Hepatitis E Jumps From Rats to Humans, Global AMR Challenge, Flu Season Returns

Global Biodefense Headlines

See what we’re reading this week at Global Biodefense on topics including the return of flu season, pandemic candidate viruses, and the ongoing Ebola outbreak.


In Hong Kong, Hepatitis E Strain Jumps from Rats to Humans

A man in Hong Kong has been found to have a strain of hepatitis E that had been seen previously only in rats, researchers said on Friday. The researchers said that routine hepatitis E testing would have failed to identify the strain, which is significantly different from the one that typically infects humans. New York Times and Forbes

Ebola Likely to Spread from Congo to Uganda, W.H.O. Says

The risk of Ebola escaping from the Democratic Republic of Congo is now “very high,” and the outbreak already is nearing Uganda, the World Health Organization said on Thursday. Violence by local militias has slowed efforts to contain the outbreak, and population movements in eastern Congo. NY Times

Virulent Newcastle Disease

Virulent Newcastle Disease (vND), formerly known as Exotic Newcastle Disease is a contagious and fatal viral disease affecting the respiratory, nervous and digestive systems of birds and poultry. Since May 18, USDA has confirmed 150 cases of vND in California, 97 in San Bernardino County, 21 in Riverside County, 31 in Los Angeles County and 1 in Ventura County. USDA

Syphilis Rises Sharply Among Newborns

Along with an increase in adult infections, the rate of infants born with the disease has reached a 20-year high. Elimination of syphilis had almost been achieved by 2000 but progress has since been unraveled. NY Times

Return of U.S. Flu Season Brings Worries About a Virulent Replay

The U.S. faced the most severe seasonal flu outbreak across all age groups since at least 2003 last season, according to CDC data. It led to 900,000 confirmed hospitalizations. So many people caught the flu that some hospitals and pharmacies across the U.S. ran out of antiviral drugs, Alabama declared a state of emergency and a school district in Arkansas closed all 10 of its schools. Bloomberg

UK Healthcare Worker Contracts Rare Monkeypox Virus in Third Case

A health worker in northern England has become the third person in Britain to contract a rare illness caused by a monkeypox virus after caring for a patient infected with the disease following travel to Nigeria, health officials said on Wednesday. Reuters

Airplanes and Airports—A Hub for Travel and Germs

Much of the research on the transmission of illnesses on airplanes have focused on infections transmitted through coughing, but what about through contact with contaminated objects and surfaces? Recently, investigators on a new study studied the high-touch surfaces in airports as a source for transmitting influenza A and B viruses, respiratory syncytial virus, adenovirus, rhinovirus, and coronavirus. Contagion Live


HHS, CDC Issue AMR ‘Challenge’ to Public, Private Sectors

The global challenge asks for at least one commitment in one of five areas: improving antibiotic use in humans and animals; reducing antibiotics and resistant bacteria in the environment; developing new antibiotics, vaccines, and diagnostics; enhancing data collection and sharing; and improving infection prevention and control. CIDRAP

Experimental TB Vaccine Shows Promise in Clinical Trials

An experimental TB vaccine showed solid protection in a clinical trial reported Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. The vaccine is being developed by GSK and Aeras, a nonprofit organization working on affordable tuberculosis vaccines. The vaccine was tested in volunteers with latent tuberculosis. STAT News

Trio of New Pandemic Candidate Viruses

WHO vaccine advisors last week reviewed zoonotic flu virus activity and looked at results from genetic characterization of recent samples to see if any new candidate vaccine viruses are needed for pandemic preparedness. Based on their review, they recommended one new H5N1 virus (A/duck/Bangladesh/17D1012/2018-like), a new H9N2 virus (A/Anhui-Lujiang/39/2018-like), and a new H1N2v virus (A/Michigan/383/2018-like). CIDRAP

Fund Gives J&J, Oxford Experts $19 Million to Fight Deadly Viruses

A global coalition set up to fight emerging epidemics said on Thursday it would give up to $19 million to drugmaker Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine unit and Oxford University experts to work on immunizations against Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus, the brain-damaging Nipah virus, and Lassa virus. Reuters

Supporting Influenza Vaccine Production in Vietnam

In 2009, PATH, in partnership with WHO and the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) began a technical collaboration with Vietnamese vaccine manufacturers working on seasonal and pandemic influenza vaccines. This program, which ran until 2018, aimed to develop regionally based independent and sustainable influenza vaccine production capacity in Vietnam. PATH (.pdf)

Shingles Vaccine Shortages Result from High Demand

Shingrix, the vaccine approved last year to prevent shingles, has proved so popular that its maker, GlaxoSmithKline, has not been able to produce it quickly enough. The vaccine is recommended for most people over 50. But many are having trouble getting it. The company says there are no manufacturing problems — it just didn’t expect so many consumers to want the vaccine. New York Times


Is the World Finally Ready to End the Deadliest Infectious Disease?

A cure for TB has been widely available since the 1950s. And yet TB is still the deadliest infectious disease on earth, killing about 1.5 million people each year, or 4,000 people each day, including 600 children. “Enough is enough. It’s time to end TB,” the World Health Organization’s Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the U.N. General Assembly last week. NPR

NBAF: Outbreaks Abroad Highlight Important Roles for Facility

Threats like African Swine Fever spreading in hog populations brings attention to the need for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) to take on the threat of diseases that may cross geographical boundaries and decimate animal populations vital to our food supply and economy. The Mercury

Mosquitoes Will Rule the Earth as Climate Change Expands Disease Vectors

Politicians might deny climate change, but disease-carrying insects and their pathogens aren’t—they’re exploiting it. BioSpace

Rebuilding Health Security in the Wake of Ebola

A synopsis of efforts by the Georgetown Center for Global Health Science and Security to support the expansion and augmentation of the Guinean public health infrastructure, as presented during a recent Global Health Security Seminar Series. Pandora Report

ASM Applauds the House on Passing the FY19 Labor-HHH Bill

ASM applauds the House on passing the FY19 Labor-HHS Bill, which includes a $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and an increase of $127 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among the provisions highlighted in the bill are $550 million for antibiotic resistance research and $140 million for research on a universal influenza vaccine. American Society for Microbiology


Vignettes from a Pre-Immunization Canada As Childhood Vaccination Rates Plummet

As outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases begin to re-emerge, it is useful to remember a time without vaccinations: A country wracked by fear, tragedy and landscapes of dead and paralyzed children. National Post

The Mysterious Origins of the Smallpox Vaccine

The locals called the unsightly affliction “cowpox.” But apart from a smattering of welts, Sarah and her fellow milkmaids were remarkably free of disease. To Jenner, this wasn’t a coincidence. Acting on little more than sparse observations, Jenner decided to extract a small sample of Sarah’s pus and inject it into the arm of a young boy named James Phipps. To everyone’s amazement—including Jenner’s—when Jenner stuck Phipps with a second needle, this time sporting a hefty dose of smallpox, Phipps remained healthy. Against all odds, the risky treatment had granted the child miraculous immunity. Smithsonian Magazine

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