News Pouch 4 June 2019

To view images in this newsletter, please allow images and html options. 

View this email in your browser

Pandemic Threats and Health Emergencies

News Pouch: 4 June 2019


  • Spotlight: Ebola situation
  • 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
    • Urban Health
    • Migration Health
    • Global Health
    • Contact us


    Ebola Outbreak Situation

    External Situation Report 43: 28 May 2019
    Weekly numbers of confirmed Ebola virus disease (EVD) cases have slightly decreased in past weeks. Over the past seven days, a total of 88 new confirmed cases were reported compared to the previous week where 121 new confirmed cases were reported. Active transmission was reported in 14 of the 22 health zones that have been affected to date. Other initial encouraging findings such as a lower proportion of reported nosocomial infections, a lower proportion of community deaths and a higher proportion of registered contacts at case detection have also been reported.
    However, this decrease in the number of reported cases should be interpreted with extreme caution given the complex operating environment and fragility of the security situation. Weekly fluctuations in these indicators have been reported in the past and uncertainties remain with regards to the ability of the surveillance system to identify all new cases in areas faced with ongoing insecurity. Operations are still regularly hampered by security issues, and the risk of national and regional spread remains very high.
    As of 26 May 2019, a total of 1920 EVD cases, including 1826 confirmed and 94 probable cases, were reported. A total of 1281 deaths were reported (overall case fatality ratio 67%), including 1187 deaths among confirmed cases. Of the 1920 confirmed and probable cases with known age and sex, 58% (1113) were female, and 29% (565) were children aged less than 18 years. The number of healthcare workers affected has risen to 105 (6% of total cases).
    click here to download the complete situation report (PDF).

    Aid community raises highest alert on Ebola
    UN and leading aid groups on Wednesday took the step of formally declaring that the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo needs a major scale-up from the humanitarian community. A spokesperson for the UN’s emergency aid coordination body, OCHA, confirmed the decision of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee, which it chairs. The move can unlock stronger leadership and more funding, but “it’s not a panacea”, according to a top Red Cross official. The IASC includes the major UN agencies and international NGOs, and it agreed on Wednesday to activate a range of special measures to respond to the Ebola epidemic in Congo – a move analogous to the former “L3” designation the IASC gave to only the most critical crises.

    Children under five dying at higher rate in Congo Ebola epidemic – WHO
    Three out of four of the under-fives, or 77%, are succumbing to the disease, compared with 57% for older youngsters and 67% for all infected people. Under-fives account for 15%, or 300 of the 1,945 cases reported since the epidemic began last August, the WHO said. In all, 1,302 people have died.
    Congo's outbreak has inflicted an unusually heavy toll on children. More than a quarter of the confirmed and probable cases identified as of early April were children under 15, compared to 18% in the last major outbreak in West Africa in 2013-2016, according to figures compiled by the Geneva-based WHO. Fatality rates for both under and over 5s were in line with those observed in the West Africa outbreak, it said.

    New Data Show Gaps in Ebola Treatment for Young Kids
    A new World Health Organization (WHO) analysis of Ebola infections in children under 5 years old in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's outbreak found that parents often avoid taking them to Ebola treatment centers and that the youngsters are less likely than other groups to be added to contact tracing lists.
    Go to article

    Kenya to Hold Ebola Outbreak Drill
    Kenya plans to hold a major drill in Namanga to prevent the spread of the deadly Ebola, which has killed at least 1,200 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The simulation will be carried out jointly with Tanzania from June 11-14. The DRC shares a border with Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda.
    Go to article

    Ebola Pathogens to be Imported with Extreme Caution
    The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry and the National Institute of Infectious Diseases have officially announced they will import live pathogens, including the highly lethal Ebola hemorrhagic fever, for the first time. If a patient is identified in Japan, the biosafety level 4 facility (BSL4, see below) at the Murayama branch of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Musashimurayama, Tokyo, will be used in testing. With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics set for next year, the number of visitors to Japan is expected to increase, so it is imperative to take precautionary measures against infectious diseases that have never been prevelant in Japan.
    Go to article

