News Pouch: 14 March 2019

Pandemic Threats and Health Emergencies

News Pouch: 14 March 2019


  • Spotlight: Ebola
  • Updates and News on main Outbreaks
    • Priority Infectious Diseases
      • Influenza
      •  VBD, and more
  • One Health
    • Biodiversity and ecosystem
    • Food Security and Safety
    • AMR
    • Health in Emergencies and Disasters
    • Climate Change
    • Migration Health
    • Global Health
    • Contact us


    Ebola Outbreak Situation

    WHO AFRO - Situation Report - Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak in DRC - Sitrep 32 (2019)
    As of 10 March 2019, a total of 923 EVD cases, including 858 confirmed and 65 probable cases, were reported from 20 health zones in the North Kivu and Ituri provinces. Overall, cases have been reported from 125 of 319 health areas across 20 health zones. A total of 582 deaths were reported (overall case fatality ratio 63%), including 517 deaths among confirmed cases. Of confirmed and probable cases with reported age and sex, 57% (523/922) were female, and 30% (279/923) were children aged less than 18 years. The cumulative total of confirmed and probable cases among health workers is 74, including 26 deaths.

    WHO: Ebola Spread in DRC Still 'Moderate'
    Today the Democratic Republic of the Congo recorded two new cases and two new deaths in its ongoing Ebola outbreak in North Kivu and Ituri provinces. The new cases occurred in Mandima and Masereka, and the deaths included a community death in Masereka and a death at an Ebola treatment center in Butembo.
    Go to article

    Violence propels Ebola outbreak
    Surging conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is hampering efforts to stamp out Ebola in the region, with the outbreak surging towards 1,000 cases — the second-largest ever recorded. Political protests, attacks on treatment centres and violence towards front-line health-workers are contributing to a situation in which the virus has become difficult to treat and contain. Also worrying are recent data from the World Health Organization that suggest the virus is also spreading through undetected means.
    Epidemiological Situation in the Provinces of North Kivu and Ituri (DRC Press Release)
    Go to article
    The Battle Against One of the Worst Ebola Epidemics Ever is in Trouble
    Distrust, fear and lack of communication from aid groups have alienated communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, leading some people to spurn treatment and even attack treatment centers.
    Go to article
    Projections of Ebola outbreak size and duration with and without vaccine use in Équateur, Democratic Republic of Congo, as of May 27, 2018

    Priority Diseases

    How Africa can quell the next disease outbreaks


    WHO launches new global influenza strategy
    The goal of the strategy is to prevent seasonal influenza, control the spread of influenza from animals to humans, and prepare for the next influenza pandemic.
    The new strategy is the most comprehensive and far-reaching that WHO has ever developed for influenza.  It outlines a path to protect populations every year and helps prepare for a pandemic through strengthening routine programmes.
    Read the Global Influenza Strategy 
    Improving Researchers’ Abilities to Forecast Epidemics
    An annual influenza season forecasting challenge issued by the US Centers for Disease Control provides unique insight into epidemic forecasting, according to a study published in the journal Scientific Reports.
    Go to article

    BARDA Awards $8.5 Million Contract to Study Influenza A Vaccine
    Vaccitech announced that it has been awarded an $8.5 million dollar contract from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.  
    This new contract is for the advanced clinical development of its recombinant Modified Vaccinia Ankara vaccine candidate for the prevention of seasonal and pandemic influenza A.
    Go to article
    New pill shows early promise for blocking many strains of flu
    A new Sub-Saharan Africa HPAI Situation Update from FAO/EMPRES – Animal Health
    Two Studies on the Recent Evolution of HPAI H5 Viruses in the Middle East
    One of our biggest concerns about avian influenza is that these viruses are often found in regions of the world where surveillance and testing are marginal at best, or in places where press freedoms and government willingness to divulge information are less than exemplary (see Why No News Isn't Necessarily Good News).
    Go to article


    Enabling targeted interventions to reduce the burden of mosquito-borne diseases
    The researchers have used 35 years of historic data, together with 17 of the highest-regarded and accepted climate change models to create a tool for public health officials which will allow them to target resource most efficiently and effectively to combat disease outbreak.

