Army Public Health Weekly Update, 25 June 2021

Date Published: 6/25/2021
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​The Army Public Health Update is a collection of articles taken from public sources to offer awareness of current health issues and the media coverage given to them. The articles do not necessarily represent U.S. Army Medical Command opinions, views, policy, or guidance, and should not be construed or interpreted as being endorsed by the U.S. Army Medical Command.
 The Army Public Health Weekly Update does not analyze the information as to its strategic or tactical impact on the U.S. Army and is not a medical intelligence product. Medical intelligence is available from the National Center for Medical Intelligence External Link .

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Table of Contents


    The 2020 Health of the Force Report is here

    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 External Link 


    Cataracts concern battle fighters, the aging

    21 June- Developing a cataract of the eye is usually thought of as something to worry about as one ages, when an opacity, or cloudiness, of the lens develops over time. But a cataract can also happen suddenly, as a result of direct force trauma on the battlefield, or exposure to gasses, chemicals, or new weaponry in war zones. "In case of traumatic cataract, it can be from direct and indirect trauma to the eye," explained Dr. Mariia Viswanathan, an ophthalmologist and the chief of Education, Training, Research, and Surveillance at the Clinical Care and Integration branch of the Defense Health Agency's Vision Center of Excellence (VCE). "It's damaging the protein, and so the loss of transparency. It can be force trauma, it can be chemical trauma, it can be ionization. Different types of weapons can cause traumatic cataract. It's a very complex process." Traumatic cataracts in service members can occur immediately after an eye injury, months, or even years later. They can also be the result of non-battlefield situations, the VCE says. They can be produced by severe head trauma via road traffic accidents, recreational and sports activities, firearms or explosive injuries, or the absence of ocular protective devices. Regardless of how it occurs, the effects cannot be undone when it comes to traumatic cataracts, said Viswanathan. "The opaque lens is like a boiled egg," Viswanathan said. "You have the part that is transparent. If you boil it, it becomes white - you cannot do anything to make it transparent again. It's the same with the (ocular) lens. We have particular proteins in the lens that keep a particular structure. If there is any influence on the lens, the structure is damaged, and that's when they become disorganized and the lens is opaque, as a boiled egg." Usually, traumatic cataract in one eye does not mean it will affect both eyes, she said, unless the blast injury that causes it affects the entire body, or a particular physical system. In addition, total blindness is not necessarily the outcome of a traumatic cataract. There is often a way to surgically address some of the ocular damage to at least improve the vision, without restoring it entirely. External Link

    Humans now testing the Army's catch-all COVID vaccine

    22 June- A kind of catch-all vaccine that could protect against current and future strains of the coronavirus that sparked the COVID-19 global pandemic has already been tested by Army scientists on mice, monkeys, horses, hamsters and even sharks. Early human testing has begun and researchers expect the first data sets on immunity in the coming weeks. This effort is a new approach to handling viruses, finding ways to defeat families of viruses rather than a specific strain. And that's important because medical experts worry that the next pandemic-triggering virus could be more contagious than COVID-19 and far deadlier.
    "We know it's safe and tolerable but we don't know yet the immunity it confers," said Dr. Kayvon Modjarrad, director of the emerging infectious diseases branch at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. He spoke during the Defense One 2021 Tech Summit on Monday. Modjarrad said that the results so far in animal studies have shown high immunity. If even a fraction of that is present in humans, their current vaccine would be a good option for a next-generation vaccine to combat coronavirus, regardless of the strain. Their broad-spectrum coronavirus vaccine could also serve as a "booster" shot for soldiers that would offer longer and more durable protection against future variants, Modjarrad said. Army Times External Link

    Mental health issues accounted for one-third of military medevacs from middle east in 2020

