I thought this was interesting. First of all, that the mutated virus still has the capacity to be deadly, and that it would be so difficult to share the information because of security concerns:
Epidemiologists have long debated the pandemic potential of H5N1, a.k.a. avian bird flu. On one hand, the virus spreads too inefficiently between humans to seem like much of a threat: it has caused less than 600 known cases of human flu since first emerging in 1997. On the other hand, when it does spread, it can be pretty deadly: nearly 60 percent of infected humans died from the virus. For years now, the research has suggested that any mutations that enhanced the virus’s ability to spread among humans, would simultaneously make it less deadly. But in a recent batch of as-yet-unpublished studies, two scientists – Yoshihiro Kawaoka from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and Ron Fouchier of Erasmus Medical Center, in the Netherlands – have shown otherwise.
Working separately, they each hit on a combination of mutations (five, in Dr. Fouchier’s case) that makes H5N1 airborne (enabling it to spread readily between humans), without making it less deadly. In laboratory experiments, ferrets infected with this mutant strain passed it to other ferrets in nearby cages (ferrets are a common subject of flu studies because they react to flu viruses in a similar way to humans). A significant proportion of infected subjects died. Continue Reading »
You see, this is why we shouldn’t be regulating job creators. Because otherwise, they’d have to spend every cent they have dealing with problems like this:
(Reuters) – The operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant is considering dumping water it treated for radiation contamination into the ocean as early as March, the firm said on Thursday, prompting protests from fishing groups.
Tokyo Electric Power, (Tepco) the utility operating Fukushima’s Daiichi plant, hit by a powerful tsunami in March that caused the world’s worst nuclear accident in 25 years, said it was running out of space to store some of the water it treated at the plant, due to an inflow of groundwater.
“We would like to increase the number of tanks to accommodate the water but it will be difficult to do so indefinitely,” Tepco spokesman Junichi Matsumoto told reporters.
He said the plant was likely to reach its storage capacity of about 155,000 tons around March.
Tepco plans to come up with possible ways to handle radioactive waste and present its proposals to the government’s nuclear regulatory body for approval.
“The government should not, and must not, approve a plan allowing Tepco to dispose treated water in the ocean,” said Kenji Sumita, an emeritus professor at Osaka University who specializes in nuclear engineering.
“The reality is that semipermanent storage is the only solution available under current technological constraints. Tepco may have to find the storage space and look for a technological breakthrough in the coming years that allows it to condense and greatly reduce the volume of tainted water.”
I run past Dan’s store and see his Christmas trees for sale and hear “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” on the large speakers above his storefront. Each time this happens, I feel as if it has always happened, and always will. More here.