China Has Withheld Samples of a Dangerous Flu Virus

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© Philippe Lopez/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images Health workers culling chickens in Hong Kong in 2014 following an outbreak of avian flu.

 

For over a year, the Chinese government has withheld lab samples of a rapidly evolving influenza virus from the United States — specimens needed to develop vaccines and treatments, according to federal health officials.

Despite persistent requests from government officials and research institutions, China has not provided samples of the dangerous virus, a type of bird flu called H7N9. In the past, such exchanges have been mostly routine under rules established by the World Health Organization.

Now, as the United States and China spar over trade, some scientists worry that the vital exchange of medical supplies and information could slow, hampering preparedness for the next biological threat. Continue reading

HHS Boosting Nation’s Stockpile of Burn Treatments in Case of Nuclear Attack

(CNSNews.com) – “The detonation of an improvised nuclear device would produce intense heat, resulting in many patients with severe burns,” says a September 30 news release from the Department of Health and Human Services.

The announcement says HHS has contracted for the development of “four novel products to treat severe thermal burns.”

The four treatments — one commercially available right now and three in development — “will be added to the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) or managed by vendors to help protect people from burn injuries resulting from radiological and nuclear threats,” HHS said. Continue reading

Texas-Mexico Border: Level 4 Alert Declared by Homeland Security This Week

The Texas-Mexico border is being overrun by a surge of young illegal immigrants who are traveling alone.  So much so, that Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, earlier this week, declared a “level-four condition of readiness” along the Rio-Grande Valley area of South Texas. Unaccompanied minors have outstripped the resources of federal agencies responsible for managing border security and immigration.

Last weekend, according to a New York Times article by Julia Preston, the Department of Health and Human Services opened a new shelter at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.  The facility will house up to 1.000 minors. Transfers of minors to the facility will be handled by both land and air. Continue reading