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The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security is hosting Clade X , a pandemic tabletop exercise, from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. on Tuesday, May 15. The exercise will illustrate high-level decisions and policies needed to prevent a severe pandemic or diminish its consequences should prevention fail. A livestream of the exercise will be available on the Center's page on Facebook. We hope you and many others interested in biosecurity will join us online and share the link in your networks. You can also follow #CladeX on Twitter for updates. 

Today's Headlines: May 15, 2018

Biological Agents & Infectious Diseases 

DR Congo: Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak--ICRC Emergency Plan of Action ( H5N1) Via ReliefWeb, a report from the ICRC: Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC): Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak - Emergency Plan of Action DREF n MDRCD026. This has some new information on the early cases, which included 11 cases and seven deaths in the family of the first victim. Go to article

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC): Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak - Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) DREF n MDRCD026 ( Relief Web) On 3 May 2018, the Health Division of Equateur Province in DRC reported cluster of cases of suspected VHF 21 cases with 17 deaths. On 5 May, during a field investigation, 5 samples were collected from hospitalized suspected cases of which 2 were confirmed positive of Ebola on 8 May. On 8 May 2018, the DRC Government declared a new outbreak of Ebola virus disease, which is the 9th in the country's history. Go to article


Domestic Preparedness & Response

Puerto Rico Nervously Prepares for Hurricane Season: 'What if Another One Comes?' ( New York Times) Nearly eight months after Hurricane Maria tore across Puerto Rico and ravaged its frail power grid, the Army Corps of Engineers, which was charged with restoring the island's electricity, will hand off its mission and depart on Friday. Thousands of Puerto Ricans will still be in the dark. On June 1, a new hurricane season will begin. And Puerto Ricans, who are struggling to recover from Maria, fear they will not be ready. Go to article

Lava Threatens Hawaii Exit Routes and Could Spur More Evacuations ( CNBC) Lava flowing from giant rips in the earth on the flank of Hawaii's erupting Kilauea volcano threatened highways on Monday, raising the possibility officials may order thousands of more people to evacuate before escape routes are cut off. Go to article

It's Not Just Hawaii: The US Has 169 Volcanoes That Could Erupt ( New York Times) Volcanoes are full of tricks. They can build to a major eruption in a crescendo of shudders and spatters or explode with almost no warning. They can lie in wait under a magnificent snowcap, the centerpiece of a landscape of beauty that they could obliterate tomorrow, or in 10,000 years, or never again. Go to article


Global Health & Security

Why Ebola Keeps Coming Back ( BBC) The Ebola virus has reared its head again, this time in the Democratic Republic of Congo. While it is impossible to predict exactly where and when the next outbreak will occur, we now know much more about how to prevent a crisis. Go to article

The 1918 Flu Pandemic: Why It Matters 100 Years Later ( CDC Public Health Matter Blog) 100 years ago, an influenza (flu) pandemic swept the globe, infecting an estimated one-third of the world's population and killing at least 50 million people. The pandemic's death toll from World War I, which was happening simultaneously. At the time, scientists had not yet discovered flu viruses, but we know today that the 1918 pandemic was caused by an influenza A (H1N1) virus. Go to article

As Ebola Flares Once Again, a Rapid Global Response Invites Cautious Hope (STAT) In the week since the Democratic Republic of the Congo declared a new Ebola outbreak, health officials have set in motion a plan to distribute an experimental vaccine, logistics experts have established an airbridge to ferry responders and equipment into the epicenter, and the director-general of the WHO has flown in from Geneva to take stock. Go to article


Science & Technology

Vaccine-elicited Receptor-binding Site Antibodies Neutralize Two New World Hemorrhagic Fever Arenaviruses ( Nature Communications) While five arenaviruses cause human hemorrhagic fevers in the Western Hemisphere, only Junin virus has a vaccine. The GP1 subunit of their envelope glycoprotein binds transferrin receptor 1  using a surface that substantially varies in sequence among the viruses. As such, receptor-mimicking antibodies described to date are type-specific and lack the usual breadth associated with this mode of neutralization. Go to article

A CRISPRi Screen in E. coli Reveals Sequence-specific Toxicity of dCas9 ( Nature Communications) High-throughput CRISPR-Cas9 screens have recently emerged as powerful tools to decipher gene functions and genetic interactions. Here we use a genome-wide library of guide RNAs to direct the catalytically dead Cas9 (dCas9) to block gene transcription in Escherichia coli. Go to article

As DIY Gene Editing Gains Popularity, 'Someone Is Going to Get Hurt' ( New York Times) As a teenager, Keoni Gandall already was operating a cutting-edge research laboratory in his bedroom in Huntington Beach, Calif. While his friends were buying video games, he acquired more than a dozen pieces of equipment - a transilluminator, a centrifuge, two thermocyclers - in pursuit of a hobby that once was the province of white-coated PhD's in institutional labs. Go to article


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Preparedness Pulsepoints: May 15, 2018
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