More Experimental Ebola Treatments Starting in DRC, Boston’s BSL-4 Open For Business

Biodefense Headlines on Global BiodefenseSee what we’re reading this week at Global Biodefense on topics including deployment of additional Ebola therapeutics in DRC, a green-light for Boston University’s high containment laboratory, and the lingering spectre of smallpox.

POLICY + INITIATIVES

After a Decade of Squabbles, Boston University’s BSL-4 Lab is in Business

The seven-story laboratory in the South End, built in 2008, has been — until now — unable to fulfill its original purpose amid neighbors’ fears of contamination, failed lawsuits to prevent it, and study after study of its safety. The prolonged approval process ended in December with the final thumbs-up from the Boston Public Health Commission. Boston Globe

Arresting Biological Disasters: Role ‘Smart Cities Mission’ Can Play

In the face of outbreaks, simple acts of citizens like following strict personal hygiene including cough etiquette and exercising self-restraint in their movements could be of big help to city administrators in controlling them. “Self-quarantining” coupled with “home-based working options” further integrated with “absenteeism management plans” merit inclusion into preparedness policies for corporates and even for some public agencies. Observer Research Foundation

OUTBREAK NEWS + THREAT SURVEILLANCE

Congo Approves More Experimental Ebola Treatments as Cases Rise

DRC health authorities last week started administering the U.S.-developed mAb114 treatment to Ebola patients, the first time such a treatment had been used against an active outbreak. Four additional treatments were authorized yesterday by Congo’s ethics committee: Remdesivir, made by Israel’s Gilead Sciences; ZMapp, an intravenous treatment made by San Diego’s Mapp Pharmaceutical; Japanese drug Favipiravir; and Regn3450-3471-3479. Reuters

African Swine Fever Outbreak in Romania Hits 10 Counties

The country’s National Sanitary-veterinary and Food Safety Authority (ANSVSA) has confirmed that the number of African swine fever outbreaks confirmed in Romania has reached 725. The overall number of pigs slaughtered in commercial holdings and households has reached 117,704. Independent Balkan News Agency

Worst Anthrax Outbreak in 20 Years Sweeps French Farms

More than 50 cows, sheep and horses have died in France’s most serious outbreak of anthrax in two decades, according to officials who have warned of a vaccine shortage. The Local

Outbreak or Not, Measles is a Growing Threat Globally

In 2000, we said that measles had been eliminated in the U.S. In 2016, there were 86 cases, and in 2017, 118 cases. The year is only half over, yet we already have 107 cases across 21 states and D.C., including eight clusters that meet the CDC definition. Forbes

CDC to Provide Support to West Virginia in Hep A Outbreak

West Virginia had 975 cases of hepatitis A in 27 counties as of Aug. 17. CDC will provide epidemiology assistance with case investigation strategies and procedures, and data management and quality. Efforts will be focused in Kanawha and Putnam counties, where most of the cases have occurred. U.S. News

MEDICAL COUNTERMEASURES

Smallpox—A Nightmare We Cannot Shake

In July 2018, the antiviral TPOXX was approved as the first ever treatment for smallpox. It may seem odd that treatments for an eradicated disease are still being developed, but the truth is that there is still a chance smallpox could resurface. Contagion Live

Vaccine Logistic Shortfalls, Anti-Vax Fears Drive a Measles Increase in Europe

In the past decade, measles-vaccination rates in some European countries have often fallen below those in parts of Africa. Italy, France and Serbia, for example, have lower child-vaccinations rates than Burundi, Rwanda and Senegal. In some years, vaccine shortages were to blame, especially in parts of eastern Europe. Both Ukraine and Serbia have had irregular supplies of the MMR vaccine since 2014. The Economist

UK Doctors Told to Promote Honey Rather Than Antibiotics for Coughs

Under new draft guidance from Public Health England (PHE) and the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence, doctors will be told not to offer the drugs in most cases and to instead encourage patients to use self-care products. The advice is part of a growing effort by to tackle the problem of antibiotic resistance. The Guardian

Antibiotic Side Effects in Kids Lead to Nearly 70,000 ER Visits Each Year

From 2011-2015, reactions and other side effects from antibiotics led to an estimated 70,000 ER visits each year. Most visits, 86 percent, were for allergic reactions which ranged from mild, the most common (rash, itching) to moderate and severe (anaphylaxis, angioedema, severe swelling beneath the skin). The risk of an ER visit also varied by the child’s age and the type of antibiotic. Children aged 2 or younger carried the highest risk of a side effect. ABC News

The Spectre of Smallpox Lingers

In 1980, the World Health Organization declared that the illness had been eradicated. So it might raise eyebrows that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last month approved the first ever drug to treat it. Nature

Simple Paper Test Detects False, Substandard Antibiotics

An estimated 10 percent of all drugs worldwide are falsified, with up to 50 percent of those some form of antibiotics. CSU researchers created a paper-based test that can quickly determine whether an antibiotic sample is appropriate strength, or diluted with filler substances like baking soda. Laboratory Equipment

SPECIAL INTEREST

Conference Report: Pandemics, Bioterrorism, and Global Health Security

The myriad meanings attributed to the term “biosecurity” reflect the complexity of the risk to public health posed by developments in biology––and from this complexity arises an amalgam of possible responses, necessarily engaging multiple sectors of society. East Bay Biosecurity Group

How the ‘Other Malaria’ Escaped from Africa

The parasite Plasmodium vivax isn’t as well known as its deadly cousin P. falciparum, which dominates sub-Saharan Africa. But the “other malaria,” which is rare in Africa, sickens some 75 million people a year in Asia and the Americas. Now, new genetic evidence shows how the parasite might have gotten its start. Science

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