Without Syndromic Surveillance Systems, some things can get really hard to see

So the slow reaction of Germany and other European countries has been bad, in the case of a known but unusual infection. How bad would it be in case of an unknown novel pathogen? A lot worse, I would guess.  It is a shame that this article, in Nature, blames everything EXCEPT the lack of a syndromic surveillance system:

Microbe Outbreak Panics Europe
Spread of rare strain raises questions over surveillance of infectious diseases.

By Marian Turner of Nature magazine

Munich

Confronted with what has become one of the world’s most severe outbreaks of Escherichia coli, physicians and scientists in Germany say that the country’s fractured health-management system has failed to handle the crisis properly. They are calling for major reforms so that outbreaks are reported sooner and more modern technology is used to help identify their source, in order to bring health emergencies under control more quickly.

..

Hospitals recorded the first cases on 1 May, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the German federal agency for disease surveillance in Berlin. Yet it was not until 22 May that the first report of an unusual number of EHEC infections in Germany arrived at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control in Stockholm. This was unusually long–it typically takes 14 days to detect an outbreak, says Angelika Fruth from the RKI.

Several factors conspired to cause the delay. EHEC infections are not common in adults–so physicians might have initially diagnosed a Salmonella or viral infection. The microbe also behaves differently to typical EHEC strains when cultured for diagnosis, which hampered scientists trying to identify it. And under the German health system, local authorities only report such infections weekly to state governments–which then have another week to tell the RKI. It was not until 25 May that the rare E. coli strain O104:H4 was named as the culprit.

Continue reading “Without Syndromic Surveillance Systems, some things can get really hard to see”

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Without Syndromic Surveillance Systems, some things can get really hard to see

Doubts about GMO safety (Updated 1x)

A study that shows GMO maize isn’t safe; how will this play out in the media and how the FDA will address this?

Three Approved GMO’s Linked to Organ Damage

Friday 08 January 2010

In what is being described as the first ever and most comprehensive study of the effects of genetically modified foods on mammalian health, researchers have linked organ damage with consumption of Monsanto’s GM maize.

The Committee of Research and Information on Genetic Engineering (CRIIGEN) and Universities of Caen and Rouen studied Monsanto’s 90-day feeding trials data of insecticide-producing Mon 810, Mon 863 and Roundup® herbicide absorbing NK 603 varieties of GM maize.

The data “clearly underlines adverse impacts on kidneys and liver, the dietary detoxifying organs, as well as different levels of damages to heart, adrenal glands, spleen and haematopoietic system,” reported Gilles-Eric Séralini, a molecular biologist at the University of Caen.

“Our study contradicts Monsanto conclusions because Monsanto systematically neglects significant health effects in mammals that are different in males and females eating GMO’s, or not proportional to the dose. This is a very serious mistake, dramatic for public health. This is the major conclusion revealed by our work, the only careful reanalysis of Monsanto crude statistical data.”

Related Stories:

http://e360.yale.edu/content/feature.msp?id=2228

http://gefreebc.wordpress.com/2010/01/05/gm-seeds-threaten-world-food-supply/

http://supermarketnews.com/viewpoints/stakeholders-gmo-debate-prepare-1207/index.html

Doubts about GMO safety (Updated 1x)

How much sugar…

Here’s a site if you want to stay healthy:

Hat Tip: Infoaesthetics

Sugar Stacks: How Much Sugar is in your Food?

Sugar Stacks [sugarstacks.com] is a simple website focused on representing the relative sugar contents of popular food products by stacking the relevant amount of sugar cubes next to them. “The whole point of this site is to dramatically illustrate how much sugar you are consuming when you put that junk into your mouth.”

