Eye-tracking study shows how unexpected aviation events can disrupt a pilot’s cockpit scan

first_imgShare on Facebook New research provides more evidence that unexpected events harm flight performance. The study used heart rate monitors and eye-tracking devices to investigate the psycho-physiological impact of being surprised in the cockpit.The findings have been published in a master’s thesis and in Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.The researchers were interested in examining the topic because of “several high profile accidents where what should have been routine responses were delayed or absent,” explained study author David O’Hare. “Most notably Air France 447 — where the crew’s actions seemed particularly hard to understand.” Share on Twitter Pinterest O’Hare is a private pilot and professor of psychology at the University of Otago in New Zealand. His co-author and former student, Lana Kinney, conducted all the testing and analysis. She has graduated from the university with a Master of Science degree specializing in Human Factors.“No matter how often pilots have rehearsed actions to an event in a simulator, events in the real operating environment can present in confusing ways, leading to a temporary and potentially disorienting disruption of normal information processing,” O’Hare told PsyPost.In the study, 22 general aviation pilots were tested in a flight simulator. They had a wide range of experience — from 15 to 2,050 flight hours.The pilots first completed an orientation flight, in which they took off from a small rural air strip, flew for a few minutes, and then landed. After this, the pilots completed seven more flights.Two of these flights included an aerodynamic stall and another two included an engine failure. During one of the stalls and one of the engine failures, the pilots were given a warning beforehand in a pre-flight briefing. In the other two cases, the abnormal flight event happened without warning.The researchers recorded flight data, eye movements, and heart rate during all the simulator tasks.The researchers found that the pilots’ heart rate increased during the expected engine failure, but it increased even more after the unexpected engine failure. Similarly, the expected engine failure resulted in an increase in pupil dilation, but the unexpected engine failure resulted in even greater dilation.Kinney and O’Hare also found that the unexpected event impaired flight performance and visual scanning of the cockpit. No pilots crashed after the expected engine failure, but only 54.5% of the pilots landed safely after the unexpected engine failure.Pilots tended to spend less time looking at the flight instruments and more time looking at the outside environment during the unexpected engine failure. They specifically spent less time viewing the airspeed indicator, altimeter, GPS map, turn coordinator, and directional gyro in the unexpected compared to the expected event.The researchers found that pilots who landed safely after the unexpected engine failure tended to spend more time viewing the airspeed indicator, the attitude indicator, and the altimeter compared to those who crashed.In contrast, Kinney reported in her master’s thesis that pilots spent more of their time looking at flight instruments during the unexpected stall compared to the expected stall, suggesting that they were “attempting to gather and process as much information as possible.”In the unexpected stall, 30.8% of the pilots incorrectly pulled back on the throttle after hearing the stall warning and 38% of pilots did not lower the plane nose. None of the pilots pulled back the throttle during the expected stall and they all lowered the nose as required.The researchers found that pilots who incorrectly pulled back on the throttle after hearing the stall horn spent longer looking at the flight instruments, while those who did not pitch the nose down spent significantly less time viewing the altimeter and the vertical speed indicator.The former group may have recognized there was an abnormal event but diagnosed it incorrectly, while the latter group may have continued to fly towards their destination without initially recognizing there was even a problem.Despite the importance of recovering from unexpected aviation events, there is relatively little scientific research on the topic.“Experimental studies are still few and far between. We need to know much more about exactly what mechanisms are disrupted, and most importantly, how to prepare pilots for such eventualities. Much training involves preparing a response to a given event but determining exactly what the event is can often be challenging,” O’Hare said.center_img Email Share LinkedInlast_img read more

Lower working memory capacity linked to non-compliance with social distancing guidelines during the early stage of the coronavirus outbreak

