Army Public Health Weekly Update, 12 June 2020

Date Published: 6/12/2020
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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

    ANNOUNCEMENTS

    Follow the Army Public Health Center's Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts for timely public health information

    Click here to follow us on Facebook  External Link, Click here to follow us on Twitter External Link, To follow us on Instagram search armypublichealth.

    Summer issue of Veterinary Connections is now available

    1 June- Check out the Summer 2020 issue of Veterinary Connections, click here   External Link

    The 2020 Army Public Health Course will be held 3-7 August 2020 on a virtual platform

    Enrollment will END on 17 July 2020. All attendees MUST enroll here  External Linkprior to 17 July 2020. Anyone who does not enroll before this date will not be given access to the virtual learning platform needed to attend the Course. Attendance will be limited and may close before 17 July 2020 if the maximum attendance is reached before that date. Army.mil External Link

    U.S. MILITARY

    Answers to top questions about PCS moves during COVID-19

    4 June- As Soldiers and their Families prepare for the restart of PCS Moves, the Army has implemented numerous actions to protect their health and mitigate the impact of the stop movement order. Protecting our people has been a priority from the start of the COVID-19 response. Here are answers to frequently asked questions about moving during COVID-19. When does the stop-move order end? It is expected to end on June 30, 2020. Approval of exceptions to policy (ETP) by appropriate authority to travel prior to June 30th are on a case-by-case basis based on whether they are deemed mission essential, necessary for humanitarian reasons, or extreme hardship. When can household goods be picked up? Soldiers with a report date after June 30th can request HHG pickup 30 days prior to their departure date for CONUS (or intra-theater Europe/Korea) assignments and HHG pickup 60 days prior to departure date for OCONUS (Alaska & Hawaii). HHG shipments with supporting documentation are authorized to be placed into storage at origin for shipments needing to be picked up due to termination of rental lease agreement, home sale, or termination of government/privatized housing. Army.mil External Link

    Army Public Health Center expert offers healthy housing tips

    8 June- ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. – For many Soldiers and their Families, spring and summer bring not just warmer weather, but new orders and permanent change of station moves. Although COVID-19 concerns have temporarily halted many but the most essential military moves, now is a good time to think about how to keep your current or future residence healthy and minimize housing hazard risks like lead or mold exposure. "Residents should frequently inspect their homes and report or repair small issues and minor damages before they become major issues and large repairs," said Vickie Hawkins, an industrial hygienist and chief of the Army Pubic Health Center Indoor Air Quality and Force Exposure Assessment and Control Branch. Army.mil External Link

    DoD establishes collaborative virus genetic sequencing capability for COVID-19

    8 June-  As the pandemic continues to unfold, genetic sequence data for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), has played a critical role in the public health response, including in the design of diagnostics and vaccines. Within the Department of Defense, SARS-CoV-2 genetic sequence data plays a vital role in force health protection efforts. To jumpstart the DoD's SARS-CoV-2 sequencing efforts, Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch's Global Emerging Infections Surveillance (GEIS) section used its existing partnerships with Army, Navy, and Air Force public health and medical research laboratories. This connection helped to establish a collaborative approach to the sequencing capabilities. Sequence data from this collaboration will provide critical information about transmission patterns, track diagnostic effectiveness, and guide the development and evaluation of medical countermeasures for the 1.4 million active duty and 331,000 reserve personnel. "GEIS-funded surveillance provides near-real time understanding of how the SARS-CoV-2 virus is evolving. This information is critical for the development of a vaccine and treatment," stated Navy Capt. Guillermo Pimentel, GEIS chief. "Previous investments by GEIS in this technology have given our partners the capability to respond and sequence SARS-CoV-2 genomes isolated from DoD Service members around the world." In 2017, GEIS established a Next Generation Sequencing and Bioinformatics Consortium to work with GEIS partner DoD laboratories to coordinate and improve pathogen sequencing and analysis efforts around the world. Consortium partners can rapidly detect and characterize known, emerging, and novel infectious disease agents using data from pathogen sequencing. This helps to inform force health protection decision making. The core Consortium partners include: the Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC), U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, and the Naval Health Research Center. Stars & Stripes External Link

