated pace of development of this dual-use technology, its deliberate or unintentional misuse might lead to far-reaching economic and national security implications.”

Although the report did not cite Crispr-Cas9 by name, the reference to this gene editing tool was clear. The Crispr-Cas9 was developed in 2012 by Jennifer Doudna, a Berkeley professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and is considered revolutionary in its potential impact on life sciences. Cheap (one can acquire the components for $60 online) and easy to use, the Crisp-Cas9 allows scientists to edit genes in order to correct genetic illnesses.

Applied to the human germline, however, some darker concerns emerge. “Germline editing” would impact those cells which would transmit the alterations to future generations. And it is this potential that has Director of National Intelligence James Clapper worried.

For not only can the Crispr-Cas9 replace cells which are causing illness; it can also be used in editing heritable cells in embryos which will pass on the changes. It is now possible for scientists (and whomever else has the 60 bucks) to create a new “line” of human beings. And here potentially lies the dual-use conundrum of Crispr-Cas9.

The office of the DNI declined to comment further on the inclusion of germline editing as a potential “weapon of mass destruction.” However, the DNI report contains some language that deserves further scrutiny and elucidates why this technology has hit the intelligence community’s radar.

According to the DNI report,

Research in genome editing conducted by countries with different regulatory or ethical standards than those of Western countries probably increases the risk of the creation of potentially harmful biological agents or products.

The regulatory standards of Western countries, however, do not necessarily prohibit this kind of research.

While Great Britain is often cited as having laws which prohibit germline editing, the British government permits, at its discretion, this research. Recently, TIME Magazine reported that Great Britain has given the green light to a germline editing research project. According to TIME, “The U.K.’s Human Fertilization and Embryo Authority (HFEA) decided to approve a researcher’s request to use Crispr to permanently change DNA in a human embryo.”

The project, which is launched by the Francis Crick Institute, is specifically a research-only project, we are told. “I promise you she has no intention of the embryos ever being put back into a woman for development,” Robin Lovell-Badge, group leader at the Crick Institute, told TIME.”

Germline editing got a big dose of publicity last year, when it was reported that researchers in China had accomplished germ-line editing on embryos, also without implanting the embryos. As a result, an international summit was called last December, for the purposes of examining the ethics of this technology. The summit, which took place in Washington, DC, issued a statement which fell short of condemning this research. Instead, the summit asserted that the technical and ethical issues should be settled before anyone attempts to edit the human germline.


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Three Refugees Diagnosed With Active TB in Vermont Over Past Seven Months

From Breitbart:

A spokesperson for the Vermont Department of Health confirms to Breitbart News that “three refugees [have been] diagnosed with TB in Vermont over the past seven months.”
One case was diagnosed in December 2015, and the other two cases were diagnosed in 2016.

No one other than a refugee has been diagnosed with active TB in Vermont during the first six months of 2016, the spokesperson adds.

The stunning admission comes after Breitbart News reported that the number of active TB cases in Vermont tripled from two in 2014 to seven in 2015.

“In 2015 Active TB Cases were seven. This included one refugee, three foreign born and three U.S. born. In 2016 (YTD) there were two Active TB cases in refugees,” Charon Goldwyn, Chief of Operations, Records Officer for the Vermont Department of Health tells Breitbart News.

But Goldwyn denies that the Green Mountain State is experiencing a TB outbreak.

“In a subsequent e-mail you asked if Vermont is currently experiencing a TB outbreak and the answer is no,” Goldwyn added.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that “[d]efinitions for TB outbreaks are relative to the local context,” and that “a TB outbreak is generally defined as a situation where there are:”

More TB cases than expected within a geographic area or population during a particular time period, 
Evidence of recent transmission of M. tuberculosis among those cases
Although the time period is not well defined, recent transmission generally refers to a situation where TB transmission occurred within the previous 2-year period.

During the four years beginning in 2012 and ending in 2015, 1,301 refugees have been resettled in Vermont. One Vermont publication reports that 6,300 refugees were resettled in the state in the twenty five years between 1989 and 2014, about one percent of the state’s population of 632,000.