first_imgEmail The researcher noted that there have been numerous media reports about Americans failing to physically distance themselves from one another in public spaces.“As a researcher in cognitive psychology, I feel that it is our duty to figure out why some people follow the developing norm of social distancing while others ignore it. Addressing this issue may help mitigate the current public health crisis due to the COVID-19,” Xie said.In two studies, the researchers surveyed 850 U.S. residents between March 13 and March 25, 2020 — the first two weeks following the U.S. presidential declaration of a national emergency about the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to collecting demographic information and assessing social distancing compliance, the surveys included assessments of working memory, personality, mood, and fluid intelligence.Xie and his colleagues found that those with better working memory capacity were more likely to indicate that they had followed social distancing guidelines, such as not shaking hands and avoiding social gatherings.“Our findings reveal a novel cognitive root of social distancing compliance during the early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said co-author Weiwei Zhang.The researchers also found that higher levels of fluid intelligence and agreeableness had a weak association with greater social distancing compliance. But the link between working memory and social distancing held even after controlling for these factors and others.Those with better working memory capacity also tended to view social distancing as having more benefits than costs and were more likely to have a preference for fairness during an Ultimatum Game, which partially explained the association.“The decision of whether or not to follow social distancing guidelines is a difficult one, especially when there is a conflict between the societal benefits (e.g., prevent straining public health resources) and personal costs (e.g., loss in social connection and financial challenges). This decision critically relies on our mental capacity in retaining multiple pieces of potentially conflicting information in our head, which is referred to as working memory capacity,” Xie told PsyPost.“Realizing this cognitive bottleneck, the bottom line is that we should not rely on people’s habitual following of a norm because social distancing is not yet adequately established in U.S. society. Policy makers should develop strategies to aid people’s decision by making information or debriefing materials succinct, concise, and brief.”As with all research, the study comes with a few caveats. Zhang noted in a blog post that working memory is just one factor among many. The researchers also found evidence that age, gender, and depressed mood played a role.“There is no doubt that many factors we did not include in this study may also contribute to social-distancing compliance, perhaps with even stronger relationships. It is, therefore, inappropriate to attribute individual differences in social distancing behaviors entirely to one’s cognitive abilities such as working memory capacity and fluid intelligence,” Zhang wrote.The link between working memory and social distancing compliance could also change over time.“We expect that the contribution of working memory will decline as new social norms, such as wearing a mask or socially distancing, are acquired by the U.S. society over time,” Xie explained.“Our observations are correlational in nature. It remains to be established whether or not certain strategies to break the cognitive bottleneck, such as working memory training and translational brain stimulation, could reduce social distancing non-compliance and subsequently mitigate a public health crisis.”The study, “Working memory capacity predicts individual differences in social-distancing compliance during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States“, was authored by Weizhen Xie, Stephen Campbell, and Weiwei Zhang. Share New research provides preliminary evidence that working memory is associated with engaging in social distancing in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic. The new study has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.On March 11th, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of the novel coronavirus SARS‐CoV‐2 to be a global pandemic. Governments around the world urged people to follow preventive health measures such as frequent hand washing and physical distancing. But not everyone abided by the safety guidelines.“At the moment, successful containment of the COVID-19 outbreak critically relies on people’s voluntary compliance with social distancing guidelines. However, there is widespread non-compliance in our society, especially during the early stage of this pandemic (and more recently after reopening),” said study author Weizhen Xie (Zane), a postdoctoral research fellow at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. LinkedIncenter_img Share on Twitter Pinterest Share on Facebooklast_img read more

USDA unveils plan to cut Salmonella in meat and poultry

first_imgThe US Department of Agriculture (USDA) today released a Salmonella Action Plan to curb levels of the pathogen in meat and poultry products, one of its top food safety priorities in light of the 1.3 million illnesses linked to Salmonella each year.A centerpiece of the plan is a strategy that would modernize and streamline federal food safety inspections at poultry processing plants by freeing up inspectors to spend less time on visual inspection of carcasses and more time on exploring other safety issues at the facilities.Salmonella is a top cause of foodborne illness, and the federal government’s new strategy comes amid a Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak linked to two Foster Farms poultry production facilities in California that has so far sickened 389 patients in 23 states.”Far too many American are sickened by Salmonella every year. The aggressive and comprehensive steps detailed in the Salmonella Action Plan will protect consumers by making meat and poultry products safer,” said Elisabeth Hagen, MD, undersecretary for food safety, in a press release from the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).In mid November Hagen announced that she will resign from the USDA in the middle of December. She has worked for nearly 4 years as USDA undersecretary,The FSIS estimates that the plan’s steps to modernize the poultry slaughter inspection system could prevent at least 5,000 illnesses each year.Controversy around the planToday’s action plan announcement caps working group efforts that have been under way since 2011. The announcement of the proposed steps for streamlining poultry processing inspections has drawn criticism from consumer and union groups. They have aired concerns about data the FSIS used to justify the performance of a pilot program that tested the new system at poultry plants and the safety consequences of increased production line speeds under the new system.In September the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report that said the USDA cut corners in evaluating the poultry inspection part of the plan, but added that it appears to gives plants more flexibility and responsibility for ensuring food safety and inspectors more opportunities to focus on other additional food safety activities.The GAO report triggered a response from FSIS head Alfred Almanza, who wrote in a Food Safety News editorial that the agency was already working on the GAO’s two recommendations and that the GAO authors seemed to overlook the FSIS’s food safety rationale for advancing the plan.Steps for poultry, pork safetyOther features of the plan are aimed at giving inspectors more information to identify possible food safety problems, such as details about a plant’s performance history. Other items on the 10-step plan include ensuring that sampling activities are in line with foodborne illness trends, considering modification of how FSIS posts poultry facilities on Salmonella performance lists, completing risk assessments for comminuted poultry products and poultry parts, exploring the role of lymph nodes in Salmonella contamination, and gathering more information on preharvest contamination.Some of the steps also touch on pork production. For example, one is aimed at decreasing sanitary dressing problems in hog slaughter establishments and possibly developing performance standards for hog carcass and pork product sampling programs.Another of the plan’s steps would order new approaches for providing Salmonella-related food safety information to consumers, such as adding more detailed explanations for recommendations or practices.CSPI responseIn response to today’s FSIS announcement, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) released a statement from its senior food safety attorney, Sarah Klein, who said the FSIS Salmonella Action Plan makes some important improvements that allow it to respond more nimbly and gather more useful data.She addeed, however, that the plan ignores the critical issue of antibiotic-resistant Salmonella. CSPI has petitioned the agency to add antibiotic-resistant Salmonella as adulterants.Klein also said the FSIS should go further and test each poultry and beef plant weekly for Salmonella. “This would increase consumer protection, as it would give FSIS real-time data on plant performance and allow the agency to take prompt action if a plant veers off course,” she said in the statement.See also:Dec 4 FSIS press releaseText of action planSep 4 CIDRAP News story “GAO: USDA took shortcuts in poultry inspection plan”Sep 6 CIDRAP News scan “FSIS head rebuts GAO report on poultry inspections”Dec 4 CSPI statementlast_img read more

