Army Public Health Weekly Update, 06 May 2022

Date Published: 5/6/2022
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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.

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Table of Contents


    Heat Illness Prevention & Sun Safety

    3 May- Heat is the leading cause of death among weather-related phenomena, and is becoming more dangerous as 18 of the last 19 years were the hottest on record, states the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.  Military personnel can be at high risk for heat illness, especially during rigorous physical outdoor training. To learn about heat illness prevention visit APHC


    DOD cancer research program aims to 'end cancer as we know it today'

    3 May- Defense Department health officials will discuss cancer research efforts with the aim to reduce cancer and cancer-related deaths across the Military Health System. Part of a government-wide White House initiative called Cancer Moonshot, the DOD component will be rolled out May 4USU web blog post, USU to Host May 4th DoD Cancer Moonshot Roundtable at an event sponsored by the DOD's Uniformed Services University of the Health SciencesUniformed Services University of the Health Sciences website in Bethesda, Maryland. The effort marks a significant expansion of a program that began in 2016, when the DOD, Department of Veterans Affairs, and the National Cancer InstituteNIH's National Cancer Institute webpage created the Applied Proteogenomics Organizational Learning and Outcomes (APOLLONIH's APOLLO Network webpage) Network. The initial effort in 2016 was also part of a government-wide effort that created a network of 13 DOD and VA hospitals that launched eight cancer-specific programs, including studies in lung, breast, prostate, ovarian, pancreatic, testicular, and brain cancers. Over time, the Cancer Moonshot program will expand the APOLLO Network to all DHA hospitals and extend its research efforts to include all cancer types. The new APOLLO trial network is part of a recent White House "reignition"Fact Sheet: President Biden Reignites Cancer Moonshot to End Cancer as We Know It on White House website of the Cancer Moonshot. "We developed two robust and ongoing programs during the original Cancer Moonshot and will leverage those lessons learned as well as new opportunities to support the nation's warfighters and veterans through our new DOD initiatives," said Dr. Craig Shriver, Professor of Surgery at USU. He is director of USU's Murtha Cancer Research Program and the John P. Murtha Cancer CenterMurtha Cancer Center webpage at Walter Reed National Military Medical CenterWalter Reed National Military Medical Center webpage in Bethesda, Maryland. The other program is the DOD Framingham, which uses the DOD Serum Repository to study cancer biomarkers in active duty service members. Health.milExternal Link

    Pandemic spotlights the vital role of military lab workers

    2 May- Clinical labs across the Military Health System – and the staff who operate them – play a vital role in early detection of illnesses, diagnosis and treatment of diseases like cancer, diabetes or heart disease. In fact, studiesCDC website on Strengthening Clinical Labs show about 70% of current medical decisions depend on test results. The demands placed on MHS lab workers intensified during the past two years and the COVID-19 pandemic.  “At the peak of the pandemic, most laboratories saw their workload double in some areas," said Navy Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Aramatou Toure, assistant manager for the Defense Health Agency's clinical laboratory improvement program. “Most laboratories had to re-evaluate their daily operation to address the staff shortage," she recalled. Despite the challenges, lab staffs worked hard to keep pace with the demand and to deliver quality results to support clinicians.  “The pandemic helped shine the light on the important role and work the laboratory does," Toure said. “Most people were not aware of the background work performed by the laboratories in the process of patient diagnosis." Moreover, the pandemic made it clear to many people that without the laboratories, clinicians cannot effectively perform their job. “The outside world, and other medical professionals were able to appreciate the work laboratories do, and I know that means a lot to the laboratory community," Toure said. Air Force Lt. Col. Marybeth Luna, the director for the Department of Defense Center for Laboratory Medicine Services, already has plans to prepare for the next pandemic. “We encourage labs to utilize instrumentation that can analyze COVID, respiratory pathogens and other routine microbiological agents," she said. “It's very important to have analyzers that can convert from 'peacetime' uses as well as public health emergency responses. This ensures that labs always have on-site, emergency response capabilities as well as routine lab support," Luna said.  Every year, the last full week of April is observed as Medical Laboratory Professionals Week. Known as Lab Week, it began in 1975, and creates an opportunity to increase public awareness and appreciation for laboratory professionals. It is sponsored by the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science and coordinated by 17 national clinical laboratory organizations. Within military medicine, the laboratory community consists of officers, who serve as lab managers, and enlisted service members, who do the actual testing and lab work. The civilians also do everything from sample collection to management. Health.milExternal Link

