Defense Public Health Weekly Update, 03 February 2023

Date Published: 2/3/2023
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The Defense Public Health Weekly 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 Defense Health Agency opinions, views, policy, or guidance, and should not be construed or interpreted as being endorsed by the Defense Health Agency.

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Table of Contents


    It's Final! Last MHS GENESIS Staff Q&A Ahead of Spring 2023 MHS GENESIS Transition​​​​​

    26 January- With less than two months before the transition to MHS GENESIS, the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) MHS GENESIS and Leidos Partnership Defense Health (LPDH) host the final MHS GENESIS Staff Q&A. The topics addressed were required training, pre-go-live activities, Go-Live Support, and a host of other MHS GENESIS-related questions. "My role is to help navigate and connect with people and the resources to master MHS GENESIS," said Rebecca Meyer, LPDH Wave Lead for WRNMMC. "We will see you to the finish line and ensure you have the pathway to success laid." Throughout the hour-long interactive session, panel members highlighted the work that goes into ensuring WRNMMC providers and staff have the tools available to navigate MHS GENESIS successfully. The in-person interactive session may be the final one before the go-live date, but Army Maj. Kirt Cline, WRNMMC's MHS GENESIS Site POC, shared that providers and staff can find resources related to MHS GENESIS on the medical facility's SharePoint page, which houses the link to MilSuite where "an extensive number of resources are." "When we think of resources, there's a plethora of them, " Cline said. "Having these resources available to us doesn't take away from reaching out to someone." To foster ongoing communication and assistance leading up to and after WRNMMC's go-live, Lt. Cmdr. Isaac Schwartz, WRNMMC's MHS GENESIS Information Steering Committee Chair (ISC) Chair encourages providers and staff to use their assigned Super User and Middle Manager experts. "They're empowered, capable, educated, and trained to serve you," said Schwartz. "They are your first stop." MHS GENESIS is the DOD's new electronic health record for the Military Health System. Once deployed at all military hospitals and clinics worldwide, you can access your health records from any military hospital or clinic from anywhere, anytime. DVIDS ​External Link


    A Survival Guide for Having Military Parents with PTSD​​​

    28 January- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms resulting from military combat are sometimes referred to as "shell shock" or "combat stress". These symptoms arise out of experiencing severe trauma from a life-threatening event. Various factors make military service personnel and exposure to its multiple aspects more prone to causing trauma than civilian life. Such factors include prolonged exposure to combat, being on alert constantly in a state of fear and anxiety, the threat of biological and chemical weapons, and the nature of deployment, which could be difficult to predict in terms of when and how long one will be deployed, which may happen frequently. These stressors can lead to mental distress and disorders, such as PTSD. Post-traumatic stress disorder consists of a variety of symptoms that stem from experiencing a single or series of traumatic events. The more serious the traumatic event, the more intense the symptoms of PTSD can be. The time between the traumatic event and the presentation of symptoms varies for each person. However, more immediate symptoms of PTSD include emotional numbness, grief, intrusive thoughts, and social withdrawal. Delayed symptoms include disruptions in behavioral, biological, and psychological functioning, reduced quality of life, and a higher likelihood of having additional medical or mental health issues. In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, those with PTSD have extreme sensitivities to certain stimuli that remind them of the traumatic experience. These may include loud noises, sudden movements, flashing lights, etc. Such stimuli can trigger flashbacks without warning or control as if it were happening all over again. Flashbacks can be extremely traumatizing to experience and may cause a person to withdraw socially and from all environments and situations where they’re more likely to have a flashback triggered. Depression, anxiety, and substance abuse are also common symptoms that accompany PTSD. Health News​ External Link