    Ten Steps to Ebola on the Mexican Border
    This is not the first time I've heard the rumour; it's been on and off Twitter for several weeks. It tends to be picked up by people who express support for President Trump and building his wall, and is of course cited as a good reason to finish building the wall. When I asked Mr. Kolfage if his source with the Department of Homeland Security is trustworthy, he replied, "Very, very trusted."Go to article

    Militarizing the Peace: UN Intervention Against Congo’s “Terrorist” Rebels
    United Nations peacekeeping faces increasingly dangerous operating environments and more complex conflicts. To cope with these changes, the UN is calling for greater flexibility in peacekeeping, including more robust mandates and an expanded use of force. The largest and most costly UN mission in history—in the Democratic Republic of the Congo—stands at the center of this change.
    Go to article

    Medical countermeasures during the 2018 Ebola virus disease outbreak in the North Kivu and Ituri Provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
    View at Lancet Infect Dis

    Determinants of transmission risk during the late stage of the West African Ebola epidemic
    View at Am J Epidemiol

    Therapeutic monoclonal antibodies for Ebola virus infection derived from vaccinated humans
    View at Cell Rep

    Priority Diseases

    Ethical Considerations for Movement Mapping to Identify Disease Transmission Hotspots
    Traditional public health methods for detecting infectious disease transmission, such as contact tracing and molecular epidemiology, are time-consuming and costly. Information and communication technologies, such as global positioning systems, smartphones, and mobile phones, offer opportunities for novel approaches to identifying transmission hotspots. However, mapping the movements of potentially infected persons comes with ethical challenges.
    Go to article
    Societal Implications of the Internet of Pathogens
    The growth of pathogen genomics shows no signs of abating. Whole-genome sequencing of clinical viral and bacterial isolates continues to grow in nearly exponential bounds. Reductions in cost driven by new technology have created a seamless environment for generating, sharing, and analyzing pathogen genomes. The high-resolution view of infectious disease transmission dynamics offered by analyzing whole genomes from pathogens, coupled with the genomicist ethic of widespread data sharing, has created a veritable Internet of pathogens, which inadvertently produces new threats to patient privacy and protected heath information.
    Go to article
    The influenza at the human-animal interface monthly risk assessment

    WHO Novel Flu Summary & Risk Assessment - May 2019
    Before H7N9 emerged in China in 2013, avian H5N1 was the king of the novel flu contenders, going back to early in the last decade. In late 2014 and the first half of 2015 - after several years of slow decline - it staged a major comeback in Egypt.
    Go to article
    ASF Asia Update for 30 May from FAO/EMPRES - Animal Health.
    * Democratic People's Republic of Korea reported ASF outbreak for the first time.
    * China reported ASF outbreak in Yunnan Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
    * In Viet Nam, seven more provinces reported ASF outbreaks for the first time.
    and more...  
    Malaria Is Fighting Back Against Efforts to Eliminate It 
    These should be hopeful days for those battling malaria. Deaths from the disease have fallen to around 435,000 a year, from perhaps five times that number a century ago. On May 22nd the World Health Organisation declared Algeria and Argentina malaria-free, bringing to 38 the number of countries now officially rid of the disease. Algeria will be regarded as a particular success because it is in Africa. The continent suffered 90% of an estimated 219m cases worldwide in 2017. But two big clouds darken the outlook. One is the stubborn persistence of malaria south of the Sahara. The other is the emergence of new strains of the disease resistant to the available treatments.
    Go to article

    Scientists Genetically Modify Fungus to Kill Mosquitoes That Spread Malaria
    In the hope of finding a new way to fight malaria, scientists have used a spider gene to genetically engineer a fungus to produce a venom that can quickly kill mosquitoes. The modified fungus was a highly effective mosquito killer in the first tests mimicking conditions in sub-Saharan Africa, where malaria remains a major public health problem, researchers reported Thursday in the journal Science.
    Go to article

    Shifting Burdens of Malaria in a Hotter Africa: A Framework for Planning and Intervention

