NEWS SCAN: Army lab inventoried, suspected plague in Libya, food safety bill advances

first_img Army lab inventory finds many unrecorded vials of pathogensArmy investigators revealed today that pathogen inventories at the US Army Medical Research of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) in Ft. Detrick, Md., turned up 9,200 more vials than records indicated, the Frederick (Md.) News-Post reported. In early February the Army said it was suspending most select-agent work at the lab as part of a security review in the wake of events surrounding the death of former employee Bruce E. Ivins, who federal officials believe was involved in the 2001 anthrax attacks. In its report today, the Army said it searched 335 refrigerators and freezers and found that some of the excess samples were decades old and left over from previous research projects. Some of the vials contained agents that cause anthrax and Ebola infections, as well as Rift Valley fever. About half of the samples had no further research purpose and were destroyed. An Army official told the News-Post that all research at the lab has been resumed.[Jun 17 Frederick News-Post story] Libya asks WHO’s help in probing suspected plague outbreakHealth officials in Libya have asked the World Health Organization (WHO) for help in evaluating a suspected plague outbreak in the northeastern part of the country, not far from the border with Egypt, BBC News reported today. One death has been reported, and several more illnesses are suspected. If tests confirm the plague infections, the outbreak would be the first in that part of Libya in 25 years. The plague bacterium, Yersinia pestis, primarily circulates among rodents and their fleas but occasionally spreads to humans. It is transmitted mainly by flea bites, direct contact, or inhalation of contaminated respiratory droplets.[Jun 17 BBC story] House committee approves wide-ranging food safety legislationThe US House Committee on Energy and Commerce today approved a sweeping food safety bill that would give the Food and Drug Administration more authority and resources, sending the bill to the full House, Reuters reported. Measures in the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 include safety rules for fresh produce, increased inspections at food facilities, improved food traceability, stronger inspection of imported food, expansion of lab testing capacity, and a fee-based food facility registry to generate food safety revenue. Food safety and consumer groups such as the Center for Science in the Public Interest have voiced strong support for the bill.[May 17 Reuters story][May 26 House committee summary of bill]center_img Jun 17, 2009last_img read more

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‘READING WOES START AT HOME’: Modern gadgets hamper kids’ reading ability – SP exec

first_imgDefensor wanted to know from whichtowns these readers are to introduce appropriate interventions, said Gonzales. He agreed with the step taken by theSchools Division of Iloilo – for schools to hold remedial reading classes – andcited as example the experience of the municipality of Lambunao where he servedas mayor prior to becoming a Provincial Board member. Forty-eight percent of learners werethen frustration level readers, Gonzales recalled. “Our intervention will be systematicand large scale,” he said. “Some parents say gadgets keep theirchildren less restless,” said Gonzales, but he dismissed such reasoning. The municipal government pushed forremedial reading classes in schools and after two years, said Gonzales, thenumber of frustration level readers dropped to 25 percent. “The brains of these children areconditioned to moving pictures such that by the time they are introduced tobooks, they find it difficult to read them,” said Gonzales. ILOILO – Don’t be too quick to blamethe teachers. Early exposure to electronic gadgets such as mobile phones andtablet computers has adverse effects on the reading comprehension ability oflearners and this problem starts at home, according to Sangguniang Panlalawigan(SP) member Jason Gonzales. Local chief executives need to be aware of the participation rateof learners in schools; the cohort survival rate or the rate of learnersentering the first grade that can make it into the sixth grade; the activationof school governing council; and the establishment of expanded school boardwhich will be needed for budgetary concerns; and the literacy rate, amongothers, said Gonzales./PN “The researchers found out that thesechildren’s reading comprehension ability suffered,” said Gonzales. The Regional Education Council isplanning to set a Regional Education Summit in March.center_img Gonzales cited multiple studies of theHarvard Medical School on children zero to two years old exposed to modernelectronic gadgets such as phones and televisions. “I cannot overemphasize how big thisreading comprehension problem is, and this cannot be left for teachers to solvealone. Addressing this starts at home and parents have a key role,” saidGonzales. The chairperson of the RegionalEducation Council (Panay Island), Gonzales was reacting to the report that inthis province which has almost half a million learners, an estimated 42,000from kindergarten to high school are “frustration level” readers – they canrecognize some words but they lack comprehension. Sadly, he lamented, this problemstarts not in the school but at home. The Regional Education Council itselfwill also make use of the data to design interventions, said Gonzales. He suggested that children’s access togadgets be regulated and in this, parents play a very important role. NO TIME TO READ. Do children nowadays spend more time tinkering with their mobile phones than reading books? A Sangguniang Panlalawigan member of Iloilo says multiple studies show children exposed early to modern electronic gadgets such as phones have poor reading comprehension ability. In Iloilo province, an estimated 42,000 learners from kindergarten to high school are “frustration level” readers – they can recognize some words but they lack comprehension. IAN PAUL CORDERO/PN He also said Gov. Arthur Defensor Jr.met with Schools Division of Iloilo superintendent Dr. Roel Bermejo and askedfor the breakdown of the 42 000 frustrated level readers. Gonzales said it will help local chiefexecutives address concerns on education.last_img read more

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