Army Public Health Weekly Update, 23 September 2022

Date Published: 9/23/2022
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​​The Army Public Health Update is a collection of articles taken from public sources to offer awareness of current health issues and the media coverage given to them. The articles do not necessarily represent Defense Health Agency opinions, views, policy, or guidance, and should not be construed or interpreted as being endorsed by the Defense Health Agency.

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Table of Contents


    ‘Out of control’ STD situation prompts call for changes​​

    19 September- Sharply rising cases of some sexua​lly transmitted diseases — including a 26% rise in new syphilis infections reported last year — are prompting U.S. health officials to call for new prevention and treatment efforts. “It is imperative that we ... work to rebuild, innovate, and expand (STD) prevention in the U.S.,” said Dr. Leandro Mena of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a speech Monday at a medical conference on sexually transmitted diseases. Infections rates for some STDs, including gonorrhea and syphilis, have been rising for years. Last year the rate of syphilis cases reached its highest since 1991 and the total number of cases hit its highest since 1948. HIV cases are also on the rise, up 16% last year. And an international outbreak of monkeypox, which is being spread mainly between men who have sex with other men, has further highlighted the nation’s worsening problem with diseases spread mostly through sex. David Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, called the situation “out of control.” Officials are working on new approaches to the problem, such as home-test kits for some STDs that will make it easier for people to learn they are infected and to take steps to prevent spreading it to others, Mena said. AP News External Link​​


    BJACH Department of Public Health provides tips on Safe Sex​​

    19 September- Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital Department of Public Health is celebrating September Sexual Health Month by sharing information to keep Soldiers and their partners free of sexually transmitted infections and resources for prevention measures. April Draper-Davis, nurse practitioner and chief of occupational health said reduced access to primary care and preventive services during the COVID-19 lock down have resulted in increased cases of HIV and syphilis. “Louisiana is ranked 4th in the nation for HIV case rates,” she said. “Men under 30 years old who have sex with other men are at the highest risk.” The Department of Defense estimates roughly 2,000 service members are HIV positive, 350 being newly diagnosed each year. The Defense Health Agency (DHA) reports in the U.S. Army, from January 2020 through June 2021, 496,166 soldiers were tested for HIV and 108 were identified as HIV positive. Following state and national trends African American males were diagnosed with HIV at higher rates than the rest of the population. Draper-Davis said HIV and syphilis can be prevented with safe sex practices. “Getting tested on a regular basis, especially prior to becoming sexual active with any new partners and encouraging the partner to get tested too will stop transmission in those who have no symptoms,” she said. “If you are considered at high risk for HIV infection, there is HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) where you take a daily medication or injection every two months to reduce your risk of contracting HIV.” DVIDS External Link

    U.S. Army medical experts share successes at global medicine conference​

    19 September-  U.S. Army subject matter experts shared first-hand experiences and successes on their collaboration with worldwide host nation partners and allies at the 44th International Committee of Military Medicine World Congress in Brussels, Belgium, from Sept. 5 to 9. The event brought together military and civilian healthcare professionals from 61 countries, emphasizing that medicine has no borders and saving lives on the battlefield is a global responsibility. The Congress devoted three days to five central themes on military medicine. More than 150 presenters worldwide covered functional areas like medical logistics, nursing and veterinary medicine, mental health and rehabilitation, far forward surgery, and global health. U.S. Army Col. Bonnie Hartstein talked about combat casualty care advances resulting from a joint initiative in the United Arab Emirates, where she recently served as the director of the U.S. contingent. "I think our world continues to shrink as we partner together to combat common threats. This conference reinforces how closely aligned our missions and operations are,” Hartstein said. “Much of the work we do in the Army around the world is not visible to everyone. It is a real honor to be here showcasing the work of our team, sharing lessons learned and building the strength of our international partnerships.” The event encouraged interoperability by combining global communications, information sharing and equipment demonstrations —bolstering an extended network of alliances and partnerships capable of facing the challenges of today and tomorrow. “Knowledge sharing is important in the world of military medicine,” said Belgian ICMM Secretary General Geert Laire. “More than ever, I am convinced that ICMM has a role to play in that. This Congress reminds us that this is not new. What is new is the rapidly changing world around us and the need to adapt to those changes faster than ever.” External Link