How much sugar…

Without chemistry, Life itself would be impossible…(Part II)

I really hated that old commercial, which was being widely played in the early to mid 80’s, so this post is a follow-up to that irritating, then-ubiquitous ad.  SNL did a great spoof of this; its probably on youtube now.  Well the chickens have come home to roost.  But where are the folks at that PR firm that thought up that original ad, taking care of their autistic grandchildren? Probably not–they are hiring that out to their live-in nannies, which they can surely afford:

New Study: Autism Linked to Environment

Research links soaring incidence of the mysterious neurological disorder to fetal and infant exposure to pesticides, viruses, household chemicals
By Marla Cone

California’s sevenfold increase in autism cannot be explained by changes in doctors’ diagnoses and most likely is due to environmental exposures, University of California scientists reported Thursday. The scientists who authored the new study advocate a nationwide shift in autism research to focus on potential factors in the environment that babies and fetuses are exposed to, including pesticides, viruses and chemicals in household products.
“It’s time to start looking for the environmental culprits responsible for the remarkable increase in the rate of autism in California,” said Irva Hertz-Picciotto, an epidemiology professor at University of California, Davis who led the study.

Further thoughts on developments such as this, obviously the first of many:

Continue reading “Without chemistry, Life itself would be impossible…(Part II)”

Without chemistry, Life itself would be impossible…(Part II)

Systemic Risk (executive privilege v scientists edition)

The White House is an amazing source of scientific thought; not only can the president and his cronies interfere with the science about Global Warming, but the process that the EPA uses to determine whether or not a chemical is toxic or poses a risk of causing cancer is also part of the White House’s purview.

It’s an amazing case of regulatory capture, hopefully temporary:

White House Undermines EPA on Cancer Risks, GAO Says

By H. Josef Hebert

The Associated Press

Monday 28 April 2008

Washington – The Bush administration is undermining the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to determine health dangers of toxic chemicals by letting nonscientists have a bigger – often secret – role, congressional investigators say in a report obtained by The Associated Press.

Continue reading “Systemic Risk (executive privilege v scientists edition)”

Systemic Risk (executive privilege v scientists edition)

The tape that recalled 10,000 cows

Well, as I’d noted earlier, the tape made in Chino, CA at a meat packing plant had some public health implications, implications that were not lost on the USDA, who quickly and properly issued a meat recall for 143 million pounds of beef, the largest recall in history. That’s about 2 patties for every man, women and child in the USA:

Continue reading “The tape that recalled 10,000 cows”

The tape that recalled 10,000 cows

Mad Cow Disease–Web 2.0 to the rescue

A story about someone secretly taking video inside a slaughterhouse, documenting the mistreatment of cattle. Those who shot the video, probably with a very small camera, seem to have been acting mainly from the perspective of reducing cruelty to animals (certainly a good thing to do) but there is also a public health perspective to this as well:

USDA extends meat ban at Calif slaughterhouse

Westland Meat Co. voluntarily suspended operations last week after the release of undercover video taken by the Humane Society of the United States was released. The video showed, among other things, ramming of cattle with forklifts, and workers kicking, shocking and otherwise abusing “downed” cows – considered too sick or injured to walk – to force them into the federally inspected slaughterhouse.

“Downed Cows” or “downers” are known to be possible carriers of BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy aka Mad Cow Disease) and the few documented case of BSE are perhaps the tip of the iceberg. But remember that when one beef producer wanted to test all of their cows for BSE, the Bush administration sued to prevent them from doing that, on the grounds that if one producer did that they would “disparage” the quality of the rest of the beef. So much for market forces and freedom of the press!

This is just another example, as noted here and here, of the advantages that accrue to those NFP players who are seeking to further the public good under Web 2.0. (Note that those NFP’s that are seeking to further special or corporate interests don’t do so well under Web 2.0, as noted here*.) This is, of course, in addition to the other advantages the NFP sector had already been accruing during the 1990’s which I’ve written about here.

The link to the video and more below the fold:

Continue reading “Mad Cow Disease–Web 2.0 to the rescue”

Mad Cow Disease–Web 2.0 to the rescue