    22 June- Mental health disorders, injuries and COVID-19 were listed as the top reasons that U.S. service members were evacuated from the U.S. Central Command area of operations in 2020, according to a new report from the Defense Health Agency. Last year, 1,207 troops out of an estimated 60,000 to 80,000 stationed in the region were flown to hospitals in the U.S. or Europe for medical reasons, including 59 with combat injuries, according to the May Medical Surveillance Monthly Report published by the Defense Department. Among the evacuations, 27%, or 328, were for mental health conditions, and 19% were for non-battlefield injuries such as broken bones or sprains. At least 10%, or 121, were thought to be the result of COVID-19, although medical records listed most as "other" or "encounter for administrative examination;" just 23 officially were evacuated over the coronavirus. "Taking into account these administrative examinations would make COVID-19 the third leading cause of medical evacuation out of CENTCOM AOR in 2020. However, not all of these evacuations may have been medically necessary and may have instead been driven by guidance, policies, and procedures in-theater," noted the authors. External Link

    Online learning increases USU global health enrollment by 12,400 percent

    22 June- When COVID-19 shuttered classrooms across the country, universities and professors scrambled to bring their students and programs online. Technical issues, lack of virtual in-class participation — for many schools it presented a Herculean task. This led to a difficult, and sometimes unsuccessful period of transition for some institutions where the road bumps were numerous and dropped connections plentiful. Conversely, for the students of Air Force Col. (Dr.) Brad Boetig it was a seamless transition and led to a dramatic increase in enrollment. The Uniformed Services University of Health and Sciences' (USU) Graduate Certificate in Global Health and Global Health Engagement program was already online before COVID reared its ugly head. The graduate program was one step ahead, ready to face the demands of students needing to make an online transition. "While everybody else in the country from elementary schools through medical schools had to all of a sudden figure out how to start teaching online — we already had a lot of experience doing it," Boetig said. "We already had our processes maximized and finely tuned, so COVID didn't disrupt us one iota." The 18-credit graduate certificate program provides a wide breadth of learning related to global health science and policy. It emphasizes real-world global health applications for the U.S. military and federal government. Boetig arrived in 2012 and then-department chair, Dr. Gerald Quinnan, tasked him with taking the global health curriculum online. Boetig said at that point the department only had a handful of students each year concentrating in global health, but once the revamped curriculum was put online, the enrollment grew exponentially, doubling with every iteration. Instead of two students per year within the graduate programs concentrating in global health, the program is now enrolling 250 students per year—a staggering 12,400 percent increase. "And that's all enabled by the long-distance learning component," Boetig said. DVIDS  External Link

    Pride month brings renewed focus to LGBTQ+ stressors and challenges

    17 June- As the Department of Defense and military services continue to celebrate gay pride month, there is a renewed focus on the stressors and challenges experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender service members and their families. As part of a focused effort to examine the health of the Army family, the Army Public Health Center is preparing a report, expected to be released this fall, examining the stressors impacting Army family health, including those experienced by LGBT Soldiers and their families. One particular area of focus for the report is the stressors experienced by sexual minority groups, including perceived stigma and sexual victimization. According to the 2018 DOD Workplace and Gender Relations Survey of Active Duty Members, which included questions about sexual orientation but not gender identity, about 14 percent of female survey respondents and 3 percent of male survey respondents identified as LGB. The survey also noted that 7 percent of female respondents and 5 percent of male respondents selected "prefer not to answer," indicating there is a subset of Soldiers on which the Army lacks visibility with regard to sexual orientation; and that up to 23 percent of female Soldiers and 9 percent of male Soldiers may be underrepresented and understudied sexual minorities. A recent RAND study titled Sexual Assault of Sexual Minorities in the U.S. Military also examined the 2018 WGRA data and found service members who identify as LGB or who do not indicate that they identify as heterosexual represented only 12 percent of the active component population in 2018, but accounted for approximately 43 percent of all sexually assaulted service members in that year. In his remarks June 9 as part of DOD Pride Month, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III noted that progress has been made for a new generation of LGBT soldiers, sailors, airmen, guardians and Marines openly and proudly serving their country since the repeal of "Don't ask Don't Tell" 10 years ago. But he said more needs to be done. External Link 

    Study estimates sexual assault and sexual harassment risk across army installations, units, and occupational specialties

    18 June- A new report on the risk of sexual assault and sexual harassment across the Army will help leaders better implement tailored prevention programs for Soldiers serving in specific units and job functions, Army officials said today. The report, commissioned by the Army in 2017, was compiled by RAND from DoD data gathered from surveys of Army Soldiers from 2014 to 2018 and provides leaders with more information to understand how installations, units and even military occupational specialties impact the risk a Soldier faces from sexual harassment and sexual assault. The findings are vital for the Army to determine where and how to more precisely and most effectively provide training, prevention, and response to locations and career fields where they may have the greatest effect – where total risk of sexual assault is high and where large numbers of personnel are stationed. "The Army is committed to learning as much as possible about individual and organizational factors that contribute to risk of sexual assault and other harmful behaviors," said Dr. James A. Helis, Director of the Army Resilience Directorate. "This study sheds light on the environmental and occupational factors that contribute to the risk of sexual assault and sexual harassment for our Soldiers and, in turn, will help inform future prevention and response efforts." "We continually assess the Army's Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) programs and initiatives to determine how to provide the highest quality results for our Soldiers, Army Civilians, and Family members," he added. In the past year, the Army has implemented reviews and initiatives that aim to improve sexual violence prevention, response, investigative, and accountability efforts, such as the Fort Hood Independent Review Commission (FHIRC) and the People First Task Force (PFTF). These initiatives aim to create changes that, in addition to the Secretary of Defense 90-Day Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military (IRC), will cultivate prevention-focused climates of cohesion, dignity, respect, and inclusion, according to Helis. The Army announced the creation of the PFTF in December 2020 to plan the Army's implementation of the findings and recommendations from the FHIRC. While the FHIRC report focused on the command climate and culture at Fort Hood, the findings impact matters relevant to the entire Army and its more than 1 million Soldiers. The Army is taking action to implement each of the FHIRC report's 70 recommendations and is in the process of re-structuring the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) and redesigning the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) program. External Link


    59th MDW: PTSD Awareness Month

    22 June- The month of June marks Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month. Many people know of PTSD, but may not fully understand how it affects people. It can affect those suffering from it differently, and it is important to understand that PTSD is more than a diagnosis. "There are a particular set of symptoms that may transpire, but when trauma happens, not everyone responds in the same way," said Maj. (Dr.) Abby Diehl, 59th Medical Wing Psychological Health director. "It's hard to predict how people might respond to different events." According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition, some common symptoms of PTSD include things like sleep disturbance, hypervigilance, trouble concentrating, irritable behavior or forms of self-destructive behavior. The American Psychiatric Association states approximately 3.5% of U.S. adults are affected by PTSD every year and an estimated one in 11 people will be diagnosed with PTSD in their lifetime. The Military Health System offers a variety of resources for those suffering from PTSD. "A good starting point is primary care behavioral health," Diehl said. "We can do a brief prolonged exposure protocol. Also, people can self-refer to the mental health clinic. I would always recommend starting in primary care behavioral health because you'll get a shorter visit with a trained mental health provider, a psychologist or a social worker.  There are a lot of resources online. There's the center for deployment psychology which has a lot of information about PTSD from a military perspective. " JBSA External Link

    AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine protects more against Delta, Kappa variants like Pfizer

    22 June- AstraZeneca's COVID-19 Vaccine has proven to be effective in protecting against the Delta and Kappa variants from India, with the likes of Pfizer and BioNTech's mRNA shot. The adenovirus-based drug was initially viewed as something less potent than that of the new technology used by Pfizer, but in some ways, it still brings an edge to the industry. Vaccines have different creations and build, and it would vary with the technology that was used by the manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies which has debuted the wave of immunization shots. Among these are the trio of Pfizer and BioNTech, Moderna, and Oxford, and AstraZeneca, which all have their unique takes on the vaccine. Pfizer and Moderna's mRNA vaccines are said to be the future of vaccine and medicine, as well as the medical community as it provides a progressive take on antibody development. However, this does not fully push away the use of traditional "adenovirus" as they still provide options and features for other specific patients. Tech Times External Link 

    CDC warns on uptick in RSV cases after low activity during COVID-19: What to know about respiratory illness

