News Pouch, 3 March 2019

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Pandemic Threats and Health Emergencies

News Pouch: 3 March 2019


  • Spotlight: Ebola
  • Spotlight: World Wildlife Day
  • Updates and News on main Outbreaks
    • Priority Infectious Diseases
      • Influenza
      •  VBD, and more
  • One Health
    • 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 30 (2019)
    Ebola response risks funding shortfall
    WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on donors to continue funding the response to the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or risk losing ground. There is an urgent need for US $148 million. So far, only a small fraction of that has been pledged. "Together with partners and with the Democratic Republic of the Congo government in the lead, we have made major gains. Hundreds of deaths have been averted, maybe even thousands," said Dr Tedros. "But the outbreak is not over and we urgently need additional funding to see it through.”
    New cases, torched center spotlight Katwa as Ebola hot zone
    Thirteen new cases raise the outbreak total to 872 cases, including 548 fatal ones.
    More »
    Attackers Torch MSF Ebola Treatment Center in Congo, Patients Evacuated
    Attackers set fire to an Ebola treatment center run by Medecins Sans Frontieres in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo late on Sunday, forcing staff to evacuate patients, the charity said. There were no immediate details on the identity or motive of the people who torched the center in the district of Katwa, at the heart of the country's worst outbreak of the deadly disease.
    Go to article
    DR Congo: Insecurity and attacks mean Ebola will keep spreading, warns world health agency
    Worsening security in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo marked by attacks on Ebola clinics have made it a “given” that the deadly virus will spread further, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.


    Ebola vaccine offered in exchange for sex, Congo taskforce meeting told
    As experts urge global warning over outbreak, women and girls in Beni report alleged exploitation

    Ebola therapies: an unconventionally calculated risk
    Safety, Tolerability, Pharmacokinetics, and Immunogenicity of the Therapeutic Monoclonal Antibody mAb114 Targeting Ebola Virus Glycoprotein (VRC 608): An Open-Label Phase 1 Study
    mAb114 is a single monoclonal antibody that targets the receptor-binding domain of Ebola virus glycoprotein, which prevents mortality in rhesus macaques treated after lethal challenge with Zaire ebolavirus. Here we present expedited data from VRC 608, a phase 1 study to evaluate mAb114 safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics, and immunogenicity.
    Go to article
    Video: How Ebola treatment has changed
    During the current Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, advances have been made in the clinical care of patients affected with the disease. To find out what has changed, we hear from Dr. Janet Diaz, WHO Clinical Management Lead. As of 24 February, 872 Ebola cases have been reported, with 548 deaths and 257 survivors.

    Ebola care rebounds in attack area; World Bank OKs funds
    Three new cases lift the outbreak total to 888, and officials say to expect more.
    More »
    Ebola Escalated Response: US$80 Million Commitment to the Democratic Republic of the Congo
    The World Bank Group and the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF) have approved a total of up to US$80 million in grants to support over half the estimated cost of an escalated six-month Ebola response effort being mounted by the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and international partners. The escalated campaign is estimated to cost about US$148 million and covers the period from February through the end of July 2019.
    Go to article 
    OIE’s EBO-SURSY project: Enhancing understanding of the animal-human transmission of Ebola virus disease to inform surveillance capacity building
    Ebola virus disease: asymptomatic and paucisymptomatic infection in contacts in Guinea
    Read this Article

    Unrecognised Ebola virus infection in contact persons: what can we learn from it?

    World Wildlife Day

    World Wildlife Day 2019
    Date: 3 March 2019

    The theme for World Wildlife Day 2019 is ‘Life below Water: for People and Planet’. The CITES Secretariat and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) are working in partnership to facilitate the global celebration of World Wildlife Day 2019.

    World Wildlife Day 2019 aligns closely with SDG 14 (life below water), and will provide an opportunity to highlight the value of marine wildlife, celebrate successful initiatives to conserve and sustainably manage these species, and scale up support for future initiatives.