    Sanofi suffers setback as panel recommends against dengue vaccine in adults

    PAHO: Brazil, in Midseason, Reporting Only 50 Yellow Fever Cases
    In the its latest update on yellow fever in the Americas, the Pan American Health Organization said three South American countries have reported cases since December 2018: Bolivia, Brazil, and Peru.
    Go to article

    Genomic, Epidemiological and Digital Surveillance of Chikungunya Virus in the Brazilian Amazon
    Since its first detection in the Caribbean in late 2013, chikungunya virus has affected 51 countries in the Americas. The CHIKV epidemic in the Americas was caused by the CHIKV-Asian genotype. In August 2014, local transmission of the CHIKV-Asian genotype was detected in the Brazilian Amazon region. However, a distinct lineage, the CHIKV-East-Central-South-America (ECSA)-genotype, was detected nearly simultaneously in Feira de Santana, Bahia state, northeast Brazil. The genomic diversity and the dynamics of CHIKV in the Brazilian Amazon region remains poorly understood despite its importance to better understand the epidemiological spread and public health impact of CHIKV in the country.
    Go to article

    Study: Zika disease generally mild in children 
    Infection with Zika can cause severe malformations in children exposed to the virus prenatally, but it results in relatively mild illness in kids who contract it outside of the womb, according to a study today in Clinical Infectious Diseases.
    Mar 11 Clin Infect Dis study

    What next in the fight against Lassa fever?
    Fifty years since Lassa fever was first identified in Nigeria, the country is grappling with yet another outbreak, now set to be the worst on record, with 72 deaths confirmed in the first six weeks of the year — albeit in part because of improved disease reporting, according to the government.
    WHO AFRO: Pneumonic Plague in Uganda  
    WHO AFRO has published its Weekly Bulletin on Outbreaks and Other Emergencies for week 10 (March 4-10)
    Go to Bulletin

    Association of rodent-borne Leptospira spp. with urban environments in Malaysian Borneo

    A Systematic Review of MERS Seroprevalence and Viral RNA Prevalence in Dromedary Camels
    Human infection with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus is driven by recurring dromedary-to-human spill-over events, leading decision-makers to consider dromedary vaccination. Dromedary vaccine candidates in the development pipeline are showing hopeful results, but gaps in our understanding of the epidemiology of MERS-CoV in dromedaries must be addressed to design and evaluate potential vaccination strategies.
    Go to article

    Saudi Arabia reports more MERS in hot spots, hits 100 cases for year
    With these 5 new cases, Saudi Arabia has now recorded 100 cases since Jan 1, including 56 in Wadi ad-Dawasir, many of which have been healthcare-related.
    The World Health Organization's regional office for the Eastern Mediterranean (WHO EMRO) published a summary of MERS activity in February, noting 76 cases (68 in Saudi Arabia, 8 in Oman). The agency said that, through February, global MERS totals since 2012 had reached 2,374 lab-confirmed cases and 823 deaths, for a case-fatality rate of 34.6%. More than 83% of the cases have been in Saudi Arabia.
    Mar 9 MOH report
    Mar 10-11 MOH report
    Mar 11 WHO EMRO update


    Monthly shots for HIV as effective as daily pills, two large studies show
    If regulators approve this new dosing, it would offer patients a more convenient way to take their medication — and may help improve treatment adherence.

    Largest ever HIV prevention study delivers sobering message
    The new study, called Population Effects of Antiretroviral Therapy to Reduce HIV Transmission (PopART), included 1 million adults in Zambia and South Africa. When it began in late 2013, research had shown that ARVs can not only stave off disease, but also prevent people from infecting others. But whether these benefits would translate from an individual to an entire community was unclear.

    ASF China Update for 8 March 2019 from FAO/EMPRES – Animal Health.


