Heroes of Military Medicine Awards Highlight Outstanding Service
6 May- The Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine recognizes several heroes of military medicine each year for their outstanding contributions to the field and to enhancing patients' lives. This year, three active duty doctors from the Army, Navy, and Air Force as well as a senior leader, a medical group, and a medical civilian were honored with medical hero awards for their excellence and dedication. Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ron Place, director of the Defense Health Agency, offered remarks at this year's award ceremony, May 5, which focused on a new award to recognize civilians in military medicine. "I'm thrilled that we're able to again gather here in person to recognize the exceptional men and women who exemplify the best in our Military Health System," Place said. "Overall, we have about 150,000 personnel working in military health, and about 60,000 of those individuals are civilians, nearly 40 percent of our team!" "Our first Civilian Hero of Military Medicine is a great example of the type of public servants we find in our unique system," he added. Dr. Michael Helwig, a family medicine doctor at Blanchfield Army Community HospitalBACH website, in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, was the civilian honoree at the event. His career in public health took him on eight deployments during active-duty service in the Army as well as medical exchanges and humanitarian medical missions throughout Latin America. Place recognized Helwig's long service in uniform as a retired Army colonel who decided to continue his work as a military doctor after reentering the civilian world. "Like many of you here in this room who once wore a uniform, he recognized 'I love this mission. And I love the people I have the privilege of serving.' And so, since 2016, he continued to serve," Place said. The active-duty medical professionals who received the medical hero awards include: Army Col. (Dr.) John Csokmay, Navy Lt. Cmdr. (Dr.) Daniel Hammer, and Air Force Col. (Dr.) Vik Bebarta. Csokmay serves as chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Walter Reed National Military Medical CenterWRNMMC website in Bethesda, Maryland. His achievements include leading the DOD's largest and only Tri-Service OB-GYN department and directing the department through the COVID-19 pandemic. He has also deployed to Afghanistan as a battalion surgeon with the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team from Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington. Hammer is a maxillofacial surgical oncologist and reconstructive surgeon at Naval Medicine Readiness and Training Command San DiegoNMRTC-SD website. He established the Maxillofacial Restorative Surgery Platform at NMRTC-SD, with the mission to be the global leader in the development and delivery of comprehensive maxillofacial restoration of patients. Previously, he served aboard the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln as the dental division officer and the ship's oral surgeon. Bebarta is vice chair of strategy and growth and director of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado's Anschutz Center for COMBAT Research. His work has shaped military and civilian emergency trauma care and national policy. In addition, Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville accepted the Senior Leader Award on behalf of the soldiers who responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. Health.mil
Army Trials helps injured Soldier show the world she can still compete
8 May- Throwing around 126-152 pounds of ammunition rounds is all in a day's work for U.S. Army Cpl. Jennifer Acker. As an ammunition specialist at Fort Riley, Kansas, she controls, supplies, and delivers ammunitions to training units. In July of 2019, while offloading those supplies, she knew something had gone wrong. “I threw a couple of them, my shoulder felt funny, so I switched to a smaller munition," Acker explained. “The guys I was with finished the larger stuff. A few days later we came back to restock and re-supply everything. As we loaded up, I heard a really bad sound in my shoulder." She said she suspected she had torn everything. An initial surgery to repair her left labrum and a muscle was in order, but afterward there was something she knew was not quite right. “I was going through months of PT (physical therapy) and noticed I was losing strength rather than gaining strength. I sneezed one day, and my shoulder fell out of the socket." She knew that wasn't normal and got an emergency appointment with her doctor who ordered another MRI. This was in February - March time frame, at the beginning of the shut down from the Pandemic. The MRI showed her bicep muscle had detached. “It changed my way of living for sure that summer; things like mowing the lawn and getting groceries plus I was a care giver for my mother-in-law and my spouse. It was a challenge." In March of 2021 she had a full shoulder replacement. In June 2021, she began recovering at the Fort Riley Soldier Recovery Unit. “I went through the then Warrior Transition Battalion several years ago when I broke my leg in Afghanistan, so I knew how the program worked. It's an excellent group of people. My ARCP (Army Recovery Care Program) team today is the reason I am here at Army Trials," she said with a smile." Acker is at Fort Bragg, North Carolina this week competing in cycling, sitting volleyball, standing discus and swimming for the opportunity to represent Team Army at the Department of Defense Warrior Games in Orlando this August. DVIDS