    18 June- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) national surveillance system has noted an uptick in the number of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) cases detected in the U.S. over the last several weeks, noting that the illness can be associated with severe disease in young children and older adults. RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms, but resolves within a week or two. Nearly all children are expected to have had an RSV infection by their second birthday. However, due to low numbers over the last year, the agency is warning that older infants and toddlers may be at an increased risk of severe illnesses since they did not have the usual amount of exposure. The agency sent out a health advisory last week noting an uptick particularly in the southern regions and advised health care workers to institute broader testing for RSV presenting with acute respiratory illness but test negative for SARS-CoV-2. RSV infections in the U.S. typically occur during the fall and winter cold and flu seasons, but in April 2020 there was a rapid decrease in activity "likely due to the adoption of public health measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19." Fox News External Link

    Children's COVID-19 vaccination guidance revised by the WHO

    22 June- The World Health Organization (WHO) published revised COVID-19 vaccination advice for children and adolescents on June 22, 2021. The WHO's website now states, 'the WHO and partners are working together on the COVID-19 pandemic response ... and are racing to develop and deploy safe and effective vaccines.' The WHO has modified its statement published on June 21st: Children should not be vaccinated for the moment. The WHO's website now says 'COVID-19 vaccines are safe for most people 18 years and older, including those with pre-existing conditions of any kind, including auto-immune disorders. These conditions include hypertension, diabetes, asthma, pulmonary, liver, kidney disease, and chronic infections that are stable and controlled. If supplies are limited in your area, discuss your situation with your care provider if you a.) have a compromised immune system, b.) Are pregnant (if you are already breastfeeding, you should continue after vaccination), c.) Have a history of severe allergies, particularly to a vaccine (or any of the ingredients in the vaccine), and d.) Are severely frail.' 'Children and adolescents tend to have the milder disease than adults, so unless they are part of a group at higher risk of severe COVID-19, it is less urgent to vaccinate them than older people, those with chronic health conditions, and health workers.' Precision Vaccinations External Link

    Covid: Vaccines running out in poorer nations, WHO says

    22 June- A large number of poorer countries receiving Covid-19 vaccines through a global sharing scheme do not have enough doses to continue programmes, the World Health Organization has said. WHO senior adviser Dr. Bruce Aylward said the Covax programme had delivered 90 million doses to 131 countries. But he said this was nowhere near enough to protect populations from a virus still spreading worldwide. The shortages come as some nations in Africa see a third wave of infections. On Monday, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa called for an end to vaccine hoarding by wealthier countries as his government scrambled to curb a steep rise in cases. On a continental level, only 40 million doses have been administered so far in Africa - less than 2% of the population, Mr. Ramaphosa said. BBC News  External Link

    Delta coronavirus variant: Scientists brace for impact

    22 June- When the first cases of the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant were detected in the United Kingdom in mid-April, the nation was getting ready to open up. COVID-19 case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths were plummeting, thanks to months of lockdown and one of the world's fastest vaccination programmes. Two months later, the variant, which was first detected in India, has catalyzed a third UK wave and forced the government to delay the full reopening of society it had originally slated for 21 June. After observing the startlingly swift rise of the Delta variant in the United Kingdom, other countries are bracing for the variant's impact — if they aren't feeling it already. Nations with ample access to vaccines, such as those in Europe and North America, are hopeful that the shots can dampen the inevitable rise of Delta. But in countries without large vaccine stocks, particularly in Africa, some scientists worry that the variant could be devastating. "In my mind, it will be really hard to keep out this variant," says Tom Wenseleers, an evolutionary biologist and biostatistician at the Catholic University of Leuven (KU Leuven) in Belgium. "It's very likely it will take over altogether on a worldwide basis." Delta, also known as B.1.617.2, belongs to a viral lineage first identified in India during a ferocious wave of infections there in April and May. The lineage grew rapidly in some parts of the country, and showed signs of partial resistance to vaccines. But it was difficult for researchers to disentangle these intrinsic properties of the variant from other factors driving India's confirmed cases past 400,000 per day, such as mass gatherings. Nature External Link

    Screen all kids for heart problems, pediatricians say

    22 June- All children, regardless of their athletic status, should be screened for risk of cardiac arrest, the American Academy of Pediatrics said in a policy statement Monday. The group included four questions to incorporate into the screenings, including two pertaining to family history of heart issues. "The unexpected death of a seemingly healthy child is a tragedy not only for the family but for the family community as well," the AAP said in a statement regarding the policy, which will be published in the July issue of Pediatrics. "Multiple studies have looked at sudden deaths in young people either as a whole or by individual disease processes. However, most of these studies are published in cardiology journals. The goal of the AAP-PACES policy is to present expanded information to pediatricians and other primary care providers." The guidelines suggest screening for sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) and sudden cardiac death (SCD) should be performed during the preparticipation physical evaluation or at least every three years or on entry into middle/junior high school and high school. In addition to family history, the group recommends physicians inquire about fainting, passing out, or unexplained seizures without warning, especially during exercise, or in response to loud noises such as doorbells, alarm clocks and telephones, or if a patient has ever had exercise-related chest pain or shortness of breath. Fox News External Link

    There may be trouble ahead as dangerous Covid-19 variant appears to cause hospitalization spike in a Missouri city

    22 June- Health officials are pouring their effort into convincing those still hesitant to get vaccinated against Covid-19, but none of the strategies appear to be a "Hail Mary pass" to get the US to reach President Joe Biden's vaccination goal and curb spreading variants. "I just don't know if there's something out there that we're not doing that for sure will get us over the score line," Dr. Marcus Plescia, the Chief Medical Officer at the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials told CNN. "That's the problem -- we're doing all the things that we know can be effective, but it's just allowing us to maintain this steady state, when what we really need to do is bump the demand back up." Biden set a goal earlier this year for 70% of American adults to have received at least one dose of vaccine by July 4. Although the country is getting close, with 65.4% of adults having received at least one dose, demand and vaccination rates have declined, leaving experts to worry if enough of the population will be vaccinated in time to curb fall and winter surges. Low vaccination rates are dangerous when combined with the spread of variants like Delta, which is believed to be more transmissible and cause more serious illness. Steve Edwards, CEO of CoxHealth, a healthcare system in Springfield, Missouri, told CNN the combination is to blame for a six-fold increase in hospitalizations in his system. CNN External Link

    Transgender children and their parents struggle to cope with restrictive laws

    22 June- The attacks on kids who identify as transgender keep coming. Arkansas in early April became the first state to ban gender-affirming care including puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, for children under 18. West Virginia signed a bill into law that prohibits transgender girls and women from participating in girls' and women's secondary school sports teams in late April. And in mid-May, the Texas state legislature voted to approve a ban on gender-affirming care for kids under 18; the bill died in the House at the end of May, though Texas Gov. Greg Abbott may decide to resurrect it in June. Dozens of states are considering bills that would limit what activities and care trans kids can legally access. "Parents of trans kids are pretty shaken," said Liz Dyer, founder of Mama Bears, an organization dedicated to supporting, educating and empowering parents and guardians of LGBTQ kids and the LGBTQ community. "It's scary to know that people are targeting you and your family." "It's not just the bathroom. It's not just the playing field," said "The Bold World" author Jodie Patterson, mother to a 13-year-old trans boy — who plays on a boys' basketball team. "It's about identity, it's about ability, it's about belief in a kid, and it's about squashing all of that. We would survive and we would figure out a way, but it would change everything." CNN External Link


    WHO: Influenza Update

    21 June 2021, based on data up to 6 June 2021:

    -The current influenza surveillance data should be interpreted with caution as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has 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 have likely played a role in reducing influenza virus transmission. 

    -Globally, despite continued or even increased testing for influenza in some countries, influenza activity remained at lower levels than expected for this time of the year. 

    -In the temperate zone of the southern hemisphere, influenza activity remained at inter-seasonal levels.

    -In the temperate zone of the northern hemisphere, influenza activity remained below baseline, though detections of influenza B/Victoria lineage slightly increased, especially in China. 