Saudi Arabia cites one MERS case; Iranian patient dies

first_imgJust one new MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) case was reported in Saudi Arabia today, while a media report said one of the first two MERS patients in Iran has died.And in other developments, US health officials said this week that in the next phase of their contact investigations sparked by the first two US MERS cases, they hope to conduct blood tests on several hundred people to look for evidence of past infection.New case in QunfudhahThe latest Saudi case involves a 36-year-old man who is in critical condition in a government hospital’s intensive care unit in Jeddah, the Saudi Ministry of Health said in today’s update. The man, who has diabetes and hypertension, fell ill on May 26 and was first hospitalized in Qunfudhah (also spelled Gonfodah) on May 28, before being transferred to Jeddah.The MOH gave no information about the man’s possible exposures to the virus. His case was preceded by 5 others reported in Qunfudhah in the past week, including 1 on May 22 and 4 on May 24 and 25.With just one case today, the general slowdown in Saudi Arabian cases seems to be gradually solidifying, after weeks of high daily case counts during April and early May. The country’s MERS count has now reached 569 cases, with 187 deaths.The MOH also reported that five other MERS patients were released from hospitals in Mecca, Jeddah, and Medina yesterday.In Iran, meanwhile, one of two sisters identified as the country’s first MERS case-patients has died, while the other has been released from a hospital, according to a story from the Azerbaijan-based Trend News Agency. The two cases were reported May 26.Iran’s Tasnim news agency said the patient who died, a 53-year-old, had been treated for several days in the southeastern city of Kerman, according to the Trend story.Her sister was released from the hospital after “a few days” of treatment, the story said, citing Mohammad Mehdi Gouya, head of Iran’s Centre for Disease Control, as the information source.Another official, Ali Akbar Haghdoust, head of Kerman Medical University, said nine other people have suspected MERS-CoV infections and are being tested, according to the story. The two sisters were among four suspected case-patients in one family.CDC contact investigationIn the United States, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials said they hope to extend their investigation of the first two US MERS cases by doing a serologic (antibody) survey of up to several hundred people who were on airline flights with the two patients.The two cases were identified early this month in health professionals who work in Saudi Arabia and traveled to the United States.Marty Cetron, MD, director of the CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, talked about the plan during a conference call for clinicians on May 28.”We’re now entering the second phase of this vigilant testing in order to inform our response and understand transmission and that is beginning a sero survey where there’ll be I hope several hundred participants on a voluntary basis providing a convalescent blood sample in order to give us any indication whether an apparent infection had occurred potentially associated with this airline travel,” Cetron said, according to the call transcript.He said the investigation will span more than 30 US states and six countries. “We think that the information gleaned from this first of its kind full airline based contact investigation could be informative in looking at, one, the ease of transmission, and two, whether or not there’s a necessity to continue these types of conveyance investigations as cases are exported,” he added.Serologic tests don’t detect active disease but suggest whether a person has been infected in the recent past. They can indicate whether mild or asymptomatic infections occurred but went undetected.Initial serologic tests of a business associate of the first US MERS patients indicated that he had been infected, a finding that was announced by the CDC May 17. But this week the agency reported that a subsequent, more definitive serologic test showed he had not been infected.In other comments, Cetron said more than 500 airline passengers were associated with the two US cases. “We’ve notified more than 98% of them and none so far has had evidence of an acute infection compatible with MERS,” he said.Also during the teleconference, the CDC’s Susan Gerber, MD, said that apart from the two patients, 245 people in the United States have been tested and found to be free of MERS-CoV. Gerber is the team lead for respiratory viruses in the CDC Division of Viral Diseases.CDC spokesman Jason McDonald said 245 is the total number of people tested for MERS-CoV in the United States so far. Just under 200 of them were tested before the first two cases cropped up, he told CIDRAP News today.See also:May 30 Saudi MOH statementMay 30 Trend News Agency story on Iranian deathTranscript of May 28 CDC teleconference for clinicianslast_img read more