    4 in 5 US pregnancy-related deaths are preventable: CDC​

    19 September- Four out of five pregnancy-related deaths in the United States are preventable, according to new figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report looked at data from the Maternal Mortality Review Committees (MMRCs) across 36 states between 2017 and 2019. Most of these deaths, or 53%, occurred between seven days and one year after the pregnancy. One-quarter of the deaths occurred during the pregnancy and the remaining 22% occurred on the day of delivery. Mental health conditions -- such as deaths linked to suicide or an overdose from a substance use disorder -- made up the plurality of deaths at 23%, the report found. Other underlying causes of pregnancy-related death included hemorrhaging; heart conditions; infections; thrombotic embolism, which a type of blood clot; cardiomyopathy, which is a disease of the heart muscle; and high blood pressure. The report also looked at deaths broken down by race and ethnicity and found that Black Americans made up a disproportionate percentage of pregnancy-related deaths. White Americans make up 59.3% of the population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau but accounted for 46.6% of deaths. Comparatively, Black Americans make up 13.8% of the population but 31.4% of deaths. ABC News External Link

    Liquid robot can split and re-assemble itself, a potential solution in biomedicine​

    20 September- Researchers from Taiwan-based Soochow University, Harbin Institute of Technology in China, and Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Germany have developed a soft robot that can split and re-assemble itself, as reported by Interesting Engineering. The soft robot, which is called the Scale-Reconfigurable Miniature Ferrofluidic Robot (SMFR), is made using oil-based ferrofluid droplets that comprise of iron oxide nanoparticles dipped in hydrocarbon oil. The ferrofluid can respond to magnets and magnetic fields. Additionally, the ferrofluids in the robot are easy to control and offer excellent flexibility with quick motion. This is because its particles are loosely bound to each other, which enables the robot to move easily through narrow passages, adjust its shape, and split under the influence of a magnetic field. The research team demonstrated​ the abilities of the SFMR by letting it go through a maze with tight and complex passages, hard turns, and obstacles The soft robot was able to go through the maze by shape-shifting, shrinking, elongating, and re-assembling. Tech Times External Link​​

    Severe common cold cases increasing among young children may be pegged to COVID-19 lockdowns​​​

    18 September- As children have headed back to school over these last few weeks, doctors have noticed an increase in severe cases of the common cold among some children from two of the most common viruses known to cause the upper respiratory infection: rhinoviruses and enteroviruses. That's according to a recent report out of Chicago — though the situation isn't limited to that area.  These viruses typically only cause mild upper respiratory symptoms in healthy adults. However, "we’ve seen a larger number of young children and infants with respiratory illnesses than we usually [see] in the summer — and more children with severe illness require hospital and ICU admissions," Dr. Czer Anthoney Lim, director of pediatric emergency medicine at Mount Sinai Beth Israel in New York City, told Fox News Digital. "What's been interesting is that we have had kind of a potpourri of viruses," Dr. Natalie Lambajian-Drummond of Yorkville, Ill., recently told CBS Chicago, adding that she even had to admit a child via ambulance. While it’s possible to get a cold any time of the year, most colds occur during the winter and spring, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Fox N​ews External Link

    Study: Injured brain's ability to heal may hinge on time of day, circadian rhythms​​

    ​​19 September- An injured brain's ability to heal may hinge on the time of day, a new study suggests. That's according to research findings that appeared Monday in the journal eNeuro. The study found that a type of brain cell able to renew itself is regulated by circadian rhythms, giving more insight into how the body's internal clock may promote healing after traumatic brain injuries. The researchers from Children's National Hospital in Washington, D.C., said they anticipate the findings will promote further scientific exploration of new ways to treat traumatic brain injuries. Such injuries affect 2.8 million Americans annually, including 630,000 children, but are still managed only with supportive care and rehabilitation because no targeted drug treatment options are available.​ The findings also underscore the importance of addressing circadian disturbances to help injured brains heal, the investigators said. Many of the body's cells follow a 24-hour rhythm driven by their genes known as the circadian clock, and the research team found that a relatively newly discovered type of brain cell ­-- known as NG2-glia, or oligodendrocyte precursor cell ­-- also follows a circadian rhythm, a news release said. This cell type is one of the few that continually self-renews throughout adulthood and notably generates in the first week after brain injuries, the scientists said. UPI External Link​​​​


    CDC: Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report

    2021-2022 Influenza Season for Week 36, ending September 10, 2022: 

    Outpatient Respiratory Illness Surveillance-The U.S. Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network (ILINet) monitors outpatient visits for influenza-like illness [ILI (fever plus cough or sore throat)], not laboratory-confirmed influenza, and will therefore capture respiratory illness visits due to infection with any pathogen that can present with similar symptoms, including influenza, SARS-CoV-2, and RSV. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, health care-seeking behaviors have changed, and people may be accessing the health care system in alternative settings not captured as a part of ILINet or at a different point in their illness than they might have before the pandemic. Therefore, it is important to evaluate syndromic surveillance data, including that from ILINet, in the context of other sources of surveillance data to obtain a complete and accurate picture of influenza, SARS-CoV-2, and other respiratory virus activity. 

    Outpatient Respiratory Illness Visits- Nationwide during week 36, 1.9% of patient visits reported through ILINet were due to respiratory illness that included fever plus a cough or sore throat, also referred to as ILI. Multiple respiratory viruses are co-circulating, and the relative contribution of influenza virus infection to ILI varies by location.​ CDC External Link​​


    Enoki mushrooms recalled in Canada after testing finds Listeria​

    19 September- Kam Ding Investment Ltd. is recalling K-Fresh Fresh Produce Enoki Mushrooms because of possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. This recall was triggered by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) test results. The recalled product has been sold in British Columbia, Canada, and may have been distributed in other provinces and territories. As of the posting of this recall, there have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of this product. Consumers should not consume, serve, use, sell, or distribute the recalled products. Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the location where they were purchased. Food Safety News​​ External Link​​

    Vegetable products sold at Kroger recalled because of Listeria concerns​​

    20 September- GHGA is recalling various products because of potential Listeria monocytogenes contamination. The recalled products were sold to Kroger and distributed to retail stores on Sept. 11. On Sept. 16, the firm was notified by their laboratory that a sample of a product tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes. The Sell-by Date has expired, and products were removed from store shelves and are no longer for sale. However, products could still be in the possession of consumers. The recalled products were sold primarily in Kroger stores in the produce or deli sections in Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia...As of the posting of this recall, no illnesses had been linked to this recall. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund or they may discard the product. Food Safety News External Link​​


    The 4-7-8 method that could help you sleep​​​​

    17 September- Falling asleep or coming down from anxiety might never be as easy as 1-2-3, but some experts believe a different set of numbers – 4-7-8 – comes much closer to doing the trick. The 4-7-8 technique is a relaxation exercise that involves breathing in for four counts, holding that breath for seven counts and exhaling for eight counts, said Dr. Raj Dasgupta, a clinical associate professor of medicine at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, via email. Also known as the “relaxing breath,” 4-7-8 has ancient roots in pranayama, which is the yogic practice of breath regulation, but was popularized by integrative medicine specialist Dr. Andrew Weil in 2015. What a lot of sleep difficulties are all about is people who struggle to fall asleep because their mind is buzzing,” said Rebecca Robbins, an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School and associate scientist in the division of sleep and circadian disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “But exercises like the 4-7-8 technique give you the opportunity to practice being at peace. And that’s exactly what we need to do before we go to bed.” It does not ‘put you to sleep,’ but rather it may reduce anxiety to increase likelihood of falling asleep,” said Joshua Tal, a New York state-based clinical psychologis. CNN External Link​​


