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Today's Headlines: October 10, 2017

Biological Agents & Infectious Diseases

Airborne Transmission of Highly Pathogenic Influenza Virus during Processing of Infected Poultry ( Emerging Infectious Diseases) Exposure to infected poultry is a suspected cause of avian influenza (H5N1) virus infections in humans. We detected infectious droplets and aerosols during laboratory-simulated processing of asymptomatic chickens infected with human- (clades 1 and 2.2.1) and avian- (clades 1.1, 2.2, and 2.1) origin H5N1 viruses. We detected fewer airborne infectious particles in simulated processing of infected ducks. Influenza virus-naive chickens and ferrets exposed to the air space in which virus-infected chickens were processed became infected and died, suggesting that the slaughter of infected chickens is an efficient source of airborne virus that can infect birds and mammals. Go to article

CDC Issues Travel Notice for Madagascar Due to Plague Outbreak ( Outbreak News Today) On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel notice for people going to Madagascar due to the outbreak of plague on the island nation. Although bubonic plague occurs nearly every year in Madagascar, an unusual outbreak of plague pneumonia is occurring in geographically widespread areas, including in heavily populated cities of Antananarivo (the capital city and its suburbs) and Toamasina. Go to article

Plague Outbreak in Madagascar Spikes to Almost 400 Cases ( CIDRAP) Over the past 5 days, 230 new suspected plague cases were reported in Madagascar, with the disease spreading to seven more of the country's districts, the World Health Organization said today in an update. Of the 230 new suspected cases reported since the WHO's Oct 4 update, 17 have proved fatal, the WHO said. The new cases lift the outbreak's number of suspected, probable, and confirmed cases to 387 and the number of deaths to 45. Go to article

Clusters of Autochthonous Chikungunya Cases in Italy - First Update--9 October 2017 ( ecdc) Italy is currently experiencing four clusters of autochthonous chikungunya cases in the cities of Anzio, Latina and Rome in the Lazio region, and the city of Guardavalle Marina in the Calabria region. Autochthonous transmission of mosquito-borne infections is not unexpected in areas where Aedes albopictus mosquitoes are established and at a time when environmental conditions are favouring mosquito abundance and activity. This is the second time that Italy is facing an outbreak of autochthonous chikungunya, following an outbreak in the Emilia-Romagna region in 2007. Go to article

Yemen's Man-made Cholera Outbreak Is About to Break a Record ( H5N1) In a matter of days, the deadly cholera epidemic in Yemen will set a world record. The outbreak is entirely man-made. Two-and-a-half years of civil war have decimated Yemen's water sanitation system and its hospitals. Without access to clean water, doctors, or medical supplies, hundreds of thousands of Yemenis have contracted cholera, which spreads through fecal bacteria in water. Go to article

Domestic Preparedness & Response

Puerto Rico Governor Asks Congress for More Federal Aid After Hurricane ( The Hill) Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello is asking Congress to consider providing about $1.4 billion in funding beyond the Trump administration's request last week to help the US territory recover from Hurricane Maria. In a letter made public on Monday to House and Senate leaders, Rossello requested funding for federal grant and loan programs "to meet the immediate emergency needs of Puerto Rico." Go to article

Wildfires Put State Budgets Under Pressure ( Emergency Management) The wildfires that tore through more than a million acres of Montana this year damaged homes, cloaked communities in smoke, and burned a hole in the state budget. With winter snow already falling, Montana's blazes mostly have subsided. But the state now faces a $200 million budget shortfall exacerbated by the record cost of fighting wildfires, Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, said in an early September statement explaining the crisis. "We are also facing the most expensive fire season in state history, requiring spending of over $60 million to date." Go to article

Aid Is Getting to Puerto Rico. Distributing It Remains a Challenge ( New York Times) Two weeks after Hurricane Maria split apart Puerto Rico, basic aid is arriving in San Juan and reaching more remote towns and barrios aching for assistance. But some families say that they are still receiving only meager portions, and ill-equipped and overburdened local mayors have been left to figure out how to haul supplies from regional drop-off points to their storm-ravaged towns. Go to article

Global Health Security

World's Second Largest Oral Cholera Vaccination Campaign Kicks Off at Rohingya Camps in Bangladesh ( H5N1) A massive cholera immunization campaign started today near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, to protect newly arrived Rohingya and host communities from the life-threatening diarrheal disease. 900 000 doses of the vaccine have been mobilized and are being delivered by more than 200 mobile vaccination teams, making it the second largest oral cholera vaccination campaign ever. Go to article

Medicine & Public Health

Doctors Advise How to Tame Your Child's Fear of Shots ( Trib Live) For the second year in a row, the Centers for Disease Control is telling doctors not to give patients FluMist, the nasal spray flu vaccine, and that's a problem for kids and adults who are scared of needles. Kids' reactions to shots may range from a mild anxiety to a full-blown meltdown, say area pediatricians. How many kids experience a fear of shots at some time in their lives? "100 percent," said Mike Steiner, the division chief of general pediatrics and adolescent medicine at UNC Health Care. Go to article