    Navy Medicine Shifts to Expeditionary Focus, Prepares for Future Fight​​

    30 January- The U.S. Navy Surgeon General has released Navy Medicine’s first-ever campaign order. The order directs actions across the enterprise and with key stakeholders to ensure trained, equipped, certified, maintained, and sustained medical forces and units capable of supporting the Joint and Naval force. The order states Navy medical forces must be ready to project medical power in support of the warfighter across the full range of military operations. As such, the order prioritizes support of distributed maritime operations, expeditionary advanced basing operations, and logistics operations in a contested environment. “This order reflects a foundational change to how our entire enterprise operates as we transform to better meet combatant commander and component commander requirements for the warfighter; this is our North Star” said U.S. Navy Surgeon General, Rear Adm. Bruce Gillingham. “We are taking this urgent action because our Naval Forces are operating in contested battlespaces that are quickly growing in lethality, complexity, and scope – and we must be ready now for the next fight.” The campaign order follows several organizational changes already implemented at the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery and its subordinate commands, Navy Medical Forces Atlantic, Navy Medicine Pacific, and Navy Medical Forces Support Command. These changes include the establishment of a Maritime Headquarters (MHQ) and Maritime Operations Center (MOC) construct at each command. “This change is designed to ensure that our organization is aligned to our key stakeholders and is postured with manned, trained, equipped and certified units to support the Fleet and Fleet Marine Force in the most austere maritime conditions we have seen since WWII,” said Cmdr. Kathleen Dagher, deputy director of Naval Medicine’s Operational Design Task Group. Through coordinated, enterprise-wide efforts synchronized across the Navy and Marine Corps, Navy Medicine will focus on effectiveness in force development and force generation to assure readiness for strategic competition, crisis, and conflict. DVIDS External Link

    ​New Defense Health Director Pledges to Focus on Patients as 'Human Beings'​

    30 January- As the Army's deputy surgeon general, Lt. Gen. Telita Crosland managed the deployment of U.S. military personnel to field hospitals, civilian medical centers, parking lots and public buildings nationwide to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic. And in the midst of that global health crisis, she was handed the task of overseeing health care for evacuees from Afghanistan, working with the departments of State and Health and Human Services to care for thousands while providing medical care that ranged from delivering babies to treating measles. All this, while unexpectedly raising her son as a single mom, having lost her husband before lockdown in 2020."It was a sporty three years, to say the least," Crosland said during an interview with reporters before her promotion to lieutenant general on Jan. 20. "I'm just extremely proud of the team, the entire military health system team. That's the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, Coast Guard, the Department of Defense, public health, all the medical entities in the United States came together." As of Jan. 3, Crosland is the new director of the Defense Health Agency, responsible for the health care of 9.6 million patients in the military health system, including Department of Defense hospitals and clinics and the Tricare health program. She said her experience working with every service as well as her work as a family physician will shape how she does her new job. Crosland explained that family practice physicians tend to look at their patients through a holistic lens, concerned about their living situations, their nutrition, their fitness -- their whole health. She said that ultimately, health care is about improving the lives of service members and their families. "I think folks will see that come out as the director. I'm very focused on the patient in the center. I'm very focused on the human being," Crosland said.​​ ​External Link


    COVID-19 is a leading cause of death among children, but is still rare​

    31 January- COVID-19 was the eighth leading cause of death among children in recent months, according to a study published Monday. In a yearlong period from August 2021 to July 2022, 821 children ages 0 to 19 died from COVID-19 at a rate of 1 per 100,000. Children's deaths of any kind are rare, researchers noted. COVID-19 ranked fifth in non-disease-related deaths and first in infectious or respiratory illness deaths, overtaking the flu and pneumonia. Before the pandemic, in 2019, the leading causes of death among children were perinatal conditions, unintentional injuries, birth defects, assault, suicide, cancerous tumors, heart disease and influenza and pneumonia. The time period researchers analyzed coincided with the rise of Delta and Omicron COVID-19 cases. They found that studying other 12-month periods during the pandemic did not change the results. Researchers noted their results were limited by the underreporting of COVID-19 cases, and the exclusion of deaths where COVID-19 could have been a contributing or amplifying factor in tandem with other conditions, such as influenza.​ NPR​ External Link

    Federal panel approves plans to safeguard lab-made virus research​​

    27 January- A panel of federal advisers voted unanimously Friday to advance a set of proposals to bolster government oversight of pathogen research that could make viruses more transmissible. The advisers, a collection of biosecurity, ethics and infectious disease experts, united to vote the set of proposals through with minor changes. But some of the scientists who attended the public meeting balked at language that they said could accidentally hinder relatively low-risk gain-of-function research, which manipulates pathogens in order to study a virus’s origins with the aim of developing speedy treatments. The panel’s draft report, which recommends safeguards including “federal department-level review” of gain-of-function studies and implementing a broader definition of pathogens that could potentially cause pandemics, will be finalized, then sent to top National Institutes of Health officials, which currently do not include a permanent NIH director or a replacement for National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci. Acting NIH Director Lawrence Tabak, a longtime deputy of former NIH Director Francis Collins, spoke at the start of the meeting and stayed throughout, but didn’t chime in as public commenters and panelists themselves questioned how the policies would be implemented and how some virus-related research could be unintentionally hampered. The proposals, if implemented, would only apply to U.S.-funded research. But as attendees spoke, they noted the policies would likely ripple through academic arenas and global research efforts.​​ Stat News​ External Link

    Shop loyalty card data may help spot ovarian cancer​

    27 January- Tracking what shoppers buy, via loyalty-card data, can help spot those with early signs of cancer, doctors who have been running a study say. Frequent purchases of over-the-counter painkillers and indigestion tablets revealed a higher risk of ovarian cancer, they found. Ovarian cancer is often diagnosed late. There is no reliable screening test and the symptoms, such as bloating, can be vague and confused with other common, harmless conditions. Symptoms include:

    - swollen or bloated stomach

    - indigestion

    - pelvic or abdominal pain

    - loss of appetite or feeling full quickly after eating

    - needing to urinate more often

    Early diagnosis improves the chance of successful treatment. Fiona Murphy was 25 when she was diagnosed and treated for a rare type of ovarian cancer. She had been having stomach cramps and indigestion for a couple of years, which other doctors had repeatedly thought might be irritable-bowel syndrome. She told BBC News: "I lived on Gaviscon for months and months before my ovarian cancer diagnosis. It went everywhere with me. I couldn't leave the house without it. "My symptoms were vague but they were frequent and continuous. That's what you need to be looking for." Her symptoms continued and a scan revealed a large mass or growth. Now 39, Fiona has been helping the team at Imperial College London with their research. "I wanted to help with developing this study because I had the wrong diagnosis for nearly two years," she said. "If there is a way to get an earlier diagnosis, I want to help people who are in the same position I was in. "Getting diagnosed early is vital. Had my cancer been spotted sooner, I might have had far less surgeries and better fertility options." BBC News​ External Link

    Some 20% of Americans are taking sleep medications, CDC says: 'Alarming' data​​​

    28 January- Approximately 20% adults in the U.S. may be taking medication — either occasionally or regularly — to fall or to stay asleep, according to data recently released in January. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that approximately 8.4% adults in the U.S. take medication either every day or most days to stay or fall asleep, according to a National Center for Health Statistics data brief. An additional 10% of adults likely also take sleep medication "some days" to either fall or stay sleep. ​The study results came from a health survey that asked participants if they took sleep medication during the past 30 days. "In 2020, 6.3% of adults took sleep medication every day in the last 30 days, 2.1% took medication most days, 10.0% took medication some days and 81.6% never took medication," the report said. "Among all adults, sleep medication use increased with increasing age, decreased with increasing income, and was higher among non-Hispanic White adults compared with adults of other race and Hispanic-origin groups," the report noted regarding its key findings. The researchers analyzed data from the 2020 National Health Interview Survey of adults 18 years and older to find the percentage of men and women who used medication for sleep.​ Fox News​ External Link

    The link between our food, gut microbiome and depression​

    31 January- Research has long suggested a link between our diet and our mental health. The gut microbiome — the collective genome of trillions of bacteria that live in the intestinal tract that are created largely by what we eat and drink — appears to influence our mood and mind-set. But human studies large enough to pinpoint what bacteria matter, if they matter at all, have been missing. That’s slowly changing. The largest analysis of depression and the gut microbiome to date, published in December, found several types of bacteria notably increased or decreased in people with symptoms of depression. “This study provides some real-life evidence that you are what you eat,” says study author Andre Uitterlinden, who researches genetics at Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Or to be exact, how you feel is closely related to what you consume. The gastrointestinal system has been featured in brain research for centuries. In the early 1800s, John Abernethy, a popular London physician, held that “gastric​ derangement” was the root of all mental disorders. Th​e Washington Post​ External Link​​​

