Army Public Health Weekly Update, 05 February 2021

Date Published: 2/5/2021
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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


    Army Medicine Campaign Research to Practice Education Series

    The Army Medicine Campaign Research to Practice Education Series for military providers and staff covers medical readiness topics such as injury prevention, health promotion, and physical performance optimization.  The series is held five times a year on Defense Collaboration Services (DCS) and is co-sponsored by OTSG Physical Performance Service Line and APHC Injury Prevention. Attend the next seminar on February 22nd, 1300-1410, and be sure to register ahead of time! APHC External Link


    COVID-19 presents challenges to heart health, physical fitness

    1 February- A healthy heart is a prerequisite for a fully trained combatant or a fit beneficiary. Without a healthy heart, a soldier cannot expect to complete tasks such as loading 155 mm rounds onto a bustle rack, or a beneficiary may huff and puff going up stairs. "A heart at rest stays at rest, while a heart in motion stays in motion, to paraphrase the old axiom," said Navy Lt. Cmdr. (Dr.) Olamide Oladipo, chief of cardiology at the Navy Medical Center-San Diego (NMC-SD). Due to on-again, off-again shutdowns resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the overall health of both military personnel and beneficiaries has taken a hit over the last year, he noted. A more sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and, therefore, death. One way the military is addressing this issue is through the Aging Warrior study, which intends to look at cardiovascular risks in men 40 and older and women 52–55 with one risk factor for cardiac disease, such as hypertension, Oladipo explained. Following a CT scan, study participants will receive preventative medication or other interventions if they show early signs of cardiac atherosclerosis (a narrowing or blockage of the heart vessels). As to fitness, NMC-SD has "adopted more of a holistic approach; we treat the whole person" among active-duty personnel and beneficiaries, said Melissa Palacios, a nurse and head of the Health and Wellness Department at NMC-SD's Naval Medical Readiness Training Command. "We're looking at concomitant diagnoses that affect a person's heart health," such as diabetes, sleep apnea, obesity, stress, PTSD. "We do this though more virtual classes, group-based exercise programming, fitness trackers and apps that help with heart rate monitoring, food intake, medication, and sleep hygiene, for example," she said, also noting the negative impact COVID-19 has had on the base's effectiveness in physical training and meeting beneficiaries' fitness needs. External Link

    Despite prevalence, CBD still illegal for DOD members

    2 February- "Regardless of its widespread availability, it's a federally prohibited substance and, therefore, illegal within the DOD workforce," stated Katina Oates, the Army Substance Abuse Program manager here. Her remark is in reference to products containing cannabidiol extract, or CBD, which have exploded in popularity as a result of aggressive civilian advertising that touts their benefits as pain relievers, stress reducers, depression inhibitors and more. "CBD is everywhere," a recently released Army News article pointed out. "You would be hard-pressed to enter any pharmacy, mega-mart or health food store and not find it on the shelves. CBD can even be purchased online from the comfort of your couch." Hemp oil and cannabidiol are one in the same. The array of delivery methods include, but are not limited to, gummy chews, cigarettes and vape pens, oils and skin creams, and sleep medications. CBD is frequently used in personal care treatments at nail salons and by some massage therapists. "Military members should not confuse the prevalence of such products with their legality," Oates said. "Soldiers are prohibited from using hemp products of any sort, whether or not they have been legalized in certain jurisdictions." Due to CBD being both unregulated and often containing small amounts of THC, the DOD still considers it to be an "illicit drug," and its use as unauthorized by service members and government civilians, the Army News article warned. An excerpt from Army Regulation 600-85, dated July 23, 2020, reads as follows: "The use of products made or derived from hemp (as defined in 7 USC. 1639o) … regardless of the product's THC concentration, claimed or actual, and regardless of whether such product may lawfully be bought, sold and used under the law applicable to civilians, is prohibited." The other uniformed services have similar regulations prohibiting CBD's use. There are federal workforce restrictions that apply to government civilians as well – further details are available on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website, DVIDS External Link

    DOD experts explain: The science behind the COVID-19 vaccines

    1 February- Almost six weeks after the Food and Drug Administration issued emergency use authorization for the first two COVID-19 vaccines, many questions have arisen concerning their efficacy in attacking the SARS-CoV-2 virus and deadly COVID-19 disease. To better understand how COVID-19 vaccines work, MHS Communications spoke to two medical experts who have been intimately involved in the Department of Defense's effort to develop and roll out vaccines for Americans: Dr. Margaret Ryan, medical director of the Defense Health Agency's Immunization Healthcare Division at the Pacific Region Vaccine Safety Hub in San Diego, California; and Air Force Col. (Dr.) Jessica Cowden, chief medical officer of the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense and the Infectious Disease Programs at the Defense Institute for Medical Operations at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. External Link 

