Army Public Health Weekly Update, 11 September 2020

Date Published: 9/11/2020
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The Army Public Health Update is a collection of articles taken from public sources to offer awareness of current health issues and the media coverage given to them. The articles do not necessarily represent U.S. Army Medical Command opinions, views, policy, or guidance, and should not be construed or interpreted as being endorsed by the U.S. Army Medical Command.

The Army Public Health Weekly Update does not analyze the information as to its strategic or tactical impact on the U.S. Army and is not a medical intelligence product. Medical intelligence is available from the National Center for Medical Intelligence External Link .

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Table of Contents


    Suicide prevention week

    The goal of the Army Suicide Prevention Program (ASSP) External Link  is to prevent suicides and lower the probability that an individual engages in self-injurious behavior. An integral component of the Army's Ready and Resilient Campaign, the ASPP has shared responsibilities between leaders, Soldiers, Family members, and Army Civilians. Although many have the resilience to work through their issues, some may need assistance to manage the stressors associated with their issues. APHC


    COVID-19 delays military's plan to downsize, close medical facilities

    7 September- A Pentagon plan to shutter or downsize the scope of services offered at 50 military hospitals and/or clinics across the country—12 of which are located on Air Force bases—has been slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Defense Health Agency Director Army Lt. Gen. Ronald J. Place told Air Force Magazine in an exclusive interview. As a result, facility closures and changes are unlikely to take place before next summer, he said. After the fiscal 2017 National Defense Authorization Act charged the Defense Department with taking a hard look at its hospital and clinic footprint, DOD analyzed over 300 of its stateside facilities and proposed that 50 of them be restructured to boost operational- and medical-force readiness, according to a report Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Matthew P. Donovan sent to Congress in February, Air Force Magazine previously reported. Information about how that revamp would be carried out, how long it was expected to take and cost, and how much money it could save DOD were notably absent from the document.  But DHA can't proceed with those changes until it reaches what Place called "a steady state" with respect to COVID-19—where the agency is either operating under the assumption of a prolonged pandemic or working within a post-pandemic "new normal." Once DHA achieves that state, he said, it must reevaluate each impacted market, brainstorm a game plan with its collaborators in each location, and then present a plan to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, which Place said likely won't happen until early 2021 or later, "depending on how long this pandemic lasts." That means any changes to these facilities likely won't happen before summer 2021. Air Force Magazine External Link

    These 5 military hospitals will support COVID-19 vaccine trials

    4 September- Five Defense Department medical facilities have been named to participate in research for the newest COVID-19 vaccine candidate to enter Phase III clinical trials. The Pentagon announced Thursday that the military hospitals will support testing of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca, which announced Aug. 31 that it was beginning widespread testing after receiving favorable results from efficacy and safety research. According to the DoD, military beneficiaries who volunteer through Coronavirus Prevention Network and are selected can participate at the eligible facility nearest them if they enter the hospital's code when they fill out their application...AstraZeneca is looking to recruit 30,000 volunteers nationwide for the trial, which will examine the vaccine's effectiveness. The inoculation -- or a placebo -- will be used only on volunteers, according to DoD officials. The AstraZeneca vaccine joins two from Moderna Therapeutics and Pfizer Inc. already in the third phase of research, which tests the immunizations for effectiveness. In previous phases of the research, each candidate has shown that it generates an immune response and has had few safety concerns. The Defense Department is playing a major role in Operation Warp Speed, the name given to the public-private partnership to develop and deliver 200 million doses of an effective COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the year. DoD scientists have played a role in vaccine development and the department is heavily involved in managing the contracts and logistics needed to develop and distribute immunizations and supplies. External Link


    'Carnage' in a lab dish shows how the coronavirus may damage the heart

    4 September- Maybe we should think of Covid-19 as a heart disease. When SARS-CoV-2 virus was added to human heart cells grown in lab dishes, the long muscle fibers that keep hearts beating were diced into short bits, alarming scientists at the San Francisco-based Gladstone Institutes, especially after they saw a similar phenomenon in heart tissue from Covid-19 patients' autopsies.  Their experiments could potentially explain why some people still feel short of breath after their Covid infections clear and add to worries that survivors may be at risk for future heart failure. The new study was posted as a preprint on bioRxiv, meaning it has not yet been peer-reviewed or otherwise vetted by a scientific journal. The authors said they felt an urgent need to share their work so others could help them understand the mechanisms causing heart damage and work on ways to prevent or treat it. "When we saw this disruption in those microfibers, … that was when we made the decision to pull the trigger and put out this preprint," said Todd McDevitt, a senior investigator at Gladstone and a co-author of the study. "I'm not a scientist who likes to stoke these things [but] I did not sleep, honestly, while we were finishing this paper and putting it out there." STAT News External Link

    COVID-19 vaccine trial paused due to illness in one volunteer

    8 September- Drug maker AstraZeneca has announced that it is pausing its COVID-19 vaccine trial due to a "potentially unexplained illness" in one of the trial volunteers. The vaccine was developed by the University of Oxford in partnership with Astra Zeneca. It's being studied in thousands of patients in the United States and the United Kingdom. The illness apparently occurred in a U.K. volunteer. The company hasn't revealed the nature of the illness, but did confirm that a pause in vaccination will allow a safety review. "This is a routine action which has to happen whenever there is a potentially unexplained illness in one of the trials," an AstraZeneca spokesperson said in a statement to NPR. The next step will be to determine if the illness is indeed related to the vaccine, or just a chance event. The AstraZeneca/Oxford partnership is one of the vaccine development efforts that is furthest along. The company recently began a Phase 3 trial in the United States that aims to enroll 30,000 volunteers. The vaccine is what's known as a non-replicating viral vector vaccine. When injected into a volunteer, it tricks that person's cells into making a protein from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. That has the effect of prompting the vaccinated person to have an immune reaction that should be protective if the person were exposed to the coronavirus. NPR External Link

    During pandemic, growth of U.S. adults with mental health issues jumps to 53 percent

    6 September- A growing number of U.S. adults are struggling with mental health issues linked to worry and stress over the novel coronavirus, increasing from 32 percent in March to 53 percent in July, according to a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Those experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression, for example, reached 40 percent this summer, up from 11 percent a year ago. In addition, a similar assessment from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that, by late June, 13 percent of adults had started or increased alcohol consumption or drug use to help cope with pandemic-related woes, and 11 percent had seriously considered suicide in the past month — a number that reached 25 percent among those ages 18 to 24. Social isolation, loneliness, job loss and economic worries as well as fear of contracting the virus are among factors cited as contributing to people's mental health problems. Kaiser researchers found that 59 percent of those who have lost income because of the pandemic experienced at least one adverse effect on their mental health and well-being, as did 62 percent of those with higher-than-average risk for covid-19 because of such chronic conditions as lung disease, asthma, diabetes or serious heart disease. Overall, both reports found that negative mental health effects from the stress of coronavirus were more common among women than men. Suicidal ideation, however, was more common among men. Also, the CDC report says that people described as "unpaid caregivers," meaning they care for other adults at home, are considerably more likely than others to start or increase substance use to cope with coronavirus-related stress or to have suicidal thoughts. The Washington Post External Link

    FDA  warns on Tecentriq-Paclitaxel combo in breast cancer

    9 September- The FDA on Tuesday issued a safety alert on the combination of atezolizumab (Tecentriq) plus paclitaxel for first-line treatment of metastatic triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), after the randomized IMpassion131 trial suggested a potential survival detriment. Based on positive progression-free survival (PFS) data, the PD-L1 immune checkpoint inhibitor atezolizumab was granted accelerated approval last year in combination with nab-paclitaxel (Abraxane) for patients with metastatic or locally advanced, unresectable TNBC whose tumors express PD-L1. At the time, immature overall survival results favored the combination as well.  In IMpassion131, a multicenter phase III trial, paclitaxel plus atezolizumab failed to significantly improve PFS over paclitaxel and placebo in PD-L1-positive patients with metastatic breast cancer, and overall survival was numerically worse in the investigational arm for both the PD-L1-positive subgroup and the total population. "FDA will review the findings of IMpassion131 and will communicate new information regarding the IMpassion131 results and any potential changes to prescribing information," the agency stated. "FDA is also evaluating the use of atezolizumab and paclitaxel in ongoing clinical trials for breast cancer and will recommend additional changes as appropriate." The agency warned against replacing nab-paclitaxel with paclitaxel in routine clinical practice for this patient population but said, "Patients taking atezolizumab and paclitaxel for other approved uses should continue to take their medication as directed by their health care professional." In early August, drugmaker Genentech acknowledged the unfavorable mortality trend, but noted that data were immature and that the trial was not sufficiently powered for such an analysis. MedPage Today  External Link

    For women and children around the world, a double plague: Coronavirus and domestic violence

    6 September- Zoila fell fast for the soft-spoken day laborer, moving in with him last year just two weeks after their first date. But after El Salvador imposed a strict coronavirus lockdown, she says, the man she thought she knew became an inescapable menace. "The quarantine changed everything," she said. Shut inside their one-room house in rural El Salvador, he began drinking heavily. Soon, she says, he was regularly violating the coronavirus curfew and seeing other women openly. He would return home at odd hours, wake her and demand meals. Drunk, he would taunt Zoila, 24 years old and pregnant, calling her worthless and threatening violence. Then one morning, she says, he grabbed her by the throat, slammed her against the wall and attempted to rape her. When she resisted, she said, the punching began, stopping only when fluid began trailing down her leg. Zoila screamed, fearing a miscarriage. "I remember that day, and I just want to cry," said Zoila, who gave birth to a daughter in June. To protect their identities, The Washington Post is using only the first names of Zoila and Sandly, another woman who says she has been abused during the pandemic. "I was pregnant," Zoila said. "During what was supposed to be a time of joy for me, I felt only pain." For untold numbers of women and children around the globe, the coronavirus pandemic has meant a twofold threat: The risk of catching a deadly virus coupled with the peril of being locked in confined spaces with increasingly violent abusers. The Washington Post External Link

    How drugmakers can keep their pledge and still deliver an October vaccine surprise

    9 September- As questions mount over whether the United States will authorize a coronavirus vaccine ahead of November elections, experts say there is a slim chance that enough evidence will be available to prove one is safe and effective in that time frame. U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly said a vaccine is possible before the Nov. 3 election, and accused a "deep state" within the nation's top health regulator of trying to slow pivotal clinical trials to hamper his chances at a second term. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration refuted that claim, saying its decisions will be guided by data alone. Drugmakers, seeking to bolster public confidence amid political squabbles on Tuesday pledged to uphold scientific safety and efficacy standards in their quest for a vaccine. However, comments from companies suggest they could have an answer on whether their vaccines work within that time frame. "It would really be an amazing vaccine to show that," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Reuters. Reuters External Link

    Inexpensive steroids reduce deaths of hospitalized Covid-19 patients, WHO analysis confirms

    2 September- Use of inexpensive, readily available steroid drugs to treat people hospitalized with Covid-19 reduced the risk of death by one-third, according to an analysis encompassing seven different clinical trials conducted by the World Health Organization and published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The positive steroid findings — the result of a pooled look at data known as a meta-analysis — confirm a similar survival benefit reported in June from a single, large study. Corticosteroids are the first, and so far only, therapy shown to improve the odds of survival for critically ill patients with Covid-19. Based on the newly published data, the WHO on Wednesday issued new treatment guidelines calling for corticosteroids to become the standard of care for patients with "severe and critical" Covid-19. Such patients should receive 7-10 days of treatment, a WHO panel said. But it cautioned against use of the steroids in patients with non-severe illness, saying that "indiscriminate use of any therapy for COVID-19 would potentially rapidly deplete global resources and deprive patients who may benefit from it most as potentially life-saving therapy." STAT News External Link

    Kids use both brain hemispheres to process language, unlike adults, researchers say

    8 September- New findings suggest infants and young kids process language in both hemispheres of the brain, which could help compensate after a neural injury, researchers say.  In nearly all adults, sentence processing only takes place in the left hemisphere, according to neuroscientists from Georgetown University Medical Center. Previously, with traditional scanning, it was unclear whether "strong left dominance for language [was] present at birth or [appeared] gradually during development," said Elissa Newport, Ph.D., Georgetown neurology professor, in a news release. However, analyses using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) revealed that "brain networks that localize specific tasks to one or the other hemisphere start during childhood but are not complete until a child is about 10 or 11," Newport explained. Fox News External Link

    Talking robots could be used to combat loneliness and boost mental health in care homes

    8 September- Talking robots that interact with older people could be introduced into care homes to help fight loneliness and mental ill health. Pepper, a "culturally competent robot," was tested on care home residents in Britain and Japan -- those who interacted with it for up to 18 hours over the course of two weeks "saw a significant improvement in their mental health," researchers found. Pepper was part of a large global study known as CARESSES, jointly funded by the European Union and the Japanese government, which investigated the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in caring for the elderly. The scientists behind the study also found that "after two weeks of using the system there was a small but positive impact on loneliness severity among users."  Pepper is fully autonomous, meaning that it is not controlled by a person. The gadget, which features a tablet computer that can play music and entertainment, does not just ask and answer questions but can actually engage in and sustain conversation. It has been designed to be "culturally competent," meaning that it can respond to the culture-specific needs and preferences of older people. CNN External Link


    CDC: Flu View - Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report

    2019-2020 Influenza Season Week 35, ending August 29, 2020:

    Influenza-Associated Hospitalizations: The Influenza Hospitalization Surveillance Network (FluSurv-NET) conducts all age population-based surveillance for laboratory-confirmed influenza-related hospitalizations in select counties in the Emerging Infections Program (EIP) states and Influenza Hospitalization Surveillance Project (IHSP) states.

    Pneumonia and Influenza (P&I) Mortality Surveillance: Based on National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) mortality surveillance data available on September 3, 2020, 5.4% of the deaths occurring during the week ending August 29, 2020 (week 35) were due to P&I. This percentage is below the epidemic threshold of 5.5% for week 35.

    Influenza-Associated Pediatric Mortality: No influenza-associated pediatric deaths occurring during the 2019-2020 season were reported to CDC during week 35. CDC External Link

    WHO: Influenza Update

    31 August 2020 - Update number 375, based on data up to 16 August 2020:

    -The current influenza surveillance data should be interpreted with caution as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have influenced to varying extents health seeking behaviors, staffing/routines in sentinel sites, as well as testing priorities and capacities in Member States. The various hygiene and physical distancing measures implemented by Member States to reduce SARS-CoV-2 virus transmission have likely played a role in reducing influenza virus transmission.

    - Globally, influenza activity was reported at lower levels than expected for this time of the year. In the temperate zones of the southern hemisphere, the influenza season has not started. Despite continued or even increased testing for influenza in some countries in the southern hemisphere, very few influenza detections were reported.

    - In the temperate zone of the northern hemisphere, influenza activity remained below inter-seasonal levels.

    - In the Caribbean and Central American countries, sporadic influenza detections were reported. Severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) activity was elevated in some reporting countries, likely due to COVID 19.

    - In tropical South America, tropical Africa, Southern Asia and South East Asia there were sporadic influenza virus or no detections across reporting countries.

    - Worldwide, of the very low numbers of detections reported, seasonal influenza B viruses accounted for the majority of detections. WHO External Link


    No sign of Salmonella outbreak ending as U.S. patient count tops 1,000

    4 September- A month after Thomson International Inc. initiated a recall of onions linked to a Salmonella outbreak, federal officials are reporting the patient tally has topped 1,000 in the United States. Canadian officials say hundreds are sick in that country. As of this week, 1,012 people across 47 states have been confirmed as being infected, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those interviewed so far, 90 percent report they specifically remember eating onions or foods containing onions during the days before they developed symptoms of Salmonella infection. Of those patients with complete information available, 136 have been so sick they had to be admitted to hospitals. No deaths have been reported. Because of the delay between when a person becomes ill and when confirmed lab tests results are reported, there will likely be more patients identified in this outbreak. Initially it was thought only red onions were involved, but because of the way onions are grown, harvested and prepared for sale other varieties including yellow, white and sweet onions are under recall. Cross contamination of varieties is suspected. Food Safety News  External Link

    Possible Listeria contamination prompts recall of squash noodle medley

    4 September- Giant Food is recalling Giant Food brand squash noodle medley because of possible Listeria contamination. The product was sold in stores from Aug. 8 – 19. Giant Food officials encourage customers who may have purchased the product not to consume it. The recalled product is: UPC #68826718585 with an Aug. 19 "best enjoyed by" date. Giant removed the product from stores after being notified by the supplier that a regulatory sample of the product tested positive for Listeria. Giant did not report what supplier or ingredient is involved. Again, customers who purchased the affected product should not consume it and may return it to their local Giant Food store for a full refund. Customers may also contact Giant Food's Customer Support Center at 888-469-4426. Food Safety News External Link

    Salmonella outbreak in France tied to sausage from Spain

    4 September-  Public health officials in France are investigating a foodborne illness outbreak suspected to be caused by fuet, a type of sausage from Spain. The product was also sent to Belgium. In total, 18 patients with salmonellosis have been identified. They became ill between July 8 and Aug. 3, according to Santé publique France. All patients, including 12 children, had consumed the Spanish dry-cured sausage. A link between illness and the Spanish company Embutidos Sola SA was confirmed at the start of September, according to the Directorate General for Food (DGAL), the Directorate General for Health and Santé publique France. Several batches consumed by those sick were found to be contaminated with a Salmonella strain that is a variant of Salmonella Typhimurium. Food Safety News External Link


    How to sneeze during a pandemic

    8 September- Sneezing used to be a low-key sign that someone was getting sick or had allergies, and sneezing into your elbow was a polite way to indicate to those around us that we didn't want to give them whatever we might have. However, the novel coronavirus, which has infected more than 6 million Americans and killed at least 180,000, causes a respiratory disease called covid-19 and spreads easily between people. In the midst of a global pandemic, sneezing into our elbows may no longer be enough. When we sneeze, cough or talk, different sizes and amounts of respiratory droplets are released into the air, explains Maria Sundaram, a postdoctoral fellow and principal investigator on covid-19 epidemiological research at ICES Ontario. The bigger the droplets are, the quicker they fall to the ground, and the smaller they are, the more likely they are to travel greater distances. "When you cough or sneeze, these particles can travel much further than they usually would by talking at a normal volume or just exhaling in a normal way," Sundaram says. The Washington Post has collected thousands of reader questions about life during the coronavirus pandemic. One reader, Vicki Kapaun, wrote in to ask: "What is the etiquette now for sneezing? Sneeze into my mask AND elbow? Remove the mask to sneeze into my elbow like the good old days? I've Googled this and can't find an answer. I find it disgusting to sneeze into my mask and then continue wearing it." The Washington Post External Link


    Chad chikungunya cases rapidly rising

    7 September- Cases of chikungunya have been rising rapidly in Chad in the past weeks, suggesting a heavy vector load in the city of Abéché, the most affected area of the country. In a follow-up on the chikungunya outbreak in Chad, the World Health Organization (WHO) is reporting a total of 10,631 cases as of August 31. A number of public health actions have been taken to include the deployment of a mission team of experts, active case search is taking place in health facilities and households, Risk communication and community engagement and vector control. WHO says response activities need to be supervised to ensure spraying of all known vector sites and disinfection of the whole city of Abéché. National and local authorities and partners need to urgently upgrade response activities to prevent a larger outbreak and spread beyond current geographical areas. Outbreak News Today External Link


    First COVID-19 cases confirmed in Jordan camp for Syrian refugees

    8 September- The UN refugee agency said on Tuesday it confirmed two coronavirus cases in the Azraq camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan, which is home to more than 40,000 people who have fled their country's civil war. They are the first infections to be detected among Syrians living in refugee camps in Jordan. The UNHCR said the two patients were transferred to quarantine facilities after testing positive late Monday, and their neighbours have been isolated as more testing is carried out. "It is a reminder that everyone has been affected by this epidemic, and solutions must be addressed through international solidarity and cooperation," UNHCR said in a statement.  UNHCR spokesman Mohammad Hawari said the two patients were transferred to an isolation centre on the Dead Sea. Those who were living with them, as well as their neighbours, were moved to an "isolation zone" inside the camp, and everyone who had contact with them is being tested. Hawari added the camp hospital has 14 beds designated for patients with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. But he said officials are concerned the virus could easily spread among the crowded population. Al Jazeera External Link


    Coronavirus: Social gatherings above six banned in England from 14 September

    9 September- Social gatherings of more than six people will be illegal in England from Monday - with some exemptions - amid a steep rise in coronavirus cases.
    The law change will ban larger groups meeting anywhere socially indoors or outdoors, the government said. But it will not apply to schools, workplaces or Covid-secure weddings, funerals and organized team sports. It will be enforced through a £100 fine if people fail to comply, doubling on each offence up to a maximum of £3,200. The new rules - which come into force on 14 September - mark a change to England's current guidance. At present, the guidance says two households of any size are allowed to meet indoors or outdoors, or up to six people from different households outdoors. Until now the police have had no powers to stop gatherings unless they exceeded 30. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will give further details of the changes at a Downing Street news conference at 16:00 BST on Wednesday, alongside senior advisers Prof Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance. BBC News External Link