Change is a challenge worth conquering
7 May- Change of any kind can require an adjustment to what used to be normal. For some, change is expected and embraced; for others, it can be chaotic and life-altering. Service members in Soldier Recovery Units are given tools to persevere and become more resilient as they embrace a 'new normal.' With the 2022 Army Trials taking place at Fort Bragg for the first time, and every Soldier-athlete attending their first competition, it is no surprise many of them are competing in an adaptive sport…for the first time. These were unexpected changes to the organizers of the trials, but the change is inspiring all involved, particularly the competitors. Change, didn't stop U.S. Army 1st Lt. Jeffrey Jones, Fort Stewart SRU, it motivated him. Like many of the active duty Soldiers at the trails, Jones doesn't “look" like he is wounded or injured. He has an invisible illness that is life-changing. He wasn't sure he would even make it to the trials because of a recent chemotherapy treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma. When he found out there were still spots available, he jumped at the chance and the challenge. During the field events on May 5, Jones found himself throwing the discus for the very first time. “Definitely my first time throwing the discus," he said with a smile. “It is very technical." The technical aspect didn't “throw" him off at all. He attacked it, and gained confidence with every throw. One of the things that surprised him most about being at the Army Trials is the competitive nature of his teammates. “Usually when you have someone that is wounded or they have something going on, they might not give their all," he explained. “Everyone here is motivating themselves and their peers." Just like Jones, Spc. Dillion Edwards, Fort Carson SRU, never threw the discus before. Edwards is the example of a go-getter. He sustained three injuries to one of his legs. “The last one was kind of the straw that broke the camel's back," he said. “It was an airborne injury and I just kept on working on it and one day, I kind of couldn't walk." That's when his wife forced him to go to the hospital. Three surgeries later, he landed at the SRU. DVIDS
LRMC Soldiers vie for best warrior title
9 May- Over 15 Soldiers in Europe recently competed to earn the title of Landstuhl Regional Medical Center's Best Warrior and secure a spot on the largest American Military Medical Center's Best Squad, during LRMC's Best Warrior / Squad competition, April 25-27. The competition tested Soldiers on Army warrior tasks and battle drills, life-saving skills, military competence and physical fitness. “The winners from this competition will move on to the Regional Health Command Europe competition against the other best squads around the region," explains Army Master Sgt. Luis Arambulaguzman. noncommissioned officer in charge of the competition. “The importance of this is just the concept of the overall Soldier skills and test resiliency." Over the course of two days Soldiers participated in an Army Combat Fitness Test, ruck marches, battlefield scenarios, and simulated medical trauma response. According to Arambulaguzman, the competition not only tested Soldiers against each other but also aimed to build cohesion and teamwork, an upshot echoed by competition participants. “It was fun watching my peers cheer each other along," said Army Sgt. Jason Barajas, an optometry technician at Baumholder Army Health Clinic. Additionally, Barajas points out the competition helps prepare Soldiers for missions which aren't common in a fixed medical facility environment. “I was just challenging myself, seeing how I can become better as a soldier," said Barajas, a native of San Bernardino, California. “I did this to prepare myself like to see where push my limits of physical and mental." Following the competition, six Soldiers were recognized as LRMC's Best Squad: 1st Lt. Zachary Rojas, Sgt. Christian Manjarrez, Sgt. Dean Santos, Spc. Caleb Nawman, Spc. Jhoshua Alfaro and Spc. Emilia Grant. LRMC's Best Squad will go on to compete at the RHCE competition in late May. “It was nice to see battle buddies, not just from LRMC, but from other places, experiencing the same challenges, said Grant, a native of Lemon Grove, California and a nutrition care specialist at LRMC. “LRMC is a hospital, so we work as a hospital. Sometimes the regular Army (warrior skills) gets kind of lost in that, but we try our best." Army.mil
New MHS GENESIS Capabilities Deployed at BAMC and LACKLAND
