Army Public Health Weekly Update, 06 November 2020

Date Published: 11/13/2020
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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-specific Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information

    Get all the Army-specific information and communication resources related to COVID-19 from the Army Public Health Center. APHC


    Army distributes 1.6 million flu vaccines, reaffirms importance during COVID-19 fight

    3 November- With the annual flu season now upon us, the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency is working to distribute nearly 1.6 million doses of influenza vaccine to protect Soldiers, their Families and retirees. USAMMA's Distribution Operations Center, or DOC, oversees the yearly distribution of the vaccine to active-duty and reserve Soldiers, as well as civilian staff and Family members. The Army makes up the majority of doses ordered throughout the Department of Defense. As of Oct. 28, roughly half of the Army's doses had been shipped, heading to destinations across the U.S. and abroad. DOC officials plan to have distribution completed by the end of November. USAMMA is a direct reporting unit to Army Medical Logistics Command. The agency's DOC provides coordination and tracking for select temperature sensitive medical products, like the flu vaccine. It also conducts training for logistical and medical units to ensure proper distribution and storage practices for those products. Lt. Col. Todd Reeder, USAMMA's pharmacy consultant and DOC director, said there has been a significant push throughout the Army and DOD to raise awareness about the importance of getting a flu shot, especially this year due to influenza symptoms mimicking those of COVID-19. "Having the flu shot will assist health care personnel in determining the possible cause of a patient's symptoms," he said. Patients that go to the emergency room with flu-like symptoms will still be tested for both illnesses, but "the hope is that the severity of symptoms from the flu will be much less" with a vaccine and won't add to the symptoms of COVID-19 in the unlikely event a patient catches both, Reeder said. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it's unclear to what extent SARS-CoV-2 -- the scientific name of the novel coronavirus strain that causes the disease called COVID-19 -- will circulate over the 2020-21 flu season. External Link

    Pride in the patch! Army Medicine is ready and responsive

    29 October- Fort Lee, Virginia — We have Pride in the Patch! The Soldiers of Army Medicine proudly represent the patch no matter where they serve. Lt. Col. Rodger I. Voltin — and his entire staff — have pride in the Army Medicine patch. Voltin is the Commander of Bull Dental Clinic, Fort Lee, Virginia. "I take a tremendous amount of pride in being in the U.S. Army Dental Corps," said Voltin, who came to the Army after 17 years in private practice. "The Dental Corps immediately imbued me with a sense of purpose, camaraderie, and fulfillment," Voltin said, "I became a better practitioner and experienced a renewed vigor in my vocation by incorporating the Army's values into my professional and personal life. But, by far, the greatest quality and benefit the Dental Corps offers is the opportunity to join a truly elite team bound together by a common mission." Voltin is a former enlisted M1 Abrams tanker (19K) in the 1st Squadron, 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment. He said, "I feel the same bonds of kinship now with my command and care provision teams as I felt then with my brothers-in-arms. Through our team efforts, we enable the nation's warfighters to stand ready to answer the call of duty and when called upon prevail victoriously. I can think of no greater purpose or honor as a health care team member than to not just attend to the needs of our patients, but to those of our country." For Soldiers in Army Medicine, Pride in the Patch is demonstrated by mission-focused Soldiers and Civilians who are ready, trained, capable, developed, and competent leaders. Pride in the Patch validates how Soldiers and Civilians are modernizing and shaping the future to remain relevant to the Army. Pride in the Patch is shown by responsive Soldiers and Civilians supporting the Army worldwide. The shoulder sleeve insignia that is the source of Army Medicine pride was originally approved for the U.S. Army Health Services Command in January 1973; the description and symbolism were amended in May 1975, and the patch was re-designated for the Army Medical Command in October 1994. Army Medicine is the nation's premier expeditionary and globally integrated medical force ready to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. DVIDS Hub External Link

    Censored for success: Fort Drum Soldiers participate in performance optimization research

    29 October- Soldiers with from 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI) ran through a 200-meter stress shoot course Oct. 28 to test their speed, accuracy and decision-making ability under pressure. It wasn't what they did that was new, but what they wore. More than 530 Soldiers from 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI) have donned the latest in wearable sensory technology to participate in a yearlong human performance study. It's called the MASTR-E, or Measuring and Advancing Soldier Tactical Readiness and Effectiveness, program, which leverages existing technology to track physical and physiological data during the Soldiers' daily activities. "Some of the things we are looking at are physical exertion and training load, sleep and recovery," said George Matook, MASTR-E program manager for U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center (CCDC SC). "And if you can tie those basic things together, then you can get a picture of how they are training, how hard they are training, and (whether) they are training too much. Are they sleeping enough ahead of a training event – going into it already at a deficit, or are they really getting ready for an event? This allows you to start managing movement and maneuver, and mission command, when they get out in the field." Matook said that the study went from concept to full operational capability within six months. "We were able to fully equip the Soldiers with the hardware and the software – it's athlete management software that ties all the data into as usable form, basically," he said. Matook said that the devices – smart watch, ring and heart rate monitor – collects data to include resting heart rate, changes in body temperature, respiratory rate, sleep cycles and activity levels. It can also be used to screen and triage for infection and illness. He said that Soldiers are encouraged to wear them even when they are off duty. "Because this is research, it's all on a volunteer basis. We're not saying you must, we're saying it would be helpful if you could wear these all the time," Matook said. "We have noticed they are wearing them on the weekends, which is great to see. They'll tag that they're going on a hike, and that'll create a workout profile on the watch and capture all that data." While the Soldiers were rotating through a stress shoot course, the research team followed close behind to monitor the activity being recorded from the sensors. External Link

    Service member suicide prevention: Why the military must end the stigma on mental health

    31 October- Earlier this month, the Department of Defense released a report stating a devastating 498 service members died by suicide in 2019. As a former active duty service member and a military spouse, we have witnessed the annual suicide prevention training, participated in the numerous push-up challenges to promote awareness, seen the ribbons hung around base during suicide prevention week, we have read the emails, and yet we have seen first-hand, that none of this was enough. Not enough to prevent the 498 service member suicides in 2019, the 543 suicides in 2018 or the 513 suicides in 2017, as reported by the DoD. The stigma around mental health in the military creates an environment where service members experience anxiety due to a fear that seeking help could end their career. "Will it mean my leadership and peers think I'm crazy?" "Could this hinder my promotion?" Will I make the next deployment?" The military has a mission-first approach, and the mental health of their service members is an afterthought. In fact, the DoD did not begin keeping a record of service member suicides until after 9/11. Tragically, just last week, a Navy sailor assigned to the USS Theodore Roosevelt in San Diego, California, ended his life while standing a security watch on the pier. Per the Navy Suicide Prevention Handbook, annual suicide prevention training is mandatory. So this raises the question: Are the facilitators leading the conversation effectively? Are they getting through to everyone in the room? According to the 2020 Executive Order number 13861, more veterans, Guardsmen, active-duty members, and reservists die by suicide every year than those killed in action while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2001 to 2014 combined. It doesn't stop there. Last month, Time magazine released an article stating the U.S military suicide rates have increased as much as 20 percent since the current global pandemic. As stated in Instruction Number 6490.05, it is DoD policy that "The Military Departments' leadership shall foster an environment and climate of prevention and protection to enhance operational performance and mitigate the potential physical and psychological consequences of combat exposure and other military operational stress." However, it is our experience, that any service member we know who has sought out mental health services has felt anything but fostered. Military Times External Link

    Veterans have higher rates of insomnia than non-Veterans

    31 October- Veterans experience insomnia at "alarmingly high" rates, according to a recent study from the Department of Veterans Affairs in San Diego. The rate, the study found, was especially high among veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and chronic pain. The report, which was first published in the Oxford University medical journal "Sleep" in June, found that in a seven-year long study of over 5,500 Post-9/11 veterans, 57% of them had insomnia disorder. This rate was fairly consistent regardless of age, sex, race and military branch. The number of deployments, length of service or history of alcohol abuse did not affect the risk of insomnia. By way of comparison, studies of the general adult population show an insomnia prevalence of around 30%. Insomnia rates were even higher in veterans with certain conditions. More than 93% of veterans with PTSD, about 78% with TBI and 70% with chronic pain also had insomnia disorder. Insomnia is defined as difficulty falling or staying asleep, waking up earlier than desired, or significant sleep-related problems during the daytime. Doctors have long known that veterans frequently have sleep problems. Past research has suggested that they may have double or even triple the rates of insomnia, compared to civilians. This could stem from several aspects of military life, including irregular sleep schedules during active duty and harsh living conditions. Physical and psychological injury and post-deployment trouble reintegrating into civilian life may also play a part. The researchers were surprised by the results of the study because a review of VA medical records showed that only 3% of all veterans enrolled in VA healthcare report sleep related problems, a big difference from the study's results. External Link


    Algorithm spots 'Covid cough' inaudible to humans

    2 November- An algorithm developed in the US has correctly identified people with Covid-19 only by the sound of their coughs. In tests, it achieved a 98.5% success rate among people who had received an official positive coronavirus test result, rising to 100% in those who had no other symptoms. The researchers would need regulatory approval to develop it into an app. They said the crucial difference in the sound of an asymptomatic-Covid-patient cough could not be heard by human ears. The artificial-intelligence (AI) algorithm was built at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) lab. MIT scientist Brian Subirana, who co-authored the paper, published in the IEEE Journal of Engineering in Medicine and Biology, said: "The way you produce sound changes when you have Covid, even if you're asymptomatic." "Practical use cases could be for daily screening of students, workers and public, as schools, jobs, and transport reopen, or for pool testing to quickly alert of outbreaks in groups," the report says. Several organizations, including Cambridge University, Carnegie Mellon University and UK health start-up Novoic, have been working on similar projects. BBC News External Link

    Confronting the notion that face masks reduce COVID 'dose'

    2 November- When two physicians at the University of California at San Francisco published a commentary in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) on Sep 8 proposing to resurrect the 18th century practice of variolation using face coverings to prevent severe COVID-19 and confer immunity, the Internet lit up with headlines such as "Coronavirus: Another reason for that mask: You'll get less sick." The paper, written by Monica Gandhi, MD, MPH, and George Rutherford, MD, suggested that face coverings, in the absence of a vaccine, could reduce the inhaled dose of coronavirus by filtering some virus-containing droplets, leading to asymptomatic or mild disease and stimulating T- and B-cell immunity. Concerned that the piece, its positioning in a top medical journal, and the resulting media coverage would embolden people to abandon physical distancing and other public health measures in favor of only wearing face coverings, scientists warned against the practice in two letters to the editor in the same journal on Oct 23. CIDRAP External Link

    Hopes of eradicating Hepatitis C virus accelerate

    3 November- This year, Michael Houghton, Harvey Alter, and Charles Rice were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of the hepatitis C virus (HCV). It's equally important to recognize the rigorous methods employed by these scientists, stated an editorial published by The Lancet on October 29, 2020. 'Science is not an end but a means to achieve a greater purpose.' The Nobel committee also credited this discovery with the later development of diagnostic tests and curative treatments for an HCV liver infection and issued a challenge, "For the first time in history, the disease can now be cured, raising hopes of eradicating Hepatitis C virus from the world population". 'In 2020, only 20% of people infected with HCV are diagnosed, and a smaller fraction is treated and cured. The barrier to sufficient HCV testing and treatment is no longer on the scientific. In fact, all the pieces are in place to eliminate HCV, save one: financing,' concluded this editorial. To confront this issue, the U.S. CDC now recommends 1-time hepatitis C testing of all adults and all pregnant women during every pregnancy. Precision Vaccinations External Link

    Hospital floors are often contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria

    30 October- According to a study published on Friday by Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology magazine, hospital room floors are quickly and frequently contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria within hours of a patient moving in. The floors of almost half of the rooms of 17 newly admitted patients in the Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System tested positive for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, within the first 24 hours, the data showed. In addition, up to 60% of the floors in the rooms showed signs of Clostridioides difficile, or C. diff., and vancomycin-resistant Enterococci, or AER, within four days of admission, the researchers said. The contaminated floors in these rooms effectively create a transmission route for these potentially dangerous bugs, they said. "Our findings are based on growing evidence that soils may be an underestimated source of pathogen spread," said co-author of the study, Dr. Curtis Donskey. Although "cleaning and disinfection of hospitals has improved significantly in recent years, there may be ways to further reduce the risk to patients by considering transmission routes that have not received as much attention," said Donskey, a hospital epidemiologist at the Cleveland VA Medical Center. The Washington Newsday External Link

    Neuroscientists find brain circuit that link declining motivation to learn with aging

    1 November- Neuroscientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) published a study in Cell on October 27 identified the cause of the declining motivation to learn among elderly. MIT Institute Professor Ann Graybiel said that it is harder to keep a "get-up-and-go attitude" as people age. "This get-up-and-go, or engagement, is important for our social well-being and for learning - it's tough to learn if you aren't attending and engaged," added Graybiel who is also a member of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research and the study's senior author, according to a SciTech Daily report. Tech Times External Link

    Postpartum depression may last 3 years after childbirth, study finds

    28 October- Intense sadness, hopelessness and anxiety among new mothers may last up to three years after childbirth, according to a new study. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) says postpartum depression may persist after the recommended timeline for screening, citing the American Academy of Pediatrics' guidance that doctors screen women for postpartum depression several times up to six months after birth. "Our study indicates that six months may not be long enough to gauge depressive symptoms," Diane Putnick, primary author and staff scientist in the NICHD Epidemiology Branch, said in a news release. "These long-term data are key to improving our understanding of mom's mental health, which we know is critical to her child's well-being and development." Fox News External Link

    The 'dose' of coronavirus a person gets may determine how sick they get; masks could help

    2 November- "The dose makes the poison" is an adage credited to Paracelsus, a Swiss physician-philosopher from the early Renaissance. Basically, it means that any substance can become toxic if given at a high enough concentration. Even too much water can throw off your electrolytes and be potentially fatal. Viewing the coronavirus through that lens -- that the "dose" of the virus you receive might make the difference between being asymptomatic, getting mildly sick or becoming critically ill -- may be helpful when thinking about protection against Covid-19 as the colder temperatures arrive and cases spike. CNN External Link

    U.S. scientists develop nanoparticle COVID-19 vaccine that makes immune response 10x stronger

    3 November- Researchers from the University of Washington (UW) School of Medicine claimed that a newly developed "nanoparticle" coronavirus vaccine can fight future mutated strains more effectively than other vaccines. They also explained that it can make your immune system ten times stronger than the immune responses seen in COVID-19 survivors.  According to Sci-Tech Daily's latest report, the scientists used UW Medicine's structure-based vaccine design to develop the new COVID-19 drug. It can display 60 copies of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein's receptor-binding domain in a highly immunogenic array. The self-assembling protein nanoparticle can also provoke a strong memory cell response, helping the body remember the invading viral particles and produce antibodies faster. Tech Times External Link


    WHO: Influenza update

    26 October 2020, based on data up to 11 October 2020:

    - The current influenza surveillance data should be interpreted with caution as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have influenced to varying extents health seeking behaviors, staffing/routines in sentinel sites, as well as testing priorities and capacities in Member States. The various hygiene and physical distancing measures implemented by Member States to reduce SARS-CoV-2 virus transmission have likely played a role in reducing influenza virus transmission.

    - Globally, despite continued or even increased testing for influenza in some countries influenza activity remained at lower levels than expected for this time of the year.

    - In the temperate zone of the northern hemisphere, influenza activity remained below inter-seasonal levels, though influenza detections were reported in some countries.

    - In the temperate zones of the southern hemisphere, the influenza season remained low or below baseline overall. Very few influenza detections were reported across countries.

    - In the Caribbean and Central American countries, there were no influenza detections reported. Severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) activity, likely due to COVID-19, decreased in most reporting countries.

    - In tropical South America, there were no influenza detections across reporting countries.

    - In tropical Africa, influenza activity was reported in Côte d'Ivoire and Mali.

    - In Southern Asia there were sporadic influenza detections across reporting countries.

    - In South East Asia, increased influenza detections were reported in Cambodia and Lao People's Democratic Republic (PDR).