    The military is trying to learn more about long COVID- Troops who have it worry about their careers

    1 May- Little is known about COVID-19 cases in which symptoms persist for months. Affected service members may have trouble performing their duties or getting treatment. Kara Gormont is the former Chief of Staff for the Defense Health Agency. She dedicated her career to helping keep service members healthy. But when Gormont developed long COVID in November 2020, she learned first hand that the military at the time had no process to deal with it. "I truly felt very abandoned by the healthcare system that I had at that time given 28 years of my life to," Gormont said. "And nobody believed me, nobody believed that I was sick, nobody believed that I had COVID." A year and a half later, she's still expceriencing symptoms, including gastrointestinal problems and brain fog. "My doctors themselves didn't know what was going on," Gormont said. "I didn't have an established plan of care with them. They didn't necessarily agree what was happening." Gormont said she tried to keep working, but couldn't keep up with the demands of the job. She wanted to take medical leave, but found that difficult. She said she felt judged by her colleagues and was concerned they felt she wasn't tough enough to push through her illness. She eventually left the military. "I feel very abandoned by them," she said. "It was traumatic. I'll just say that was a heavy, heavy trauma that I'm going to live with for the rest of my life to be alone and abandoned." Gormont is among about a half dozen service members who said they worry about the future of their military careers because they have long COVID. Most spoke anonymously out of fear of retaliation. That's echoed by reporting from the Army Times, in which several soldiers said military doctors didn't take their symptoms seriously. WUSFExternal Link

    Troops packed on the pounds in pandemic's first year, posing risk to Force health

    2 May- With the gyms closed and much of America going remote at work in early 2020, who didn't drink an extra beer or three or binge-watch "Tiger King" while eating multiple bags of chips? The ordeal was going to last only a few weeks, right? Flatten the curve? As weeks turned to months, however, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic started showing not only in illnesses and deaths, but also on American scales. Nearly half of U.S. adults put on excess pounds during the first year, and several new studies show that service members were not immune to the weight gain. At the start of the pandemic in March 2020, 18% of active-duty U.S. service members were classified as obese, having a body mass index, as calculated using weight and height, equal to or greater than 30. Thirteen months later, 19.3% of the force had reached that threshold, a rise that continued an upward trend in overweightness and obesity that began decades ago, according to a new study in the Armed Forces Health cSurveillance Division's March Medical Surveillance Monthly Report, published Sunday. While the assessments did not show an immediate, abrupt jump at the start of the pandemic -- a situation the researchers said may have resulted in higher overall increases across the research period -- the rise is worrisome, given the long-term health consequences of excess weight. "Not only does obesity within the military ranks negatively impact the professional perception of the military, it also compromises its readiness and leads to functional limitations," wrote the researchers, referring to musculoskeletal injuries, mental health diagnoses, substance abuse, diabetes and other illnesses associated with excess weight that could affect a person's job and performance. Military.comExternal Link

    West Point cadets graduate with modern mental, physical skills from new Army program

    2 May- Army cadets at West Point are getting a healthy dose of training on all-around fitness that goes beyond sweating it out in running shorts by using advanced physical and psychological tools to ensure high-level performance. Each cadet already must compete on an athletic team as part of their curriculum, but in recent years, leaders at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, have also improved basic fitness fundamentals, using the Army's new Holistic Health and Fitness program. The H2F program looks at mental, spiritual and physical health, with added goals for exercise, nutrition and sleep. West Point cadre revitalized fitness training through revamped military movement coursework and started training future graduates to plan not only their own fitness routines but build programs for soldiers. Col. Nick Gist shared those changes and others with attendees at the Army's second annual Holistic Health and Fitness Industry Day and Exposition here at the headquarters for Training and Doctrine Command on Tuesday. “The Army wants and we need a hybrid athlete," Gist said. Despite gains in technology, he said soldiering remains, “a very physical profession." Military TimesExternal Link


