The media have featured the antimalarials chloroquine (CQ) and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) to treat coronavirus (COVID-19). Political leaders have touted their use and recommended availability to the public. These anti-inflammatory agents have substantial human toxicity with a narrow therapeutic window. CQ and HCQ poisoning cause myocardial depression and profound hypotension due to vasodilation. Bradycardia and ventricular escape rhythms arise from impaired myocardial automaticity and conductivity due to sodium and potassium channel blockade. With cardiotoxicity, ECGs may show widened QRS, atrioventricular heart block and QT interval prolongation. CQ may also cause seizures, often refractory to standard treatment. Of concern is pediatric poisoning, where 1-2 pills of CQ or HCQ can cause serious and potentially fatal toxicity in a toddler. The treatment of CQ/HCQ poisoning includes high-dose intravenous diazepam postulated to have positive ionotropic and antidysrhythmic properties that may antagonize the cardiotoxic effects of CQ. Infusions of epinephrine titrated to treat unstable hypotension, as well as potassium for severe hypokalemia may be required. Current scientific evidence does not support treatment or prophylactic use of these agents for COVID-19 disease. Regulatory and public health authorities recognize that CQ/HCQ may offer little clinical benefit and only add risk requiring further investigation before wider public distribution.
BACKGROUND: Chemical weapons attacks during the recent conflict in Syria and Iraq highlight the need to better understand the changing epidemiology of chemical weapons use, especially among non-state actors. Public health professionals and policy-makers require this data to prioritize funding, training, chemical weapons preparedness, disaster response, and recovery. The purpose of this investigation is to provide descriptive data that can be used by policy-makers and public safety officials to better prepare for these potential attacks.
METHODS: A five-decade descriptive retrospective review of The Global Terrorism Database, maintained by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, was conducted to understand trends in chemical agents, targets, and routes of exposure. We reviewed and analyzed data specific to these documented chemical attacks between 1970 and 2017.
RESULTS: 383 terror attacks involved chemical weapons over the study period. A specific agent was named in 154 incidents, while 124 incidents could be classified into traditional chemical weapons categories (eg, vesicant, choking agents). A route of exposure was identified in 242 attacks, with the most common routes of exposure being dermal-mucosal and inhalational. Caustic agents were used in the highest portion of attacks (25%) where the route of exposure was known. Explosive devices were used in 21% of attacks to deliver these chemical agents. Of particular note, private citizens and educational facilities were targeted in 25% and 12% of attacks, respectively. The average number of attacks increased from 6 per year between 1970 and 2011 to 24.9 per year between 2011 and 2017 (coinciding with the start of the Syria conflict). The most commonly utilized chemicals were chlorine (26.0%), tear gas (20.8%), and cyanide (15.6%). Blood agent incidents declined from 32.6% before the September 11, 2001 attacks to 13.6% after 2001, while nerve agent attacks fell from 9.3% to 1.2%. In contrast, choking (namely chlorine) and vesicant (mustard) agent use increased from 7% to 48.1% and from 2.3% to 6.2% of attacks, respectively.
CONCLUSIONS: Chemical weapon use in global terrorism remains an increasingly common occurrence that requires better characterization. The average number of chemical terrorist attacks per year is increasing, with a large proportion resulting from the conflicts in Iraq and Syria. Choking (chlorine) and vesicant (mustard) agents have become the predominant chemical terror agent since 2001, with a decreased incidence of blood (cyanogenic) and nerve (sarin) agents. Future preparedness initiatives should focus on vulnerable targets such as private citizens and educational institutions. Improving blast injury response is essential, along with prioritizing disaster training focused on choking agents, vesicants, and caustics.
INTRODUCTION: Recent attention on the possible use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to treat COVID-19 disease has potentially triggered a number of overdoses from hydroxychloroquine. Toxicity from hydroxychloroquine manifests with cardiac conduction abnormalities, seizure activity, and muscle weakness. Recognizing this toxidrome and unique management of this toxicity is important in the COVID-19 pandemic.