    Honduras dengue epidemic tops 8,000

    Marburg Virus RNA Synthesis Is Inhibited by a Synthetic anti-VP35 Antibody
    Marburg virus causes sporadic outbreaks of severe hemorrhagic fever with high case fatality rates. Approved, effective, and safe therapeutic or prophylactic countermeasures are lacking.
    Go to article
    Zika Virus-like Particles (VLPs): Stable Cell Lines and Continuous Perfusion Processes as a New Potential Vaccine Manufacturing Platform
    Zika virus was first detected in Brazil in 2015 and then rapidly spread to more than 80 countries in Africa, Asia and the Americas. ZIKV infection was correlated with severe congenital malformations in newborns from infected mothers, as well as with Guillain-Barré syndrome in adults. Although the number of infected people has declined in the affected countries lately, the development of a vaccine for ZIKV is of great importance to avoid the future resurgence of the virus in endemic areas or the future spread to currently non-endemic regions. Among many different platforms currently under study, virus-like particles are a promising alternative for the development of vaccines, since tridimensional particles mimicking the virus – but lacking its genome – can be produced and present the antigen in a repetitive way, potentially eliciting robust immune responses.
    Go to article

    The third plague pandemic in Europe
    View at Proc R Soc B

    Quantifying the seasonal drivers of transmission for Lassa fever in Nigeria
    View at Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci

    Clinical and molecular epidemiology of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever in Oman
    View at PLOS Negl Trop Dis

    Survey of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever enzootic focus, Spain, 2011-2015
    View at Emerg Infect Dis
    US Measles Cases Top Record, Putting Elimination Status at Risk 
    The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said today that 971 cases of measles have been reported this year, topping the 1994 modern-record level, and it warned that if a pair of large outbreaks in and around New York City continue over the summer and fall, the US could lose its measles elimination status.
    Go to article
    CDC: 80% of new HIV infections linked to people not in care
    People who do not know they have HIV account for 38% of transmissions, while 43% of infections are attributed to people who know they are positive but are not in treatment.
    Polio: Statement of the Twenty-first IHR Emergency Committee
    The twenty-first meeting of the Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) regarding the international spread of poliovirus was convened by the Director-General on 14 May 2019 at WHO headquarters with members, advisers and invited Member States attending via teleconference, supported by the WHO secretariat. The Emergency Committee reviewed the data on wild poliovirus and circulating vaccine derived polioviruses. The Secretariat presented a report of progress for affected IHR States Parties subject to Temporary Recommendations. The following IHR States Parties provided an update on the current situation and the implementation of the WHO Temporary Recommendations since the Committee last met on 19 February 2019: Afghanistan, DR Congo, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Somalia.
    Go to article

    In Pakistan, attacks on polio workers stop vaccination drive

    One Health  

    Closing of the 87th General Session of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)
    At the closing of the 87th OIE General Session, countries commit to responding to the sanitary challenges of today and tomorrow, protecting animals and the livelihoods of families who depend on them, by the adoption of several resolutions. From the new OIE international Standards adopted, to the impact of external factors in the Veterinary Services, the state of play of the global animal health situation with a particular focus on the devastating African swine fever, official disease status recognised, and an update on the fight against antimicrobial resistance.
    Here is an overview...

    Are you planning your One Health Day Event for 2019?
    Initiated in 2016 by the One Health Commission, the One Health Platform, and the One Health Initiative Team, International One Health Day is officially celebrated around the world every year on November 3. But your event can happen any time of the year so be sure to register it ( to get on the One Health Day 2019 map ( ).
    The goal of One Health Day is to build the cultural will necessary for a sea change in how animal, human and planet health challenges are holistically assessed and addressed. 
    More info here

