Army Public Health Weekly Update, 02 September 2022

Date Published: 9/2/2022
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​​​​​​​​​​​​​The Army Public Health Update is a collection of articles taken from public sources to offer awareness of current health issues and the media coverage given to them. The articles do not necessarily represent U.S. Army Medical Command opinions, views, policy, or guidance, and should not be construed or interpreted as being endorsed by the U.S. Army Medical Command.

The Army Public Health Weekly Update does not analyze the information as to its strategic or tactical impact on the U.S. Army and is not a medical intelligence product. Medical intelligence is available from the National Center for Medical Intelligence External Link .​
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Table of Contents

    ANNOUNCEMENTS

    Soldiers now have additional COVID-19 vaccine options​​

    26 August- A new COVID-19 vaccine will be available to Soldiers as an alternative to the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccines, the Army recently announced. “With the availability of the NOVAVAX vaccine, we are pleased to have another tool to help combat the spread of COVID-19,” said Lt. Gen. R. Scott Dingle, Army Surgeon General and commanding general of U.S. Army Medical Command. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization July 13, 2022 for the Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine, for the prevention of COVID-19 caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in individuals 18 years of age and older. “The Novavax vaccine is something called a ‘recombinant protein vaccine.’ These types of vaccines have been used since the 1980s. Other recombinant protein vaccines include the vaccines for shingles, hepatitis B, and human papillomavirus,” Dingle said. Novavax provides an option for Soldiers who are not fully vaccinated and uses a different technology from the mRNA and viral vector vaccine options. Dr. Steven Cersovsky, Deputy Director of the Army Public Health Center, said Novavax performs like a traditional vaccine. “In a more ‘traditional’ vaccine, like Novavax, the injection gives your body a part of the virus: in this case, it’s giving you one protein, the spike protein,” Cersovsky said. “And it allows your body to generate an immune response to that protein.”​​ Army.mil External Link​​

    U.S. MILITARY

    More than 1,100 soldiers at Fort Bragg living in mold-infested barracks​

    26 August- About 1,100 soldiers will move out of more than a dozen mold-infested barracks at Fort Bragg in the coming weeks, but several current and former soldiers told CBS News those are not the only barracks with mold — and not all soldiers are getting the chance to move out of moldy housing. Two soldiers, who are not being relocated, spoke to CBS News on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation about the mold that is also growing in their barracks. One soldier described it as "black specks all across the furniture and across the walls'" that spread within a week...One of the soldiers said he felt it was a "punch to the gut" that soldiers at barracks near an area on the North Carolina installation known as Smoke Bomb Hill will relocate while other soldiers at other barracks facing similar problems are expected to stay. ​CBS News External Link​​

    Some Soldiers never fully come home​​

    August 31- Sometimes when our nation’s warriors return home from war, they don’t make it all the way. We’re familiar with the physical signs of unimaginable trauma when legs and arms are amputated. But for the hundreds of thousands of veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who received traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) from explosions and other concussive injuries, their wounds remain invisible to the public. Four decades of military and private sector experience have provided me with a front-row seat to our government’s failure to address TBI, PTSD, and the related epidemic of veteran suicides. This unique vantage point is based on multiple combat commands in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and a decade of work at a leading academic medical center developing innovative models of care and treatment programs for mental health and brain injury. The evidence is clear – a new comprehensive national strategy for TBI is required for our veterans, to include suicide and the related comorbid injuries. TBIs result in serious long-term physical, psychological, functional, cognitive, and occupational deficits that become more complex with age and comorbidities. More than 444,300 service members experienced at least one traumatic brain injury during their military service since 2000, and according to the Journal of the American Medical Association there is a need to develop improved treatments to address the wide range of needs for veterans with TBI, including mental health, memory and executive functioning deficits, physical well-being, and social support. Real Clear Defense External Link​​​​​

