New Ebola Species, Ricin and Abrin Biomarkers, Resurgence of HIV/AIDS

See what we’re reading this week at Global Biodefense on topics including discovery of a new species of Ebola virus in bats, new assay for quantifying abrin and ricin in blood, and the resurgence of HIV/AIDS.

POLICY + INITIATIVES

Welcome to the Next Deadly AIDS Pandemic

For years, humanity had the virus on the run, and death tolls plunged to joyously low levels. But the disease is now poised, for the first time in recent memory, to add massively to its global death toll of 35 million since 1981. Three factors are contributing to its runaway resurgence: flawed public health strategy, rapidly shifting demography, and diminished resources. Foreign Policy

Strengthen the Taboo Against Biological and Chemical Weapons

While chemical weapons remain widely considered unacceptable, the international taboo against using them has weakened in the last five years. We have seen repeated use of unconscionable weapons on the battlefield and against civilian populations. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Chaotic Congo Basks in Rare Success After Quashing Ebola

When the Ebola outbreak was first announced less than three months ago, few in the country believed it would be possible to contain it so swiftly. “The epidemic had every sign of a major crisis that was going to break out of our national borders.” Reuters

The Crystal Ball: Predicting the Next Outbreak

Hollywood films and TV programs have somewhat glamorized and perhaps even trivialized the impact of disease outbreaks, often implying a simple serum put together in the space of the film could cure all cases of a disease. In reality, infectious diseases such as malaria, bubonic plague and flu have beleaguered humanity all through our history, stretching the resources of often the poorest regions and are certainly not so easy to contain or cure. BugBitten

Praise for the Global HIV Program That Trump Wants to Cut

The multi-billion dollar program to combat HIV and AIDS globally has been slated for cuts by the Trump administration. But researchers and African health officials credit the program started by President George W. Bush with helping to change the trajectory of the AIDS epidemic. NPR

Containing a Deadly Virus: Lessons from the Nipah Outbreak in India

When the rare and deadly Nipah virus broke out in the southern Indian state of Kerala in May, many feared that it would spread on the scale of SARS in China or Ebola in West Africa. But the authorities and the public controlled its spread. Key to the response was Kerala’s past investments in education and health—the state ranks 10th in GDP among Indian states and territories, but first in human development. Brookings

OUTBREAK NEWS + THREAT SURVEILLANCE

Deadly Ebola Outbreak in Congo is Declared Over by Health Ministry

Congo’s latest outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus is over, the health ministry announced Tuesday, after a 42-day observation period with no new confirmed cases recorded. There were 54 Ebola cases, including 33 deaths, in the outbreak that was declared in early May in northwest Equateur province, the ministry said. STAT

Ticks and Lyme Disease: 3 Factors Determine Risk of Infection

Within a day of discovering the tick, Nick Berndt submitted photographs and information about his case to TickEncounter. Within 24 hours, a specialist informed Berndt that his case posed a high risk of Lyme disease. NPR

New Ebola Species is Reported for First Time in a Decade

The family of Ebola viruses has just gotten a bit bigger. The government of Sierra Leone has announced that a new species of Ebola, the sixth, has been discovered there in bats. It has been called, provisionally, the Bombali virus, after a district in the north of the country where it was found. STAT

MEDICAL COUNTERMEASURES

‘It’s Sobering’: A Once-Exciting HIV Cure Strategy Fails its Test in People

When Science published a monkey study nearly 2 years ago that showed an anti-inflammatory antibody effectively cured monkeys intentionally infected with the simian form of the AIDS virus, the dramatic results turned many heads. But some skeptical researchers thought the data looked too good to be true and predicted the intervention wouldn’t work on HIV in humans. They were right. Science

Chinese Vaccine Firm Hit with Probes as Beijing Seeks to Tamp Down Outrage

Changsheng Bio-technology Co Ltd, the Chinese vaccine maker accused of falsifying data, plunged deeper into crisis this week with police detaining its chairwoman and the country’s top graft watchdog launching investigations into the firm. Reuters

RESEARCH UPDATES

Biomarkers of Exposure to Ricin and Abrin

Assessment of the first diagnostic assay for the simultaneous quantification of both ricinine and abrine in blood matrices, and first-ever method for the detection of abrine in blood products. Samples were processed by isotope-dilution, solid-phase extraction, protein precipitation and quantification by HPLC–MS-MS. Journal of Analytical Toxicology

Intradermal Ebola Virus Vaccines Using Microneedle Patches

This study compares immune responses induced by Ebola virus glycoprotein subunit vaccines via intradermal immunization with microneedle patches and the conventional intramuscular injection in mice. Scientific Reports

The Frustrating Predicament of PPE Compliance

As hospitals start ordering personal protective equipment and ensuring their flu vaccines will be delivered in time, we’re reminded that preparing for infectious diseases events, like flu season, is a never-ending battle. And, despite efforts to ensure the necessary PPE is available on the hospital units, the real battle is often ensuring staff are not only wearing it, but also donning and doffing it correctly. Contagion Live

SPECIAL INTEREST

Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security Fellowship Opportunity at Synbiobeta 20

An expenses-paid fellowship for emerging biosecurity leaders from around the world to attend SynBioBeta 2018: The Global Synthetic Biology Summit and exclusive side events Oct. 1-4 in San Francisco. Center for Health Security

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