    Families who have lost kids to fentanyl share mixed feelings about today's test strips

    2 May- The first-ever National Fentanyl Awareness Day in the U.S. is coming up on Tuesday, May 10, 2022 — thanks to a coalition of nonprofit groups, major corporations, government agencies and schools, including Google, Snap, Shatterproof, the Ad Council and more, according to a recent media release about the issue. The goal? To raise awareness among all Americans about the illicit fentanyl that is present in fake pills and street drugs. The urgency? Illegally made fentanyl is the key driver of the recent increase in overdose deaths — and deaths involving fentanyl are growing the fastest, among America's young people ages 14 to 23. The issue in a nutshell? Just one pill — a single pill — can kill a person, changing that person's family forever. The Ternan family of California know all about this. They're still mourning the loss of their son as a result. He was 22 years old — and mere weeks away from his college graduation when he tragically died. Ed and Mary Ternan lost their son, Charlie, to a counterfeit pill in 2020. It's why they founded Song for Charlie ( It's a family-run nonprofit that is bringing greater awareness to the issue. It's based in Pasadena, Calif. As they write on their website, it only takes one pill to kill if that single fake pill is a "fentapill." Fox NewsExternal Link

    Flu shots can reduce adverse cardiovascular events

    3 May- Influenza continues posing a substantial threat to population health and those with cardiovascular risks during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. To better quantify those health risks, a meta-analysis was recently published by the JAMA Network Open on April 29, 2022. This study found a positive association between seasonal flu vaccinations and reduced adverse cardiovascular outcomes. And is evidence that flu vaccines are a vital measure in preventing cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks. The researchers found that 3.6% of the 4,510 clinical trial participants who received a flu shot or intranasal live attenuated vaccine experienced a major cardiovascular event in the following year. In comparison, 5.4% of the 4,491 patients who received a placebo or control had an event. This 1.8% difference translates into a 45% reduced risk following a flu shot for higher-risk patients with a recent acute coronary syndrome. This analysis stratified patients (mean age, 65.5 years; 42.5% women; 52.3% with a cardiac history) with and without recent acute coronary syndrome (ACS) within 1 year of randomization. Overall, influenza vaccine was associated with a lower risk of composite cardiovascular events (3.6% vs 5.4%; RR, 0.66; 95% CI, 0.53-0.83; P < .001). Precision VaccinationsExternal Link

    Meals apps and online gaming driving obesity - WHO

    3 May- How children use meal-delivery apps and the rising popularity of online gaming could be driving obesity across Europe, the World Health Organization has said. No European country is on track to stop obesity rising by 2025, the WHO says. Nearly 60% of adults and a third of children are overweight or obese - and the Covid pandemic has made that worse. It suggests restricting the marketing of unhealthy foods to children, cutting the cost of healthy food and encouraging all ages to exercise more. The WHO European Regional Obesity Report 2022 says rates of overweight and obesity have reached "epidemic proportions", with only the Americas having a higher level of obese adults than Europe. It estimates the problem is causing 1.2 million deaths every year in Europe - 13% of all deaths - and at least 200,000 new cases of cancer annually. BBCExternal Link

