Army Public Health Weekly Update, 08 April 2022

Date Published: 4/8/2022
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​The Army Public Health Update is a collection of articles taken from public sources to offer awareness of current health issues and the media coverage given to them. The articles do not necessarily represent U.S. Army Medical Command opinions, views, policy, or guidance, and should not be construed or interpreted as being endorsed by the U.S. Army Medical Command.

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

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Table of Contents

    ANNOUNCEMENTS 

    Health of the Army Family- Inaugural Report

    Army Family Members play a key role in the readiness and retention of our fighting force. The Health of the Army Family initiative aims to better understand the health needs and concerns of Army Families and take action to keep the Army strong.

    - Characterizes the health and well-being of Soldiers and their Family Members in the context of the unique military events that affect, and are affected by, the Family's health status.

    - Communicates the importance of understanding, monitoring, and optimizing the health of the Army Family as a key building block of Soldier readiness and retention.

    - Specifies what is known and unknown about the health of the Army Family.

    - Serves as a call to action for diverse audiences, such as Soldiers and their Families, Army Leaders, Research and Evaluators, and Policy Makers and Program Proponents. APHC

    U.S. MILITARY

    402nd AFSB reaffirms commitment to preventing sexual assault and sexual harassment

    4 April- The 402nd Army Field Support Brigade kicked off Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, SAAPM, by signing the 2022 SAAPM Proclamation and participating in a command bowling event to “strike out sexual assault." “As your commander, I am committed to fostering a culture free of sexual assault and sexual harassment by defining, communicating, and modeling proactive prevention behaviors to empower the 402nd team to intervene when you see warning signs," said 402nd commander Col. Erik Johnson at the event. This year's SAAPM theme - “Prevention Starts With You" - focuses on how every individual can stop incidents of sexual assault and sexual harassment from occurring. The Army is taking action to improve the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program, known as SHARP, through a year-long pilot at seven Army locations, including Schofield Barracks. The U.S. Army Hawaii's SHARP Fusion Directorate opened April 1, signaling a shift in the SHARP program to a victim-centric model of care and support for survivors of sexual assault and an emphasis on prevention with comprehensive trainings and resources for Soldiers and Department of Army Civilians. “Prevention moves beyond awareness of the problem and advances us towards the goal of eliminating incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assault," said Sgt. 1st Class Erik Barrientos, the sexual assault response coordinator for the 402nd. “The Army is taking deliberate steps to educate leaders, Soldiers and civilians on prevention and giving them the tools to speak up when they see warning signs." According to Barrientos, who recently graduated from the Army's SHARP Academy, said people often see warning sign but choose to ignore them. “People don't ignore warning signs because they condone the actions, but because there are barriers, personal, social or organizational, that make people think twice before speaking up," said Barrientos. DVIDS External Link

    Army responds to 2021′s historically high active duty suicides

    4 April- In the wake of a Defense Suicide Prevention Office report that showed active duty Army suicides slightly increased in 2021, reaching a historic high, Army officials have provided more detail on the service's suicide prevention efforts. The active duty force experienced 176 suicides in 2021, the report revealed, two more than in 2020. Both years represented the highest number of active duty deaths since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that launched the Global War on Terrorism era, raising concerns that the pattern of increased deaths has not receded. The Army was the only service whose active duty troops saw an increase in suicides from 2020 to 2021, and its rate of deaths — 36.18 deaths per 100,000 troops — is its highest since 1938 and higher than any other active duty branch. “Suicide is a complex phenomenon, with numerous factors and environmental conditions that contribute to increased depression and other behavioral issues that influence an individual's decision to harm themselves," acknowledged Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Gabe Ramirez in a statement to Army Times. “The Army is developing policies to ensure the consistent implementation of the Army Suicide Prevention program across the force." Army Times External Link

    New, expanded childbirth and breastfeeding TRICARE benefits for expecting parents

    5 April- Are you an expecting parent? Are you thinking of having a child? TRICARE is now providing more options to those who are planning to expand their family. As of Jan. 1, TRICARE added new childbirth and breastfeeding benefits under the Childbirth and Breastfeeding Support Demonstration (CBSD). CBSD is for those enrolled in TRICARE Prime and TRICARE Select in the U.S. under one of the TRICARE regional contractors.
    As part of this five-year study, TRICARE covers the services of three new types of TRICARE-authorized providers:

    - Certified labor doulas

    - Certified lactation consultants

    - Certified lactation counselors

    “With the CBSD, we're evaluating the cost, quality of care, administrative feasibility, and the impact on birthing parents and infants of using trained, non-medical professionals as extra maternal health providers," said Erica Ferron, management and program analyst with the TRICARE Health Plan. “At the end of the study, TRICARE will review the findings and then decide whether or not to make this coverage permanent." TRICARE External Link

    The new public health director talks about his goals for force readiness

    5 April- Rear Adm. Brandon Taylor was recently appointed to be the new director for the Defense Health Agency's Public Health directorate. In an interview, he discussed how he is approaching his new role, his goals for Public Health within the Defense Health Agency, and the importance of Public Health to a medically ready force and a ready medical force. Taylor has been in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps for more than 24 years and most recently was chief of staff for the Indian Health Service within the Department of Health and Human Services. He has a doctorate in pharmacy and is board certified in pharmacotherapy. He is an enrolled member of the Seneca-Cayuga Nation. MHS Communications: What is the current state of the DHA Public Health directorate? Rear Adm. Brandon Taylor: It's an exciting time in DHA Public Health. Our divisions within the directorate have been fully engaged these past two years fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. In this regard, the Immunization Healthcare Division and Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division have been the force behind the data that inform DHA leadership on trends and tracking as well as vaccine proliferation. A team from the Total Force Fitness division recently met with state public health officials, community leaders, and federal partners to further the discussion on DOD collaboration with local communities across the country where our warfighters live. Their aim was to address the social determinants of health, improve resiliency, address mental health concerns, and improve overall health of our service members and their families. Of course there is much discussion and lively activities related to the Public Health transition from the services to DHA. We value our relationships with each service and recognize the challenges such a transition poses. As we focus on the intent of the law, the FY2019 NDAA Section 711(b)(2), Public Health for the DOD will be stronger, more agile, and better equipped to meet the needs of our service members and the DOD. Health.mil External Link

    GLOBAL

    Artificial pancreas to revolutionize diabetes care in England

    1 April- Nearly 900 patients with type 1 diabetes in England are testing a potentially life-changing artificial pancreas. It can eliminate the need for finger prick tests and prevent life-threatening hypoglycaemic attacks, where blood sugar levels fall too low. The technology uses a sensor under the skin. It continually monitors the levels, and a pump automatically adjusts the amount of insulin required. Six-year-old Charlotte, from Lancashire, is one of more than 200 children using the hybrid closed loop system. Her mother, Ange Abbott, told us it has made a massive impact on the whole family. "Prior to having the loop, everything was manual," she said. "At night we'd have to set the alarm every two hours to do finger pricks and corrections of insulin in order to deal with the ups and downs of Charlotte's blood sugars." BBC News External Link

    HPV vaccine manufacturing increases to meet growing global demand

    4 April- New Jersey-based Merck today reaffirmed its commitment to enable broad equitable access to its human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines. The company has invested significantly in vaccine manufacturing and recently expanded its facility in Elkton, VA, to support this commitment. Merck expects the supply of its HPV vaccines to double between 2020-2023 as the company continues to expand capacity at existing facilities and as new facilities come online. Merck previously committed to expand production capacity at existing manufacturing facilities and build new facilities to address the unprecedented global demand for its HPV vaccines. "As we continue to increase production of our HPV vaccines, we are prioritizing access in countries with a high burden of disease, including countries eligible for support from Gavi and UNICEF," commented Dr. Priya Agrawal, global lead for HPV Vaccines at Merck, in a press statement issued on April 4, 2022. "Through our long-term agreement with UNICEF, we plan to provide 91.5 million doses of our HPV vaccines in Gavi-supported countries from 2021-2025." "And we have offered additional doses beyond that agreement as needed to help meet growing demand." Precision Vaccinations External Link

    New COVID-19 variant XE identified: What to know and why experts say not to be alarmed

    5 April- A new COVID-19 variant has been identified in the United Kingdom, but experts say there is no cause for alarm yet. The variant, known as XE, is a combination of the original BA.1 omicron variant and its subvariant BA.2. This type of combination is known as a "recombinant" variant.  Public health experts say that recombinant variants are very common and often crop up and disappear on their own. "Right now, there's really no public health concern," said Dr. John Brownstein, an epidemiologist and chief innovation officer at Boston Children's Hospital and an ABC News contributor. "Recombinant variants happen over and over. In fact, the reason that this is the XE variant recombinant is that we've had XA, XB, XC, XD already, and none of those have turned out to be any real concern." According to an update last week from the U.K. Health Security Agency, 637 cases of XE have been identified as of March 22, with the earliest detected Jan. 19. ABC News External Link

    Preventing prostate cancer, on wheels

    3 April- Prostate cancer is extremely treatable...if caught in time. Now there is a new way for the testing to come to you. The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City is rolling out the first ever mobile prostate exam bus to reach men who may not otherwise think of being checked for possible prostate cancer. "Our goal is that with increased education, awareness, and access to testing, we can help detect prostate cancer early, save lives, and close the gaps in high-risk diagnostic and fatalities rates," says Dr. Ash Tewari, the Chair of Urology at the Mount Sinai Health System and the Kyung Hyun Kim, MD Professor of Urology at the Icahn School of Medicine. Tewari, a world-renowned urologist, has performed more than 7,000 prostate surgeries and knows how early detection can save lives, which is why his office is hitting the streets. The bus, known as The Mount Sinai Robert F. Smith Mobile Prostate Cancer Screening Unit, will visit New York City neighborhoods where men could be at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer, particularly African American communities. Mount Sinai estimates that more than 13% of Black men between the ages 45 and 79 will develop prostate cancer and that Black men have a 70% higher rate of developing prostate cancer than Whites. The American Cancer society shockingly says that black men are more than twice as likely to die from prostate cancer than their white counterparts. Fox News External Link

    Study boosts case for shorter antibiotic course for kids' pneumonia

    1 April- A new analysis of data from a randomized trial provides more evidence in support of shorter antibiotic courses for young children with non-severe community-acquired pneumonia (CAP). The study, published last week in mBio, analyzed throat swabs from children enrolled in the SCOUT-CAP (Short-Course Outpatient Therapy of Community Acquired Pneumonia) trial, a randomized clinical trial that found that a 5-day course of antibiotics for kids with non-severe CAP was superior to 10 days—the currently recommended duration for pediatric CAP. While the initial trial results showed the 5-day treatment achieved a similar clinical response as 10 days, the throat swab analysis also found fewer antibiotic resistance genes in children who received the shorter treatment. It's a novel finding that's significant because it boosts the case that "shorter is better" when it comes to antibiotic duration for pediatric CAP, which has been a priority area for child health research and has important implications for antibiotic stewardship, the study authors say. "The idea that shorter courses of antibiotics would have less negative impact on the microbiota and less selection for resistance makes sense, but it had never to our knowledge been empirically tested, and randomized trials are the best way to do that," lead study author Melinda Pettigrew, PhD, an epidemiologist and deputy dean with the Yale School of Public Health, told CIDRAP News. "We have to think of these off-target effects when we think about antibiotic treatments and their impact on resistance." CIDRAP External Link

    WHO announces updates on new TB antigen-based skin tests for the diagnosis of TB infection

    4 April- Tuberculosis antigen-based skin tests (TBST), a new class of tests to diagnose TB infection, have been evaluated by the World Health Organization (WHO) and are found to be accurate, acceptable, feasible and cost-effective. These tests represent an alternative to tuberculin skin test (TST) and Interferon-Gamma Release Assays (IGRAs). WHO estimates that over a quarter of the world's population has TB infection. Testing for TB infection increases the probability that individuals at higher risk benefit from preventive treatment. TBST use Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex specific antigens and represent a significant advancement to TST which has been used for over half a century. A Guideline Development Group was convened by WHO from 31 January to 3 February 2022 to discuss the findings of the systematic reviews and to make recommendations on the TBST class of diagnostic tests for TB infection. Three products were included in the evaluation and details are available in the Rapid Communication. The Rapid Communication is released in advance of updated WHO guidelines expected later in 2022, to inform national TB programmes and other stakeholders about these new developments and to allow for rapid transition and planning at the country level. “The diagnostic options for people with TB infection are increasing thanks to manufacturer engagement and research generating new evidence. Ensuring that everyone in need can obtain a rapid and accurate diagnosis of TB infection will save lives and reduce suffering" said Dr. Tereza Kasaeva, Director of WHO's Global TB Programme. WHO External Link

    WHO says 99% of world's population breathes poor-quality air

    4 April- The U.N. health agency says nearly everybody in the world breathes air that doesn't meet its standards for air quality, calling for more action to reduce fossil-fuel use, which generates pollutants that cause respiratory and blood-flow problems and lead to millions of preventable deaths each year. The World Health Organization, about six months after tightening its guidelines on air quality, on Monday issued an update to its database on air quality that draws on information from a growing number of cities, towns and villages across the globe — now over 6,000 municipalities. WHO said 99% of the global population breathes air that exceeds its air-quality limits and is often rife with particles that can penetrate deep into the lungs, enter the veins and arteries and cause disease. Air quality is poorest in WHO's eastern Mediterranean and Southeast Asia regions, followed by Africa, it said. “After surviving a pandemic, it is unacceptable to still have 7 million preventable deaths and countless preventable lost years of good health due to air pollution," said Dr. Maria Neira, head of WHO's department of environment, climate change and health. “Yet too many investments are still being sunk into a polluted environment rather than in clean, healthy air." The database, which has traditionally considered two types of particulate matter known as PM2.5 and PM10, for the first time has included ground measurements of nitrogen dioxide. The last version of the database was issued in 2018. AP News External Link

    With students in turmoil, US teachers train in mental health

    4 April- As Benito Luna-Herrera teaches his seventh-grade social studies classes, he is on alert for signs of inner turmoil. And there is so much of it these days. One of his 12-year-old students felt her world was falling apart. Distance learning had upended her friendships. Things with her boyfriend were verging on violent. Her home life was stressful. “I'm just done with it," the girl told Luna-Herrera during the pandemic, and shared a detailed plan to kill herself. Another student was typically a big jokester and full of confidence. But one day she told him she didn't want to live anymore. She, too, had a plan in place to end her life. Luna-Herrera is just one teacher, in one Southern California middle school, but stories of students in distress are increasingly common around the country. The silver lining is that special training helped him know what to look for and how to respond when he saw the signs of a mental emergency. Since the pandemic started, experts have warned of a mental health crisis facing American children. That is now playing out at schools in the form of increased childhood depression, anxiety, panic attacks, eating disorders, fights and thoughts of suicide at alarming levels, according to interviews with teachers, administrators, education officials and mental health experts. AP News External Link

    'Youth are in crisis': Mental health of US high school students worsened during the Covid-19 pandemic, CDC survey finds

    31 March- Mental health concerns among high school students in the United States were exacerbated during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to survey results published Thursday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There have been significant increases in high school students reporting persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, considering suicide or attempting suicide over the past decade -- and findings from the new CDC survey suggest youth mental health was even worse during the pandemic. Overall, more than a third (37%) of high school students in the United States experienced poor mental health at least most of the time during the Covid-19 pandemic, the CDC survey found. More than two out of five students (44%) had felt persistent sadness or hopelessness that caused them to stop doing some usual activities. About one in five seriously considered suicide, and about one in 10 students had attempted suicide. Poor mental health was most prevalent among lesbian, gay and bisexual youth, as well as female high school students, the CDC survey found. "Youth are in crisis," Kathleen Ethier, director of the CDC's division of adolescent and school health, said during a media briefing Thursday. "This data and others like it show us that young people and their families have been under incredible levels of stress during the pandemic. Our data exposes cracks and uncovers an important layer of insight into the extreme disruptions that some youth have encountered during the pandemic." Students who said they felt close to people at school, or felt virtually connected, were significantly less likely to report poor mental health during the pandemic, the CDC survey found. Gay, lesbian and bisexual students were less likely than heterosexual students to feel connected to people at school. And more than a third of high school students -- including nearly two-thirds of Asian students and more than half of Black students -- reported experiencing racism before or during the pandemic. Those who said they'd been treated badly or unfairly in school because of their race or ethnicity were also less likely to feel connected to people at school, and more likely to experience poor mental health, difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions. CNN External Link

    INFLUENZA

    CDC: Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report

    Key Updates for Week 12, ending March 26, 2022:

    - Influenza activity is still highest in the central and south-central regions of the country but appears to be declining slightly in these regions. Influenza activity is increasing in the northeast and northwest regions.

    - 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 was stable this week compared with last week and remains 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 eight weeks.

    - The cumulative hospitalization rate in the FluSurv-NET system is higher than the rate for the entire 2020-2021 season, 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 14 pediatric deaths reported this season.

    - CDC estimates that, so far this season, there have been at least 3.5 million flu illnesses, 34,000 hospitalizations, and 2,000 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.

    - Flu vaccines are available at many different locations, including pharmacies and health departments. Visit www.vaccines.gov to find a flu vaccine near you.

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

    VETERINARY/FOOD SAFETY

    Listeria outbreak traced to Dole packaged salads ends with three patients dead

    5 April- Federal officials have declared that a deadly outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections traced to Dole packaged salads has ended. The most recent patient to be reported became sick on Jan. 15. It can take up to 70 days for symptoms of Listeria infections to appear, but the implicated salad was recalled in October and December 2021 and early January 2022 and had reached its expiration date before January, so officials believe patient counts have stabilized. The Food and Drug Administration reported on April 4 that the patient count as of that day was 18 people in 13 states. Sixteen people required hospitalization and three people died. States with patients were Iowa, Idaho, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin. The states where the implicated salad was distributed were Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii,  Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. The salad may have been further distributed to other states, according to the FDA. Recalls related to the outbreak began in October 2021 when routine retail sampling by the Georgia Department of Agriculture found Listeria monocytogenes in prepackaged salad mix from a grocery store, according to the FDA. “FDA conducted WGS (whole genome sequencing) analysis of an isolate shared by Dole, and the results confirmed that this isolate of Listeria matched the strain causing illness in this outbreak and also matched the strain of Listeria found in a positive product sample collected by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, as reported on Dec. 23, 2021," according to the FDA's outbreak update on April 4. During investigation of the outbreak the company found contaminated equipment at its facilities. Food Safety News External Link

    WELLNESS

    Stop anxiety before it starts with these new strategies

    5 April- In recent years, public figures openly sharing their mental health struggles have helped lift fellow sufferers out of silent shame and stigma. A few decades earlier, the introduction of new medications to treat depression and anxiety disrupted the depiction of mental health problems as a personal failing in favor of an expression of brain chemistry. Today, new understandings of the reciprocal communication between mind and body make anxiety far more preventable than previously known. In "The Anatomy of Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming the Body's Fear Response," holistic psychiatrist Dr. Ellen Vora unpacks the physiological underpinnings of stress and fear and shares pioneering strategies for both prevention and treatment. Anxiety is not simply a genetic chemical imbalance. It's largely based in the state of the physical body, which is something we can change. Recognizing what I call "false anxiety" allows us to take steps to get our body into a better balance, which helps ease anxiety symptoms. This is the hopeful, empowering message I want to convey. CNN External Link

    USAFRICOM

    DRC: Suspected bubonic plague cases in Ituri province

    2 April- According to a letter to ProMED mail Friday, 16 suspect bubonic plague cases, including 2 deaths (CFR = 12.5%) were reported from March 27 to 31 in Rethy Health Zone (RHZ), Ituri Province in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The two deaths were in a 30 year-old woman and a 5-year-old boy. Outbreak News Today External Link

    USCENTCOM

    Why the UAE's stem cell ambitions could lead to medical tourism boost

    3 April- The UAE is in the process of developing the region's first nationwide Stem Cells Bank as part of the country's plan to become a global medical tourism hub. Plans were announced at the first MENA Stem Cells Forum as the UAE seeks to take the lead on stem cell tourism to attract patients from abroad. Dr. Rehab Al Blooshi, acting medical director of Dubai Cord Blood and Research Centre – part of the Dubai Health Authority, said: “We already have a Stem Cells Bank within Dubai Cord Blood and Research Centre and we are discussing with other health authorities to develop a nationwide Stem Cells Bank to strengthen this new scientific and medical innovation sector." Dubai Cord Blood and Research Centre offers collection and preservation of umbilical cord from new-born babies and preserve them for 30 years with a fee of around AED9,000. Officials at the forum also called for strong regulatory guidelines to regulate stem cells research, therapy and practice. Dr. Shahrukh Hashmi, chairman, SEHA Oncology Council, and chairman, Department Oncology/Hematology, Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City, UAE, explained: “The stem cells industry needs strong regulation globally. We need strict guidelines for the industry to evolve ethically." Arabian Business External Link

    USEUCOM

    EU investigates chocolate-linked salmonella outbreak before Easter

    6 April- Europe's health agency said on Wednesday it was investigating dozens of reported and suspected cases of salmonella linked with eating chocolate in at least nine countries. Ferrero recalled Kinder Surprise chocolate eggs from British and Irish shelves on Monday in what it said was a precautionary move. The Italian confectionary group said on Wednesday that no Kinder products released to the market had tested positive for salmonella. The European Union agency did not mention Ferrero or any other company in a statement, but warned on Wednesday that the reported cases were mostly among children under 10 years old. "The outbreak is characterized by an unusually high proportion of children being hospitalized, some with severe clinical symptoms such as bloody diarrhea," the European Centre for Disease prevention and Control (ECDC) said. Britain has the highest number of incidents with 63 confirmed cases as of April 5, the ECDC said, adding that other countries with probable or confirmed cases are France, Ireland, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Sweden and Norway. The EU health agency said it was investigating, together with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), 134 confirmed or probable cases of salmonella. Product recalls have been launched in several countries, including Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg and Britain, the EU agency said. Reuters External Link

    USINDOPACOM

    Shanghai to extend lockdown of 26 million people as it reviews COVID test results

    4 April- Shanghai will remain under lockdown as it reviews results of an exercise to test all of its 26 million residents for COVID-19, authorities said on Monday. The city began its two-stage lockdown on March 28, initially in Shanghai's eastern districts, and later expanded to cover the whole city. The curbs, which have massively disrupted daily life and business operations in China's financial hub, were initially scheduled to end at 5 a.m. local time (9 p.m. GMT) on Tuesday. "The city will continue to implement seal and control management and strictly implement 'staying at home', except for medical treatment," the city government said on its official WeChat account. It did not give an indication of when the curbs might lift. The country sent the military and thousands of healthcare workers into Shanghai to help carry out COVID-19 tests for all of its 26 million residents on Monday, in one of the country's biggest-ever public health responses. Reuters External Link

    USNORTHCOM

    U.S.: Avian Influenza arrives in the heart of Texas

    5 April- The Austin-based Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) recently confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in a commercial pheasant flock in Erath County, Texas. Following an increase in bird deaths, samples from the flock were tested and confirmed for the Eurasian H5 version of HAPI at the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory. State officials quarantined the affected premises, and 1,600 pheasants on the central Texas property have been depopulated to prevent the spread of the disease. This report is the twenty-fourth state to confirm a HAPI outbreak this year, with bird depopulations exceeding 22 million. "Texas has been actively preparing alongside the United States Department of Agriculture to respond to HPAI," said Dr. Andy Schwartz, TAHC Executive Director and State Veterinarian, in a press statement issued on April 3, 2022. "We'd like to encourage Texas poultry owners to educate themselves on this disease and be vigilant in taking steps to protect their flocks from avian influenza." Anyone involved with poultry production, from the small backyard to the large commercial producer, should review their biosecurity activities to ensure their birds' health, says TAHC. Owners of commercial and backyard poultry flocks are encouraged to observe their birds closely. Precision Vaccinations External Link

    USSOUTHCOM

    Why lots of kids still aren't back in school in Guatemala

    30 March- The doors of the Hermogenes Gonzalez Mejia school in Guatemala City were propped wide open. The interior smelled of fresh paint and cleaning supplies. Inside each classroom, tiny desks were lined up with chairs neatly stacked on top. Two large basketball courts in the outdoor courtyard looked pristine. All that was missing was students. After two years of remote learning, the time had come to get them back inside. "They need to interact with their classmates and try to find some kind of normalcy," said Oscar Fernando Lopez Polanco, director of the Mejia school, while prepping in his office for an assembly in mid-February to announce reopening plans. At the entrance, a teacher welcomed parents and their children by taking their temperature, squirting sanitizer on their hands, and spraying them from head to toe with disinfectant – a practice that has become common in Guatemala as part of the efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus , despite having no proven benefits. It's a moment many parents and children across Guatemala are still waiting for. Due to the pandemic, millions of students in the country have been stuck in remote learning since March 2020. The generally run-down conditions in many school buildings, which had been badly in need of repair long before the arrival of COVID-19, have government officials wary about the safety of returning to in-person learning. NPR External Link