    Trying to crack the Nipah code: How does this deadly virus spill from bats to humans?​

    31 January- It's dusk in central Bangladesh, in a community within the district of Faridpur. A 50-year-old man sits outside his home beside a rice paddy. His name is Khokon. A fiery beard, dyed a bright orange, rings his chin. He says the procession of disease and death all started in the spring of 2004. "So the first one was the mother-in-law of my elder brother. She was really sick," Khokon says. "She had been sick for some time. Then she died. We took her to the grave. Then my father got sick." Khokon stares off into the distance as he explains that his father was a spiritual leader in the community. When he became ill, many came to pay their respects and offer their prayers. "Just 12 days after, my father died," he says. "Suddenly, he was no more." Many of his visitors also got sick. One person traveled to an adjacent village, where four more people fell ill. "It was not understood what was happening," says Mahmudur Rahman, who worked for the Bangladeshi government around that time as director of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research. "Some people who were transporting the patients to the hospital were also getting sick." Sick often meant encephalitis — a swelling of the brain. Epidemiologist Emily Gurley led an on-site outbreak investigation back then and is now based at Johns Hopkins University. She says, "The signs and symptoms of encephalitis are fever, headache, but often altered mental status or coma." Disorientation and seizures were common. "But many of these patients also had respiratory disease," Gurley adds, which often led to coughing, vomiting and difficulty breathing.​ NPR​ External Link

    Why Experts Are Urging Swifter Treatment for Children With Obesity​​

    27 January- The American Academy of Pediatrics recently issued new guidelines for treating the more than 14 million children and adolescents with obesity in the United States. The recommendations came as a surprise to many parents, and to some experts, as they encourage vigorous behavioral interventions even for very young children, as well as drug treatment or surgery for adolescents. The guidelines spring from a scientific understanding of obesity that has been evolving for decades. Obesity is a risk factor for a number of disorders, including Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, joint and back pain, and several cancers. Treating the problem as early as possible may help prevent a lot of misery. Here are answers to some questions about pediatric obesity research and why experts are now advising aggressive treatment. What do the new guidelines say about the causes of obesity? The A.A.P. recommendations stress that obesity is not just a consequence of poor eating habits and a lack of exercise. Obesity is a chronic disease with many intertwined causes, including genetics. Researchers now know that obesity is one of the most strongly inherited traits. Studies conducted decades ago showed that identical twins reared apart usually grow up to have similar body shapes and weights. Adopted children tend to have the same shapes and weights as their biological parents. A genetic predisposition sets the stage for some children to gain weight in an environment in which food — often poor-quality food — is everywhere. And weight gain can become a vicious cycle. Children and adolescents with obesity often experience teasing and bullying, which, the A.A.P. committee wrote, contribute to “binge eating, social isolation, avoidance of health care services and decreased physical activity, further complicating the health trajectory." How do scientists define overweight and obesity? They are defined by body mass index, a measure of weight and height. (It is an imperfect measure; many muscular athletes, for example, have high B.M.I.s but are in excellent shape.) Overweight means a B.M.I. at or above the 85th percentile but below the 95th percentile for children and teenagers of the same age and sex. Obesity is a B.M.I. at or above the 95th percentile for children and teenagers of the same age and sex. (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers B.M.I. growth charts here.) When did pediatric obesity become such a problem? For scientists, the alarms went off in the 1980s and 1990s. Before then, experts took comfort in data from the 1960s indicating that just 5 percent of children and adolescents had obesity. It just did not seem like a pressing issue. But national data in the 1980s showed that the rate had doubled. By 2000, it had tripled, and by 2018, quadrupled. As the epidemic began, expert opinions about why it was happening circulated widely, often citing favorite villains like Big Food, too little exercise or a lack of fresh fruits and vegetables. But rigorous evidence was scarce and solutions evasive. Didn't anyone try to do intervention studies? The New York Times​ External Link​​