    Uganda's transplant revolution brings hope to thousands​​​

    20 September- Uganda's parliament is scrutinizing a proposed law that would enable organ transplants to happen in the country for the first time, transforming the lives of thousands hoping for operations. Annita Twongyeirwe had pictured a different future for herself. But since being diagnosed with kidney failure three years ago, the 28-year-old is preoccupied either by having dialysis or thinking about the next session. "It has taken over my life," she says, looking defeated. During dialysis a machine essentially performs the kidneys' function and cleans the blood of waste products and excess fluids. Each session lasts about four hours and she has to go to hospital twice a week. In between sessions she spends most of her time at home - a relative's house - helping out with chores where she can, and keeping an eye on a WhatsApp group she created through which friends and well-wishers can donate money. "I was this ambitious girl. I wanted to go further with studies. I would probably be somebody's girlfriend or wife, so all that life is cut short. It took away all the dreams I had," she adds. A kidney transplant could bring them back. But an operation abroad, currently the only option, comes with a price tag of about $30,000 (£26,000) - and is out of reach of most.​ Hundreds of Ugandans, who like Ms. Twongyeirwe cannot afford this, live on dialysis for as long as possible. But even at the subsidised price of around $100 a week for the treatment and drugs, that is more than five times the average total income in Uganda and so is only an option for a small fraction of the population. The ward at Kiruddu National Referral Hospital on the edge of the capital, Kampala, is the only public health facility in the country that offers this service. Almost 200 patients attend the clinic regularly, many of them traveling long distances. BBC News​External Link


    Israeli Investment Firm Launched $200 Million Fund for Healthcare Technology Globally​

    20 September- The firm's Global Health Equity Fund (GHEF) will boost the investment in the health sector, at the same time, deliver competitive returns to its investors. With this fund, expect to see more breakthrough tech in the health sector globally. The fund was conceived during the COVID-19 pandemic and the deep-rooted healthcare inequalities. Indeed, the 2020 global health emergency has shed light on healthcare issues, such as access to initial vaccines and diagnostics. Many investors were alarmed with this, which pushed many of them to reinforce the potential of innovative technology to help save more lives. Anil Soni, the CEO of WHO Foundation, said in a statement, "In every country in the world, too many men, women, and children lack access to adequate healthcare because of income disparities and systemic barriers that perpetuate inequity." This calls for solutions in response to the failure during the COVID-19 crisis.  Our Crowd already has health-related venture investments, such as in Alpha Tau Medical and BrainQ. With the new fund and the collaboration with WHO, more investments will be identified and will make investors and business owners commit to equitable access to technologies. Tech Times External Link​​


    The impact of COVID-19 on organ donation and transplantation in the UK: lessons learned from the first year of the pandemic​

    13 September- The COVID-19 pandemic had a major impact on UK deceased organ donation and transplantation activity. We used national audit data from NHS Blood and Transplant to explore in detail the effects of the pandemic in comparison with 12 months pre-pandemic, and to consider the impact of the mitigating strategies and challenges placed on ICU by ‘waves’ of patients with COVID-19. Between 11 March 2020 and 10 March 2021, referrals to NHS Blood and Transplant of potential organ donors were initially inversely related to the number of people with COVID-19 undergoing mechanical ventilation in intensive care (incident rate ratio (95%CI) per 1000 patients 0.93 (0.88–0.99), p = 0.018), although this pattern reversed during the second wave (additional incident rate ratio (95%CI) 1.12 (1.05–1.19), p < 0.001)...The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major detrimental impact on ICU bed occupancy in the UK [1-3]. However, the impact on organ donation and transplantation activity (which is dependent on the availability of ICU resources) is less well understood. Here, we explore the impact of the first year of the pandemic on organ donation and transplantation in the UK. The SARS-CoV-2 virus was identified in December 2019, with the first UK case confirmed on 31 January 2020 [4]. As cases rapidly increased, the UK and many other countries enacted restrictive lockdown measures to limit spread [5]. During the first 12 months of the pandemic, two distinct ‘waves’ of infections, hospital admissions and deaths were identified in the UK [6]. The first wave occurred between March and May 2020, while the second wave started in September 2020, peaking in January 2021 and had declined by April 2021 [4]. Association of Anaesthetists External Link​​