    PHCE opens its own histology laboratory

    1 February- Public Health Command Europe recently became the first Army Public Health Command to have its own histology laboratory to provide a unique service in support of Army Veterinary Treatment Facilities. The lab stood up its own histology laboratory, a move which will permit more tailored, timely care to the military working dogs assigned to Europe, Africa and the Middle East. The histology laboratory handles a wide range of specimens like cytological preparations, surgical biopsies, and tissue obtained during necropsies. Having its own lab gives Public Health Command Europe the ability to process samples entirely in house and eliminates their dependence on outside organizations. Chief of Laboratory Sciences and board certified veterinary pathologist, Col. Jeremy Bearss, is proud to operate the only pathology service within the Army public health commands. All other regions send their pathology materials to the Joint Pathology Center in Maryland. "Having our own histology lab here allows us to have quicker turnaround times and be more responsive to the three major combatant commands that we serve," explains Bearss. Bearss is one of a handful of Veterinary Pathologists in the U.S. Army. In his secondary role as a pathologist with Public Health Command Europe, he studies diagnostic tissue samples from military working dogs. He also performs similar analysis of sample from privately owned animals belonging to service members and their families in order to diagnose diseases such as cancer, infections and trauma. External Link


    Coronavirus-linked MIS-C behind death of South Carolina teen; first such fatality reported in state

    30 January- A rare but dangerous coronavirus-linked inflammatory syndrome that primarily affects children and teens is behind the death of a 17-year-old from South Carolina, health officials in the Palmetto State announced on Friday.  The teen's death from multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) marks the first such fatality in the state since the coronavirus pandemic began, according to a news release from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) which noted that 42 cases of MIS-C have been reported in the state to date.  The 17-year-old was from the "Upstate region died from MIS-C on Jan. 27," officials said. No other details were provided. "With the number of cases of COVID-19 we're seeing in our state, we must be prepared for the unfortunate possibility of more children being affected by MIS-C," said Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC interim public health director, in a statement. "We continue to remind South Carolinians that COVID-19 is spreading in our communities at a high rate and it is vital that we all take the steps we know to protect us all from this deadly disease: wear a mask, stay six feet away from others, wash your hands frequently, and avoid crowds. And when your time comes, get vaccinated." Fox News External Link

    Covid: EU and AstraZeneca in 'step forward' on vaccines

    1 February- The EU says UK-Swedish drug firm AstraZeneca will now supply an additional nine million Covid vaccine doses by March, after days of criticism of the bloc's vaccination programme. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said it was a "step forward". But the 40m doses now expected are still only about half of what had been hoped, amid continuing supply problems. The Commission has been involved in a much-criticized row with both the UK and AstraZeneca this week. In particular it was condemned over its threat to put checks on the Northern Ireland border to prevent vaccines produced in the EU from reaching the UK. The border was one of the most difficult problems to overcome in the recently agreed Brexit deal, following the UK's departure from the EU. The EU was angry that Britain was getting its UK-made contracted supplies from AstraZeneca while it suffered a shortfall. So the bloc announced it was introducing export controls on coronavirus vaccines made inside the EU to try to protect its supplies. The Brexit deal ensures there are no obstacles to trade between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. BBC News External Link

    COVID-19 study suggests pregnant women can pass coronavirus antibodies to their newborn infants

    1 February- There is new mounting evidence that women who contract and recover from the novel coronavirus disease during their pregnancy can pass the COVID-19 antibodies to their newborn infants. In a report by the New York Times, a new study suggests that a mother's protective antibodies could be passed onto unborn babies through the placenta, and if the woman contracted and recovered from the viral infection during the early stages of her pregnancy, chances are the infant would receive more of the antibodies. The study was published on Friday, Jan. 29, in the scientific journal "JAMA Pediatrics." "What we have found is fairly consistent with what we have learned from studies of other viruses," said Scott E. Hensley, one of the senior authors of the paper and an associate professor of microbiology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. The antibodies found on the newborn babies were immunoglobulin G or IgG, the antibodies that are developed days after getting the infection and are believed to provide long-term protection. None of them has been found with immunoglobulin M, or IgM, which is only detected soon after infection, meaning the babies haven't been infected with the novel coronavirus disease. Moreover, Hensley said that the result of the study might have implications for when women should be vaccinated against the contagious disease, noting that vaccinating expecting women early in their pregnancy might offer more protective benefits, but studies analyzing whether pregnant women should be vaccinated yet to be completed. Tech Times External Link 