    GLOBAL

    Common steroids used for asthma, allergies linked to brain decline, study finds​

    30 August- Taking oral or inhaled glucocorticoids, a type of steroid used to curb inflammation in asthma and other autoimmune disorders, may be linked to damaging changes in the white matter of the brain, a new study found. "This study shows that both systemic and inhaled glucocorticoids are associated with an apparently widespread reduction in white matter integrity," wrote study author Merel van der Meulen, a postdoctoral student at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands, in the study published Tuesday in the journal BMJ Open. White matter is the tissue that forms connections between brain cells and the rest of the nervous system. Having less white matter can slow the brain's ability to process information, pay attention and remember. Lower levels of white matter have also been connected to psychiatric issues such as depression, anxiety and irritability. "This new study is particularly interesting in showing the extent to which white matter, which is required for neurons to connect with each other, is affected by medication use," said Thomas Ritz, a professor of psychology at Southern Methodist University who has researched the impact of steroids on people with asthma. He was not involved in the study. CNN External Link

    EPA to designate ‘forever chemicals’ as hazardous substances​​

    26 August- The Environmental Protection Agency moved Friday to designate two “forever chemicals” used in cookware, carpets and firefighting foams as hazardous substances, a step that would clear the way for quicker cleanup of the toxic compounds, which have been linked to cancer and other health problems. Designation as a hazardous substance under the so-called Superfund law doesn’t ban the chemicals. But it requires that releases of PFOA and PFOS into soil or water be reported to federal, state or tribal officials if they meet or exceed certain levels. The EPA could then require cleanups to protect public health and recover cleanup costs. PFOA and PFOS have been voluntarily phased out by U.S. manufacturers but are still in limited use and remain in the environment because they do not degrade over time. The compounds are part of a larger cluster of “forever chemicals” known as PFAS that have been used in consumer products and industry since the 1940s. The term is short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, which have been used in nonstick frying pans, water-repellent sports gear, stain-resistant rugs, cosmetics and countless other consumer products. AP News External Link​​

    Free COVID-19 rapid test kits order to suspend on Friday—here’s how to get yours now​

    ​31 August- The free COVID-19 rapid test kits from the United States government that aims to give the public a way to determine if they caught the virus at home will soon suspend their orders and availability for all. It is advised for the public to order through the website now, giving them a free rapid test kit at their disposal which they may use for future needs. COVIDTests.gov will soon suspend its orders and deliveries by Friday, September 2, as it no longer received any funding for additional test kits from the US Congress. The website said that no further news regarding the supplemental budget for securing test kits is available, hence its inability to distribute more to those in need. It means that people may only order up to Friday, September 2; after that, the website will cease operations to take in requests and secure test kits from the government.  Still, people may order until Friday to get their hands on the testing kits that are still in stock, but note that these are running out as of now. Tech Times External Link

    ​​Is technology good or bad for mental health?​​

    ​29 August- Technology has its benefits and perils, and that's why the debate is whether technology is good or bad for mental health.​​ There couldn't be a better time to be talking about technology and mental health. The coronavirus pandemic has pushed most of us to stay at home. At the same time, we are hugely dependent on technology for work and staying connected with our loved ones. In fact, life without technology was unfathomable during and in the aftermath of the pandemic. There is no denying the fact that technology has an increasing role in our lives. Many aspects of modern technology are remarkable. But research clearly points out that there are risks of technology exposure. Overusing them can definitely have consequences on our mental health - to what extent is debatable.​ Tech Times External Link​​

    Monkeypox vaccine strategy shift yields more supply for some, hurdles for others​​