Assuming an estimated refugee population of about 6,300, the annualized rate of TB among resettled refugees in Vermont over the past seven months is approximately 85 per 100,000, high even for a third-world country. This contrasts dramatically with the rate of TB in all of Vermont in 2014, which was approximately 0.3 per 100,000 (two cases out of a population of 626,562 in 2014).

The current rate of active TB among resettled refugees in Vermont, therefore, is approximately 250 times greater than it is among the general population of the state, based on those assumptions.


Sunday, July 3, 2016

Florida confirms 10 new Zika cases amid concern over US response

Florida health officials confirmed 10 new Zika infections on Friday, the largest number of infections found on a single day and a sign of the United States’ faltering response to a looming crisis.

There are now nearly 1,000 people infected with the virus in Washington DC and the 50 states, 246 of them in Florida, and 2,026 infections in American territories, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Those totals include 537 pregnant women, 43 of whom live in Florida. The state has also seen its first case of an infant born with microcephaly, the fifth case of the birth defect related to the virus in the US.

The US has not recorded any cases of transmission by mosquito in the 50 states, though the insects are spreading the virus in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and American Samoa. People on the mainland have instead become infected while traveling abroad, through sexual transmission and in one case in a laboratory.

Even without mosquitoes, the virus has steadily drifted north through the spring and summer. All but five states – Alaska, Idaho, Wyoming and North and South Dakota – has reported an infection. It has also started to appear in northern cities: Cincinnati reported its first case this week, New York City health officials reported 233 cases, mostly in people who had travelled to the Dominican Republic, and Washington state reached double digits.

“This is not the time to play politics,” Barack Obama said on Friday in a speech addressing the virus, referring to the Senate’s inability to pass funding to combat Zika.

“When there are emergencies, when there are public health emergencies, when we know that we have the chance to prevent serious tragedies in the lives of families and protect the health and safety of our populations, and particularly our children, then those politics need to be set aside.”

The president and the CDC have requested $1.9bn to prevent, study and combat the virus, but have been blocked by the Republican-controlled Congress.

“We can issue precautions for travel to areas that have Zika,” Obama said. “We can give people guidelines in terms of how to deal with it if they get infected. But this is actually something that we could reduce the risks if Congress does the right thing and allocates the dollars.”

Obama urged calm in his warning to Congress and the public, saying: “The good news is that for the most part, Zika is not a type of disease like Ebola, where it’s life-threatening.”

The CDC has confirmed that the virus causes birth defects such as abnormally small heads and brain damage, but much about it remains unknown. Health officials have warned pregnant women should not to travel to Puerto Rico or other regions where mosquito transmission is high, and that men who have travelled to such areas should use condoms or abstain from sex for six months.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Florida Declares State of Emergency Over 'Toxic Soup' Algae

From SOTT:

Renowned for its turquoise-colored waters, Florida declared a state of emergency as a blue-green algae outbreak caused miles of waterways and beaches to be swamped in a toxic soup that caused skin rashes and drew concern for the fate of marine animals.

 US Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) called on President Barack Obama to declare a state of emergency to help businesses harmed by the algae bloom in Florida's southern rivers and beaches.

"I hope the president will have an emergency declaration, because that will open up the full portfolio of aid that the federal government can provide local businesses and communities that are being impacted by this," Rubio said, the Associated Press reported.

 Rubio's announcement comes after Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in St. Lucie and Martin counties over the algae problem and as local politicians and residents blame the federal government. Scott added two more counties, Lee and Palm Beach, to the emergency declaration on Thursday.

"I would describe them as guacamole-thick. And it stinks," Gabriella Ferraro, spokeswoman for Martin County said.

 Algae samples from the lake taken earlier this month found levels of toxins 20 times higher than a safety threshold set by the World Health Organization.

 "The smell is so bad it will make you gag," said Martin County resident Mary Radabaugh at an emergency meeting, reported the Guardian. "We have red eyes and scratchy throats. We can smell it in our office. It's terrible."

Other residents complained of skin rashes from the bloom. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is telling people to steer clear of discolored water and not to use it to water their lawns. Other potential health concerns include vomiting and respiratory problems.

 There are also fears for the local marine life, such as manatees, which graze on seagrasses in the estuary area, and sea turtles that could be killed off by the toxins. The flat wetlands of south Florida have been extensively re-engineered with canals and man-made lakes, radically altering the natural flow of fresh water.