3 May- Earlier this year, Wave BAMC and Wave LACKLAND simultaneously deployed the new federal electronic health record (EHR), which the DOD calls MHS GENESIS. With these waves, six more Military Treatment Facility Commands deployed MHS GENESIS including Brooke Army Medical Center, Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Dyess Air Force Base, Goodfellow AFB, Lackland AFB and Laughlin AFB. BAMC is the largest hospital in the Military Health System and houses the DOD's only Level 1 trauma center and specialized burn unit. BAMC's unique medical capabilities including trauma, burn and comprehensive extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) specialty units required new functions within the EHR that created an enterprise standard. BAMC also has the highest population of patients enrolled in the Secretarial Designee (SECDES) program in the United States. The SECDES program allows civilian patients suffering from a variety of trauma, burn, and ECMO injuries to be treated by military physicians. This program provides more opportunities for military providers to keep their specialized skills sharp. The SECDES program requires advanced data-sharing with civilian clinicians and insurance providers to communicate health histories and insurance claims for proper coordination of care. What was once a cumbersome and decentralized communication process is now standardized and automated within MHS GENESIS which greatly improves the patient experience. Additionally, the burn workflows incorporated into MHS GENESIS immediately benefit patients and providers. For example, MHS GENESIS now assists clinicians by calculating burn surface area percentages and automatically advises the proper aggressiveness of treatment. In order to hit the ground running, the BAMC burn team logged into MHS GENESIS in advance to set up frequently used clinical orders; consequently, BAMC leadership detected no gaps in content upon Go-Live. Health.mil
Research shows service dogs improve lives of veterans suffering from PTSD
8 May- The effect of service dogs on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in veterans, who may develop PTSD following stressful or traumatic events, was recently investigated by researcher Emmy van Houtert at Utrecht University. She also looked at the effect of the service work on the dogs. Service dogs appear to change the lives of people with PTSD for the better. The dogs themselves do not seem to experience any stress from their work. PTSD is the result of one or more very stressful or traumatic events. Common symptoms are nightmares, anxiety and dejection. PTSD can affect a person's life and that of their loved ones very negatively. Veterans, police and other uniformed professionals can develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the course of their work. Veterans feel better and experience fewer symptoms thanks to service dogs. Service dogs have been used for years to help veterans with PTSD. Until now, there was no scientific evidence that service dogs can have a positive effect on the mental state of veterans. In the PhD research of Van Houtert, the effect of the interaction between a service dog and a veteran was studied, with the aim of improving the treatment of PTSD whilst guaranteeing the welfare of the service dog at the same time. Results show that - thanks to their service dog - veterans are able to cope with their PTSD symptoms better. The physiological characteristics of PTSD, such as the stress hormone cortisol, did not change, yet the veterans felt significantly better: they had fewer nightmares, slept better and had fewer clinical symptoms. Devdiscourse
WRNMMC's Chief Nursing Officer commends nurses for their service to the nation's heroes
6 May- National Nurses Week, observed May 6-12, recognizes and honors the special role nurses play in the field of health care and the welfare of their patients. But according to Chief Nursing Officer Navy Capt. Jessica Beard, the nurses at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) deserve recognition year-round because of the unique roles they fill serving at the Flagship of Military Medicine. “There is no place I would rather be than where I'm at right now, being a nurse at the President's Hospital," she said. “Serving our active duty members, our veterans, their families and even our top government officials is a good feeling. Our nurses are superstars and we have to celebrate them today and always," she said. Beard joined the Navy 33 years ago. She started as a storekeeper at the grade of Seaman Recruit (E1), the Navy's lowest enlisted rank. She credits the Navy with giving her the opportunity to follow her passion of becoming a nurse. She would later build on that passion to become the Director of Nursing at WRNMMC. Throughout her career, Beard served in numerous overseas and stateside assignments, including Afghanistan, Japan, California, Florida, Mississippi, and Rhode Island. In late 2020, the Navy captain came to WRNMMC and assumed her current role as chief nursing officer. She describes the job as an honor. “Taking care of our heroes and their families is something that brings joy, and I am delighted to be part of it, working alongside these amazing hard-working nurses," she said. “That feeling is priceless." DVIDS
100-year-old vaccine remains broadly protective in newborns