    Global Foot and Mouth Disease Research Alliance (GFRA) Scientific Meeting, October 29-31, 2019, Bangkok, Thailand
    GFRA is a worldwide association of animal health research organizations that are involved in combating foot and mouth disease (FMD). Its aim is to build a global alliance of partners to generate and share knowledge - in a virtual FMD laboratory - to develop tools that can better combat the threat of disease. They invite you to 'save the date' and join them at this year's scientific meeting focused on "Advancing FMD Research by Bridging the Gaps with Novel Tools." 
    For more information, see, or contact Wilna Vosloo at
    Biodiversity and Ecosystem
    On the Road to the 2020 UN Biodiversity Conference: Imagining the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework
    The international community, under the auspices of the Convention on Biological Diversity, is set to review successes and failures in the context of the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and negotiate a global biodiversity framework for the post-2020 era. The 2020 UN Biodiversity Conference, to be held in October 2020 in Kunming, China, will be a critical moment for environmental decision making. What steps are needed to reach a meaningful agreement?

    On International Day, High-level Officials Call for Action on Biodiversity-Food-Health Nexus
    On the International Day for Biological Diversity, the UN Secretary-General warns that the current negative trends in biodiversity and ecosystems are projected to undermine progress towards 80% of the SDG targets. Cristiana Pasca-Palmer, CBD Executive Secretary, calls for concrete measures that need to be urgently implemented in order to preserve and restore the health of the ecosystems and food systems, and thus human health. Li Ganjie, Minister of Ecology and Environment of China, looks forward to the negotiations on the post-2020 biodiversity framework to secure a common future of living in harmony with nature.

    Water Security in an Uncertain Future: Enhancing Water Resources Management and Planning by Reducing Climate- and Weather- Related Risks

    Running Dry: Competing for water on a thirsty planet

    Growing populations, more farming and economic growth, climate change and a rush of people to cities all are increasing pressure on the world's limited water supplies

    Seeing the Forest for the Trees: Land Cover, Land Use Change, and Ecosystems

    From theory to practice: Freely-available eBook enables monitoring and protection of forests worldwide
    “Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Handbook: Comprehensive Methodologies for Forest Monitoring and Biomass Estimation” released

    Interview-Colombia seen losing deforestation battle in war-hit areas
    Colombia had the fourth greatest loss of primary rainforest of any country in 2018

    As Zimbabwe's forests fall, timber shortage tightens screws on carpenters

    Food Safety and Security

    A one health perspective on dairy production and dairy food safety  

    Finding the Ephemeral: Satellite Data Guide Pastoralists to Water
    Dissecting the Economic Impact of Soybean Diseases in the United States over Two Decades
    Soybean (Glycine max L. Merrill) is a key commodity for US agriculture. Here we analyze the economic impacts of 23 common soybean diseases in 28 soybean-producing states in the US, from 1996 to 2016. From 1996 to 2016, the total estimated economic loss due to soybean diseases in the US was $81.39 billion, with $68.98 billion and $12.41 billion accounting for the northern and southern US losses, respectively.
    Go to article

    Sex and age distributions of persons in foodborne disease outbreaks and associations with food categories
    View at Epidemiol Infect

    Compliance rates, advantages, and drawbacks of a smartphone-based method of collecting food history and foodborne illness data
    View at J Food Prot

    Foodborne outbreak investigation: effect of recall inaccuracies on food histories
    View at J Food Prot

    Seasonality and zoonotic foodborne pathogens in Canada: relationships between climate and Campylobacter, E. coli and Salmonella in meat products
    View at Epidemiol Infect

    How will climate change impact microbial foodborne disease in Canada
    View at CCDR

    Preliminary incidence and trends of infections with pathogens transmitted commonly through food — Foodborne Diseases active Surveillance Network, 10 U.S. sites, 2015-2018
    View at MMWR

    Microbial quality and safety of sushi prepared with gloved or bare hands
    View at J Food Prot

    Greening’ the white gold in Tanzania: supporting low emissions dairy development for smallholder livestock producers
    Study finds 81% of dental antibiotic prescribing not needed
    Rapid Ultrasensitive Detection Platform for Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing
    Rapid detection and phenotyping of pathogenic microbes is critical for administration of effective antibiotic therapies and for impeding the spread of antibiotic resistance. Here, we present a novel platform, rapid ultrasensitive detector, that utilizes the high reflectance coefficient at high incidence angles when light travels from low- to high-refractive-index media. RUSD leverages a principle that does not require complex manufacturing, labeling, or processing steps.
    Go to article

    CBS News 60 Minutes, Video -
    Could Antibiotic Resistant Super-Bugs Become a Bigger Killer than Cancer?    
    April 21, 2019 Episode. Prepare to be terrified.

