Army Public Health Weekly Update, 17 December 2021

Date Published: 12/17/2021
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NOTICE: There will be no Army Public Health Weekly Update next week. Publication will resume on 31 December 2021.

​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


    Current COVID-19 vaccine myths and facts

    9 December- U.S. Army medical experts address some of the most common questions about the COVID-19 vaccine. YouTube External Link

    The Health of the Army Family Report is here

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

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

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

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

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

    View the inaugural Health of the Army Family Report.  APHC


    Defense secretary 'personally monitoring' Navy efforts in Hawaii toxic water crisis

    13 December- Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said he is personally monitoring the progress of the Navy's efforts to take care of military personnel and families affected by the fuel contamination of drinking water in Hawaii and restore it to safety. Austin has also asked Deputy Secretary of Defense Katheen Hicks to talk with Navy leaders, local Hawaii officials, experts and affected personnel and families during her visit to Hawaii this week, he said in a statement Monday. Hicks will visit the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, which is at the center of the discussion about the source of the contamination. “My expectation is that military leaders in Hawaii will continue to do everything they can — as fast as they can — to return residents safely back to their homes and to communicate clearly and frequently the steps they are taking to do so," Austin said. He said he also expects military leaders to keep Hawaiian residents, legislators and leaders fully informed. Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday visited Hawaii and participated in a town hall meeting with residents Dec. 5, where they were grilled about the Navy's response and military families' concerns about health issues and other problems related to the unsafe drinking water. Austin said he's getting daily updates from Navy leaders on the measures they're taking to care for families, restore the water and coordinate with local Hawaii authorities on dealing with the issue. Navy officials have said they've moved more than 3,000 families to hotels across the island. There are 11 housing areas affected, including six Navy communities, three Air Force communities and two Army communities. Army Times External Link

    Navy contests Hawaii's orders to suspend, drain fuel tanks

    7 December- The Navy is contesting orders from Hawaii to suspend use of fuel tanks and drain them at a complex above an aquifer that supplies nearly 20 percent of Honolulu's drinking water until certain conditions are met. But Hawaii's state government order demands that the suspension remain in effect until independent evaluators can ensure that appropriate actions are taken to protect drinking water. The state also wants the Navy to treat contaminated drinking water and remove fuel from the massive 20 underground storage tanks at the complex called the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility. Putting the storage facility out of use could affect operations at a critical time for the Navy, especially as tensions rise in the Pacific with China's rhetoric about Taiwan ramping up over the past year, said Lyle Goldstein, a Pacific Ocean maritime security and director of Asia Engagement at Defense Priorities think tank. The Navy has already said it was suspending use of the massive World War II-era fuel storage complex near Pearl Harbor following days of complaints that tap water smells like fuel and has sickened some people. The Hawaii Department of Health on Monday ordered the Navy to suspend operations at the fuel facility, citing the governor's power to act if there is “imminent peril to human health and safety or the environment" caused by a leak or operation of an underground storage tank system.
    The order came shortly after Navy officials said they already had suspended fuel complex operations. The state health department set a hearing for Tuesday afternoon, but it was postponed after the Navy informed state officials that it planned to contest the emergency order. Military Times External Link

    Officials describe DOD's efforts to mitigate impacts of PFAS chemicals

    10 December- Defense Department officials addressed cleanup efforts and measures being taken to address the recommendations of the DOD Inspector General report on  per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) — man-made chemicals used in many industrial and consumer products. Richard G. Kidd, deputy assistant secretary of defense for environment and energy resilience, and Laura Macaluso, the DOD's acting deputy assistant secretary for force safety and occupational health,  testified about the DOD's ongoing measures to address PFAS at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing. The department has invested significant effort into understanding and addressing the challenges posed by PFAS, said Kidd. To date, the DOD has invested more than $1.5 billion in PFAS related research and cleanup activities. It is estimated that over 98% of Americans have some form of PFAS in their blood today as a result of substances containing PFAS that are found in many products and firefighting foams, he said. There is still a lot of uncertainty related to the effects of PFAS, and it's still unclear what exposure levels result in adverse health effects, Kidd said. "The EPA has published analytic methods to detect fewer than 10% of the PFAS in [commercial products]. The lack of this clear set of measurable and objective health and environmental standards complicates our ability to take proactive actions," Kidd said. External Link


    Ask the Doc: How do I get rid of the 'dark cloud' over my holidays?

