Feb 16, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – The World Health Organization (WHO) today reported “encouraging progress” on development of H5N1 avian influenza vaccines, while cautioning that global capacity to make the vaccines remains very limited.Following a 2-day meeting of vaccine experts in Geneva, the WHO said new vaccines aimed at various strains of H5N1—considered the likeliest candidate to spark a flu pandemic—look promising.”For the first time, results presented at the meeting have convincingly demonstrated that vaccination with newly developed avian influenza vaccines can bring about a potentially protective immune response against strains of H5N1 virus found in a variety of geographical locations,” the WHO said in a news release.”Some of the vaccines work with low doses of antigen, which means that significantly more vaccine doses can be available in case of a pandemic,” the agency added.However, the statement continues, “WHO stresses that the world still lacks the manufacturing capacity to meet potential global pandemic influenza vaccine demand as current capacity is estimated at less than 400 million doses per year of trivalent seasonal influenza vaccine.” The current world population is more than 6 billion.Sixteen companies from 10 countries are developing prototype pandemic flu vaccines against H5N1, the WHO said. Five of those companies also are developing vaccines against other avian flu strains, including H9N2, H5N2, and H5N3. More than 40 clinical trials have been completed or are under way, most of them involving healthy adults. But some companies have begun clinical trials in children and the elderly.So far, all the vaccines were safe and well tolerated in the groups tested, the agency said. Most of the companies are using vaccine strains corresponding to H5N1 viruses provided by WHO collaborating laboratories.Because pandemic flu viruses are products of constant evolution, no one knows how well any of the prototype vaccines under development would work against a pandemic H5N1 virus, but experts hope that the vaccines would provide some protection. Once a pandemic strain emerges, it is expected to take at least 6 months to produce a vaccine precisely matching it.Today’s statement strikes a different tone from that of a report on flu research released by the WHO last November. That report, based on a meeting of 22 scientists in September, said vaccine developments at that point did not look promising. One problem cited was that H5N1 viruses had branched off into a number of different subgroups, and vaccines that worked well against one subgroup did not work well against others.The November report also said many fundamental questions about H5N1 vaccines remained to be answered. Because of the many unknowns, the report cautioned governments against stockpiling pre-pandemic vaccines. Today’s brief statement does not mention stockpiling.The WHO meeting drew more than 100 flu vaccine experts, who heard and discussed information on more than 20 projects. The aim was to review progress in vaccine development and reach a consensus on future priorities. The meeting was the third of its kind in 2 years, the WHO said.The statement does not give an estimate of how many doses of H5N1 vaccines have been made so far, and further information was not immediately available.In 2006 the WHO launched its global pandemic influenza action plan, a program expected to cost $10 billion over 10 years, the statement noted. One goal of the plan is to enable developing countries to build their own flu vaccine production facilities.In launching the program last October, the WHO called for an urgent effort to boost vaccine production capacity and develop better vaccines, while cautioning that it would take 3 to 5 years for the effort to bear fruit.See also:Feb 16 WHO statement on vaccine developmenthttp://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/notes/2007/np07/en/index.htmlNov 2, 2006, CIDRAP News story “WHO report calls H5N1 vaccine stockpiling premature”Oct 23, 2006, CIDRAP News story “WHO seeks urgent push for pandemic flu vaccines”
By Jay Cook |ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS – Crews are now working to fortify a beloved waterfront segment of the Henry Hudson pedestrian and biking trail.The Bayshore Trail, a 11⁄4-mile long section of the Henry Hudson Trail, extending from the Atlantic Highlands Harbor to Popamora Point in the neighboring borough of Highlands, is undergoing its most extensive repairs since Super Storm Sandy.“We’ve come in with cheaper than thought-of construction costs,” said Ken Thoman, a park resource manager with the Monmouth County Park System (MCPS). “It’s a project that’s more resilient, and it’s something we think is going to be better than the original one.”The scope of the project includes five sections of precast concrete boardwalk, 12 new segments of underground drainage and the replenishment of riprap rock along the shoreline – all aimed to mitigate future damages and ensure stability for years to come.Wooden boardwalks, pathways and bridges were completely washed out by 14-foot-high storm surges during the October 2012 storm. While the trail has been open in years past, it’s now indefinitely closed to pedestrian and bicyclist traffic as construction crews work on the improvements.Ninety percent of the $881,677 cost is being covered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Atlantic Highlands will be responsible for $28,382 and the MCPS will pay $59,785. Compass Construction of New Egypt is performing the work.Physical reconstruction to the site began about three weeks ago, according to Joe Sardonia, a supervising land architect with MCPS. He anticipates this specific section of the trail will open by fall 2017.“This is going to happen again, and we recognize that,” Thoman said referring to future storms hitting the shore. “We also know that we’re not going to get bailed out again for it either.”Among the upgrades to the Bayshore Trail, Thoman noted that new drainage systems would help lengthen trail life. He said the Department of Environmental Protection asked that water flow from the hillside to the water’s edge not be restricted. To install these drains, sections of the trail must be excavated and cleared out. Pipes will be laid down in a bed of sand with two fabric filters on top, backfilled with sand and run underground to the shoreline. MCPS found water pooling on the trail in these areas, causing erosion.It’s also an approach that the park system uses regularly throughout Monmouth County.