    Early U.S. data indicates Black and Hispanic Americans lagging in COVID-19 vaccinations

    1 February- Early data on U.S. coronavirus vaccinations released on Monday suggests that Blacks and Hispanics received a smaller proportion of shots than their representation among healthcare workers and nursing home residents, two priority groups for COVID-19 inoculations. The United States needs more complete data on the race and ethnicity of people who have been vaccinated, said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which released the data. Blacks and Hispanics have been particularly hard hit by COVID-19 with a disproportionate number of deaths, and public health officials have broadly called for equity in vaccine distribution. Race data was only available for about half of the 12.9 million people vaccinated in the United States between Dec. 14, 2020 and Jan. 14, 2021. Reuters External Link

    How is the COVID-19 vaccination campaign going in your state?

    2 February- The U.S. is working to vaccinate a high percentage of its population against COVID-19 as soon as possible to stop the spread of the disease and end the outbreak in the country. The mission becomes even more urgent as coronavirus variants emerge around the world, raising concerns that the virus could evade our efforts to control it, if the spread is not curbed quickly. Since vaccine distribution began in the U.S. on Dec. 14, more than 32 million doses have been administered, reaching 7.8% of the total U.S. population, according to federal data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The U.S. is currently administering around 1.3 million shots a day. In addition to the states, the federal government distributes vaccines to four federal agencies, five U.S. territories and three freely associated states. Currently, the two COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized for emergency use each require a two-shot regimen spaced out by three or four weeks. Vaccination is not complete until both doses are received. Strategies for distribution — along with the efficiency and equity of the process — vary from state to state. Getting millions of people vaccinated, in order of priority, is a big logistical challenge for states. As a result, there's often a delay between when states receive their federal shipments of vaccines and when they get all the shots into people's arms. The speed of vaccination has improved since December, but there are still millions more doses distributed to states than have been administered to people. NPR External Link

    How severe is your state's coronavirus outbreak?

    2 February- More than 26 million people in the U.S. have had confirmed coronavirus infections and more than 440,000 have died of COVID-19. Tens of thousands of new cases are reported daily nationwide. In the graphics below, explore the trends in your state. View the data via a heat map (immediately below), curve charts, a table of state-by-state trends over four weeks, or a map of total cases and deaths. NPR External Link

    Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine is 66% effective in global trial, but 85% effective against severe disease, company says

    29 January- Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 single-shot vaccine was shown to be 66% effective in preventing moderate and severe disease in a global Phase 3 trial, but 85% effective against severe disease, the company announced Friday. The vaccine was 72% effective against moderate and severe disease in the US, the company said. It's a striking difference from vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, and it may give pause to people uncertain about which vaccine to get or when they can get one. The vaccines already on the market in the US are about 95% effective overall against symptomatic Covid-19, with perhaps even higher efficacy against severe cases. But experts say the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will still be useful against the pandemic in the United States and around the world. CNN External Link

    Russia's Sputnik V vaccine has 92% efficacy in trial

    2 February- Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine gives around 92% protection against Covid-19, late stage trial results published in The Lancet reveal. It has also been deemed to be safe - and offer complete protection against hospitalization and death. The vaccine was initially met with some controversy after being rolled out before the final trial data had been released. But scientists said its benefit has now been demonstrated. It joins the ranks of proven vaccines alongside Pfizer, Oxford/AstraZeneca, Moderna and Janssen. The Sputnik vaccine works in a similar way to the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab developed in the UK, and the Janssen vaccine developed in Belgium. It uses a cold-type virus, engineered to be harmless, as a carrier to deliver a small fragment of the coronavirus to the body. Safely exposing the body to part of the virus's genetic code in this way allows it to recognize the threat and learn to fight it off, without risking becoming ill. After being vaccinated, the body starts to produce antibodies specially tailored to the coronavirus. This means the immune system is primed to fight coronavirus when if it encounters it for real. It can be stored at temperatures of between 2 and 8C degrees (a standard fridge is roughly 3-5C degrees) making it easier to transport and store. BBC News External Link