    29 August- Most places in the United States with heavy monkeypox caseloads have shifted their vaccination strategies to the Biden administration's low-dose, intradermal approach -- and they are reporting varying results so far. Some say the shift has stretched their vaccine supply, helping them meet a growing demand for the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine. Others report a hurdle -- while the new method should allow for five small doses of vaccine to be extracted from a single vial, they have only been able to extract about four. The situation "does vary geographically," Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers, wrote in an email to CNN. About three-quarters of jurisdictions in the United States have shifted to using the intradermal method of administering monkeypox vaccine, Bob Fenton, the White House's national monkeypox response coordinator, said in a briefing Friday. "As of today, 75% of jurisdictions are already applying intradermal administration of vaccine, and another 20% are working to move in that direction," Fenton said. Hannan shared similar results in her email to CNN based on a recent survey of immunization managers. When asked "Has your jurisdiction implemented the intradermal vaccination strategy?," 74% of survey respondents reported yes, 3% no, and 24% reported "partially."​​ CNN External Link

    White House effort to stave off fall COVID surge with new boosters faces uphill battle​​​

    ​​28 August- The White House is rushing ahead to roll out a new COVID-19 booster shot campaign in early September, but is facing an uphill battle to ensure it is successful. The vaccines being used in the campaign are the first ones that have been manufactured to specifically target the subvariants of omicron that are currently causing the most infections, and administration officials have indicated they’re preparing to start offering the shots shortly after Labor Day. Immunity from the initial round of vaccines is waning and health officials said they want to ensure the public is protected as much as possible against another wave of infections in the fall and winter. Right now, close to 450 Americans are dying every day from the virus, and there’s concern the numbers could rise as people move indoors. Both Pfizer and Moderna have asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use authorization for booster shots that target the omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants. Pfizer’s vaccine will be for everyone aged 12 and older, while Moderna’s will be meant just for adults aged 18 and older. Administration officials say these new vaccines will be key to controlling a potential fall surge, but they will need to convince an increasingly checked-out public to get the shots. The Hill External Link​​

    INFLUENZA

    CDC: Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report​

    2021-2022 Influenza Season for Week 33, ending August 20, 2022:

    ​Outpatient Respiratory Illness Surveillance-​ The U.S. Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network (ILINet) monitors outpatient visits for influenza-like illness [ILI (fever plus cough or sore throat)], not laboratory-confirmed influenza, and will therefore capture respiratory illness visits due to infection with any pathogen that can present with similar symptoms, including influenza, SARS-CoV-2, and RSV. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, health care-seeking behaviors have changed, and people may be accessing the health care system in alternative settings not captured as a part of ILINet or at a different point in their illness than they might have before the pandemic. Therefore, it is important to evaluate syndromic surveillance data, including that from ILINet, in the context of other sources of surveillance data to obtain a complete and accurate picture of influenza, SARS-CoV-2, and other respiratory virus activity. 

    National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Mortality Surveillance- Based on NCHS mortality surveillance data available on August 25, 2022, 10.0% of the deaths that occurred during the week ending August 20, 2022 (week 33), were due to pneumonia, influenza, and/or COVID-19 (PIC). This percentage is above the epidemic threshold of 5.5% for this week. Among the 2,320 PIC deaths reported for this week, 1,268 had COVID-19 listed as an underlying or contributing cause of death on the death certificate, and seven listed influenza, indicating that current PIC mortality is due primarily to COVID-19 and not influenza. The data presented are preliminary and may change as more data are received and processed. CDC External Link​​​​

    VETERINARY/FOOD SAFETY

    Brioche Style Buns recalled in Ontario because of microbial contamination​​​

    30 August- GFS Canada is recalling no brand 4-inch Split Top Brioche Style Buns because of the potential presence of Clostridium botulinum and Cronobacter sakazakii. The recalled product has been sold in Ontario, Canada. Consumers and retailers, including hotels and restaurants, should not use, sell, serve or distribute the affected product. Food contaminated with Cronobacter may not look or smell spoiled but can still cause illness. Although Cronobacter Is not commonly linked to human illness, in rare cases it can cause serious or fatal infections. Cronobacter can cause rare bloodstream and central nervous system infections and has been associated with severe intestinal infection (necrotizing enterocolitis) and blood poisoning (sepsis), especially in newborns. Food Safety News External Link​​​​​

