Global & Disaster Medicine

Archive for March, 2016

India: A flyover under construction collapsed in North Kolkata, killing at least 15 and trapping 150 more under the debris.




Triacetone triperoxide (TATP), which was used in the Paris attacks in November, has become the ISIS’ explosive of choice in Europe.

NY Times

“….[T]he Belgian authorities….confiscated more than 30 pounds of the explosive TATP from a dwelling used by the attackers in Brussels….”

“…The damage at the airport suggested a blast wave associated with a relatively large amount of an explosive….”


** Zika Virus: Many people in U.S. households where someone is pregnant or considering getting pregnant in the next 12 months are not aware of key facts about Zika virus


Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health


“….The researchers found:

  • Approximately one in four (23%) are not aware of the association between Zika virus and the birth defect microcephaly.
  • One in five (20%) believe, incorrectly, that there is a vaccine to protect against Zika virus.
  • Approximately four in 10 (42%) do not realize Zika virus can be sexually transmitted.
  • A quarter (25%) think individuals infected with Zika virus are “very likely” to show symptoms
  • Four in 10 mistakenly believe Zika virus infection in women likely to harm future pregnancies
  • About one in five (22%) are not aware that Zika virus can be transmitted from mother to baby during pregnancy
  • More than a quarter (29%) are unaware it can be transmitted through blood transfusions.
  • Four in 10 (40%) are unaware that it can be transmitted sexually.
  • About a third (31%) believe, incorrectly, that Zika virus is transmitted through coughing and sneezing
  • Nearly three-quarters of the public (71%) are unaware of a link between Zika virus and Guillain-Barré syndrome, which can cause paralysis. ……”

Targeting families of terrorists: The Russian Approach

NY Times


“….In the conflict that began in Chechnya and has since metastasized into a loosely organized Islamic rebellion throughout the Caucasus region, Russian security services routinely arrest, torture and kill relatives, rights groups say.


** WHO announces the end of the Ebola public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC)


Statement on the 9th meeting of the IHR Emergency Committee regarding the Ebola outbreak in West Africa

WHO statement
29 March 2016

The 9th meeting of the Emergency Committee convened by the WHO Director-General under the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) regarding the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in West Africa took place by teleconference on Tuesday, 29 March 2016 from 12:30 until 15:15 hr.

The Committee was requested to provide the Director-General with views and perspectives as to 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.

Representatives of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone presented the epidemiological situation, ongoing work to prevent Ebola re-emergence, and capacity to detect and respond rapidly to any new clusters of cases in each country.

The Committee noted that since its last meeting all three countries have met the criteria for confirming interruption of their original chains of Ebola virus transmission. Specifically, all three countries have now completed the 42 day observation period and additional 90 day enhanced surveillance period since their last case that was linked to the original chain of transmission twice tested negative. Guinea achieved this milestone on 27 March 2016.

The Committee observed that, as expected, new clusters of Ebola cases continue to occur due to reintroductions of virus as it is cleared from the survivor population, though at decreasing frequency. Twelve such clusters have been detected to date, the most recent of which was reported on 17 March 2016 in Guinea and is ongoing. The Committee was impressed that to date all of these clusters have been detected and responded to rapidly, limiting transmission to at most two generations of cases in the 11 clusters which have now been stopped.

The Committee provided its view 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, in the Committee’s view 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. The Committee emphasized that there should be no restrictions on travel and trade with Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and that any such measures should be lifted immediately.

As in other areas of sub-Saharan Africa where Ebola virus is present in the ecosystem, and recognizing that new clusters due to re-emergence may occur in the coming months, the Committee reinforced that these countries must maintain the capacity and readiness to prevent, detect and respond to any ongoing and/or new clusters in future. National and international efforts must be intensified to ensure that male survivors can have their semen tested for virus persistence and know their status. Work must continue on the use of Ebola vaccination for intimate and close contacts of those survivors who have persistent virus excretion. Particularly important will be to ensure that communities can rapidly and fully engage in any future response, cases are quickly isolated and managed, local population movement in the affected areas is managed, and appropriate contact lists are shared with border authorities.

