The Biden administration is moving forward with plans to screen airline passengers from two African countries arriving in the U.S. for Ebola, which will involve sending them to one of about a half dozen designated airports.
The Centers for Disease Control confirmed the plan Friday evening, several hours after Yahoo News first reported that administration officials were finalizing details of how the screenings would work. “Out of an abundance of caution,” the U.S. government will institute public health measures for the very small number of travelers arriving from the [Democratic Republic of Congo] and Guinea,” the CDC said in a statement.
The U.S. government will, under the plan, send passengers from those countries to six airports where data will be collected for contact tracing and they will undergo basic health screenings.
The precise details of the screenings were still under discussion at the White House and National Security Council on Friday afternoon shortly. The changes will to into effect next week, according to the CDC.
The White House and the Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
On Feb. 17, 2021 the World Health Organization reported a cluster of Ebola cases in Guinea.Out of seven reported cases, five people died; the other two are in isolation in dedicated health care facilities. The specific Ebolavirus species is not yet determined, the WHO reported at the time. As of Feb. 15, 192 contacts had been identified.
The WHO “considers the risk of spread in the country as very high given the unknown size, duration and origin of the outbreak; potentially large number of contacts; potential spread to other parts of Guinea and neighboring countries; limited response capacity currently on the ground; and unknown virus strain,” according to a bulletin circulated to U.S. government agencies on Feb. 18.
All six nations bordering Guinea are finalizing their national preparedness and readiness operational plans, according to the WHO. The overall state of readiness in the six countries, according to a WHO readiness assessment tool, is nearly 66 percent, which is still lower than the benchmark of 80 percent.
“We’ve learned the hard lessons of history, and we know with Ebola and other health emergencies, preparedness works. It’s act now or pay later in lives lost and economies ruined. Systematic surveillance, comprehensive preparations and strong, cross-border coordination are crucial to detecting any cases and ensuring that they are quickly isolated, treated and that vaccination of high-risk contacts begin quickly,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa.
A separate WHO alert, sent out on Feb. 11, detailed reports of Ebola outbreaks in Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since 2017 there have been five outbreaks in Congo, including one that raged from 2018 to 2020, causing nearly 2,300 deaths. The current outbreak is occurring in the same region.
The news comes less than six months after the previous U.S. administration ended similar measures for COVID-19, deeming them to be of little use in controlling the spread of the virus. Before the reversal, international passengers were funneled through 15 airports and went through basic health screenings, including a temperature check.
Healthcare facilities in several countries have reported that a type of yeast called Candida auris has been causing severe illness in hospitalized patients. In some patients, this yeast can enter the bloodstream and spread throughout the body, causing serious invasive infections. This yeast often does not respond to commonly used antifungal drugs, making infections difficult to treat. Patients who have been hospitalized in a healthcare facility a long time, have a central venous catheter, or other lines or tubes entering their body, or have previously received antibiotics or antifungal medications, appear to be at highest risk of infection with this yeast.
Specialized laboratory methods are needed to accurately identify C. auris. Conventional laboratory techniques could lead to misidentification and inappropriate management, making it difficult to control the spread of C. auris in healthcare settings.
Because of these factors, CDC is alerting U.S. healthcare facilities to be on the lookout for C. auris in their patients.
CDC is concerned about C. auris for three main reasons:
It is often multidrug-resistant, meaning that it is resistant to multiple antifungal drugs commonly used to treat Candida infections.
It is difficult to identify with standard laboratory methods, and it can be misidentified in labs without specific technology. Misidentification may lead to inappropriate management.
It has caused outbreaks in healthcare settings. For this reason, it is important to quickly identify C. auris in a hospitalized patient so that healthcare facilities can take special precautions to stop its spread.
What types of infections can C. auris cause?
C. auris has caused bloodstream infections, wound infections, and ear infections. It also has been isolated from respiratory and urine specimens, but it is unclear if it causes infections in the lung or bladder.
How is C. auris infection diagnosed?
Like other Candida infections, C. auris infections are usually diagnosed by culture of blood or other body fluids. However, C. auris is harder to identify from cultures than other, more common types of Candida. For example, it can be confused with other types of yeasts, particularly Candida haemulonii. Special laboratory tests are needed to identify C. auris. For more information, please see the Recommendations for Laboratorians and Health Professionals.
Who is at risk for infection from C. auris?
People who have recently spent time in nursing homes and have lines and tubes that go into their body (such as breathing tubes, feeding tubes and central venous catheters), seem to be at highest risk for C. auris infection. Limited data suggest that the risk factors for Candida auris infections are generally similar to risk factors for other types of Candida infections. These risk factors include recent surgery, diabetes, broad-spectrum antibiotic and antifungal use. Infections have been found in patients of all ages, from preterm infants to the elderly. Further study is needed to learn more about risk factors for C. auris infection.
When was C. auris first reported?
C. auris was first identified in 2009 in Japan. Retrospective review of Candida strain collections found that the earliest known strain of C. auris dates to 1996 in South Korea. CDC considers C. auris an emerging pathogen because increasing numbers of infections have been identified in multiple countries since it was recognized.
How did C. auris get its name?
Auris is the Latin word for ear. Despite its name, C. auris can also affect many other regions of the body and can cause invasive infections, including bloodstream infections and wound infections.
Where have C. auris infections occurred globally?
C. auris infections have been reported from over 30 countries, including the United States. Because identification of C. auris requires specialized laboratory methods, infections likely have occurred in other countries but have not been identified or reported. Click here for a map of countries with reported cases.
How did C. auris infection spread globally?
CDC conducted whole genome sequencing of C. auris specimens from countries in the regions of eastern Asia, southern Asia, southern Africa, and South America. Whole genome sequencing produces detailed DNA fingerprints of organisms. CDC found that isolates within each region are quite similar to one another, but are relatively different across regions. These differences suggest that C. auris has emerged independently in multiple regions at roughly the same time.
Would someone be likely to get a C. auris infection if they travel to any of these countries?
It is unlikely that routine travel to countries with documented C. auris infections would increase the chance of someone getting sick from C. auris. Infections have occurred primarily in patients who were already in the hospital for other reasons. People who travel to these countries to seek medical care or who are hospitalized there for a long time may have an increased risk for C. auris infection.
Have C. auris infections occurred in the United States?
What should someone do if they suspect they have a C. auris infection?
CDC recommends that anyone who believes they have any fungal infection or healthcare-associated infection see a healthcare provider.
Are C. auris infections treatable?
Most C. auris infections are treatable with a class of antifungal drugs called echinocandins. However, some C. auris infections have been resistant to all three main classes of antifungal medications, making them more difficult to treat. In this situation, multiple classes of antifungals at high doses may be required to treat the infection. Treatment decisions should be made in consultation with a healthcare provider experienced in treating patients with fungal infections.
Can a person die from infection with C. auris?
Yes. Invasive infections with any Candida species can be fatal. We don’t know if patients with invasive C. auris infection are more likely to die than patients with other invasive Candida infections. Based on information from a limited number of patients, 30–60% of people with C. auris infections have died. However, many of these people had other serious illnesses that also increased their risk of death.
How does C. auris spread?
C. auris can spread in healthcare settings through contact with contaminated environmental surfaces or equipment, or from person to person. More work is needed to further understand how it spreads.
CDC is providing guidance for clinicians and infection control personnel. For more information, please see the Recommendations for Laboratorians and Health Professionals. CDC also is working with state and local health agencies, healthcare facilities, and clinical microbiology laboratories to ensure that laboratories are using proper methods to detect C. auris and know the limitations of certain tests for detecting C. auris.
After encouraging governments to continue investing in technology, research and development even when this emergency has passed, and proposing the creation of “mega-diagnostic platforms”, Gates sees the need to train professionals with new skills in order to have “ a global alert system that today we do not have on a large scale ”.
In this system proposed by the tycoon, “a group of infectious disease first responders” must come into action, which he called “pandemic firefighters squad”.
“Like firefighters, they are fully trained professionals who are ready to respond to potential crises at any time. When they are not actively responding to an outbreak, they keep their skills sharp working on diseases like malaria and polio, ”he says.
Gates’ proposal is first responder teams that are vigilant for any strange pathogens that arise in different world populations, of which around 3,000 would be needed worldwide, according to the businessman’s forecasts.
But to develop this proposal well, it is necessary to “apply simulations that allow experts to practice, analyze and improve the way we respond to disease outbreaks, just as war games allow the military to prepare for the war of real life, ”says Gates.
Operation Whitecoat was a biodefense medical research program carried out by the United States Army at Fort Detrick, Maryland between 1954 and 1973. The program pursued medical research using volunteer enlisted personnel who were eventually nicknamed “Whitecoats”. These volunteers, all conscientious objectors, including many members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, were informed of the purpose and goals of each project before providing consent to participate in any project. The stated purpose of the research was to defend troops and civilians against biological weapons and it was believed that the Soviet Union was engaged in similar activities.