    - Worldwide, of the very low numbers of detections reported, seasonal influenza A(H3N2) viruses accounted for the majority of detections. WHO External Link


    FSA warns of Salmonella risk in eggs

    29 October- The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has issued a warning about eggs that could be contaminated with Salmonella. The British Lion eggs were sold in some Sainsbury's, Aldi and Asda stores in England and Wales in packs of six, 10, 12, and 15. Affected mixed size, medium, large, and very large free-range eggs can be identified by the batch code 1UK15270 stamped on the eggshell and best before date from Oct. 30 to Nov. 5, 2020.  Salmonella has been found in the environment and the eggshell surface might also be contaminated. A statement from Sainsbury's said batches were only sold through certain stores in London and the South. "It has been brought to our attention that Salmonella has been detected on a farm supplying a limited number of batches of Sainsbury's eggs. This may make some of the eggs…unsafe to consume raw or lightly cooked. Whilst the eggs are safe to consume if cooked thoroughly and handled correctly, customers wishing to return the affected batches to their nearest Sainsbury's store may do so and will receive a full refund." Since mid-June 2020, 23 people have been infected with a strain of Salmonella Enteritis's which is linked to poultry products, primarily table eggs, in the UK. Since the beginning of this year, there have been 38 cases reported in England and Wales. Public Health England, the FSA, and Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) investigated the incident, and the FSA, APHA, and UK egg industry took steps to reduce the risk of salmonellosis to the public. Food Safety News External Link

    Hundreds poisoned in France from wild mushrooms

    4 November- French authorities have renewed warnings about eating wild mushrooms after hundreds of poisoning cases in the past few months. The French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES) reported that since the start of the mushroom-picking season in early autumn, poison control centers have recorded a sharp increase in cases, particularly in recent weeks. Poisoning risks include confusion of an edible type with a toxic species, or consumption of edible mushrooms that are in poor condition, undercooked, or have been incorrectly stored. Most cases are due to foraged mushrooms but occasionally they are because of the purchase at a market or in a shop, or consumption in a restaurant. Food Safety News External Link


    Weight training may help ease anxiety

    4 November- Roiled by concerns about the pandemic and politics? Lifting weights might help, according to a timely new study of anxiety and resistance training. The study, which involved healthy young adults, barbells and lunges, indicates that regular weight training substantially reduces anxiety, a finding with particular relevance during these unsettling, bumpy days. We already have plenty of evidence that exercise helps stave off depression and other mental ills, and that exercise can elevate feelings of happiness and contentment. But most past studies of exercise and moods have looked at the effects of aerobic exercise, like running on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike. Scientists only recently have begun to investigate whether and how weight training might also affect mental health. A 2018 review of studies, for instance, concluded that adults who lift weights are less likely to develop depression than those who never lift. In another study, women with clinical anxiety disorders reported fewer symptoms after taking up either aerobic or weight training. But many of these studies involved frequent and complicated sessions of resistance exercise performed under the eyes of researchers, which is not how most of us are likely to work out. They also often focused on somewhat narrow groups, such as men or women with a diagnosed mental health condition like depression or an anxiety disorder, limiting their applicability. The New York Times External Link


    Africa: Over 2,300 critical Covid-19 cases across continent after more than 17 million tests

    4 November- As of November 04, the confirmed cases of Covid-19 from 55 African countries have reached 1,814,278. Reported deaths in Africa have reached 43,705 and recoveries 1,481,303. 2,370 cases are critical and 17,048,756 tests have been performed. South Africa has the most reported cases - 728,836, with deaths numbering 19,539. Other most-affected countries include Morocco (229,565), Egypt (108,122), Ethiopia (97,502), Libya (63,688) and Nigeria (63,173). The numbers are compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (world map) using statistics from the World Health Organization and other international institutions as well national and regional public health departments. For the latest totals, see the AllAfrica clickable map with per-country numbers. All Africa External Link