    The capacity of life below water to provide these services is severely impacted, as our planet’s oceans and the species that live within it are under assault from an onslaught of threats. As much as 40% of the ocean is now heavily affected by the most significant and direct threat of over exploitation of marine species as well as other threats such as pollution, loss of coastal habitats and climate change. These threats have a strong impact on the lives and livelihoods of those who depend on marine ecosystem services, particularly women and men in coastal communities.
    This is the first World Wildlife Day to focus on life below water. It is a great opportunity to raise awareness about the breathtaking diversity of marine life, the crucial importance of marine species to human development, and how we can make sure it will continue to provide these services for future generations.


    Priority Diseases

    FDA, CDC, and CMS Launch Task Force to Help Facilitate Rapid Availability of Diagnostic Tests during Public Health Emergencies
    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the launch of the Tri-Agency Task Force for Emergency Diagnostics. This task force has been created to help leverage the expertise of each agency to advance rapid development and deployment of diagnostic tests in clinical and public health laboratories during public health emergencies.
    Go to article
    Connectivity of rapid-testing diagnostics and surveillance of infectious diseases
    Human Error in High-Biocontainment Labs: A Likely Pandemic Threat
    Incidents causing potential exposures to pathogens occur frequently in the high security laboratories often known by their acronyms, BSL3 (Biosafety Level 3) and BSL4. Lab incidents that lead to undetected or unreported laboratory-acquired infections can lead to the release of a disease into the community outside the lab; lab workers with such infections will leave work carrying the pathogen with them. If the agent involved were a potential pandemic pathogen, such a community release could lead to a worldwide pandemic with many fatalities.
    Go to article
    Epidemic Group Invests $34 Million in Potential Vaccine Printer Tech
    A coalition seeking to get ahead of the next pandemic has agreed a $34 million deal with German biotech CureVac to develop vaccine "printing" technology that aims to rapidly produce shots against multiple diseases.
    Go to article
    Special Feature: Progress in High-Level Isolation for the Care of Patients with High-Consequence Infectious Diseases
    Read Now
    The Special Pathogens Research Network: Enabling Research Readiness
    Read Now
    Evaluating Promising Investigational Medical Countermeasures: Recommendations in the Absence of Guidelines
    Read Now
    A Novel Approach to Infectious Disease Preparedness: Incorporating Investigational Therapeutics and Research Objectives into Full-Scale Exercises
    Read Now

    Genomics and High-Consequence Infectious Diseases: A Scoping Review of Emerging Science and Potential Ethical Issues
    Read Now

    The Impact of High-Level Isolation Units Beyond High-Consequence Pathogen Preparedness
    Read Now

    Influenza at the human-animal interface monthly risk assessment
    The biweekly global influenza update
    The latest FluNet summary of lab-confirmed data from GISRS:
    Recommended composition of influenza virus vaccines for use in the 2019-2020 northern hemisphere influenza season:  
    The update “Antigenic and genetic characteristics of zoonotic influenza viruses and development of candidate vaccine viruses for pandemic preparedness”:
    The H5N8 HPAI Global Situation Update from FAO/EMPRES – Animal Health
    Role of Backyard Flocks in Transmission Dynamics of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza A(H5N8) Clade, France, 2016–2017
    South America: Bat influenza viruses could infect humans
    read the study here

    Wild birds do not harbor higher diversity of influenza virus internal genes than poultry
    View at Virology

    Analysis of relative effectiveness of high-dose influenza vaccines using an instrumental variable method
    View at Vaccine

    Sustained improvement in staff influenza vaccination rates over six years without a mandatory policy
    View at Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol

    The challenge of worldwide tuberculosis control: and then came diabetes

    Global prevalence of diabetes in active tuberculosis: a systematic review and meta-analysis of data from 2·3 million patients with tuberculosis
    SNP-IT Tool for Identifying Subspecies and Associated Lineages of Mycobacterium tuberculosisComplex
    Tuberculosis: drug susceptibility testing and mortality in high-income countries
    Read this Article
    Advances in the understanding of Mycobacterium tuberculosis transmission in HIV-endemic settings
    Transmission of drug-resistant tuberculosis in HIV-endemic settings

