GAO questions anthrax detection methods

first_img Of the 286 postal facilities tested, 23 tested positive. For two of the 23—in West Palm Beach, Fla., and Wallingford, Conn.—the first tests were negative but later tests turned positive. The Wallingford facility didn’t test positive until the fourth round of testing. In another building, in West Trenton, N.J., no anthrax was found in three rounds of tests, even though a worker had contracted cutaneous anthrax. The GAO puts the bottom line thus: “Because the agencies did not use an empirical process to validate their testing methods, the agencies had limited information available for reliably choosing one method over another and no information on the detection limit to use when evaluating negative results.” The agencies used any of four different preliminary tests and three confirmatory tests to identify anthrax in extracted samples. The number of different tests used, in combination with differences at other stages of the sampling process, increases the level of uncertainty about the results, the GAO contends. Rhodes’s prepared testimony summarizing the GAO reporthttp://www.gao.gov/new.items/d05493t.pdf For its evaluation, the GAO broke the agencies’ sampling activities down into five steps: sampling strategy (where and how many samples were gathered), sample collection methods, sample transportation, sample extraction in the lab, and sample analysis. The agencies mostly used processing solutions to extract samples from dry swabs and get them onto plates for culturing, though in some cases they brought dry swabs into direct contact with plates. Either way, the GAO says, “definitive scientific information regarding extraction efficiency is lacking,” casting additional doubt on the reliability of negative results. The GAO’s conclusion is based on an examination of the approaches used by three agencies—the US Postal Service (USPS), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—to hunt for anthrax in 286 postal facilities after the anthrax mailings in 2001. The report also finds fault with the methods used to gather samples. In most cases the agencies used dry swabs on surfaces, though they also used some moistened swabs, wet wipes, HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air filter) vacuuming, and air samples. None of the collection methods were tested in advance, so the agencies “had no information available for reliably choosing one method over another and no information on the limits of detection to use when evaluating negative results,” the report states. In shipping their samples, the agencies followed regulations designed mainly to prevent leaks and protect workers. The GAO complains that the regulations did not address the matter of protecting the samples from extreme temperatures or other factors that could compromise their biological integrity and lead to false-negative test results. “The sampling strategy used by the agencies could not provide any statistical confidence with regard to the basic question: Is this building contaminated?” the report says. “The lack of validation of agencies’ activities, coupled with limitations associated with their targeted sampling strategy, means that negative results may not be reliable,” the report says. It recommends that the secretary of homeland security take on the task of ensuring that pathogen detection methods are validated and coordinating environmental testing for pathogens by different agencies. The agencies mainly used a targeted sampling strategy, collecting samples mostly from areas they judged likeliest to be contaminated. The GAO takes issue with this approach, saying the agencies should have done probability sampling to achieve “wide-area coverage” and provide statistical confidence in negative results. See also: “None of the agencies’ activities to detect anthrax contamination in the postal facilities were validated,” the GAO said in prepared congressional testimony based on the report. Apr 18, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – The Government Accountability Office (GAO) says federal agencies may not be able to reliably rule out the presence of anthrax contamination in a building because their sampling and detection methods have not been adequately tested. The agencies have made some changes in their procedures on the basis of lessons learned from the 2001 attacks and have funded some new research. But these efforts, though important, “do not address the issue of validating all activities related to sampling,” in the GAO’s view. The GAO recommends that the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) lead an effort to develop a definition of validation and to ensure that the whole set of sampling activities is validated. That should include studies to “develop probability-based sampling strategies that take into account the complexities of indoor environments.” Also, the DHS chief should coordinate the activities of agencies with expertise in environmental testing. However, DHS officials took exception to the role the GAO recommends for their department. DHS maintained that the EPA has “the primary responsibility of establishing the strategies, guidelines and plans for the recovery from a biological attack, while HHS [the Department of Health and Human Services] has the lead role for any related public health response and guidelines,” the final report states. DHS promised to “coordinate with EPA to ensure appropriate investments are made to explore improved sampling.” When they read a draft of the report, the CDC, USPS, and DHS all agreed that the methods for detecting anthrax were not validated and that a systematic validation effort is needed, the report states. The GAO—Congress’s investigative agency—prepared its report for the House Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats, and International Relations. GAO staff member Keith A. Rhodes gave a 19-page summary of the 119-page report in testimony prepared for delivery to the committee on Apr 5. Full report “Anthrax Detection: Agencies Need to Validate Sampling Activities in Order to Increase Confidence in Negative Results”http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d05251.pdflast_img read more