    13 December- I'm not currently deployed overseas, but work commitments (and now COVID-19 concerns) have kept me away from my extended family for several years in a row. Lately, I've felt the depression creeping in. It's like I've got a dark cloud over me from a few days before Thanksgiving until a few days after New Year's. I'm not necessarily stressed - just bored and alone. I drink sometimes, but I try not to use it as a crutch when I'm feeling bad...and I realize that could only make things worse. What can I do to help myself feel better? Should I talk to someone? Are there online resources? I would really like to shake these feelings. Thanks in advance, Doc! Dear Downhearted: First of all, thank you for your service. I know it might seem cliché, but the sacrifices you've made, and continue to make to ensure the safety and security of your country don't go unnoticed, especially during the holidays. That said, we are here to help you get to a place that you feel better about it. Mental health is an extremely important part of personal and mission readiness. External Link

    COVID-19? Flu? Allergies? Which one do I have, Doc?

    13 December- If someone has a fever and feeling fatigue, do they have COVID-19? If someone has a cough and a runny nose, is it allergies? If someone has a headache and a sore throat, it must be the flu. Right? Wrong! With COVID-19, the flu and allergies having similar symptoms, it can be difficult to tell them apart," said Naval Medical Readiness Training Unit NMRTU Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) Occupational and Environmental Medicine Physician and Clinic Director Cmdr. Scott Welch. “However, each has some more common symptoms that distinguish them from one another." The differences are how quick a person would start to have symptoms. Allergies are quicker than flu, which is quicker than COVID-19. The main symptoms vary in that the flu and COVID-19 will likely have a cough and fever, but flu will be a dry cough, and COVID-19 may also have the loss of smell and taste. Allergies, on the other hand, will just lead to a stuffy nose and itchy, watery eyes without a fever or cough. So what exactly are the difference between COVID-19, the flu and allergies? Both COVID-19 and the flu are caused by viruses- COVID-19 by the SARS CoV-2 (a coronavirus) and the flu by influenza (an orthomyxovirus). “Both of these have the potential to make us ill and can also be spread to others and make them sick," said Welch. “On the other hand, allergies are caused by our body having a response to allergens - pollen, dander, mold, etc. We will be uncomfortable, but typically the seasonal allergies will not make us ill and we can't pass them on to others as they aren't infectious." DVIDS External Link

    Fact sheets updated for Janssen COVID-19 vaccine

    14 December- The U.S. FDA today announced revisions to the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine Fact Sheet for Health Care Providers Administering Vaccine and the Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers. The fact sheets now include a contraindication to the administration of the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine to individuals with a history of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia following the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine or any other adenovirus-vectored COVID-19 vaccine. And to update the information about the risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome or TTS following vaccination. Cases of TTS following administration of the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine have been reported in males and females 18 years of age and older. The highest reporting rate of approximately one case per 100,000 doses administered in females 30-49 years of age; overall. About 1 out of 7 cases have been fatal. On December 9, 2021, the WHO's SAGE published a Version #9 overview. TTS was reported as approximately 1 per 500,000 doses administered. The majority of the cases (69%) were reported from the USA and in age groups below 65 years (83%), 55% in females. The mean and median time-to onset of the event was about 12 days. The FDA says 'individuals should speak to their healthcare provider to determine which COVID-19 vaccine is most appropriate for their situation.' The FDA continues to find that the known and potential benefits of the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine outweigh its known and potential risks in individuals 18 years of age and older. Precision Vaccinations External Link