News Scan for Apr 09, 2015

first_imgCholera cases in Haiti, Dominican Republic continue to top 2014Haiti and the Dominican Republic continue to report cholera cases in early 2015 well above levels seen during the same period last year, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) reported late last week.From the first of the year through mid-March, Haiti had 10,328 cases, 8,124 hospitalizations (79% hospitalization rate), and 106 deaths. That compares with 7,225 cases, 5,794 hospitalizations, and 86 deaths reported by PAHO a month ago. The agency said 2015 levels are on par with the same period in 2012.The current epidemic in Haiti, which PAHO said is now in an endemic pattern, began in October 2010. Over that period the country has logged 734,983 cases, 419,087 hospitalizations, and 8,761 deaths.Cholera impact in the Dominican Republic through mid-March reached 185 suspected cases and 9 deaths, more than double the number in the same period in 2014. The number is up from 99 cases and 6 deaths reported a month ago.For all of last year the country reported 597 suspected cholera cases, including 10 deaths, which was a 70% reduction in cases and a 76% reduction in deaths from 2013, PAHO said. Since the outbreak began in November 2010, the Dominican Republic has had 32,257 cholera cases and 487 deaths.Apr 3 PAHO report Report says Philippines needs to bolster efforts to oust measlesProgress toward eliminating measles in the Philippines has faltered in the past few years, and greater efforts are needed to push the disease out of the country and surrounding regions, according to an article today in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).In 1998 the Philippines set a national goal of eliminating measles by 2008, the report says. Coverage with the first dose of measles-containing vaccine (MCV) as estimated by the World Health Organization (WHO) increased from 80% in 1998 to 90% in 2013. Routine vaccination with a second dose of MCV began in 2010, and second-dose coverage rose to 53% by 2013.After nationwide supplemental immunization activities (SIAs) in 1998 and 2004, the Philippines achieved historic lows in measles cases in 2006, the article says. But despite more SIAs in 2007 and 2011, cases and incidence generally increased from 2007 to 2012. In 2013 and 2014, large outbreaks affected infants, children, and young adults. Contributing factors in the outbreaks included first-dose vaccine coverage of less than 95%, low second-dose coverage, and delayed and patchy outbreak-response immunization efforts.The article also notes that the WHO’s Western Pacific Region (WPR) set a goal of eliminating measles by 2012. “For the goal of measles elimination in WPR to be achieved, sustained investments are required in the Philippines to strengthen health systems, implement the recommended elimination strategies, and develop additional strategies to identify and reduce measles susceptibility in specific geographic areas and older age groups,” it states. Apr 10 MMWR article  CDC: 3 Texas cases increase ice cream Listeria outbreak to 8An outbreak of listeriosis linked to Blue Bell ice cream grew to eight cases as three cases were confirmed in Texas, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in an update yesterday.Two of the newly reported cases date back to the spring of 2011, while the other is from last October, the CDC said. The other five cases—three of which proved fatal—were all in Kansas and occurred from January 2014 to this January.Isolates from four of the Kansas patients as well as from all three Texas patients were nearly identical to strains isolated from a Blue Bell Creameries plant in Broken Arrow, Okla., that was shut down by the company on Apr 3.In addition, the CDC has identified three additional patients who had listeriosis from 2010 through 2012. Their isolates showed a similar pattern to those from outbreak patients, so the agency is doing follow-up testing to determine whether their illnesses are also related.Blue Bell has recalled all products made on the same production line in the Oklahoma plant from Feb 12 to Mar 27, 2015.Apr 8 CDC update Study: H7N9 adaptation in mammals may limit transmissionThe genetic diversity of H7N9 avian flu viruses that infect ferrets—said to be a good model for human infection—is very limited, which might signify a “genetic bottleneck” to adaptation in mammals, according to a study yesterday in Nature Communications.Researchers from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., evaluated the replication efficiency, genetic diversification, and host adaptation of H7N9 virus after they inoculated chickens and ferrets and during ferret-to-ferret transmission. They showed that chickens, a natural H7N9 host, remained asymptomatic and that infection generated high genetic diversity.They found genetic diversity in infected ferrets, in contrast, “tightly restricted,” which they said limited further adaptation to a fully transmissible form. The investigators also noted that airborne transmission in ferrets was accompanied by mutations in the PB1, NP, and neuraminidase (NA) genes that reduce viral polymerase and NA activity—an indication of decreased potential for transmission.The authors wrote, “Therefore, while A(H7N9) virus can infect mammals, further adaptation appears to incur a fitness cost.”They concluded, “This previously unrecognized biological mechanism limiting species jumps provides a measure of adaptive potential and may serve as a risk assessment tool for pandemic preparedness.”Apr 8 Nature Comm studylast_img read more

