Key bills passed in Texas Legislature

first_img SB 11 — (Taylor): School safety plan developed in the wake of the 2018 Santa Fe High School shooting. Requires districts to develop safety plans for each campus, implements facility hardening standards and requires safety committees for individual campuses. The Texas School Safety Center in San Marcos will evaluate plans and offer logistical support to districts. SB 10 (Nelson), which creates the Texas Mental Health Consortium, was amended onto this bill in the House. That measure allows mental health professionals at state medical schools to consult with pediatricians and other providers on mental health issues affecting children. Also includes suicide awareness and prevention programs for students and training for teachers from SB 1390 (Menéndez).SB 12 — (Huffman): Provides long-term fiscal stability for the state teachers’ retirement system through gradual increases in contributions from active employees, school districts and the state over the next six years. Also provides for a 13th bonus annuity check up to $2,000 for beneficiaries this fall.HB 2048 — (Huffman): Repeals the state drivers responsibility program, a system that adds additional penalties to drivers who exceed a certain number of traffic violations in a year.SB 1264 — (Hancock): Consumer protections against surprise medical billing for state-regulated health insurance plans. Effectively prevents the practice in cases where a person has no say in who is treating them, such as in an emergency room. Patients would still be responsible for deductibles, co-pays and other expected costs at in-network facilities, but no more. By Richard LeeSpecial to The NewsOther key bills passed by both chambers this session (Senate author/sponsor in parentheses): HB 1 — (Nelson): The state budget. The final version appropriates $164.2 billion in state money to pay for services through 2021, including the tax and education reforms passed in Senate Bill 2 and House Bill 3. Other highlights include: funding to increase capacity at state driver license offices, funding to dispose of the backlog on sexual assault kit testing, $7.8 billion in mental health program spending across 23 state agencies, and $347 million for women’s health programs.SB 500 — (Nelson): The supplemental budget, truing up accounts between what was appropriated in 2017 and actual costs. Includes $3.5 billion in rainy day funds to assist with Hurricane Harvey relief and recovery as well as $800 million to offset lost property values for school districts in the disaster area.SBs 6, 7, & 8 — (Kolkhorst/Creighton/Perry): Comprehensive Harvey relief and recovery package. Leverages expertise at state institutions to improve disaster response and train local officials (SB 6). Creates a funding structure to pay for flood mitigation and prevention projects, pull down federal matching funds, and cover other costs associated with hurricane relief. (SB 7). Creates a statewide flood planning system that coordinates regional plans for the first time (SB 8). SB 21 — (Huffman): Raises the age required to purchase tobacco or other nicotine products like vaporizes from 18 to 21HB 1631 — (Hall): Bans the use of red light cameras in TexasHB 3906 — (Taylor): State STAAR accountability test reforms that move the test to a shorter, online version over the use five years, intended to reduce test-taking time, stress and instructional time lost to testing.Per Texas Legislature Online, 7324 bills were filed in the House and Senate, and 1419 passed both chambers. The governor has up to 20 days to veto any bills of which he disapproves. Otherwise, any unsigned bills can become law absent his signature. See also: Historic legislation: School finance, property tax efforts passlast_img read more

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BH Bikes, FSA Launch New Bottom Bracket Standard – BB386 Evo

