Highlights include the CIA and their “Immunization Campaigns,” Ricin Sentencing, Dengue Warning for the World Cup, and Bacteria and E-Cigarettes. Have a safe and wonderful Memorial Day weekend!!
Shakil Afridi, a Pakistani doctor, provided polio vaccinations in the city of Abbottabad as a cover for the CIA-backed effort to obtain DNA samples from children at a compound where Osama bin Laden was later found and killed in 2011. This week, however, the White House assured the deans of prominent U.S. Public Health Schools that the CIA will no longer use vaccination programs as a cover for spy operations. The agency also agreed not to use genetic materials obtained through such programs. This announcement comes at a time when Polio cases are growing and spreading in Pakistan—in 2013 cases in Pakistan accounted for more than 20% of all new polio cases worldwide.
CBC—“The CIA’s use of a polio vaccine program to spy on bin Laden’s compound undercut Obama’s own high-profile speech to the Muslim world in 2009, in which he touted U.S. efforts to slash the growth of polio in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. With Obama administration assurances, Muslim scholars in two international groups issued religious decrees urging parents to vaccinate their children.”
This week, James Dutschke was sentenced to 25 years in prison for developing and possessing Ricin. Dutschke mailed the ricin-laced letters to the President, U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, and a Lee County Mississippi Judge.
FBI—“Following an investigation, Dutschke was arrested on April 27, 2013, and indicted by a federal grand jury on June 3, 2013. A superseding indictment was filed on November 20, 2013. Dutschke pled guilty on January 17, 2014, to one count of developing and possessing ricin and three subsequent counts of mailing threatening letters laced with the substance. According to the plea agreement between Dutschke and the U.S. Attorney’s Office that was filed in U.S. District Court in Oxford, Dutschke had agreed to serve a 300-month prison sentence and had waived his right to appeal.”
This topic has been circulating for weeks, if not months, but with the beginning of the World Cup a few weeks away, this story has been popping up in the news on a daily basis. Of the 12 World Cup host cities, the risk of Dengue fever has prompted a high alert in three—Natal, Fortaleza, and Recife—and an increased risk in four—Rio, Belo Horizonte, Salvador, and Manaus.
Dengue fever, sometimes called “breakbone fever,” is a viral infection transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. It can range from a mild, flu-like illness to a potentially deadly one, which occurs in approximately 5% of patients. There are no vaccines or effective treatments for Dengue Fever. Brazil has had more cases of the disease than anywhere in the world—more than seven million infections between 2000 and 2013.
Chicago Tribune—“Rachel Lowe, from the Catalan Institute of Climate Sciences in Barcelona, who helped develop the warning system, said the possibility of an outbreak during the World Cup large enough to infect visitors and spread back to their home countries will depend on a combination of factors. This include having large numbers of mosquitoes, a susceptible population and a high rate of mosquito-human contact, she said.”
Many, including everyone’s favorite anti-vaxxer Jenny McCarthy, claim that e-cigs are safer for their health than traditional cigarettes. However, it addition to the harm cigarettes inflict on the immune cell, it turns out that either type of cigarette may be just as bad for the body’s natural bacteria.
Time—“Dr. Laura Crotty Alexander, from the University of California at San Diego and the VA San Diego Healthcare System, found that the vapor from e-cigs prompts bacteria to become more resistant to antibiotics. In the presence of e-cig vapor, for example, methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) became more resistant to the natural anti-microbial agents that the body makes. Cigarette smoke also produces the same effect, but Crotty Alexander was surprised that the e-cig vapors did as well, given that they were not supposed to contain the health-harming carcinogens that tobacco smoke does.”
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons