Army-specific Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information
Get all the Army-specific information and communication resources related to COVID-19 from the Army Public Health Center. APHC
2019 Health of the Force
Through annual reporting of key indicators that impact readiness and Soldier well-being, Health of the Force improves awareness and understanding of the health status of the Army. Results are communicated through an online digital platform and traditional reports. The Health of the Force suite of products gives leaders tools to advance programs and strategies that improve performance and reduce illness and injury. APHC
DoD initiates Women's Health Reproductive Survey
4 August- The Department of Defense Active Duty Women's Reproductive Health Survey, or WRHS, is the first survey specifically focused on the reproductive health of female service members in over 30 years. The WRHS, which will begin in August, provides information that can shape policy and clinical care in the area of women's health. The survey assesses behaviors and experiences that can affect military readiness and inform clinicians about women's gynecologic and obstetrical care needs. A select, random sample of women will be invited via email or post to participate in this survey. Kimberly Lahm, program director for Patient Advocacy & Experience, Women's, Child & Family Health Policy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, states the goal of the WRHS is to better understand experiences with access to care, needs, and preferences for family planning, contraception, and reproductive health among female service members. "Participants have a great opportunity to provide feedback to help the military identify policies and practices that best meet their needs," Lahm said. "The WRHS is voluntary and confidential. Selected female service members interested in sharing their feedback are highly encouraged to participate." This one-time survey takes 12-15 minutes to complete, and can be taken during work hours via computer, smartphone, or tablet. It does not have to be completed in one sitting, so participants can pause and return to the survey as needed. DoD has contracted with RAND Corporation to develop, administer, and analyze the survey results. RAND is a private, nonprofit organization that conducts research and analysis to help improve public policy and decision-making. The comprehensive findings will not include any personally identifiable information and all responses are confidential. Survey participants will be randomly selected from a sample of active-duty female service members in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard. Diana Jeffery, Ph.D., project director for the survey from the DHA Clinical Support Division, says that inclusion of women from the total force will assist in creating a picture of what issues affect women in each service. Health.mil
MTFs plan and prepare to face any emergency or disaster
4 August- For military medical treatment facilities preparing for emergencies and natural disasters, Mark Starnes offers this advice: "Train like you fight." As the emergency manager at Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina, Starnes and his team begin emergency preparations with routine drills and exercises long before an actual disaster strikes. "We perform a vulnerability analysis, develop a training plan, have a solid checklist, and prepare for 'known' vulnerabilities as early in the season as possible," said Starnes. Storm preparations allowed NMCCL staff to continue caring for patients during Hurricane Dorian, a category 2 storm that passed over Eastern North Carolina in September 2019. Contingency measures as part of the medical center's planning even accounted for the peace of mind of staff, bringing in families and pets of essential personnel during the hurricane. "We think that while on board during an emergency, a person cannot worry about those potentially left at home to evacuate or remain in their house," Starnes said. "Patients receive better care when the staff is considered a 'family' in itself." Planning for emergencies is all about mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery efforts, said Craig Williams, emergency manager at Evans Army Community Hospital at Fort Carson, Colorado. The military base and hospital maintain robust emergency management plans and conduct frequent practice drills and exercises to help build a sense of collaboration. These steps ensure everyone knows what they're doing in a time of crisis. In 2018, a fire broke out on the southwest portion of Fort Carson near the hospital and a housing area, resulting in a joint hospital-base response. "We worked closely together, in coordination with local community partners, to ensure everyone's safety," Williams said, adding protecting and preventing damage to buildings was also a top priority in their response efforts. Military hospitals are not an island apart from the civilian community, Starnes added. Collaboration and a unified response to a natural disaster are critical since a community or region will be affected, not just one building. Health.mil
Service Chiefs to SecDef: Stop the handover of military hospitals to Defense Health Agency
10 August- The heads of the U.S. military branches are calling on the Defense Department to stop the transfer of all medical facilities to the Defense Health Agency, saying the novel coronavirus pandemic has shown that the plan to convey the services' hospitals and clinics to the agency is "not viable." In a memo sent to Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Aug. 5, the secretaries of the Army, Navy and Air Force, along with the branch chiefs of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Space Force, called for the return of all military hospitals and clinics already transferred to the DHA and suspension of any planned moves of personnel or resources. They said that the COVID-19 outbreak has demonstrated that the reform, which was proposed by Congress in the fiscal 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, "introduces barriers, creates unnecessary complexity and increases inefficiency and cost." "The proposed DHA end-state represents unsustainable growth with a disparate intermediate structure that hinders coordination of service medical response to contingencies such as a pandemic," they wrote in the memo, first obtained by a reporter for Synopsis, a Capitol Hill newsletter that focuses on military and veterans health care. The DoD launched major reforms of its health system in 2013 with the creation of the Defense Health Agency, an organization initially established to improve the quality of health care available to military personnel and family members and reduce services such as administration, IT, logistics and training that existed in triplicate across the three service medical commands. But the initiatives ballooned in 2016, with Congress passing legislation that placed the DHA in charge of military hospitals and clinics worldwide, as well as research and development, public health agencies, medical logistics and other operations run by the service medical commands. On Oct. 1, 2019, all military hospitals and clinics in the continental United States were transferred to the DHA, with those overseas expected to move over by October 2021. Military.com
Survey: One-fifth of Virginia military families say they don't have reliable food access
11 August- Nearly a fifth of active military families in Virginia say they can't reliably afford enough food — and many even experience longer term hunger, according to a survey conducted by the Military Family Advisory Network. Most of those families are concentrated in the Hampton Roads area, the nonprofit said. "It's something that caught us off guard," said executive director Shannon Razsadin, who's also a Navy spouse. "No one would think military families are at risk of food insecurity." The network conducts an annual nationwide survey that asks military families about a range of issues from mental and physical health to finances and child care. Razsadin said the organization tries to stay ahead of the curve with problems the families are facing. A few years ago, a member of the network's advisory board who lives in Virginia Beach said she was seeing food insecurity among local military families, Razsadin said. That led to the issue being added to the survey. They use a six-question scale developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that asks, for example, if in the past year you have eaten less than you felt you should because there wasn't enough money for food, whether you've skipped meals for the same reason and whether you couldn't afford to eat balanced meals. If respondents answer affirmatively to at least two of the items, they're considered food insecure. At five or more, they're experiencing hunger. The advisory network's most recent survey was conducted in October and November and included 7,785 people. Nationwide, nearly 13% of military family respondents qualified as having food insecurity. Almost 8% of those families were on the highest end of the scale. In Virginia, that number was 18.3%, with 11.3% at the high end of the scale. The only state with a larger percentage was Texas. "I was very surprised. We've heard about it anecdotally, but we had no idea the number of cases and the severity of those cases," Razsadin said. "We know if you can't meet basic needs, there's no way you can get to a point where you and your family are thriving. It's a real concern when we look at force readiness in particular." News Break
U.S. Troops may not get priority for COVID-19 vaccine after all
10 August- Critical decisions on who will be first to get a possible COVID-19 vaccine have yet to be made, according to the director of Operation Warp Speed, the whole-of-government effort to develop and distribute a safe and effective immunization. Despite early indications from government officials that the military, the elderly and other groups would get priority, Dr. Moncef Slaoui said he is in the opening stages of organizing an "independent scientific summit" to make recommendations on vaccine distribution, with the goal of keeping politics out of decisions. In an Aug. 6 American Enterprise Institute podcast, Slaoui said he has been in discussions with Dr. Francis Collins, head of the National Institutes of Health, on arranging a scientific summit. "It's a super important question. It's a critical question. And I can tell you: First, we decided who should not do it," Slaoui said of decisions on vaccination priorities. "That's very important. I think this should not be politically motivated." He said Collins suggested having the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine lead a summit on the "ethical, epidemiology, and virological vaccinologist discussions around how to best serve the population, with all its diversity, with a new vaccine or new vaccines against COVID-19." "We are helping to generate the independent information to inform, and the science to inform, those important decisions" on distribution, said Slaoui, the former head of GlaxoSmithKline's vaccines department. The summit's purpose would be to discuss "how to best introduce new vaccines, who to immunize first, what kind of performance of vaccine is best suited to what kind of population with what we know," he said. Military.com
Antibody drugs could be one of the best weapons against Covid-19- But will they matter?
11 August- From the moment Covid-19 emerged as a threat, one approach to making drugs to treat or prevent the disease seemed to hold the most promise: They're known as monoclonal antibodies. Now, scientists are on the brink of getting important data that may indicate whether these desperately needed therapies could be safe and effective. Clinical trials involving a pair of antibodies developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals will read out early results in September. A separate effort from Eli Lilly could yield data later in the fall. Despite experts' eagerness to see the data, however, there remains a debate over just how significant a role any antibody treatment might play in changing the course of the pandemic. "A lot of smart people who understand immunology and virology think antibodies will work," said Robert Nelsen, an investor at ARCH Venture Partners who is invested in Vir Biotechnology, which will start tests of its own Covid-19 antibody study this month. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, is less sure antibody treatments will be significant factors in bringing the pandemic under control. Even though the development efforts have been proceeding extraordinarily fast by normal standards, the U.S. has spent billions of dollars purchasing vaccines in advance, but has done far less to shore up capacity for antibody drugs. Stat News
Chemotherapy in cancer patients with Covid-19 'not a risk'
7 August- Continuing chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatment in cancer patients with Covid-19 is not a risk to their survival, a study suggests. It also recommends further research into the drug hydroxychloroquine, which appeared to benefit some patients. The findings, from 890 infected cancer patients in the UK, Spain, Italy and Germany, could help identify who is most at risk from coronavirus. Breast cancer patients had half the death rate of other patients. The Imperial College London researchers who led the study - involving 19 different hospitals across Europe, including Hammersmith Hospital in London - say they now want to find out why. They are also keen to investigate why UK cancer patients with Covid-19 in the study were more likely to die than in the three other countries. Dr. David Pinato, from the department of surgery and cancer at Imperial College London, and study leader, said he was "concerned" by the figures and called for the UK to "acknowledge the mortality rate". The pandemic has had an impact on patients' access to cancer treatments, and in some cases it has been postponed or stopped altogether based on very little "solid evidence", he said. "Now we have a better understanding of how to make this fair," Dr. Pinato said. Treatments such as chemotherapy and immunotherapy did not seem to increase mortality risk from Covid-19, he added. "This means that in many cases cancer treatment may be safe to use during the pandemic, depending on a patient's individual circumstances and risk factors." BBC News
Coronavirus: Asymptomatic cases 'carry same amount of virus'
7 August- People with symptomless Covid-19 can carry as much of the virus as those with symptoms, a South Korean study has suggested. South Korea was able to identify and isolate asymptomatic cases through mass testing as early as the start of March. There is mounting evidence these cases represent a considerable proportion of coronavirus infections. But the researchers weren't able to say how much these people actually passed the virus on. People with a positive coronavirus test were monitored in a community treatment center, allowing scientists to look at how much of the virus was detectable in their nose and throat swabs. They were given regular tests, and only released once they were negative. Results of 1,886 tests suggest people with no symptoms at the time of the test, including those who never go on to develop symptoms, have the same amount of viral material in their nose and throat as people with symptoms. The study also showed the virus could be detected in asymptomatic people for significant periods of time - although they appeared to clear it from their systems slightly faster than people with symptoms. BBC News
Opioid scandal haunts drug companies as they respond to pandemic
10 August- As drug firms race to position themselves as key players in the coronavirus fight, the industry faces a renewed wave of civil lawsuits stemming from its role in the nation's deadly opioid epidemic. Thousands of cases that ground to a halt because of the COVID-19 pandemic are moving forward again as local, state and federal courts reopen around the United States. "I think it's quite serious," said Rebecca Haffajee, who studies opioid litigation for the Rand Corp. and the University of Michigan. "There have been delays associated with COVID, but I actually don't think there's an end in sight for a lot of these defendants." Pressure on the opioid front comes even as drug firms are producing medicines and providing services, including testing and vaccine development, needed to help slow the pandemic. "These companies are and have argued that they are essential businesses" during the coronavirus crisis, Haffajee noted. But some of the nation's biggest companies — including CVS, Johnson & Johnson, McKesson and Walgreens — remain mired in legal and financial uncertainty tied to their decades-long manufacture and sale of prescription opioids. NPR
Pharmacists leading immunization nation's influenza defense
10 August- As the 2020-2021 flu season, fast approaches from the Southern Hemisphere, retail pharmacies in the USA are not sitting on the sidelines when it comes to protecting people from vaccine-preventable diseases, such as influenza. According to the National Community Pharmacists Association, about 78% of independent pharmacies offer various immunization services. Furthermore, 30% of influenza vaccines administered to adults each year are done by pharmacists. However, the newest preventable disease is called 'vaccine misinformation', which threatens to set healthcare back decades. 'As healthcare providers, pharmacists need to take every opportunity to immunize our patients with facts. Vaccine fake-news has already caused irreparable harm in the form of human suffering," shared Crockett Tidwell, RPh, CDE, Clinical Services Manager, Vaccine Specialist with United Supermarkets Pharmacy. Precision Vaccinations
Trash-collecting researchers find dietary patterns in discarded hair clippings
11 August- Poorer people in the U.S. tend to have less access to nutritious foods than the wealthy. Measuring the dimensions of the problem can be tricky because diet research often depends on inaccurate surveys and requires contacting hundreds, if not thousands, of people. A study published on August 3 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA reports on an unorthodox approach to more easily assess how meat and plant consumption varies among communities of differing socioeconomic status—and, potentially, how dietary patterns change over time. Specifically, to look at how people consume their protein, the authors collected discarded hair from barbershops and hair salons. Different foods have different ratios of isotopes, or variants of a particular element, that end up as parts of amino acids--—protein building blocks in our body, including our hair. The researchers analyzed carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios in the samples to determine the form of dietary protein people consumed and compared their findings with U.S. Census data on socioeconomic status. In North America, meat has very different carbon and nitrogen ratios than vegetables. And carbon ratios further indicate whether consumed meat came from corn- or grass-fed animals. The study found that in areas with lower socioeconomic status, corn-fed animal proteins, which are often found in fast food, were more common than plant proteins in the average diet. Across all populations, animal proteins comprised more than 55 percent of the diets analyzed. Yet in lower-income populations, that figure climbed as high as 75 percent. The affluence of each community was determined by looking at cost of living, mean household income and the average price of a haircut in a given zip code. Scientific American
When will a coronavirus vaccine be ready?
11 August- Around the world, politicians, drugmakers and regulators offer contradictory outlooks on when a COVID-19 vaccine will be ready. Much depends on what 'ready' means and for what group of people...More than half a dozen drugmakers around the world are conducting advanced clinical trials, each with tens of thousands of participants, and several expect to know if their COVID-19 vaccines work and are safe by the end of this year. The most optimistic timeline comes from AstraZeneca Plc (AZN.L), which is running a study in Britain that it says could be completed as early as August. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious diseases expert, told Reuters last week that a trial by Moderna Inc. (MRNA.O) could produce decisive results by November or December. Others will come later, some much later. Some experts are skeptical that the trials, which must study potential side effects on different types of people, can be completed that quickly. Peter Hotez, the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, says that collecting enough data to prove a vaccine is safe for the world could take until mid-2021. Reuters
CDC: Flu View - Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report
2019-2020 Influenza Season Week 31, ending August 1, 2020:
Influenza-Associated Hospitalizations: The Influenza Hospitalization Surveillance Network (FluSurv-NET) conducts all age population-based surveillance for laboratory-confirmed influenza-related hospitalizations in select counties in the Emerging Infections Program (EIP) states and Influenza Hospitalization Surveillance Project (IHSP) states.
Pneumonia and Influenza (P&I) Mortality Surveillance: Based on National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) mortality surveillance data available on August 6, 2020, 5.9% of the deaths occurring during the week ending August 1, 2020 (week 31) were due to P&I. This percentage is above the epidemic threshold of 5.5% for week 31.
Influenza-Associated Pediatric Mortality: One influenza-associated pediatric deaths occurring during the 2019-2020 season was reported to CDC during week 31. This death was associated with an influenza B virus and occurred during week 20 (the week ending May 25, 2020). CDC
WHO: Influenza Update
03 August 2020 - Update number 373, based on data up to 19 July 2020:
- The current influenza surveillance data should be interpreted with caution as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic might have influenced to varying extents health seeking behaviors, staffing/routines in sentinel sites, as well as testing priorities and capacities in Member States. The various hygiene and physical distancing measures implemented by Member States to reduce SARS-CoV-2 virus transmission might also have played a role in mitigating influenza virus transmission.
- Globally, influenza activity was reported at lower levels than expected for this time of the year. In the temperate zones of the southern hemisphere, the influenza season has not commenced.
- In the temperate zone of the northern hemisphere, influenza activity remained at inter-seasonal levels.
- In the Caribbean and Central American countries, sporadic influenza detections were reported in most reporting countries. Severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) activity remained elevated in some reporting countries.
- In tropical South American and tropical Africa, there were no or sporadic influenza virus detections across reporting countries.
- In Southern Asia and South East Asia, no influenza detections were reported.
- Worldwide, seasonal influenza A viruses accounted for the majority of detections. WHO
Apricot kernels recalled in New Zealand due to poisoning risk
12 August- Raw apricot kernels are being recalled in New Zealand after three people needed hospital treatment. They were sold by Christchurch business Ethnic Market in Linwood. Sale of raw apricot kernels is prohibited under New Zealand food law. Those admitted to the hospital as a precaution have since been discharged after eating the raw kernels. Ethnic General Trade Company Limited trading as Ethnic Market has recalled all batches and dates of Ethnic Market brand Apricot Pites (raw apricot kernels). The dried fruits and seeds come in a 500-gram bag. Food Safety News
239 Canadians sick in salmonella outbreak linked to onions
7 August- As of today, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) announced 239 confirmed cases of Salmonella Newport illness linked to this Salmonella outbreak in the following provinces: British Columbia (67), Alberta (149), Saskatchewan (5), Manitoba (13), Ontario (3), Quebec (1) and Prince Edward Island (1). 29 people have been hospitalized. Interviews reported eating red onions at home, in menu items ordered at restaurants and in residential care settings. Onions grown in Canada are not part of this outbreak or recall. If you can't tell where your onions are from, don't eat them. Throw them away. Outbreak News Today
Parasite striking Texas with both in-state and national outbreaks
12 August- Texas is one of 28 states and New York City that is part of the "domestically-acquired" Cyclosporiasis outbreak being experienced nationally. And, according to Austin Public Health, the Lone Star State has another outbreak of Cyclosporiasis going in the Austin-Travis County area. "While we may be in COVID-19 season, we cannot forget the other diseases and infections that are commonly present in our community," said Janet Pichette, APH Chief Epidemiologist. "And as we have said time and time again, there are ways to prevent many of these diseases and infections, including Cyclosporiasis – thoroughly wash fresh produce, wash your hands after handling fruits and vegetables, and separate products from raw meat and seafood." For the Austin-Travis County outbreak, the local epidemiologic team reports 82 cases with the earliest symptom onset reported on June 1. For the national outbreak, the case count stands at 779, including 49 hospitalizations dating back to May 1. All sickened are sickened by the Cyclospora, a parasite consisting of only one cell but able to cause the intestinal infection called cyclosporiasis. It spreads when people consume something contaminated by feces. The parasite needs a week or two after being passed by a bowel movement to become infectious in another person. That makes it unlikely that it is spread directly from one person to the next. Typically, Cyclospora infections were thought to be acquired during travel in tropical areas, where it is known to reach endemic levels. In recent years, Cyclospora outbreaks in the U.S. have been traced back to mostly–but not exclusively– imported fresh produce. In 2018, Fresh Express supplied Cyclospora-laced salads grown in the U.S. to McDonalds locations, causing an outbreak. Food Safety News
100 Tons of misbranded meat and poultry products recalled over long list of undeclared allergens
10 August- Mr. Wok Foods Inc. in Las Vegas late Monday recalled approximately 200,000 pounds of meat and poultry products due to misbranding and undeclared allergens, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The products may contain milk, wheat, soy, peanuts, or oysters, which are known allergens. The products may also contain MSG, sesame products, or sulfites, which are not declared on the product labels. The frozen meat and poultry items were produced from Aug. 6, 2019, through Aug. 6, 2020. This spreadsheet contains a list of the products subject to recall. The products subject to recall bear establishment number "EST. 20783" or "P-20783" inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were distributed for institutional use in vending machines and restaurants nationwide. Food Safety News
Should a study on pesticides affect our use of them?
10 August- With summer here and more people choosing to escape their coronavirus prisons into yards, parks, woods and streets, a recent study suggests yet another potential health risk, albeit one far less concerning than the virus: exposure to pyrethroids, a major group of insecticides widely used to protect against everything from malaria parasites and West Nile virus to bed bugs and ticks, as well as a host of agricultural and garden pests. The study, which found a link between pyrethroids and deaths from heart disease, is itself a cautionary tale, one that can help you better understand the implications and limitations of epidemiological research. Pyrethroids, as leading components of both indoor and outdoor insecticides, are the second most widely used pesticides in the world, after chlorpyrifos. They are generally considered harmless to people and pets in the concentrations needed to protect them from disease-carrying critters with six or eight legs. They are derived from compounds called pyrethrins, found naturally in the flowers of chrysanthemums. But just because the origin of pyrethroids is natural doesn't necessarily mean they're safe, especially if people are chronically or repeatedly exposed to them. Almost any substance can be a potential hazard — the dose does indeed make the poison. The New York Times
Ebola: 74 cases reported in DRC's 11th outbreak
6 August- The Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in Équateur Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continues to rise, with increasing new confirmed cases along with geographical spread to new health areas. Through August 4, there has been a total of 74 cases (70 confirmed and four probable) including 32 deaths. World Health Organization (WHO) says challenges around inadequate resources for alert investigations in Mbandaka, and in case management in rural and hard-to-reach areas continue. The constant presence of confirmed cases in the community is of particular concern, along with suspected cases who are not isolated. This current EVD outbreak, the 11th in DRC since 1976, began in June 2020. Outbreak News Today
Malaria in Africa: Parasite 'resistant to artemisinin'
6 August- A drug-resistant strain of the parasite that causes malaria has been identified by scientists in Rwanda. The study, published in Nature, found the parasites were able to resist treatment by artemisinin - a frontline drug in the fight against the disease. This is the first time scientists have observed the resistance to the drug artemisinin in Africa. The researchers warns that this "would pose a major public health threat" in the continent. Scientists from the Institut Pasteur, in collaboration with the National Malaria Control Program in Rwanda (Rwanda Biomedical Center), the World Health Organization (WHO), Cochin Hospital and Columbia University (New York, USA) analysed blood samples from patients in Rwanda. They found one particular mutation of the parasite, resistant to artemisinin, in 19 of 257 - or 7.4% - of patients at one of the health centres they monitored. BBC News
Yemen: Floods wreak havoc in capital Sanaa
10 August- In Yemen, months of heavy rain and flash floods have caused significant damage to the ancient walled city of the capital, Sanaa. The roofs of hundreds of buildings in the UNESCO World Heritage Site have collapsed. Al Jazeera
COVID-19: UK researchers report large number of health workers suffered loss of taste or smell
9 August- A large proportion of UK healthcare workers may already have been infected with Covid-19, according to new research led by the University of East Anglia in collaboration with University College London. In May, Public Health England added a new loss of taste or smell (anosmia) to the list of symptoms for Covid-19. Research published today in The Lancet Microbe finds a high prevalence of anosmia cases among healthcare workers between mid-February and mid-April. Senior author Prof Carl Philpott, from UEA's Norwich Medical School, said: "Smell loss as a symptom of Covid-19 is particularly important for healthcare professionals because they are at the frontline of pandemic – and at high risk of both contracting and spreading the virus. "In many cases smell loss can be the only symptom of Covid-19, or accompanied by mild symptoms. "We wanted to find out how widespread smell loss has been among healthcare workers." The research team distributed questionnaires to staff at London's Barts Health NHS Trust – one of the largest NHS trusts in the UK. Outbreak News Today
Russia: Becomes first country to approve a COVID-19 vaccine, says Putin