first_imgYes, it’s a new standard, but it’s backward compatible, and no this isn’t an April Fool’s trick.Set to get some officialness at Sea Otter in a couple weeks, BH Bikes and FSA have partnered to develop an open-source standard for frames that they say better incorporates and takes advantage of the benefits a 30mm spindle can offer.The design will be open and available to any manufacturer, and any current BB30 or PFBB30 crankset should work on these frames.Why? Well, lighter, stronger frames for one. We’ve got an interview with them in the works to get more details, but for now you can read the words straight from BH’s mouth after the break and marvel at how four paragraphs of words only leaves you wanting more…UPDATED 3PM EST: Interview with Chris Cocalis of BH/Pivot Bikes added after the break to make sense of it all…We just talked to Chris Cocalis, founder of Pivot and the U.S. guy behind BH Bikes, to get the scoop. There are few things that he’s leaving unsaid until the official press launch at Sea Otter, which will include hands on of their new superlight road bike with the BB386EVO system, and we’ll be there. For now, some quotes:It’s based on a 86.5mm wide BB shell for a PFBB30 system, same as what a Shimano PFBB (Press Fit BB) would be, but with a much bigger crank spindle diameter (24mm vs 30mm).“The beauty of this is it fits all existing BB standards, including Shimano and Campy, and it’ll fit them better than what current BB30 adapters do to retrofit such systems.We’ll be launching new FSA cranksets with a 30mm spindle that’s different from the BB30 standard.The basis of the whole thing is that we can drop weight and really drive up the stiffness of the system. The bike we’re launching at Sea Otter really integrates some amazing new features.It does NOT have mountain bike applications because it needs a 46mm BB hole (same as PF30 but wider, x 86.5), so it wouldn’t have clearance for the small chainring. And because of the wide stance of this new BB shell standard, there’s not room for any pivots on full suspension bikes. As for 2×10, it could theoretically work, but the bike would have to built such that it could never run a triple chainring, which at this point in time doesn’t really make sense.Crankset stiffness will be about the same, but frame stiffness goes way up.”Some of the final details of the system are still being finalized, but it should be ready to go live for other manufacturers to use and you to pine after in mid-April. Now for that press release…PRESS RELEASE:BB386EVO is wider, stiffer and interfaces with all current BB systems.BH Bikes is known for developing cutting-edge products including the introduction of the first ever extended seat tube design, pioneering the development of sub-900 gram road frames and being one of the first to introduce aerodynamic profiles into road racing frames with its line of Global Concept frames that include the current G5, RC1 and Cristal designs.Recognizing another opportunity to deliver higher levels of performance, BH Bikes approached Full Speed Ahead with the idea of partnering to design a system that provides the platform required to develop substantially lighter and stiffer frames while evolving the advances already made in crank and bottom bracket designs to a whole new level.The BB386EVO is the next evolution in frame and component design. Proposed by BH Bikes and developed in close partnership with Full Speed Ahead, the new BB386EVO system continues the evolution of the 30mm spindle standard with an eye towards expanded integration with frame manufacturers.With BH’s extensive knowledge of frame design and manufacturing, the new BB386EVO system integrates the benefits of oversized 30mm spindle designs into a new standard bottom bracket shell, which greatly enhances the performance characteristics. This BB386EVO design is an open source solution, available to all in the industry, to allow real performance gains by better integration of frame and component.Source: BH Bikes.last_img read more

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Odds & Ends: Alice by Heart Musical to Play Vassar Before NYC & More

