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Today's Headlines: August 11, 2017

Biological Agents & Infectious Diseases

Philippines Reports First Avian Flu Outbreak, to Cull 200,000 Birds ( Reuters) The Philippines will cull 200,000 chickens, quails and ducks after confirming the country's first outbreak of bird flu, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol said on Friday. Go to article

Common Mosquito Can Carry Zika Virus: Brazilian Scientists ( Can India.com) The common Culex mosquito is able to transmit the harmful Zika virus, Brazilian scientists have discovered. Scientists at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) in the Pernambuco state revealed that the virus can reach the insect's salivary gland, "which is believed to indicate that Culex mosquitoes may be one of the vectors of the Zika virus", reports Xinhua news agency. Go to article

Notes from the Field: Zika Virus-associated Neonatal Birth Defects Surveillance - Texas, January 2016-July 2017 ( MMWR) On November 28, 2016, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported its first confirmed case of local mosquitoborne Zika virus transmission in the city of Brownsville, located in south Texas along the US-Mexico border. Go to article

' 106 Deaths, 651 Lassa Fever Cases Recorded in 18 States' ( Guardian:Nigeria) The Chief Medical Director of Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Prof. Chris Bode, has said that besides the three persons under surveillance that tested positive to Lassa fever, the 150 persons currently under surveillance, and two others confirmed dead on Tuesday, the virus is "now under check." Go to article

Doughnut Shop Norovirus Outbreak Victim Count Nears 250 ( Food Safety News) With the number of victims nearing 250, public health officials in the Toledo area say they expect more illnesses to be reported in a norovirus outbreak linked to a suburban doughnut shop. Health Commissioner Eric Zgodinski, of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Health Department, met briefly with media Thursday, saying Mama C's Donuts & Coffee in Maumee, OH, remains closed. The owners voluntarily closed Tuesday after health officials notified them of illnesses among customers. Go to article

Norovirus Strikes World Athletics Championships in London ( Outbreak News Today) Health officials with Public Health England (PHE) reported a norovirus outbreak linked to the World Athletics Championships in London Tuesday. According to Dr Deborah Turbitt, PHE London deputy director for health protection, "Approximately 30 people have reported illness and 2 of these cases have been confirmed as norovirus by laboratory testing. "PHE has been working closely with the London 2017 organisers and the hotel to provide infection control advice to limit the spread of illness."  Go to article

Legionnaires' Disease Confirmed in Brooke Army Medical Center Employees ( Outbreak News Today) Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) in San Antonio, Texas has confirmed Legionnaires' disease in at least two staff members and a third has testing pending during the past week, according to multiple media accounts. No patients have been affected. Go to article

Domestic Preparedness & Response

Big Easy on Edge as City Scrambles to Fix Pumping System ( AP News) Flood-weary residents remained on edge as Louisiana's governor declared a state of emergency in New Orleans, but this time the threat wasn't churning in the Gulf of Mexico. The city's malfunctioning water-pumping system and the threat of more rain have left some neighborhoods at a greater risk of flooding. Go to article

US Biomedical-research Facilities Unprepared for Attacks and Natural Disasters ( Nature) When Hurricane Sandy hit New York City in 2012, the storm destroyed scientific equipment worth more than US$20 million at the New York University Langone Medical Center. Tropical Storm Allison hit the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston in 2001, and caused so much damage that some researchers had to restart their careers elsewhere. Despite such catastrophes, a report published on 10 August finds that many research institutions in the Uare still unprepared for disasters. Go to article

Global Health Security

Bioterrorism Threats Require Common Global Experimentation Oversight, Expert Says ( Homeland Preparedness News) Without an internationally standardized approval process to guide countries in conducting public health-related experiments, resurrecting an eradicated disease in the lab increases the risk it could be used as an agent of bioterrorism, says Dr. Tom Inglesby, who is recognized worldwide in the fields of public health preparedness, pandemic and emerging infectious disease, and biological threat response and prevention. Go to article