The Committee further emphasized the crucial need for continued international donor and technical support to prevent, detect and respond rapidly to any new Ebola outbreak in West Africa. International support is required in particular to maintain and, where needed, expand diagnostic laboratory and surveillance capacity, sustain vaccination capacity for outbreak response, and continue relevant research and development activities (e.g. on therapeutic options to clear persistent virus excretion). The Committee gave special attention to the need to ensure that sufficient and appropriate clinical care, testing capacity and welfare services are available to all survivors of this extraordinary health crisis.

Based on the advice of the Emergency Committee, and her own assessment of the situation, the Director-General terminated the Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) regarding the Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa, in accordance with the International Health Regulations (2005). The Director-General terminated the Temporary Recommendations that she had issued in relation to this event, supported the public health advice provided above by the Committee, and reinforced the importance of States Parties immediately lifting any restrictions on travel and trade with these countries. The Director-General thanked the Emergency Committee members and advisors for their service and expert advice, and requested their availability to reconvene if needed.



7 million people live in and near earthquake-induced states


Hazard Estimation

Map depicting hazardsExample computation of ground shaking probability from induced seismicity. This map does not represent a final model, as several different options for how to include induced seismicity in the national seismic hazard model are being considered.

The 2014 National Seismic Hazard Model (NSHM) forecasts the strength and frequency of ground shaking in future earthquakes. The hazard model underlies the seismic provisions used in the design of buildings, bridges, highways, and other structures. It also provides critical information about areas of higher hazard for use by governmental disaster management agencies, companies and the public for use in developing earthquake risk reduction plans and actions.

In previous editions of the NSHM, earthquakes that were attributed to human activity were not included . The recent increase in induced earthquakes in the Central United States is so large that induced earthquakes need to be considered in the national seismic hazard model.

With input from scientists, engineers, regulators, industry representatives, and the public the USGS is developing methods to estimate the earthquake hazard from induced earthquakes. Preliminary models display the intensity of potential ground shaking from induced earthquakes for a one-year period based on the seismicity in the previous year. This method is a first step in accounting for the rapid changes in seismicity that we are observing.

The USGS has released a preliminary report on methods to estimate the hazard from induced earthquakes (Open-File Report 2015-1070) and welcomes feedback as work continues towards completion of a seismic hazard model that includes the hazard from induced seismicity.

map of areas with potential induced seismicitySeventeen areas of potentially induced seismicity considered in a preliminary estimate of seismic hazard from induced earthquakes. Green dots represent earthquakes that occurred fall 2012 to fall 2013; red dots show earthquakes that occurred fall 2013 to fall 2014; blue dots and blue lines represent earthquake activity prior to 2013 (areas identified but intentionally excluded from the 2014 national seismic hazard model). Red lines indicate areas where the polygons were expanded to incorporate recent (2013 and 2014) earthquakes that fell outside of the blue polygons.

Saudi Arabia: Three more MERS cases and one resulting death in the past 2 days


25 years ago, Vietnam had nearly 600 cases of TB for every 100,000 residents. Today, it has less than 200, but final victory is not in sight

NY Times


“….To reach Vietnam’s ambitious goal of pushing prevalence rates down to 20 cases per 100,000 residents — essentially eliminating tuberculosis as a public health problem — its tuberculosis-control program needs to spend at least $66 million a year. It now spends about $26 million a year.

About $19 million of that comes from foreign donors, with more than a third from the United States….”

Southeast Asia

A branch within ISIS was obsessed with striking Europe at least 2 years before the Paris attacks in November, 2015

NY Times


‘….One of the first clues that the Islamic State was getting into the business of international terrorism came at 12:10 p.m. on Jan. 3, 2014, when the Greek police pulled over a taxi in the town of Orestiada, less than four miles from the Turkish border. Inside was a 23-year-old French citizen named Ibrahim Boudina, who was returning from Syria. In his luggage, the officers found 1,500 euros, or almost $1,700, and a French document titled “How to Make Artisanal Bombs in the Name of Allah.”….’

First new Zika animal model: The mouse

Mouse Model


**  Several research institutions and companies have vaccine and drug candidates nearly ready to test, but until now a mouse model – a critical stage in preclinical testing – has not been available.


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