News Scan for Apr 20, 2015

first_imgSaudi Arabia announces two more MERS casesSaudi Arabia today reported two more MERS-Cov cases in different cities, after a weekend with no new cases.The Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH) said the latest infections involve two men in stable condition: a 61-year-old Saudi in Hofuf and a 49-year-old foreigner in Riyadh. Neither is a healthcare worker and neither had contact with other MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) patients in the community or in medical settings. No information on animal exposure was given.Yesterday the MOH announced the death of a 93-year-old Mecca man whose MERS case was previously reported.The latest reports raise the MOH’s MERS count to 981 cases, with 428 deaths, 548 recoveries, and 5 patients still getting treatment. The country has reported 8 cases so far in April, compared with 75 cases in February and 53 in March. Apr 20 MOH statement Apr 19 MOH statement MOH MERS statistics home page H5N1 sickens 6 more in EgyptSix more human H5N1 avian influenza infections have been reported in Egypt, according to individual reports to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) compiled and posted by Avian Flu Diary, an infectious disease and emergency preparedness news blog.The FAO notifications don’t contain any details other than location and dates observed and reported. Cases are from four different governorates: Beheira (3), Damietta (1), Qena (1), and Kafr el-Sheikh (1). Two of the Beheira cases are from the same city, with observation dates that are 3 days apart. The observation dates for the cases range from Mar 29 through Apr 6, and all of the cases were reported on Apr 18.The new cases appear to push Egypt’s H5N1 total so far this year to 143 cases, according to a case list maintained by FluTrackers, an infectious disease news message board.Egypt is experiencing an unprecedented surge of H5N1 cases that started in November, which pushed Egypt to the top of the list for the country with the most cases. The World Health Organization (WHO) has said initial lab tests don’t show any changes in the virus that would make it more transmissible from birds to humans. It said that the increase may be fueled by a combination of factors, including increased H5N1 circulation in poultry, an increasing number of households with small farms and backyard flocks, lower risk awareness, and weather conditions that favor virus survival.Apr 20 Avian Flu Diary post FluTrackers H5N1 case list for Egypt PAHO reports small increase in chikungunya casesThe number of chikungunya cases reported in the Americas grew by just 722 cases last week, putting the total at 1,372,126 cases, according to an Apr 17 update from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).The increase is dramatically lower than increases that have ranged from 13,000 to 30,000 in recent weeks. Many countries, though, have not reported to PAHO on their chikungunya situation in several weeks.The total reported last week reflects 1,338,240 suspected, 30,266 confirmed and 3,620 imported cases. The vast majority of imported cases are from the United States.Brazil reported the largest increase, with 438 new cases, followed by Paraguay, with 267. Those countries now have 5,791 and 782 total cases, respectively.Apr 17 PAHO update Commission says new approach needed for sepsisAn international team of experts today warned that clinical and public recognition of sepsis must improve if the deaths are to be prevented from this common, life-threatening condition, according to a commission report published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.Sepsis—sometimes mislabeled “blood poisoning”—is a common condition whereby an infection triggers an extreme immune response, resulting in widespread inflammation, blood clotting, and swelling. Although no specific cure exists, sepsis can often be treated effectively with intensive medical care, including antibiotics and intravenous fluid, if it’s identified early enough.In addition to the high fatality rate from sepsis, survivors are at an increased risk of long-term chronic illness and mental or physical impairment, according to a Lancet press release. In low- to middle-income nations, most sepsis cases occur outside hospitals, presenting unique challenges.”The number of people dying from sepsis every year—perhaps as many as 6 million worldwide—is shocking, yet research into new treatments for the condition seems to have stalled,” said lead author Jonathan Cohen, MSc MB, in the release. “Researchers, clinicians, and policymakers need to radically rethink the way we are researching and diagnosing this devastating condition.”The commission spells out a roadmap for future research. Recommendations include prioritizing the study of biomarkers, which would allow quicker diagnosis; better education of medical staff; heightened public awareness; rethinking clinical trial design; developing targeted treatments; and ensuring that universities and drug companies do not abandon research and development.Apr 20 Lancet Infect Dis abstract Apr 19 Lancet press releaseApr 20 related commentaries by Ron Daniels and Raffaella Bosurgi Researchers warn of global threat from fake and substandard drugsQuality tests on drugs to treat some of the world’s top infectious disease threats, such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis, show that as many as 41% fail to meet quality standards, outlining an urgent problem, according to a group of 17 journal articles on the topic published early online today in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.One of the reports details fake and substandard malaria drugs in Africa that led to an estimated 122,350 deaths in children in 2013.The special supplement covers different aspects of the topic, including poor-quality antibiotics, new methods for detecting poor-quality or fake drugs, solutions to the problems, and policy interventions, including the need for an international framework and stricter national laws that bar drug counterfeiting. The publication was supported by the Fogarty International Center, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH); the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; and the New Venture Fund.Jim Herrington, PhD, MPH, who coedited the supplement, said in an NIH press release, “The pandemic of falsified and substandard medicines is pervasive and underestimated, particularly in low- and middle-income countries where drug regulatory systems are weak or nonexistent, as shown by field studies in the supplement.”Apr 20 Am J Trop Med Hyg reportsApr 20 NIH press releaselast_img read more