    Italy reports dengue local transmission in the Veneto region

    5 September- Ansa Health and Wellness reports (computer translated) a locally transmitted dengue fever infection in an individual from a rural village in the Veneto region of Italy.  The 54 year old patient is believed to have contracted the virus after a relative who traveled to Indonesia in was diagnosed July. The individual did not have a history of traveling abroad. He presented with flu-like symptoms for four days and other members of the family, who are currently in good health and have not been hospitalized, presented the same symptoms, which lasted a few days. The case was confirmed by a laboratory in Padua. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control says this is the first case of locally-acquired dengue infection reported by Italy. Outbreak News Today External Link


    Hong Kong officials report rat Hepatitis E virus infection

    7 September- The Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection (CHP) reported investigating a case of human infection of rat Hepatitis E virus (HEV) in an 89-year-old woman from Ngau Chi Wan. The patient  had presented with anorexia, abdominal pain and jaundice. She was referred by a private doctor to the Accident and Emergency Department of Kwong Wah Hospital on August 17 and was admitted on the same day. She was found to have deranged liver function during hospitalization. The patient is now in stable condition. Her blood sample tested positive for rat HEV upon laboratory testing. She did not have contact with rodents or rats, and had no travel history during the incubation period. "Based on the available epidemiological information, the source and the route of infection could not be determined. The CHP's investigation is ongoing," a spokesman for the CHP said. Outbreak News Today External Link 

    India passes Brazil for COVID-19 cases, Congress points fingers at Modi

    7 September- The India Ministry of Health reported nearly 91,000 COVID-19 cases Monday, putting the country total to 4,204,613, bypassing Brazil to become the country with the second most cases. For several weeks, Indian health officials have reported the highest daily COVID-19 counts. India surpassed the 2 million case mark in early August and 3 million about two weeks later on August 23. The death toll has risen to 71,642 after reporting more than 1,000 deaths in the past 24 hours. The world's second most populous nation has one of the lowest mortality rates at 1.7 percent, although there is much skepticism over that number. The India Congress is pointing directly at the administration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, according to a Times of India report. Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala accused the Modi government leaving the people to fend for themselves–"indifference, ineptitude and a failed leadership" were responsible for the current situation. "Prime Minister Modi must answer the nation on the strategy going forward. Will Modi answer for his failed leadership" The COVID-19 pandemic has also resulted in some horrible news for the economy. According to NPR, Between April and June, when India was under a strict coronavirus lockdown, its GDP shrank by 23.9% compared to the same period last year. It is the biggest economic contraction since India started keeping records in 1996. Outbreak News Today External Link

    New Zealand records two COVID-19 deaths in Auckland

    5 September- For the first time in several months, New Zealand health officials have recorded a COVID-19 fatality, in fact, two have been reported in as many days. On Friday, health authorities reported the death of a man at Middlemore Hospital, linked to COVID-19. The man in his 50s was part of the August Auckland cluster. The second case reported Saturday, also in Auckland, is the former Prime Minister of the Cook Islands Dr. Joseph Williams. Dr. Williams, who was in his 80s, was also a widely regarded member of health services in both New Zealand and the Cook Islands. He passed away at Auckland City Hospital. The number of COVID-19 related deaths in New Zealand is now 24. On Saturday, three additional COVID-19 cases were reported in New Zealand, putting the number of active cases at 112. The total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 is now 1,416 and the total cases are 1767. Outbreak News Today External Link 

    Philippines reports 1,383 new COVID-19 cases, 'flattened the curve' achieved

    7 September- Philippines health officials reported 1,383 new COVID-19 cases today, bringing the overall tally to 238,727.  Half the number of new cases were reported from the Metro Manila area and Laguna. The Department of Health (DOH) notes that only 88 out of 115 laboratories submitted data Monday. 15 additional COVID-19 related deaths were reported. The Philippines has now reported 3,890 deaths. The COVID-19 Task Force in the country said Monday the public should not be complacent after experts reported that the country is starting to flatten the curve of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Experts at the University of the Philippines say the country has sustained the flattening of the curve. However, Secretary Vince Dizon, NTF deputy chief implementer said the public should not be complacent. He said the government still needs to intensify its intervention and should be consistent in imposing all precautionary measures so that "we can even lower the confirmed cases and the spike of cases can be prevented nationwide." Outbreak News Today External Link


