Military Lab Biosafety Reforms, African Swine Fever Spreads in China, Honduras Mumps Outbreak

Health Security Headlines

See what we’re reading this week at Global Biodefense on topics including medical countermeasure POD drills, rebel attack hampering Ebola vaccination efforts in DRoC, and the appearance of African Swine Fever in Inner Mongolia.


Biosafety Reforms Still Lagging at Military Labs

Three years after discovering that a military laboratory had shipped live anthrax to facilities around the world, the GAO reports that the DoD still has not developed a plan to evaluate its biological security practices and has only implemented about half of the procedural changes that had been recommended. New York Times

Plot, Poison, or Curse? Ebola Rumors Spread in Congo

Some think the disease is a plot to kill off opposition voters. Others believe it is a money-making scheme by foreign groups. These are among the rumours that have caused people to refuse Ebola vaccines and throw stones at health workers in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where an Ebola outbreak has killed almost 100 people since July, the Red Cross said. Thomson Reuters Foundation

Performance of Point of Dispensing Setup Drills for Distribution of MCMs

To compare POD setup times for each year, researchers calculated descriptive statistics of annual jurisdictional POD setup data submitted by over 400 local jurisdictions across 50 states and 8 US territories to a CDC program monitoring database from July 2012 to June 2016. AJPH

Use of Medical Countermeasures in Small-Scale Emergency Responses

By using and evaluating MCM capabilities during a real response such as a localized natural disaster, jurisdictions can advance preparedness science and support the translation of research into practice, thereby increasing their capacity to scale up for larger, rarer, higher-consequence emergencies. AJPH

UK Monkeypox Case Exposed Health Workers, Officials Say

Because monkeypox was not immediately suspected in the most recent UK monkeypox case, healthcare workers (HCWs) were not wearing adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for the disease and may have been exposed to the virus, UK officials reported today in Eurosurveillance. CIDRAP

Measles Cases Have Hit a Record High in Europe. Blame Austerity.

Europe is in the midst of a massive measles outbreak, with more than 41,000 cases reported in the first half of this year. The deadly virus has spread to 21 out of 30 countries in the region. A new study found in Italy that the parts of the country that cut their public health budgets most had lower rates of vaccine coverage. “We estimated that each 1% reduction in real public health expenditure per-capita corresponded to a 0.5 percentage points reduction in MMR coverage.” Vox


China Says New African Swine Fever Outbreak Reported in Inner Mongolia

China said on Monday it has confirmed a new outbreak of African swine fever in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of northern China, as authorities struggle to contain the highly contagious disease. Reuters

DR Congo Ebola Outbreak: Beni Attack Halts Outreach Work

Ebola prevention activities have been suspended in the Democratic Republic of Congo city of Beni after a deadly rebel attack. Treatment centers will stay open but vaccinations and the tracing of people who have been in contact with suspected Ebola patients have stopped for now. BBC News

Honduras Declares State of Emergency Amid Mumps Outbreak

Honduran authorities have declared a medical state of emergency following an outbreak of mumps in the country — over 5,000 cases of the viral infection have been reported since January. The Honduran Ministry of Health said this week that there are currently 3,266,931 adults within the country susceptible to mumps because they never received the vaccine as children. TeleSur

Cholera Outbreak in Nigeria’s Northeast Kills Nearly 100

The disease first broke out in volatile Borno state two weeks ago. Cases were then reported in neighboring Yobe state. The cumulative number of recorded cases in both states currently stands at 3,126 including 97 deaths. Deutsche Welle


Medical Aspects of Biological Warfare: Chapter 27 Medical Countermeasures

Generally, military personnel undergo prophylactic vaccination against a broad array of endemic diseases as deployments into areas not travelled by the masses could be required without significant advance notice. In addition, the military has recognized the benefit of vaccinating troops for protection against exposure to a biological weapons release in a battlefield setting. U.S. Army (.pdf)

Antibody Targeted to Treat All Forms of Ebola

In a pair of new studies, researchers from the Scripps Research Institute have demonstrated how human and mouse antibodies can bind to the Ebola virus and stop the infection for both the virus and other closely related pathogens, a discovery that could lead to therapeutics capable of neutralizing all members of the Ebola virus genus. R&D Magazine

Wealthy L.A. Schools’ Vaccination Rates Are as Low as South Sudan’s

Hollywood parents say not vaccinating makes “instinctive” sense. Now their kids have whooping cough. A review of vaccination records of elementary schools all over Los Angeles County reveals that vaccination rates in elite neighborhoods like Santa Monica and Beverly Hills have tanked, and the incidence of whooping cough there has skyrocketed.

How Long Do I Retain Immunity?

In what may be the best study of antibody levels to common infections, researchers followed 45 subjects for as long as 26 years, measuring their antibody levels to eight common pathogens: measles, mumps, rubella, Epstein-Barr virus, varicella zoster virus (chickenpox), diphtheria, tetanus and vaccinia. The results were remarkable. Antibody half-life — the time required for antibody levels to decrease by 50 percent — was 50 years for varicella zoster virus and, they estimated, more than 200 years for measles and mumps. NY Times

Feds Fund $3.5M For Durham Firm’s Yellow Fever Treatment

For BioCryst Pharmaceuticals, the latest funds from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) for galidesivir brings development contract funding to a total of $43 million. BioCryst saw success during its Phase 1 trials; healthy patients tolerated the drug and found it to be safe. In animal studies, galidesivir showed benefits against several viruses, including Ebola, yellow fever and Zika. Triangle Business Journal


How the British Used Postcards as Propaganda Tool During Bombay Plague of 1896

In his coffee-table book, ‘Paper Jewels: Postcards from the Raj’, historian and collector Omar Khan documents how postcards became a window to world history. They depicted neat, airy hospital wards and Bombay residents being vaccinated by European doctors. The reality, it turns out, was a little different. The plague continued to claim victims for over a decade after that.

New Book: Vaccines Have Always Had Haters

The anti-vax movement is actually older than vaccines. There was a well-established anti-variolation movement when people were using scabs and pus to try to prevent smallpox. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu was the wife of the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire and a progressive thinker. She strong-armed the embassy physician to perform variolation on her four-year-old son in 1715, but her husband was opposed to it and she had to do it behind his back. NPR


HHS Seeks Innovation Experts for Summit

Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan is seeking candidates to participate in the Deputy Secretary’s Innovation and Investment Summit (DSIIS), a yearlong collaboration to discuss the innovation and investment landscape within the healthcare sector, emerging opportunities, and the government’s role in facilitating more investment and accelerated innovation. Participants will convene for quarterly meetings. Health Leaders Media

Harvard’s ‘Outbreak Week’ Marks Centennial of Flu Pandemic

The school’s Global Health Institute is hosting “Outbreak Week” starting Monday, featuring public lectures and discussions with prominent scholars and scientists. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is scheduled to give a keynote address Friday. Other speakers include Ron Klain, the U.S. Ebola czar under former President Barack Obama, and Scott Burns, a screenwriter who penned the 2011 film “Contagion.” U.S. News

Focus on Melioidosis: Highlighted News and Research

BARDA Backs SeLux Diagnostics’ Test to Rapidly Identify Bacterial Infections