    Saudi Arabia to remove key restrictions on foreign workers

    4 November- Saudi Arabia will ease foreign workers' contractual restrictions, including the freedom to change jobs, the kingdom's deputy minister for human resources has said. The plans, which will take effect in March 2021, include foreign workers' right to leave the country without employers' permission, Abdullah bin Nasser Abuthunain told reporters on Wednesday. The aim is to improve Saudi Arabia's labour market attractiveness, Abuthunain added. Restrictions in Saudi Arabia have tied millions of low-paid and vulnerable migrant workers to their employers in conditions that have been rife with abuse and exploitation. The Ministry of Human Resource and Social Development said the reforms will allow foreign workers the right to change jobs by transferring their sponsorship from one employer to another, leave and re-enter the country and secure final exit visas without the consent of their employer, which had long been required. The new so-called "Labour Relation Initiative" will affect approximately 10 million foreign workers in the kingdom, about a third of Saudi Arabia's total population. Human Rights Watch researcher Rothna Begum said the information provided thus far shows Saudi authorities are removing some elements of the "kafala" sponsorship system in place across multiple Gulf Arab states that tie foreign workers' legal status to their employer. Qatar, which is preparing to host the next FIFA World Cup in 2022, has recently introduced similar changes to its labour laws. Begum described the three changes to the Saudi law as "significant steps that could improve migrant workers' conditions", but cautioned it does not appear to be a full abolition of the "kafala" system. Al Jazeera External Link


    Schistosomiasis case reported in Germany, Travel history to Corsica

    31 October- In a report posted on the infectious disease website, ProMED-Mail Friday, officials in Munich reported a case of  urogenital schistosomiasis in a 49-year-old German man with no history of travel outside the European continent. The case presented with symptoms of macrohematuria (gross blood in the urine) this past summer and was diagnosed with Schistosoma haematobium/S. bovis hybrid. While he had no travel history outside Europe, he did travel to Corsica Island, southeast of mainland France twice, in 2019 and 2013. An outbreak of schistosomiasis was first reported in Corsica in 2014. Outbreak News Today External Link

    UK COVID-19: Cases top 1 million, Boris Johnson says 'You must stay at home'

    1 November- With cases rising rapidly in the United Kingdom, with more than 157,000 cases reported in the past week and topping one million total cases, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a month long lockdown. Johnson said Saturday, "And so now is the time to take action because there is no alternative. "From Thursday until the start of December, you must stay at home. "You may only leave home for specific reasons, including: "For education; For work, say if you cannot work from home; For exercise and recreation outdoors, with your household or on your own with one person from another household; For medical reasons, appointments and to escape injury or harm; To shop for food and essentials; And to provide care for vulnerable people, or as a volunteer. "I'm afraid non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment venues will all be closed – though click and collect services can continue and essential shops will remain open, so there is no need to stock up. "Pubs, bars, restaurants must close except for takeaway and delivery services. "Workplaces should stay open where people can't work from home – for example in the construction or manufacturing sectors. "Single adult households can still form exclusive support bubbles with one other household, and children will still be able to move between homes if their parents are separated." The UK joins other European countries in partial or full lockdowns as cases on the continent rise. Outbreak News Today External Link


    Australia: Shigella outbreak reported at Richmond State School in Townsville

    3 November- Townsville Public Health Unit is responding to a shigella outbreak at Richmond State School where there have been 12 confirmed cases. Shigella infection is a serious form of gastroenteritis caused by a bacterium that attacks the intestines leading to diarrhea, abdominal pain or cramps and fever. The illness is spread if you accidentally swallow the bacteria that is found in feces, usually through not washing your hands properly after going to the toilet or changing diapers. Townsville Public Health Unit physician, Dr. Julie Mudd said additional cleaning was being undertaken at Richmond School today as it is closed for a public holiday. Of the 12 cases, one was brought to Townsville University Hospital as a precaution and has since been discharged. The remaining 11 cases are recovering in the community. "We are expecting a few more cases to be confirmed over the coming days but usually this infection burns itself out pretty quickly if people are careful to reduce the spread," she said. "The message to the community is pretty simple and that is just to make hand hygiene a priority. "It is especially important for parents to supervise young children to make sure they are washing their hands well after going to the toilet." Dr. Mudd said public health had written to the school, local council and spoken with doctors at the local health service to ensure they are aware the illness was circulating the community. Outbreak News Today External Link

    Philippines COVID-19: DOH enhances reporting, 4 Manila facilities completed, PBA season