    Moderna COVID vaccine may have slight edge over Pfizer in infections only

    2 May- Relative to the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, the Moderna version confers slightly more protection against infection—but not hospitalization, intensive care unit (ICU) admissions, or death—90 days after the second dose, suggests a modeling study of more than 3.5 million fully vaccinated Americans published today in Nature Communications. Optum Labs scientists in Minnesota compared the effectiveness of the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines by analyzing healthcare claims from fully vaccinated Americans insured by a single US insurer (Medicare Advantage and commercial insurance). Among 8,848 infected participants, 35% had received the Moderna vaccine, and 65% had received Pfizer. Follow-up was 14 to 151 days after the second vaccine dose. The researchers also analyzed data from those younger and older than 65 years who had never been infected. Relative to the Pfizer vaccine, Moderna was slightly more effective against COVID-19 infection starting shortly after the second dose and improved over time, with the need to vaccinate 1,047 people to prevent 1 infection at 30 days (aOR, 0.67; 95% CI, 0.63 to 0.71), decreasing to 290 at 90 days (aOR, 0.66; 95% CI, 0.60 to 0.73). "Although this incremental risk is small at the individual level, it is meaningful at the population level," the study authors wrote. "Our results suggest that for every 1 million individuals vaccinated with the BNT162b [Pfizer] vaccine compared with the mRNA-1273 [Moderna] vaccine, this would represent 3,448 additional care-seeking cases of Covid-19 at 90 days." The vaccines didn't differ in terms of protection against hospitalization, ICU admission, or death/transfer to hospice (aOR, 1.23; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.67 to 2.25). A time-to-event analysis showed similar results, including for infection (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR], 0.69; 95% CI, 0.66 to  0.72) and composite ICU admission or death/hospice (aHR, 0.76; 95% CI, 0.50 to 1.16) and composite hospitalization, ICU admission, or death/hospice (aHR, 0.67; 95% CI, 0.51 to 0.89). Risk differences between the vaccines for both infection and composite outcomes rose over time. Stratified analyses were similar when including only never-infected patients, only those aged 65 and older, and only younger participants. "Since the population considered is different in each model, between-model comparisons are not valid, however, both models show directionally the same results," the researchers wrote. CIDRAPExternal Link

    Paxlovid doesn't prevent infection in households, Pfizer says

    2 May- Paxlovid works as a treatment for COVID-19 but not as a preventive measure, particularly if you've been exposed to the coronavirus through a household member who is infected, according to a new announcement from Pfizer. In a clinical trial, the oral antiviral tablets were tested for post-exposure prophylactic use, or tested for how well they prevented a coronavirus infection in people exposed to the virus. Paxlovid somewhat reduced the risk of infection, but the results weren't statistically significant. “We designed the clinical development program for Paxlovid to be comprehensive and ambitious with the aim of being able to help combat COVID-19 in a very broad population of patients," Albert Bourla, PhD, Pfizer's chairman and CEO, said in the announcement. “While we are disappointed in the outcome of this particular study, these results do not impact the strong efficacy and safety data we've observed in our earlier trial for the treatment of COVID-19 patients at high risk of developing severe illness," he said. The trial included nearly 3,000 adults who were living with someone who recently tested positive for COVID-19 and had symptoms. The people in the trial, who tested negative and didn't have symptoms, were either given Paxlovid twice daily for 5 or 10 days or a placebo. The study recruitment began in September 2021 and was completed during the peak of the Omicron wave. WebMDExternal Link

    Queer youth much likelier to have considered or attempted suicide during pandemic than their peers

    2 May- Queer high-school students were far more likely to have attempted or seriously considered suicide during the pandemic than their peers, according to recently released data collected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly half of respondents who identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual said they had seriously thought about suicide, while one in four lesbian, gay or bisexual youth reported attempting it, the agency found. The survey did not collect responses for transgender youth, instead allowing youth to identify as "other or questioning." The findings were part of an alarming larger picture illustrating the stark mental and emotional health effects that plagued youth nationwide as the pandemic forced schools to close and saddled families with isolation, economic hardship, illness and loss. “I don't think we can underestimate this," said Leslie McMurray, transgender education and advocacy associate for Resource Center, an LGBT community resource based in Dallas. “Kids don't have the perspective of someone older, who can say to themselves that things will be better down the road. What causes people to harm themselves is losing hope." As in other cities across the country, the pandemic forced the Dallas center to indefinitely shut down its in-person LGBTQ youth programs, including a drop-in center for middle and high school kids and a weekly dinner for LGBTQ kids and their families. Both have since resumed, though not at previous levels, she said. “If students lived with families who were not identity-affirming and had to learn from home, there was no escape from that," McMurray said. “They may have been stuck with parents who were vehemently opposed to how they identified." The CDC said concerns about the pandemic's economic, social and behavioral effects on youth prompted its one-time “Adolescent Behaviors and Experiences" survey. The agency collected anonymous responses from more than 7,700 public and private high-school students from January to June 2021.