    Spatially targeted screening to reduce tuberculosis transmission in high-incidence settings

    Tuberculosis susceptibility and protection in children


    Implementing prevention policies for mother-to-child transmission of HIV in rural Malawi, South Africa and United Republic of Tanzania, 2013–2016
    Governance for health: the HIV response and general global health

    Survey on Implementation of One Health Approach for MERS-CoV Preparedness and Control in Gulf Cooperation Council and Middle East Countries
    WHO Says 2 Events Boosted Saudi Hospital MERS Outbreak
    Nine healthcare workers are among the 39 MERS-CoV patients identified in a hospital-based outbreak of the virus in Wadi ad-Dawasir, Saudi Arabia, and according to the World Health Organization's (WHO) technical lead, and the outbreak features both human-to-human transmission patterns and spread from animals.
    Go to article


    Medicating mosquitoes to fight malaria
    The study showed that atovaquone—an active ingredient in medication that’s commonly used in humans to prevent and treat malaria—can be absorbed through mosquitoes’ tarsi (legs) and prevents the insects from developing and spreading the parasite. The findings indicate that treating bed nets with atovaquone or similar compounds would be an effective way to reduce the burden of malaria while significantly mitigating the growing problem of insecticide resistance.

    Sanofi faces indictment in the Philippines over deaths related to its dengue vaccine
    Jamaica responding to dengue outbreak
    The Ministry of Health of Jamaica has activated its Emergency Operations Centre to direct and coordinate activities in response to an increased numbers of dengue cases. PAHO has provided technical and coordinating support as well as equipment and training. To contain this outbreak, enhanced prevention and control measures are being implemented across the island by all sectors. PAHO delivered a training on clinical management of dengue for paediatric patients for both public and private doctors.
    Increase in Lassa Fever Cases in Nigeria, January-March 2018
    A massive wave of laboratory-confirmed cases of Lassa fever occurred in Nigeria in 2018. Whether this high case count was caused by a new virus variant, increased seasonal incidence, improved case recognition, availability of laboratory diagnostics and therapy, or a combination of these factors is unknown. We set out to determine the factors that contributed to this outbreak using data available through the Nigerian Disease Surveillance System.
    Go to article
    Long-term circulation of Zika virus in Thailand: an observational study
    Endemic Zika virus transmission: implications for travellers


    More positive contacts found in Mozambique and Nigeria polio outbreaks
    Mozambique and Nigeria reported more positive vaccine-derived polio samples, all in community contacts of earlier cases, according to a weekly update today from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI).
    Feb 28 GPEI weekly report
    Polio is Nearly Wiped Out - Unless Some Lab Tech Screws Up
    In 1979, A photographer named Janet Parker got a disease that wasn't supposed to exist anymore. At first she thought she had the flu, but then she kept getting sicker, got a rash, and went to the hospital, where doctors-in disbelief-diagnosed her with smallpox. Just a year earlier, the World Health Organization had declared that "mankind probably had seen its last case of smallpox," according to The New York Times. That should have been true.
    Go to article

    One Health  

    Collaboration between human and veterinary medicine as a tool to solve public health problems
    A New Layer of Medical Preparedness to Combat Emerging Infectious Disease.
    DARPA has selected five teams of researchers to support PREventing EMerging Pathogenic Threats (PREEMPT), a 3.5-year program first announced in January 2018 to reinforce traditional medical preparedness by containing viral infectious diseases in animal reservoirs and insect vectors before they can threaten humans. Through studies in secure laboratories and simulated natural environments, the PREEMPT researchers will model how viruses might evolve within animal populations, and assess the safety and efficacy of potential interventions. 
    (DARPA, 2/19/19)

    CEPI Partners with IVI to Accelerate Development of Vaccines Against Emerging Global Health Threats
    The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the Republic of Korea-based International Vaccine Institute, an international organisation devoted to vaccines for global health, today announced a collaboration to accelerate the development of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases.
    Go to article