“We’ve used these same techniques and materials at other sites, specifically golf courses,” Thoman said.New drainage systems and precast concrete boardwalks will be installed along the 1 1⁄4 mile trail, ensuring its stability into the future. Photo courtesy of Monmouth County Park SystemBeyond this, the trail will have a different look with the new concrete boardwalks. Thoman said the wooden structures that were in place pre-and-post Sandy fit the style of the trail, though are not necessarily sustainable.With these new precast pieces, the trail’s footprint on the environment decreases as well. In the past, more than 1,000 linear feet of wood boardwalk was used – that is now down to 630 linear feet.Atlantic Highlands borough owns an approximately 1/5-of-a-mile stretch of trail at the mouth of the municipal harbor. It’s the last section of the Henry Hudson Trail that has paved asphalt. According to Adam Hubeny, Atlantic Highlands’ borough administrator, a portion of their work is going towards a 3-inch thick asphalt base course in that section – at a cost of $25,347.Paying for usage of the Bayshore Trail is not uncommon in Atlantic Highlands. In 2009, the borough opened that section of the Henry Hudson Trail to the public as part of a nearly $1.3 million project, which was heavily funded – the borough paid around $300,000 for that work.“Atlantic Highlands was the only municipality from Matawan to Highlands that used its own money to build any part of the Henry Hudson Trail,” said Hubeny.This pristine connection, which rolls along the Sandy Hook Bay, is prime real estate for bikers and pedestrians alike. Trail users can access the Bayshore Trail from the harbor entrance and Popamora Point, with the Sandy Hook Bay just feet away and a scenic view of the New York City skyline off in the distance.Hubeny said the trail serves as a great asset for summertime traffic, bringing people into the borough who normally would not spend a day there.“If someone wanted to come here from New York City on a weekend, they would have to come through Highlands,” Hubeny said. “On a nice summer day, they can walk the trails and get here for everything they need.”In the 19th century, the Henry Hudson Trail was a light rail line operated by the Central Railroad of New Jersey, ranging from Aberdeen to Atlantic Highlands, according to the book “The First Fifty Years: The Monmouth County Park System,” published by the Friends of the Monmouth County Parks. In 1980, Monmouth County received a state grant to purchase the route from Conrail.The trail now extends from Freehold to Popamora Point in Highlands, totaling 24 miles.“The major argument for building the trail in the first place is still there,” said Thoman. “It’s connecting communities, schools and businesses.”
By Lily Marten |An educational talk on how to pro- tect endangered sea turtles drew over 30 local residents to Bayshore Waterfront Park Activity Center on Thursday.Brandi Biehl, the co-executive officer of the non-profit Sea Turtle Recovery (STR), led the talk hosted by the Monmouth County Park System’s Drop-In Series with emotion, enthusiasm, and a clear passion for her cause. A graduate of Coastal Carolina University with a bachelor’s degree in marine science, Biehl has dedicated herself to protecting marine life, especially sea turtles.The presentation wasn’t always light-hearted. Biehl had to share the heavy truth that countless sea turtles suffer because of human action, particularly water pollution. She shared the stories and conditions of sea turtles too far gone to save in rehabilitation.“We can save a sea turtle, but if you’re putting it back into water with pollution did you really save it?” Biehl said.Several people attended because they said they feel protective of the environment. “We love nature,” said Catherine Evans of Belmar, who attended with friends George and Rosemarie Unuch of Middletown. She said she felt inspired by the park system’s drop-in talks. “It makes you more aware of the wild nature right here on our doorstep.”George Unuch said it was helpful to inform people about sea turtle protection. “In Sandy Hook there’s a warning sign to watch for crossing sea turtles,” he said. “A lot of people go to Sandy Hook and would not know what to do,” he said, referring to what people should do if they found them.New Jersey’s climate is not hospitable to sea turtles. When found on our shores, it means the turtles are lost or injured and their location should be reported. Once these animals are rescued, they are taken to facilities like Sea Turtle Recovery which heal and prep the turtles for release into warmer water. The most common species in their care are the small and rare Kemp’s Ridleys and the more common Loggerhead sea turtles.Due to the Northeast’s common issue of overcrowded marine life facilities, Biehl and fellow co-executive officer Bill Deerr requested a permit to create their own long-term care facility in New Jersey. Eventually, the group found refuge at the Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange, New Jersey in 2016. This location provided STR with a million-dollar facility that prioritizes rehabilitation for sick and injured sea turtles. STR now has access to veterinarians, volunteers, an ICU and 4 tanks to house their reptilian patients.“They needed the conservation effort and we needed the housing, so it was a win-win,” Biehl said. The nonprofit organization covers all care and cost on their own for the sea turtles. They thrive off of the generosity of volunteers and donations.The team encouraged residents to come out and visit STR’s facility at the Essex County Turtle Back Zoo, as well as follow its Facebook page, Sea Turtle Recovery. The group is preparing to host an upcoming event on World Sea Turtle Day on June 16. Tickets are $10 for the Dance Takeover at Sea Turtle Zoo, to be held 6-8 p.m. More information at SeaTurtleRecovery.org.This article was first published in the May 25-June 1, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.