Perspectives on Dual Use, Yellow Fever Dose-Response Study, MERS Vaccine

Biodefense Headlines on Global Biodefense

See what we’re reading this week at Global Biodefense on topics including the tuberculosis crisis in North Korea, Dual Use Research of Concern, combination antibiotic treatments, and a successful MERS vaccine Phase I study.


Major Donor Nixes Effort to Combat Tuberculosis Crisis in North Korea

A fuse is about to be lit on an infectious disease powderkeg in northeast Asia. On 30 June, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria will pull the plug on its grants to North Korea, which has one of the highest rates of tuberculosis (TB) in the world. The pullout leaves the isolated nation with about 1 year to line up a new source of medicines and diagnostics to combat a deepening TB crisis. Science

Perspectives on Dual Use: Can Security Be Ensured by Regulation?

While we wait for regulators and regulations to catch up, the answer to the question ‘Can we mitigate these risks with minimal impacts on research and development?’ is yes – through responsible conduct. We need scientists who understand not only the benefits that their work creates for society but also the risks. OIE Bulletin

Human Costs of Epidemics Are Going Down but the Economic Costs are Going Up

Most economic losses are not typically caused by the disease directly, but rather by relatively predictable consumer reactions, labor shortages and cascading failures in the economic and financial sectors. World Economic Forum

5 Communication Lessons Learned from Hurricane Maria

Hurricane Maria was an unprecedented disaster, exposing residents to an increased risk for foodborne, waterborne, infectious and non-infectious diseases, and other public health risks. We had to figure out how to communicate about multiple health risks to the public, especially to those in rural and isolated communities, when basic resources and services were not available. CDC


In a Rare Success, Paraguay Conquers Malaria

Paraguay has eliminated malaria, the first country in the Americas to do so in almost 50 years, according to the World Health Organization. But worldwide, momentum against the disease has stalled. Nine countries in the Americas reported at least a 20 percent increase in malaria cases during that period — greater than in any other region. NY Times

The Rural South’s Invisible Public Health Crisis

Poverty and poor infrastructure in rural parts of the southern U.S. have led to a surge in tropical diseases typically found in developing countries. Many communities from the Black Belt to Appalachia lack basic sewage and water infrastructure. The risks are accelerated by erratic precipitation patterns and warming temperatures caused by global climate change. Montgomery Advertiser

Chagas Disease Surveillance Activities — Seven States, 2017

If resources are available, surveillance for Chagas disease might be important to conduct in states with large populations at risk, including frequent travelers from countries where the disease is endemic and states at risk for local autochthonous transmission (e.g. have infected mammalian reservoirs and appropriate triatomine vectors), to delineate the actual prevalence of disease. MMWR


Duration of Post-Vaccination Immunity to Yellow Fever in Volunteers Eight Years Later

Groups of decreasing doses from a dose-response study in 2009 showed Yellow Fever seropositivity rates ranging from 80.0% to 95.7%, eight years later. All the rates were acceptable and comparable to other studies on duration of immunity in adults receiving the full dose.

As Drug Resistance Grows, Combining Antibiotics Could Turn Up New Treatments

Nassos Typas and his colleagues at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Germany tested 3,000 different combinations of antibiotics with each other or with drugs, food additives, and other compounds on three common types of bacteria that infect humans. They turned up hundreds of combinations that made antibiotic treatment more effective. STAT

First Clinical MERS Vaccine by Inovio and Geneone Shows Promise

The vaccine elicited high levels of antibodies and T-cell responses in a phase 1 study conducted by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. The Inovio shot is currently the most advanced preventative anti-MERS vaccine. Austrian biotech Themis Bioscience is developing another under a $37.5 million CEPI grant. Fierce Pharma

Explaining ‘Herd Immunity’ May Convince More People to Get Flu Shots

The more people who are vaccinated in a community, the lower the risk that influenza will be able to spread even if the vaccine does not perfectly protect against the disease. At least 70 percent of people need to get an annual flu shot to achieve herd immunity in a community. Reuters


Improving Mass Casualty Management: The Role of Radiation Biodosimetry

It is expected that following a radiological/nuclear event, a large number of the uninjured population or ‘worried well’ will self-mobilize and overwhelm triage systems wanting to know if they have received a radiation exposure. Current efforts in research and late-stage development of new POC radiation biodosimetry diagnostics are aimed at meeting this critical need. Contagion Live

Detection of Pathogenic Viruses in the Ambient Air in Seoul, Korea

The possible transport of pathogenic microorganisms during Asian dust events could be an important concern for health workers; however, this is still uncertain owing to a lack of supporting evidence. The present study aimed to investigate the presence of pathogenic microorganisms in air samples collected during the Asian and non-Asian dust periods. PubMed (abstract)

An Infectious Way to Teach Students About Outbreaks

A typical way to introduce and explain key epidemiological concepts is through the analysis of a historical outbreak. There are, however, few training options that explicitly utilize real-time simulated stochastic outbreaks where the participants themselves comprise the dataset they subsequently analyze. This paper presents a teaching exercise in which an infectious disease outbreak is simulated over a five-day period and subsequently analyzed. Epidemics

Monkey Studies Suggest Zika Role in Miscarriage May Be Higher Than Thought

Zika-related miscarriage or stillbirth may be much higher than previously thought in women infected early in their pregnancies, according to a report from scientists at six different primate research centers. CIDRAP

CMS Sepsis Measure a Challenge to Report

However, while providers seem to agree that time to address sepsis is past due, not everyone has embraced the Sepsis CMS Core Measure program, or SEP-1, as the means to best achieve it. This is, in part, because of discrepancies in how sepsis is defined, the burden of reporting, and what some consider to be arbitrary clinical requirements that may not correlate with better patient outcomes. The Hospitalist


John Oliver Tackles CRISPR

With his knack for extracting hilarity from complex subjects, Last Week Tonight’s John Oliver tackled the gene-editing tool CRISPR this week, to the relief of high school science teachers everywhere. Oliver also takes some nice shots at hype over new technologies. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Novichok Nerve Agent Identified in Amesbury Poisoning, Police Say

Latch Failure Causes Tuberculosis Spill at Johns Hopkins