    U.S.: Colorado- Reports 2nd human plague case of 2020

    8 September- The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is reporting the second case of human plague in the state this summer. The case, reported to the department on Sept. 3, is a resident from a rural county in Colorado. The first case was diagnosed earlier this summer in a resident from southwest Colorado. The cases are unrelated. Both cases had exposure to sick animals– a squirrel and a cat. Neither case is suspected of having spread the infection to other people or animals. These are the first cases of human plague reported in the state since 2015. In the past 10 years, there have been 14 cases of human plague in Colorado. Earlier this year, plague bacteria were confirmed in rodents in Broomfield, Jefferson, and Adams counties as well as a cat in Elbert County.  CDPHE reminds residents that it's not uncommon for plague to be seen this time of year, but it can also be found in rodents year-round. It sometimes spills over into other wildlife species as well as domestic cats and dogs. Outbreak News Today External Link

    U.S.: Dallas- First West Nile virus deaths reported

    7 September- Dallas County health officials reported the first two West Nile virus related fatalities of the year in Dallas residents. Both individuals were diagnosed with neuroinvasive disease.  "Our first two deaths in Dallas County this year due to West Nile Virus are reminders of the seriousness of West Nile Virus disease and the importance of being vigilant about avoiding mosquito bites," Dr. Philip Huang, the county's health director said. To date, seven human cases of West Nile Virus have been reported in Dallas County this year, including the two deaths. West Nile virus symptoms usually develop between two and 14 days after a person is bitten by an infected mosquito. Symptoms may include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, body aches, skin rash and swollen lymph glands. Older individuals or individuals with compromised immune systems are at higher risk of severe illness. If you or a family member has concerns about any symptoms, contact your health care provider. Outbreak News Today External Link


    Colombia now records the 6th most COVID-19, Health ministry to start seroprevalence study

    6 September- The Colombia Ministry of Health recorded 8,065 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the total in the country to 666,521. Colombia has now seen the sixth most COVID-19 cases in the world, following the US, Brazil, India, Russia and Peru. The Capital District has recorded to most cases, about one third of the country's total, followed by Antioquia, Atlantico and Valle del Cauca. 256 additional deaths were recorded, bringing the death toll to 21,412. In related news, the National Institute of Health announced it will be heading up a study of the seroprevalence of COVID-19. Leticia will be the first city in the country to participate. "What we will do is take blood samples from the general population, with a representative population sample for the country and stratified by age groups, to identify which people have antibodies generated during infection by the SARS-Cov2 virus; With this it is possible to measure, with precision, whether or not someone was exposed to the virus, even if they had not had a previous diagnosis ", explained Marcela Mercado, Director of Research in Public Health at the INS. These analyzes seek to measure whether people had an immune response through the generation of antibodies, recording whether they were asymptomatic or symptomatic (mild, moderate, or severe). In addition to Leticia, the following will be part of this study: Barranquilla, Medellín, Bogotá, Cúcuta, Cali, Bucaramanga and Villavicencio. Seroprevalence studies are not novel and are usually always done at the end of epidemics, because they provide very important information for future decision-making about the disease and the number of people who are still susceptible, especially related to the immunization strategies of the population. Outbreak News Today External Link

    Costa Rica readies horse antibodies for trials as an inexpensive COVID-19 therapy

    7 September- Development of the hundreds of vaccines and therapies for COVID-19 is by no means confined to metro areas surrounding San Francisco, Boston or Washington, D.C. Borrowing from decades of experience in producing snake antivenoms, scientists, veterinarians and technicians at a scientific and technical institute in Costa Rica have labored nonstop in recent months to produce a therapeutic formulation of equine antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Similar efforts are underway in Brazil and Argentina to tide these countries over until the arrival of an effective vaccine. In late March, after the first case of COVID-19 was diagnosed in Costa Rica, Román Macaya—a biochemist and public health expert who heads the Costa Rican Social Security Fund, which runs the nation's public clinics and hospitals—issued a call for the research community to join the fight against the then nascent pandemic. "Our response to COVID-19 could not be only a health care response," Macaya says. "It had to be a scientific response as well." In making his plea for help, he singled out the antivenom specialists at the University of Costa Rica's Clodomiro Picado Institute, which is named after a renowned Costa Rican scientist. "The very next day we got a letter from  Henning Jensen, then rector of the University of Costa Rica saying, 'We're in. Let's get together and work on this,'" Macaya recalls. The effort's objective was to harness the technology and experience the Clodomiro Picado Institute has acquired in its work using horse antibodies to fabricate antivenoms for snake bites during the past five decades. Every year, the antivenoms with purified equine antibodies produced at the institute save more than 500 people in Costa Rica and thousands more in other countries around the world. Scientific American External Link