    DoD hotline gets flood of COVID-19 exposure complaints

    8 June-  In just one month of the novel coronavirus pandemic, a Defense Department hotline created to report legal violations, fraud and abuse received nearly 150 complaints alleging improper protective protocols to stop the spread of the disease. From Feb. 26 to March 31, the DoD Hotline received 146 complaints related to COVID-19, according to a semi-annual report to Congress published May 28 by the Defense Department Inspector General. "Allegations ranged from leaders or personnel not practicing social distancing and endangering or infecting others to allegations that health care personnel were not being properly used or properly protected from the virus," the report states. Of those complaints, 83 were directed at the military services; 27 were sent directly to the DoD IG; 11 each targeted agencies affiliated with the office of the Secretary of Defense and other DoD agencies and field activities; and 12 concerned non-DoD agencies. "The most serious cases alleging actual infection were referred to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Defense Health Agency (DHA), and the respective DoD Component," the report states. While it did not break down the outcome of all complaints, it said none of the complaints alleging actual disease transmission through negligence were substantiated by investigating officials as of March 31, the end of the reporting period. For the length of the period, which began Oct. 1, 2019, officials received a total of 8,041 hotline contacts, up from 7,381 the previous reporting period.  As the military and DoD agencies have grappled with the challenge of creating new disease containment and social distancing protocols in light of COVID-19, which forced much of the nation into a shutdown, various complaints have arisen about prevention shortcomings. The military services have largely determined their own approaches to virus prevention, and measures vary from base to base. The Air Force implemented "pods" at some bases, grouping small clusters of airmen together to contain any outbreaks while still allowing troops to train in close proximity; the Army took a similar approach with "bubbles." Military.com External Link

    New trauma training program prepares surgical team for deployment

    8 June- Brooke Army Medical Center conducted the first of its kind pre-deployment trauma readiness training exercise for the 555th Forward Surgical Team from May 18 to June 6. The new Strategic Trauma Readiness Center of San Antonio, or STaRC, used a combination of didactic and hands-on learning to prepare the 555th for deployment. Known as the "Triple Nickel," the 555th Forward Surgical Team is a decorated trauma surgical detachment under the 9th Hospital Center, 1st Medical Brigade, from Fort Hood, Texas. "This program is unlike any other pre-deployment trauma readiness training in that it takes the best of all training modalities and combines it into one 3-week program," said Army Col. (Dr.) Tyson Becker, BAMC STaRC director. The program leverages the expertise and capabilities across multiple healthcare disciplines at BAMC, the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research, the Medical Center of Excellence, the Joint Trauma System and the Air Force 59th Medical Wing to provide deploying surgical teams with the most realistic and comprehensive wartime skills certification. "We have all of the resources in one place to do everything that a deploying trauma team needs before they deploy," Becker said, "to include a Joint Trauma Service-led Emergency War Surgery Course with trauma labs, a live-fire field training exercise at Camp Bullis with the support of the Medical Center of Excellence, and BAMC, the DoD's only Level I trauma center where the team will take trauma call." Health.mil External Link

    Self-care essential for maintaining mental health and well-being during COVID-19

    8 June- Making physical, mental and spiritual health a priority can help those struggling with the stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic. "Living through a pandemic is a highly abnormal event, and it can be a roller coaster of emotions and experiences," said Dr. Jamie Moore, chief of Behavioral Health at the Wiesbaden Army Health Clinic. She noted that although every person's experience is different," as a military community, we are uniquely postured to survive and thrive in adverse environments." Early on in the crisis, people worldwide rushed out to stock up on toilet paper and other items as their sense of safety was challenged by this new and unfamiliar threat. "Behaviors like that really come down to a desire to feel prepared and like your needs will be met," Moore said. Individuals whose safety, and that of their family members, is a big source of stress may need to focus on what makes them feel safe, she said. "Structure and predictability increase feelings of safety, so work to create structure in your day-to-day life," Moore said. "Some people feel safest when they have people around them; other people feel safer when they have an area all to themselves. So that may mean spending more time doing shared activities with the people in your household, asking your partner for more hugs or physical touch, or scheduling virtual daily contact with friends or family." Army.mil External Link

