Research finds Zika virus can live for hours on hard, nonporous surfaces

Under the right conditions, the Zika virus can live for as long as eight hours on hard, nonporous surfaces while remaining highly contagious. That’s according to research presented at the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists Annual Meeting and Exposition Nov. 13–17. The research also shows that commonly used disinfectants are effective in killing the virus.

Researchers looked at the effects of isopropyl alcohol, quaternary ammonium/alcohol, peracetic acid, and pH 4 or pH 10 solutions. They found that when the virus was in an environment without blood, these methods, except pH 4 or pH 10, were largely effective and could kill the virus in as little as 15 seconds. When blood is present, inactivating the virus may take longer.

ASPR releases five-year plan, guidance to boost health care security

The Department of Health & Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response has released a five-year plan to improve health care preparedness and response capabilities.

The guidance outlines necessary steps to help the country prepare for, respond to and recover from the adverse effects caused by emergencies and disasters. It covers four specific capabilities:

  • Foundation for health care and medical readiness
  • Health care and medical response coordination
  • Continuity of health care service delivery
  • Handling medical and crisis surges

First cases of Candida auris reported in United States

Thirteen cases of Candida auris, a serious and sometimes fatal fungal infection that is emerging globally, have been identified in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Seven of the cases occurred between May 2013 and August 2016. The other six cases were identified after the period covered by the report and are still under investigation.

The CDC recommends that health care professionals implement strict standard and contact precautions to control the spread of C. auris. Facilities should conduct thorough daily and post-discharge cleaning of rooms of C. auris patients with an EPA-registered disinfectant active against fungi.

DHS issues updated bulletin on terrorist threats

The Department of Homeland Security’s National Terrorism Advisory System issued an updated bulletin on the global threat environment. While its basic assessment has not changed since the last bulletin in June, the agency said it “is especially concerned that terrorist-inspired individuals and homegrown violent extremists may be encouraged or inspired to target public events or places. The holiday season, in particular, provides additional opportunities for violent extremists to target public events and places where people congregate.” The bulletin offers tips for recognizing and reporting suspicious activity, and for staying informed about emerging threats.

HeartWare recalls ventricular-assist device controllers and pumps

The Food and Drug Administration has identified two Class I recalls involving the same product. The product in question is Heart Ware Inc.’s ventricular-assist devices.

One of the recalls is for the HeartWare ventricular-assist device controller. Due to a loose power connector, the rear portion of the pump’s driveline connector may disconnect from the front portion. A loose connector may allow moisture to enter the controller, causing corrosion, electrical issues, reduced speaker volume and connection failures. If the speaker volume is decreased, the patient may not hear the alarm. If there is a loss of connection, the pump may stop and could cause serious adverse health consequences, including death. The other recall is for the pumps themselves.