    Global AMR R&D Hub: Workshop on "Increasing Investments for AMR R&D"
    Geneva, Switzerland. Hosted by the Global AMR R&D Hub . Objective: Identify and discuss opportunities for investments and new and innovative financing mechanisms for AMR R&D. The Global AMR R&D Hub uses a One Health approach recognizing human and animal health, worldwide food safety and environmental factors are all part of an interconnected whole.

    Stewardship / Resistance Scan for May 31, 2019

    • Superbugs and close contacts
    • Rapid susceptibility test

    More »

    Emergencies and Disasters

    WHO AFRO - Outbreaks and Emergencies Bulletin Week 22: 27 May - 02 June 2019
    The WHO Health Emergencies Programme is currently monitoring 72 events in the region. This week’s edition covers key new and ongoing events, including:

    • Anthrax (probable) in Lesotho
    • Vaccine derived poliovirus type 2 (environmental sample) in Cameroon
    • Ebola virus disease in Democratic Republic of the Congo
    • Cholera in Zambia
    • Chikungunya in Congo.

    Donors pledge $1.2 bln to rebuild Mozambique after cyclones- UN
    Mozambique needs $3.2 billion for post-cyclone reconstruction

    CDC’s Ready Wrigley activity book “Coping After a Disaster
    It is a great resource to help kids begin processing their feelings after an emergency.
    Other activities, games, and resources relating to children and disasters can be found here.

    US Preparedness for Health Emergencies Remains Strong Overall, but Some States Lag 7The US’ ability to manage health emergencies has steadily improved over the last six years, according to a nationwide index of health security. Although improvement in preparedness rose 11.7 percent since the index began in 2013, experts suggest it will take 10 additional years to reach the strongest level of health security.
    Go to article
    See also: The National Health Security Preparedness Index Summary of Key Findings May 2019(Robert Wood Johnson Foundation) Results from the 2019 release of the National Health Security Preparedness Index indicate that readiness for disasters, disease outbreaks, and other emergencies continued to improve in 2018, but current levels of health security remain far from optimal. The national Index reached 6.7 out of 10 in 2018, representing a 3.1 percent improvement over the prior year and a 11.7 percent improvement since 2013. Large differences in health security persisted across states and regions, with clusters of states in the South-Central, Upper Mountain West, Pacific Coast, and Midwest regions lagging significantly behind the rest of the nation. 
    Go to article

    Preparedness for Chemical Crisis Situations: Experiences from European Medical Response Exercises
    This study investigated how European first responders and hospital personnel, along with CBRN experts, approach an overwhelming surge situation after a chemical incident. Surge capacity and capability bottlenecks were discussed.
    Go to article

    The New Geopolitics of Converging Risks--The UN and Prevention in the Era of AI
    Across the world, at any given moment, there are pervasive cognitive-emotional conflicts being waged for the control of populations’ thoughts, emotions and attitudes. These battles of influence do not tend to occur in wartime, but rather in peacetime, infiltrating homes and smart cities. They sow disinformation, affective manipulation and forgeries as new means of undermining social cohesion and trust. They exacerbate societal tensions and amplify public polarization. They increasingly condition and limit notions of self-determination, and could continue to do so with the future generations to come.
    Go to article

    Climate Change

    LSHTM Centre on Climate Change and Planetary Health Launch

    World's 15 hottest places are in India, Pakistan as pre-monsoon heat builds

    Deadly Japan heatwave ‘essentially impossible’ without global warming
    Study finds one of the clearest climate change signals to date in July 2018’s record high temperatures, in a result that surprised scientists

    EU plans first satellite fleet to monitor CO2 in every country
    The surprising interplay between climate change and fertility
    Climate change could increase fertility rates in tropical countries, in turn magnifying the impacts of climate change on those countries and widening the gap between wealthy and poorer nations.
    As climate change makes extreme weather more common, this phenomenon could stymie efforts to increase education for children in developing countries.

