Army Public Health Weekly Update, 05 March 2021

Date Published: 3/5/2021
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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

    ANNOUNCMENTS 

    Colorectal cancer awareness month

    2 March- Did you know that Colorectal Cancer (CRC) is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among men and women combined in the United States? Sixty eight percent of deaths could be prevented with screening and it's 90 percent curable if treated during stage one. March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. This is an effort to spread the word that CRC is preventable with screening and treatable if caught early. The USPSTF (US Preventative Services Task Force) recommends screening for colorectal cancer in all adults' ages 50 to 75 years. Recommendations for starting screening earlier vary but it is generally recommended to start screening at the age of 45 for patients with a higher risk of colon cancer (African Americans or patients with a family history of colon cancer). According to Maj. Jennifer Chambers, a primary health physician with the Wiesbaden Army Health Clinic, there are screening options available to health clinic patients and include: Collecting fecal occult blood samples yearly. Patients obtain a small sample of stool at home and brings it back to the lab. Also, there are kits provided by the lab which allows the patient to obtain samples at home and send it back via mail. This is recommended every one to three years. Every 10 years, a colonoscopy is performed by a Gastroenterology specialist. Chambers said it is important to note that a Colonoscopy is still the Gold Standard screening test because it allows for direct visualization of areas of concern and biopsies can be completed during the procedure. Army.mil External Link

    PHC-P develops new Pre-Exercise Vector Surveillance program

    26 February- This spring, Public Health Command-Pacific's Entomology and Environmental Molecular Biology Laboratory service lines will launch the first ever Pre-Exercise Vector Surveillance program for the Indo-Pacific region. The new initiative is a pilot program funded by the Global Emerging Infectious Surveillance program, also known as GEIS, a section of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. The vision of GEIS is to mitigate the threat of emerging infectious diseases to the U.S. military through a global laboratory network. The network is designed to help influence force health protection decision-making and enhance global health security. One of the primary ways GEIS accomplishes this task is by providing timely, actionable infectious disease surveillance information to Geographic Combatant Commands and partner agencies, according to Maj. Michael Kwon, director of PHC-P's Environmental Health Services Directorate. "This initiative acquires fresh data on health threats related to vector-borne diseases," Kwon explained. "The goal is to provide combatant commanders with relevant intelligence on the prevalence of pathogens transmitted by arthropods, in order to make informed force health protection decisions." Typically, vector-borne disease data is collected by advance exercise parties as part of an occupational and environmental health site assessment, or OEHSA. "Field parties put in the heroic effort to get checklists completed, but there are competing interests for time. Often individuals prioritize those tasks they are most versatile in," explained Kwon. "Historically, environmental scientists focused on potable water, air sampling for industrial chemicals, or collected data on other health threats, and insufficient time is spent on trapping for vectors." Capt. John Eads, chief of entomology at Camp Zama, Japan, recognized these hindrances to achieving an accurate site picture, namely a lack of standardized methodology, inconsistent manpower or capabilities. So, when he first joined the PHC-P team, he began to find ways to leverage the PHC-P entomology program to better fit the needs of the Army and DoD to keep service members safe from vector-borne diseases. DVIDS Hub External Link

    U.S. MILITARY

    Camp Zama Army Wellness Center reopens in larger, renovated facility

    26 February- The Camp Zama Army Wellness Center held a grand reopening ceremony here Feb. 25 to celebrate moving into a renovated, larger and more centrally located facility. "It's been a long journey, about two years, and our previous location is no longer here," said Shannon Vo, the center's lead health educator and director, during a speech. "It's flattened, so now we can just remember where we start today. I want to thank everyone who made this journey possible for us." Army Wellness Centers, located at Army installations worldwide, provide programs and services to sustain the health, performance and readiness of the "Total Army." Health professionals help Soldiers, Department of the Army civilians and referred family members with health assessment reviews, physical fitness, nutrition and stress management, as well as wellness and tobacco education. Col. Tanya Peacock, commander of U.S. Army Medical Department Activity – Japan, thanked several entities within U.S. Army Garrison Japan, the 78th Signal Battalion and MEDDAC-J for their help with the move to Building 379. "Thank you very much for everything that you did to make this event possible, and then lastly, but certainly not least, thank you very much to the Army Wellness Center staff," Peacock told the audience. "Your patience and overall effort and what you've done, both in the previous building and this one, has not gone unnoticed." Staff held the ceremony outside, before a limited audience and in socially distanced seating due to COVID-19 concerns. The ceremony included a ribbon cutting with Vo, Peacock, MEDDAC-J Command Sgt. Maj. Tanya Boudreaux, and U.S. Army Japan Command Sgt. Maj. Jerry Dodson. Chaplain (Capt.) Danny Black, chaplain for the 311th Military Intelligence Battalion, provided an invocation. Army.mil External Link