first_imgDuncan Sheik(Photo: Emilio Madrid-Kuser) Show Closed This production ended its run on April 7, 2019 Related Shows Alice by Heart View Comments Here’s a quick roundup of stories you may have missed today. Alice by Heart Musical to Play Vassar Before NYC PremiereThe highly anticipated new musical Alice by Heart, by Spring Awakening creators Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater and Waitress book writer Jessie Nelson, will arrive at Vassar College for a series of workshop presentations this summer, from July 5-7. The workshop engagement, part of Vassar & New York Stage and Film’s 24th Powerhouse season, will precede the tuner’s previously announced off-Broadway premiere with MCC Theater from January 30 through March 10, 2019. Sara Bareilles has been speculated to star. The talent-packed Powerhouse season will also include a new mounting of the musical The Waves, adapted from the novel by Virginia Woolf. Four-time Tony nominee Raúl Esparza will serve as creative consultant on the musical (running from July 19-29) featuring a book and direction by Lisa Peterson, music and lyrics by David Bucknam, with additional music by Adam Gwon. Another highlight of the Powerhouse season will be The Connector (July 13-15), a new musical from Parade collaborators Jason Robert Brown (music) and Daisy Prince (director), featuring a book by Jonathan Marc Sherman. For a full look at the 24th Powerhouse season, click here. Production Footage Is Here for the New Musical GirlfriendThe D.C. premiere of the coming-of-age musical Girlfriend is underway, and we’re excited to offer a first look at the tuner inspired by Matthew Sweet’s 1991 alternative-rock album of the same name. Girlfriend follows college-bound jock Mike (played by Lukas James Miller) and self-assured but aimless Will (Jimmy Mavrikes) who find themselves drawn to each other. Matthew Gardiner directs the tuner featuring a book by Todd Almond and the music of Sweet. Get a sample of the show with the production footage below. Girlfriend runs at Arlington, Virginia’s Signature Theatre through June 10. Michael Urie, Cady Huffman & More to Appear in New Series After ForeverA talented group of theater stars are set to take on roles in After Forever, a new short-form Internet series that tells the story of Brian and Jason, a 50-ish New York City gay couple, who have it all until they don’t. The eight-episode first season follows the pair and their friends through a journey of love, loss and moving on. After Forever was co-created by Emmy nominees Michael Slade and Kevin Spirtas. The cast features Spirtas as Brian and Mitchell Anderson as Jason, with additional stars including Tony winner Cady Huffman (Chicago), Michael Urie (Torch Song), Tony nominee Anita Gillette (Brighton Beach Memoirs), David Dean Bottrell (Boston Legal), Jim Newman (Curtains), Finn Douglas (House of Cards), Robert Emmet Lunney (Born Yesterday) and Colleen Zenk (As the World Turns). After Forever will premiere on April 24 on Amazon.last_img read more

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Stone Hill Inn is Yankee Magazine’s ‘Best’ for romantic getaway

first_imgVermont Business Magazine Yankee Magazine’s “Best of New England” travel guide has named Stone Hill Inn the 2017 Editors’ Choice for Romantic Getaway, noting, “Luxury is the hallmark of this couples-only retreat nestled on nearly 10 acres in the heart of Stowe.” Kristie Roling, who took ownership of the B&B with her husband, Todd, last December, said, “We fell in love with the romanticism of the gardens, the rooms and the seclusion, and love to share it with other couples, who often come to celebrate a special milestone in their lives.””Nearly half our guests come to celebrate an event–a proposal, an engagement, a wedding, an elopement, a honeymoon, an anniversary or a birthday,” agreed Todd Roling, who added, “But Stone Hill Inn is the perfect spot for couples to just spend time together recharging and reconnecting in a romantic escape from their hectic daily lives.”To encourage more couples to do this, the inn has created a special add-on room package(link is external) for stays of at least two nights. It includes:$120 certificate toward dinner for two at chef-owned, from-farm-to-table Michael’s on the Hill;A dozen long-stemmed roses;Chocolate (local) truffles;Candle-lit, silk-rose-petal turndown service; andLate checkout (additional 90 minutes).For details on rooms: http://www.stonehillinn.com/stowe-bed-and-breakfast.html(link is external)To enter a sweepstakes to win a two-night stay valued at up to $1,200: http://www.stonehillinn.com/romantic-getaway-giveaway(link is external) (enter by June 15, 2017).About Stone Hill InnStone Hill Inn(link is external) features nine guest rooms with king beds, fireplaces and Jacuzzis for two. Couples enjoy three-course breakfasts and mimosas, seated at private tables in the sunlit dining room, and can retreat to their rooms for massages. The inn is: a year-round destination for such outdoor activities as ballooning, kayaking, ziplining and hiking; in the No. 1 spot in the country for fall foliage(link is external) (per TripAdvisor readers); and a short drive to winter skiing and snowboarding at Mt. Mansfield. A member of TripAdvisor’s Hall of Fame and a recipient of its Certificate of Excellence for six consecutive years, the inn accommodates guests with AIP(link is external), paleo, vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian and gluten-free dietary needs.STOWE, Vt.–(BUSINESS WIRE(link is external))–Stone Hill Inn(link is external)last_img read more

