News in Brief

CDC and DARPA both go deep

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Big data at work: CDC tracks listeria outbreak

A deep dive into the Center for Disease Control's disease databases showed the outbreak of listeria at Texas ice cream maker Blue Bell that has reportedly killed three people and put seven others into the hospital dates back five years.

In an April 21 update on the outbreak, CDC said a retrospective review of its PulseNet database that stores pathogens' DNA fingerprints turned up records that were similar to samples recently collected from Blue Bell ice cream. The "complex and ongoing investigation" of the listeria outbreak, the organization said, has uncovered several strains of the disease and has implicated Blue Bell production facilities in Texas and Oklahoma as the source.

CDC said it found a total of 10 patients infected with several strains of the disease in Arizona, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. However, its DNA data dive into PulseNet showed two clusters of "onset dates" for the disease, with one cluster dating back to 2010. "The patients with illness onsets ranging from 2010-2014 were identified through a retrospective review of the PulseNet database for DNA fingerprints that were similar to isolates collected from Blue Bell ice cream samples," said the CDC.

DARPA wants to plumb the depths of an underwater Internet

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency wants has issued a request for information seeking the latest breakthroughs in underwater communications, Defense Systems reports.

In essence, DARPA is hoping to develop an underwater Internet that would allow submerged manned and unmanned systems to operate together just like they do on the surface and in the air -- and to communicate with airborne systems as well.

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