    DOD officials provide COVID-19 response update

    1 March- Three Defense Department officials spoke at a recent Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the department's support for the COVID-19 response. Robert G. Salesses, performing the duties of assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and global security, was asked what the department is doing to address the concern that a third of all service members are reportedly not planning to get the COVID-19 vaccine. "There's a lot of misinformation out there about the vaccine. The vaccine is safe," he said at the Feb. 25 hearing. "I think that what we need to do is ensure that we have the right level of education and awareness and use our military chain of command to educate and train people and to clear up those misconceptions." Salesses added that the commands have been getting involved for the last 60 days, providing education forums, holding town halls, and communicating through other means. Although the DOD cannot mandate service members to receive the vaccine because it is being made available on an emergency use authorization, Salesses said the department has implemented social distancing, mask wearing and telework on an unprecedented scale, as well as testing and contact tracing. A senator remarked that 80% of needles and syringes in use in the U.S. originated from China. Stacy A. Cummings, performing the duties of under secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, said that figure was correct and that the department has assisted the Department of Health and Human Services with transportation to get those needles and syringes into the U.S. to support the delivery of vaccines. She noted that the U.S. could and should increase production domestically in the future. "We have an opportunity to leverage both the authorities of the Defense Production Act and the authorities of the Economy Act to invest in syringes and needles. We have actually invested in some innovative technology for vaccine delivery to increase the domestic production here in the United States so that those capabilities can be made here. We are on the road to seeking solutions to that problem, we have made some investments to date. And I think that there are more investments to be made in the future," she said. In addition to leveraging the Economy Act and the DPA, Cummings said the department has also found the CARES Act useful in Title 3 funding. Health.mil External Link

    Mobile medics leverage virtual health to aid military trainees with COVID

    26 February- Service members with COVID-19 may be in quarantine, but they are far from being alone. A new virtual health program is leveraging technology to provide round-the-clock care for military trainees who tested positive or who are deemed at risk due to exposure or symptoms. "This has been a tremendous collaborative effort between Brooke Army Medical Center, the Virtual Medical Center and the Army Medical Center of Excellence to provide medical support to Soldiers, Airmen and Sailors," said Army Maj. Daniel Yourk, deputy director of operations, Virtual Medical Center. The program, which monitors service members via smart phone, was first initiated to provide support to military trainees after holiday leave. Upon their return, students were screened for COVID-19 and, if they tested positive or were deemed at high risk, quarantined at a designated barracks at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland for 10 or more days. "This was the first time we were faced with this type of situation due to the pandemic," Yourk said. "We had limited time to create a solution that would enable continuity of care to potentially hundreds of troops with finite medical resources." Borrowing a text capability from the U.S. Army Dental Command on Fort Sam Houston, the Virtual Medical Center devised a system to care for trainees in isolation. Each day, trainees receive a text with a link to a survey, which includes questions such as: are your symptoms worsening, do you have shortness of breath and do you need behavioral health support? The responses are reviewed by providers and medics each morning. If the responses indicate additional care is needed, the service member will either receive a virtual encounter with a nurse practitioner or an in-person visit by a mobile medic from Brooke Army Medical Center or MEDCoE, explained Leslie Smith, nurse practitioner with the Virtually Integrated Patient Readiness and Remote Care Clinic, or VIPRR. Mobile medics, a unique Army asset, are able to take vital signs and communicate with a health care provider via video conferencing to determine the best course of action for treatment. "Using a secure system, we are able to monitor for worsening symptoms as well as provide a final wellness check before trainees return to their unit," Smith said. "We offer virtual and direct engagements, and medication as needed. It is going very smoothly." Among those screened was Pvt. Madison Marvel, who had been visiting her family in Georgia for the holidays and, shortly after her return, lost her sense of taste and smell. A positive test confirmed her suspicions. "I also had body aches and headaches so figured I had COVID," said Marvel, assigned to B Company, 188th Medical Battalion. "After a few days, I thought I was getting better, but my symptoms got worse." DVIDS Hub External Link