    GLOBAL

    Anxiety screening recommended for all women

    8 June-  Young women ages 13 and up, including those who are pregnant or have just given birth, should be screened for anxiety at routine visits, according to a Women's Preventive Services Initiative (WPSI) recommendation released Monday. In the 10 systematic reviews used to form the evidence base of this recommendation, there was sufficient evidence supporting the accuracy of screening tools and the efficacy of available anxiety treatments, including cognitive behavioral therapy and pharmacologic therapies, reported Heidi Nelson, MD, MPH, and other colleagues at WPSI. Young women ages 13 and up, including those who are pregnant or have just given birth, should be screened for anxiety at routine visits, according to a Women's Preventive Services Initiative (WPSI) recommendation released Monday. In the 10 systematic reviews used to form the evidence base of this recommendation, there was sufficient evidence supporting the accuracy of screening tools and the efficacy of available anxiety treatments, including cognitive behavioral therapy and pharmacologic therapies, reported Heidi Nelson, MD, MPH, and other colleagues at WPSI. Medpage Today External Link

    CDC: Some Americans are misusing cleaning products — including drinking them — in effort to kill coronavirus

    5 June- To try to kill the novel coronavirus, some Americans are unsafely using disinfectants and cleaners, including washing food with bleach, using the products on bare skin, and inhaling and ingesting them, federal health officials reported Friday. Health experts caution explicitly against using cleaning products in those ways. The findings come from an online survey of 502 adults conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in May. Thirty-nine percent had misused the cleaning products, and one quarter reported "an adverse health effect that they believed was a result" of the products.  Of the respondents, 19% said they had used bleach on food, 18% said they had applied household cleaners to their skin, 10% said they had misted themselves with disinfectant sprays, 6% had inhaled vapors from the cleaners, and 4% had drunk or gargled diluted bleach solutions, soapy water, or other disinfectants. "These practices pose a risk of severe tissue damage and corrosive injury and should be strictly avoided," the CDC researchers wrote in a paper, published in the agency's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. "Although adverse health effects reported by respondents could not be attributed to their engaging in high-risk practices, the association between these high-risk practices and reported health effects indicates a need for public health messaging regarding safe and effective cleaning practices aimed at preventing SARS-CoV-2 transmission in households." (SARS-CoV-2 is the formal name of the novel coronavirus.) Stat News External Link

    Convalescent plasma not helpful in China study; hydroxychloroquine doesn't prevent infection

    3 June-  The following is a brief roundup of some of the latest scientific studies on the novel coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus. Convalescent plasma disappoints in Chinese trial Infusions of antibody-rich blood plasma from people who have recovered from the coronavirus, so-called convalescent plasma, failed to make a difference in a study of hospitalized patients in China, researchers reported on Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. In a randomized trial involving 103 COVID-19 patients, convalescent plasma made no difference in the time it took to show signs of improvement or in rates of death at 28 days versus a placebo. There were some potentially encouraging results among patients who were "severely ill" but not sick enough to be in the intensive care unit. They recovered roughly five days faster if they got the plasma treatment, and more of them improved within 28 days of starting treatment. The study was somewhat hampered as researchers were not able to enroll as many patients as they had hoped because the epidemic started to come under control in their region, and it was stopped early. Had they been able to enroll as many patients as originally planned, the results might have been different. (bit.ly/3cwmAtt, bit.ly/2MpNWa7) Hydroxychloroquine fails to protect against infection in key trial The malaria drug promoted by U.S. President Donald Trump as a treatment for COVID-19 failed to prevent infection in people exposed to the coronavirus, according to data from a large trial released on Wednesday by University of Minnesota researchers. Overall, 821 people who had recently been exposed to the virus or lived in a high-risk household received either hydroxychloroquine or placebo. There was no significant difference in the rate at which participants developed COVID-19. "Our data is pretty clear that for post exposure, this does not really work," lead researcher Dr. David Boulware told Reuters. More than 20% of the patients in the trial also took zinc, which had no significant effect. Several trials of hydroxychloroquine have been stopped over concerns about its safety for treating COVID-19 patients, but the new trial found no serious side effects or heart problems with hydroxychloroquine. "I think both sides - one side who is saying 'This is a dangerous drug' and the other side that says 'this works' - neither is correct," said Boulware. Reuters External Link

    Coronavirus: Risk higher for pregnant BAME women

    8 June- The high proportion of pregnant women from black and ethnic minority (BAME) groups admitted to hospital with Covid-19 "needs urgent investigation", says a study in the British Medical Journal. Out of 427 pregnant women studied between March and April, more than half were from these backgrounds - nearly three times the expected number. Most were admitted late in pregnancy and did not become seriously ill. Although babies can be infected, the researchers said this was "uncommon".
    The findings, based on data for pregnant women with coronavirus admitted to 194 obstetric units across the UK over six weeks, show:

    - 56% were from black, Asian or other ethnic minority groups

    - 70% were overweight or obese

    - 40% were aged 35 or over

    - 34% had underlying health conditions

    In normal times, 20% of women giving birth are from black and ethnic minority backgrounds (BAME), lead author Prof Marian Knight, professor of maternal and child population health from the University of Oxford, says. BBC News External Link 

    COVID deepens the other opioid crisis - A shortage of hospital painkillers

    9 June- As opioid pills and patches fueled a two-decade epidemic of overdoses in the United States, hospitals faced chronic shortages of the same painkillers in injectable form - narcotics vital to patients on breathing machines. For years, hospitals chased supplies, sometimes resorting to inferior substitutes. The shortfall grew so dire in 2018 that a drug maker sent letters advising hospitals they could use batches of opioid syringes potentially containing hazardous contaminants - so long as they filtered each dose. Then the novel coronavirus struck, and demand for injectable opioids exploded. By April, more than 16,000 COVID-19 patients a day were on ventilators, the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimated. After a highly public battle to secure enough ventilators, hospitals say they must scramble to obtain the powerful painkillers needed to use them. Opioids help keep patients in severe distress from reflexively ripping out the tubing that forces oxygen into their lungs. Underlying the persistent shortages - and the present crisis - are the basic economics of the American drug industry. The market discourages production of low-margin hospital injectable opioids in favor of high-profit prescription versions, according to interviews with dozens of government officials, medical practitioners and industry participants, as well as an analysis of government data. Reuters External Link

    How to navigate your community reopening- Remember the four C's

    9 June-  When the country was largely under lockdown, at least the rules were mostly clear. Essential workers ventured out; everyone else sheltered in. Bars and restaurants were closed except for dining out; hair salons and spas were shuttered. Outings were limited to the supermarket or the drugstore. Now states are lifting restrictions, but detailed guidance about navigating the minutiae of everyday life is still hard to come by — and anyway, there's never going to be a ready solution to every problematic circumstance you may encounter. "Ramping down was easy by comparison, even though it felt hard at the time — we basically flipped a switch," said Dr. Preeti Malani, an infectious disease expert who is chief health officer for the University of Michigan. "Reopening is much more complicated. There is no template, no playbook...Even in the absence of detailed directives, however, there's scientific consensus about a general approach that can reduce the spread of the virus as the world around you reopens. As you tiptoe toward normalization — whatever that is, given these times — try to follow three precautions: avoid contact, confinement and crowds. And make realistic choices. The New York Times External Link

    More than half of states may be undercounting coronavirus cases by not following CDC guidelines

    9 June-  At least 28 states are not following US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on reporting new Covid-19 cases -- half of which saw the trend of new cases increasing in the last week. Those states are not reporting probable cases, according to the daily case count listed on the CDC's website. Probable cases include those that show evidence of an infection without the confirmation of a lab test and cases where coronavirus was listed as a cause or contributing cause of death but are not confirmed with a lab test. Some of the states with the largest populations -- like California, Florida, New York and Texas -- are among those listed as not reporting probable cases, despite CDC guidance that they should be included in the case count. This comes as 26 states see an increased or steady rate of new cases. Accurate rates of new cases are among the metrics that help officials track how the disease is spreading in the US and make decisions about how to reopen and loosen restrictions put in place to mitigate its impact. More than 1.9 million Americans have been infected, and more than 111,000 have died in just over four months, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.  Though coronavirus reporting guidelines are voluntary, states not reporting probable cases likely undercount the number of people infected and make it difficult for officials to get the true picture of where the nation stands in the midst of a pandemic that has rocked almost every aspect of life. CNN External Link

    Study identifies potential approach to treat severe respiratory distress in patients with COVID-19

    5 June-  Early data from a clinical study suggest that blocking the Bruton tyrosine kinase (BTK) protein provided clinical benefit to a small group of patients with severe COVID-19. Researchers observed that the off-label use of the cancer drug acalabrutinib, a BTK inhibitor that is approved to treat several blood cancers, was associated with reduced respiratory distress and a reduction in the overactive immune response in most of the treated patients. The findings were published June 5, 2020, in Science Immunology. The study was led by researchers in the Center for Cancer Research at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), in collaboration with researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), both part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as well a the U.S. Department of Defense's Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and four other hospitals nationally. These findings should not be considered clinical advice but are being shared to assist the public health response to COVID-19. While BTK inhibitors are approved to treat certain cancers, they are not approved as a treatment for COVID-19. This strategy must be tested in a randomized, controlled clinical trial in order to understand the best and safest treatment options for patients with severe COVID-19. The BTK protein plays an important role in the normal immune system, including in macrophages, a type of innate immune cell that can cause inflammation by producing proteins known as cytokines. Cytokines act as chemical messengers that help to stimulate and direct the immune response. In some patients with severe COVID-19, a large amount of cytokines are released in the body all at once, causing the immune system to damage the function of organs such as the lungs, in addition to attacking the infection. This dangerous hyper inflammatory state is known as a "cytokine storm." At present, there are no proven treatment strategies for this phase of the illness. The study was developed to test whether blocking the BTK protein with acalabrutinib would reduce inflammation and improve the clinical outcome for hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19. Cancer.gov External Link

    INFLUENZA

    No current updates available.

    VETERINARY/FOOD SAFETY

    Australia: Ehrlichiosis infects several dogs in Kimberley region

    6 June- The Chief Veterinary Officer for the  Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment in Australia, Dr. Mark Schipp has reported six cases of the tick-borne illness, Ehrlichiosis in at least six domestic household dogs in Kununurrain the Kimberley region.  One dog died from the illness. Government agencies in Australia will undertake further surveillance for Ehrlichia canis in the dog population in northern Australia. Department of Primary Industries Chief veterinary officer Michelle Rodan said authorities were unsure how or when ehrlichiosis first arrived in the Kimberley. "We haven't detected what the original source is … any dog that entered Australia which is infected and has been bitten by a tick could be a source of the outbreak. "Once it's in the tick population, it's very difficult to control. So the first stage is defining how widespread the distribution is and then in the interim trying to contain it to a region." Ehrlichiosis is a tick-borne infectious disease of dogs, usually carried by the brown dog tick. The organism responsible for this disease is a rickettsial organism. Rickettsiae are similar to bacteria. Ehrlichia canis is the most common rickettsial species involved in ehrlichiosis in dogs, but occasionally other strains of the organism will be found. Outbreak News Today External Link

    Coronavirus infects German shepherd, first dog to test positive for COVID-19 in US: officials

    4 June- A German shepherd in New York has officially become the country's first dog to test positive for the novel coronavirus, a federal agency said this week. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Tuesday announced the German shepherd is the first dog to test positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes a COVID-19 infection. The dog, which is expected to make a full recovery, was tested after "it showed signs of respiratory illness," per a news release from the USDA.  "One of the dog's owners tested positive for COVID-19, and another showed symptoms consistent with the virus, prior to the dog showing signs," officials said, noting that a second dog in the household tested positive for coronavirus antibodies, suggesting it was likely exposed to the novel virus despite the fact it has not shown signs of illness. A private veterinary lab first tested the German shepherd, resulting in a presumptive positive. The USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) later confirmed the results with its own test. Fox News External Link

    Danish officials search for source of Campylobacter outbreak

    7 June-  Up to 100 people could be affected by an ongoing Campylobacter outbreak on a Danish island. The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration (Fødevarestyrelsen), DTU Food Institute and Statens Serum Institut (SSI) are investigating the outbreak that began in Bornholm in early June. The alarm was first raised by Bornholms hospital and now there are reports of 100 people with symptoms similar to a Campylobacter infection with at least 10 of them needing hospital treatment. So far, 54 people aged 9 months to 97 years old have tested positive for Campylobacter and other patient samples are being studied. Those sick live on Bornholm or visited the island recently. While a specific source of the outbreak is still under investigation the cause is suspected to be a locally produced food, presumably a ready-to-eat product. Campylobacter is the top cause of gastrointestinal infection in Denmark. In 2019, more than 5,300 cases were registered, which is the highest number ever recorded and up from 4,500 in 2018. Around a third of the cases were infected abroad. Food Safety News External Link

    WELLNESS

    Fuel for the fight; nutrition and immunity during COVID-19

    5 June-  As the COVID-19 pandemic continues on, Soldiers and their families have been forced to take on new lifestyles. For many, maintaining healthy dietary habits during this time is a struggle, but one that the Army has several programs to help with. In this precarious environment, it has never been more important to maintain a healthy immune system, according to Capt. Michael Stablein, Registered Dietitian of 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division. "You need to make sure that you're taking care of your overall health and immunity. This new disease has brought to light that if you're run down, it can really get a hold of you and potentially be fatal," said Stablein. "The more you take care of yourself day to day, the better your body is going to be prepared to fight off things like this virus or anything else that your body encounters." The best way to boost the immune system is to eat a well-balanced diet, according to Army Public Health. Getting adequate nutrition can positively affect the body's ability to prevent, fight and recover from infections. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, or USDA, that means eating wholesome foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy, and healthy fats in smaller portions. These foods are considered "nutrient dense", meaning they are packed with essential nutrients. "Try to eat real food, as in whole unprocessed foods. Eating a colorful assortment of fruits and vegetables ensures that you receive a full range of essential vitamins and minerals," said Capt. Asia Nakakura, Registered Dietitian of 2nd Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division. The USDA MyPlate food model recommends filling half your plate at each meal with vegetables and fruits, for a total of at least eight servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Grains, diary, and protein make up the rest. DVIDS External Link

    Men's Health Month: A reminder to focus on physical, mental well-being

    1 June- June marks Men's Health Month, a time to focus on the physical and mental well-being of men. Overall good health relies on screenings and other evaluations with health care providers based on age, diet, and lifestyle choices, including tobacco and alcohol use. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's most recent National Health Interview Survey, men are far more likely than women to go two years or longer without seeing a physician or other health care professional. Experts don't necessarily think men are healthier than women. Rather, men may be avoiding making medical appointments. Health.mil External Link

    USAFRICOM

    DRC: Measles- One of many outbreaks ravaging the country

    4 June- The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continues to be in a humanitarian crisis–massive flooding in some areas affecting hundreds of thousands of people and leaving them without clean drinking water, armed clashes and violence in a number of areas around the country and of course, a plethora of infectious disease outbreaks. In 2019, we saw 369,520 measles cases and 6,779 deaths in DRC and the numbers, while decreasing in some areas, still remains high. In week ending 17 May 2020, 1,375 measles cases including 34 deaths (CFR 2.5 %) were reported across the country, bringing the country total since the beginning of the year to nearly 60,000 cases and 783 deaths. The provinces that reported majority of cases in the most recent week include: Tshopo (226 cases), Sankuru (206 cases), North-Ubangui (106 cases), North-Kivu (98 cases) and Mongala (82 cases). Over the past four weeks (weeks 17 to 20) a decreasing trend in the number of cases was observed in the provinces of: Bas-Uele, Haut Katanga, Ituri, Kasaï, Kinshasa, Kwango, Lomami, Lualaba, Maniema, North and South Ubangi, and Sankuru. Measles of course is just one of many outbreaks ravaging the DRC. Two Ebola outbreaks–one going on two years and one brand new on different sides of the country have made some headlines. Outbreak News Today External Link

    Ebola outbreak in western DRC grows, Not linked to outbreak in eastern DRC

    9 June- In a follow-up on a second Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in the Équateur Province in the western Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) reported on June 1, the World Health Organization (WHO) now reports a total of 12 cases (9 confirmed and 3 probable) with six deaths as of Saturday.  This is the 11th EVD outbreak in the country since 1976. The cases/deaths have been reported in three affected health zones: Bikoro (1 confirmed; 1 death), Mbandaka (6 confirmed, 3 probable; 1 death) and Wangata (2 confirmed; 1 death). The WHO reported today new genetic sequence analysis the National Institute of Biomedical Research (INRB) has found that the newly-identified Ebola virus circulating in the Equateur Province in western DRC is different from the one which has infected more than 3400 people in the eastern part of the country. "We are not surprised to find no link between the current outbreak in Mbandaka and the two previous ones. The ongoing Ebola outbreaks are far apart and there is a flight ban in place due to COVID-19," said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa. Outbreak News Today External Link 

    USCENTCOM

    Yemen: COVID-19- Fears cases and deaths are being underreported

    10 June- Fears that the coronavirus outbreak in Yemen could be worse than thought are being compounded by claims that Houthi rebels are suppressing the real toll. The UN and aid groups are also running out of money to help, with funding falling short of what is needed for basic aid in the country. Al Jazeera External Link

    USEUCOM

    Finland: COVID-19 cases continue to slow down

    6 June- The Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare report the coronavirus epidemic has continued to slow down compared to the situation two weeks ago.  The weekly average of cases reported to the communicable diseases register has decreased clearly from that reported two weeks ago, but it is about the same as last week. Now the estimated basic reproduction number is 0.75–0.80. This means that in Finland the trend in the coronavirus epidemic has been decreasing for quite some time. During the last period (25–31 May 2020) no new cases were reported in eight hospital districts. The number of patients hospitalized due to the disease has also decreased considerably from the situation two weeks ago. In the catchment areas for highly specialized medical care of the university hospitals, the healthcare situation is quite calm. The intensive care capacity was not exceeded at any point. Of all hospitalized patients, almost 80% have been in hospitals within the catchment area for highly specialized medical care of the Helsinki University Central Hospital. At present, the coronavirus testing capacity of laboratories is more than 13,000 samples per day. During the period 25–31 May the number of people tested for coronavirus was smaller than in the previous weeks. Outbreak News Today External Link

    Russia: New COVID-19 drug cures 'excessive inflammation' of virus patients

    9 June- A new coronavirus drug is newly registered in Russia that said to ease the pain of virus patients experiencing inflammation complications. Though it is not a vaccine, this drug may treat a sick person to feel less pain during COVID-19 treatment. Until a vaccine comes into the world, this might be helpful for most infected people.  Just to clarify, this drug is not a vaccine to totally cure patients with Coronavirus. However, it does help to curb the so-called "cytokine storm," a common complication from COVID-19 when the sick person's immune system overreacts to the virus, and the excessive inflammation leads to a deadly result. The developers said that the drug may help to ease the pain that COVID-19 patients had been experiencing in the hospitals, hopefully, with just enough time for other scientists and experts to find the best cure against the Novel Coronavirus, before its too late. Tech Times External Link

    USINDOPACOM

    Indonesia: Most provinces report less than 10 new COVID-19 cases

    7 June- Indonesia's health ministry, aka Kementerian Kesehatan Republik Indonesia, reported an additional 672 COVID-19 cases today, bringing the country total to 31,186, with the following province reporting the most cases–East Java increased 113, South Sulawesi increased 64 cases, Papua 59 cases, and Central Java 51 cases. COVID-19 has spread to all 34 provinces in Indonesia, but most of the provinces (21) reported less than 10 cases. "Of all the provinces there are 21 provinces that reported the addition of cases less than 10, 8 provinces of which there were absolutely no additional cases and 10 provinces whose increment rate was below 5," said the Government Spokesperson for COVID-19. 591 additional patients have recovered for a total of 10,498. Fifty additional deaths were reported, bringing the death total to 1,851. Government Spokesperson for COVID-19, Dr. Achmad said, almost 80% of patients positive for COVID-19 were found without symptoms. Nobody will realize that people around you carry the COVID-19 virus. That is why maintaining physical distance and wearing a mask are very important. "We understand that there are still people who have not implemented health protocols with discipline, but most of the people have understood and obeyed them," said Dr. Achmad. Therefore, he said, keeping a distance from anyone is the best step to avoid direct transmission. Not only that, avoiding indirect transmission must also be done, namely by washing hands frequently and not touching items in public places. Outbreak News Today External Link

    Philippines: Coronavirus cases top 21K, testing to expand

    6 June- The Philippines Department of Health reported an additional 714 COVID-19 cases Saturday, bringing the total to 21,340 cases.  The new cases account for 350 "fresh" test results or those reported within the last three days and 364 late cases or backlogs validated only recently. Seven additional fatalities were recorded, bringing the total to 994. The DOH also noted that the bed capacity as of June 5 stands at 13,666 — 3,018 are ward beds (35.09 percent occupied), 9,330 are isolation beds (34.02 percent occupied), and 1,318 are ICU beds (33.99 percent occupied). Additionally, the DOH has announced its plans to expand testing to include certain asymptomatic subgroups. Infectious disease expert, Dr. Anna Ong-Lim said  that there will still be criteria for deciding which groups of the asymptomatic population should be tested in order to efficiently maximize the limited supply. While testing is a vital part of the country's overall strategy against the pandemic, expanded targeted testing together with other strategies such as prevention through increasing resilience, contact tracing, isolation, and treatment and management remains to be the ideal approach to quell the spread of the disease. Health Undersecretary Dr. Maria Rosario Singh-Vergeire asked the public to continue the proper use of PPEs, physical distancing, and good hygiene should they find themselves outside. She also cautioned against going outside unless absolutely necessary, to minimize the risk of being exposed to COVID-19. Outbreak News Today External Link

