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Private MD News - Infectious Diseases

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Group considers recommending universal hepatitis C testing
Date: 2012-05-11 00:00:00

Rates of hepatitis C have increased dramatically in the past few years, which has left public health agencies scrambling for a solution. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently considering a robust response to the situation.... Full Story

One-quarter of L.A.'s homeless are infected with hepatitis C
Date: 2012-06-12 00:00:00

More than one-quarter of homeless individuals in Los Angeles are infected with hepatitis C, and many do not know about their infection, according to a new report. The researchers behind the study are recommending liver panel testing and treatment for infected individuals to avoid major public health costs.... Full Story

College students may benefit from booster shots
Date: 2012-07-16 00:00:00

Although childhood vaccinations provide protection against diseases such as tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, immunization may grow weaker with time. A lab test can help older children and adults find out whether they need a booster shot.... Full Story

Study: Milk thistle is ineffective against hepatitis C
Date: 2012-07-18 00:00:00

Individuals who are worried about the state of their liver health because of a possible hepatitis C infection can take a lab test to help measure the level of organ damage. Results may help guide their treatment decisions. However, according to new research from University of North Carolina Health Care, the herbal supplement milk thistle is not a suitable option.... Full Story

CDC reports outbreaks of whooping cough around the U.S.
Date: 2012-07-20 00:00:00

There have been about 18,000 cases of whooping cough recorded in the U.S. so far in 2012, which is the worst outbreak of the disease since 1959, as reported Reuters. People who are worried about these statistics, reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), can undergo a lab test to make sure they are immune to this disease.... Full Story

Sleep may be necessary for vaccines to be effective
Date: 2012-08-01 00:00:00

People who, though a lab test, find out they are not immune to infectious diseases such as hepatitis B may choose to undergo vaccinations. However, these inoculations may not be effective if patients do not get enough sleep, according to research conducted by the University of Pittsburgh.... Full Story

Newer whooping cough vaccines may be responsible for outbreaks
Date: 2012-08-02 00:00:00

A team of researchers suggests that newer whooping cough vaccines, in use since the 1990s, may have led to higher rates of the infectious disease today, as reported by HealthDay. Individuals who are worried about whether they are immune should consider taking a lab test to find out.... Full Story

Doctors remind parents about vaccines
Date: 2012-08-09 00:00:00

With the start of the new school year around the corner, medical experts from the Loyola University Health System are reminding parents that it is important to make sure their children are up to date on their vaccines. The public message was prompted in part by the latest outbreak of whooping cough, the most severe in 50 years.... Full Story

Mother's antibodies won't hurt efficacy of child's hepatitis A vaccine
Date: 2012-08-10 00:00:00

Parents who are unsure of whether their children are immune against hepatitis A (HAV) may send for a lab test to make sure. They may follow this with a vaccine against the virus. However, there has been some confusion about whether such an inoculation would be effective in children who receive anti-HAV antibodies from their mothers while still in the womb.... Full Story

Hepatitis C medication may affect children's physical development
Date: 2012-08-15 00:00:00

Children who screen positive for antibodies to the hepatitis C virus (HCV) in a lab test may receive several different prescriptions to treat the disease. However, new research from Boston Children's Hospital suggests that one medication, peginterferon alpha (pegIFN-alpha) may have a negative impact on the physical growth of young patients.... Full Story

Ohio experiences spike in Lyme disease
Date: 2012-09-04 00:00:00

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that nearly 30,000 instances of Lyme disease were reported in the Northeast and upper Midwest U.S. regions in 2009. The organization also suspected that 8,500 other illnesses that weren't diagnosed as Lyme disease could have been exactly that. Lyme disease blood testing is required to determine if symptoms the CDC lists - fever, rash, exhaustion, stunned facial muscles or aching joints - are due to this infection. If untreated for long periods of time, the bacterial illness could lead to more serious conditions, such as brain, nervous system and heart damage.

A recent article from documents Ohio officials' anxiety about an increase in potentially disease-carrying ticks in their state.

"We're finding ticks in places we didn't find them before, and we know some of those ticks are infected," said Glen Needham, associate professor of entomology at Ohio State University, quoted by the news source.

Another official, Richard Gary of the Ohio Department of Health, told that he suspects the steady rise in the tick population could be due to infected birds, livestock or deer entering Ohio from other areas. The news source states there have been 34 cases of the illness, which could have been confirmed by Lyme disease blood testing in Ohio this year, as opposed to what the CDC reports as 21 cases in 2010.

... Full Story

US schools ill-prepared for influenza pandemic
Date: 2012-09-14 00:00:00

New findings from Saint Louis University indicate that less than half of American schools have protocols in place for a flu outbreak. Worse yet, only 40 percent attempted to enhance their preparedness in light of the 2009 H1N1 flu epidemic that ended 18,000 lives globally.

Influenza can be diagnosed with a lab test, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, aches, chills and runny nose. The agency notes that the majority of individuals who catch the H1N1 virus just need to rest at home to avoid spreading the illness, and do not require medical attention. The case may be different for people with who screen positive on a lab test for a pre-existing, ongoing illness such as asthma or heart disease.

"Results from this study indicate that better prepared schools were ones that involved their nurses in the disaster planning committee. The school nurse is the best person in a school district to know about infection control and be able to make recommendations about the best interventions," said research leader Terri Rebmann, associate professor at Saint Louis University's Institute for Biosecurity.

... Full Story

Prisoners can benefit from medicine for hepatitis C
Date: 2012-09-28 00:00:00

When blood tests detect hepatitis C in incarcerated individuals, that doesn't make the infectious disease any more difficult to treat than it is for free individuals, according to findings from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH). This information appears in the upcoming issue of Hepatology.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hepatitis C - or chronic swelling of the liver - can be either asymptomatic, make people feel somewhat sick or cause individuals to become severely ill. It spreads through blood, meaning it can transfer from person to person through unsterilized needles for intravenous drug use and tattoos.

"Given that a history of intravenous drug use is more frequent among inmates, there is a higher prevalence of hepatitis C infection in the prison population," said lead author Michael Lucey, chief of the SMPH's Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. "[Hepatitis C] treatment during incarceration provides an opportunity to make a significant improvement to public health."

The SMPH compared two large groups of people who received affirmative blood tests for hepatitis C - one of incarcerated individuals, one of non-incarcerated people - to determine if drug therapy would produce different outcomes. After administering two types of drugs, SMPH reports that 43 percent of the prisoners responded to the treatment, while 38 percent of the free group experienced the same result.

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NECC drugs linked to meningitis
Date: 2012-10-16 00:00:00

The Washington Post reported that an outbreak of meningitis infections have been linked to drugs produced by the New England Compounding Center (NECC). Originally, the infections were tied to a steroid known as methylprednisolone acetate, which was taken via injection by nearly 14,000 people.... Full Story

2012 was second worst year for West Nile Virus
Date: 2012-10-19 00:00:00

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that as of Oct. 16, there have been 4,531 human cases of West Nile virus (WNV) reported, reaching a death toll of 183, making this year's outbreak the second worst in six years. Of all the WNV cases, 51 percent were classified as being neuroinvasive diseases, such as meningitis or encephalitis, while 49 percent were non-neuroinvasive.... Full Story

Hand washing may be the most effective way to reduce MRSA infections
Date: 2012-10-26 00:00:00

A nine-year study conducted at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), revealed that hand washing, in conjunction with other simple hygiene measures, reduced the risk of Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection by 95 percent in intensive care units.

Many hospitals implement vertical prevention measures, during which they conduct a lab test on cultures taken from patients and quarantine individuals with MRSA. Instead, the VCU researchers took a horizontal approach, where they encouraged everyone in the ward to frequently wash their hands. They found that the hygiene compliance method was not only effective in reducing infections, but it also cut costs.

"Our study showed that using a simple approach over a nine-year period resulted in low rates of MRSA infection," said research author Michael B. Edmond, M.D., M.P.H. "Patient safety is the key benefit to this approach. We found that it not only prevents MRSA, but other infections that are transmitted via contact. It can also save hospitals a lot of money."

Edmond also noted that quarantining patients is detrimental to their health because it can produce anxiety, depression and bed sores, and isolated patients are also visited less frequently by doctors and nurses.

These new findings, according to the researcher, will increase the hospital's efforts in encouraging its staff to wash their hands.

MRSA characteritics... Full Story

Number of whooping cough cases increases in Wales
Date: 2012-10-26 00:00:00

According to BBC News, there were 185 cases of whooping cough reported in Wales as of late September this year, which is a significant increase from the 37 cases reported in 2011.