    GLOBAL

    A COVID vaccine side effect, enlarged lymph nodes, can be mistaken for cancer

    1 March- Coronavirus vaccinations can cause enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit or near the collarbone, which may be mistaken for a sign of cancer. As vaccines are rolled out across the country, doctors are seeing more and more of these swollen nodes in recently immunized people, and medical journals have begun publishing reports aimed at allaying fears and helping patients avoid needless testing for a harmless condition that will go away in a few weeks. The swelling is a normal reaction by the immune system to the vaccine, and occurs on the same side as the arm where the shot was given. It can also occur after other vaccinations, including those for flu and the human papillomavirus (HPV). Patients may or may not notice it. But the enlarged lymph nodes show up as white blobs on mammograms and chest scans, resembling images that can indicate the spread of cancer from a tumor in the breast or elsewhere in the body. "I am particularly eager to get the word out to all the patients undergoing surveillance after successful prior treatment of cancer," said Dr. Constance D. Lehman, an author of two journal articles on the problem and the chief of breast imaging at the Massachusetts General Hospital. "I can't imagine the anxiety of getting the scan and hearing, 'We found a node that is large. We don't think it's cancer but can't tell,' or worse, 'We think it might be cancer.'" The New York Times External Link

    How VR detects early Alzheimer's in older people

    1 March- Alzheimer's Disease is one of the worst brain deterioration and impairments that could happen naturally for people, especially as time goes by and ages catch up to them. There are several brain exercises and activities to prevent this illness, but it is something that even modern medicine cannot fully heal. However, there is a way to detect it at its early stages and set up ways to prevent it. Researchers have recently discovered that Alzheimer's can be easily detected and early signs of it are recognizable using modern devices such as Virtual Reality (VR) technology, used mostly for games. Initially, Alzheimer's disease may show up when experiencing a new environment and facing unfamiliarity around the person, causing a state of shock. Tech Times External Link

    Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine: FDA approves single-shot jab

    28 February- U.S. regulators have formally approved the single-shot Johnson & Johnson (J&J) coronavirus vaccine, the third jab to be authorized in the country. The vaccine is set to be a cost-effective alternative to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and can be stored in a refrigerator instead of a freezer. Trials found it prevented serious illness but was 66% effective overall when moderate cases were included. The vaccine was developed mainly by J&J's Janssen Pharmaceutica division. The company has agreed to provide the US with 100 million doses by the end of June. The first doses could be available to the US public as early as next week. The UK, EU and Canada have also ordered doses, and 500 million doses have also been ordered through the Covax scheme to supply poorer nations. The European Medicines Agency could approve the drug for the EU in early March, with a speedy rollout to follow, French Industry Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher said on Sunday. BBC News External Link

    Pfizer vs Moderna: Comparing two COVID-19 vaccines from side effects to storage requirements

    1 March- In the continuous tests to explore a pandemic solution, two of the most popular COVID-19 vaccines among many are Pfizer and Moderna. Before receiving vaccine shots from them, it is good to know their differences so we can compare how they vary from one another. Both Moderna and Pfizer made use of the messenger mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) which is important to bring a cellular genetic code necessary to construct surface protein for the SARS-COV-2. Upon activating the immune system through mRNA, spike proteins will interact with human cells which will be the built antibodies to fight the virus.  When it comes to efficacy, Moderna and Pfizer are just close to each other. But, the early stages after receiving vaccine shots played a vital role in this. At 95% efficacy, the Pfizer vaccine is proven to be an effective solution after the patient received two shots. On the other hand, the Moderna was slightly short of Pfizer with its 94.1% efficacy after the same number of doses. If a person's age is 65 and above, the latter's efficacy declines slightly compared to Pfizer which varies regardless of people's race and groups, Stat News reported. However, it is significant to remember that the efficacies of these vaccines are not yet proven to the new mutation of the virus. Further clinical trials will still be conducted if Pfizer and Moderna could also be potential vaccines to the variants from Brazil, South Africa, the UK, and Malaysia. Tech Times External Link

    Positive results announced for DNA-based HPV immunotherapy for HPV treatment of high-grade precancerous cervical dysplasia