    Typhoid conjugate vaccines are saving children lives

    2 February- The Islamic Republic of Pakistan in South Asia has long battled typhoid, a serious illness caused by Salmonella Typhi, confirmed an article from the WHO on February 1, 2021. Spread through contaminated food and water, it disproportionately impacts children and low-resource communities. Children are particularly affected, with 70% of typhoid deaths in Pakistan among children younger than 15. Pakistan has also battled increasing cases of extensively drug-resistant (XDR) typhoid. This disease strain is resistant to all but one oral antibiotic, making it increasingly challenging and costly to treat. Data from the World Health Organization in 2020 shows a large percent of typhoid cases are XDR cases. In November 2019, Pakistan became the first country to introduce typhoid conjugate vaccines (TCV) into the routine immunization system. Compared to earlier typhoid vaccines, TCV provides longer-lasting protection and requires fewer doses. Where TCV was introduced in Pakistan, new data show that TCVs are an effective tool to reduce typhoid burden and slow the evolution of XDR typhoid. There has been a 66% reduction in typhoid cases following TCV introduction. Precision Vaccinations External Link

    U.S. promises undocumented migrants equal access to COVID-19 vaccines

    2 February- The U.S. government on Monday promised undocumented migrants the same access to COVID-19 vaccines as other civilians, and said inoculation centers would be immigration enforcement-free zones. The announcement marked the latest in a series of moves by President Joe Biden to reverse the hardline strategy on immigration adopted by his predecessor Donald Trump. "It is a moral and public health imperative to ensure that all individuals residing in the United States have access to the vaccine... once eligible under local distribution guidelines," the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement. In line with sensitive locations policy, enforcement operations will not be conducted at or near vaccine distribution sites or clinics, the DHS also said. Biden also plans to restore U.S. asylum protections, strengthen refugee processing and set up a task force to reunify families separated by Trump's border control policies. Reuters External Link


    CDC: Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report

    Key Updates for Week 3, ending January 23, 2021:

    Influenza-Associated Hospitalizations: The Influenza Hospitalization Surveillance Network (FluSurv-NET) conducts population-based surveillance for laboratory-confirmed influenza-related hospitalizations in select counties in the Emerging Infections Program (EIP) states and Influenza Hospitalization Surveillance Project (IHSP) states. A total of 142 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations occurring between October 1, 2020, and January 23, 2021, were reported by FluSurv-NET sites for an overall cumulative hospitalization rate of 0.5 per 100,000 population. This is lower than average for this point in the season and comparable to the overall rate seen at this point during the 2011-12 season. Hospitalization rates stratified by age will be presented once case counts increase to a level that produces stable rates by age.

    Influenza-Associated Pediatric Mortality: No influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported to CDC during week 3. CDC External Link


    FDA reports more than 100 pet deaths nationwide linked to recalled pet food

    27 January- The Food and Drug Administration has updated the number of pet deaths to 110 in connection to fatal levels of aflatoxin in Midwestern Pet Foods Inc.'s recalled dog and cat food products. In addition to the deaths there are more than 210 pets that are sick after eating Sportmix pet food. The update comes after multiple Midwestern Pet Foods Inc.'s recalls of dog and cat food products after tests showed levels of aflatoxin that exceed acceptable limits. The pet deaths are associated with lots of Sportmix High Energy. No human illnesses have been reported. Evansville, IN-based Midwestern Pet Foods Inc. expanded their initial product recall on Jan. 11 to include all pet foods containing corn and manufactured in the company's Oklahoma plant, and having an expiration date on or before July 9, 2022. The recalled pet foods were distributed nationally to online distributors and retail stores. Aflatoxin is a poison produced by the mold Aspergillus flavus, which can grow on corn and other grains used as ingredients in animal and human food. At high levels, aflatoxin can cause illness and death in pets, as wells as illness in people who are sensitive to the mold. Food Safety News External Link

    Outbreak report calls for greater controls for raw milk Gouda-like cheeses

    2 February- A 2018 outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O121 sickened seven people. Raw milk Gouda-like cheese produced in British Columbia caused the illnesses. The current Canada Communicable Disease Report (CCDR) describes the outbreak investigation and recommends greater control measures for raw milk Gouda-like cheese. A peer-reviewed journal on infectious diseases, the CCDR is published on the Government of Canada website by the Public Health Agency of Canada. "This outbreak provides further evidence that raw milk Gouda and Gouda-like cheese processed according to regulations in North America is at risk of containing STEC, which contributes to foodborne illnesses," authors of the report concluded. "It is recommended implementing additional control measures for raw milk Gouda and Gouda-like cheese production to minimize the risk to the public." The report acknowledges there were some limitations that investigators encountered. Neither the health of the cows nor the quality of the milk being produced on the farmstead involved was examined at when the outbreak occurred. Food Safety News External Link


