Occupational, Environmental, and

Public Health News

July 10, 2019

Global Highlights of Potential Biologic, Chemical, and Ergonomic Risk Issues, Affecting Our Workplaces and Communities

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) http://www.cdc.gov


  • FDA/CBER Current Product Shortages Include: APLISOL, Gammagard, SHINGRIX, Hepatitis B Vaccine (Recombivax), BCG Live (Intravesical), Immune Globulin Subcutaneous (Human), 20% Solution Cuvitru, Immune Globulin Intravenous (Human) Gammaplex 5%, Yellow Fever Vaccine (YF-VAX), Zoster vaccine (recombinant), Anticoagulant Sodium Citrate Solution (Fenwal), and many antivenoms. https://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/SafetyAvailability/Shortages/ucm351921.htm

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)   www.osha.gov

  • Occupational Heat Exposure: Many people are exposed to heat on the job, in both indoor and outdoor heat environments. Operations involving high air temperatures, radiant heat sources (e.g., sunlight, hot exhaust), high humidity, direct physical contact with hot objects, or strenuous physical activities have a high potential for causing heat-related illness. https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatstress/
  • Personal Protective Equipment: Personal protective equipment, or PPE, is designed to protect workers from serious workplace injuries or illnesses resulting from contact with chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, mechanical, or other workplace hazards. Besides face shields, safety glasses, hard hats, and safety shoes, protective equipment includes a variety of devices and garments such as goggles, coveralls, gloves, vests, earplugs, and respirators.  https://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_General_Facts/ppe-factsheet.pdf
  • Emergency Preparedness and Response: Preparing before an emergency incident plays a vital role in ensuring that employers and workers have the necessary equipment, know where to go, and know how to keep themselves safe when an emergency occurs. https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/emergencypreparedness/index.html

World Health Organization (WHO) http://www.who.int

  • Uganda’s groundwork in preparedness bodes well for stopping Ebola’s spread within its borders: Uganda shares a nearly 900-kilometre-long border with the DRC, where the disease has claimed over 1 400 lives since August 2018. Along much of the border, people mix and move across freely, often with family, friends and business contacts on both sides. Plugging the gaps is a major headache for emergency planners.   https://afro.who.int/news/ugandas-groundwork-preparedness-bodes-well-stopping-ebolas-spread-within-its-borders
  • Information and public health advice: heat and health: Population exposure to heat is increasing due to climate change, and this trend will continue. Globally, extreme temperature events are observed to be increasing in their frequency, duration, and magnitude. Between 2000 and 2016, the number of people exposed to heat waves increased by around 125 million. In 2015 alone, 175 million additional people were exposed to heat waves compared to average years. Aim to keep your living space cool. Check the room temperature between 08:00 and 10:00, at 13:00 and at night after 22:00. Ideally, the room temperature should be kept below 32 °C (89.6F)  during the day and 24 °C (75.2F) during the night. This is especially important for infants or people who are over 60 years of age or have chronic health conditions. https://www.who.int/globalchange/publications/heat-and-health/en/
  • Global Vaccination Summit: The overall objective is to give high level visibility and political endorsement to the topic of vaccination and issue a statement to endorse and promote the benefits of vaccination as the most successful public health measure that saves millions of lives every year.  https://www.who.int/news-room/events/detail/2019/09/12/default-calendar/global-vaccination-summit
  • Adopting a healthy lifestyle helps reduce the risk of dementia:  People can reduce their risk of dementia by getting regular exercise, not smoking, avoiding harmful use of alcohol, controlling their weight, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, according to new guidelines issued by WHO. “In the next 30 years, the number of people with dementia is expected to triple,” said WHO Director-General. “We need to do everything we can to reduce our risk of dementia. The scientific evidence gathered for these Guidelines confirm what we have suspected for some time, that what is good for our heart, is also good for our brain.” https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/14-05-2019-adopting-a-healthy-lifestyle-helps-reduce-the-risk-of-dementia
  • WHO Adapts Ebola Vaccination Strategy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Account for Insecurity and Community Feedback: More than 111,000 people have been vaccinated in the DRC since the outbreak was declared in August 2018. However, despite the use of a highly efficacious vaccine, the number of new cases continues to rise, in part due to repeated incidents of violence affecting the ability of response teams to immediately identify and create vaccination rings around all people at risk of contracting Ebola. “We also know that we still face challenges in making sure the contacts of every case receive the vaccine as soon as possible. These recommendations account for ongoing insecurity and incorporate feedback from experts and from the affected communities that will help us continue to adapt the response.”https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/07-05-2019-who-adapts-ebola-vaccination-strategy-in-the-democratic-republic-of-the-congo-to-account-for-insecurity-and-community-feedback
  • Tackling malaria hotspots in the Amazon: “For mosquitoes, this is the equivalent of a five-star hotel”. Loreto region in the Amazon jungle covers almost a third of Peru and has a population of about 1 million. Here, where rivers serve as highways, humidity is more than 80% with frequent heavy rains and flooding. Rain and flooding create numerous slow-flowing streams and swamps that encourage mosquitoes to breed. As a result, Loreto’s malaria hotspots account for 96% of Peru’s malaria burden.  https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/tackling-malaria-hotspots-in-the-amazon
  • Ten threats to global health in 2019: The world is facing multiple health challenges. These range from outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases like measles and diphtheria, increasing reports of drug-resistant pathogens, growing rates of obesity and physical inactivity to the health impacts of environmental pollution and climate change and multiple humanitarian crises.   To address these and other threats, 2019 sees the start of the World Health Organization’s new 5-year strategic plan. https://www.who.int/emergencies/ten-threats-to-global-health-in-2019