    2 March- Pennsylvania-based INOVIO Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced it met primary and secondary endpoints among all evaluable subjects for the REVEAL 1 trial. This trial is one of two ongoing pivotal, randomized, double-blind, multi-center, placebo-controlled, Phase 3 trials (REVEAL 1 and REVEAL 2) evaluating the safety, tolerability, and efficacy of VGX-3100 to treat HPV-16/18-associated cervical high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (HSIL) using the company's proprietary CELLECTRA® 5PSP device. Dr. Mark Einstein, M.D., MS, FACS, FACOG, Principal Coordinating Investigator for the REVEAL 1 trial, said in a press statement, "There is a very significant need for a non-surgical therapeutic for young women suffering from HPV-associated cervical dysplasia." "These results are very encouraging and show that we are headed in the right direction." For the primary endpoint of histopathological regression of HSIL combined with a virologic clearance of HPV-16 and/or HPV-18 at week 36, the percentage of responders was 23.7% (31/131) in the treatment group, versus 11.3% (7/62) in the placebo group (p=0.022; 12.4% difference in percentage, 95%CI: 0.4,22.5), thus achieving statistical significance. All secondary efficacy endpoints were achieved. These endpoints were: a) regression of cervical HSIL to normal tissue combined with HPV-16/18 viral clearance, b) regression of cervical HSIL alone, c) regression of cervical HSIL to normal tissue, and d) HPV-16/18 viral clearance alone. INOVIO is a biotechnology company focused on rapidly bringing to market precisely designed DNA medicines to treat and protect people from infectious diseases, cancer, and diseases associated with HPV. Precision Vaccinations External Link

    Under 50% of pregnant women in U.S. willing to get COVID-19 vaccine

    1 March- Under half of pregnant women in the United States are willing to get vaccinated against COVID-19, an analysis published Monday by the European Journal of Epidemiology found. Among women who are not pregnant or planning to become pregnant nationally, fewer than 60% said they would receive the vaccine, the data showed. Willingness to receive the vaccine among women across the country was on par with their counterparts in Russia, but lower than rates seen in countries in Latin America, India and the Philippines, the researchers said. To date, there has been no indication that any of the COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the United States -- from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson -- are unsafe for pregnant women, although data is limited, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, pregnant women are at increased risk for serious illness from the virus, the agency said. "The perceived threat of COVID-19, level of trust in public health agencies, and existing pre-COVID 19 vaccine attitudes play key roles shaping vaccine acceptance and confidence," study co-author Julia Wu said in a statement. "Vaccination campaigns should be tailored to alleviate these specific concerns," said Wu, principal investigator with the Human Immunomics Initiative at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Cambridge, Mass. UPI.com External Link

    U.S. begins distribution of a third Covid-19 vaccine as concerns grow over latest case trends

    1 March- The US just added another powerful tool against Covid-19 to its inventory: a third vaccine. This latest piece of good news comes at a time US health leaders say is critical in the country's battle against the virus, as dropping cases begin to plateau and concerns grow over highly transmissible variants. "Starting tonight, 3.9 million doses of J&J will be distributed across all channels, states, tribes, territories and pharmacies and community health centers," one senior administration official said in a Sunday night briefing call. "Those J&J doses will be delivered as early as this Tuesday morning. "After the Food and Drug Administration authorized the Johnson & Johnson vaccine Saturday, advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted the next day to recommend the vaccine. The agency's director signed off on that recommendation almost immediately -- clearing the final hurdle before the vaccine can make it into arms. CNN External Link

    Virus can be transmitted via lung transplant; COVID-19 deadlier than flu for ICU patients

    26 February- The following is a roundup of some of the latest scientific studies on the novel coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus. The coronavirus can linger in the lungs even when swab tests of the back of the nose and throat are negative, doctors reported after unknowingly transplanting infected lungs into a patient who later died of COVID-19. University of Michigan surgeons obtained the lungs from a deceased donor who had tested negative for the virus and had reportedly never been exposed to it. Soon afterward, the transplant recipient and one of the surgeons developed COVID-19. The team collected a fluid sample from the patient's new lungs and compared it to a sample taken from the lungs immediately after removal from the donor, as well as to swab samples from the infected surgeon. Genetic analyses showed the patient and surgeon had both acquired virus from the donor lungs, the doctors reported in the American Journal of Transplantation. The surgeon had worn only a surgical mask when preparing the lungs for transplant, rather than full personal protective equipment, because both donor and recipient had tested negative. Potential lung transplant donors should all have specimens collected from deep within the lungs to be tested for the coronavirus, the report's co-author Dr. Daniel Kaul said. The virus is less likely to be transmitted by other donated organs, such as the liver or the kidneys, he said. Reuters External Link

    INFLUENZA

    CDC: Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report

    Key Updates for Week 7, ending February 20, 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 14 states and represents approximately 9% of the U.S. population.

