Special Issue "Emerging Biological Threats and Public Health Preparedness"

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Mariachiara Carestia
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
University of Rome Tor Vergata, Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, Department of Biomedicine and Prevention - Section of Hygiene, Epidemiology and Public Health, Via Cracovia, 50, 00133 Rome, Italy
Interests: microbiology; hygiene; public health; antimicrobial resistance; bioterrorism; CBRN
Dr. Lucia Grenga
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
CEA, INRAE, Département Médicaments et Technologies Pour la Santé (DMTS), SPI, Université Paris-Saclay, Bagnols-sur-Cèze, France
Interests: microbiology; mass spectrometry; antimicrobial resistance; infectious diseases; host response; microbiome; multi-omics
Dr. Omar Nyabi
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Université Catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
Interests: molecular biology; infectious diseases; NGS; Rapid diagnostics (LFIA) and CBRNe awareness and preparedness
Dr. Stefania Moramarco
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Biomedicine and Prevention, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Via Cracovia, 50, 00133 Rome, Italy
Interests: public health; nutrition; food security; food safety; climate change; CBRN

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Emerging Biological threats include a wide range of issues that can severely affect Public Health.

The Covid-19 pandemics have sadly led many opinion leaders and subsequently, part of the public opinion, to wonder whether the virus was created ad hoc in the laboratory and deliberately spread in the environment, rather than started in Chinese “wet markets”. Regardless of its origin, the pandemic caused several social and political tensions and showing, once more, that the dissemination of correct information based on scientific evidence is key to building a sound capability to react to biological emergencies.

Another relevant issue is that of the potential use of biological agents as terrorism agents is an intrinsically complex matter, as demonstrated by the unsuccesfull attempts to fully implement a shared regime of verification and prohibition of the production of biological weapons through the Biological Weapons Convention, unlike what happens with the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Treaty for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Although the etiology of these emerging and re-emerging biological threats may be different, recent facts show us that the first and most effective line of defense in the fight against epidemics/pandemics or potential acts of bioterrorism remains the ability of public health to intercept and identify the onset of such potential events, as well as the full awareness of public health capacity and capabilities and the optimization of their management, to deal with such events as well as the ability to operate synergically at local, national, and supranational levels.

This Special Issue analyses the phenomenon from three distinct yet related perspectives, to identify priorities for future next steps in each of these areas:

  • Emerging biological threats, including those related to climate change, food safety and security and Bioterrorism and their social and economic impact on Public Health
  • Innovative, fast, and effective methods for the rapid detection/identification of biological agents and bio forensics;
  • Needs, gaps and proposals to increase awareness and preparedness concerning response to newborn biological emergencies of public health organizations.

Dr. Mariachiara Carestia
Dr. Lucia Grenga
Dr. Omar Nyabi
Dr. Stefania Moramarco
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases
  • climate change
  • food safety and security
  • bioterrorism
  • public health
  • emergency preparedness
  • emergency response detection/identification of biological agents
  • public health policies

Published Papers (6 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Article
Biological Risk in Italian Prisons: From the COVID-19 Management to the Development of a Standardized Model for Emergency Response
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(19), 10353; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph181910353 - 01 Oct 2021
Viewed by 708
Abstract
Within the confinements of critical infrastructures, the COVID-19 pandemic is posing a series of challenges to Health Management. In the spotlight of highly contagious and quick spreading diseases within such enclosed facilities, whether it be a detention facility or otherwise, the health and [...] Read more.
Within the confinements of critical infrastructures, the COVID-19 pandemic is posing a series of challenges to Health Management. In the spotlight of highly contagious and quick spreading diseases within such enclosed facilities, whether it be a detention facility or otherwise, the health and safety of those living within its internment is paramount. This paper aims to highlight the specific challenges and the possible solutions to counteract this problem, starting from the lessons learnt from the Italian prison system case study. Following the general description of the available resources within the Italian prisons, the study aimed at specifically describing the first counteracting measures deployed by the Italian prison authorities during the first phase of the COVID-19 outbreak (February–July 2020). The aim was to propose an integrated plan capable of responding to a biological threat within the prisons. In particular, the study describes the actions and technical features that, in accordance with national and international legal frameworks and the relevant organisational bodies that run the Italian Prison Service, had been adopted in managing, right from the start, the COVID-19 pandemic until Summer 2020. Available information and data showed the ability of the prison administration to comply almost completely with WHO’s technical and human rights recommendations and also, in successfully handling prison emergencies both in terms of the sick and the deceased in line with the epidemiological framework of the general population. In addition, the paper proposes a draft of guidelines that should involve the National Health Service and the Prison Service that are aimed at supporting the local prison facilities with drawing up their own biological incident contingency plans. An approved, legal, standardised plan could increase the awareness of prison managers. It could even increase their self-confidence, in particular, with regard to cases of dispute and their ability to respond to them. In fact, it is valuable and forward-thinking to be able to demonstrate that every endeavour has been taken and that ‘certified’ best practices have been put in place in accordance with the national standards. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Emerging Biological Threats and Public Health Preparedness)
Article
Telecommunication Facilities, Key Support for Data Management and Data Sharing by a Biological Mobile Laboratory Deployed to Counter Emerging Biological Threats and Improve Public Health Crisis Preparedness
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(17), 9014; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18179014 - 26 Aug 2021
Viewed by 646
Abstract
In the case of rapid outbreaks of infectious diseases in remote locations, the lack of real-time information from the field and rapid spread of misinformation can be a major issue. To improve situational awareness and decision-making at all levels of operational deployment, there [...] Read more.
In the case of rapid outbreaks of infectious diseases in remote locations, the lack of real-time information from the field and rapid spread of misinformation can be a major issue. To improve situational awareness and decision-making at all levels of operational deployment, there is an urgent need for accurate, reliable, and timely results from patients from the affected area. This requires a robust and fast channel of communication connecting first responders on-site, crisis managers, decision-makers, and the institutions involved in the survey of the crisis at national, regional, and international levels. This has been the rationale sustaining the development of advanced communication tools in the Biological Light Fieldable Laboratory for Emergencies (B-LiFE). The benefit of terrestrial (TETRA, LTE, 5G, and Wi-Fi-Fi) and SatCom communications is illustrated through a series of missions and exercises conducted in the previous five years. These tools were used by B-LiFE operators to provide accurate, comprehensive, timely, and relevant information and services in real time. The focus of this article is to discuss the development and benefits of the integration of multi-mission, multi-user nomadic, rapidly deployable telecommunication nodes for emergency uses (TEN) in the capacity of B-LiFE. Providing reliable communication channels through TEN enables the development and use of an ICT toolbox called MIML_LIMS (multi-institution, multi-mission, multi-laboratory LIMS), a tool which is mandatory for efficient and secure data management and data sharing by a mobile laboratory. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Emerging Biological Threats and Public Health Preparedness)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
How Does Risk-Information Communication Affect the Rebound of Online Public Opinion of Public Emergencies in China?
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(15), 7760; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18157760 - 22 Jul 2021
Viewed by 774
Abstract
The rebound of online public opinion is an important driving force in inducing a secondary crisis in the case of public emergencies. Effective risk-information communication is an important means to manage online public opinion regarding emergencies. This paper employs fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis [...] Read more.
The rebound of online public opinion is an important driving force in inducing a secondary crisis in the case of public emergencies. Effective risk-information communication is an important means to manage online public opinion regarding emergencies. This paper employs fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis to discover which conditions are combined and may result in the rebound of online public opinion. Five conditions were selected: the type of public emergency, messengers, message attributes, audience, and information feedback. The study used a sample of 25 major public emergencies that occurred between 2015 and 2020 in China. The type of public emergency, audience, and information feedback emerged as critical influencing factors. Message attributes promote the rebound of online public opinion regarding public health emergencies, while messengers play a traction role in the rebound of online public opinion on other types of public emergencies. This study extends risk-information communication theory from the perspective of the type of emergency, explores the causes of rebounded online public opinion regarding public emergencies, and provides policies and suggestions for risk-information communication and online public-opinion governance during emergencies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Emerging Biological Threats and Public Health Preparedness)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Response of a Radiology Department to the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic: The Experience of the Hospital “Policlinico Tor Vergata” in Rome