    How many wild animals do people kill? 
    According to the most comprehensive analysis yet conducted, humans are directly responsible for more than one-quarter of all vertebrate mortalities.
    Read More


    Livestock’s future: An opportunity not a threat

    African Swine Fever Spreads to Fourth Vietnamese Province: State Media
    African swine fever is spreading in Vietnam hitting two more provinces, after it was first detected in three separate farms in two other provinces earlier this month. The new farms hit by the highly contagious disease are in Haiphong and Thanh Hoa provinces, 100 km to the east and 160 km to the south of Hanoi, respectively, according to a report in the Nong Nghiep Vietnam newspaper, run by the Ministry of Agriculture.
    Go to article

    Stop ASF- Awareness Tools
    While the deadly African swine fever (ASF) disease continues to decimate domestic and wild swine populations in several regions of the world (see last report here), the OIE urges each of us to respect basic rules to avoid further spread of the epizootic. From travellers, to farmers, hunters, forestry and customs officers, we all have a role to play to avoid carrying the deadly virus across regional or national borders.
    Discover the OIE awareness tools on ASF here.

    ASF Asia Update for 1 March 2019 from FAO/EMPRES – Animal Health.

    Food Safety and Security

    Future of food under 'severe threat' as species diversity disappears

    Sustainable intensification of agriculture for human prosperity and global sustainability

    FDA unveils new imported food safety strategy The strategy is geared toward using newer data tools and focusing on higher-risk foods.
    More »

    Can sub-Saharan Africa feed itself? A new entry point to an old question

    Warming oceans are hurting seafood supply—and things are getting worse

    Prolonged economic crisis and drought demands urgent response for Zimbabwe’s ‘hardest hit’: UN relief chief
    An urgent scale-up in humanitarian relief is required to provide “critical food and livelihood support” for hard-hit people across Zimbabwe, the UN’s Emergency Relief Coordinator said on Thursday, speaking during the middle of a fact-finding mission to the southern African country.

    Coffee, Cocoa, and the Cutting Edge
    Deforestation is threatening crop diversity and jeopardizing the livelihoods of millions of poor small farmers around the world. But innovative technologies and better access to financing can help farmers to counter some of these risks.
    Go to article

    Could lab-grown meat actually make climate change worse?
    Lab-cultured meat might not be all it's cracked up to be. That's the finding of a new study which shows that methods used to produce this futuristic food might pump huge quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that would linger for centuries to come. But the research has a few critical caveats.
    Read More
    International push to improve food safety
    World leaders met this month at the First International Food Safety Conference, in Addis Ababa, organized by the African Union, the FAO, WTO and WHO. Food contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins or chemicals causes more than 600 million people to fall ill and 420 000 to die worldwide every year. Illness linked to unsafe food overloads healthcare systems and damages economies, trade and tourism. Unsafe food costs low- and middle-income economies around US $95 billion in lost productivity each year.
    The FAO/WHO/WTO International Forum on Food Safety and Trade
    23-24 April 2019 ¦ Geneva, Switzerland
    Theme: The future of food safety-Transforming knowledge into action for people, economies and the environment

    FAO Case Studies Series on AMR
    This new FAO series will explore case studies from around the globe, supporting countries in sharing what is working (and what isn’t), to help speed global progress in protecting precious medicines and promoting sustainable agriculture.

    OIE New report shows global shift in use of antibiotics in animals

    WHO compendium of tools and resources on quality improvement
    The WHO Department of Service Delivery and Safety (SDS) has produced a compendium of tools and resources on quality improvement, developed within the SDS, that are applicable for country support. It includes practical examples of how the tools and resources have been applied in-country, including relevant links with other areas, such as measurement. Addressing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) fits with measures to improve quality and as such, this compendium represents a valuable resource for AMR activities.

    AMR Research Funding Dashboard

    Bugs Vs. Superbugs: Insects Offer Promise In Fight Against Antibiotic Resistance

    The Fight Against Superbugs: 5 Priorities for 2019

    Momentum must continue to improve antibiotic stewardship and spur discovery

    Rise of Drug-Resistant Superbugs Rings Alarm Bells in Europe
    The spread of superbugs resistant to antimicrobial drugs shows no sign of slowing in Europe, health officials said on Tuesday, making food poisoning and other infections more difficult to treat.
    Go to article 

    What Is Antibiotic Stewardship—and How Does It Work?