    ECDC: Italy, Poland, France, and Austria reporting increase in measles
    The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) late last week said several European countries are reporting an increase in measles cases in recent weeks, with four nations reporting more than 100 cases in January. For January, 19 countries reported a total of 881 measles case, with 10 reporting no cases, the ECDC said. Romania, Italy, Poland, and France had the highest case counts with 261, 165, 133, and 124 cases, respectively. In the past year, the ECDC said 77% of all measles cases occurred in unvaccinated case-patients.
    Mar 8 ECDC update

    Update on Vaccine-Derived Poliovirus Outbreaks — Democratic Republic of the Congo and Horn of Africa, 2017–2018.
    During 2017–2018, four cVDPV type 2 outbreaks, with 42 cases to date, occurred in six provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and required multiple response supplementary immunization activities (SIAs). In Somalia, concurrent cVDPV type 2 and cVDPV type 3 outbreaks occurred, first identified by sewage testing months before occurrence of 12 paralytic cases to date.
    (MMWR, 3/8/19)

    One Health  

    FAO, OIE, and WHO launch a guide for countries on taking a
    One Health approach to addressing zoonotic diseases

    When It Comes to Disease, Why Wait for a Pandemic to Respond?  
    Rapid response to a real-life pandemic is essential, and the role of community awareness and preparedness is critical—why wait for a real-life pandemic to learn how to respond?
    Go to article

    Ecosystems and Biodiversity

    'Cutting everything in sight': Ugandans vow to curb rampant deforestation

    Food security

    Heatwave threatens to slash harvests in drought-hit Zimbabwe
    Climate change mitigation and food loss and waste reduction: Exploring the business case
    CCAFS and Unique forestry and land use GmbH just published a peer-reviewed report on food loss and waste in agricultural supply chains and examining the profitability and greenhouse gas emission reduction potential of 3 technologies in 3 specific case studies. We invite you to read and share.
    Summary blog by authors:

    Little time for farmers to deal with rainfall changes from global warming, study says

    Bangladesh's fishermen struggle as cyclone threat grows
    How a ‘landscape of fear’ transformed the ecosystem of this African wildlife park


    Global Monitoring of Antimicrobial Resistance Based on Metagenomics Analyses of Urban Sewage
    Antimicrobial resistance is a serious threat to global public health, but obtaining representative data on AMR for healthy human populations is difficult. Here, we use metagenomic analysis of untreated sewage to characterize the bacterial resistome from 79 sites in 60 countries.
    Go to article

    Training Course
    From Jul 15 to 19, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine will offer a course on "Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR): A Multidisciplinary Approach," with a focus on One Health approaches in low- and middle-income countries.
    The course is aimed at those designing, implementing and evaluating strategies to address AMR. Reduced fees are available for applicants based in low- and middle-income countries, with applications accepted up to June 15. Applicants should have a good command of English, as all teaching will be in English.
    More information here:

    Stewardship / Resistance Scan for Mar 11, 2019

    • VA outpatient prescribing
    • FDA to review new TB drug

    More »

    Stewardship / Resistance Scan for Mar 08, 2019

    • Home therapy for kids' cellulitis
    • Antibiotics and UTI relapse

    More »

    Emergencies and Disasters

    WHO-AFRO situation report: Week 10: 04 - 10 March 2019
    The WHO Health Emergencies Programme is currently monitoring 60 events in the region. This week’s edition covers key new and ongoing events, including:

    • Plague in Uganda
    • Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
    • Hepatitis in Namibia
    • Lassa fever in Nigeria.
    Risk Communication Strategies for the Very Worst of Cases
    A new report by a team of researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security reframes the discussion of the most severe biological threats to provide policy advocates with an additional tool to help them catalyze expansive international support for work on pandemic prevention and response. 
    Read More

    The Global Chemicals Outlook II
    The Global Chemicals Outlook II: From Legacies to Innovative Solutions – Implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has been prepared by UN Environment over the past three years through a process involving more than 400 scientists and experts around the world. The Summary for Policymakers was made available as working document of the fourth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly. The Synthesis Report was launched on 11 March 2019 in Nairobi, Kenya. The full report will be released on 1 April 2019.