Shaban Lubega: PML Daily Premier League team of the Week 7

first_imgJamie Vardy scored twice in the victory over Newcastle United this past Sunday. (PHOTO/Courtesy)Liverpool are having their best start to a Premier League season and are showing no signs of slowing down. This past Saturday, Jurgen Klopp’s side registered their 7th successive victory of the season as they dispatched a spirited Sheffield United side 1-0 thanks to Georginio Wijnaldum’s late goal. The victory sees them maintain 5 point lead at the top of the log.Second-placed Man City were also victorious on the same day. A goal each by Gabriel Jesus, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling saw the Citizens walk away 3-1 winners away to Everton and now have 16 points from seven games.The other two big six occupants who were in action, Spurs and Chelsea also won their respective fixtures. Spurs who played the majority of the game with 10 men after Serge Aurier was sent off in the first half, beat Southampton 2-1 at home. Tonguy Ndombele and Harry Kane scored for the home side either side of a Danny Ings equalizer.For Chelsea, they defeated Brighton 2-0 thanks to second-half goals by Jorginho and Willian. Chelsea like Spurs have 11 points each after 7 games and are 6th and 5th on the table respectively.Elsewhere, Leicester were the biggest winners of the weekend, humiliating Newcastle 5-0 at the King Power Stadium, Crystal Palace beat Norwich 2-0 while Wolves defeated Watford by the same scoreline.The fixture between Man United and Arsenal will be played on Monday night at Old Trafford.Here are the XI players who stood out according to Shaban Lubega.GK: Ederson (Man City)Two world-class saves to deny Yerry Mina was as good as the Brazilian shot-stopper got on Saturday as his Man City side defeated Everton 3-1.RB: Ricardo Pereira (Leicester)Pereira scored Leicester’s opening goal against Newcastle, while also making three tackles in the 5-0 victory.LB:  Aaron Croswell (West Ham)Scored the equalizer in the 2-2 draw away to AFC Bournemouth, his second goal in as many games.CB: Matt Doherty (Wolves)Netted the opener in the 2-0 victory over Watford on Sunday and also helped Wolves to a clean sheet.CB: Fikayo Tomori (Chelsea)Continued his fine start to his Chelsea career with another magnificent display in the 2-0 victory over Brighton on Saturday. Tomori made the most passes of any Chelsea player while completing 90 percent of them.MF: Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool)In addition to netting the winning goal, Wijnaldum had the highest pass completion rate of any Liverpool player (98%) at Bramall Lane.MF: Kevin De Bruyne (Man City)Without a doubt City’s star man. De Bruyne was at it again as he masterminded Man City’s 3-1 victory against Everton, assisting Gabriel Jesus’s opener.MF: John McGinn (Aston Villa).One of the revelations of the season, McGinn continued to impress as he scored one of Aston Villa’s two goals in the draw with Burnley.FW: Jamie Vardy (Leicester City).Vardy netted twice against Newcastle and has now scored 14 goals in the Premier League since Brendan Rodgers took charge.FW: Riyad Mahrez (Man City)Mahrez scored one and created a team-high five chances for Man City in the 3-1 victory away to Everton.FW: Harry Kane (Tottenham)Kane scored the winner in the 2-1 win over Southampton on Saturday. It was also his sixth consecutive Premier League goal against the Saints.Comments Tags: premier leagueTeam of the weeklast_img read more