Whooping cough, which can be detected with a lab test, is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by the bacteria Bordetella pertussis, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It can result in death and disability in infants, and it spreads through bacteria that gets expelled into the air when a patient sneezes or coughs.

BBC News reported that pregnant women were encouraged to receive the immunization last year in order to protect their infants in the womb. Mary Ramsay, M.D., of the Health Protection Agency (HPA) said that parents should monitor their little ones for severe coughing fits and a "whoop" noise, which characterizes the disease. She also suggested that babies be kept away from siblings who have contracted the ailment.

According to the news source, there have been 10 infant fatalities due to whooping cough this year. Although it poses the greatest risk to infants, it affects people of all ages, but most adults make a full recovery after being treated with antibiotics.

... Full Story

Flu shot linked to reduced risk of heart disease and fatalities
Date: 2012-10-31 00:00:00

New studies presented at the 2012 Canadian Cardiovascular Congress showed that receiving the influenza vaccine may help reduce the risk of heart disease and death.

The research looked at 3,227 subjects, half of whom had a history of heart disease and had been part of ongoing studies since the 1960s. Half of the subjects were issued the flu shot, while the other half were given a placebo. The results showed that participants who were given the vaccine were 50 percent less likely to suffer from cardiovascular events like heart attack or stroke.

Research author Jacob Udell, M.D., a cardiologist at Women's College Hospital and the University of Toronto, noted that the findings supported previous claims that people who have suffered a heart attack should get the flu vaccine. But he also reported that a larger international study should occur to provide concrete evidence of the shot's benefits, besides its ability to ward off the flu, which can be detected with a lab test.

According to Udell, the rates of people getting the vaccine are not high enough, and this research may help increase those numbers.

"The use of the vaccine is still much too low, less than 50 per cent of the general population; it's even poorly used among healthcare workers," Udell said. "Imagine if this vaccine could also be a proven way to prevent heart disease."

Vaccine facts... Full Story

Hepatitis C therapy shows promise
Date: 2012-11-13 00:00:00

Pharmaceutical company Gilead's stock price rose to $72.73 per share, the highest it's been in nearly 20 years, after its hepatitis C treatment successfully treated patients involved in an experimental trial, reported Bloomberg.

Gilead is one of several companies racing to find a treatment for hepatitis C that works quickly and without side effects. Rival manufacturers Achillion Pharmaceuticals and Vertex Pharmaceuticals showed a decline in the marketplace - 20 percent and 5.1 percent, respectively - after the news of Gilead's success broke, according to Bloomberg.

"In 2013, given that Gilead's regimen has the best overall profile (efficacy, safety, convenience), we anticipate a significant amount of warehousing," wrote Ravi Mehrotra, an analyst for Credit Suisse, in a research note.

Runner up... Full Story

Mothers with influenza linked to children with autism
Date: 2012-11-14 00:00:00

Recent research, which is slated to be published in the journal Pediatrics, found that pregnant women who contract influenza or suffer a fever for more than a week may be more likely to give birth to a child who develops autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The study, which was a collaborative effort between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and colleagues at the University of Aarhus, Denmark, looked at data acquired from 96,736 Danish children from 1997 to 2003, Medical News Today reported. The mothers of the children were also asked about what illnesses they experienced during their pregnancy.

The research revealed that respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, genital infections, colds and sinus infections were not linked to increased rates of ASD, whereas mothers who caught influenza during their maternity had twice the risk of giving birth to a baby with the disorder. Fevers that lasted more than a week were also shown to increase the risk of giving birth to a baby with ASD by nearly threefold, according to Medical News Today.

The researchers said that mothers who have a fever or contract a flu should not be worried, and that 98 percent of pregnant women who did suffer from one of these ailments, which can be detected with a lab test, did not give birth to a child with ASD, according to the news source.

