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Today's Headlines: April 19, 2017
Biological Agents & Infectious Diseases

Emerg. Microbes & Inf.: Pathogenicity & Transmission of a Swine Influenza A(H6N6) Virus--China ( Avian Flu Diary) While we worry about avian influenza--swine carry and spread a variety of H1, H2, and H3 Swine Influenza Viruses--which just happen to be only subtypes of influenza that have sparked human pandemics over the past 100+ years. Go to article

Human Infection with Avian Influenza A(H7N9) Virus--China ( WHO) On 7 April 2017, the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China notified WHO of 14 additional laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus in mainland China. Go to article

Zika Mosquito Is Spreading Worldwide but WHO Wants to Stop It ( New Scientist) Mosquitoes beware. WHO is preparing a global "vector control" plan to track the movements of disease-spreading organisms worldwide. "The idea is to prevent outbreaks of disease instead of simply reacting to new ones," says Raman Velayudhan, head of vector control for neglected tropical diseases at the WHO. Go to article

Nations Pare Back Avian Flu Efforts, But Tough New Steps in France ( CIDRAP) Some countries hit by avian flu outbreaks over the winter are scaling back some of their response measures as the pace of new outbreaks eases, but farmers in France's southwestern foie gras production were ordered to cull their birds and halt production for 6 weeks in an aggressive new control step. Go to article

Domestic Preparedness & Response

Feds Practice Ebola Evacuations Despite Past Trump Criticisms ( Washington Post) Donald Trump railed against President Barack Obama's decision to bring patients with Ebola to the US for treatment in 2014. Now that Trump is president, his administration is preparing for similar, and possibly larger-scale, evacuations. Go to article

Government Affairs & National Security

HHS Secretary Price Authorizes Emergency Use of Nerve Agent Antidotes ( Global Biodefense) Secretary of HHS Tom Price last week issued a "Determination and Declaration Regarding Emergency Use of Injectable Treatments for Nerve Agent or Certain Insecticide (Organophosphorus and/or Carbamate) Poisoning," authorizing emergency use of injectable treatments for nerve agent or certain weaponized insecticides. Go to article

Why Bill Gates Is Counting on President Trump to Change His Mind On Foreign Aid ( Fortune) Bill Gates said he hopes President Donald Trump will be "pragmatic" and will rethink his proposed cuts to health spending and foreign aid. Go to article

Global Health Security

The World's Assault on Tropical Diseases is Working ( STAT News) Five years after the launch of an international effort to combat the burden of tropical diseases, global health leaders say enormous progress has been made toward freeing some of the planet's poorest people from some of nature's most gruesome and debilitating threats. Go to article

Measles Cases during Ebola Outbreak, West Africa, 2013-2016 ( Emerging Infectious Diseases) The recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa caused breakdowns in public health systems, which might have caused outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. We tested 80 patients admitted to an Ebola treatment center in Freetown, Sierra Leone, for measles. Go to article

Medicine & Public Health

An Approach to and Web-Based Tool for Infectious Disease Outbreak Intervention Analysis (Scientific Reports) Infectious diseases are a leading cause of death globally. Decisions surrounding how to control an infectious disease outbreak currently rely on a subjective process involving surveillance and expert opinion. However, there are many situations where neither may be available. Go to article

Economic Evaluations of Interventions to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections ( ECDC) Each year around 3.2 million patients are infected with healthcare-associated infections following exposure in healthcare facilities across the European Union and a total of 37 000 of them die as a direct consequence. Healthcare-associated infections are therefore of considerable concern to patients, healthcare professionals and policy-makers alike. Go to article

The Challenges and Opportunities of Non-Traditional Approaches to Treating Bacterial Infections ( Clinical Infectious Diseases) Due to increasing rates of antimicrobial-resistant infections and the current inadequacy of the antibiotic pipeline, there is increasing interest in non-traditional approaches to antibacterial therapies. Go to article

Science & Technology

DARPA Awards Research Contract for Co-Evolving Countermeasures for Biothreats ( Global Biodefense) DARPA this month awarded a new contract under a program aiming to develop co-evolving therapy platforms to protect defense personnel and the public against rapidly evolving viral pathogens and biothreats. Go to article

International Gene Synthesis Consortium Adds New Global Members to Advance Biosecurity Objectives ( Yahoo Finance) The International Gene Synthesis Consortium (IGSC), an organization of the world's leading gene synthesis companies, today announced that it has increased its membership to support its mission to establish, practice and promote best gene synthesis biosecurity policies and practices.  Go to article

Modeling Zika Virus Congenital Eye Disease: Differential Susceptibility of Fetal Retinal Progenitor Cells and iPSC-Derived Retinal Stem Cells to Zika Virus Infection ( bioRxiv) Zika virus causes microcephaly and congenital eye disease that is characterized by macular pigment mottling, macular atrophy, and loss of foveal reflex. The cell and molecular basis of congenital ZIKV infection are not well understood.  Go to article

Bacteriophages from ExPEC Reservoirs Kill Pandemic Multidrug-Resistant Strains of Clonal Group ST131 in Animal Models of Bacteremia ( Scientific Reports) Multi-drug resistant enteric bacteria are of increasing global concern. A clonal group, Escherichia coli sequence type (ST) 131, harbors both MDR and a deadly complement of virulence factors. Patients with an immunocompromised system are at high risk of infections with these E. coli and there is strong epidemiologic evidence that the human intestinal tract, as well as household pets, may be a reservoir. Go to article

Frog Slime Could Prevent the Next Pandemic ( Gizmodo) New research from Emory University School of Medicine shows that a chemical in the mucus of South Indian frogs is capable of killing certain strains of the influenza virus. Go to article

Enzymes Versus Nerve Agents: Designing Antidotes for Chemical Weapons ( Homeland Security News Wire) Nerve agents, a class of synthetic phosphorous-containing compounds, are among the most toxic substances known. Brief exposure to the most potent variants can lead to death within minutes. Once nerve agents enter the body, they irreversibly inhibit a vitally important enzyme called acetylcholinesterase. Go to article

Google Verily Launches 10,000 Person-Study to Create a Map of Human Health ( BioSpace) Verily Life Sciences LLC, an Alphabet company, in partnership with Duke University School of Medicine and Stanford Medicine, announced today the initiation of the Project Baseline study, a longitudinal study that will collect broad phenotypic health data from approximately 10,000 participants, who will each be followed over the course of at least 4 years. Go to article

Recent Advancement in Biosensors Technology for Animal and Livestock Health Management ( bioRxiv) The term biosensors encompasses devices that have the potential to quantify physiological, immunological and behavioural responses of livestock and multiple animal species. Go to article

Other 21st Century Threats

A Three-Person Rule for Nuclear First Use ( Arms Control Wonk) Whiffs of grapeshot and sarin gas are in the air--enduring conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, increased friction with Russia and, above all, possible military action on the Korean Peninsula. The president of the US has unrestricted powers to use nuclear weapons first if deemed necessary. Concerns about the absence of checks and balances on the first use of nuclear weapons have spiked because of Donald Trump's bellicose temperament and shallow understanding of nuclear flash points. Go to article

When Rising Seas Transform Risk into Certainty ( New York Times) Along parts of the East Coast, the entire system of insuring coastal property is beginning to break down. Go to article

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