Malaysia reports first H5N1 outbreak in nearly 10 years

first_imgMalaysia today reported its first highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza outbreak since 2007, adding to a long list of countries reporting outbreaks from various subtypes over the past few months.The virus struck backyard chickens in Kelantan state, located in the northeastern part of Malaysia’s peninsular region, according to a report from the country’s agriculture ministry to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). The holding is near Kota Bharu, the state’s capital.The outbreak began on Feb 28, killing 15 of 26 village chickens. The remaining birds were culled to control the spread of the virus. Officials also curbed poultry movements and ordered other steps, such as screening and stepped-up surveillance.Investigators have not determined the source of the outbreak.A few other countries in Southeast Asia have reported sporadic H5N1 outbreaks in the first months of this year, including Cambodia and Vietnam.Malaysia’s last H5N1 outbreak occurred in 2007 and affected village chickens in Selangor state, also in the peninsular part of the country.H5N8 in Poland, AustriaIn other avian flu developments, Poland today reported one more highly pathogenic H5N8 outbreak, according to a report to the OIE.The event involves a waterfowl found dead on Mar 2 in Weilkopolska province in the west central part of the country.In Austria, an H5N8 detection in a sick pelican at a zoo in Vienna prompted the closure of part of the zoo, according to a statement from the zoo translated and posted by Avian Flu Diary (AFD), an infectious disease news blog. The pelicans had been kept in a tent since December as a precaution because of ongoing avian flu activity in wild and domestic birds across Europe, which have also affected several zoos.The bird was euthanized, and the partial closure was ordered to protect the zoo’s other birds.See also:Mar 8 OIE report on H5N1 in MalaysiaMar 8 OIE report on H5N8 in PolandMar 8 AFD post on H5N8 at Austrian zoolast_img read more

Study finds pathogenic bacteria, resistance genes in apartment mice

first_imgThe house mouse is one of the most common rodent pests found around the world, particularly in urban areas, and has long been known for its ability to spread infectious diseases to humans. Now, a new study by researchers at Columbia University indicates that the unwelcome house guest also carries several species of pathogenic bacteria and antibiotic resistance genes.In a study today in mBio, the researchers report that a genetic analysis of droppings collected from house mice in New York City detected several types of bacteria capable of causing gastrointestinal disease, including Shigella, Salmonella, Escherichia coli, and Clostridium difficile. They also found genes that confer resistance to fluoroquinolones, beta-lactam antibiotics, and methicillin.Overall, more than a third of mice carried at least one potentially pathogenic bacterium, and nearly a quarter carried at least one antibiotic resistance gene.Although the authors of the study can’t say whether the bacterial strains they identified in the mice are contributing to human illness, they say the potential for mice to transmit these pathogens should be explored.”Our study raises the possibility that serious infections—including those resistant to antibiotics—may be passed from these mice to humans, although further research is needed to understand how often this happens, if at all,” lead study author Simon Williams, BSc, a research scientist at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health’s Center for Infection and Immunity, said in a university press release.Wide range of bacteria, resistance elementsFor the study, Williams and his colleagues trapped 416 house mice in predominantly residential buildings across New York City and then conducted genetic screening of fecal pellets and anal swabs to determine the prevalence of bacteria and antibiotic resistance genes. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) screening identified a wide range of gastrointestinal disease-causing bacteria.They found Shigella/enteroinvasive E coli in 14% of the mice (60/416), Clostridium perfringens in 12% (48/416), atypical enteropathogenic E coli in 4% (18/416), Clostridium difficile in 4% (18/416), and Salmonella spp. in 3% (13/416). Among the Salmonella species identified was Salmonella enterica, the leading cause of bacterial food poisoning outbreaks in the United States. In addition, screening detected Leptospira DNA in the kidney tissue of 4% of the mice (14/378).PCR analysis also identified a diverse array of antibiotic resistance genes, with the beta-lactamase gene blaACT/MIR the most frequently detected (21%, 86/416), followed by qnrB (7%, 30/416), blaSHV (2%, 8/416), and mecA (1%, 4/416).Thirty-seven percent of the mice (153/416) were found to harbor at least one potentially pathogenic bacterium, and 23% (96/416) were positive for at least one resistance gene. One mouse harbored five types of potentially pathogenic bacteria, while six mice each carried three different resistance genes.While the findings suggest that house mice may be a reservoir for pathogenic bacteria and antibiotic resistance elements, the data from the study do not provide any evidence that these bacterial pathogens or resistance genes were passed on to humans. But Tara Smith, PhD, an epidemiology professor at Kent State University and expert in zoonotic infections who was not involved in the study, said that because mice are frequent residents of homes and apartments, they can easily contaminate our spaces and cause disease.”Many of the species they identified cause gastrointestinal infections in humans and could contaminate food products or food preparation areas if mouse droppings are present,” Smith told CIDRAP News. “The antibiotic resistant genes they carry can also be transmitted, either as part of the genetic material of pathogens or by commensal bacteria that don’t always make us sick, but could exchange resistance genes with our own gut bacteria.”The researchers also found 36 viruses in the mice, a finding they report in a separate study published in mBio. None of the viruses, however, are known to infect humans.See also:Apr 17 mBio mouse bacteria studyApr 17 mBio mouse viruses studyApr 17 Columbia University press releaselast_img read more