Autism facts... Full Story

Two studies analyze the cost of HPV vaccines in low-income countries
Date: 2012-11-14 00:00:00

Two new studies in Tanzania helped reveal the cost of providing human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines to developing countries and the most cost-effective method of delivering the vaccines to young women.... Full Story

Ebola virus may be airborne
Date: 2012-11-16 00:00:00

A recent study published in the journal Scientific Reports revealed that Ebola may be transmitted in the air. This was discovered after Canadian researchers found that monkeys were contracting the disease from pigs without coming into direct contact with them, reported BBC News.... Full Story

Embryo-preserving gene may help fight chronic diseases
Date: 2012-11-26 00:00:00

Researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Australia recently discovered that the presence of a gene known as Arih2, which usually functions to preserve embryos, may help combat autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis as well as blood-borne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C, Reuters reported.

"If the gene is on, it dampens ... the immune response. And if you switch it off, it greatly enhances immune responses," lead investigator Marc Pellegrini, M.B., B.S., B.Sc., told the news source via telephone. "It is probably one of the few genes and pathways that is very targetable and could lead to a drug very quickly."

While Arih2 was originally discovered in fruit flies by another group of scientists, Pellegrini and his colleagues took an interest in the gene because they believed it had implications for immune system functioning. According to Reuters, the researchers extracted the gene from adult mice and they found that its absence increased the activity of the animals' immune systems.

The vigilant immune systems in the mice were effective for six weeks, but eventually they attacked the animals' bodies. Pellegrini noted that further research on Arih2 may help produce an effective drug treatment that can combat a plethora of infectious and autoimmune diseases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, estimates that by the end of 2009, nearly 1,148,200 individuals were living with HIV, which can be diagnosed with a blood test, and that almost 50,000 people in the U.S. contract the virus annually. In that same year, the source notes that there were approximately 16,000 new hepatitis C infections reported in the United States, while nearly 3.2 million people are currently living with the ailment in the U.S.

... Full Story

New antibiotic is discovered by Galapagos
Date: 2012-11-26 00:00:00

The biotechnology company Galapagos recently discovered a new strand of antibiotics that may be effective in combating bacterial infections that were previously resistant to antibiotic treatments, Reuters reported.

The news source noted that the antibiotic works by impeding the growth of bacteria by targeting a specific enzyme. In the study, Galapagos tested the effectiveness of the antibiotic in a drug known as CAM-1. The medication eliminated 250 strains of bacteria that it was tested against.

Galapagos has entered the antibiotics in a clinic to test its effectiveness in treating methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a bacterial infection that is prominent in hospitals.

"Selection of a candidate antibiotic in our MRSA development program is an important step toward realizing the full potential of our unique anti-bacterial program," said Piet Wigerinck, M.D., Chief Scientific Officer of Galapagos, as quoted by the news source. "Our antibiotics have a novel mode of action which brings all tested MRSA strains to a complete halt. Combined with a diagnostic test, these compounds could bring a real solution to MRSA infections."

MRSA diagnosis and symptoms... Full Story

New mRNA influenza vaccine may be more effective in mass treatment
Date: 2012-11-27 00:00:00

New Scientist magazine reported that a new kind of influenza vaccine derived from mRNA was recently discovered that may provide quicker and more effective inoculations.... Full Story

Social media can help decrease rates of infectious diseases
Date: 2012-11-28 00:00:00

A recent study conducted by researchers at Kansas State University (KSU) found that social media sites can help stop the spread of infectious diseases like influenza by increasing the awareness of preventative measures like vaccines and hygiene, reported Medical News Today.... Full Story

Flu season off to a strong start
Date: 2012-12-04 00:00:00

Flu season is underway, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to Thomas Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., director of the CDC, nearly 2.2 percent of all hospital visits are currently attributed to flu-related symptoms, and in five states, those numbers have increased to 4 percent. This year marks the flu season's earliest arrival since the 2003-2004 season. The early onset of the flu, along with the H3N2 strain that's dominant this year, may indicate a "bad flu year," noted Frieden. Last time the H3N2 virus was the dominant strain, which was also during the 2003-2004 season, there were 153 flu-associated child deaths, reports the CDC.... Full Story

Standard dishwashing method does not eliminate stomach flu virus
Date: 2012-12-07 00:00:00

Recent researched published online by the journal PLoS ONE has found that although the standard methods of dishwashing can kill bacteria, they may not rid plates and silverware of the stomach flu, norovirus, which can be detected with a lab test.