    Why Reduce Pharmacy Hours​

    31 January- The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) today announced its perspective regarding the recent news that some pharmacies are reducing operating hours. 'Like other health care professionals, pharmacy teams across the country have been stressed and stretched delivering patient care that they are educated and trained to provide while being inadequately staffed or supported in some cases. During the pandemic, the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination, a collaboration between the federal government, states, and territories, and 21 national pharmacy partners and independent pharmacies, increased access to COVID-19 vaccines for millions of people. Appropriate staffing and workplace conditions are essential for a pharmacy to deliver quality patient care safely. Time will tell how reduced operating hours will impact patients and pharmacy teams. For patients, reducing pharmacy operating hours will impact when they can pick-up prescriptions, get vaccines, and receive other pharmacist services. For pharmacists, because prescribers must continue to write prescriptions, the workload remains unchanged ... while pharmacy personnel will now have less time to do the work. Many pharmacists already work after closing to keep up with prescription volume. Precision Vaccinations​ External Link​​


    CDC: Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report

    Key Updates for Week 3, ending January 21, 2023:

    - Seasonal influenza activity continues to decline across the country.

    - Six HHS regions were below their outpatient respiratory illness baselines.

    - The number of flu hospital admissions reported in the HHS Protect system decreased compared to week 2.

    - Of influenza A viruses detected and subtyped during week 3, 73% were influenza A(H3N2) and 27% were influenza A(H1N1).

    - Six influenza-associated pediatric deaths that occurred during the 2022-23 season were reported this week, for a total of 91 pediatric flu deaths reported so far this season.

    - CDC estimates that, so far this season, there have been at least 25 million illnesses, 280,000 hospitalizations, and 17,000 deaths from flu.

    - The cumulative hospitalization rate in the FluSurv-NET system was 1.4 times higher than the highest cumulative in-season hospitalization rate observed for week 3 during previous seasons going back to 2010-2011. However, this in-season rate is still lower than end-of-season hospitalization rates for all but 4 pre-COVID-19-pandemic seasons going back to 2010-2011.

    - The majority of influenza viruses tested are in the same genetic subclade as and antigenically similar to the influenza viruses included in this season’s influenza vaccine.

    - All viruses collected and evaluated this season have been susceptible to the influenza antivirals oseltamivir, peramivir, zanamivir, and baloxavir.

    - An annual flu vaccine is the best way to protect against flu. Vaccination helps prevent infection and can also prevent serious outcomes in people who get vaccinated but still get sick with flu.

    - CDC continues to recommend that everyone ages 6 months and older get an annual flu vaccine as long as flu activity continues.

    - CDC issued Interim Guidance for Clinici​ans to Prioritize Antiviral Treatment of Influenza in the Setting of Reduced Availability of Oseltamivir through the Health Alert Network (HAN) on December 15, 2022. CDC​ External Link


    Jambalaya and gumbo products recalled over lack of inspection​

    31 January- Wild Cajun Meals LLC, of Garland, TX, is recalling approximately 18,418 pounds of frozen, fully cooked jambalaya and gumbo products that were produced without the benefit of federal inspection, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The problem was discovered during routine FSIS surveillance activities when it was determined that the frozen, fully cooked jambalaya and gumbo products did not have the USDA mark of inspection and were produced in an establishment that was not inspected by USDA. FSIS is concerned that some product may be in consumers’ freezers. These items were shipped to retail locations in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. The frozen, fully cooked jambalaya and gumbo items were produced beginning in Sept. 2021 and have various sell by dates. Food Safety News​ External Link​​

    Ready-to-eat sausages recalled after inspection finds Listeria on production surfaces​

    30 January- Daniele International LLC, of Mapleville, RI, is recalling 52,914 pounds of ready-to-eat (RTE) sausage products because of Listeria monocytogenes contamination, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announcement. FSIS discovered the problem during routine inspection activities where Listeria monocytogenes was found on surfaces where the product came into contact. With sell by dates through 2023, FSIS is concerned that some product may be in consumers’ refrigerators or freezers. The ready to eat sausage products were produced on various dates from May 23, 2022, through Nov. 25, 2022, and shipped to retail locations nationwide on various dates from Dec. 23, 2022, through Jan. 17, 2023. Food Safety News​ External Link​​


