• Public healthContact tracing, targeted insecticide spraying can curb dengue outbreaks

    Contact tracing — a process of identifying everyone who has come into contact with those infected by a particular disease — combined with targeted, indoor spraying of insecticide can greatly reduce the spread of the mosquito-borne dengue virus. The new approach of using contact tracing to identify houses for targeted insecticide spraying was between 86 and 96 percent effective in controlling dengue fever during the Cairns outbreak. By comparison, vaccines for the dengue virus are only 30 to 70 percent effective, depending on the type of virus — or serotype — involved.

  • EbolaSymptomless Ebola – questions need to be answered before the next outbreak

    By Edward Wright

    Scientists know that Ebola can cause anything from severe hemorrhagic fever to no symptoms at all (asymptomatic infections). What wasn’t known, until now, is the number of people who experienced asymptomatic infections during the 2013-2016 outbreak of Ebola in West Africa. While the new report of asymptomatic cases of Ebola virus infection is not unique, it does raise important questions that need to be answered. Over the last couple of years, governments and global public health agencies have increased resources to tackle these questions. Hopefully, we will be better equipped and prepared for the next outbreak.

  • EbolaPeople with Ebola may not always show symptoms

    A research team determined that 25 percent of individuals in a Sierra Leone village were infected with the Ebola virus but had no symptoms, suggesting broader transmission of the virus than originally thought. These individuals had antibodies to the virus, suggesting they had been infected at one time — yet said they had had no symptoms during the time of active transmission in the village. Theresearch confirms previous suspicions that the Ebola virus does not uniformly cause severe disease, and that people may be infected without showing signs of illness.

  • EbolaDuring 2013-16 epidemic, Ebola adapted to better infect humans

    By the end of the Ebola virus disease epidemic in 2016, more than 28,000 people had been infected with the virus, and more than 11,000 people died from Ebola virus disease. Researchers have identified mutations in Ebola virus that emerged during the 2013-2016 Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa that increased the ability of the virus to infect human cells. “It’s important to understand how these viruses evolve during outbreaks,” says one researcher. “By doing so, we will be better prepared should these viruses spill over to humans in the future.”

  • ZikaIn Zika, echoes of U.S. rubella outbreak of 1964-65

    By Jacob Heller

    Just over fifty years ago, a highly contagious but seemingly harmless virus swept through the United States, infecting as many as 12.5 million people. In both adults and children, the virus presented as a mild illness, but caused birth defects in some babies born to women who were infected while pregnant. Does this sound familiar? Though separated by time and place, there are surprising similarities in the social issues raised by the rubella outbreak of 1964-65 and the recent Zika outbreak in South America. Both viruses can cause birth defects, a fact that ties them to social issues surrounding pregnancy, women’s health, and the politics of abortion.

  • BiodefenseBiodefense Panel welcomes key provision in defense authorization bill

    In October 2015, the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense found that insufficient federal coordination on strategy, budgeting, and policy; inadequate collaboration with other levels of government and the private sector; and lagging innovation in areas like biosurveillance and medical countermeasure development make the United States vulnerable to biological attacks and infectious disease outbreaks. The Panel welcomed the passing by the House of the National Defense Authorization Act, H.R. 4909, which includes a provision addressing one of the Panel’s most important recommendations.

  • EpidemicsBolstering international response capabilities to infectious disease threats

    To make the world safer against future infectious disease threats, national health systems should be strengthened, the World Health Organization’s emergency and outbreak response activities should be consolidated and bolstered, and research and development should be enhanced, experts say

  • EpidemicsHow will the next leader of WHO tackle future health emergencies?

    In light of heavy criticism of the World Health Organization’s handling of the Ebola outbreak, the election process for the next director general will be under intense scrutiny. Experts outline the key questions on epidemic preparedness for prospective candidates.

  • Infectious outbreaksInfectious outbreaks must be combatted strategically: Experts

    New funding is not enough to guarantee success against emerging infectious diseases around the world. Rather, good governance, a long-term technology investment strategy, and strong product management skills are essential. As momentum builds for an international effort to develop drugs and vaccines for emerging infectious diseases, experts examine U.S. biodefense programs to understand approaches that might work and developed a global strategy for countermeasure development.

  • Super bugsResistance-proof antiviral can treat many diseases

    Scientists and health officials are marshalling forces to fight Zika, the latest in a string of recent outbreaks. Many of these efforts target that virus specifically, but some researchers are looking for a broader approach. The new strategy aims to fight a wide range of viruses that appears to be safe in vivo and could evade a virus’s ability to develop resistance.

  • EbolaEfficient alternative for Ebola screening program for travelers

    As of 31 January 2016, a total of 28,639 cases and 11,316 deaths have been attributed to Ebola, figures that are assumed to significantly underestimate the actual scope of the 2014 Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever outbreak in West Africa. In the United States, there were also two imported cases and two locally acquired cases reported in September-October 2014. Researchers offer an alternative policy for Ebola entry screening at airports in the United States. “Security measures implemented after 9/11 taught us a lot about what not to do,” one of the researchers say. “We learned that finding the one person who intends to do harm out of several million passengers is akin to finding a needle in a haystack.”

  • EbolaEbola no longer a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern”: WHO

    On Tuesday the WHO officials met to consider the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in West Africa, and to decide whether the event continues to constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and whether the current Temporary Recommendations should be extended, rescinded, or revised. WHOconcluded that Ebola transmission in West Africa no longer constitutes an extraordinary event, that the risk of international spread is now low, and that countries currently have the capacity to respond rapidly to new virus emergences. Accordingly, the Ebola situation in West Africa no longer constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, and the temporary recommendations adopted in response should now be terminated.

  • EbolaEbola no longer a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern”: WHO

    On Tuesday the WHO officials met to consider the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in West Africa, and to decide whether the event continues to constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and whether the current Temporary Recommendations should be extended, rescinded, or revised. WHOconcluded that Ebola transmission in West Africa no longer constitutes an extraordinary event, that the risk of international spread is now low, and that countries currently have the capacity to respond rapidly to new virus emergences. Accordingly, the Ebola situation in West Africa no longer constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, and the temporary recommendations adopted in response should now be terminated.

  • Infectious diseasesProtecting soldiers from emerging infectious diseases

    Emerging infectious diseases that the U.S. military could encounter around the globe, particularly those found in tropical settings such as dengue, Burkholderia melioidosis, and malaria, are often difficult to distinguish by their clinical characteristics alone. Scientists from the Naval Health Research Center (NHRC) and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) held a two-day meeting earlier this month to discuss progress and goals for a joint biosurveillance project which aims to develop novel point of need (PON) diagnostics to identify pathogens that cause acute febrile illnesses and threaten global and public health.