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Boresow family recalls vibrant times in old Nall farmhouse ahead of demolition

first_imgThe Thomas Nall house on 68th Street will be replaced with a structure that recreates must of the 1890’s original’s facade.Don and Harriet Boresow needed space.With nine kids under the age of 12 and a tenth on the way, they’d outgrown their home.“I was looking for a farm — a place with acreage,” Don recalls. “I was looking through the real estate ads in the paper and they had this place listed as a farm house. But it was here in Prairie Village.”Don and Harriet Boresow outside the home last week.Don was already familiar with the property at 4809 W. 68th Street, having delivered mail there as part of his route as a carrier with the U.S. Postal Service. And while the old house hadn’t been what he’d had in mind initially, he and Harriet had a vision for what it could become.So in 1970, they paid $18,000 to purchase the property from a descendent of Thomas Nall, who built the house back 1890. Don and Harriet would add four more kids to the mix after moving in — a brood of 14 in total — and put on a sizable addition to accommodate the whole crew around 1975.Now, as the property is set to enter a new phase, the Boresow kids and parents are remembering the vibrant backdrop it provided to the family’s formative years.The Boresows moved out of the property in 1996, and few months ago, the home’s owners approached Molly and Scott Koenigsdorf, the proprietors of Koenig Building + Restoration, about a possible sale of the property. Molly had grown up on 68th Street and she and Scott currently live just across the street from the property, so they were very familiar with its history. The house had fallen into disrepair, and the current owners were ready to move out.“We jumped on the opportunity because we didn’t want it falling into the wrong hands,” Molly said. “I’ve always known about the history of the house, and we all knew the Boresow kids growing up.”After vetting the property, Koenig determined that the structure wasn’t salvageable. But they didn’t want to replace it with just any house. Instead, they’ve engaged their architect to come up with a design the recreates the original farmhouse structure while adding more usable modern space.“We’re nervous-excited, because we know how important it is to get this project right. Details are key,” Molly said in a post she put on the company’s social media accounts. “We guarantee that the rebuilt structure will appear as if the original 1890’s home was artfully cared for, and added on to with the modern family in mind.”Koenig has set up a social media accounts just to track the history of the property and the progress of the project.Last week, several of the Boresow kids and their parents had a chance to tour the property before any of the demolition work was to begin.Jerry Boresow, who owns Boresow’s Lawn Enforcement, recounted how the family had combined spaces in the downstairs to create a dining room that was big enough to hold the whole family.“We would kind of eat in shifts,” Jerry said.During the holidays, as family came to visit and the children would invite their girlfriends or boyfriends to dinner, the crowd could swell to 45 people, Don said. But that press of activity wasn’t limited to the holiday season. As might be expected, there was a constant swirl of activity, with games of wiffle ball, basketball and volleyball populated by the kids and their friends.“There were always people coming in and out, just this great mix of friends and siblings,” said Amy Boresow Prendiville.A few of the Boresow kids outside the family’s old home on 68th Street last week.last_img read more