    USA TodayExternal Link

    The tick that makes people allergic to red meat is in D.C.

    1 May- Our recent warm weather has reawakened ticks, and one type in particular is becoming more common in the D.C. area: the lone star tick. One bite from this tick, which is easily identified by the white spot on its back if it's a female, can cause a life-long adverse reaction to eating red meat. The lone star tick originated in the southern states but has spread north and west to cover much of the eastern half of the country. With a warming climate, more ticks survive the winter months, and their range is expanding. Unlike the black-legged (deer) tick, the lone star tick doesn't transmit Lyme disease, but it can produce a severe food allergy in people known as alpha-gal syndrome, which is an allergy to red meat. When lone star ticks feed on mammals, such as mice, rabbits or deer, they ingest alpha-gal sugars. Later, if the ticks bite and feed on humans, they inject the alpha-gal sugars with their saliva into their human host. Because people don't have alpha-gal in their bodies, the human immune system recognizes alpha-gal from a tick bite as a foreign substance and mounts a response, including the development of antibodies. Often, the bite site becomes swollen and itchy. The Washington PostExternal Link 

    Vegetarian and meat-eating children have similar growth and nutrition but not weight, study finds

    2 May- If you're wondering how your child might fare on a vegetarian diet, a new study offers some factors to consider. Children eating a vegetarian diet and children who ate meat were similar in terms of growth, height and nutritional measures, but vegetarian children had higher odds of being underweight, according to a study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics. "Over the last 20 years we have seen growing popularity of plant-based diets and a changing food environment with more access to plant-based alternatives, however we have not seen the research into the nutritional outcomes of children following vegetarian diets in Canada," said Dr. Jonathon Maguire, the study's lead author and a pediatrician at St. Michael's Hospital of Unity Health Toronto, in a news release. The authors used data from nearly 9,000 children who were between 6 months and 8 years old and had participated in the TARGet Kids! Cohort between 2008 and 2019. TARGet Kids! is a primary care practice-based research network and cohort study in Toronto. Details on the diets these children ate were according to their parents, who answered whether their children were vegetarian (which included vegans) or non-vegetarian. During each health supervision visit over the years, research assistants for TARGet Kids! measured participants' body-mass index, weight, height, cholesterol levels, triglycerides, vitamin D levels and serum ferritin levels. Ferritin is a cell protein that stores iron and enables the body to use iron when needed, so a ferritin test indirectly measures blood iron levels, according to Mount Sinai Health System. CNNExternal Link


    CDC:  Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report

    Key Updates for Week 16, ending April 23, 2022:

    - Influenza activity varies by region. Influenza activity continues to increase in some areas of the country.

    - The first human detection of avian influenza A(H5) in the U.S. was reported this week.

    - The majority of influenza viruses detected are A(H3N2). H3N2 viruses identified so far this season are genetically closely related to the vaccine virus. Antigenic data show that the majority of the H3N2 viruses characterized are antigenically different from the vaccine reference viruses. While the number of B/Victoria viruses circulating this season is small, the majority of the B/Victoria viruses characterized are antigenically similar to the vaccine reference virus.

    - The percentage of outpatient visits due to respiratory illness remained stable compared to last week and is below baseline. Influenza is contributing to levels of respiratory illness, but other respiratory viruses are also circulating. The relative contribution of influenza varies by location.

    - The number of hospital admissions reported to HHS Protect has increased each week for the past 12 weeks.

    - The cumulative hospitalization rate in the FluSurv-NET system is higher than the end-of-seasons rates for the 2020-2021 and 2011-2012 seasons, but lower than the rate seen at this time during the four seasons preceding the COVID-19 pandemic.

    - One influenza-associated pediatric death was reported this week. There have been 23 pediatric deaths reported this season.

    - CDC estimates that, so far this season, there have been at least 5.3 million flu illnesses, 53,000 hospitalizations, and 3,200 deaths from flu.