"We know that when public food establishments follow the cleaning protocols, they do a very good job at getting rid of bacteria," said research author Melvin Pascall, associate professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology at Ohio State University. "Now we can see that the protocols are less effective at removing and killing viruses - and this may help explain why there are still so many illnesses caused by cross-contaminated food."

Funded by a grant from the Ohio State Center for Clinical and Translational Science, Pascall and his colleagues analyzed how well the norovirus stood up to the traditional hand-washing and mechanical washing procedures of restaurants. For the study, they introduced the stomach flu virus and the bacterial strains E. coli K-12 and L. innocua into reduced-fat milk and cream cheese, which was applied to tableware and silverware, like stainless steel utensils, ceramic plates and glassware.

The results showed that the mechanical dishwasher and the hand-washing method effectively reduced the levels of bacteria on the tableware, but both methods were ineffective in reducing the norovirus to safe levels.

Kurt Stevenson, M.D., professor of internal medicine and epidemiology in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center, who was not part of the study, noted that the stomach flu virus is easily spread among populations in which people are in close proximity to one another and that the virus can easily be transferred to food.

The study authors reported that the findings indicate that updated procedures are necessary for protecting the public from contracting the stomach flu.

... Full Story

Doctor gives five patients staph infection during surgery
Date: 2012-12-12 00:00:00

Five Cedars-Sinai Medical Center patients contracted staph infections during heart valve replacement surgery due to microscopic tears in the doctor's gloves, reported the Los Angeles Times.... Full Story

Immunity to viruses does not degrade over time
Date: 2012-12-17 00:00:00

A recent study published in the journal PLoS Pathogens found that the body's T cells, which are responsible for warding off diseases, do not become less effective as people age, which has been a common misconception.

"For a long time, it was thought the elderly were at a higher risk of infections because they lacked these immune cells, but that simply isn't the case," said study investigator Jonathan Bramson, Ph.D. "The elderly are certainly capable of developing immunity to viruses."

During the study, scientists from McMaster University, the University of Toronto and the University of Pennsylvania analyzed subjects of diverse age groups who had contracted three different viruses, one of which was West Nile. The researchers discovered that the T cells' ability to fight diseases and the number of T cells were equal in all age groups.

Bramson reported that the research's findings may affect vaccines that are manufactured for elderly patients. Currently, inoculations for older individuals do not utilize T cell responses, which may explain why present flu vaccines do not provide adequate protection for older patients.

Boosting immunity... Full Story

New research finds RNA strand helps hepatitis C virus survive
Date: 2012-12-18 00:00:00

Recent research conducted by University of North Carolina (UNC) scientists helped revealed the crucial role that an RNA strand known as miR-122 plays in helping the hepatitis C virus survive and spread.... Full Story

Stroke medication may help treat TB and ulcers
Date: 2012-12-21 00:00:00

According to recent research published in the The FASEB Journal, a compound known as ebselen which is usually found in medications prescribed to treat stroke, may help combat bacteria that causes ulcers and tuberculosis.... Full Story

Whooping cough incidence rates increase in UK
Date: 2012-12-26 00:00:00

Recent figures released by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) revealed that the rates of whooping cough in England and Wales remained high during November, according to Medical News Today. While the number of confirmed whooping cough cases decreased from 1,631 in October to 1,080 in November, the source noted that the total number of people who contracted the disease (8,819) is the highest it's ever been since the 1990s.... Full Story

Study discovers why Staphylococcus aureus gets up the nose
Date: 2012-12-31 00:00:00

A recent collaborative effort between the School of Biochemistry and Immunology and the Department of Microbiology at Trinity College Dublin has revealed a mechanism in the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus that allows it to enter the body via the nose. The study has significant implications for hospital health due to the pervasiveness of Staphylococcus aureus and other bacterial infections that are usually unaffected by antibiotics in healthcare facilities.

The researchers revealed that the bacterial protein clumping factor B (ClfB) binds to the skin protein loricrin, allowing it to enter through the nasal passageway. Using mouse models, they found that the subjects with less loricrin had less bacterial colonization than the mice with normal levels of the skin protein, and that strains of the bacteria that were devoid of ClfB were unable to colonize the nose.

"Loricrin is a major determinant of S. aureus nasal colonization," said study author Rachel McLoughlin, Ph.D., who is a lecturer at the School of Biochemistry and Immunology at Trinity College Dublin.

Staphylococcus aureus facts... Full Story

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