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Amendments to the Rules of Criminal Procedure

first_imgAmendments to the Rules of Criminal Procedure December 15, 2013 Notices The Florida Innocence Commission (Commission) has recommended amending Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.220(b), Prosecutor’s Discovery Obligation, to provide for more detailed disclosure in the case of informant witnesses. See Florida Innocence Commission Final Report to the Supreme Court of Florida, June 25, 2012 ( http://www.flcourts.org/gen_public/finalreport2012.rtf ), at 49-92, 166-67, and Appendix G ( http://www.flcourts.org/gen_public/FinalReportAppendicesCombined.pdf ). Following a referral by the Florida Supreme Court (Court), the Court’s Criminal Court Steering Committee submitted a report recommending that the Court not amend rule 3.220, as recommended by the Commission. The Court, on its own motion, is considering amending rule 3.220 based upon the recommendations of the Commission. The proposed amendments pertain to the prosecutor’s duty to disclose certain information concerning informant witnesses. The Court is concerned about the Commission’s findings regarding the incidence of wrongful convictions involving “jailhouse informants.” The proposed amendments under consideration are aimed at reducing the risks associated with “jailhouse informant” testimony.The Court invites all interested persons to comment on the amendments under consideration, which are reproduced in full below, as well as online at http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/proposed.shtm l. All comments must be filed with the Court on or before January 14, 2014. If filed by an attorney in good standing with The Florida Bar, the comment must be electronically filed via the Portal in accordance with In re: Electronic Filing in the Supreme Court of Florida via the Florida Courts E-Filing Portal, Fla. Admin. Order No. AOSC13-7 (Feb 18, 2013). If filed by a non-lawyer or a lawyer not licensed to practice in Florida, the comment must be electronically filed via e-mail in accordance with In re Mandatory Submission of Electronic Copies of Documents, Fla. Admin. Order No. AOSC04-84 (Sept. 13, 2004). Electronically filed documents must be submitted in Microsoft Word 97 or higher. Any person unable to submit a comment electronically must mail or hand-deliver the originally signed comment to the Florida Supreme Court, Office of the Clerk, 500 South Duval Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1927; no additional copies are required or will be accepted. IN THE SUPREME COURT OF FLORIDA Amendments to the Rules of Criminal Procedure IN RE: AMENDMENTS TO FLORIDA RULE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE 3.220, CASE NO. SC13-1541 RULE 3.220. DISCOVERY (a) [No changes] (b) Prosecutor’s Discovery Obligation.(1) Within 15 days after service of the Notice of Discovery, the prosecutor shall serve a written Discovery Exhibit which shall disclose to the defendant and permit the defendant to inspect, copy, test, and photograph the following information and material within the state’s possession or control, except that any property or material that portrays sexual performance by a child or constitutes child pornography may not be copied, photographed, duplicated, or otherwise reproduced so long as the state attorney makes the property or material reasonably available to the defendant or the defendant’s attorney:(A) a list of the names and addresses of all persons known to the prosecutor to have information that may be relevant to any offense charged or any defense thereto, or to any similar fact evidence to be presented at trial under section 90.404(2), Florida Statutes. The names and addresses of persons listed shall be clearly designated in the following categories:(i) Category A. These witnesses shall include (1) eye witnesses, (2) alibi witnesses and rebuttal to alibi witnesses, (3) witnesses who were present when a recorded or unrecorded statement was taken from or made by a defendant or codefendant, which shall be separately identified within this category, (4) investigating officers, (5) witnesses known by the prosecutor to have any material information that tends to negate the guilt of the defendant as to any offense charged, (6) child hearsay witnesses, and (7) expert witnesses who have not provided a written report and a curriculum vitae or who are going to testify . , and (8) informant witnesses, whether in custody, who offer testimony concerning the statements of a defendant about the issues for which the defendant is being tried.(ii)-(iii) [No changes](B)-(L) [No changes] (M) whether the state has any material or information that has been provided by an informant witness, including: (i) the substance of any statement allegedly made by the defendant about which the informant witness may testify; (ii) a summary of the criminal history record of the informant witness; (iii) the time and place under which the defendant’s alleged statement was made; (iv) whether the informant witness has received, or expects to receive, anything in exchange for his or her testimony; (v) the informant witness’ prior history of cooperation, in return for any benefit, as known to the prosecutor. (c)-(o) [No changes] Committee Notes 1968 Adoption – 1998 Amendment. [No changes] Court Commentary 2013 Amendment. The amendment to subdivision (b)(1)(A)(i)(8) is not intended to limit in any manner whatsoever the discovery obligations under the other provisions of the rule. With respect to subdivision (b)(l )(M)(iv), the Court recognizes the impossibility of listing in the body of the rule every possible permutation expressing a benefit by the state to the informant witness. Although the term “anything” is not defined in the rule, the following are examples of benefits that may be considered by the trial court in determining whether the state has complied with its discovery obligations. The term “anything” includes, but is not limited to, any deal, promise, inducement, pay, leniency, immunity, personal advantage, vindication, or other benefit that the prosecution, or any person acting on behalf of the prosecution, has knowingly made or may make in the future. 1996 Amendment – 1999/2000 Amendment. [No changes]last_img read more