    Merck's covid pill might pose risks for pregnant women

    13 December- A new Covid-19 pill from Merck has raised hopes that it could transform the landscape of treatment options for Americans at high risk of severe disease at a time when the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is driving a surge of cases in highly vaccinated European countries. But two weeks after a Food and Drug Administration expert committee narrowly voted to recommend authorizing the drug, known as molnupiravir, the F.D.A. is still weighing Merck's application. Among the biggest questions facing regulators is whether the drug, in the course of wreaking havoc on the virus's genes, also has the potential to cause mutations in human DNA. Scientists are especially worried about pregnant women, they said, because the drug could affect a fetus's dividing cells, theoretically causing birth defects. Members of the F.D.A. expert committee expressed those same concerns during a public meeting on Nov. 30. “Do we want to reduce the risk for the mother by 30 percent while exposing the embryo and the fetus to a much higher risk of harm by this drug?" Dr. James Hildreth, the president of Meharry Medical College in Tennessee, said at the meeting. “My answer is no, and there is no circumstance in which I would advise a pregnant woman to take this drug." The F.D.A. advisers also noted that the risks could extend to other patients, including men wanting to become fathers, though those risks remain poorly understood and Merck said its own studies had turned up no evidence that the drug causes DNA mutations. Crucially, molnupiravir is expected to work against Omicron. But it has drawn concern from some scientists and regulators in Europe for being less effective than certain other treatments: It has been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death by 30 percent if given within five days of symptoms emerging. The New York Times External Link

    Omicron: Why do boosters work if two doses struggle?

    14 December- The heavily mutated Omicron variant has led to a serious dent in the ability of vaccines to protect us from catching the Covid virus. Two doses of some vaccines offer almost no protection from an Omicron infection, although they should still greatly reduce the risk of becoming so ill you need hospital care. The vaccines were all developed to fight the first form of the virus that emerged two years ago. So can a third or "booster" dose of those original vaccines make the difference or has Omicron already outwitted the protection they can give? Fortunately for us - while the contents of the syringe may be identical, a booster is not just more of the same for the immune system. The protection you're left with after the third dose is bigger, broader and more memorable than you had before. Fighting coronavirus is something your immune system has to learn. One option is to figure it out on the job when you encounter the virus for real. However, there is a risk of getting it wrong and ending up seriously ill. Vaccines are more like a school - a safer environment to further your immune system's Covid education. The first dose is the primary school education that nails the fundamentals. Your second and third doses are comparable to sending your immune system to secondary school and then university to dramatically deepen its understanding. It's not just repeating primary school over and over. "The immune system is left with a richer knowledge and understanding of the virus," said Prof Jonathan Ball, a virologist from the University of Nottingham. He said for all the talk of the dastardly tricks of Omicron, a highly-trained immune system is "an incredibly difficult and hostile environment" for the virus and its variants. BBC External Link

    Pfizer, AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines less effective against Omicron, study says

    13 December- British researchers announced on Monday that studies show that the COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer and AstraZeneca produce substantially fewer antibodies to fight off the Omicron variant than they do against other variants. The study from Oxford University said blood samples collected from more than two dozen volunteers who'd received both doses of the vaccines were tested against the Omicron variant. Oxford University, which helped develop the AstraZeneca vaccine, said the study found that both vaccines showed a "substantial decrease in neutralizing" Omicron. "This will likely lead to increased breakthrough infections in previously infected or double vaccinated individuals, which could drive a further wave of infection, although there is currently no evidence of increased potential to cause severe disease, hospitalization or death," said the report, posted in the journal MedRxiv. UPI External Link

    Pfizer set to oust AstraZeneca as top supplier of COVID-19 shots to poor nations

    15 December- Pfizer (PFE.N) and BioNtech (22UAy.DE) are set to displace AstraZeneca (AZN.L) as the main suppliers of COVID-19 vaccines to the global COVAX programmed at the start of 2022, a shift that shows the increasing importance of their shot for poorer states. The expected change comes with headaches for receiving countries that lack sufficient cold storage capacity to handle the Pfizer vaccine, and amid risks of a shortage of syringes needed to administer that shot. AstraZeneca is currently the most distributed vaccine by COVAX, according to data from Gavi, the vaccine alliance that co-manages the programme with the World Health Organization (WHO). The programme has so far delivered more than 600 million shots to nearly 150 countries, of which more than 220 million are AstraZeneca's and about 160 million Pfizer's. But in the first quarter of next year Pfizer is set to take over, according to Gavi and WHO figures on doses assigned by the COVAX programme for future supplies. By the end of March, another 150 million Pfizer doses are to be distributed by COVAX, a WHO document shows. Reuters External Link


    CDC: Flu virus detections on the rise, early signs vaccination down

    11 December- Influenza virus detections are rising in the U.S., according to health officials. In a weekly influenza surveillance report ending on Dec. 4, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that while influenza activity remains low nationally, it continues to increase.  "The number of influenza viruses detected by clinical and public health labs has increased in recent weeks. The majority of viruses detected are A(H3N2). Most influenza A(H3N2) infections have occurred among children and young adults ages 5-24 years; however, the proportion of infections occurring among adults age 25 years and older has increased in recent weeks," it reported. The percentage of outpatient visits due to respiratory illness has also trended upward and is "now at the national baseline," according to the agency. In a map of "Influenza-like illness" activity determined by data reported to ILINet, only New Mexico was listed as "high" for influenza-like illness during the same week. The CDC said that Influenza A(H3N2) viruses were reported by public health laboratories in all 10 Health and Human Services (HHS) regions this week. Fox News External Link

    CDC: Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report

    Key Updates for Week 48, ending December 4, 2021:

    U.S. Virologic Surveillance- Overall, influenza activity is still low; however, an increasing number of influenza positive tests have been reported by clinical and public health laboratories during recent weeks. Influenza A(H3N2) has been the most frequently detected. The majority of influenza A(H3N2) viruses were detected in persons aged 5-24 years old, but the proportion of influenza A(H3N2) virus detections occurring among adults aged 25 years and older has increased in recent weeks. Influenza A(H3N2) viruses were reported by public health laboratories in all 10 HHS regions this week. For regional and state level data about circulating influenza viruses, please visit FluView Interactive. Viruses known to be associated with recent live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) receipt or found upon further testing to be a vaccine virus are not included as they are not circulating influenza viruses.

    Influenza-Associated Pediatric Mortality- No influenza-associated pediatric deaths occurring during the 2021-2022 season have been reported to CDC. CDC External Link


    New Zealand investigates botched sugar recall involving lead contamination

    13 December- Food safety officials in New Zealand are probing a series of botched recalls involving sugar because of lead contamination linked to transportation. In early November, Chelsea Sugar recalled specific batches of Chelsea, Pams and Woolworths brand raw and brown sugar because of lead contamination. Chelsea Sugar detected the issue as part of routine testing of product imported from Australia. It appears contamination occurred after the sugar was transported in a ship previously used for industrial materials. On Nov. 19, Foodstuffs South Island recalled certain batches of Chelsea brand raw sugar 500-grams because of the same problem. It was made available to buy in error following the earlier recall. One week later, Woolworths NZ also recalled some batches of Chelsea and Woolworths branded raw sugar and brown sugar products that were mistakenly sold. This past week, New Zealand Sugar Company recalled additional batches of Woolworths brand raw sugar in 500-grams and 1-kilogram packages. The implicated products were sold in paper and plastic packaging of various weights and via the bulk bins at selected retail outlets in October and November. They were also exported to American Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia and New Caledonia. Food Safety News External Link

    Recall expanded to 2 million pounds of ham and pepperoni over Listeria concerns

    13 December- The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has expanded a recall to more than 2 million pounds, with an expanded list of fully cooked ham and pepperoni products that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. A wide variety of products under many brands are implicated. Alexander & Hornung, of St. Clair Shores, MI, a business unit of Perdue Premium Meat Company Inc., already recalled  234,391 and has now expanded that to 2,320,774 pounds of fully cooked ham and pepperoni products because of possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. The problem was discovered when the company notified FSIS that product sampling reported positive Listeria monocytogenes results. Products in addition to those pictured above are involved in the recall. As of the posting of this recall, there have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions because of consumption of these products, but it can take up to 70 days for symptoms of Listeria infection to develop. FSIS is concerned that some products may be in consumers' refrigerators or freezers. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase. Food Safety News External Link


    Falling asleep at your desk? Try these simple exercises to beat the afternoon slump

    13 December- It's midafternoon, and suddenly you can't stop yawning. Your eyelids may begin to droop -- not great if you happen to be in a meeting -- or maybe your brain becomes a little fuzzy and unable to focus. This period of decreased alertness is called the afternoon slump, and it's something most of us have experienced. While the afternoon slump could be caused by insufficient or poor quality sleep, it's part of our normal sleep-wake cycle. It's also tied to the amount of cortisol in our bodies. Levels of this hormone, which helps us respond to stress, among other things, typically are higher in the morning and fall throughout the day. There are many tips for beating the afternoon slump, such as eating healthy foods (no candy bars), drinking plenty of water, listening to music and even aromatherapy. But one of the most effective ways to stay alert and on task is to get moving. And the sooner, the better, said Tansy Rodgers, a functional nutritional therapy practitioner and founder of beU Complete coaching in Lititz, Pennsylvania. "The afternoon slump typically hits between 1 and 3 p.m.," said Rodgers, who recommended moving shortly after lunch. Movement at this time helps your body digest food, stabilize your blood sugar, and release the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine, all of which help decrease sleepiness, she said. "Plus, when someone exercises before they are too tired, they will be more likely to stay committed and actually do the exercise, rather than resorting to the excuse of being too tired to make the effort." CNN External Link


    Elimination of transmission of onchocerciasis, or river blindness in Niger

    12 December- It was announced last Thursday at Expo 2020 Dubai that Niger is preparing the requisite paperwork for WHO verification and pending certification, and the country is now poised to be the first in Africa to declare it has eliminated the NTD – a feat once considered impossible. After over 40 years of work to control or eliminate river blindness in West Africa, the achievement in Niger provides a proof of concept that elimination is possible, not just in West Africa but across the entire continent. The Niger Ministry of Public Health, Population and Social Affairs made the initial announcement on August 30, 2021 (computer translated): After the work, its meeting held in Niamey from 25 to 26 August 2021, the Advisory Committee of Experts for the Elimination of Onchocerciasis informed the Minister of Public Health, Population and Social Affairs that the National Program for the fight against onchocerciasis has successfully achieved its goal of permanently interrupting the transmission of this important dermatological and eye infection in Niger. This achievement of the Nigerien Program in charge of the fight against this parasitic infestation is not only a major success for Niger but also a success for the African continent because it is the first onchocerciasis endemic country in Africa to achieve this important objective. programmatic, This is a major achievement that contributes significantly to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the targets of the World Health Organization NTD roadmap. Onchocerciasis, is an infection caused by a wireworm that causes blindness, disfigurement of the skin, intolerable itching, so many worrying constraints that have kept people away from fertile land because the vector which is a small black fly called blackfly breeds in the rivers that irrigate these agricultural lands. Outbreak News Today External Link


    Israel 'red list' now includes 50 African countries

    28 November- In a follow-up from Israel, the government reports 50 destinations in the African continent have been classified as red destinations...There is a ban on Israelis leaving Israel for red destinations, with the exception of those with the approval of the exceptions committee headed by the Ministry of the Interior. All returnees from a red destination, including vaccinated and recovered travelers must go into full isolation. Before leaving Israel, it will be necessary to declare on the website of the Ministry of Health and to the airline that the trip is not to a red destination. Foreigners are not allowed to enter from these countries except in exceptional humanitarian cases and with the approval of the committee headed by the Ministry of the Interior. The government also approved the obligation to isolate in a government-run isolation facility until a negative result is obtained in a PCR test performed at the entrance to Israel. The obligation will apply immediately to all entrants from the countries of Ethiopia, Botswana, South Africa and Malawi and in the second phase, starting at midnight between Sunday and Monday (29th Nov. 2021) for entrants from the other listed destinations. Anyone who is found to be positive in the PCR test will continue to stay in isolation in the government-run isolation facility until the end of the isolation days required by the guidelines. Outbreak News Today External Link

    Pakistan: Punjab accounts for about half of all dengue cases

    15 December- According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Pakistan saw a total of 48,906 dengue fever cases including 183 deaths through November 25 this year. Cases have been reported from four provinces including Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Balochistan, and the federally administered Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), and Azad Jammu and Kashmir autonomous territories (AJK). As of 25 November, Punjab province reported the highest number of cases with 24,146 cases and 127 deaths (CFR: 0.5%) accounting for 49.4% and 69.4% of all cases and deaths, respectively. The deaths were mainly reported from Lahore district. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a border province with Afghanistan, reported the second largest number of cases with 10,223 cases, accounting for 21% of all cases, and 10 deaths (CFR: 0.1%). Sindh province reported 5,548 cases with 24 (CFR:0.4%) deaths followed by the federally administered ICT with 5,261 cases and 21 (CFR: 0.4%) deaths, Balochistan province with 2,054 cases, and AJK reported 1,674 cases with one (CFR:0.1%) death. The last dengue outbreak recorded in Pakistan was September to December 2019 when 53,498 cases and 95 deaths were reported. Outbreak News Today External Link


    Sweden flu season underway, warns 'there is a risk that it will be intense'

    12 November- The Swedish Public Health Agency, or Folkhälsomyndigheten says the flu epidemic is underway for the season and there is a risk that it will be intense. Since the beginning of November, the number of flu cases has increased, and the season's epidemic has been going on nationally since week 48. So far, mainly influenza A (H3N2) has been detected in Sweden. It is a variant that usually means that people in older age groups risk being hit harder. The spread of influenza has also been low or very low in Sweden over the past two winters, which means that more people may be susceptible to becoming infected and falling ill in autumn and winter. For people in risk groups, vaccination against influenza is the best way to get protection against a serious illness. The vaccination is free of charge for them, throughout the country. “We see that we now have a spread of infection in several regions and sporadic cases in most regions. Therefore, it is now high time for people at risk to be vaccinated to get protection against serious illness. This applies, for example, to both children and adults who have heart or lung disease, diabetes or other risk factors", says AnnaSara Carnahan, epidemiologist at the Swedish Public Health Agency. Outbreak News Today External Link


    H5N6 avian influenza in China: Additional human case reported in Guangdong Province

    11 December- The Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health reports monitoring a human case of avian influenza A(H5N6) in Mainland China. The case involves a 68-year-old man living in Huizhou in Guangdong Province, who kept poultry at home. He developed symptoms on December 3 and was admitted for treatment on December 7. The patient is in critical condition. This is the 28th human case reported on the Mainland in the past year. From 2014 to date, 53 human cases of avian influenza A(H5N6) have been reported by Mainland health authorities. Outbreak News Today External Link


    U.S.: Ohio- Reports first Omicron cases

    12 December- The Ohio Department of Health has reported that the first two cases of the B.1.1.529 (Omicron) variant have been confirmed in Ohio following genomic sequencing by The Ohio State University Laboratory. “We have known that it would only be a matter of time until a case of Omicron was detected in Ohio. The CDC believes that this variant has likely been circulating in the U.S. since November," said Ohio Department of Health Director Bruce Vanderhoff, MD, MBA. “This variant's arrival and the continued impact of the Delta variant underscore the importance of our best prevention tool, which is choosing to be vaccinated. COVID-19 vaccines, coupled with prevention measures, provide the greatest protection from severe illness resulting in hospitalization or death. If you have not yet been vaccinated, or are eligible for a booster dose, now is the time to go and get your shot." The two Omicron cases were detected in adult males in Central Ohio, and both tested positive on a PCR test on Dec. 7. Both cases had received their initial COVID-19 vaccine series more than six months ago, but neither had yet obtained a booster. Both patients are currently experiencing mild symptoms and have not been hospitalized. Neither had a history of international travel. “While the arrival of Omicron in Ohio is noteworthy, we must not lose sight of the fact that the Delta variant continues to drive cases and hospitalizations very high. As of yesterday, there were 4,422 patients in the hospital with COVID-19, a high that matches what we experienced in January of 2021 during last winter's surge," explained Dr. Vanderhoff. “The hospitalizations in this Delta surge are largely being driven by unvaccinated Ohioans. Severe illness with COVID-19 is largely preventable thanks to vaccines." Outbreak News Today External Link 


    Argentina: More Salmonella cases reported in Salta, Nearly half in young children

    10 December- In a follow-up on the Salmonella situation in Salta province, Argentina, the Ministry of Public Health reported that from the beginning of 2021 and until the end of last week, 1,283 cases of salmonellosis were confirmed in the province. In the first months of the year, a greater number of cases comprised in the first nine epidemiological weeks was observed. Then, between weeks 10 and 38, isolated infections occurred. And, from week 32 that began on August 8 until today, 665 laboratory-confirmed cases were reported. The general director of Epidemiological Coordination, Analía Acevedo, said that “of the 665 confirmed cases, 63% are concentrated in the Capital and 37% in the departments of Cerrillos, Chicoana, Cafayate, Rosario de Lerma, Los Andes, Metán, La Caldera, Molinos Cachi ". According to provincial statistics, the age range that has contracted the most salmonellosis is between 0 and 9 years, which represents 45% of all cases, followed by the group of 10 to 19, with 26%. Outbreak News Today External Link