11 August- President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that Russia had become the first country in the world to grant regulatory approval to a COVID-19 vaccine after less than two months of human testing, a move hailed by Moscow as evidence of its scientific prowess. The vaccine still has to complete final trials, raising concerns among some experts at the speed of its approval, but the Russian business conglomerate Sistema has said it expects to put it into mass production by the end of the year. Russian health workers treating COVID-19 patients will be offered the chance of volunteering to be vaccinated in the coming weeks, a source told Reuters last month. Regulatory approval paves the way for the mass inoculation of the Russian population and authorities hope it will allow the economy, which has been battered by fallout from the virus, to return to full capacity. Kirill Dmitriev, head of Russia's sovereign wealth fund, hailed the development as a historic "Sputnik moment", comparable to the Soviet Union's 1957 launch of Sputnik 1, the world's first satellite. The vaccine will be marketed under the name 'Sputnik V' on foreign markets, he said. Reuters
Australia: Avian influenza H7N7 in Victoria
6 August- Agriculture Victoria is responding to an outbreak of Avian influenza H7N7 at a free-range egg farm, at Lethbridge in Victoria. Avian influenza is a serious disease of poultry, and can cause a high mortality rate in production birds. This disease was reported when a drop in egg production was observed, and high bird mortality rates occurred in one of the poultry sheds. Samples were submitted to Agriculture Victoria on 29 July 2020 where they tested positive for Avian influenza H7. The CSIRO's Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness confirmed the disease as highly pathogenic avian influenza H7N7 on 31 July. The property has been quarantined and movement controls are in place to stop any birds, eggs and equipment from leaving the premises. A Restricted Area is in place around the property, and a Control Area across a wider area has also been created. Agriculture Victoria will be in contact with property owners in the vicinity of the infected property, and will conduct further surveillance and sampling of domestic birds in this area. Outbreak News Today
In New Zealand, life is ordinary again after 101 days with no community spread
10 August- New Zealand has now gone 101 days without any community transmission of the coronavirus, and life in the country has largely returned to normal – an experience far different from the havoc that the virus is causing elsewhere in the world. "Achieving 100 days without community transmission is a significant milestone, however, as we all know, we can't afford to be complacent," Dr. Ashley Bloomfield, New Zealand's director-general of health, said in a statement Sunday. "We have seen overseas how quickly the virus can re-emerge and spread in places where it was previously under control, and we need to be prepared to quickly stamp out any future cases in New Zealand," he continued. "Every person in the team of 5 million has a role to play in this." On Monday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, called New Zealand "a global exemplar." How has New Zealand been so successful? Experts point to its quick work in isolating any cases that emerged. "We got on top of the clusters and isolated them before there were too many of them," epidemiologist Brian Cox at the University of Otago in Dunedin told NPR. "Once we realized it was a cluster epidemic, we worked really hard to isolate people that were infected and quarantine the rest of the people in that person's network. And we managed to achieve that for all the clusters that had developed." NPR
Philippines: COVID-19- Cases near 130,000; Avigan arrives from Japan
9 August- In the Philippines, the Department of Health (DOH) reported 3,109 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, which included 1700 cases in the Metro Manila area, bringing the country total to 129,913. 61 additional deaths were also recorded, bringing this total to 2,270. The Philippine government also noted late last week that they had received the anti-viral medicine Avigan (favipiravir) from Japan, which will be part of a clinical trial in the Philippines over the drugs potential for the treatment of COVID-19.Outbreak News Today
U.S.: Atlanta- CDC closes buildings after finding legionella