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Getting the Cold Shoulder

first_imgThe New York Times: In “Jealous Guy,” John Lennon described his heart-aching insecurity as “shivering inside.” In “The Rain Song,” Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant bemoaned, “I’ve felt the coldness of my winter.” And in “It Will Be Lonely This Christmas,” the ’70s band Mud crooned desperately, “It’ll be cold, so cold, without you to hold.”The poets were right about the chill of isolation and rejection — more, perhaps, than even they knew: when a person feels lonely or is being excluded by others, his or her skin literally becomes colder.For the past several years, our lab has been studying just how people respond to exclusion and other social interactions. In one recent experiment, published earlier this year in the journal Acta Psychologica, we asked dozens of students to participate in a simulated ball-tossing game with computer-generated cartoonlike figures called avatars.Research by the Purdue University psychologist Kip Williams, who programs these avatars to refrain from tossing the ball to certain human subjects, has shown that people feel bad when left out. But perhaps more striking is what happens to a person’s body temperature in such scenarios.Read the whole story: The New York Times More of our Members in the Media >last_img read more

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Avian Flu Scan for May 07, 2014

first_imgResearchers find possible biomarker for severe H7N9 infectionResearchers who analyzed the blood of Chinese patients infected with H7N9 influenza found markedly elevated levels of angiotensin 2, which be a severity marker for the disease. The team from China reported its findings yesterday in Nature Communications.They compared plasma from 47 patients infected with H7N9 from Hangzhou, Nanjing, and Shanghai with that of 21 patients from Beijing who were sick with the 2009 H1N1 virus from December 2012 to February 2013. Their comparison also included samples from healthy volunteers and people with coronary heart disease (CHD). For the patients with flu, samples were collected at different times: within the first 7 days of disease onset, 8 to 14 days after disease onset, and from 15 days after disease onset.The angiotensin 2 plasma levels were much higher in H7N9 patients than in 2009 H1N1 patients, CHD patients, and CHD patients with hypertension.To focus on disease outcome patterns in H7N9 patients, the group looked at 22 patients who had samples taken from both the first and second week of illness. For those discharged from the hospital in less than 28 days, angiotensin 2 levels decreased significantly during the second week of infection. The level, however, remained high during the second week for those who had longer hospitalizations or who died.They found that in H7N9 patients, angiotensin 2 levels during the second week of illness highly correlated with severity scores, with levels during the first week showing a weaker but still significant correlation. Similarly, researchers found that patients who have high angiotensin 2 levels during the second week were more likely to die.Researchers concluded that angiotensin 2 is a biomarker for lethal flu infections and that the findings lend support for potential therapies.May 6 Nat Commun abstract Scientists detect H11N2 in Antarctic penguinsResearchers have for the first time identified avian flu viruses in Antarctic penguins, and the H11N2 strain they found differed considerably from existing strains, according to a study yesterday in mBio.An international team took 301 swabs from windpipes and posterior openings (cloaca) of Adelie penguins in two locations in Antarctica in January and February 2013. They also drew 270 blood samples.They found that 8 (2.7%) of the swab samples were positive for H11N2 avian flu via polymerase chain reaction. Phylogenetic analysis showed a high degree of similarity among the viruses.When the researchers compared the full genome sequences of four of the viruses to influenza virus sequences in public databases, they found that they were unique. Lead author Aeron Hurt, PhD, of the World Health Organization’s influenza center in Melbourne, said in a news release from the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), “When we drew phylogenetic trees to show the evolutionary relationships of the virus, all of the genes were highly distinct from contemporary [avian flu viruses] circulating in other continents in either the Northern or Southern Hemisphere.” The ASM publishes mBio.Further analysis revealed that the virus diverged from other avian flu viruses between 49 and 80 years ago, with several genes showing similarity and shared ancestry with H3N8 equine influenza viruses.In addition, 43 of 270 penguins (16%) had influenza A antibodies in their blood. The investigators also found that the cultured H11N2 virus did not replicate well in experimentally inoculated ferrets.May 6 mBio study May 6 ASM news releaselast_img read more