Pneumococcal Disease Rates Dropped After Vax Introduction ( MedPage Today) The 6 years after the 13-valent pneumococcal vaccine (Prevnar 13) was introduced saw a sustained drop in the rate in invasive pneumococcal disease among children and adults, researchers reported here. And analysis of surveillance data suggested that the 13 vaccine serotypes have not been replaced by others as causes of disease, according to Tamara Pilishvili, MPH, of the CDC's National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases in Atlanta, and colleagues. Go to article

An Interim Examination of the US Public Health Response to Ebola ( Health Security) From the summer of 2014 to the spring of 2016, the US was involved in the Ebola response on both the national and international levels. The US received 2 imported cases from West Africa and had 2 locally hospital-acquired cases, which spurred a massive and unprecedented public health response. As the domestic response stabilized and the epidemic in West Africa slowed, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials and the National Association of County and City Health Officials, through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, led an in-progress review to assess the national public health response to Ebola. Go to article

Evidence-based Options for Controlling Respiratory Virus Transmission ( Emerging Infectious Diseases) Given the speed with which viruses transmitted by the respiratory route spread globally, epidemics caused by these viruses pose great threats to global public health. Recent examples include the global outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome caused by a coronavirus in 2003-04, the rapid global spread of pandemic influenza A(H1N1) in 2009, and the ongoing outbreaks of Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome caused by another coronavirus. Human respiratory viruses such as influenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus, parainfluenza, adenovirus, and rhinovirus cause considerable illness each year. Go to article

Dallas Nursing Home Chain Comes Under Fire for Not Evacuating Before Hurricane ( Dallas News) When the police arrived at the nursing home during Hurricane Harvey, more than a foot of water filled the one-story building - along with the stench of urine and feces. Volunteers with boats stood ready to remove the 70 frail residents, many of them in wheelchairs. But the man in charge of Lake Arthur Place nursing home in Port Arthur refused to allow the evacuation, according to a police affidavit detailing the incident. He had to be handcuffed before police and volunteers could begin taking the elderly to shelters and hospitals. Go to article

Science & Technology

In Search of Global Governance for Research in Epidemics ( Lancet) The west African epidemic of Ebola virus disease in 2014-15 became a major tragedy because the global system under the International Health Regulations and the governance of research related to epidemics both failed to function as needed. Research started too late and yielded only one vaccine candidate with probable effectiveness. Today, the international framework for epidemic preparedness and response still does not include a role for research. Future cross-national epidemics and Public Health Emergencies of International Concern are likely to involve pathogens that have no proven effective vaccines or specific therapeutics. What can be done now to improve the prospects for scientific learning in the next epidemic? Go to article

GSK Warns Drug Firms Need More Cash to Prepare for Next Ebola-scale Epidemic ( The Telegraph) Britain's biggest drugmaker GSK has warned world governments that they are not spending enough to prepare for future epidemics on the scale of Ebola or Zika. The FTSE 100 firm's chief medical officer for vaccines, Thomas Breuer, said the company had built a brand new lab outside Washington, DC with capacity to work on vaccines for potential global outbreaks but was lacking public funds to press ahead. Go to article

Single Shot in 'Tiny Coffee Cups' Could Deliver Multiple Vaccines, MIT ( in-Pharma Technologist.com) 3-D microparticles which degrade at differing rates in the body could allow multiple doses of drugs or vaccines to be administered in a single injection, say MIT researchers. Go to article

Gene Drive Limitations ( The Scientist) Researchers have eyed gene drives--selfish genetic elements that promote their own inheritance and spread--for controlling populations of disease-carrying mosquitoes. But a new study published last week (October 4) in PLOS Genetics documents a major hurdle: preventing the insects' evolution to resist the effects of the introduced genetic element. Go to article

Anti-doping Agency to Ban All Gene Editing in Sport from 2018 ( New Scientist) The battle between sports cheats and testers is poised to enter a whole new arena. The World Anti-Doping Agency has extended its 2003 ban on "gene doping" to include all forms of gene editing - but it is not clear the agency has the means to enforce this ban. Go to article

Other 21st Century Threats

Chemist Says Kim Had 1.4 Times Lethal Dosage of VX on Face ( AP News) The estranged half brother of North Korea's leader had about 1.4 times the lethal dosage of VX nerve agent on his face after he was attacked at a Malaysian airport, a government chemist testified Tuesday. VX was found on Kim Jong Nam's face, in his eye and in his blood plasma, Raja Subramaniam, who heads the Center of Chemical Weapons Analysis laboratory, said at the murder trial of two women accused of smearing the chemical weapon on Kim in the brazen assassination in February. Go to article

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