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(10), 5255; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18105255 - 14 May 2021
Viewed by 1074
Abstract
The dissemination of severe acute respiratory syndrome linked to the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, prompted all health services to provide adequate measures to limit new cases that could affect healthcare professionals. Due to the large number of suspected patients subjected to CT scans and [...] Read more.
The dissemination of severe acute respiratory syndrome linked to the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, prompted all health services to provide adequate measures to limit new cases that could affect healthcare professionals. Due to the large number of suspected patients subjected to CT scans and the proximity of radiologists to the patient during exams, radiologists as well as the entire staff of the radiology department are particularly exposed to SARS-CoV-2. This article includes the emergency management procedures, the use of personal protective devices, and the rearrangement of exam rooms and of human resources in the department of radiology at “Policlinico Tor Vergata” in Rome performed during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. We introduce the management measures that our department has taken to cope with the influx of patients while still ensuring the proper management of other emergencies and time-sensitive exams. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Emerging Biological Threats and Public Health Preparedness)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Diagnostic Value of IgM and IgG Detection in COVID-19 Diagnosis by the Mobile Laboratory B-LiFE: A Massive Testing Strategy in the Piedmont Region
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(7), 3372; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18073372 - 24 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 948
Abstract
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an acute infectious disease caused by the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) identified in 2019. The COVID-19 outbreak continues to have devastating consequences for human lives and the global economy. The B-LiFe mobile laboratory in Piedmont, Italy, was deployed for [...] Read more.
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an acute infectious disease caused by the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) identified in 2019. The COVID-19 outbreak continues to have devastating consequences for human lives and the global economy. The B-LiFe mobile laboratory in Piedmont, Italy, was deployed for the surveillance of COVID-19 cases by large-scale testing of first responders. The objective was to assess the seroconversion among the regional civil protection (CP), police, health care professionals, and volunteers. The secondary objective was to detect asymptomatic individuals within this cohort in the light of age, sex, and residence. In this paper, we report the results of serological testing performed by the B-LiFe mobile laboratory deployed from 10 June to 23 July 2020. The tests included whole blood finger-prick and serum sampling for detection of SARS-CoV-2 spike receptor-binding domain (S-RBD) antibodies. The prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies was approximately 5% (294/6013). The results of the finger-prick tests and serum sample analyses showed moderate agreement (kappa = 0.77). Furthermore, the detection rates of serum antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid protein (NP) and S-RBD among the seroconverted individuals were positively correlated (kappa = 0.60), at least at the IgG level. Seroprevalence studies based on serological testing for the S-RBD protein or SARS-CoV-2 NP antibodies are not sufficient for diagnosis but might help in screening the population to be vaccinated and in determining the duration of seroconversion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Emerging Biological Threats and Public Health Preparedness)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Infectious Diseases Seeker (IDS): An Innovative Tool for Prompt Identification of Infectious Diseases during Outbreaks
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(6), 3216; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18063216 - 20 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1040
Abstract
Background: Several technologies for rapid molecular identification of pathogens are currently available; jointly with monitoring tools (i.e., web-based surveillance tools, infectious diseases modelers, and epidemic intelligence methods), they represent important components for timely outbreak detection and identification of the involved pathogen. The application [...] Read more.
Background: Several technologies for rapid molecular identification of pathogens are currently available; jointly with monitoring tools (i.e., web-based surveillance tools, infectious diseases modelers, and epidemic intelligence methods), they represent important components for timely outbreak detection and identification of the involved pathogen. The application of these approaches is usually feasible and effective when performed by healthcare professionals with specific expertise and skills and when data and resources are easily accessible. Contrariwise, in the field situation where healthcare workers or first responders from heterogeneous competences can be asked to investigate an outbreak of unknown origin, a simple and suitable tool for rapid agent identification and appropriate outbreak management is highly needed. Most especially when time is limited, available data are incomplete, and accessible infrastructure and resources are inadequate. The use of a prompt, user-friendly, and accessible tool able to rapidly recognize an infectious disease outbreak and with high sensitivity and precision may be a game-changer to support emergency response and public health investigations. Methods: This paper presents the work performed to implement and test an innovative tool for prompt identification of infectious diseases during outbreaks, called Infectious Diseases Seeker (IDS). IDS is a standalone software that runs on the most common operative systems. It has been built by integrating a database containing an interim set of 60 different disease causative agents and COVID-19 data and is able to work in an off-line mode without requiring a network connection. Results: IDS has been applied in a real and complex scenario in terms of concomitant infectious diseases (yellow fever, COVID-19, and Lassa fever), as can be in the second part of 2020 in Nigeria. The outcomes have allowed inferring that yellow fever (YF), and not Lassa fever, was affecting the area under investigation. Conclusions: Our result suggests that a tool like IDS could be valuable for the quick and easy identification and discrimination of infectious disease outbreaks even when concurrent outbreaks occur, like for the case study of YF and COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Emerging Biological Threats and Public Health Preparedness)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Back to TopTop