Oct 10, 2001 (CIDRAP News) Genetic mapping of Yersinia pestis, the agent that causes plague, indicates that the organism used numerous genes collected from other bacteria and viruses to change from a relatively innocuous enteric pathogen into a lethal bloodborne pathogen, according to a report in the Oct 4 issue of Nature.
(CIDRAP News) The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has released a 68-page report on its plan for expanding research on "Category A" bioterrorism agents: anthrax, smallpox, plague, tularemia, viral hemorrhagic fevers, and botulism.
A single gene change enabled a recent ancestor of Yersinia pestis to use fleas as its transmission vehicle, launching the transformation of a relatively benign microbe into the agent that causes plague.
(CIDRAP News) Some people find frogs disgusting, but now a study of an illness outbreak in Mississippi suggests that frogs may be literally nauseating. The case-control study implicates contact with amphibians as a potential risk factor for infection with Salmonella enterica serotype Javiana.
(CIDRAP News) – The CIA has good evidence that four nations—Iraq, North Korea, Russia, and France—have secret stores of smallpox virus, according to a Washington Post report based on comments from officials speaking anonymously.
(CIDRAP News) A researcher's report of missing vials of the bacteria that causes plague led to a full-scale alert and investigation at Texas Tech University in Lubbock this week, but the alarm was called off when the researcher revealed he had previously destroyed the vials.
Editor's note: This story was updated Jan 30, 2003, with additional information from the Department of Health and Human Services.
(CIDRAP News) – President Bush yesterday proposed an initiative, called Project Bioshield, to speed the development and production of vaccines and treatments for smallpox, anthrax, botulism, and other diseases that could be spread by terrorists.
(CIDRAP News) – A Senate committee yesterday unanimously approved the Bush administration's "BioShield" plan to promote vaccines and treatments for biodefense but blocked the administration's proposal for compensating healthcare workers harmed by the smallpox vaccine.
(CIDRAP News) A large-scale exercise to test the ability of government to respond to terrorism begins today with simulated signs of a biological attack in Chicago and a mock "dirty bomb" explosion in Seattle.