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A delegation of staff from the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security is attending the 2017 Meeting of States Parties to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, from Dec. 4-8, alongside representatives from 179 nations that have signed and ratified the treaty.  Read now
Today's Headlines: December 7, 2017

Biological Agents & Infectious Diseases

Diphtheria is Spreading Fast in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh ( WHO) Diphtheria is rapidly spreading among Rohingya refugees in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, WHO warned today. More than 110 suspected cases, including 6 deaths, have been clinically diagnosed by health partners, including Médecins Sans Frontières and the International Federation of the Red Cross. Go to article

See also: Diphtheria Among Rohingya Refugees: 'Could Be Just the Top of the Iceberg' ( Outbreak News Today) Last month we reported on vaccination drives for cholera, measles and polio at Cox's Bazar for Rohingya children. Today, the WHO warned that diphtheria is rapidly spreading among Rohingya refugees in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh with suspected cases up to 110, including 6 deaths. Go to article


Domestic Preparedness & Response

Return of Powerful Winds Poses 'Extreme Fire Danger' Across Southern California ( Los Angeles Times) Several homes were destroyed by a wildfire in Bel-Air on Wednesday, and authorities warned of potentially catastrophic winds continuing through at least Thursday. Authorities said high winds--which could top 50 mph in some areas--create an "extreme fire danger." Go to article

This Year's Hurricane Season Was Intense. Is It a Taste of the Future? ( npr) With the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season finally over, scientists are taking stock of what they say was a monumental year. A total of 10 hurricanes swept the region. Six were major storms of Category 3 or higher, and three of those were Category 4 or higher when they made landfall, spreading havoc from the Caribbean to Texas. Go to article


Global Health Security

Leading the Prevention of Global Health Threats ( The Interpreter) Australia's tyranny of distance is no protection from global health threats. In recent months, the government has taken a number of positive steps to reaffirm the importance of international norms and cooperation to protect against threats to global health security. Go to article

Zambia's Multipronged Strategy for Eliminating Malaria ( devex) Joba Edwards spends the night outside in a tee-shirt and shorts, with a flashlight in hand, waiting for mosquitoes to bite him. When they do, he catches the bugs by sucking through the tube on a mouth aspirator, which traps them. He then funnels the mosquitoes into a Styrofoam cup, covered with a net. He has 12 of these cups, each marked by pen with a different hour of the night. Edwards sits on a wooden stool doing this from 6 pm to 6 am, 5 nights per month. Go to article


Medicine & Public Health

What Makes Some Parents Fall for Anti-Vaccine Messaging ( Vox) Since the 1990s, the number of parents seeking vaccine exemptions for their children has been climbing, pitting public health against influential anti-vaxxers in a proxy messaging war. Go to article

Hepatitis A Outbreak in California--Addressing the Root Cause ( New England Journal of Medicine) On October 13, 2017, Governor Jerry Brown of California declared a state of emergency in response to a hepatitis A outbreak that began in the homeless population in San Diego. In the past year, more than 649 people throughout California have been infected, 417 have been hospitalized, and 21 have died from hepatitis A, making this the largest outbreak in the Us in the past 20 years. Go to article

A Randomized Controlled Safety/Efficacy Trial of Therapeutic Vaccination in HIV-Infected Individuals Who Initiated Antiretroviral Therapy Early in Infection ( Science Translational Medicine) We report the results of a randomized, placebo-controlled trial of a therapeutic vaccine regimen in patients in whom ART was initiated during the early stage of HIV infection and whose immune system was anticipated to be relatively intact. Go to article

Hurricane Maria Devastated Puerto Rico. Then It Caused a Ripple Effect in Mainland Hospitals. ( USA Today) While Puerto Rico slowly recovers from the destruction of Hurricane Maria in September, hospitals on the mainland are dealing with some of the side effects of that destruction. They're struggling with a shortage of intravenous fluids directly linked to the hurricane damage. Go to article


Science & Technology

Gene-Drive Technology Needs Thorough Scrutiny ( Nature) At a meeting in Montreal, Canada, this week, scientists and green campaigners will be among those discussing how a gene-editing technology could influence the environment. And although it might not always be obvious, both critics and advocates of the technique--called a gene drive--tend to agree on many things. Go to article

NEIDL BSL-4 Lab Gets Green Light ( BU Today) After years of scrutiny by regulatory agencies and city, state, and federal officials, Boston University's National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories has received final approval from the Boston Public Health Commission to conduct research at Biosafety Level 4. Go to article


Other 21st Century Threats

Doctors Identify Brain Abnormalities in Cuba Attack Patients ( TRIB Live) Doctors treating the US Embassy victims of mysterious, invisible attacks in Cuba have discovered brain abnormalities as they search for clues to explain the hearing, vision, balance and memory damage, The Associated Press has learned. Go to article
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