Global COVID-19 total passes 6 million

first_imgThe global COVID-19 total topped 6 million cases today, as Brazil’s cases hit new daily highs and as large numbers continue to be reported in other large countries such as the United States, Russia, and India.It took only 9 days for illnesses to rise from 5 million to 6 million, which is 3 days less than it took for totals to rise from 3 million to 4 million, and from 4 million to 5 million. The global total is at 6,014,117, and 367,627 people have died from their infections, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard.No let-up in epicenter casesBrazil reported 26,928 cases yesterday, a daily record daily, while adding 1,124 deaths, lifting its fatality count above Spain’s to fifth highest in the world, Agence France-Presse reported. Brazil, with the second most cases in the world, now has 465,166 cases as of yesterday.Elsewhere, India today reported a record high of 7,964 cases, boosting its total to 173,763, the ninth highest total in the world. Mumbai is one of the country’s hot spots, and its lockdown has been extended to Jun 30 in high-risk areas, but some restrictions will be relaxed in some situations beginning on Jun 8, Reuters reported. They include opening of restaurants, malls, and religious buildings.Russia today reported 8,952 more cases, and though Moscow is the country’s main hot spot, an outbreak in villages in Dagestan region, about 1,000 miles south of Moscow, has prompted crisis meetings that resulted in an order for medical reinforcements, Reuters reported yesterday.The region has the highest number of deaths outside of Moscow, which, according to central government figures, is 201, though regional officials say the total is more than three times higher.EU urges US to reconsider WHO pulloutGlobal reaction to President Trump’s announcement yesterday that the United States will cut ties to the World Health Organization (WHO) continue to reverberate across the globe.European Union (EU) officials today issued a statement in response that said the EU continues to support the WHO and has already provided additional funding. “As the world continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the main task for everyone is to save lives and contain and mitigate this pandemic,” they said, adding that a resolution led by the EU to investigate the international response to the pandemic at the earliest appropriate moment was adopted earlier this month by the World Health Assembly.Actions that weaken the international response must be avoided, they said. “In this context, we urge the US to reconsider its announced decision.”In other global developments:Members of a UK advisory group today warned that England could lose control of its COVID-19 outbreak if it eases its lockdown, which is in its early stages, Reuters reported. Four members of its Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies said easing restrictions is premature and that the newly launched track-and-trace system hasn’t been tested and probably won’t be able to handle an infection rate of about 8,000 new cases a day.Paris parks and gardens reopened today, ahead of a move to phase 2 of eased lockdown restrictions in France, Reuters reported. Visitors must observe social distancing, are urged to wear masks, and are limited to gatherings of 10 or fewer people.Supreme Court weighs in on church caseIn the United States, the Supreme Court last night turned down a California church’s request to ease the state’s restrictions on attendance at worship services, NBC News reported. The decision is the first to weigh religious freedom and public health during the COVID-19 pandemic.The 5-to-4 decision was marked by Chief Justice John Roberts joining the court’s liberal members. The court’s action denied the church’s application for a stay of statewide restrictions ordered by California Governor Gavin Newsom, which limits attendance to 25% of capacity or a maximum of 100.Writing in his opinion, Roberts said though California rules put restrictions on places of worship, they appear to be consistent with the First Amendment’s free exercise clause.Lake of the Ozarks case foundMeanwhile, a person who attended the crowded Memorial Day celebration at Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, has been diagnosed as having COVID-19, CNN reported yesterday, citing Camden County public health officials.The patient’s symptoms began on May 24, and he or she visited multiple bars on that and the following day. Officials urged people who were at the event to monitor for symptoms.Following the gathering, St Louis health officials called the crowded party attendance reckless and urged partygoers to isolate for 14 days before returning to their jobs.The US COVID-19 total grew to 1,765,723 cases today, and 103,674 people have died from their infections, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard.last_img read more