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Decades-old smallpox samples turn up in federal lab

first_imgNational Institutes of Health (NIH) employees discovered old vials that appear to contain smallpox in an unused lab area and have turned them over to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for containment and testing, federal officials announced today.The vials, labeled “variola,” appear to date from the 1950s and were found in an unused part of a storage room in a lab on the NIH’s Bethesda campus that was transferred to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1972, the CDC said in a statement today. Scientists found the vials while getting ready for the lab to move to the FDA’s main campus in Silver Spring, Md.They immediately secured the samples in a registered select-agent lab in Bethesda, Md., and yesterday federal officials and law enforcement agencies moved them to the CDC’s biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) lab in Atlanta.Testing for live virusSo far there is no sign that the samples were breached, and no exposure risks to lab workers or the public have been found, the CDC said.Scientists at the BSL-4 lab detected variola virus DNA, and further tests are under way to see if the material in the vials contains live virus. Results won’t be known for about 2 weeks, and lab workers will destroy the samples after testing.The CDC said it has notified the World Health Organization (WHO), which oversees an international agreement on the security and safety of smallpox virus samples at two designated repositories: one at the CDC in Atlanta and one in Novosibirsk, Russia.The WHO has been asked to join the investigation and will witness the destruction of the materials, based on protocols that are part of the international agreement. Federal agencies are piecing together how the samples were originally prepared and stored in the FDA lab.How big a threat?Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, said an accidental release would be worrisome, but, compared with other pathogens such as influenza, public health officials could easily contain one with vaccination and antivirals. Osterholm is director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, publisher of CIDRAP NewsHe said there may well be other similar samples languishing in old freezers in labs—like old trunks in attics—and scientists may be uncovering more vials in the future. However, he said the bigger concern is intentional use of the smallpox virus, which the US government considers a Tier 1 select agent, alongside other dangerous pathogens such as the Ebola virus and Bacillus anthracis, which causes anthrax.Though it’s unlikely that terrorists have their sights on old smallpox samples, the event is a reminder that genetic tools that have the potential to someday re-create viruses such as variola are becoming more sophisticated, Osterholm said.Smallpox eradication expert weighs inD. A. Henderson, MD, MPH, who led the global smallpox eradication campaign in the 1960s and 1970s, said he is familiar with the NIH lab—known as the Division of Biological Standards back then—and what the conditions were like in the 1950s when the samples likely went into storage. He is currently a distinguished scholar at the UPMC Center for Health Security in Baltimore.The only protection lab workers had for working with the virus back then was vaccination, Henderson said. He said indications suggest the vials might contain freeze-dried samples, which could suggest they were used for developing standards for the vaccine.”One of the questions is, ‘Is it dead or not?’ We don’t know,” he said. However, he said survival chances are slim, because the viruses would have probably deteriorated unless they were stored for all those decades in an oxygen-free state.Also, keeping smallpox specimens in the cold for prolonged periods might not bode well for their survival, Henderson said, based on difficulties scientists have had isolating the virus from bodies found in tundra areas and the problems Afghani “variolators” described many decades ago about keeping the scab samples alive over the winter in the mountains.(Variolators exposed people to smallpox on purpose using pus or scabs as a way to promote immunity to the disease.)Henderson said that at the time the samples were stored, virologists kept all kinds of specimens in freezers, and sometimes researchers didn’t clean them out before moving on to other labs.A high-profile lab accident involving smallpox work was one of the events that led to lab safety regulations for dangerous pathogens, he said.Henderson said the accident at the University of Birmingham Medical School in 1978 killed a woman who worked on a different floor of the lab. The scientist who led the smallpox work in the lab, despondent over the safety lapses that infected the woman, committed suicide after the worker, and then the worker’s mother, got sick with the disease.The woman was the last person known to have died from smallpox. Henderson said the events caught the attention of the world’s health ministers, who were in the process of introducing regulations for pathogen labs.See also:Jul 8 CDC press releaseCIDRAP comprehensive overview on smallpoxlast_img read more

