Jun 18, 2007 TORONTO (CIDRAP News) Ten years after H5N1 avian influenza first began to raise fears of a potential pandemic, the world has a stronger set of tools to contain that virus and similar threats, but also a fresh awareness of humanity’s vulnerability to fast-spreading diseases, experts said yesterday at an international conference on flu. Heymann said the old rules “were actually a very passive system” and “a system which countries did not adhere to. Very few countries would report diseases under the International Health Regulations because when they reported those [three] diseases, or any other diseases for that matter, they were penalized with decreased trade and decreased tourism.” “We really are not much further ahead today than we were in 1918,” Dr. David Heymann, the WHO’s assistant director-general for communicable diseases, said in the conference’s keynote address. “We don’t have the vaccines we need. . . . We have some antivirals. But we do have one thing that we did not have in 1918, and that is the International Health Regulations, that now provide for proactive collective action for the H5N1 threat to global public health security.” The Options for the Control of Influenza Conference takes place in Toronto this week on the 10th anniversary of the first human cases of H5N1 flu, which were discovered in Hong Kong between May and December 1997, and one month after the multi-country odyssey of an Atlanta lawyer infected with an almost untreatable form of tuberculosis. The new rules also encourage countries to enforce disease control at their borders while respecting the rights of international travelers. And they reinforce countries’ responsibility to report and contain disease by allowing states to look over each other’s fences: For the first time, the WHO will accept reports of outbreaks not only from national governments but also from third parties ranging from Internet search engines to other states. During the 2003 SARS outbreak, for instance, Southeast Asia lost an estimated $18 billion in gross domestic product and possibly $60 billion in revenues and demand, Heymann said. The new rules, which were enacted in 2005 and became effective Jun 15, update an earlier and much weaker set of regulations that have been in force since 1969. In a change from the earlier ruleswhich emphasized control of only cholera, plague, and yellow feverthey commit WHO members to monitoring all potential public health threats, and particularly emphasize smallpox, polio, SARS, and novel flu strains, including H5N1. “It is important to maintain vigilance and not get so focused on one threat, like H5N1, that we don’t miscue on the emergence and virulence of another,” Dr. David Butler-Jones, Canada’s chief public health officer, said at the conference opener. He called the XDR TB patient’s four-country odyssey “a stark reminder of our collective vulnerability to communicable diseases. . . . The world seems to continue to be smaller, with diseases having no respect for borders, cultures or politics.” See also: Conference attendees said the porousness of borders to disease has been sharply underlined by two recent events: the emergence on the Wales-England border of an H7N2 strain of avian flu that infected at least four humans and killed a number of poultry despite being judged “low pathogenic,” and the saga of Andrew Speaker, who detoured through several countries so that he could obtain treatment in the United States for his newly diagnosed case of extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR TB). The new regulations improve on the old not only by emphasizing more diseases but also by committing states to building up their public health infrastructure so they can detect and respond to outbreaks, and to maintaining real-time surveillance of health information so that it can be transmitted to the WHO within 24 hours. But the conference’s opening ceremonies yesterday evening also came 2 days after the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) new International Health Regulations took effect. The voluntary contract marks the first time that the WHO’s 193 member states have agreed to immediately acknowledge and attempt to control any public health emergenciesin their own country or any other territorythat could provoke international concern. Jun 15 CIDRAP News story “New global disease-control rules take effect”
USC track and field travelled to Fayetteville, Ark. over the weekend for the Razorback Invitational. The Trojans brought a partial team to the Randal Tyson Track Center, choosing to give some of their athletes a rest, but they still placed well out of 14 programs in the overall team standings, with the women’s team finishing in second and the men in seventh.The meet started strongly for USC on Friday, and multiple Trojans set personal best marks. Junior Deanna Hill was the highlight of the day, taking home first place in the women’s 200-meter dash with a personal best and national leading time of 22.94 seconds. Hill was the only 200-meter runner at the meet to record a time under 23 seconds, and that mark improved her second-place standing on USC’s all-time list for the indoor 200-meter. Meanwhile, junior Kendall Ellis ran a personal best 23.15 in the event, which was good for third overall and third on the all-time list.Sophomore Margaux Jones finished third in the women’s long jump on Friday, turning in a season-best 20-9.25 (6.33 meters) mark. Freshman Courtney Corrin, who is ninth all-time in program history in the indoor long jump, improved on her record with a jump of 19-11.00 (6.07 meters), finishing seventh overall. On the men’s side, junior Randall Cunningham finished second in the high jump, with a clearance of 7-2.25 (2.19 meters).The Trojans enjoyed another impressive series of performances on Saturday, the final day of the invitational. Redshirt sophomore Marquís Morris won the 60-meter hurdles with a personal best time of 7.73 seconds, which also tied him with senior Brendan Ames for third-best in USC history. Freshman Anna Cockrell and sophomore Jasmyne Graham then took home a 1-2 finish in the women’s 60-meter hurdles, both setting personal records of 8.15 and 8.22 seconds, respectively. Cockrell improved on her fifth-best time in program history, while Graham moved up on the list from ninth to seventh.Senior Cameron Pettigrew finished first overall in the women’s 400-meter race, sprinting to a personal best time of 53.05 seconds. The new high mark bumped her from 10th to sixth on the Trojan indoor records list. Freshman Kyra Constantine finished just behind Pettigrew in second overall, setting her own personal best of 54.00 seconds — which was good for eighth-best all-time.USC wrapped up the weekend with a team effort, as the Trojans set a collegiate-leading time in the women’s 4×400-meter relay. Ellis, Cockrell, Pettigrew and Hill combined to finish in 3:30.66 minutes, which won the event in style and also moved the quartet into third place in USC’s record books.Next up, the track team prepares for a trip to Albuquerque, N.M. for the New Mexico Classic. The Trojans will compete over the weekend at the indoor meet before attending their first outdoor competition in Seattle in two weeks’ time.
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