    Influenza-Associated Pediatric Mortality: No influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported to CDC during week 7. CDC External Link

    VETERINARY/FOOD SAFETY

    Annie's removing a chemical in mac and cheese linked to fertility issues

    27 February- Annie's Homegrown, largely known for its "organic" macaroni and cheese line, is taking steps to remove a potentially harmful class of chemicals, called ortho-phthalates, from its products and packaging materials. These chemicals make plastic flexible, and phthalates have already been banned in many kids' toys over health concerns. Some scientists say the chemicals harm fertility, health of babies, disrupt hormones key for development and damage genetic material in sperm. One 2016 study in particular tied exposure to the chemicals to "diminished sperm count and deteriorated sperm quality, which may lead to infertility." "We are troubled by the recent report of phthalates found in dairy ingredients of macaroni and cheese and take this issue seriously," reads a recent update to Annie's website. The company noted that these chemicals can be found in manufacturing equipment and has a firm foothold in supply chains beyond just the food industry. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says phthalates can be found in personal hygiene products, makeup, plastic packaging and more. Fox News External Link

    Maryland reports death in multistate Listeria outbreak

    2 March- In a follow-up on the Listeria monocytogenes outbreak reported in four states and linked to queso fresco made by El Abuelito Cheese Inc. As of March 1, a total of 11 people have been infected in four states: New York, Connecticut, Maryland, and Virginia. One death has been reported from Maryland. State and local public health officials are interviewing people about the foods they ate in the month before they got sick. Of the eight people interviewed, seven people reported eating Hispanic-style fresh and soft cheeses. Among the seven people, six reported eating queso fresco – two reported El Abuelito brand and one reported Rio Grande brand. Outbreak News Today External Link

    Pennsylvania, 6 other states, part of nationwide Salmonella outbreak, linked to small pet turtles

    26 February- CDC and public health officials in several states are investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium infections linked to small turtles.  As of February 20, 2021, a total of 22 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium have been reported from seven states–Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey, California, Florida and Connecticut. Pennsylvania has reported the most cases with 9. Of the nine laboratory-confirmed Salmonella Typhimurium illnesses. Eight of the cases have occurred in people living in Philadelphia or Delaware counties. Seven of the cases have occurred among children, ranging between 0 to 10 years old. One adult death has occurred in which salmonellosis was one of the contributing factors.  "While we continue to work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as part of this investigation, the cause of these serious Salmonella cases has been linked to small pet turtles," Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said. "The majority of the cases have occurred in children living in the southeastern part of the state.  This is concerning, as Salmonella can be particularly serious for children. Anyone who has purchased a small pet turtle and became ill should contact their health care provider, their local health department or the Department of Health at 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258)." CDC says a common supplier of small turtles has not yet been identified. It is often difficult to determine a common farm or supplier of small turtles due to the illegal practice of sales of small turtles by mobile vendors who do not stay in a single location. Salmonellosis is a serious infection of the gastrointestinal tract. Diarrhea is the most common symptom, but other symptoms may include fever, headache, nausea and vomiting. In addition, salmonellosis can cause severe illness (e.g., bloodstream infection, bone and joint infection, meningitis) and can be particularly serious for young children, the elderly, and persons with weak immune systems. Outbreak News Today External Link

    Re-inspection issue forces recall of 150 tons of corned beef from Australia

    2 March- A California company is recalling almost 300,000 pounds of ready-to-eat corned beef that was imported and distributed in the United States without the benefit of import re-inspection, according to the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). Milky Way International Trading Corp., doing business as MW Polar of Norwalk, CA, imported the corned beef from Australia on various dates. The products have various "best before" dates. The product cases are labeled with various shopping marks. "The problem was discovered after FSIS received a tip from an industry representative indicating that corned beef product received from Milky Way did not undergo FSIS import inspection," according to the FSIS recall notice. Consumers and businesses can use product codes to determine whether they have the recalled corned beef on hand. Please click here to view a table of implicated codes. The products subject to recall bear "Australia Inspected" number "39" and were shipped to retail locations nationwide. There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions because of the consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about a reaction should contact a healthcare provider. FSIS is concerned that some products may be in consumers' pantries or in their refrigerators. Food Safety News External Link