10 May- Researchers at the Precision Vaccines Program at Boston Children's Hospital recently partnered with the Expanded Program on Immunization Consortium, an international team studying early life immunization, to collect and comprehensively profile blood samples from newborns immunized with the century-old Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine, using a powerful “big data" approach. Published by the peer-review journal Cell Reports on May 3, 2022, this study found the tuberculosis (TB)-focused BCG vaccine protected newborns and infants against multiple bacterial and viral infections unrelated to TB. And BCG vaccinations at birth changed metabolite and lipid profiles in newborns' blood plasma in a pattern distinct from those in the delayed-vaccine group. These changes correlated with innate immune system responses. The researchers had similar findings when they tested for BCG in cord blood samples from a cohort of newborns in Boston, MA, from a separate NIH/NIAID-funded Human Immunology Project Consortium study in The Gambia and Papua New Guinea. “A growing number of studies show that BCG vaccination protects against unrelated infections," says Ofer Levy, MD, Ph.D., director of the Precision Vaccines Program and the study's senior investigator, in a related press release. "BCG is an 'old school' vaccine — it's made from a live, weakened germ — but live vaccines like BCG seem to activate the immune system in a very different way in early life, providing broad protection against a range of bacterial and viral infections." “It's critical that we learn from BCG to understand better how to protect newborns." "There's much work ahead to better understand that and use that information to build better vaccines for infants." Precision Vaccinations
CDC probing mysterious liver disease suspected in children's deaths
6 May- U.S. health officials are looking into more than 100 possible cases of a mysterious and severe liver disease in children, including five deaths. About two dozen states reported suspected cases after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put out a call for doctors to be on the lookout for surprising cases of hepatitis. The cases date back to late October in children under 10. So far, only nine cases in Alabama have been confirmed. "We are casting a wide net to broaden our understanding," the CDC's Dr. Jay Butler said Friday. Butler explained that though the CDC is "casting a wide net" in its investigation, not all of the cases may be linked to the same cause. "Investigators both here and across the globe are hard at work to determine the cause," Butler continued. What's causing the illnesses isn't clear. Adenovirus was detected in half the children, "but we do not know if it is the cause," he said. There are dozens of adenoviruses, many of them associated with cold like symptoms, fever, sore throat and pink eye. But some versions can trigger other problems, including inflammation in the stomach and intestines. Officials are exploring a link to one particular version that's normally associated with gut inflammation. Fox News
Children get long Covid, too, and it can show up in unexpected ways
6 May- November 10 is a day Kim Ford remembers too well. It was the day last year when her 9-year-old son, Jack, was scheduled to get his Covid-19 vaccine at the school clinic. They were excited that he'd finally have some protection, but on November 9, he had the sniffles. "When he woke up [November 10] and he was feeling even worse, I said, 'You know what, let's test you before you go in, because I don't want you to get the Covid vaccine if you actually have Covid,' " the Michigan mom said. Jack tested positive for Covid-19 that day and he's lived with the symptoms ever since. It has kept him from staying at school all day. He has to limit how much he plays baseball with the other neighborhood kids. Even playing Fortnite for too long can leave him feeling sick the next day. He's one of potentially millions of kids with long Covid. "My stomach hurts. It's kind of hard to breathe. You have a stuffy nose. It's just an absurd amount of things that you can feel," Jack Ford said. "It's really annoying at times. It's not like a cold, you know, it feels like Covid. CNN
Explainer: Some patients reporting COVID rebounds after taking Pfizer pills
11 May- More than 2.8 million courses of Pfizer Inc's (PFE.N) COVID-19 oral antiviral treatment Paxlovid have been made available at pharmacies around the United States, with the Biden administration working to improve access to the drug. As Paxlovid has become more widely used, some patients have reported that COVID-19 symptoms recurred after completing treatment and experiencing improvement. Here is the latest information on these rebounds: How common is a recurrence of COVID symptoms shortly after Paxlovid treatment? Dozens of individuals have reported rebounding COVID symptoms on social media or to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration after taking Paxlovid, but Pfizer suggests the experience is rare. Pfizer has said that from more than 300,000 patients it is monitoring who received the 5-day treatment, around 1-in-3,000 - about 0.03% - reported a relapse after taking the pills. Reuters
Misinformation spurring U.S. life expectancy "erosion," FDA chief says
7 May- U.S., Food and Drug Administration commissioner Robert Califf told CNN on Saturday evening "almost no one" in the U.S. should be dying from COVID-19, but misinformation was impacting the death toll. By the numbers: Nearly 998,000 people have died of COVID in the U.S. since the pandemic began as of Sunday night, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
- The coronavirus was the third leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2021 for the second consecutive year, behind heart disease and cancer.
What he's saying: Califf acknowledged to CNN's Pamela Brow that there's "no way to quantify" his belief that misinformation is the leading cause of death in the U.S., but pointed to "an erosion" of life expectancy" that's on average five years shorter than other high-income countries.
- "These are all based on estimates but this is quite disturbing," Califf said.
- "With COVID, the situation is we know that if you're vaccinated and up to date with your vaccinations, you have a 90% reduction in the risk of death," he said. "If you are unlucky enough to get infected … another 90% reduction would be anti-virals, which are now available," he added.
The bottom line: "Almost no one in this country should be dying from COVID, if we were up to date on our vaccinations and got appropriate anti-viral treatment," Califf said.
Worth noting: Califf, a cardiologist by training, told Brow that what's concerned him for a long time since before the pandemic was the "reduction of life expectancy from common diseases like heart disease," for which a lot of information was available on preventing bad outcomes. AXIOS
Severe COVID may age survivors' brains 20 years: Study
6 May- A serious bout of COVID-19 can prompt a serious loss of brain power, new research warns, triggering a drop in IQ that's equivalent to aging from 50 to 70 in a matter of months. "Previous research has indicated that people who have recovered from COVID-19 may suffer from lasting problems in terms of their ability to concentrate and problem solve," noted study author Adam Hampshire. He's an associate member with the U.K. Dementia Research Institute Care Research and Technology Centre, in London. "What we were trying to find out was how pronounced these [thinking] difficulties were in patients who had been more severely ill, which aspects of [thinking] were most affected, whether there was any sign of recovery over time, and what the underlying cause might be," Hampshire added. To that end, the research team focused on a group of 46 British patients who had been hospitalized with severe COVID-19 during the first few months of the pandemic (from March 2020 through July 2020). At the time, one-third had been so sick that they needed to be put on a mechanical ventilator. Mental health assessments conducted six months after first being hospitalized — at which point the initial viral infections had resolved — revealed a significant drop in memory and concentration skills, alongside a notable slow-down in the ability to problem-solve accurately and quickly. Patients were often very forgetful, Hampshire stressed, struggling with the sort of "brain fog" that would often make it difficult to find the words to express themselves. Health Day
CDC: Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report
Key Updates for Week 17, ending April 30, 2022:
- Influenza activity varies by region. Influenza activity continues to increase in parts of the country.
- The majority of influenza viruses detected are A(H3N2). H3N2 viruses identified so far this season are genetically closely related to the vaccine virus. Antigenic data show that the majority of the H3N2 viruses characterized are antigenically different from the vaccine reference viruses. While the number of B/Victoria viruses circulating this season is small, the majority of the B/Victoria viruses characterized are antigenically similar to the vaccine reference virus.
- The percentage of outpatient visits due to respiratory illness remained stable compared to last week and is below baseline. Influenza is contributing to levels of respiratory illness, but other respiratory viruses are also circulating. The relative contribution of influenza varies by location.
- The number of hospital admissions with laboratory confirmed influenza that were reported to HHS Protect has decreased for the first time since January.
- The cumulative hospitalization rate in the FluSurv-NET system is higher than the end-of-seasons rates for the 2020-2021 and 2011-2012 seasons, but lower than the rate seen at this time during the four seasons preceding the COVID-19 pandemic.
- One influenza-associated pediatric death was reported this week. There have been 24 pediatric deaths reported this season.
- CDC estimates that, so far this season, there have been at least 5.7 million flu illnesses, 59,000 hospitalizations, and 3,600 deaths from flu.
- An annual flu vaccine is the best way to protect against flu. Vaccination can prevent serious outcomes in people who get vaccinated but still get sick. CDC continues to recommend that everyone ages 6 months and older get a flu vaccine as long as flu activity continues.
- There are also prescription flu antiviral drugs that can be used to treat flu illness. CDC
FDA says there is plenty of infant formula despite recall of Similac, other brands
11 May- Amid nationwide reports of infant formula shortages, FDA says sales are up and it is working to make sure appropriate formulas are available to the public. An outbreak of cronobacter infections that has hospitalized at least four babies with two deaths has led to the closure of a major manufacturing plant operated by Abbott Nutrition in Sturgis, MI. The outbreak spurred the company to recall a number of infant formulas sold under the brands of Similac, Alimentum and EleCare. Among the recalled products are infant formulas for babies and older children with special dietary needs because of medical conditions. Last week the Food and Drug Administration announced it was allowing Abbott Nutrition to begin releasing several of those products on a case-by-case basis in conjunction with health care providers' recommendations. Almost immediately after the recalls were put in place on Feb. 17, news media across the country started reporting on parents who said they were having problems finding powdered infant formula. Datasembly, a retail software company, said that about 31 percent of formula products were out of stock across the country as of April. In seven states — Connecticut, Delaware, Montana, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Texas and Washington — the rate for the week of April 3 was even worse, at 40 percent. However, the FDA reported on May 10 that sales data paints a different picture. “The FDA continues to take several significant actions to help increase the current supply of infant formula in the U.S. In fact, other infant formula manufacturers are meeting or exceeding capacity levels to meet current demand," according to the agency update. “Notably, more infant formula was purchased in the month of April than in the month prior to the recall." Food Safety News
Ready-to-eat chicken may be undercooked; recall expanded to 290 tons
7 May- Wayne Farms LLC of Decatur, AL, has expanded its nationwide recall of ready-to-eat chicken breast fillets because they may be undercooked, which can result in the growth of foodborne pathogens. The recall has been expanded from 30,285 pounds to 585,030 pounds. There are five new production codes — 23618, 24357, 24512, 24583, and 24957 — and 66 different “use by" dates ranging from May 10 this year through April 4, 2023... “The problem was discovered when the firm received a customer complaint that the RTE chicken product appeared to be undercooked, according to the recall notice posted by the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service. “FSIS is concerned that some products may be in consumers' or restaurants' freezers or refrigerators. Consumers are urged not to eat these products. Restaurants are urged not to serve these products. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase." Food Safety News
How stress can damage your brain and body
26 April- We all know what stress feels like physically — though the symptoms vary by person. Some people experience shakiness or a racing heart, while others develop muscle tension, headaches or stomach aches. But what we might not realize is that our physiological responses to life's stresses and strains can have deeper, less obvious repercussions for just about every organ and system in the body. “I think people really underestimate just how big the effects are," said Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, director of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at Ohio State University's College of Medicine. When you experience stress, your brain triggers the release of a cascade of hormones — such as cortisol, epinephrine (a.k.a., adrenaline) and norepinephrine — that produce physiological changes. These changes, called the stress response or the fight-or-flight response, are designed to help people react to or cope with a threat or danger they're facing. The trouble is that these changes can and do occur in response to stressors that are not life-threatening — work deadlines, traffic jams, financial pressures, family strife — and, over time, they can take a toll on the body and mind. “People understand big stressors, but they don't pay attention to smaller, accumulating stressors that make a difference, too," Kiecolt-Glaser said. The Washington Post
Covid in Africa: Why the continent's only vaccine plant is struggling
7 May- The global organizations that buy Covid vaccines for poorer countries "need to step up" and order doses from Africa's only Covid vaccine maker in order to save the production line, the company's senior executive told the BBC. This follows warnings from Aspen Pharmacare that it may have to stop production at its South African plant. It has been hit by low demand. Fewer than one in six Africans have had two doses of a coronavirus vaccine, with many reluctant to get jabbed. The continent's top health body has also urged those buying the jabs for Africa to place orders with Aspen. Last November, Aspen negotiated a licensing deal to package and sell Johnson & Johnson's vaccine for distribution across Africa. At the time, the deal was seen as a major boost for African countries which received far fewer doses than richer parts of the world. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Wednesday that he was working with his counterparts in Kenya, Rwanda, Egypt and Ghana in order "to make sure that vaccines that will be used on our own continent are actually bought from companies that make vaccines here". BBC
Israel: Strauss salmonella chain of events, Audit of plant and recall in US
1 May- The Israeli Ministry of Health published the chain of events involving the Strauss-Elite products last week: On April 19, 2002, preliminary findings were received from the manufacturer that came up as part of routine inspections and showed the presence of salmonella in the production area but not in the food products sampled at the factory and not yet marketed. As a result, the company was instructed to conduct broader tests of the production environment, products and raw material. On April 21, a report was received of non-final findings that indicated a suspicion of the presence of salmonella in the raw material – in a quick test and not a full laboratory test lasting about 5 days. Therefore, the manufacturer is not required to perform a recall. On April 24, the manufacturer contacted the Ministry of Health with the final test results, which indicate that there is evidence of salmonella in the production environment and in the raw material. Following the final results in the raw materials and in the production environment, the company carried out an initiated (recall) return in coordination with the food service at the Ministry of Health, to all chocolate products whose production date is from the beginning of February. Outbreak News Today
Europe to drop mandate for face masks during air travel next week
11 May- Face masks will not have to be worn in airports and on flights in Europe from May 16, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said on Wednesday. "From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport," EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky said. Italy, France, Bulgaria and other European countries been relaxing or ending many or all of their measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. A number of U.S. airlines said they would no longer require masks in April, after a federal judge in Florida ruled that the U.S. administration's mask mandate on public transport was unlawful. ECDC Director Andrea Ammon said that even though wearing masks would not be mandatory "it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission." Reuters
Shanghai disease control officer lays down law defending quarantine measures
11 May- An official with Shanghai's disease control center defended the strict imposition of COVID quarantine measures, rejecting accusations from critics that officials were overstepping their authority. In a battle to stifle China's largest COVID-19 outbreak, Shanghai has forced neighbors of positive cases to move into central quarantine facilities, even if they have tested negative, spurring outrage and raising questions of legality among residents and experts. "The policies we are implementing right now are in accordance with the relevant laws and regulations," Sun Xiaodong, the deputy director of the Shanghai Municipal Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told a media briefing, Sun said a clause in China's infectious disease law says that every individual was obliged to comply with measures adopted by the CDC and other health care agencies to prevent the spread of disease. "These obligations include complying with epidemiological investigations, testing and sampling and obeying quarantine requirements," he said. There are also clear provisions in China's emergency management regulations, he added. Social media has been flooded with accounts of Shanghai authorities not only forcing neighbors into quarantine hospitals but even demanding that they hand over the keys to their homes so they can be disinfected. Reuters
In 2021, U.S. drug overdose deaths hit highest level on record, CDC data shows
11 May- Drug overdoses in the United States were deadlier than ever in 2021, according to provisional data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 108,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2021, and about two-thirds of those deaths involved fentanyl or another synthetic opioid. Overdose deaths have been on the rise for years in the US, but surged amid the Covid-19 pandemic: Annual deaths were nearly 50% higher in 2021 than in 2019, CDC data shows. The spike in overdose deaths in the second year of the pandemic wasn't as quite as dramatic as in the first year: Overdose deaths were up about 15% between 2020 and 2021, compared with a 30% jump between 2019 and 2020. But the change is still stark. In 2021, about 14,000 more people died of overdose deaths in than in 2020, the CDC data shows. "This is indeed a continuation of an awful trend. Rates of overdose deaths have been on an upward climb for decades now, increasing at unprecedented rates right before the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in the US," said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. CNN
Venezuela: Dozens of cutaneous leishmaniasis cases reported in Anzoátegui State
9 May- At least 66 cutaneous leishmaniasis cases have been reported in Sabana de Uchire, Bruzual municipality of Anzoátegui in northeastern Venezuela, according to an El Pitazo report. It is estimated that people started getting sick in January 2022. It is noted that there are three reasons for the increase in cases: sandflies abound in the area, people have not been able to go to the doctor and 20 years without fumigation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says Leishmaniasis is a parasitic disease that is found in parts of the tropics, subtropics, and southern Europe. Leishmaniasis is caused by infection with Leishmania parasites, which are spread by the bite of infected sand flies. There are several different forms of leishmaniasis in people. The most common forms are cutaneous leishmaniasis, which causes skin sores, and visceral leishmaniasis, which affects several internal organs (usually spleen, liver, and bone marrow). Outbreak News Today