    Effective programs needed to improve patient care, protect the public from superbugs

    Make Antibiotic Stewardship work
    Describes the role that veterinarians can play in putting into practice US policy regarding veterinary oversight of antibiotic sales and use.

    No Local Woe, India's Poor Public Health Feeds Antibiotic Resistance Worldwide
    The spread of resistance is more acute in places where antibiotic use is poorly regulated, local pollution is higher and inadequate sanitation is common – conditions that prevail across most of India.

    Effective therapeutic regimens in two South Asian countries with high resistance to major Helicobacter pylori antibiotics

    Twitter to engage, educate, and advocate for global antibiotic stewardship and antimicrobial resistance

    Stewardship / Resistance Scan for Mar 01, 2019

    • Antibiotic stewardship and C diff
    • CPE activity increase in Europe

    More »

    Stewardship / Resistance Scan for Feb 28, 2019

    • Resistant gonorrhea in Europe
    • Antibiotic treatment for UTIs
    • XDR infection deaths
    • Asia-Pacific stewardship grants

    More »
    Stewardship / Resistance Scan for Feb 27, 2019

    • Metro-area CRE movement
    • Benefits of penicillin skin testing

    More »

    On Apr 2, the New York Academy of Sciences will host a free in-person event and webinar on "Antibiotics in Animal Agriculture: What You Need to Know," which will launch a special issue of the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.
    Register here

    Emergencies and Disasters

    WHO AFRO - Outbreaks and Emergencies Bulletin- Week 08: 18 - 24 February 2019
    The WHO Health Emergencies Programme is currently monitoring 61 events in the region. This week’s edition covers key new and ongoing events, including:

    • Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
    • Measles in Chad
    • Humanitarian crisis in Democratic Republic of the Congo
    • Humanitarian crisis in Cameroon.
    Researchers Update Guidance for First Responders on Treating Chemical Exposure Researchers have developed a new tool and updated guidance to help first responders and emergency managers determine how best to decontaminate a massive number of people after chemical exposure.
    Go to article
    Scaling up health emergency preparedness and response capacities in the European Region
    Action plan to improve public health preparedness and response in the WHO European Region
    UN Acclaims European Support for Implementation of Biological Weapons Conventions The activities funded by the European Union are making a difference on the ground and are helping countries to develop their capacities against the threat of proliferation of biological weapons by States or non-States actors.
    Go to article
    Evaluation of the early warning, alert and response system after Cyclone Winston, Fiji, 2016
    Nature-based solutions for disaster risk management: booklet
    Nature-based Solutions (NBS) that strategically conserve or restore nature to support conventionally built infrastructure systems (also referred to as gray infrastructure) can reduce disaster risk and produce more resilient and lower-cost services in developing countries. In the disaster risk management (DRM) and water security sectors, NBS can be applied as green infrastructure strategies that work in harmony with gray infrastructure systems.

    Chernobyl: data wars and disaster politics
    Nuclear researcher and historian Sonja Schmid extols two new books on the aftermath of the nuclear catastrophe, from medical impacts to radioactive blueberries. Both suggest that remembering the fears, doubts, errors — and improvised decisions, creative ideas and small successes — of the people involved in Chernobyl would serve us well in bracing for the next disaster.

    Final draft of the Minimum technical standards and recommendations for reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health care for EMTs

    Climate Change

    “1.5-Degree Lifestyles: Targets and options for reducing lifestyle carbon footprints”.

    Evidence for man-made global warming hits 'gold standard'
    Mainstream scientists say the burning of fossil fuels is causing more floods, droughts, heat waves and rising sea levels.