    INTERVIEW-U.N. reform needed to stop companies fighting climate rules - Nobel laureate Stiglitz



    Q: What’s missing from forest carbon accounting? A: Animals
    Animals and their vital, now-compromised role in nourishing carbon-storing forests are crucial to humanity’s plans to fight climate change.


    Urban Health

    City trees reduce daytime heat. To curb sweltering nights, planners must minimise pavements
    Planting trees is generally thought to be a good strategy for mitigating the urban heat island effect, the tendency for cities to be several degrees warmer than surrounding rural areas. But scientists haven’t been able to say just how much tree cover cities need in order to counteract the increase in urban temperature from pavement and concrete.

    Migration Health

    The surprising ways in which global migration can actually contribute to sustainable development
    The world is now witnessing unprecedented numbers of people forced from their homes. Over 68.5 million people had been displaced by 2018, with over 22 million crossing international borders and becoming classified as refugees. And displaced people represent but a small fraction of global migration – in 2017 nearly 260 million individuals lived outside their country of birth.
    Read more.

    ICC submission calls for prosecution of EU over migrant deaths
    Member states should face punitive action over deaths in Mediterranean, say lawyers

    Why Rohingya women risk dangerous home births in Bangladesh’s refugee camps

    Global Health

    Past, present, and future of global health financing: a review of development assistance, government, out-of-pocket, and other private spending on health for 195 countries, 1995–2050
    Financing for global health has increased steadily over the past two decades and is projected to continue increasing in the future, although at a slower pace of growth and with persistent disparities in per-capita health spending between countries. Out-of-pocket spending is projected to remain substantial outside of high-income countries. Many low-income countries are expected to remain dependent on development assistance, although with greater government spending, larger investments in health are feasible. In the absence of sustained new investments in health, increasing efficiency in health spending is essential to meet global health targets.

    It Looked as Though Millions of Babies Would Miss out on a Lifesaving Vaccine
    Imagine for a minute: A company makes a vaccine that protects kids from a life-threatening disease but, with little warning, decides to stop selling it in the US That's exactly what happened last year in West Africa, for a vaccine against rotavirus — a disease that kills about 200,000 young children and babies each year.
    Go to article

    Heroes and Villains: CRISPR Debate Opens 2019 World Science Festival
    The co-founder of the World Science Festival, Brian Greene, opened the 2019 festival on Tuesday evening by noting the capacity of our species to take hold of a process that was driven by random chance for four billion years. That process, of course, is the microbial immune system known as CRISPR, which has been adapted since 2012 to become a powerful and highly accessible genome editing tool.
    Go to article

    Asia-Pacific Not on Track to Achieve Any SDGs by 2030
    The ‘Asia and the Pacific SDG Progress Report 2019’ finds that for more than half of the SDGs, progress is either heading in the wrong direction or has stagnated. The report concludes that progress on many environmental targets will require “a complete turnaround” in the Asia-Pacific region if they are to be reached. The report also identifies major differences in progress between Asia and the Pacific's several sub-regions.

    In the era of #AidToo, global health is short on sexual harassment policies
    Only 25 of 198 organizations working in global health have comprehensive sexual harassment policies, according to a new report published Thursday.
    Among other sobering findings is the fact that just over half, or 56 percent, of the organizations surveyed have commitments to zero-tolerance to sexual harassment at work, and clearly defined definitions of sexual harassment with examples.

     New reporting platform to track sexual violence in the aid sector
    The NGO Insecurity Insight, best known for collecting data on attacks against aid workers, created the reporting mechanism to give survivors a space to tell their story anonymously and confidentially, and to push the aid industry to create safer workplaces for staff, Christina Wille, co-director at Insecurity Insight




    Knowledge sharing

    We welcome receiving your reports, articles and studies to share widely within our network.
    Please contact Dr. Chadia Wannous via email at 

    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences