• This is not a drill: 5 reasons why the experts are worried about the next pandemic

    Earlier this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a global alert for a disease that doesn’t exist yet. A potentially savage pathogen called Disease X.  “History tells us that it is likely the next big outbreak will be something we have not seen before,” says WHO. Warnings tell us the next global pandemic is a case of not ‘if’, but ‘when’. So, hypothetically, how is the world preparing itself?

  • Mathematical model predicts viral outbreaks two years in advance

    Scientists have identified the cause of outbreaks of enterovirus, one of the most prevalent types of virus in the world. The findings may help the public and healthcare workers prepare for an outbreak up to two years before it occurs.

  • Three reasons the U.S. is not ready for the next pandemic

    In the midst of a pandemic, decisions must be made quickly. Quick decision-making can often be hindered by the absence of high-level leadership. The need for high-level leadership, coordination and a new strategy are essential to mitigate the threat of pandemics, but these fundamental pandemic preparedness gaps persist. The next great pandemic is coming. The true question is: Will we be ready when it does? Right now, that answer is no, because the country lacks the sufficient safeguards we have outlined. But if the United States chooses to elevate the issue of pandemic preparedness and biosecurity as a national security priority, we could be. Outbreaks are inevitable, but pandemics are not if we take action now.

  • Ebola cases mounting in Congo as region prepares for more

    The Ebola outbreak on the eastern border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) grew by nine more confirmed cases Thursday, and one death. Six of the new cases (including the death) are from Mandima health zone in Ituri province. Ituri borders North Kivu province, the outbreak’s epicenter. The cases expand the number of cases in neighboring Ituri province. Outbreak total now stands at 66, which includes 39 confirmed and 27 probable cases. Lab testing results have brought the suspected number of cases down to 36 from 58.

  • Congo Ebola total grows to 52 as security concerns hamper epidemic containment efforts

    The World Health Organization (WHO), following a visit by top WHO officials to the latest outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), called for free and secure access for responders working in the affected conflict-affected area. A range of armed groups are active in the North Kivu province, creating challenging security issued for health teams who need to go deep into communities to identify and monitor possible cases, the WHO said. Conflict settings can also discourage community members from coming forward for treatment.

  • Predicting epidemics

    Ecologists have taken an important step in their efforts to develop an early warning system for infectious disease outbreaks. The researchers created a mathematical model that analyzes statistical patterns in public health reports to identify when a population is approaching an epidemic threshold—the point at which a disease outbreak is possible.

  • Changing health messaging to help stop the next pandemic

    Changing public health messaging to focus on the impact of our actions — for example, the potentially harmful impact of infecting a colleague with a cold, rather than whether we will infect them if we go into work in the first place — could have significant implications for how we deal with global threats, according to a new study.

  • An outbreak of Nipah virus in India can help explain the future of infectious disease

    India’s Kerala state has just faced an outbreak of Nipah virus. Seventeen people have died so far. That wouldn’t seem so serious, but only eighteen people were infected. To make matters worse, there is no known cure or vaccine for Nipah – all doctors can offer is supportive treatment while the victim’s immune system attempts to fight off the virus, which causes brain damage. Nipah is a near perfect example of an emerging infectious disease. Its history and evolution follow the pattern of almost every new virus.

  • Ebola case count reaches 60 as DRC neighbors take precautions

    The Ebola case count in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has now reached 60, as an official from the World Health Organization (WHO) announced 2 more suspected cases. There are now 37 confirmed cases, 14 probable, and 9 suspected, 2 more suspected cases than yesterday. The death toll still sits at 27. Former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Thomas Frieden, writing in Science, said the Ebola vaccine is only a tool—not a disease game-changer.

  • Clade X pandemic exercise: Preventing the worst outcomes in future pandemics

    The outbreak of a moderately contagious and moderately lethal novel pathogen precipitated a catastrophic end to the scenario in Clade X, the day-long pandemic tabletop exercise hosted by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. The scenario opens with the present-day outbreak of a new, serious respiratory disease in Germany and Venezuela. Clade X quickly causes widespread, worldwide anxiety as case counts and deaths mount. Within a year, 150 million people die from the disease—15 million in the United States alone.

  • Winners announced in $300K biothreat prize competition

    DHS S&T the other day announced the grand prize winner of its $300,000 Hidden Signals Challenge. The prize competition called for the design of an early warning system to keep communities safe by using existing data sources to uncover emerging biothreats.

  • Ebola response in Congo runs into community resistance

    The Ebola virus has so far killed 12 people in Congo, with 52 additional cases reported as of last Friday. Ebola responders in Congo are revealing more about local practices and community mistrust, which in some instances are hampering the actions needed to curb the spread of the disease in the country’s outbreak hot spots. Experts note that the United States is playing a less prominent role in the response, raising questions about the U.S. policies regarding global health security.

  • Little-known virus could become the next global pandemic

    A little-known virus discovered twenty years ago could become the next global pandemic. A recent outbreak of Nipah in South India has renewed interest in the virus, which has a mortality rate of up to 70 percent and has no vaccine or cure. “Emerging infections have resulted in the most devastating infectious diseases that humanity has ever faced. These include HIV, tuberculosis, measles and smallpox. History has taught us that emerging infections can be major threats,” says Stanford University epidemiologist and Nipah expert Stephen Luby.

  • Ebola vaccine drive launched in DRC as number of cases rise to 49

    In a development that global health officials say is a turning point in how the world fights Ebola, vaccinators today began immunizing health workers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the first stage of a ring vaccination strategy. In other developments, four more illnesses were reported, along with another healthcare worker death, and more countries signaled financial support to help with the international response to the outbreak.

  • WHO: Response to Congo Ebola outbreak so far working

    An Ebola outbreak has gripped parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. According to the latest figures from the World Health Organization there have been 45 reported cases, 14 of which have been confirmed as Ebola. Of these 45 cases, 25 have resulted in fatalities. Most concerning, the outbreak has spread from a rural precinct to the city of Mbandaka which has a population of 1.2 million and sits on the Congo river, a major thoroughfare.