CASE REPORT: A 27-year-old man with a history of rheumatoid arthritis presented to the emergency department 7 hours after an intentional overdose of hydroxychloroquine. Initial presentation demonstrated proximal muscle weakness. The patient was found to have a QRS complex of 134 ms and QTc of 710 ms. He was treated with early orotracheal intubation and intravenous diazepam boluses. Due to difficulties formulating continuous diazepam infusions, we opted to utilize an intermitted intravenous bolus strategy that achieved similar effects that a continuous infusion would. The patient recovered without residual side effects.
DISCUSSION: Hydroxychloroquine toxicity is rare but projected to increase in frequency given its selection as a potential modality to treat COVID-19 disease. It is important for clinicians to recognize the unique effects of hydroxychloroquine poisoning and initiate appropriate emergency maneuvers to improve the outcomes in these patients.
To our knowledge, there are no published reports of heat exhaustion and pesticide exposure in a labor trafficked patient in the literature. Here we represent the case of J.C.J.L., who was labor trafficked. He presented to a local emergency department with heat exhaustion and pesticide exposure related to working conditions in a Mississippi corn field. Unfortunately, while he received medical treatment, his labor trafficking condition was missed. Emergency departments should be equipped to assess for human trafficking and connect trafficked persons with the resources they need. Emergency physicians should maintain a high index of suspicion for human trafficking among migrant workers presenting with occupation-related complaints.
INTRODUCTION: Accurate data regarding opioid use, overdose, and treatment is important in guiding community efforts at combating the opioid epidemic. Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) is a potential method to quantify community-level trends of opioid exposure beyond overdose data, which is the basis of most existing response efforts. However, most WBE efforts collect parent opioid compounds (e.g., morphine) at wastewater treatment facilities, measuring opioid concentrations across large catchment zones which typically represent an entire municipality. We sought to deploy a robotic sampling device at targeted manholes within a city to semi-quantitatively detect opioid metabolites (e.g., morphine glucuronide) at a sub-city community resolution.
METHODS: We deployed a robotic wastewater sampling platform at ten residential manholes in an urban municipality in North Carolina, accounting for 44.5% of the total municipal population. Sampling devices comprised a robotic sampling arm with in situ solid phase extraction, and collected hourly samples over 24-hour periods. We used targeted mass spectrometry to detect the presence of a custom panel of opioids, naloxone, and buprenorphine.
RESULTS: Ten sampling sites were selected to be a representative survey of the entire municipality by integrating sewer network and demographic GIS data. All eleven metabolites targeted were detected during the program. The average morphine milligram equivalent (MME) across the nine illicit and prescription opioids, as excreted and detected in wastewater, was 49.1 (standard deviation of 31.9) MME/day/1000-people. Codeine was detected most frequently (detection rate of 100%), and buprenorphine was detected least frequently (12%). The presence of naloxone correlated with city data of known overdoses reversed by emergency medical services in the prehospital setting.
CONCLUSION: Wastewater-based epidemiology with smart sewer selection and robotic wastewater collection is feasible to detect the presence of specific opioids, naloxone, methadone, and buprenorphine within a city. These results suggest that wastewater epidemiology could be used to detect patterns of opioid exposure and may ultimately provide information for opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment and harm reduction programs.