9 August- The CDC closed several buildings it leases in Atlanta after finding legionella bacteria in the plumbing. "During the recent closures at our leased space in Atlanta, working through the General Services Administration (GSA), CDC directed the landlord to take protective actions," CDC told CNN. "Despite their best efforts, CDC has been notified that Legionella, which can cause Legionnaires' Disease, is present in a cooling tower as well as in some water sources in the buildings. Out of an abundance of caution, we have closed these buildings until successful remediation is complete." Prolonged building closures due to COVID may increase the risk of legionella and Legionnaires disease outbreaks. Legionella bacteria thrive in stagnant or warm water. Legionnaires Disease and COVID present a serious ongoing health risk in the US. Particularly as long empty office buildings reopen and dormant plumbing systems are turned back on. Warm water that has been stagnating in building plumbing systems for months may provide an ideal breeding ground for legionella bacteria. Fortunately, no one has reported contracting Legionnaires disease from contact with the buildings leased by the CDC. Outbreak News Today
U.S.: Florida Keys- Dengue cases rise after retrospective case finding efforts
11 August- The number of locally-acquired dengue fever cases in Monroe County, Florida has increased to 43, according to the Department of Health. To better understand the extent of the Dengue fever outbreak in Monroe County, the Florida Department of Health has been working with the community to identify individuals who recovered from the mosquito-borne illness earlier in the year. Sixteen cases of locally acquired dengue fever were reported in Monroe County (Key Largo area) during the week ending August 8. These were identified through retrospective case finding efforts to better characterize activity early in the outbreak (reported illness between April and early July). When these cases were identified previously as persons of interest, the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District was notified, and appropriate mosquito control measures were conducted immediately.Outbreak News Today
U.S.: Massachusetts- Reports 1st human West Nile virus case
8 August- The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) today announced the first human case of West Nile virus (WNV) in the state this year. The individual is a man in his 50s who was likely exposed to the virus in southwestern Essex County or eastern Middlesex County. The risk of human infection with WNV is considered to be generally low throughout the Commonwealth. "This is the first time that West Nile virus infection has been identified in a person in Massachusetts this year," said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH. "Today's news reminds us of the ongoing need to take precautions against mosquito bites to protect ourselves and our families." Outbreak News Today
Brazil: Coronavirus- 3 Million cases, 100K deaths; Pediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome monitoring
9 August- The Brazil Ministry of Health hit several COVID-19 milestones Saturday. First, they became the second country to top the three million mark in COVID-19 cases (3,012,412 confirmed cases), including 621,731 cases in Sao Paulo, and the second country to record 100,000 deaths (100,477). In addition, Brazil has also recorded that more than 2 million people have recovered from the disease (2,094,293 ), which represents about 70 percent of the country's total cases. The government also announced that they are monitoring cases of Pediatric Inflammatory Multisystemic Syndrome in children and adolescents, between 7 months and 16 years. The objective is to identify whether the syndrome may be related to Covid-19. This is a health surveillance measure. Therefore, in the last week, the Ministry of Health implemented the notification of these cases in the monitoring systems, as well as having conversations with the health departments of the states and municipalities to guide the diagnosis and care of possible cases by health professionals through the identification of the most common signs and symptoms. Through July, 71 cases were registered in four states: 29 in the state of Ceará, 22 in Rio de Janeiro, 18 in Pará and 2 in Piauí, in addition to three deaths in the state of Rio de Janeiro. Most of the reported cases had laboratory tests that indicated current or recent infection with SARS-CoV-2 (by molecular biology or serology) or epidemiological link with confirmed case of Covid-19. Outbreak News Today
Peru: Reports big increase in dengue fever in the time of COVID-19
12 August- Peru health officials have reported a 263% increase in dengue fever cases during the first 30 weeks of 2020 compared to the same period last year. And this is a double whammy for the country as the COVID-19 pandemic nears a half million cases. To date, 29,144 total dengue cases have been reported, including 39 deaths. This compares to less than 8000 cases and 14 deaths in 2019 during the first 30 weeks. Outbreak News Today