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We are pleased to announce the opening of the application process for the 2018 class of the Emerging Leaders in Biosecurity Initiative. We invite you to circulate this call for applications among your colleagues and students. Applications will be accepted through December 22, 2017. Learn More and Apply

Today's Headlines: November 13, 2017

Biological Agents & Infectious Diseases

Disneyland May Be Source Of Legionnaire's Disease Outbreak ( Deadline) An outbreak of Legionnaire's disease in Orange County may be linked to two cooling towers at Disneyland. County health officials say 12 people contracted the lung disease, including one Disneyland employee and nine who visited the park, with one person who had not visited the park ultimately dying. Go to article

Gay and Bisexual Men at Higher Risk of Hepatitis A in LA County as Outbreak Grows ( Los Angeles Times) Most of the 20 people killed and more than 600 sickened in the outbreak that began in San Diego were homeless. But cases have begun to surge in Los Angeles County among gay and bisexual men who are not homeless. And an LAPD officer who works on skid row was recently infected with the virus. Go to article

Marburg Virus Outbreak in Uganda - What You Need to Know ( The Conversation) All three people found to have the disease have since died. More than 100 people are now being monitored and the country's health authorities are holding their breath, waiting for the 21-day incubation period of the virus to pass - hopefully, without further cases being reported.  Go to article

Madagascar Plague Outbreak Tops 2,000 Cases: WHO ( Outbreak News Today) WHO continues to support the Ministry of Public Health and other national authorities in Madagascar to monitor and respond to the outbreak of plague. Since mid-October 2017, there has been a decline in the overall incidence of the disease and the number of patients hospitalized due to plague infection across the country. From 7-8 November 2017, no new suspected cases of pulmonary plague and no new deaths have been reported in Madagascar. Go to article


Domestic Preparedness & Response

US Food System Continues to Be Soft Target for Terrorism ( Food Safety Tech) Sadly, more and more these days, terrorism has become a prevalent concern. The food sector is not immune to threats either, especially as soft targets and lone wolf attacks become more common. Food Safety Tech discussed the issue with special agent Scott Mahloch, weapons of mass destruction coordinator for FBI Chicago, during a conversation leading up to this year's Food Safety Consortium, where Mahloch will be speaking. Go to article

Trump Ignores Climate Change. That's Very Bad for Disaster Planners. ( New York Times) In August, a week before Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas, President Trump rescinded an Obama-era executive order that urged federal agencies to take into account climate change and sea-level rise when rebuilding infrastructure. Go to article

Repair or Renovate? Puerto Rico Faces Stark Power Grid Options ( Scientific American) Despite the progress that has been made, more than half of Puerto Rico continues to soldier on without some of modern life's bare necessities--including lights, refrigeration, air-conditioning and access to computer networks. Without significant improvements to create a more resilient grid, however, many are questioning how Puerto Rico can avoid a similar catastrophe the next time a major storm hits. Go to article


Global Health & Security

How to Boost Access to Essential Medicines ( Project Syndicate) Despite the obvious link between health outcomes and economic growth, global-governance bodies have neglected many of the core needs of health-care systems across the developing world. Worse still, they have become distracted by narrow battles over drug prices, when they should be finding ways to improve drug availability. Go to article

What Does the Mugabe Story Tell Us About Power in Global Health Governance? ( International Health Policies) The global health community recently witnessed the first major test of the new WHO Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus's nascent tenure. On October 22 2017, following several days of intense outrage and scrutiny, particularly in the news and on social media, the Director-General rescinded the appointment of Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's longtime president, as a Goodwill Ambassador for Non-Communicable Diseases. Go to article

More Than 300 Dead in Earthquake Along Iran and Iraq's Border as Landslides Hinder Rescue Efforts ( Business Insider Science) A magnitude 7.3 earthquake killed more than 300 along the Iran-Iraq border on Sunday. The earthquake trigger landslides that hindered rescue efforts. The head of Iranian Red Crescent said more than 70,000 people were in need of emergency shelter. Go to article

Launch of Special Initiative to Address Climate Change Impact on Health in Small Island Developing States ( WHO) The vision is that, by 2030, all Small Island Developing States will have health systems that are resilient to climate change and countries around the world will be reducing their carbon emissions both to protect the most vulnerable from climate risks and deliver large health benefits in carbon-emitting countries. Go to article

Resurrected Malaria Strategy Saves Thousands of Lives in Africa ( Nature) In a sea of high-tech malaria fixes - everything from drug-delivery by drone to gene-edited mosquitoes - an old-fashioned approach is saving thousands of children in West Africa, according to studies presented this week at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene meeting in Baltimore, Maryland. Go to article


Government Affairs & National Security

North Korea Biological Weapons: What We Know About Kim Jong Un's Other Weapons of Mass Destruction ( Newsweek) Pyongyang's nuclear capabilities are well understood and high on the agenda of President Donald Trump in his ongoing five-country trip to Asia, but a recent study from the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School reported on a less well known aspect of North Korea's armaments program: biological weapons. Go to article

Warren, Colleagues Seek Information on Water- and Vector-borne Diseases in Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands ( Senator Elizabeth Warren) Several Democrat senators today sent a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to request information on the spread of  water- and vector-borne diseases in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The letter expresses concern that due to the significant damage caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria to the islands' sanitation infrastructure, residents are at serious risk of contracting waterborne diseases such as leptospirosis, which has reportedly been diagnosed in people in both Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Go to article

See also: Letter to CDC Director Seeking Information on Water- and Vector-borne Diseases in Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands ( US Senator Elizabeth Warren) As the situation in Puerto Rico continues to worsen, and as the US Virgin Islands face a long recovery, we are seeking additional information to help us better understand the extent of the problem of water- and vector-borne diseases in both territories. Go to article

GAO Reviews Use of Predictive Modeling for Infectious Disease Outbreaks ( Homeland Preparedness News) Leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee requested a review on Thursday to gauge how federal agencies are using predictive modeling and simulations to prepare for and respond to Zika, Ebola and other infectious disease outbreaks. Go to article

Former Drug Exec Is Said to Be Trump's Expected Health Secretary ( Bloomberg Politics) President Donald Trump is expected to name former drug industry executive Alex Azar to lead the US Department of Health and Human Services, according to people familiar with the matter. Azar, who worked at Eli Lilly & Co., would be the administration's point person on running -- or dismantling -- Obamacare, the health program enacted by Trump's predecessor that insures millions of Americans. He will also oversee Medicare and Medicaid, along with dozens of public health programs and sub-agencies. Go to article


Medicine & Public Health

She Warned of 'Peer-to-Peer Misinformation.' Congress Listened. ( New York Times) Before the sun came up on Oct. 31, Renee DiResta sat in bed in her pajamas and logged into a virtual war room. For years, Ms. DiResta had battled disinformation campaigns, cataloging data on how malicious actors spread fake narratives online. Go to article

To Find an Effective Zika Vaccine, We Must Include Pregnant Women in the Trials ( The Hill) Though the WHO has lifted the emergency alert on the Zika virus, scientists continue their push to develop a vaccine. Late last year, the virus reached Asia, where outbreaks are ongoing. It will remain a global threat to pregnant women as long as humans travel and mosquitoes stow away with them. The pursuit of a truly effective Zika virus vaccine, however, is handicapped by a long-standing clinical practice: the exclusion of pregnant women from drug development and vaccine trials. Go to article

How One Las Vegas ED Saved Hundreds of Lives After the Worst Mass Shooting in US History ( Emergency Physicians Monthly) The night that Stephen Paddock opened fire on thousands of people at a Las Vegas country music concert, nearby Sunrise Hospital received more than 200 penetrating gunshot wound victims. Dr. Kevin Menes was the attending in charge of the ED that night, and thanks to his experience supporting a local SWAT team, he'd thought ahead about how he might mobilize his department in the event of a mass casualty incident. Go to article


Science & Technology

Under Trump, Biologists Fear Political Risks of Controversial Research ( MIT Technology Review) Biologists working on controversial, cutting-edge technology say they fear what will happen if recent advances come to the attention of President Donald Trump. Go to article


21st Century Threats

Gun Violence Spreads Like an Infectious Disease, New Research Finds ( STAT) Gun violence in Chicago spreads like an infectious disease - and now, researchers have figured out a way to predict who's most likely get sick next. With infectious diseases, predictions are fairly simple: The more relationships an individual has with sick people, the more likely he is to be infected. The longer it's been since exposure, the less likely infection becomes. Go to article

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