    Australia's flu season foreshadows mixed results for the USA​

    19 September- The Australian Influenza Surveillance Report published last week revealed some good and puzzling news for the USA. Since the Southern Hemisphere's flu season generally impacts northern countries, health leaders pay attention to Australia's data. Australia's Department of Health and Aged Care confirmed on September 16, 2022, that 'the impact for the flu season to date, as measured through the rate of FluTracking respondents and the number of sentinel hospital patients with influenza, is 'low to moderate.' And the 'weekly number of notifications of laboratory-confirmed influenza in 2022 had decreased to below the weekly 5-year average since mid-July 2022.' In the year to date, there have been 223,678 notifications reported to the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System in Australia, of which 1,351 notices (less than 1%) had an influenza diagnosis, and 295 influenza-associated deaths have been notified. While reporting a moderate flu season is good news, influenza vaccine effectiveness against the circulating viruses is another essential measurement. Annual flu shots are typically around 40–60% effective. Based on preliminary estimates from Australia's sentinel hospitals, vaccine effectiveness appears at the lower end of the moderate range in 2022. 'It is important to note that due to the COVID-19 epidemic in Australia, data reported from the various influenza surveillance systems may not represent an accurate reflection of activity, and these results should be interpreted cautiously.'​​ Precision Vaccinations External Link​​


    Hundreds of Americans still dying of COVID-19 each day ahead of the fall​

    15 September- It has been more than two and half years since the onset of the COVID-19 ​pandemic, and despite a return to a new form of normality for many people across the country, there are still hundreds of Americans dying from the virus every day, a grim reality of the pandemic's continued destruction. The U.S. is currently averaging just under 400 daily COVID-19 related deaths. Although the daily number of fatalities is far lower than it was at the nation's peak, in January 2021, 3,400 Americans died of COVID-19 each day. "The seven-day average daily deaths are still too high, about 375 per day — well above the around 200 deaths a day we saw earlier this spring and, in my mind, far too high for a vaccine-preventable disease," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House press briefing with the COVID-19 response team last week. Over the last seven days, the U.S. has reported 2,500 deaths, and since the beginning of 2022, more than 221,000 Americans have died because of COVID-19. The vast majority of Americans who are currently dying of COVID-19 are over the age of 75. Although more than 92% of Americans of the age of 65 have been fully vaccinated, many are not up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations, and are at a higher risk for severe disease due to the virus.​ ABC News External Link​​


    Hurricane Fiona: Dominican Republic hit as storm strengthens​​

    20 September- Hurricane Fiona is continuing to strengthen, say US forecasters, having already claimed at least seven lives in parts of the Caribbean. Forecasters say the category three storm, with wind speeds of 115mph (185km/h), could worsen to a category four - the second-highest designation. Rain has been lashing Puerto Rico, where at least four people died and 80% of the island remains without power. Two deaths have also been reported in the Dominican Republic. An 18-year-old girl passed away after being struck by an electric pole felled by strong winds, while a man in the north-eastern town of Nagua was killed by a falling tree. President Luis Abinader has declared three eastern provinces of the Dominican Republic to be disaster zones, amid warnings from the NHC of "heavy rainfall and life-threatening flash flooding".​​ BBC News External Link​​