    -In the Caribbean and Central American countries, there were very few influenza detections reported. 

    -In tropical South America, no influenza detections were reported. 

    -In tropical Africa, a few influenza detections were reported in some countries in Western and Eastern Africa.

    -In Southern Asia, a few influenza detections were reported from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan. 

    -In South East Asia, no influenza detections were reported. 

    -Worldwide, influenza B detections accounted for the majority of the very low numbers of detections reported.

    -National Influenza Centres (NICs) and other national influenza laboratories from 78 countries, areas or territories reported data to FluNet for the time period from 24 May 2021 to 06 June 2021 (data as of 2021-06-18 06:59:38 UTC). The WHO GISRS laboratories tested more than 228646 specimens during that time period. 965 were positive for influenza viruses, of which 69 (7.2%) were typed as influenza A and 896  (92.8%) as influenza B. Of the sub-typed influenza A viruses, 24 (55.8%) were influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 and 19 (44.2%) were influenza A(H3N2). Of the characterized B viruses, 2 (0.2%) belonged to the B-Yamagata lineage and 830 (99.8%) to the B-Victoria lineage.

    -During the COVID-19 pandemic, WHO encourages countries, especially those that have received the multiplex influenza and SARS-CoV-2 reagent kits from GISRS, to continue routine influenza surveillance, test samples from influenza surveillance sites for influenza and SARS-CoV-2 viruses where resources are available and report epidemiological and laboratory information in a timely manner to established regional and global platforms. Updated considerations for addressing disruptions in the influenza sentinel surveillance and extending to include COVID-19 wherever possible are available in the interim guidance, Maintaining surveillance of influenza and monitoring SARS-CoV-2 – adapting Global Influenza surveillance and Response System (GISRS) and sentinel systems during the COVID-19 pandemic. Updated algorithms for testing of both influenza and SARS-CoV-2 for surveillance are also included. WHO External Link


    After U.S. recall, firm initiates nationwide Canadian recall of cat food because of Salmonella concerns

    18 June- Natural Balance Pet Foods Inc. is recalling certain cat food products in Canada because of possible Salmonella contamination, which can be dangerous to pets and people who handle the food. The company reported that 378 units of the affected product were sold in Canada from February to April 2021. As of June 2, the company had not received any reports of illness, complaints or injuries in Canada. The products are the same that were recalled in the United States in May. In the U.S. the issue was found by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture during a routine state surveillance sample. Surfaces not thoroughly washed after having contact with the recalled products or any surfaces exposed to these products are at risk of cross-contamination. The recalled products were distributed nationwide in the United States, both by retail and online distribution. Salmonella can infect cats by eating a product contaminated with Salmonella bacteria. Symptoms of Salmonella infection in cats may include vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, fever or excessive salivation. The company suggests that if your pet has consumed the recalled product and has any of these symptoms to contact your veterinarian. Some cats may not appear sick but can spread infection to other animals and humans in the household. Food Safety News External Link

    WGS project on Campylobacter gives insights in Denmark

    21 June- A surveillance project in Denmark using whole genome sequencing has found many Campylobacter infections are not sporadic and helped uncover a large outbreak. The study showed that roughly half of human infections belong to genetic clusters, almost one third of clinical isolates match a chicken source, and most large clusters can be linked to poultry by WGS. Researchers hope the knowledge and awareness raised will lead to a decrease in the Danish chicken-associated cases of campylobacteriosis in coming years. Denmark had 5,389 cases in 2019 and 33 percent of conventional chicken meat samples were positive for Campylobacter at slaughter. One third of infections are estimated to be travel-related. Typing-based surveillance of Campylobacter infections in 2019 enabled detection of large clusters and matched them to retail chicken isolates to react to outbreaks. Surveillance was also able to detect prolonged or reappearing outbreaks to help earlier interventions, according to the study published in the journal Eurosurveillance. Food Safety News External Link