    White House to gather climate sceptics
    The Trump administration plans to gather an ad hoc group of climate sceptics to challenge the scientific consensus on climate change, reports The Washington Post. The group is being proposed in part to counter the findings of the US government’s own exhaustive, damning national climate-assessment report. This working group seems to be an evolution of a proposed formal advisory committee reportedly discussed in the White House last week — but will be subject to fewer rules about transparency and oversight.
    Journalists are starting to write about climate change and public health
    Until we all understand that climate change is a problem for people right now, we need the media to write stories about what's at stake, and the solutions.
    We are helping to train media about how climate changes health, and we were thrilled to join a webinar with the Association of Health Care Journalists, who went on to blog about the "Imperative for covering climate change as a health issue."
    Read now

    Air pollution and disease burden

    Using social media to measure air pollution’s psychological toll
    People are less happy on days when the air is more polluted, according to an analysis of 210 million posts on the Chinese social media site Sina Weibo.


    The Link Between El Niño and Disease
    Climate information for public health action

    Policy-makers are increasingly concerned about the impact of climate variability and change on the health of vulnerable populations. Variations and trends in climatic factors and extreme weather events impact many health outcomes, including malaria, heat stress and undernutrition. Climate Information for Public Health Action is based on the premise that climate knowledge and information can help protect the public from climate-sensitive health risks....

    Migration Health

    Bangladesh tells U.N. Security Council cannot take more Myanmar refugees
    Key donors freeze Uganda refugee aid after UN mismanagement scandal
    “The lack of funding directly translates into more hardships for the refugees.”
    Uganda’s refugee sector – the largest in Africa – may run into trouble after two major European donor countries freeze funds to the UN refugee agency as a result of fraud, corruption, and mismanagement unearthed in an internal UN audit last year.

    DATA BULLETIN SERIES Informing the Implementation of the Global Compact for Migration


    Global Health

    Dangerous side effects of a world made for men
    From ill-fitting safety goggles to poorly understood chemicals in female-dominated workplaces, research and development that focuses on the average male body puts women at risk, argues journalist Caroline Criado-Perez in a excerpt from her new book. “We know everything about dust disease in miners,” says occupational-health researcher Rory O’Neill. “You can’t say the same for exposures, physical or chemical, in ‘women’s work’.”

    Public Health Genomics: What's Next? 
    The field of public health genomics was launched to identify opportunities for the new science to impact health, inform public health programs and health care providers what works and what does not, and integrate evidence-based genomic applications into programs that can improve health and prevent disease. We summarized our 20 year journey and how advances in genomics are beginning to impact cancer prevention, heart disease, birth defects and rare diseases, newborn screening, and the public health response to infectious disease threats. 
    (CDC Genomics & Health Impact Blog, 2/19/19)
    Accelerating universal health coverage: a call for papers

    Time's Up sets its sights on health care
    The Time's Up initiative is taking on sexual harassment and gender bias in a new industry: health care. The nonprofit just announced it's launching Time's Up Healthcare, with dozens of health care providers as founding members.
    Read our conversation in full here. And for more on the NIH’s new efforts to address sexual harassment in science, read this.

    Fight against sexual harassment in workplace takes on U.S. healthcare

    The health equity measurement framework: a comprehensive model to measure social inequities in health
    Vaccine Skepticism Grows in Line with Rise of Populism - Study
    Scepticism about the use of vaccines for children has risen across Europe in line with votes for populists, according to a study, which proposes that public health officials should track populist parties in opinion polls as a proxy signal for vaccine hesitancy.
    Big surges in the number of measles cases and deaths map to countries where populist parties have become prominent - in particular, Greece, Italy and France.
    Go to article 

    The CRISPR-baby Scandal: What's Next for Human Gene-editing
    There is still no definitive evidence that the biophysicist actually succeeded in modifying the girls' genes - or those of a third child expected to be born later this year. But the experiments have attracted so much attention that the incident could alter research for years to come.
    Go to article

    Health Organizations Collaborate to Launch Medical Genome Initiative
    Eight health care and research organizations in the US and Canada are collaborating to launch the Medical Genome Initiative, a consortium that aims to expand access to clinical whole-genome sequencing for the diagnosis of genetic diseases.
    Go to article




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