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Avian Flu Scan for Jun 20, 2016

first_imgChinese girl sick with H9N2 infectionA 4-year-old girl in China’s Guangdong province is sick with an H9N2 avian influenza infection, according to a translated report posted Jun 18 by FluTrackers, an infectious disease message board.The provincial Health and Family Planning Commission said the child, who lives in the city of Meizhou, is hospitalized in serious condition, according to FluTrackers. Guangdong health officials warned the public to avoid live-bird markets and not to buy poultry products of unknown origin.H9N2 viruses are found in poultry in parts of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, and human cases occur sporadically. The illness is usually mild. The World Health Organization said in May that the global count of confirmed human H9N2 cases was 28, with no deaths and no cases of person-to-person transmission.Jun 18 FluTrackers post May 19 WHO report Avian flu viruses hit poultry and wild birds in China, Taiwan, and RussiaAvian flu of the H5N6 subtype recently struck a farm in south-central China, while Taiwan has detected three more H5N2 outbreaks in poultry, according to official reports today. In addition, a surveillance program in Russia has detected H5 viruses in wild birds near the Mongolian border.In China, the H5N6 outbreak began Jun 7, sickening 605 birds and killing 293 on a farm in Hunan province, according to a report that Chinese officials filed with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) today. It said 29,625 birds were destroyed to prevent further spread of the virus. The source of the virus was unknown.China has submitted 15 reports on H5N6 outbreaks in poultry since the virus emerged in August 2014. In addition, at least 15 human infections with the virus have been reported since April 2014, including one reported in Hunan province in late May of this year. Jun 20 OIE report Related May 31 CIDRAP News itemIn Taiwan, highly pathogenic H5N2 avian flu was found on a farm and in two slaughterhouses on the western side of the island, officials told the OIE in another report submitted today.At the farm, located in Yunlin County, 3,224 of 13,580 chickens died in an outbreak that began May 30, and the rest were destroyed to prevent further spread.Suspicious signs in chicken carcasses led to testing and detection of the virus in the two slaughterhouses, in Taichung City. Nineteen carcasses were destroyed at one of the facilities, and in the other, 68 chickens died of the infection, prompting destruction of 427 additional birds as a precaution. Samples from the farms of origin are being tested by the national laboratory.Jun 20 OIE report from TaiwanIn still another report to the OIE, Russian officials on Jun 17 said 17 wild birds that were shot for surveillance reasons near the Ubsu-Nur Lake along the Mongolian border were found to carry H5 avian flu viruses. The species included grey herons, great crested grebes, black-headed gulls, common terns, great cormorants, and a duck of unspecified type.Genetic sequence analysis showed that the isolates belong to the highly pathogenic H5 lineage that was first detected in Guangdong, China, in 1996, the report said. Jun 17 OIE report from Russialast_img read more

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