    Hash browns recalled in Canada over Listeria concerns​​​

    30 August- Gordon Food Service is recalling Lamb’s Supreme brand Shredded IQF Hash Browns because of Listeria monocytogenes contamination. The recalled product has been sold in British Columbia, Canada, according to the recall notice posted by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Consumers and retailers, including hotels and restaurants, should not use, sell, serve or distribute the affected product.​ Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled but can still cause serious and sometimes life-threatening infections. Anyone who has eaten any recalled products and developed symptoms of Listeria infection should seek medical treatment and tell their doctors about the possible Listeria exposure. Also, anyone who has eaten any of the recalled products should monitor themselves for symptoms during the coming weeks because it can take up to 70 days after exposure to Listeria for symptoms of listeriosis to develop.  Symptoms of Listeria infection can include vomiting, nausea, persistent fever, muscle aches, severe headache, and neck stiffness. Specific laboratory tests are required to diagnose Listeria infections, which can mimic other illnesses. Pregnant women, the elderly, young children, and people such as cancer patients who have weakened immune systems are particularly at risk of serious illnesses, life-threatening infections, and other complications. Although infected pregnant women may experience only mild, flu-like symptoms, their infections can lead to premature delivery, infection of the newborn, or even stillbirth.​​ Food Safety News External Link​​

    WELLNESS

    Herbal supplements and their side effects: Here's how to stay safe​

    26 August- While herbal supplements are extremely popular today, they may not be right for everyone. And there are caveats attached to them from doctors and nutritionists. Attractively packaged and promising a world of health benefits, many of the herbal supplements available on the market are extremely potent, say doctors and nutritionists — and should be taken with care and medical advice. Americans spend $35 billion a year on herbal supplements, vitamins and minerals, according to Preventative Medicine Reports. A cautionary case in point: Lori McClintock, 61, wife of California Republican Rep. Tom McClintock, die​d back in December after suffering "adverse effects" from consuming the white mulberry leaf herbal supplement, a Sacramento County coroner’s report found. Fox News External Link​​

    USAFRICOM

    Democratic Republic of the Congo: Kasaï-Oriental measles epidemic tops 6,000 cases​​

    30 August- The head of the Kasaï-Oriental provincial health division (DPS), Doctor Nestor Tshiteku said this week the number of measles cases has increased significantly in the province even in health zones where vaccination days were organized in April and May. Doctor Tshiteku also adds that only seven health zones out of the 19 in the province of Kasai-Oriental have been able to vaccinate children, but the number of cases continues to increase. Outbreak News TodayExternal Link​​

    USCENTCOM

    Iraqi cleric Sadr calls off protests after worst Baghdad violence in years​​​

    30 August- Powerful cleric Moqtada al-Sadr ordered his followers to end their protests in central Baghdad on Tuesday, easing a confrontation which led to the deadliest violence in the Iraqi capital in years. Apologizing to Iraqis after 22 people were killed in clashes between an armed group loyal to him and rival Shi'ite Muslim factions backed by Iran, Sadr condemned the fighting and gave his own followers one hour to disperse. "This is not a revolution because it has lost its peaceful character," Sadr, a former anti-U.S. insurgent leader, said in a televised address. "The spilling of Iraqi blood is forbidden." As the deadline passed at around 2 p.m. (1100 GMT), Sadr's followers could be seen leaving the area in the fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad where government offices are located and where they had occupied parliament for weeks. Reuters External Link​​

    USEUCOM

    Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant: EU provides anti-radiation tablets to Ukraine​​