    Climate Change

    Air pollution killing more people than smoking, say scientists
    Researchers in Germany and Cyprus estimated that air pollution caused 8.8 million extra deaths in 2015 - almost double the previously estimated 4.5 million.
    The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates smoking kills about 7 million people a year globally.

    Review of interventions to improve outdoor air quality and public health

    White people make pollution, others breathe it
    In the United States, black and Hispanic people bear many more of the deadly effects of air pollution, while creating less pollution themselves. Non-Hispanic white people are exposed to around 17% less air-pollution exposure than they make. African Americans bear a ‘pollution burden’ of 56% excess exposure, and Hispanic Americans face 63%.
    “The thing that’s causing the disparity is the different amounts of consumption,” says environmental engineer Christopher Tessum. “White people spend more money.” And are disproportionately to blame for the consumption of goods and services generating dangerous particles known as “fine particulate matter,” which gets lodged deep in the lungs, causing inflammation that triggers strokes and heart attacks, as well as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. However, this segment of the population doesn’t endure an equivalent share of the consequences.
    Reference: PNAS paper

    Frontiers 2018/19: Emerging Issues of Environmental Concern

    Rain is melting Greenland’s ice, even in winter, raising fears about sea level rise
    India's Kerala to give workers a siesta to help beat the heat

    Australia: To reduce fire risk and meet climate targets, over 300 scientists call for stronger land clearing laws

    Governments seek U.N. scrutiny of technologies to cool the climate

    Bomb cyclones and polar vortexes—winter's scary weather explained
    According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's website, a bomb cyclone occurs when a "cold air mass collides with a warm air mass." Cold arctic air colliding with warm ocean water is a common source of this collision.
    After pressure plummets, air rushes in to fill the space between these two air masses, creating intense winds and strengthening the storm.
    Despite the intense name, bomb cyclones are fairly common, particularly in northern Atlantic regions.

    Migration Health

    Does climate change influence people’s migration decisions in Maldives?
    The influence of climate change and perceptions of it on people’s migration decisions has received significant prominence, especially for people living on low-lying islands. To contribute to this literature, this paper uses Maldives as a case study for exploring the research question: How does climate change influence or not influence people’s migration decisions in Maldives? Previous work tends to start from a disciplinary climate change..
    Fiji: Planned relocation guidelines - A framework to undertake climate change related relocation
    Operationalizing migration impacts for index-based disaster risk assessments: a systematic approach to migration as multidimensional risk dynamic
    Migration is one of the most important population dynamics in the world and thus has diverse impacts on socio-ecological systems, including their risk to be harmed by disasters. However, the prevailing one-sided notion of migration as mostly risk increasing factor in current index-based disaster risk assessments lags far behind the multifaceted academic discourse about migration impacts on particularly vulnerability and resilience dynamics.

    Global Health

    NAS, NAE, and NAM Presidents Highlight Facts on Vaccine Safety in Light of Measles Outbreaks
    The current measles outbreaks in the United States and elsewhere are being fueled by misinformation about the safety of vaccines.  To help counter such misinformation, we created a website that provides clear, concise, and evidence-based answers to questions about vaccine safety and other commonly asked questions about health and science as identified through our partnership with Google.

    States Are Failing on Vaccinations. The Federal Government Must Lead.
    In the year 2000, the United States essentially claimed victory against childhood diseases, eliminating measles and making the prevalence of other childhood diseases, such as mumps, extremely rare. Today, we are losing. Eleven states have reported measles cases, and a checkerboard of communities across the United States lack the necessary vaccine coverage needed to maintain the threshold herd immunity of about 96 percent — when vaccination of a substantial portion of a population protects everyone. The costs in human and financial terms are enormous.
    Go to article
    Notes from the Field: Tetanus in an Unvaccinated Child — Oregon, 2017
    Go to article
    Italy Bans Unvaccinated Children from School
    Italian children have been told not to turn up to school unless they can prove they have been properly vaccinated. The deadline follows months of national debate over compulsory vaccination.
    Go to article




    Knowledge sharing

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    Please contact Dr. Chadia Wannous via email at 

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