    Drinking coffee of any type cuts risk for liver problems, study says

    21 June- Drinking up to three or four cups of caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee a day reduces your risk of developing and dying from chronic liver diseases, a new study found. Coffee drinkers were 21% less likely to develop chronic liver disease, 20% less likely to develop chronic or fatty liver disease, and 49% less likely to die from chronic liver disease than non-coffee drinkers, according to the study published Monday in the journal BMC Public Health. "Coffee is widely accessible, and the benefits we see from our study may mean it could offer a potential preventative treatment for chronic liver disease," said study author Dr. Oliver Kennedy, who is on the medical faculty of the University of Southampton in the UK, in a statement. "This would be especially valuable in countries with lower income and worse access to healthcare and where the burden of chronic liver disease is highest," Kennedy said. CNN External Link

    Hyperpigmentation is a common skin problem- Here's what you can do about it

    21 June- Donna Gould, a 43-year-old aesthetics student in Cocoa Beach, Fla., can't remember a time when bug bites and scrapes didn't leave her with dark spots on her skin. "I just assumed I was a slow healer." Ten years ago, Gould finally asked a doctor about the spots, thinking they were from a vitamin deficiency. "The doctor told me my skin type is prone to hyperpigmentation," Gould said, "and that the spots were my increased melanin reacting to inflammation." Hyperpigmentation is an umbrella term used to define common skin conditions — including post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), melasma and sun spots — in which patches of skin become darker than the surrounding area. The darkening of the skin results from an excess in melanin — the natural pigment that determines skin, hair and eye color — and frequently appears on the face, hands and other parts of the body regularly exposed to sunlight. The Washington Post External Link


    Africa: Guinea Ebola outbreak declared over

    19 June- Guinean health authorities today declared the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak over today. The outbreak in Guinea was declared on February 14 this year. Cumulatively 23 cases, 12 deaths (CFR: 52%), and 10 recoveries of EVD have been reported. This includes five health workers. The last confirmed EVD case and death was reported on 4 April 2021. This was the first time the disease resurfaced in the country since the deadly outbreak in West Africa that ended in 2016. "I commend the affected communities, the government and people of Guinea, health workers, partners and everyone else whose dedicated efforts made it possible to contain this Ebola outbreak," said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. "Based on the lessons learned from the 2014–16 outbreak and through rapid, coordinated response efforts, community engagement, effective public health measures and the equitable use of vaccines, Guinea managed to control the outbreak and prevent its spread beyond its borders. Our work in Guinea continues, including supporting survivors to access post-illness care." A total of 10,873 people have been vaccinated against Ebola virus in Guinea. Outbreak News Today External Link 


    Pakistan: Naegleria fowleri claims two lives in Karachi

    19 June- Pakistan has been a hotspot for infections with the "brain-eating amoeba", Naegleria fowleri in recent years and now officials are reporting two more cases/deaths in the city of Karachi. Health officials report two cases in two months–One patient died in mid-May and the other in the first week of June. It is reported they both, individuals under the age of 40, contracted the lethal parasite by ablution. Naegleria fowleri is a microscopic amoeba which is a single-celled living organism. It can cause a rare and devastating infection of the brain called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). The amoeba is commonly found in warm freshwater such as lakes, rivers, ponds and canals. Infections can happen when contaminated water enters the body through the nose. Once the amoeba enters the nose, it travels to the brain where it causes PAM (which destroys brain tissue) and is usually fatal. Infections usually occur when it is hot for prolonged periods of time, which results in higher water temperatures and lower water levels. Naegleria fowleri infections are rare. Most  infections occur from exposure to contaminated recreational water. Cases due to the use of neti pots and the practice of ablution have been documented. The practice of ablution is included in Yogic, Ayurvedic, and Islamic traditions. Within the Islamic faith, ritual nasal rinsing is included in a cleansing process called "wudu" or "ablution." It is usually performed several times a day in preparation for prayer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Outbreak News Today External Link


