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Today's Headlines: September 13, 2018

Biological Agents & Infectious Diseases

WHO Details South Korea's Imported MERS Case ( CIDRAP) So far all 21 close contacts of a South Korean man who was diagnosed as having MERS-CoV after returning from a business trip to Kuwait are asymptomatic, the WHO said today in a statement that covered investigation findings and its assessment of the risk of spread. Go to article

Dozens of High Fever Deaths Cause Panic in Northern India ( AP News) Indian health authorities are rushing medical supplies to north Indian towns and villages where at least 50 people have died from fever over the past two weeks, topping the number of fever-related deaths over a three-month period last year. Go to article


Domestic Preparedness & Response

Hurricane Florence Starts to Hit the Carolina Coast with High Winds and Rushing Seas ( NPR) Hurricane Florence's heavy rains and tropical storm-force winds reached North Carolina's Outer Banks on Thursday morning, leading the way for a storm packing 105-mph winds. Florence has weakened a bit over the past 24 hours, but it has also grown larger and will likely dump torrential rain over North and South Carolina through Monday. Go to article


Global Health Security

Philippines Starts Massive Evacuations as Huge Typhoon Nears ( AP News) hilippine authorities began evacuating thousands of people Thursday from the path of the most powerful typhoon this year, closing schools, readying bulldozers for landslides and placing rescuers and troops on full alert in the country's north. More than 4 million people live in areas at most risk from the storm, which the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Hawaii categorized as a super typhoon with powerful winds and gusts. Go to article

Papua New Guinea Polio Outbreak Rises to 12, Vaccination Campaign Expanded to Cover All Children Aged up to 15 Years ( Outbreak News Today) Papua New Guinea's National Department of Health today announced that polio vaccination will be expanded to cover all children aged up to 15 years. The polio vaccination campaign targeting children in the National Capital District will begin on 24 September. It will be expanded to the rest of the country from 1 October 2018. Go to article

Zimbabwe Police Ban Public Gatherings in Capital to Contain Cholera Outbreak ( Reuters) Zimbabwe's police on Wednesday issued a ban on all public gatherings and illegal food vending to control the spread of cholera, which has killed 21 people in the capital Harare. Go to article

Contact Tracing Performance During the Ebola Epidemic in Liberia, 2014-2015 ( PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases) During the Ebola virus disease epidemic in Liberia, contact tracing was implemented to rapidly detect new cases and prevent further transmission. We describe the scope and characteristics of contact tracing in Liberia and assess its performance during the 2014-2015 EVD epidemic. Go to article


Medicine & Public Health

A Prototype of How to Fight the Next Pandemic: A Vaccine Without the Shot ( Washington Post) On the 100th anniversary of the influenza pandemic of 1918 that sickĀ­ened a third of the world's population and killed 50 million people, vaccine researchers are urgently searching for new approaches to prepare for the next pandemic - a threat that most public health officials consider inevitable. A new study provides proof of concept for a solution that could upend the traditional centralized model, in which health professionals give injections at clinics. Go to article

Austerity, Measles and Mandatory Vaccination: Cross-regional Analysis of Vaccination in Italy 2000-14 ( European Journal of Public Health) Italy has experienced a resurgence in measles since 2015. Although much emphasis has been placed on the role of individuals opting out of vaccination, here we test the hypothesis that large budget reductions in public health spending were also a contributing factor. Go to article


Science & Technology

As Massive Zika Vaccine Trial Struggles, Researchers Revive Plan to Intentionally Infect Humans ( Science) In 2016, as the mosquito-borne Zika virus spread through the Americas and cases of infected women having brain-damaged babies mounted, investigators raced to develop a vaccine. Now, a $110 million vaccine trial is underway at 17 sites in nine countries, but it faces an unexpected, and ironic, challenge. Cases of Zika have plummeted to levels so low that most people vaccinated in the trial likely will never be exposed to the virus, which could make it impossible to tell whether the vaccine works. Go to article

Should Your Watch Monitor Your Heart? ( The Atlantic) The new Apple Watch, unveiled yesterday in Cupertino, CA, possesses a new and startling capability: It can monitor the electrical pulses that drive the heart's activity, and proactively alert users who it has determined might have a condition called atrial fibrillation. The FDA has voiced its approval, Apple said, and the new product goes on sale this fall. Go to article

Scientists Engineer a Powerful New Weapon Against Antibiotic-resistant Bacteria ( Science) Meningitis, pneumonia, deadly diarrhea. Antibiotic developers have long struggled to treat such dreaded diseases because the bacteria that cause them have double cell walls with an outer membrane that is particularly difficult for drugs to penetrate. The only new products to fight such gram-negative bacteria in the past 50 years are variations on existing, already approved drugs. Yet resistance to those classes of compounds is soaring. Now, a team of scientists has created a compound that breaches these bacterial outer membranes in a novel way--and could one day save the lives of people infected with bacteria that today foil every gram-negative antibiotic on the market. Go to article


Other 21st Century Threats

Salisbury Novichok Suspects Say They Were Only Visiting Cathedral ( The Guardian) The two men identified as suspects in the Salisbury nerve agent attack have appeared on Russia's state-funded TV station RT, claiming they visited the "wonderful" English city as tourists to see its cathedral. In their first interview since being charged in the UK with attempted murder, the men said they may have approached Sergei Skripal's house by accident on 4 March, but denied carrying any poison or committing any crime. Go to article

The Algorithms of August ( Foreign Policy) An artificial intelligence arms race is coming. It is unlikely to play out in the way that the mainstream media suggest, however: as a faceoff between the US and China. That's because AI differs from the technologies, such as nuclear weapons and battleships, that have been the subject of arms races in the past. After all, AI is software--not hardware. Go to article


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