    USNORTHCOM

    U.S.: North Dakota- White-Nose Syndrome reported in dead bats

    7 June- Little brown bats found dead in western North Dakota died of white-nose syndrome. In early May, the Southwest District Health Unit in Dickinson contacted the North Dakota Game and Fish Department with reports of dead bats found in Medora. Six were submitted to the USGS National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisc. for analysis. The bats all tested positive for the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans, and have been confirmed with WNS, a deadly disease of hibernating bats that has caused dramatic population declines in eastern states. It is named for the powdery, white fungus that often appears around the muzzle. WNS is not known to affect humans, pets, livestock or other wildlife. Game and Fish Department conservation biologist Patrick Isakson said the Department is working with several federal agencies to screen for Pd and WNS in North Dakota. Outbreak News Today External Link

    USSOUTHCOM

    Brazil: Dengue cases up 44 percent in the Federal District

    6 June-  Health officials in Brazil have reported 34,456 dengue fever cases through May 23 in the Federal District, an increase of 44 percent compared to 2019 at this time (23,890). The dengue related deaths are at 25, a decrease compared to last year.  The undersecretary of Health Surveillance, Eduardo Hage, warns that it is necessary to remember that Dengue can kill and the person can catch more than once, as there are four types of viruses. "Dengue remains a serious and serious disease, so the most important thing is for the population to prevent it, avoiding, for example, throwing plastic containers, debris outdoors or leaving plant pots with standing water, clogged roof gutters, water tanks. discovered water that accumulates water and favors the proliferation of mosquitoes, "he said. To combat the problem, the Federal District works with routine actions, every day and in all Administrative Regions, and with focal actions with the Sanear Dengue program. The routine visitation takes place daily in houses, shops and public buildings with focus treatment and orientation of the population by the teams of the Environmental Surveillance nuclei of their cities. In Sanear Dengue, on the other hand, a task force is carried out that goes through the places with the highest record of the disease. The area will, in loco, identify the possible outbreaks and make the appropriate treatment of potential breeding sites. Sanear Dengue also collects waste, garbage, car bodies, application of mobile and intercostal heavy UBV (smoked), placing traps to catch mosquitoes and treating reservoirs with larvae. In addition to the GDF bodies such as the Urban Cleaning Service (SLU), the Fire Department and the Regional Administration, the Department of Health has the support of Army military personnel. Outbreak News Today External Link

    Peru: Coronavirus cases near 200,000, first Indigenous COVID-19 Command in the Loreto

    8 June- The Peruvian Ministry of Health are reporting 199,696 COVID-19 cases through June 8. Lima continues to be the region with the highest number of COVID-19 infected with 118,036 cases. The following regions also present patients with Covid-19: Callao (14,017), Piura (10,886), Lambayeque (9933), Loreto (6349), La Libertad (5916), Ancash (5443), Ucayali (5421), Arequipa (4494), Ica (4375), Junín (2194), San Martín (1952), Tumbes (1585), Cusco (1260), Huánuco (1183), Cajamarca (947), Ayacucho (915), Amazonas (823), Madre de Dios (749), Moquegua (712), Pasco (643), Huancavelica (569), Tacna (535), Puno (471) and Apurímac (288). 5,571 deaths have been recorded. With the aim of strengthening primary health care, focused on indigenous communities, today the First Indigenous COVID-19 Command in the Loreto region was formed, made up of the Ministries of Health and Culture , the Regional Government of Loreto and the representatives of the communities: Achuar, Ashaninka, Awajún, Kandozi, Machiguenga, Shipibo, Urarina, Wampis, Yanesha, among others. The formation of this group was led by the Ministers of Health, Víctor Zamora and of Culture, Alejandro Neyra. An act was signed that marks the support of all actions to strengthen health services, from the first level of care to indigenous communities. Outbreak News Today External Link