    - An annual flu vaccine is the best way to protect against flu. Vaccination can prevent serious outcomes in people who get vaccinated but still get sick. CDC continues to recommend that everyone ages 6 months and older get a flu vaccine as long as flu activity continues.

    - There are also prescription flu antiviral drugs that can be used to treat flu illness. CDCExternal Link


    FSA voices concerns over effectiveness of Kinder recall; says candy may still be on sale

    4 May- The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has raised concerns that potentially contaminated chocolate produced by Ferrero could still be on sale. As many as 200 people across Europe have been sickened in an outbreak linked to the candy. The authority said it was worried about the reach and efficacy of the product withdrawal and recall of Kinder products and reminded people that a range of Kinder Egg's and Schoko-Bon's should not be eaten. Products have been recalled because of an outbreak of monophasic Salmonella typhimurium. There are 76 patients in the United Kingdom, with most of those sick being children younger than 5 years old. Up to 200 people are affected across Europe with one patient in the United States. A total of 49 of 116 cases were hospitalized and 88 of 101 interviewed sick people in 10 countries reported eating various Ferrero chocolate products. Affected products are Kinder Surprise 20-gram; Kinder Surprise 20-gram x 3 pack; Kinder Surprise 100-gram; Kinder Mini Eggs 75-gram; Kinder Egg Hunt Kit 150-gram; and Kinder Schokobons 70-gram, 200-gram and 320-gram and should not be eaten regardless of best before dates. Earlier recalls didn't cover all dates or all of these products. The update includes all Kinder products manufactured at the Arlon site in Belgium from June 2021. Retailers are being urged to make sure they have removed these Kinder products from store shelves. FSA contacted local councils so they could raise awareness and inform all residents, small independent shops and franchise chain retailers about the serious recall. Elizabeth Blaney, from Derby City Council, advised people not to take the risk. Food Safety NewsExternal Link

    H-E-B recalling brownie bites after consumer complaints about metal pieces

    3 May- H-E-B has initiated a recall for two brownie products because of the potential for metal fragments in the products, following consumer complaints. The company recall, posted by the Food and Drug Administration, involves H-E-B Bakery brand “Two Bite Brownies" and H-E-B brand “Simply Delicious Cookies with Brownie Bites Party Trays." “The potentially affected products were manufactured by an outside supplier and distributed only to H-E-B and Joe V's Smart Shop stores in Texas and Mexico," according to the recall notice. The company reports that all products related to this recall have been removed from store shelves. H-E-B made the decision to issue a recall upon investigation of two consumer complaints. There is concern that consumers may have unused portions of the recalled products in their homes. Consumers can use the following labeling information to determine whether they have the products on hand.  “Customers who purchased the items should stop eating the product and can return it to the store for a full refund," according to the recall notice.  Customers with any questions or concerns may contact H-E-B Customer Service at 855-432-4438. Food Safety NewsExternal Link


    Helping your child to cope with grief and losses related to COVID-19

    28 April- More than 140,000 American children have suffered the loss of a parent or caregiver due to COVID-19, according to a recent study. COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death among Americans last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, so many children have also lost extended family members or close family friends. And death is not the only form of loss that children have faced. Children of all ages have experienced the loss of friendships through physical separation. They've missed out on social experiences and milestones like in-person schooling, sports seasons, proms, or even graduations. How can parents help their children through the grieving process? "Children of different ages react to death differently," said Army Capt. (Dr.) Christin Folker, a pediatrician at Weed Army Community Hospital at Fort Irwin, California. "Infants and toddlers will notice the absence of a caregiver or sense that something is wrong and that others are upset," she said. "Even without understanding the concept of death, their brain development is influenced by these stressful experiences, promoting a stronger 'fight-or-flight' response to future stressors." In preschool and early school-age years, "children may believe that death is temporary and that their loved one will come back," said Army Capt. (Dr.) Cory McFadden, a staff pediatrician at the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, Fort Hood, Texas. "The younger that a child is when he or she experiences the loss of a loved one, the more they will struggle with the finality of death. It will take time for them to understand that the person is no longer alive," he said. "Because of this difficulty with understanding, they will in general grieve a little quicker and bounce back," he suggested. Folker explained how younger children may struggle with a wide range of emotions. "They also may believe that they are in some way to blame for the death if they misbehaved or got angry with that loved one," Folker said. "A more concrete understanding of the causes and absolute nature of death begins in school age years," she explained. "Adolescents will process losses more similarly to adults, but many are processing these experiences and their accompanying strong emotions for the first time." Health.milExternal Link