5 Quotes from the Head of USAID on His First Day on the Job ( NPR: Goats and Soda) Mark Andrew Green, the new head of the US Agency for International Development, kicked off his first day on the job with a speech to hundreds of employees. In his speech on Monday, he focused on what they can expect from him and his vision for USAID. Go to article

Yemen and Cholera: A Modern Humanity Test (Lancet) Urgent warnings began in May as aid agencies called for an immediate response to the growing cholera outbreak in Yemen. By mid-July, over 330,000 cholera cases were reported, with 1700 deaths. Since 2015, a civil war has left 14ยท5 million people (half the country's population) without access to clean water and sanitation. The UN has called it the "world's worst cholera outbreak in the context of the world's worst humanitarian crisis". Go to article

Medicine & Public Health

Vaccine Funding Must Continue - the Health of American Children Is at Stake ( STAT) When it comes to saving lives and minimizing health care costs, vaccinating children against infectious diseases is one of the most cost-effective public health interventions. In the US alone, over the last 20 years childhood immunizations have prevented 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations, 732,000 deaths, and saved nearly $1.38 trillion in total societal costs. Go to article

Trump Declares Opioid Crisis a "National Emergency" ( CBS News) President Donald Trump is officially declaring the opioid crisis a "national emergency." "The opioid crisis is an emergency and I'm saying officially right now it is an emergency," Mr. Trump said. "It's a national emergency. We're going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis." Go to article

Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness in the United States During the 2015-2016 Season ( New England Journal of Medicine) The A(H1N1)pdm09 virus strain used in the live attenuated influenza vaccine was changed for the 2015-2016 influenza season because of its lack of effectiveness in young children in 2013-2014. The Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Network evaluated the effect of this change as part of its estimates of influenza vaccine effectiveness in 2015-2016. Go to article

Cholera Vaccines Less Effective for Children Than Adults ( Pharmaceutical Processing) A new review of the research literature led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health shows that cholera vaccines provide substantial protection for adults but provide significantly less protection for children under age 5, a population particularly at risk for dying from this diarrheal disease. Go to article

Building Capacity for Active Surveillance of Vaccine Adverse Events in the Americas: A Hospital-based Multi-country Network ( Vaccine) New vaccines designed to prevent diseases endemic in low and middle-income countries are being introduced without prior utilization in countries with robust vaccine pharmacovigilance systems. Our aim was to build capacity for active surveillance of vaccine adverse events in the Americas. Go to article

Science & Technology

New Tool Identifies Non-coding Genomic Regions Likely to Harbor Pathogenic Variants ( Genome Web) olumbia University researchers have developed a new approach to uncover stretches of the non-coding human genome that are more likely to harbor pathogenic variants. While scouring the human exome has tied a number of variants to genetic conditions, variation within the non-coding portion of the genome also contributes to disease, according to Columbia's David Goldstein and his colleagues. Go to article

Handheld Spectral Analyzer Turns Smartphone into Diagnostic Tool ( Phys.org) Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed technology that enables a smartphone to perform lab-grade medical diagnostic tests that typically require large, expensive instruments. Costing only $550, the spectral transmission-reflectance-intensity (TRI)-Analyzer from Bioengineering and Electrical & Computer Engineering Professor Brian Cunningham's lab attaches to a smartphone and analyzes patient blood, urine, or saliva samples as reliably as clinic-based instruments that cost thousands of dollars. Go to article

Other 21st Century Threats

Eggs Containing Fipronil Found in 15 EU Countries and Hong Kong ( BBC) The commission will hold a meeting with ministers and regulators on 26 September. Its food safety chief has called countries to stop "blaming and shaming" each other. A row has erupted over how long Belgian and Dutch authorities have known about the contamination. Eggs, coming mainly from the Netherlands, have been found to contain a fipronil, a substance used to kill lice and ticks on animals that is banned by the EU for use in the food industry. Go to article

If Trump Wants a Nuclear Attack Against North Korea, His Military Advisers Have Few Other Options ( Washington Post) The dueling threats issued by President Trump and the North Korean military have prompted questions about US procedures to launch a preemptive nuclear attack. The answer is stark: If the president wants to strike, his senior military advisers have few options but to carry it out or resign. Go to article


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