It looks like the blog isn’t the only place with a lull during the summer. This week was oddly slow for news; maybe it’s an August thing? For our top stories we’ve got ISIS with chemical weapons and, from our neighbor to the north, a disease diagnosing fabric. We’ve even got a few stories you may have missed.
Have a great week!
U.S. Investigating ‘Credible’ Reports that ISIS Used Chemical Weapons
The U.S. is investigating what it believes are credible reports that ISIS fighters used mustard agent against Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in Makhmour in Northern Iraq. ISIS posted about the attack on social media, but American officials have stated they have independent information that left them believing that a chemical weapon was used. A German Ministry of Defense spokesman echoed that they cannot confirm or rule out that a chemical weapons attack occurred. The major question for U.S. officials is to determine if it was mustard gas, and if so, how ISIS came to possess it.
CNN—“Blake Narenda, a spokesperson for the State Department’s Arms Control, Verification and Compliance Bureau, said, “We continue to take these and all allegations of chemical weapons use very seriously. As in previous instances of alleged ISIL use of chemicals as weapons, we are aware of the reports and are seeking additional information. We continue to monitor these reports closely, and would further stress that use of any chemicals or biological material as a weapon is completely inconsistent with international standards and norms regarding such capabilities.”
CNN has previously reported claims from monitoring groups that ISIS used chlorine weapons against Kurdish forces.”
Halifax Scientist Develops High-Tech Fabric that Helps Diagnose Diseases
Yes, you read that right. Christa Brosseau, an analytical chemist at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, is working on the development of a chemical sensor which can be built into fabric and can detect diseases like tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS. How is this even possible? First the scientists make Nanoparticles, then aggregate those particles which ends up as a silver Nanoparticle paste. That paste can be placed on a fabric chip and it then ready to use. The fabric chip interacts with bodily fluids like sweat, saliva, or urine, and is then scanned for information.
CTV—“The technology picks up disease biomarkers and the scientists are able to get results in approximately 30 seconds, by using hand held units, the size of a TV remote control, to scan the samples. The size of the units makes them convenient for working in the field.
Eventually, the scientists hope to see the technology deployed in exercise headbands, or cloth inserts in infant diapers, to better monitor the state of health.”
Stories You May Have Missed
- Outbreaks of dengue fever, typhoid, and malaria that have plagued Yemen recently are caused by uncollected garbage on streets across the country. According to Mercy Corps, garbage has contaminated the soil and water and has led to the proliferation of pests—including mosquitoes—which breed and lay their eggs in standing water.
- A homeless shelter in downtown Atlanta, GA, appears to be ground zero for an outbreak of tuberculosis in Fulton County. In consultation with state health officials and the CDC—also housed in Atlanta—the mayor’s office has decided to close the shelter.
- Human bones found along a highway in Schuylkill Haven, PA, are believed to be from “impoverished victims” of the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic. In Schuylkill County, the local newspaper reported that 17,000 residents came down with the flu and several thousand died.
- This week, the CDC released a new video demonstrating how antibiotic-resistant germs are spreading between healthcare facilities—even those that are practicing infection control and antibiotic stewardship. These resistant germs cause over 2 million illnesses and at least 23,000 deaths annually in the United States.
Image Credit: U.S. Army