    Niger to vaccinate children against malaria

    29 April- The Nigerian government has given the go-ahead to administer the British malaria vaccine to children under the age of five to combat the disease, which killed more than 4,000 people in 2021 alone. "In the coming months, this vaccine will reach Niger and measures are already being taken," the country's health minister, Illiassou Maïnassara told the AFP. A communiqué from the Council of Ministers confirmed this announcement, indicating that Niger was among "the countries eligible by the World Health Organisation (WHO)". On 9 October 2021, the WHO had recommended the massive deployment among children of "RTS,S", a vaccine from the British pharmaceutical giant GSK, the only one that has so far shown effectiveness in significantly reducing the most severe cases of malaria. In 2019, Ghana, Kenya and Malawi began introducing the vaccine in selected areas. More than one million children have received the vaccine in these countries, showing a "substantial reduction in severe cases", according to the WHO. In Niger, "an authorisation to bring in" this vaccine has already been granted to partners including WHO and UNICEF, according to Minister Maïnassara. The "RTS,S" acts against the parasite "plasmodium falciparum", transmitted by mosquitoes, the most deadly worldwide and the most prevalent in Africa. About 90% of the world's malaria cases are in Africa, where 260,000 children die each year. Last year in Niger, 4,170 people died of malaria, and more than 4 million cases were reported. According to Dr Djermakoye Hadiza Jackou, coordinator of the National Malaria Control Programme in Niger (PNLP), the vaccine is "an opportunity to reduce mortality and morbidity" in children aged 0 to 5 years, "who represent more than 50% of cases" and "nearly 60% of deaths". Africa NewsExternal Link


    Pakistan: First Naegleria fowleri death recorded in 2022 in Sindh

    2 May- Officials with the Sindh Health Department are reporting the first death due to primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) caused by Naegleria fowleri in 2022, according to a report in The News. The patient was a 59-year-old man from Kemari. The health authorities said that since 2011, around 90 people died due to PAM caused by Naegerlia fowleri in Karachi. They added that overhead and underground water tanks in the city had become reservoirs for the microscopic organism causing the deadly disease. Naegleria fowleri can be killed by chlorinating water but the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board has failed to properly chlorinate water before supplying it to houses. “Samples analyzed from all city areas confirmed fecal contamination of water being supplied by the KWSB. No trace of chlorine was found in the water samples tested by us," an official of the health department said. Outbreak News TodayExternal Link


    Obesity rates have reached epidemic levels in Europe

    3 May- The new WHO European Regional Obesity Report 2022 reveals that overweight and obesity rates have reached epidemic proportions across the region. It has been revealed that in the European region, 59% of adults and almost one in three children (29% of boys and 27% of girls) are overweight or living with obesity. Obesity rates for adults in the European Region are higher than in any other WHO region except for America. Overweight and obesity are amongst the leading causes of death and disability in the European region, with recent estimates suggesting they cause more than 1.2 million deaths annually, corresponding to more than 13% of total mortality in the region. The report was presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Maastricht, Netherlands. To address the growing obesity rates in Europe, the WHO report outlines a variety of interventions and policy options that Member States can consider preventing and tackling the condition, with an emphasis on recovering after the COVID-19 pandemic. “Obesity knows no borders. In the Europe and Central Asia regions, no single country is going to meet the WHO Global NCD target of halting the rise of obesity," said Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe. “The countries in our region are incredibly diverse, but everyone is challenged to some degree. By creating environments that are more enabling, promoting investment and innovation in health, and developing strong and resilient health systems, we can change the trajectory of obesity in the region." Health EuropaExternal Link