Wastewater surveillance represents a complementary approach to clinical surveillance to measure the presence and prevalence of emerging infectious diseases like the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. This innovative data source can improve the precision of epidemiological modeling to understand the penetrance of SARS-CoV-2 in specific vulnerable communities. Here, we tested wastewater collected at a major urban treatment facility in Massachusetts and detected SARS-CoV-2 RNA from the gene at significant titers (57 to 303 copies per ml of sewage) in the period from 18 to 25 March 2020 using RT-qPCR. We validated detection of SARS-CoV-2 by Sanger sequencing the PCR product from the gene. Viral titers observed were significantly higher than expected based on clinically confirmed cases in Massachusetts as of 25 March. Our approach is scalable and may be useful in modeling the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and future outbreaks. Wastewater-based surveillance is a promising approach for proactive outbreak monitoring. SARS-CoV-2 is shed in stool early in the clinical course and infects a large asymptomatic population, making it an ideal target for wastewater-based monitoring. In this study, we develop a laboratory protocol to quantify viral titers in raw sewage via qPCR analysis and validate results with sequencing analysis. Our results suggest that the number of positive cases estimated from wastewater viral titers is orders of magnitude greater than the number of confirmed clinical cases and therefore may significantly impact efforts to understand the case fatality rate and progression of disease. These data may help inform decisions surrounding the advancement or scale-back of social distancing and quarantine efforts based on dynamic wastewater catchment-level estimations of prevalence.
Fuqing Wu, Amy Xiao, Jianbo Zhang, Katya Moniz, Noriko Endo, Federica Armas, Richard Bonneau, Megan A Brown, Mary Bushman, Peter R Chai, Claire Duvallet, Timothy B Erickson, Katelyn Foppe, Newsha Ghaeli, Xiaoqiong Gu, William P Hanage, Katherine H Huang, Wei Lin Lee, Mariana Matus, Kyle A McElroy, Jonathan Nagler, Steven F Rhode, Mauricio Santillana, Joshua A Tucker, Stefan Wuertz, Shijie Zhao, Janelle Thompson, and Eric J Alm. 2020. “SARS-CoV-2 titers in wastewater foreshadow dynamics and clinical presentation of new COVID-19 cases.” medRxiv.Abstract
Current estimates of COVID-19 prevalence are largely based on symptomatic, clinically diagnosed cases. The existence of a large number of undiagnosed infections hampers population-wide investigation of viral circulation. Here, we use longitudinal wastewater analysis to track SARS-CoV-2 dynamics in wastewater at a major urban wastewater treatment facility in Massachusetts, between early January and May 2020. SARS-CoV-2 was first detected in wastewater on March 3. Viral titers in wastewater increased exponentially from mid-March to mid-April, after which they began to decline. Viral titers in wastewater correlated with clinically diagnosed new COVID-19 cases, with the trends appearing 4-10 days earlier in wastewater than in clinical data. We inferred viral shedding dynamics by modeling wastewater viral titers as a convolution of back-dated new clinical cases with the viral shedding function of an individual. The inferred viral shedding function showed an early peak, likely before symptom onset and clinical diagnosis, consistent with emerging clinical and experimental evidence. Finally, we found that wastewater viral titers at the neighborhood level correlate better with demographic variables than with population size. This work suggests that longitudinal wastewater analysis can be used to identify trends in disease transmission in advance of clinical case reporting, and may shed light on infection characteristics that are difficult to capture in clinical investigations, such as early viral shedding dynamics.
BACKGROUND: Drug and alcohol use are risk factors for trauma among operators of motor vehicles and contribute to trauma in pedestrians and bicyclists. We describe the prevalence of drug and alcohol use and clinical consequences in a cohort of pedestrians and bicyclists with trauma.
METHODS: We analyzed a 25-month data set of 916 trauma team activations from January 2017-January 2019 at an urban, level I trauma center. Blood ethanol levels and urine toxicology screens were obtained in 94 pedestrian and bicyclist trauma activations. We compared pedestrians or bicyclists with a positive urine or blood screen (n = 69) to those with negative screens (n = 25). We conducted a retrospective chart review to determine mechanism of injury, injury pattern, and disposition from the emergency department (ED).
RESULTS: Overall, 38 (55%) of injured patients with positive screen were pedestrians and 31 (45%) were bicyclists. Fentanyl was the most commonly detected drug (n = 38; 40%), followed by opiates (n = 27; 29%), and tetrahydrocannabiol (THC) (n = 23; 25%). Twenty-one patients were positive for ethanol. Pedestrians and bicyclists with positive toxicology screens were significantly more likely to sustain fractures (p < .01), require an operative procedure (p < .05), or intensive care unit admission (p < .05).
