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Today's Headlines: April 13, 2018

Biologcal Agents & Infectious Diseases 

Africa Meningitis: More Than 7,000 Suspect Cases Reported in First Quarter ( Outbreak News Today) The World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa recently reported updated meningitis numbers for the countries of the African Meningitis Belt and surrounding areas. For the first three months of 2018, 7,403 suspect and confirmed cases were reported, including 566 deaths for a case fatality rate of 7.6 percent. Go to article

Case of Seasonal Reassortant A(H1N2) Influenza Virus Infection, the Netherlands, March 2018 ( Eurosurveillance) In the routine sentinel general practitioner surveillance of influenza in the Netherlands, a new seasonal reassortant A(H1N2) influenza virus was identified in natural human infection in March 2018. Here we report the case detection, molecular characterisation of the virus and the results of follow-up epidemiological and virological investigation. Go to article

Hong Kong: CHP Investigation into Detection of Avian H5 At Mong Kok Bird Garden ( Avian Flu Diary) In a follow up to my earlier blog this morning (see Hong Kong: Mong Kok Bird Garden Closed Over Detection of H5 Virus), we now have the following statement published by Hong Kong's Centre For Health Protection. While the risk of human infection from this virus is likely very low, Hong Kong takes these incidents very seriously, having learned a harsh lesson during the 2003 SARS epidemic, which saw 1750 residents infected, of which 286 died (see SARS and Remembrance). Go to article

UK: `Exceptional' Scarlet Fever Season Continues ( Avian Flu Diary) For the past several months (see here and here) we've been checking in on the UK's mounting Scarlet Fever epidemic, which has eclipsed - by good measure - anything seen in that country since the early 1980s. Go to article


Domestic Preparedness & Response

Mattis Confirms Chemical Weapons Attack in Syria, But No Trump Decision to Strike Yet ( Defense One) Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told lawmakers he believes a chemical weapons attack occurred in Syria last weekend, but the Trump administration was still assessing conclusive evidence and deciding how to respond, including, whether to attack Syria with US military strikes, as of Thursday. Go to article


Medicine & Public Health

Inovio Awarded up to $56 Million from CEPI to Advance DNA Vaccines Against Lassa Fever and MERS ( CEPI) Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and CEPI - the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations -- today announced a partnership under which Inovio will develop vaccine candidates against Lassa fever and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. Go to article

Why Lassa Fever is Endemic, Difficult to Curtail ( This Day) The deadly Lassa Fever outbreak may continue to threaten the lives of Nigerians and health workers for a long time to come, findings have revealed. According to the health authorities and experts, Lassa fever is difficult to curtail because it is endemic to the Nigerian environment. In the first quarter of 2018 alone, the disease has caused over 100 deaths with about 2000 suspected cases reported from 20 states. Go to article

In a Bid to Promote Stem Cell Therapies, Health Officials Open a New Door for Promising Contenders ( STAT) When someone experiences a severe head injury, it's not just the initial blow that batters the brain. The body's immune response can go haywire, overwhelming and sometimes continuing to damage the brain for months. Go to article


Science & Technology

Surveillance to Track Progress Toward Polio Eradication - Worldwide, 2016-2017 ( MMWR) Global efforts to eradicate polio began in 1988, and four of the six World Health Organization regions currently have achieved poliofree certification. Within the remaining two regions with endemic poliomyelitis (African and Eastern Mediterranean), Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan have never interrupted transmission of wild poliovirus. Go to article

Effectiveness of a Long-lasting Piperonyl Butoxide-treated Insecticidal Net and Indoor Residual Spray Interventions, Separately and Together, Against Malaria Transmitted by Pyrethroid-resistant Mosquitoes: A Cluster, Randomised Controlled, Two-by-Two Factorial Design Trial ( Lancet) Progress in malaria control is under threat by wide-scale insecticide resistance in malaria vectors. Two recent vector control products have been developed: a long-lasting insecticidal net that incorporates a synergist piperonyl butoxide and a long-lasting indoor residual spraying formulation of the insecticide pirimiphos-methyl. We evaluated the effectiveness of PBO long-lasting insecticidal nets versus standard long-lasting insecticidal nets as single interventions and in combination with the indoor residual spraying of pirimiphos-methyl. Go to article


Other 21st Century Threats

US Officials: Blood Samples Show Nerve Agent, Chlorine in Syria Gas Attack (NBC News) The US now has blood and urine samples from last Saturday's deadly attack in Syria that have tested positive for chemical weapons, according to two US officials familiar with the intelligence. The samples suggested the presence of both chlorine gas and an unnamed nerve agent, two officials said. Go to article


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Clinicians' Biosecurity News, April 13, 2018
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Monkeypox: Spread in Nonendemic Countries. Of all the poxviruses, smallpox was the most feared, the most deadly, and the most disruptive of society, until it was eradicated in 1980 in a campaign led by D. A. Henderson. Several other poxviruses, however, are capable of infecting humans; these include orf, molloscum contagiosum, cowpox, Akhmeta, and monkeypox. Of these, the zoonotic monkeypox is likely the most significant and has arguably become an emerging threat to human health. Monkeypox, which is an orthopox virus like smallpox, has largely been confined to the Democratic Republic of Congo, but in recent years cases in other African countries - and even importation to the United States in 2003 - have heightened concern. A new report published in Emerging Infectious Disease describes the reemergence of monkeypox in Nigeria after a nearly 40-year absence.  Read Now


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