    China's COVID-19 battle continues in 2 key hot spots

    2 May- With Shanghai's lockdown in effect for about a month, cases are slowly declining, but health officials are alarmed about more infections reported outside of quarantine facilities. Meanwhile, cases are still rising in Beijing, where health officials continue to tighten measures. Meanwhile, in the United States, cases continue to grow, especially in the Northeast, though the level of hospitalizations and deaths are still low. In Shanghai, cases have been declining since the middle April, raising hopes among frustrated residents. After going 2 days with no new cases outside of quarantine settings, the city reported 58 such cases, signaling a setback for control efforts, according to Reuters. City officials have had an aggressive policy about quarantining people and their contacts, sometimes separating parents from children, which resulted in pushback from citizens. Meanwhile, authorities in Beijing imposed restrictions over the Labor Day 5-day holiday celebration, which is typically a busy travel season. Over the weekend, restaurants were barred from indoor dining, and workers and students will be required to be tested for COVID-19 before returning to work or school after the holiday, according to CNN. The holiday started on Apr 30. China's National Health Commission (NHC) today reported 7,741 new local cases, 6,895 of them asymptomatic. Of the symptomatic cases, 85% are from Shanghai, and, of the asymptomatic ones, 95% are from Shanghai. Beijing recorded 36 new symptomatic cases, along with 5 asymptomatic ones. The country reported 32 more deaths, all in Shanghai. CIDRAPExternal Link


    The U.S. should prepare for a predictable Southern summer surge of Covid-19, Birx says

    1 May- The US should prepare for a possible summer surge of Covid-19 cases across Southern states, former White House Coronavirus Response Task Force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx told CBS on Sunday morning. It's now predictable that the South will see surges in the summer and Northern states will see surges in the winter -- especially around the holidays, Birx said. Birx said she closely follows data out of South Africa, which has recently seen a rise in new Covid-19 cases. "Each of these surges are about four to six months apart. That tells me that natural immunity wanes enough in the general population after four to six months -- that a significant surge is going to occur again," Birx told "Face the Nation." "This is what we have to be prepared for in this country. We should be preparing right now for a potential surge in the summer across the Southern United States because we saw it in 2020 and we saw it in 2021." Public health officials need to make clear to the public that protection against the infection wanes over time, and precautions should be taken with vulnerable or compromised people, said Birx. She said Covid-19 home testing kits and booster shots are critical tools to help Americans handle surges. Birx's warning comes as US cases are again rising with the spread of another Omicron strain, the BA.2 subvariant. The seven-day average of US cases was almost 54,000 Saturday, up from about 49,000 a week earlier and almost 31,000 a month ago. Nearly 60% of adults and 75% of children have antibodies indicating that they've been infected with Covid-19, according to new data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is unclear what that means for protection against future infections, health experts say, and for that reason, the CDC says it is still important to stay up to date on Covid-19 vaccinations and boosters. CNNExternal Link


    Peru: Months after huge earthquake, survivors feel abandoned

    2 May- In this isolated jungle region some 1,200km north of the Peruvian capital, hundreds of people are still homeless after a huge earthquake last November triggered landslides and flooding. Communities along the turbulent Utcubamba and Maranon rivers lost everything: their homes, livelihoods, schools and health centres. In elections a year ago, this area was part of the rural political heartland of Pedro Castillo, the leftist politician who assumed the presidency last July. But today, many are blaming Castillo's government for their ongoing predicament. Soon after the earthquake, Castillo and an array of ministers landed by helicopter in the rural community of Santa Rosa, some 120km west of Bagua, and promised displaced residents that they would be airlifted to a safe, temporary shelter. But when community members were dropped by helicopter next to a football stadium outside Bagua, nothing had been set up; it was not until a day later that a few tents and some water were delivered, locals told Al Jazeera. “The president said we would be here for a maximum of two months," Nelly, a single mother of two, told Al Jazeera from inside her tent earlier this month. “We trusted him, which is why we are here." Beyond the tents, all other supplies for displaced residents – such as toilets, showers, water tanks and cash transfers for essential goods – have been provided by international NGOs, such as Save the Children. Those affected by the earthquake say they are frustrated by the lack of government aid. Al JazeeraExternal Link