Over the course of the 19-year program, more than 2,300 U.S. Army soldiers, many of whom were trained medics, contributed to the Whitecoat experiments by allowing themselves to be infected with bacteria (tularemia or Q fever) that were considered likely choices for a biological attack. While some volunteered immediately after basic training, for conscientious objectors at Ft. Sam Houston, TX (before they began their medic training), the near certainty of being assigned as a combat medic in Vietnam helped some medics choose instead to remain in the United States with the Whitecoat program. The goal of the program was to determine dose response for these agents. The volunteers were then treated with antibiotics to cure the infections. Some volunteers, under experimental protocol, were also given investigational vaccines for Q fever and tularemia, as well as for yellow fever, Rift Valley fever, hepatitis A, Yersinia pestis (plague), and Venezuelan equine encephalitis and other diseases. Some soldiers were given two weeks of leave in exchange for being used as a test subject. These experiments took place at Fort Detrick which is a U.S. Army research installation in Frederick, Maryland.
The volunteers were allowed to consult with outside sources, such as family and clergy members, before deciding to participate. The participants were required to sign consent forms after discussing the risks and treatments with a medical officer. Of the soldiers who were approached about participating, 20% declined.
Many of the vaccines that protect against biowarfare agents were first tested on humans in Operation Whitecoat.
According to USAMRIID, the Whitecoat operation contributed to vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for yellow fever and hepatitis, and investigational drugs for Q fever, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, Rift Valley fever, and tularemia. USAMRIID also states that Operation Whitecoat helped develop biological safety equipment, including hooded safety cabinets, decontamination procedures, fermentors, incubators, centrifuges, and particle sizers.
Many experiments that tested various biological agents on human subjects, referred to as Operation Whitecoat, were carried out at Fort Detrick, Maryland, in the 1950s. The human subjects originally consisted of volunteer enlisted men. However, after the enlisted men staged a sitdown strike to obtain more information about the dangers of the biological tests, Seventh-day Adventists who were conscientious objectors were recruited for the studies.
No Whitecoats died during the test period. The Army has addresses for only 1000 of the 2300 people known to have volunteered. Only about 500 (23%) of the Whitecoats have been surveyed, and the military chose not to fund blood tests. A handful of respondents claim to have lingering health effects, and at least one subject claims to have serious health problems as a result of the experiments.
In 2005, an assessment of health status among the Project Whitecoat research volunteers was published. It reflected the self-reported, current health status among 358 “exposed” individuals and 164 unexposed “control” subjects and found no conclusive evidence that receipt of investigational agents was related to any adverse health outcomes. No differences in current overall health, current exercise levels, self-reported symptoms, and self-reported medical conditions were seen between the study groups. However, possible associations were seen between exposure to antibiotics or other biological agents and self-reported asthma, as well as between receipt of tularemia vaccine(s) and self-reported asthma and increased frequency/severity of headaches. The size of the study population was judged to be insufficient to assert with confidence that the statistical associations with asthma and headaches were real.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church’s relationship to government military activity has been supportive but noncombative. In 1936, the SDA Church established the Medical Cadet Corps Training Program. This allowed Adventists to remain noncombatant but positive toward the war effort. Sabbath observance remained a concern for the drafted members of the church. Adventist Conscientious Objector perspective differed from the National Interreligious Service Board for Conscientious Objectors, (NISBCO). In 1967, Adventists withdrew from NISBCO because that organization opposed conscription. According to Bull and Lockhart, Operation Whitecoat, and the earlier established Medical Corps, enabled Adventists to participate in the armed services without violating their Sabbath principles.
Army Conducted 239 Secret, Open-Air Germ Warfare Tests
George C. WilsonMarch 9, 1977
The Army disclosed yesterday that it secretly conducted 239 germ warfare tests in open air between 1949 and 1969, some tests releasing live but supposedly harmless microscope “bugs” at Washington’s Greyhound bus terminal and National Airport as part of the experiment.
THe idea, according to a two-volume report the Army gave to the senate health subcommittee yesterday, was to learn how to wage biological warfare and defend against it.
The Washington tests started in 1949 at an undisclosed location and were conducted again in may, 1965, at the bus terminal and airport.
Coronavirus triggering cases of rare ‘black-fungus’ disease with ‘50% mortality rate’
December 24, 2020
Doctors in India have warned of surging cases in a rare and sometimes fatal disease ripping through hospitals as patients with Covid-19 suffer due to weak immune systems
A rare black-fungal disease that can be fatal is being increasingly linked to coronavirus, according to reports.
Hospitals across India have reported surging numbers in the unusual infection affecting patients who have weaker immune systems due to Covid-19.
Hospitals in New Delhi were first to announce cases of Mucormycosis, a black-fungal disease, and several other cities have now suffered similar outbreaks.
The disease can occur in any part of the body, and affect the sinuses and lungs if inhaled. It can also get into the body through cuts, entering through ripped skin.
This potentially fatal infection can kill if not detected early, and also lead to blindness. If it enters through the nose it can spread to the eyes, paralysing the muscles and leading to a loss of sight.
DISEASE X warning: Deadly pathogen added to mass killer list with GLOBAL pandemic feared
A DEADLY potential pathogen has been added to a list of diseases which could create a global pandemic – killing thousands. 3/10/2018
The World Health Organisation has put medical workers around the planet on alert for the pathogen – dubbed Disease X.
The Geneva-based organisation has not identified a specific disease but wants to be prepared for an unknown mass killer.
Doctors fear the possible epidemic will come from a disease passed from animals to humans such as HIV.
Disease X is now classed as serious as Lassa fever in Nigeria and Ebola, which killed more than 11,000 people in Africa between 2013 and 2016.
Chief executive of the Research Council of Norway and a scientific adviser to the WHO committee, told the Telegraph: “History tells us that it is likely the next big outbreak will be something we have not seen before.
“It may seem strange to be adding an ‘X’ but the point is make sure we prepare and plan flexibly in terms of vaccines and diagnostic tests.”
Mr Rottingen said Disease X would most likely be sparked by a “zoonotic disease”jumps from animals to humans and then becomes an epidemic, which happened with H1N1 swine flu in 2009.
HIV is believed to have jumped from chimpanzees to humans and has killed 35 million people since the 1980s.
Lassa fever has been linked to deaths in Nigeria and has also spread to Benin, Liberia and Sierra Leone
Severe cases of this horrific disease may involve bleeding through the nose, mouth or other parts of the body.
Lassa fever is usually spread from being exposed to the urine or faeces of infected Mastomys rats. Cases have been found particularly in communities with poor living conditions or sanitation.
Wildfire smoke may carry ‘mind-bending’ amounts of fungi and bacteria, scientists say
FIRE – Smoke billowing plumes of smoke that rise on waves of heat during the day and sink into valleys as the night air cools may be transporting countless living microbes that can seep into our lungs or cling to our skin and clothing, according to research published recently in Science. In some cases, researchers fear that airborne pathogens could sicken firefighters or downwind residents.
Wildfires burned across more than 10.2 million acres of the United States in 2020, federal statistics show, including some 4.2 million acres in California, where a greater number of residents were exposed to
“Aerosolized, microbes, spores, or fungal conidia … have the potential to travel hundreds of miles, depending on fire behavior and atmospheric conditions, and are eventually deposited or inhaled downwind of a fire,” Kobziar and Thompson wrote in their paper.
“Aerosolized, microbes, spores, or fungal conidia … have the potential to travel hundreds of miles, depending on fire behavior and atmospheric conditions, and are eventually deposited or inhaled downwind of a fire,” Kobziar and Thompson wrote in their paper.
WASHINGTON, February 2, 2021 — The “second wave” of the coronavirus pandemic has placed much blame on a lack of appropriate safety measures. However, due to the impacts of weather, research suggests two outbreaks per year during a pandemic are inevitable.
Though face masks, travel restrictions, and social distancing guidelines help slow the number of new infections in the short term, the lack of climate effects incorporated into epidemiological models presents a glaring hole that can cause long-term effects. In Physics of Fluids, from AIP Publishing, Talib Dbouk and Dimitris Drikakis, from the University of Nicosia in Cyprus, discuss the impacts of these parameters.
Typical models for predicting the behavior of an epidemic contain only two basic parameters, transmission rate and recovery rate. These rates tend to be treated as constants, but Dbouk and Drikakis said this is not actually the case.
Temperature, relative humidity, and wind speed all play a significant role, so the researchers aimed to modify typical models to account for these climate conditions. They call their new weather-dependent variable the Airborne Infection Rate index.
When they applied the AIR index to models of Paris, New York City, and Rio de Janeiro, they found it accurately predicted the timing of the second outbreak in each city, suggesting two outbreaks per year is a natural, weather-dependent phenomenon. Further, the behavior of the virus in Rio de Janeiro was markedly different from the behavior of the virus in Paris and New York, due to seasonal variations in the northern and southern hemispheres, consistent with real data.
The authors emphasize the importance of accounting for these seasonal variations when designing safety measures.
“We propose that epidemiological models must incorporate climate effects through the AIR index,” said Drikakis. “National lockdowns or large-scale lockdowns should not be based on short-term prediction models that exclude the effects of weather seasonality.”
“In pandemics, where massive and effective vaccination is not available, the government planning should be longer-term by considering weather effects and design the public health and safety guidelines accordingly,” said Dbouk. “This could help avoid reactive responses in terms of strict lockdowns that adversely affect all aspects of life and the global economy.”
As temperatures rise and humidity falls, Drikakis and Dbouk expect another improvement in infection numbers, though they note that mask and distancing guidelines should continue to be followed with the appropriate weather-based modifications.
WASHINGTON —A lot of the blame for COVID-19’s “second wave” has been pointed at people not following safety guidelines put out by health experts and government officials. A new report however, says don’t blame people, blame the weather.Researchers from the University of Nicosia in Cyprus find hot weather and wind have a bigger impact on virus transmission rates than social distancing during a pandemic.
Their study concludes that two outbreaks in one year is a natural phenomenon during a massive outbreak. Temperature, humidity, and wind can help predict when a second wave will peak, which the researchers call “inevitable.”
Science isn’t using all of the science it should be
Though face masks, travel restrictions, and social distancing guidelines may help slow the number of new infections in the short term, study authors say the lack of climate data included in epidemiological models has left a glaring hole in the plans to defend against COVID.
Looking at Paris, New York City, and Rio de Janeiro, scientists discovered they could accurately predict the timing of the second outbreak in each city. Their research suggests two outbreaks per year is a natural weather-dependent phenomenon during any pandemic.
Typical models for predicting the behavior of an epidemic contain only two basic parameters, transmission and recovery rates. Professors Talib Dbouk and Dimitris Drikakis say these rates tend to be treated as constants, but that this is not actually the case.
Since temperature, relative humidity, and wind speed all play a significant role, the researchers aimed to modify typical models to account for these climate conditions. They call their new weather-dependent variable the Airborne Infection Rate (AIR) index.
Different hemispheres will have different COVID waves
When applying the AIR index to models of major cities, the team discovered the behavior of the virus in Rio de Janeiro is markedly different from the behavior of COVID in Paris and New York. This is due to seasonal variations in the northern and southern hemispheres, consistent with real data. The authors emphasize the importance of accounting for these seasonal variations when designing virus safety measures.
“We propose that epidemiological models must incorporate climate effects through the AIR index,” says Prof. Drikakis in a media release by the American Institute of Physics. “National lockdowns or large-scale lockdowns should not be based on short-term prediction models that exclude the effects of weather seasonality.”
“In pandemics, where massive and effective vaccination is not available, the government planning should be longer-term by considering weather effects and design the public health and safety guidelines accordingly,” Prof. Dbouk adds. “This could help avoid reactive responses in terms of strict lockdowns that adversely affect all aspects of life and the global economy.”
As temperatures rise and humidity falls, Drikakis and Dbouk expect another improvement in infection numbers. They note, however, that mask and distancing guidelines should continue to be followed with the appropriate weather-based modifications.
The research group’s previous work showed that droplets of saliva can travel up to 18 feet in just five seconds when unmasked people cough.
COVID-19 witnessed since late 20191 is one of the largest health and economic crisis events in current history. Governmental institutions and political organizations have encountered various challenges in managing the complications the pandemic arose. To delay the acceleration of COVID-19’s airborne virus transmission, governments introduced general lockdown strategies following advice by scientists. The increasing number of daily infections could result in public health systems being unable to accommodate all patients for treatment and recovery. Thus, governments extended restrictions to encompass social concerns, e.g., use of face masks and traveling restrictions.2 These solutions are useful only in slowing the pace of the total number of newly infected individuals.3 The above helps absorb the shock wave of the pandemic outbreak and, more importantly, to avoid the saturation of hospitals and emergency centers