    31 October- The Department of Health (DOH) on Saturday reported an additional 1796 COVID-19 cases across the country, bringing the pandemic total to 380,729. Rizal and Davao City saw the most confirmed cases with 97 and 93, respectively. The number COVID-19 related deaths has risen to 7221. The DOH recently enhanced the format of the COVID-19 case bulletins to make it simple, compact, and easy to understand. The communications messages also prioritize relevant information, and call for action to guide the public on how to avoid and prevent the spread of COVID-19. According to Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Singh-Vergeire, these iterations in the reporting of case bulletins aim to maintain transparency in reporting the data. Through the information that the DOH will communicate, the public will be more informed and empowered as they conduct their daily affairs, instead of succumbing to fear, panic, and anxiety during the health crisis. Outbreak News Today External Link


    As U.S. COVID-19 cases break records, weekly deaths rise 3%

    2 November- The number of new COVID-19 cases in the United States hit another record high last week, rising 18% to more than 575,000, while deaths inched up 3%, according to a Reuters analysis of state and county reports. The number of new cases reported each week has risen for four straight weeks, with the biggest increases seen in the last two weeks. Nationally, nearly 5,800 people died of the virus in the seven days ended Nov. 1, bringing the total to over 230,000. Health experts say deaths tend to increase four to six weeks after a surge in infections.  Thirty-four out of 50 states have seen new cases increase for at least two weeks in a row, down from 36 the prior week. They include Florida, Ohio and Michigan — all hotly contested states for Tuesday's U.S. presidential election. New cases rose 60% in Pennsylvania, another crucial state. Texas reported the most new cases last week with over 45,600, followed by Illinois, which has half as many people, with over 44,500 new cases.  The United States performed 8.5 million COVID-19 tests last week, of which 6.8% came back positive for the new virus, compared with 6.3% the prior week, according to data from The COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer-run effort to track the outbreak. South Dakota led the nation with the highest positive test rate at 50%, followed by Iowa at 44% and Wyoming at 43%. A total of 17 states had a positive test rate of over 10%. The World Health Organization considers rates above 5% concerning because it suggests there are more cases in the community that have not yet been uncovered. Reuters External Link

    U.S. : Tennessee- Zoo Knoxville reports SARS-CoV-2 positive Malayan tiger

    1 November- Officials with Zoo Knoxville report that one Malayan tigers has tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. According to the zoo, Arya, a 6-year-old female and Bashir and Tanvir, 11-year-old males, exhibited mild coughing, lethargy and decrease in appetite, and were tested for a range of potential causes, including SARS-CoV-2. The initial test results for Bashir and Arya were communicated by the Runstadler Lab at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in Grafton, Massachusetts. Samples from Bashir have been confirmed as positive by the USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratories, based in Ames, Iowa, and confirmatory testing for the other two tigers is in process, but they are presumed positive. The tigers will be released from quarantine once they are symptom free for 72 hours and either all diagnostic tests are negative or 14 days have passed since the last positive test in accordance with CDC guidelines. Arya, Bashir and Tanvir are being cared for by the veterinary team from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine and are alert, active and no longer exhibiting symptoms. Zoo Knoxville is working with state and local animal and human health agencies to determine the source of the infection, which at this time is suspected to be an asymptomatically infected staff member working in close proximity to the tigers when caring for them. Outbreak News Today External Link


    Peru: COVID-19 cases top 900,000, 1st diphtheria case in Lima in 20 years

    1 November- Some 2323 confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported in Peru on Saturday, bringing the country total to 902,503.  Of the total number of confirmed cases, to date, 825,197 people completed their period of home isolation or were discharged from a health facility. To date, 34,476 COVID-19 related fatalities have been reported in Peru. The Deputy Minister of Public Health, Luis Suárez, reported that a diphtheria case in a 5-year-old girl from Lima had passed away after four days of hospitalization. The child died Friday night from cardiac arrest at the Dos de Mayo Hospital. This was the first case of diphtheria in Lima and Peru in 20 years, Suárez noted. The girl lived  in a "border area between Cercado de Lima and La Victoria", near the Manzanilla area. "She is a girl whose family hails from the department of Loreto, but has been in the city of Lima for a year, she had only received her birth vaccination , she had not received any vaccination again, that is, she is an unvaccinated girl", officials said. Outbreak News Today  External Link