Preparedness Month 2018

Every September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) along with its partners supports emergency preparedness efforts and encourages Americans to take action before, during, and after an emergency. This year, the CDC is highlighting Prepare Your Health. Each week focuses on the roles individuals, state and local public health, and CDC play in creating resilient health communities.

USDA Forest Service Announces New Strategy for Improving Forest Conditions

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service announced a new strategy for managing catastrophic wildfires and the impacts of invasive species, drought, and insect and disease epidemics. A new report outlines the Forest Service’s plans to work more closely with states to identify landscape-scale priorities for targeted treatments in areas with the highest payoffs.

New Behavioral Health Resources Available for First Responders

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has developed new resources and materials with significant input from first responders. Their new, online training course addresses occupational stressors; mental health and substance use issues including depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, suicidality, and alcohol use; resilience; and healthy coping mechanisms including demonstrations of stress management techniques.

Preparing for Chemical Attacks With Improved Computer Models

Kiran Bhaganagar, from The University of Texas at San Antonio, and her team from Laboratory of Turbulence Sensing and Intelligence Systems, used computer models to replicate the dispersal of chemical gas from the April 4, 2017 chemical weapons attack in northwest Syria. The accuracy of her simulations showed the ability to capture real world conditions despite a scarcity of information.

Biological Engineers Discover New Antibiotic Candidates

The human body produces many antimicrobial peptides that help the immune system fend off infection. Scientists hoping to harness these peptides as potential antibiotics have now discovered that other peptides in the human body can also have potent antimicrobial effects, expanding the pool of new antibiotic candidates.

New Drug Strikes Nerve Agent

Nerve agent assaults are becoming more common. Although medical countermeasures exist to sustain life after nerve agent exposure, the risk of brain damage, behavioral, and neurological disorders persist. The Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s Chemical and Biological Technologies Department has handed over development of Tezampanel, a new drug to counteract the long-term impacts of nerve agent poisoning to the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, enabling warfighters to recover.

NIH Begins Clinical Trial of Live, Attenuated Zika Vaccine

Vaccinations have begun in a first-in-human trial of an experimental live, attenuated Zika virus vaccine developed by scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Developing safe and effective Zika vaccines is important because Zika virus infection remains a significant threat to pregnant women and their developing fetuses.

Using Data Analytics to Target Human Smugglers

The secretive nature of the lucrative, yet illegal, underground market of human smuggling leaves special agents looking for a technological edge – and they may have found one in a data analytics software program called Igloo. Agents can use Igloo to scour multiple sources and then track, triangulate, and swiftly translate the telltale signs of this type of criminal activity into actionable intelligence.

FEMA Seeks Feedback on Planning Considerations: Evacuation and Shelter-in-Place

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is seeking feedback on the draft document Planning Considerations: Evacuation and Shelter-in-Place. Feedback and recommendations received help ensure the final version of the guide is an effective resource for emergency managers across the nation. This National Engagement Period will conclude at 5 p.m. EDT on 31 August 2018.

ASPR’s Vision for Building Readiness: Sustaining Robust and Reliable Public Health Security Capabilities

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Vision for Healthcare Preparedness is a multi-part series that describes Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response’s (ASPR) four pillars to achieving national health security: providing strong leadership, building a Regional Disaster Health Response System, sustaining public health security capabilities, and advancing an innovative medical countermeasures enterprise. This post focuses on sustaining public health security capabilities.