    WELLNESS

    How exercise enhances aging brains

    3 March- Exercise can change how crucial portions of our brain communicate as we age, improving aspects of thinking and remembering, according to a fascinating new study of aging brains and aerobic workouts. The study, which involved older African-Americans, finds that unconnected portions of the brain's memory center start interacting in complex and healthier new ways after regular exercise, sharpening memory function. The findings expand our understanding of how moving molds thinking and also underscore the importance of staying active, whatever our age. The idea that physical activity improves brain health is well established by now. Experiments involving animals and people show exercise increases neurons in the hippocampus, which is essential for memory creation and storage, while also improving thinking skills. In older people, regular physical activity helps slow the usual loss of brain volume, which may help to prevent age-related memory loss and possibly lower the risk of dementia. There have been hints, too, that exercise can alter how far-flung parts of the brain talk among themselves. In a 2016 M.R.I. study, for instance, researchers found that disparate parts of the brain light up at the same time among collegiate runners but less so among sedentary students. This paired brain activity is believed to be a form of communication, allowing parts of the brain to work together and improve thinking skills, despite not sharing a physical connection. In the runners, the synchronized portions related to attention, decision making and working memory, suggesting that running and fitness might have contributed to keener minds. The New York Times External Link

    USAFRICOM

    Ebola in Africa prompts CDC travel notice, Travelers from DRC and Guinea 'funneled' to 6 US airports

    27 February- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued travel notices for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Guinea due to ongoing Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreaks.  The outbreak, the 12th ever in the DRC is in the North Kivu (Kivu Nord) province in the eastern part of the country–the same location as the 10th outbreak in DRC that began in August 2018 and was declared over in June 2020. To date, eight confirmed cases, including four deaths have been recorded in the outbreak declared on February 7. In Guinea, there is an outbreak of Ebola in the rural community of Gouéké, N'Zérékoré Prefecture of Guinea. This was declared on Feb. 14. To date, nine total cases (5 confirmed and 4 probable), including 5 deaths have been reported. The World Health Organization (WHO) is working with local health authorities to identify sources of transmission, conduct case investigation and case finding, strengthen local laboratory capacity, and to provide Ebola vaccine. The CDC advise travelers to these areas, while the risk is low, could be infected with Ebola if they come in contact with an infected person's blood or other body fluids. Outbreak News Today External Link

    Leishmaniosis outbreak reported in Mandera, Kenya

    27 February- According to a Daily Nation report, at least 19 cases of the parasitic disease visceral leishmaniosis, or kala-azar have been reported in Mandera in northeastern Kenya. Mandera Public Health Chief Officer Rahma Abdullahi said the patients were referred to Wajir as Mandera cannot treat the disease. "We are engaging the Vector Borne Disease Control Unit at the Ministry of Health in Nairobi to help us set up treatment centers in Mandera before the situation worsens," she added. "The drought in the area is leading to this situation after the sandflies multiplied and since livestock migrated, the flies now bite people, infecting them," she said. Leishmaniosis is a parasitic disease found in parts of the tropics, subtropics, and southern Europe. Leishmaniosis has several different forms. Visceral leishmaniosis (VL) is the most serious manifestation, which affects some of the internal organs of the body (such as the spleen, liver, and bone marrow). VL is predominantly transmitted through the bite of an infected female phlebotomine sand fly, although congenital and parenteral transmission (through blood transfusions and needle sharing) have been reported. According to the World Health Organization, each year between 50,000 and 90,000 people become sick with visceral leishmaniosis (kala-azar), which is fatal in more than 95 percent of cases left untreated. Outbreak News Today External Link

    USCENTCOM

    Saudi Arabia says COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for Hajj 2021