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Infectious Disease: Global Health Concerns

Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans. The average EVD case fatality rate is around 50%. Case fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90% in past outbreaks. The current outbreak in the Congo has claimed approximately 1,100 lives as of May 2019. The actual count and situation in the Congo is being complicated by a war in progress that is increasing the likelihood of spreading the disease. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/ebola-virus-disease https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ebola-patients-congo-fear-ongoing-violence-amid-outbreak-2019-05-22/

Legionella bacterium – was named after an outbreak in 1976, when many people who went to a Philadelphia convention of the American Legion got sick with pneumonia. About 6,100 cases of legionella were reported in 2016, however, because Legionnaires’ disease is likely underdiagnosed, this number may underestimate the true incidence.  1 in 10 people who contract legionella die. Legionella can be prevented by properly treating water systems in buildings. http://www.cdc.gov/legionella/fastfacts.html http://www.cdc.gov/legionella/outbreaks.html

Lyme disease – is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks: Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system. Lyme disease is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings (e.g., rash), and the possibility of exposure to infected ticks.  Laboratory testing is helpful if used correctly and performed with validated methods. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics.  It is the most commonly reported vector borne illness in the U.S. While there are 30,000 reported cases of Lyme disease in the U.S. each year, the estimated number of actual cases in the U.S is about 300,000 annually.  96 percent of reported Lyme disease cases in the U.S. occur in 14 States. These states are primarily in the Northeast and Upper Mid-West. The cases occur due to heavy deer and deer tick populations. Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics with full recovery if caught early. Permanent physical damage may occur if Lyme disease diagnosis and treatment are delayed. This damage can include deafness and in extreme cases, brain damage. http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/ http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/stats/humancases.html

MalariaEvery year, millions of US residents travel to countries where malaria is present. About 1,700 cases of malaria are diagnosed in the United States annually, mostly in returned travelers. Travelers to sub-Saharan Africa have the greatest risk of both getting malaria and dying from their infection. However, all travelers to countries where malaria is present may be at risk for infection. Globally, an estimated 3.2 billion people in 97 countries and territories are at risk of being infected with malaria and developing disease. In 2017 there were 219 million cases of Malaria. Most cases occur in Africa. 2 of 4 major strains of Malaria have become drug resistant to anti-malarial medication worldwide, increasing mortality with this disease.  Obtain a detailed itinerary including all possible destinations that may be encountered during the trip and check to see if malaria transmission occurs in these locations. The Malaria Information by Country Table https://www.cdc.gov/malaria/travelers/country_table/a.html provides detailed information about the specific parts of countries where malaria transmission does or does not occur. http://www.who.int/campaigns/malaria-day/2018/en/ https://www.cdc.gov/malaria/travelers/index.html http://www.who.int/gho/malaria/en/

Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) – is a viral respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus (MERS‐CoV) that was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012. 2,428 cases and 838 deaths have been reported in 27 Countries as of 7/8/2019. The cases are predominantly in Saudi Arabia. Incidence and Mortality totals are cumulative starting with the September 2012 outbreak. In total, cases have been reported from 27 countries in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, the United States of America, and Asia. http://www.who.int/emergencies/mers-cov/en/  

Zika Virus – is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus). These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects. There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika. Local mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission has been reported in the continental United States as well as its territories. http://www.cdc.gov/zika Going to Visit Friends or Family in an Area with Zika? Learn about which countries are affected by Zika.  https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/world-map-areas-with-zika Top 5 Things Everyone Needs to Know About Zika https://www.cdc.gov/zika/pdfs/zika-what-we-know-infographic.pdf  

As of July 8, 2019, there have been 0 reported travel related cases in the continental U.S. and 0 local transmission cases reported in U.S. territories for all of 2019.