    Russia studies Sputnik V vaccine against the Moscow strain of coronavirus

    16 June- The Gamaleya Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology is studying the effectiveness of the Sputnik V vaccine against the Moscow strain of coronavirus, presumably the vaccine will protect against this variant of COVID-19, the center's director Alexander Gintsburg, according to Russian media. Earlier, Gunzburg said that there are original variants of coronavirus mutations in Russia , in particular in Moscow, their properties and differences from other strains are currently being studied. "At present, a study of the" Moscow "strain and the effectiveness of" Sputnik V "against it is underway, we think that the vaccine will be effective, but we must wait for the results of the study," said Gunzburg. Outbreak News Today External Link


    Japan on target for another 5000+ syphilis cases this year

    19 June- Syphilis was a major issue in Japan decades ago until shortly after the end of World War II, but the total reported cases declined to several hundred annually until 2011, when a rebound began. In the most recent years–2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 saw more than 5,000 cases and 6,000 cases. Looking at the most recent numbers from Japan's National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Tokyo (NIID), it looks like they are on track to another 5,000+ cases in 2021. Through June 9, health officials have reported 2,658 cases with Tokyo (892) and Osaka (270) reporting the most. Syphilis, "baidoku" in Japanese, is a sexually transmitted infection that is spread by direct, skin to skin contact during unprotected sex. Pregnant women who are infected can transmit it to their unborn babies. Outbreak News Today External Link


    U.S. :Wisconsin- Report rise in syphilis, congenital syphilis, Spike called 'alarming'

    19 June- Wisconsin state health officials report cases of adult and congenital syphilis are on the rise in the state. In Milwaukee, the numbers are dramatic– The number of people diagnosed with syphilis in Milwaukee has increased by nearly 300% compared to pre-pandemic levels. Most of the increase in syphilis cases is in females of reproductive age. The City of Milwaukee has also reported higher numbers of congenital syphilis, or syphilis cases where an infected pregnant person passes syphilis to their fetus. "The spike in syphilis cases is alarming," said Dr. Ryan Westergaard, Chief Medical Officer for Bureau of Communicable Diseases. "We are especially concerned with cases of congenital syphilis affecting babies born to mothers with syphilis. Congenital syphilis can have devastating consequences but is preventable with simple screening, early detection, and treatment." Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a type of bacteria known as Treponema pallidum. If left untreated in adults, the bacteria can affect many different organ systems, including the heart and blood vessels. Sadly, up to 40% of babies with congenital syphilis may be born stillborn or die from the infection. Congenital syphilis can also cause miscarriage, prematurity, or low birth weight. Per CDC guidelines, pregnant people who live in areas where there are higher rates of syphilis should be screened at least twice during pregnancy, once in the first trimester and again during the third trimester. DHS has identified six counties where repeat third trimester testing is recommended, based on increased syphilis rates during 2020, these include Brown, Dane, Milwaukee, Racine, Waukesha, and Winnebago counties. Outbreak News Today External Link


    Panama reports 11 hantavirus cases year to date, one death

    19 June- So far in 2021, 11 cases of hantavirus have been registered in Panama, of which 6 cases have been classified as Cardiopulmonary Syndrome due to Hantavirus (SCPH) and 5 cases as hantavirus fever (FH), reported the Department of Epidemiology of the Ministry of Health. The regions that have been affected by the hanta virus have been the district of Tonosí, Los Santos province, which report 3 cases, 1 case is registered in Parita, Herrera province, 1 case in Chepo, Panama East region. At the same time, the first death in 2021 due to this condition was registered among the cases. This is a male person from the Aguadulce district, Coclé province. The report also details that, of these 6 cases of SCPH, 3 correspond to both males and 3 for females, in an age range between 18-55 years. Of the 5 cases that have been classified as hantavirus fever (HF),) 4 cases come from the Tonosí district, Los Santos province and 1 case from Soná, Veraguas. The 5 cases are male, in an age range of 19 to 80 years. Hantavirus is a serious acute viral disease caused by the Hantavirus. Cases of hantavirus infection in humans generally occur in rural areas (fields, farms, etc.), where rodents can be found harboring the virus, but transmission in urban areas is also possible. Infected people may experience headaches, dizziness, chills, fever and myalgia, according to data provided on the website of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). Outbreak News Today External Link