    3 March- Saudi Arabia's health ministry says only people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 will be allowed to attend the Hajj this year, Saudi newspaper Okaz reported. "The COVID-19 vaccine is mandatory for those willing to come to the Hajj and will be one of the main conditions (for receiving a permit to come)," Monday's report said, citing a circular signed by the health minister. Saudi Arabia takes pride in its guardianship of Islam's holiest sites in Mecca and Medina and its smooth organization of the annual Hajj, which has been marred in the past by deadly stampedes, fires and riots. In 2020, the kingdom dramatically reduced the number of pilgrims allowed to attend Hajj to about 1,000 Saudi citizens and residents of the kingdom, in order to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, after barring Muslims abroad from the rite for the first time in modern times. Hajj, a once-in-a-lifetime duty for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it, is a major source of income for the Saudi government. The congregation of millions of pilgrims from around the world can be a major cause of coronavirus transmission. In the past, worshippers have returned home with respiratory and other diseases. In the same circular, Saudi Minister of Health Dr.Tawfiq al-Rabiah said the government must be prepared to "secure the manpower required to operate the health facilities in Mecca and Medina". These facilities will be stationed at entry points for pilgrims, he said, in addition to a formation of a vaccination committee for pilgrims within Saudi Arabia. Al Jazeera External Link

    USEUCOM

    1st human dirofilariasis case reported in Ukraine this year

    24 February- Officials in the southeastern Ukraine city of Melitopol are reporting the first human case of dirofilariasis this past January. The individual was confirmed as having dirofilariasis of the eyelid. There has been 200 cases reported in Ukraine in the past two decades. In recent years, experts say, there has been an increase in the incidence of dirofilariasis in those countries where it is considered rare. You can protect yourself from damage only by preventing mosquito bites. The definitive treatment of Dirofilaria infection in humans is surgical removal of lung granulomas and nodules under the skin; this treatment is also curative. Outbreak News Today External Link

    USINDOPACOM

    Dengue fever in Vietnam and the Philippines: Among the most globally so far in 2021

    27 February- While it is early in 2021, the two countries reporting the most dengue fever to date in southeast Asia are Vietnam and the Philippines. In Vietnam, a total of 11,659 cases of dengue without any deaths have been reported through February 14. While high, it is down some 23 percent from last year at this time when 15,089 cases were reported. The Philippines is also one of the countries reporting high number of cases globally to date. As of 6 February 2021, 6,614 dengue cases have been reported in 2021, including 20 deaths (CFR 0.3%). The number of cases in this period is 77% lower compared to the 29,184 cases reported in the same period in 2020. Dengue is a disease caused by a virus spread through mosquito bites. The disease can take up to 2 weeks to develop with illness generally lasting less than a week. Health effects from dengue include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, rash, muscle and joint pain, and minor bleeding. Dengue can become severe within a few hours. Severe dengue is a medical emergency, usually requiring hospitalization. In severe cases, health effects can include hemorrhage (uncontrolled bleeding), shock (seriously low blood pressure), organ failure, and death. Outbreak News Today External Link

    USNORTHCOM

    Coronavirus: Texas and other states ease rules despite warnings

    3 March- Texas will lift its mask requirement and allow businesses to reopen at full capacity next week, Governor Greg Abbott has announced. "It is now time to open Texas 100%," the Republican said on Tuesday. Texas is the largest US state to end its mask mandate. Mr. Abbott has faced criticism from his party over the measure, which was imposed last July. But the administration of US President Joe Biden has made it clear coronavirus restrictions are still necessary. The announcement in Texas came as similar rules were lifted in other states, including Michigan, Louisiana, and Mississippi, which also ended its mask mandate. The roll-out of vaccinations against Covid-19 has boosted confidence in a return to pre-pandemic life in the US. On Tuesday, President Biden said the US was on track to have enough vaccines for every adult in the country by the end of May. Yet the wave of reopening's has put states at odds with the Biden administration and its senior health officials, who have reacted with dismay to the relaxation of coronavirus measures at a precarious time in the pandemic. BBC News External Link

    USSOUTHCOM

    Brazil: Acre state dengue fever cases top 1600 in first 2 months of 2021

    28 February- In the first 54 days of 2021 alone, Acre registered 1,683 cases of dengue, according to the Department of Health Surveillance of the State Department of Health (Sesacre). Another 7,514 suspicious notifications are under analysis. That number is almost 190% higher than the same period last year. Rio Branco leads the ranking of suspected cases, with 43.6% of the total. Tarauacá appears next, with 1,986 notifications under analysis. A death may have occurred from the disease this year. The case is under analysis. In 2020, three deaths were recorded. The capital is in an emergency situation due to the dengue outbreak, which happens amid the worsening of the Covid-19 pandemic and the floods of the main rivers that bathe the cities of Acre. Brazil has reported 22,332 total dengue cases year to date, including four deaths. Outbreak News Today External Link