    TIAs are emergencies, not just ‘mini-strokes,’ group says​​

    30 January- Transient ischemic attacks, or TIAs, should no longer be thought of as mere “mini-strokes," but rather harbingers of a bigger stroke to come, according to the American Heart Association. In new guidance, the group says that at least 240,000 Americans experience a TIA each year and calls on medical providers to treat TIAs as emergencies. The statement gives medical providers guidelines on how to evaluate patients who suspect they've had a TIA. The condition occurs when a temporary blockage of blood to the brain produces stroke like symptoms that swiftly resolve. Because symptoms tend to disappear within an hour, it can be hard to diagnose suspected TIAs, according to the guidance. For years, TIAs were popularly nicknamed mini-strokes, but the term is a misnomer. In a news release, AHA officials say a TIA “is more accurately described as a warning stroke." Though they are less severe than full-blown strokes, TIAs lead to full strokes in about 1 in 5 patients within three months. Nearly half of those full-blown strokes occur within just two days, the scientists write. The guidelines call on medical providers to use both brain imaging and risk assessment scores to determine whether a stroke damaged the brain and point to patients at risk for a larger stroke. Providers should look into symptoms and medical history, then conduct a CT scan to rule out conditions that can mimic TIA. Patients should get an MRI scan within 24 hours of the symptom onset, the report recommends. Rural and underserved hospitals without on-site neurologists or with limited access to imaging should participate in telemedicine networks that connect providers to one another and transfer patients to hub hospitals for imaging or arrange for outpatient MRIs, the guidance states. “Incorporating these steps for people with suspected TIA may help identify which patients would benefit from hospital admission, versus those who might be safely discharged from the emergency room with close follow-up," said Hardik P. Amin, an associate professor of neurology who chaired the association's scientific statement writing committee, in the news release. Amin is also the medical stroke director at Yale New Haven Hospital. TIAs share the same symptoms as strokes: facial drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulty, dizziness. People with other cardiovascular risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure and smoking are at higher risk. The Washington Post​ External Link​​


    Laboratories in Kenya and Tanzania train rats to detect tuberculosis​​​

    23 January- In laboratories in Tanzania and Nairobi, rats have been trained to sniff out tuberculosis. Already known for finding land mines, the rodents could now transform the way the disease is detected. The African giant pouched rats work with scientists at the APOPO Project, a Belgian non-profit organization in Tanzania, because they can detect the smell of the deadly disease. A study conducted by APOPO in 2016 compared the accuracy of the rats to that of standard methods used in laboratories such as smear microscopy, bacteria culture tests and Genexpert - a rapid test for tuberculosis. Joseph Soka, programme manager for TB at APOPO, said: "The sensitivity of these rats is as high as compared to microscopes and as compared to other tests, their sensitivity is independent of HIV status. "That is, they can easily identify tuberculosis in people living with HIV, keeping in mind that these people living with HIV, it is very difficult to be diagnosed by the standard test, including Genexpert in microscopes."​​ Africa News​ External Link


    Rockets hit Turkish base in northern Iraq​​

    1 February- A cluster of rockets has targeted a Turkish military base in northern Iraq, officials from Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region and a Turkish defense ministry official, said. An Iranian-backed militia, the Islamic Resistance Ahrar al-Iraq Brigade – which is part of Iraq’s Iran-backed paramilitary Popular Mobilisation Forces – promptly claimed responsibility for the attack on Wednesday, which caused no damage or injuries at the base, according to the Turkish official.​​  The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, did not provide further details. According to a statement from the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) anti-terrorism department, at least eight rockets were fired at Turkey’s Zilkan military base in Nineveh province, which sits just outside of territory administered by the KRG, with two rockets hitting the base itself. Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar dismissed the incident, saying that the base comes under attack “from time to time”, prompting retaliatory fire. He said that Turkish soldiers in northern Iraq were “fighting there with increased resolve and determination”. Turkey launched its most recent operation against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Iraq in April last year. The PKK launched an armed rebellion in southeast Turkey in 1984, in which more than 40,000 people have been killed.​​ Al Ja​zeera​ External Link