    It's not just the pandemic-The moon may be messing with your sleep, too

    28 January-  Sleep and circadian rhythms have long been associated with the powerful effects of the sun cycle. But in recent years, a growing number of studies have suggested that another familiar celestial body might also be impacting your ability to get a restful night's sleep: the moon. A paper published this week in the journal Science Advances found that people tend to have a harder time sleeping in the days leading up to a full moon. Researchers reported that sleep patterns among the study's 98 participants appeared to fluctuate over the course of the 29½ -day lunar cycle, with the latest bedtimes and least amount of rest occurring on nights three to five days before the moon reaches its brightest phase. They found a similar pattern in sleep data from another group of more than 460 people. Ahead of the full moon, it took people, on average, 30 minutes longer to fall asleep and they slept for 50 minutes less, said Leandro Casiraghi, the study's lead author and a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Biology at the University of Washington. "What we did is we came up with a set of data that shockingly proves that this is real, that there's an actual effect of the moon on our sleep," Casiraghi said. The Washington Post External Link


    South Africa reports another human rabies death

    1 February- In a follow-up on human rabies cases in South Africa, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) reports the death of a 10-year-old child in the township of Umbumbulu near Durban in the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province. NICD reports the boy was bitten by a dog in November 2020. The child was not taken to see a medical professional until after the onset of symptoms. He died on January 7. Laboratory analysis on post-mortem samples were positive for rabies. NICD said a total of seven cases of human rabies was laboratory-confirmed in South Africa, including six in KZN. Disadvantaged communities are disproportionately impacted, with the majority of deaths recorded in children <15 years of age, the NICD notes. In order to achieve zero rabies deaths, bite prevention education and awareness of rabies are needed. For the effective delivery of PEP, good public awareness of rabies and access to treatment are critical. Timely prophylaxis, including wound cleaning, vaccines and occasionally rabies immunoglobulin,
    are required for people exposed to rabies. In South Africa's public health care facilities, human rabies vaccines and immunoglobulin are provided free of charge. Outbreak News Today External Link


    Iraqi authorities detect bird flu outbreak in Salahudin province

    17 January- The province of Salahudin, located north of Iraq's capital Baghdad, has recorded a new bird flu outbreak, as the country's Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture assured that all protecting procedures were adopted to curb the spread of the virus. "The laboratory tests proved that poultry in Samarra, some 120 km north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, was infected with bird flu," Ammar Khalil, governor of the province, said. Over 60,000 chickens in the province were detected to have acquired the bird flu, as authorities are advising citizens to be on 'high alert' in confronting the virus. All the chickens in the fields infected with the virus were culled, and the fields' halls were sanitized, in addition to blocking and scanning 3 km of areas surrounding the fields. Outbreak News Today External Link


    Europe authorizes AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine, 3rd vaccine to be approved

    31 January- AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine has been granted a conditional marketing authorization (CMA) in the European Union (EU) for active immunization to prevent COVID-19 caused by SARS-CoV-2, in individuals 18 years of age and older. Following review of the application, the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency based its positive opinion on data from a rolling review of trial data from the primary analysis of the Phase III programme led by the University of Oxford. Additional safety and efficacy data for the vaccine will continue to accumulate from ongoing clinical trials and is expected to be published in the coming weeks. The CHMP recommends two doses of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca, formerly AZD1222, to be administered at a four- to 12-week interval in people aged 18 years and older. This dosing regimen was shown in clinical trials to be safe and effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19, with no severe cases and no hospitalizations more than 14 days after the second dose. AstraZeneca is working with the EU following the approval of a CMA for active immunization to begin across member states. Outbreak News Today External Link


    Philippines FDA grants EUA to AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine

    29 January- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Thursday issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine, three weeks after its application. "It is decided that all conditions for an EUA are present and that the benefit of using the vaccine outweighs the known potential risks. The interim data from the ongoing Phase 3 trial shows that the vaccine has an efficacy of 70 percent after the first dose," FDA Director General, Dr. Eric Domingo said in an online press briefing. In the EUA, FDA said that the vaccine regimen consists of 2 equally standard doses of 0.5 ml each given 4-12 weeks apart. Domingo also explained that a person, who get a least dose of the vaccine will get 70 percent chance of preventing possible COVID-19 infection, as well as almost 100 percent preventing severe symptoms in case they are reinfected. "The longer interval between the 2 doses was deemed responsible for the higher immunogenicity in the group that was given the lower 1st dose," Domingo explained following the standard regimen of 2 full doses given 4 to 12 weeks apart in the country. Domingo noted that the adverse events reported are transient and are mostly mild to moderate similar to common vaccine reactions and no specific safety concerns were identified. The country has signed a deal with the company for 17 million doses of its vaccine and the first tranche of deliveries is expected to arrive in May. Outbreak News Today External Link


    U.S.: Maryland- Reports South African COVID-19 variant in Baltimore area

    30 January- Following the report out of South Carolina two days ago concerning the first two cases in the US associated with the SARS-CoV-2 variant that first emerged recently in South Africa, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced today a confirmed case of COVID-19 caused by the new B.1.351 variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in a Maryland resident. The case announced today involves an adult living in the Baltimore metro region. The individual has not traveled internationally, making community transmission likely. "State health officials are closely monitoring the B.1.351 variant of SARS-CoV-2 in the state," said Governor Hogan. "We strongly encourage Marylanders to practice extra caution to limit the additional risk of transmission associated with this variant. Please continue to practice standard public health and safety measures, including mask wearing, regular hand washing, and physical distancing." The B.1.351 variant has not been shown to cause more severe illness or increased risk of death when compared to other variants. The variant is believed to be more transmissible than other strains. Additional research is still required to determine the effectiveness of available vaccines against the B.1.351 variant. However, initial evidence suggests that vaccines are still likely to be protective against the variant. It is also expected that currently available diagnostic tests will detect the B.1.351 variant. As of Friday, the CDC reported 434 cases of the UK virus variant B.1.1.7 in 30 states, now 3 cases of South African variant B.1.351 in two states and one Brazil P.1 variant in Minnesota. Outbreak News Today External Link


    Brazil: COVID-19 variant present in 91 percent of cases in Amazonas state

    31 January- The new Brazilian variant of COVID-19 is already present in 91 percent of COVID-19 cases analyzed in the state of Amazonas, which is experiencing a dramatic health collapse, according to a study released Friday.  The research, carried out by the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), a leading medical research center in Latin America, reveals a rapid spread of the new Amazonian variant that could indicate a greater power of transmissibility. In December, the one named "P.1" was detected in 51 percent of the samples analyzed in the laboratories and in the first half of January that percentage jumped substantially to 91 percent, which confirms that it has been become the predominant lineage in Amazon. In this sense, the fact that it shares mutations with the variants originating in the United Kingdom and South Africa, and that it has been found more frequently in genetic studies, suggests that it is "more transmissible", according to Felipe Naveca , a researcher at the Leônidas Institute. & María Deane, linked to Fiocruz. The World Health Organization reported this week that cases of this new variant have been detected, in addition to Brazil, in seven other countries: Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, South Korea and Ireland. Outbreak News Today External Link

    Brazil: Mayor of Rio Branco issues emergency declaration over dengue fever

    2 February- Rio Branco is the capital of Acre state in western Brazil, and since the beginning of the year, 1,494 reported cases of dengue were registered through Jan 21. This represents an increase of 481 percent over the same period in 2020, when 257 suspected cases were registered. This huge increase in cases prompted Mayor Tião Bocalom to issue an emergency decree. "This decree was signed on Monday afternoon and is being published today [Tuesday] and is already valid exactly because the dengue situation has soared. Unfortunately, since the month of December it has been growing and in January, in the last three weeks, it shot up. So, we need, with this decree, that people understand that, really, now the situation is emerging and that we need to take the utmost care ", said the mayor. The decree is valid for 180 days. During this period, the city government authorized the temporary hiring of staff to meet the situation and authorized the Municipal Health Department to request staff and equipment from other departments to develop actions to eliminate the outbreaks of mosquito proliferation. The document stipulates that teams of endemic control agents and community health agents should intensify mosquito prevention and control measures with the population. And it authorizes that endemic control agents, community health agents and health fiscal auditors can enter empty lots or in places whose homes are closed for monitoring, treatment and elimination of possible outbreaks of mosquito larvae. Outbreak News Today External Link