News Scan for Sep 21, 2020

first_imgCOVID-19 pandemic tied to worse stress, depression among US adultsAcute stress and depression rates rose in US adults as COVID-19 cases and deaths accumulated from mid-March to mid-April, largely related to preexisting mental and physical conditions and stressors such as job and wage loss, according to a study of 6,514 people from three large, nationally representative cohorts.In the study, published late last week in Science Advances, researchers from the University of California at Irvine evaluated stress and depression symptoms using the NORC AmeriSpeak panel over three 10-day periods.Before the pandemic, participants reported, on average, one physical illness, and 17.7% had been diagnosed as having a mental illness. During the pandemic, 23.5% of participants said that they or a close friend or family member had symptoms of or were diagnosed as having COVID-19, while 29.8% said they had been exposed at work.Participants noted, on average, 1.4 secondary stressors such as job loss or waiting in long lines for supplies and reported consuming a mean of 7.1 hours of pandemic-related media coverage each day.Compared with men, women reported higher stress, but not depressive symptoms, while older people and residents of suburban versus urban areas had lower levels of stress and depressive symptoms, respectively. Respondents who lived in the Midwest, South, and West reported lower acute stress, but not depression, than those in the Northeast. Respondents with higher incomes reported fewer depressive symptoms than low-income participants, but not less stress.People with personal exposure to COVID-19 reported more stress and depressive symptoms than others, as did those with job and income loss, while those with work-related exposures or community-related issues such as lockdowns had no more depression symptoms than usual.More hours spent consuming media coverage of the pandemic, higher media consumption than before the pandemic, and more exposure to conflicting information about COVID-19 were predictive of more severe stress and depression.”The many potential downstream public health consequences of this unfolding, ambiguous pandemic stretch far beyond the number of cases and deaths directly due to the novel Coronavirus itself,” the authors wrote. “Future research should address the long-term public health impacts of the multiple threats of pre-existing risk, ongoing, secondary stressors, and media-related psychological distress.”Sep 18 Sci Adv study Experts suggest steps for creating better market for new antibioticsA new report from a panel of experts in antimicrobial resistance and antibiotic development suggests that a series of incremental steps will be needed to create a sustainable market for antibiotics.The report from the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy lays out the short-term, medium-term, and long-term post-market incentives needed to revive investment in innovative antibiotics, along with the limitations of those approaches. The incentives are intended to solve what has become the most significant challenge to antibiotic development: the lack of sufficient financial return on new antibiotics.”Reinvigorating the market for antibiotics requires action immediately, but the most impactful changes may not be feasibly implemented in the short-term,” the authors write. “As a result, the spectrum of needed incentives must be considered in the context of time and complexity to implementation; some incentives might be limited in impact, but can be put into action quickly and provide immediate relief.”Among the short-term incentives highlighted is the rule changes made in 2019 by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to increase hospital reimbursement for new antibiotics. An intermediate step is the Developing an Innovative Strategy for Antimicrobial Resistant Organisms (DISARM) Act, which was re-introduced in Congress this year but was ultimately removed from coronavirus relief legislation. Under DISARM, hospitals would be reimbursed for qualified antibiotics based on their average sales price, a move the authors say would mitigate the financial impact on hospital pharmacies that procure and dispense innovative antibiotics.Long-term strategies include market entry rewards, which would involve large upfront payments of up to $1 billion to companies that develop innovative new antibiotics, and subscription payment models, in which antibiotic developers would receive recurring payments for antibiotics in exchange for the reliable availability of those antibiotics. The idea behind this type of model, variations of which are being tested in the United Kingdom and Sweden, is to create a reimbursement system for antibiotics based not on sales volume but on the drugs’ medical value.The authors say that implementing these steps, and overcoming their limitations, will require multiple stakeholders to design methods to determine the value of antibiotics; collaborate to improve data collection on antibiotic use, AMR, and patient outcomes; and align around common investment goals and post-market incentives.Sep 18 Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy report DRC Ebola outbreak total grows by 1 to reach 124 cases, with 50 deathsTests confirmed 1 new Ebola infection in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Equateur province outbreak, raising the total to 124, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) said today in a situation update.The latest case was reported from Lotumbe health zone. No new deaths were reported, keeping the total at 50.Marking the DRC’s 11th Ebola outbreak, the event in Equateur province was first reported in early June and is affecting the same area as the country’s 9th outbreak, which occurred in 2018. The latest outbreak is concerning because of stretched resources due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a wide area where cases have been reported, and some sick patients remaining in the community, raising the risk of further virus spread.Sep 21 UN OCHA situation report High-path avian flu strikes more poultry in Russia, TaiwanTwo countries reported more highly pathogenic avian flu outbreaks in poultry, Russia, with H5N8, and Taiwan, with H5N5, according to notifications today from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).Russia reported six more outbreaks involving H5N8, part of a small but steady stream of activity that has occurred in late summer in southwestern Russia. The latest outbreaks began from Sep 11 to Sep 15 and involved two earlier affected oblasts and two newly affected ones: Saratov and Kurgan. Most of the earlier outbreaks involved backyard and village birds, but today’s report notes that two poultry farms were hit. Taken together, the virus killed 1,290 of 4,734 susceptible birds, and culling is under way for the survivors.In a related development, animal health officials in Kazakhstan said a recently reported outbreak in the north near the border with Russia involved the same H5N8 strain that caused the Russian outbreaks, Reuters reported. The source of the virus is likely waterfowl.Taiwan, meanwhile, reported two more H5N5 outbreaks, both at poultry farms housing native chickens in Yunlin County. The outbreaks began on Sep 5 and Sep 11, killing 5,728 of 27,477 birds. The rest of the flocks were destroyed to curb the spread of the virus.Sep 21 OIE report on H5N8 in Russia Sep 21 Reuters story Sep 21 OIE report on H5N5 in Taiwanlast_img read more