    30 August- The EU is giving more than five million anti-radiation tablets to Ukraine, as fears grow of an accident at Europe's largest nuclear power plant. The Zaporizhzhia plant is under Russian occupation and has recently come under fire, with both sides blaming each other for the attacks. In some areas, officials are already handing out the pills, which can stop the body absorbing radioactive iodine. Residents have been told only to take it if a radiation leak is confirmed. So far, only people living within 50km (30 miles) of the power plant are being offered the potassium iodide tablets, but the European Union is providing Ukraine with more than five million doses which would allow for much wider distribution. Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine was occupied by Russia soon after it invaded Ukraine in February. Ukrainian staff who continue to operate the plant have told the BBC that Russian troops have used it as a military base and that workers ar​e in effect held at gunpoint. While recent fighting in the area has caused some damage to the plant, so far there has not been any recorded increase in radiation levels in the area. Nevertheless, officials are concerned further damage could cause a radiation leak, which could spread over a large area.​ BBC​External Link

    ​USINDOPACOM

    South Korea records world's lowest fertility rate again​​​

    26 August- South Korea has again recorded the world's lowest fertility rate with the number sinking to a new low. The rate in the country first dropped lower than one child per woman in 2018. But on Wednesday, figures released by the government showed the figure had dropped to 0.81 - down from 0.84 the previous year, and a sixth consecutive decline. In comparison, the average rate across the world's most advanced economies is 1.6 children. Countries need at least two children per couple - a 2.1 rate - to keep their population at the same size, without migration. Fertility rates have "declined markedly" in the past six decades says the OECD - Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. But the trend has been particularly pronounced in South Korea, where family sizes have reduced in the span of a few generations. At the start of the 1970s women had four children on average. A declining population can put a country under immense strain. Apart from increased pressure on public spending as demand for healthcare systems and pensions rise, a declining youth population also leads to labor shortages that impact the economy.​ BBC External Link​​

    USNORTHCOM

    Polio outbreak briefing scheduled by the U.S. CDC​

    29 August- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reconfirmed today it is investigating a case of poliomyelitis in New York (NY) in an unvaccinated patient and has scheduled a telebriefing for September 1, 2022, at 2 pm EST. In this polio case, the man presented to an emergency room in Rocklan​d County, NY, on July 21, 2022, with lower limb weakness and fever. Additionally, local sequencing showed this case was revertant polio Sabin type 2 virus. This finding indicates a transmission chain from an individual who received the oral polio vaccine (OPV), which is no longer authorized or administered in the U.S., where only the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) has been given since 2000. This suggests that the type 2 virus may have originated outside of the U.S., where OPV is administered, since revertant polio strains cannot emerge from inactivated vaccines. During this Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity (COCA) call, presenters will discuss the history of polio in the USA and the current New York state outbreak. The CDC team will also review clinical aspects of poliovirus infection, how to report suspected cases and recommendations for polio vaccination in the USA. Nationwide, acute flaccid paralysis surveillance is the gold standard for detecting cases of poliomyelitis. ​Precision Vaccinations External Link​​

    USSOUTHCOM

    Brazil: Domestic puppy in Minas Gerais contracts monkeypox, Lived with confirmed human case​​

    30 August- ​The Ministry of Health has been notified of the first confirmed case of monkeypox, also known as monkeypox, in a domestic animal. The case took place in Juiz de Fora/MG. The confirmation was made by the Ezequiel Dias Foundation (FUNED), which notified the Center for Strategic Information on Health Surveillance of Minas Gerais (CIEVS Minas). This is a 5-month-old puppy that lived in the same environment and had contact with a confirmed human case of the disease. The animal started to show symptoms on August 13, it started with pruritus (itching), with lesions and crusts located on the back and neck. The Minas Gerais​ State Health Department instructed the Juiz de Fora Municipal Health Department to isolate the animal and disinfect the site with bleach. It was also instructed that, whenever the owner needed to come into contact with the animal (for food and hygiene of the place), to use gloves, mask, long-sleeved shirt and pants (skin protection). In Brazil, until now, there was no documented evidence of transmission of the disease from humans to animals. However, given the latest notifications, this type of transmission is being studied. There are two reports in the world about the infection being acquired through human transmission: in the United States and in France.​ Outbreak News Today External Link​​