CONCLUSION: Our study builds on previous literature which suggests that intoxicated bicyclists and pedestrians suffer frequent and more severe injury than their sober counterparts. Public health campaigns should educate bicyclists and pedestrians about the risks of cycling or walking in areas of road traffic while under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs.
Since 2014, Ukraine has been beset by an armed conflict with international and internal dimensions. The nature of this conflict is multidimensional, and disaster preparedness and response in this context must be as well. Health experts from Ukraine, the United States of America, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, and Norway convened for an educational event in Dnipro, East Ukraine on November 11-15, 2019. At the event, "Emerging Technologies and Countermeasures to CBRN Agents: Advanced Training Response to Conflict and Security Challenges in East Ukraine," over 1,000 participants participated in panel discussions, didactic lectures, and an advanced training on various dimensions of disaster response. This report provides an overview of the key discussions and outcomes of the event.
This report captures the lessons learned during a project titled, “Children on the Move: Using Satellite Data Analysis in Conflict/Famine-Affected Areas.” This document details the project’s progression and the rationale for transitioning from satellite imagery analysis to agent-based modeling as the primary mode of analysis. This project was conducted in collaboration with the Governance Lab at New York University, the Signal Program on Human Security and Technology at Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, and UNICEF.
This guide outlines the tools and techniques to establish a foundation for visual analysis and discusses how these techniques can assist in identifying notable landscape features pertaining to agriculture, settlements, water catchment, and livestock in northern Somalia. To the knowledge of the Signal Program analysts, there is no systematic open-source remote sensing documentation of frequently occurring natural and man-made features in Somalia. This guide helps users to identify and analyze these features, particularly humanitarian practitioners supporting activities in the Horn of Africa. This project, titled “Children on the Move: Using Satellite Data Analysis in Conflict/Famine-Affected Areas,” was carried out in collaboration with UNICEF, the GovLab at NYU, and the Signal Program on Human Security and Technology at Harvard Humanitarian Initiative.
Human suffering as a result of natural disasters or conflict includes death and disability from non-communicable diseases, including diabetes, which have largely been neglected in humanitarian crises. The objectives of this Series paper were to examine the evidence on the burden of diabetes, use of health services, and access to care for people with diabetes among populations affected by humanitarian crises in low-income and middle-income countries, and to identify research gaps for future studies. We reviewed the scientific literature on this topic published between 1992 and 2018. The results emphasise that the burden of diabetes in humanitarian settings is not being captured, clinical guidance is insufficient, and diabetes is not being adequately addressed. Crisis-affected populations with diabetes face enormous constraints accessing care, mainly because of high medical costs. Further research is needed to characterise the epidemiology of diabetes in humanitarian settings and to develop simplified, cost-effective models of care to improve the delivery of diabetes care during humanitarian crises.
Nearly three out of every four deaths worldwide in 2017 were caused by non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Many countries have made progress reducing risk factors for NCDs such as tobacco use, hyperlipidaemia, and hypertension, but no countries have successfully reversed the increasing trends in diabetes prevalence and mortality from diabetes. This situation represents a massive global health failure, since type 2 diabetes is largely preventable with lifestyle modification and cost-effective treatments exist for both type 2 and type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is of particular concern, since it is fatal in the absence of insulin treatment.
This report provides a regional breakdown of household perceptions and self-reported activities on several key questions related to disaster preparedness and recovery in the Philippines. These are: who and what is vulnerable? What preparedness activities have households undertaken? What assistance have households received and what helped them recover the most? What are the barriers?
The report is intended to be used in conjunction with the full report “Perceptions of Disaster Resilience and Preparedness in the Philippines” (2018), which explores perceptions on a wider variety of disaster related issues in greater detail. Data for both reports were derived from a nationwide, household-level survey of randomly selected adults aged 18 years old and above, representing all of Philippines economic strata, conducted in 2017.
