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Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: Time to Sound a Global Alarm?


The epidemic of Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the second largest in history after the 2014 west African epidemic. A storm of detrimental factors complicates this event: armed conflict, political instability, and mass displacement. WHO, the DRC government, and non-governmental organisation partners have shown remarkable leadership but are badly stretched. The outbreak remains far from controlled, risking a long-term epidemic with regional, perhaps global, impacts. Read now


T oday's Headlines: February 7, 2019

Biological Agents & Infectious Diseases
More Ebola Reported from Katwa Hot Spot (CIDRAP) Today the Democratic Republic of Congo ministry of health confirmed one new Ebola infection in Katwa and reported two new deaths from Katwa and Butembo. And in other developments, two more infections were reported in healthcare workers, according to a weekly situation report yesterday from the WHO. Go to article
Measles Outbreak Declared in Philippines (BBC) Authorities in the Philippines have declared an outbreak of the highly contagious measles virus in several areas including the capital, Manila. As of 26 January there have been 1,813 measles cases and 26 deaths, according to the Department of Health Epidemiology Bureau. That is a 74% increase from 2018. Go to article

Domestic Preparedness & Response
Complex, Challenging, and Rewarding: Developing Strategies to Support Health and Human Services Recovery in Puerto Rico (ASPR Blog) Almost a year and a half after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, people across the island are still haunted by the memories of the devastating storm, and communities are still recovering. During a recent deployment to Puerto Rico to support disaster health recovery, I learned that recovery is truly a marathon that can take years. I am dedicated to helping people cope, heal and recover, and I have been honored to work with a great team for the Health and Social Services Recovery Support Function, managed by ASPR. Go to article

Government Affairs & National Security
Letter Urges Congressional Action to Stimulate Antibiotic Development (CIDRAP) In a letter sent to lawmakers in the Senate and the House of Representatives, stakeholders from large and small pharmaceutical companies and organizations including the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and Trust for America's Health asked Congress to "swiftly enact a package of incentives that would sustainably reinvigorate the pipeline of antibiotics while ensuring patient access and appropriate stewardship." Go to article

Medicine & Public Health
Trump's Plan to Eradicate HIV/AIDS Targets State, Local 'Hot Spots' (US News & World Report) President Donald Trump's proposal to eradicate the spread of HIV/AIDS in the US by 2030 will take the form of a multi-agency, "laser-focused" program that will target geographic and demographic hot spots in seven states, 48 counties, Washington DC, and San Juan, Puerto Rico, over the next decade, federal health experts said Wednesday. Go to article
Science & Technology
Organoids - Preclinical Models of Human Disease (New England Journal of Medicine) An organoid is a three-dimensional construct composed of multiple cell types that originates from stem cells by means of self-organization and is capable of simulating the architecture and functionality of native organs. Organoids permit in vivo and in vitro investigation and represent one of the latest innovations in the quest for a model to recapitulate the physiologic processes of whole organisms. Go to article
Genetic Compatibility of Reassortants between Avian H5N1 and H9N2 Influenza Viruses with Higher Pathogenicity in Mammals (Journal of Virology) The cocirculation of H5N1 and H9N2 avian influenza viruses in birds in Egypt provides reassortment opportunities between these two viruses. However, little is known about the emergence potential of reassortants derived from Egyptian H5N1 and H9N2 viruses and about the biological properties of such reassortants. Go to article
Single Dose of a rVSV-based Vaccine Elicits Complete Protection Against Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome Virus (Nature Vaccines) Severe fever with thrombocytopenia virus is an emerging tick-borne phlebovirus that causes lethal human disease, for which there are no licensed antiviral vaccines or therapies. Herein, we developed a live attenuated recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (rVSV)-based vaccine candidate expressing the SFTSV Gn/Gc glycoproteins (rVSV-SFTSV/AH12-GP). High titers of cross-protective, broadly neutralizing antibodies were elicited by a single dose of rVSV-SFTSV/AH12-GP in both immunocompetent and immunocompromised mice against multiple strains of SFTSV and the related but distinct phlebovirus Heartland virus. Go to article

Stanford Will Investigate Its Role in the Chinese CRISPR Baby Debacle (MIT Technology Review - Registration Required) The university wants to learn what ties its faculty members had to He Jiankui, the researcher who created gene-edited humans. Go to article


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Preparedness Pulsepoints: February 5, 2019
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