    74% of UK parents support routine chickenpox vaccine​​​

    1 February- Almost three-quarters of UK parents would support the chickenpox vaccine being added to the childhood vaccination schedule. The chickenpox vaccine protects against the varicella-zoster virus that causes chickenpox. It is currently not offered as part of the routine childhood vaccination schedule. However, it is offered on the NHS to people in close contact with someone who is particularly vulnerable to chickenpox or its complications. New research from University College London (UCL) and Keele University surveyed parents about their attitudes towards varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, aiming to discover whether it should be offered routinely to children and whether they would accept it. The study results were published in Vaccine. The team surveyed nearly 600 parents on their thoughts towards the chickenpox vaccine, whether it should be offered on the N​HS and whether they would likely accept it for their child. The results found that 74% of people surveyed were likely to accept the chickenpox vaccine for their child if it was introduced whilst only 18.3% said they were unlikely to, and 7.7% said they were unsure. Parents were likely to accept the vaccine for reasons such as protection from complications of chickenpox, trust in the vaccine and healthcare professionals, and want their child to avoid their personal experience of chickenpox. Those who said they were unlikely to accept it said their reasons included chickenpox not being a serious illness, concerns about side effects, and their belief that it is preferable to catch chickenpox as a child rather than as an adult. Health Europa​ External Link


    S.Korea considers early easing of COVID visa curbs on travelers from China -Yonhap​

    31 January- South Korea's prime minister suggested on Tuesday that COVID-19 visa curbs on travelers from China could be lifted earlier than scheduled if infections eased in the latter, as the travel and tourism industries hope for a rebound in visitor numbers. Prime Minister Han Duck-so said Seoul could consider lifting the limit on short-term visas for such travelers before the end of February if China's tally of COVID infections proved manageable, the Yonhap news agency said.​"If (the situation) is endurable given the PCR COVID-19 test results, the lifting (of restrictions) could be considered earlier," Han said. His comment comes as the tourism and aviation sectors have been hit by the decisions of both countries to suspend the issue of short-term visas. China plans to require all passengers on direct flights from South Korea to undergo a PCR test upon arrival, starting from Feb. 1, the South Korean embassy in Beijing said. Reuters​ ​​External Link


    Mpox is almost gone in the U.S. , leaving lessons and mysteries in its wake​​

    31 January- The US public health emergency declaration for mpox, formerly known as monkeypox, ends Tuesday. The outbreak, which once seemed to be spiraling out of control, has quietly wound down. The virus isn’t completely gone, but for more than a month, the average number of daily new cases reported to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has hovered in the single digits, plummeting from an August peak of about 450 cases a day. Still, the US led the world in cases during the 2022-23 outbreak. More than 30,000 people in the US have been diagnosed with mpox, including 23 who died. Cases are also down across Europe, the Western Pacific and Asia but still rising in some South American countries, according to the latest​ data from the World Health Organization. It wasn’t always a given that we’d get here. When mpox went global in 2022, doctors had too few doses of a new and unproven vaccine, an untested treatment, a dearth of diagnostic testing and a difficult line to walk in their messaging, which needed to be geared to an at-risk population that has been stigmatized and ignored in public health crises before. Experts say the outbreak has taught the world a lot about this infection, which had only occasionally been seen outside Africa. But even with so much learned, there are lingering mysteries too – like where this virus comes from and why it suddenly began to spread from the Central and West African countries where it’s usually found to more than 100 other nations.​​ CNN​ ​External Link


    Bolivia dengue outbreak tops 2500​​​

    31 January- The Ministry of Health and Sports reported 310 new dengue fever cases Monday, bringing the cumulative total to 2,531 year to date. The department of Santa Cruz accounts for 74 percent of the country’s cases (1,871), followed by Be​ni 434, Tarija 108, La Paz 62, Pando 21, Chuquisaca 27 and Cochabamba 8. Outbreak News Today​ External Link​​