Despite decades of development programming for a country once upheld as a “model democracy” in Africa, Mali remains a country destabilized by extreme poverty; escalating violence and instability; and diminishing prospects for Malians’ futures in education, livelihoods, and stability. Even in light of an ongoing international presence and intervention in the country, and millions of dollars raised and spent each year on humanitarian programming, the persistent degradation of governance, livelihoods, and security continues.
What drives this state of affairs? How have international and regional actors contributed to sustaining a stagnating state at the expense of civilian populations and in the interest of preventing transnational Sahelian turmoil from expanding into the Maghreb and beyond to European borders? What are the expectations and aspirations of local communities as they navigate the interconnected influences of extremist groups, government actors, and international military forces?
This paper examines these questions and offers reflections on various dynamics of the international response and the perceptions of local communities in this context. In particular, this analysis assesses the viability of the “triple nexus” concept, which aims—in protracted and complex crises such as Mali—to forge an operational and policy alignment between international peacebuilding, development, and humanitarian efforts. The paper is based on a desk analysis of relevant literature, as well as over 130 interviews and consultations undertaken with a variety of stakeholders, including government and non-state armed group representatives, civil society members, activists, journalists, humanitarians, analysts, diplomats, entrepreneurs, beneficiaries, displaced people, and students. The interviews were conducted in Mali, particularly in Bamako and in Central Mali, as well as abroad, between December 2018 and March 2019. The paper proceeds in four parts. Part I examines the key elements driving instability in this context. Part II focuses on international responses. Part III discusses the implications for the “triple nexus.” Part IV offers concluding remarks.
The humanitarian health landscape is gradually changing, partly as a result of the shift in global epidemiological trends and the rise of non-communicable diseases, including diabetes. Humanitarian actors are progressively incorporating care for diabetes into emergency medical response, but challenges abound. This Series paper discusses contemporary practical challenges associated with diabetes care in humanitarian contexts in low-income and middle-income countries, using the six building blocks of health systems described by WHO (information and research, service delivery, health workforce, medical products and technologies, governance, and financing) as a framework. Challenges include the scarcity of evidence on the management of diabetes and clinical guidelines adapted to humanitarian contexts; unavailability of core indicators for surveillance and monitoring systems; and restricted access to the medicines and diagnostics necessary for adequate clinical care. Policy and system frameworks do not routinely include diabetes and little funding is allocated for diabetes care in humanitarian crises. Humanitarian organisations are increasingly gaining experience delivering diabetes care, and interagency collaboration to coordinate, improve data collection, and analyse available programmes is in progress. However, the needs around all six WHO health system building blocks are immense, and much work needs to be done to improve diabetes care for crisis-affected populations.
Humanitarian actors have long used the Sphere Handbook and its minimum standards to guide operational practice. The new revision attempts to update these standards partly to address urban crises that have challenged the humanitarian system. Yet, these indicators have never been based on a substantial body of evidence or data from the varied living standards found in cities or specifically informal settlements. This study aims to contextualize the Sphere standards for urban populations by comparing a sample of the revised key indicators to living standards in three urban informal settlements of Nairobi, Kenya, during a non-crisis period to examine their relevance and applicability, and discuss the implications.
The current outbreak of Ebola in eastern DR Congo, beginning in 2018, emerged in a complex and violent political and security environment. Community-level prevention and outbreak control measures appear to be dependent on public trust in relevant authorities and information, but little scholarship has explored these issues. We aimed to investigate the role of trust and misinformation on individual preventive behaviours during an outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD).
South Asia is faced with a range of natural hazards, including floods, droughts, cyclones, earthquakes, landslides, and tsunamis. Rapid and unplanned urbanization, environmental degradation, climate change, and socioeconomic conditions are increasing citizens’ exposure to and risk from natural hazards and resulting in more frequent, intense, and costly disasters. Although governments and the international community are investing in disaster risk reduction, natural hazard governance in South Asian countries remain weak and often warrants a review when a major natural disaster strikes. Natural hazards governance is an emerging concept, and many countries in South Asia have a challenging hazard governance context.