Dec. 2005 Briefing - Infectious Disease

Here are what the editors at HealthDay consider to be the most important developments in infectious disease for December 2005. This roundup includes the latest research news from journal articles, as well as the FDA approvals and regulatory changes that are the most likely to affect clinical practice.

Pertussis Incidence Increasing Among U.S. Adolescents

THURSDAY, Dec. 29 (HealthDay News) -- The pertussis incidence doubled among U.S. children ages 10 to 19 between 2001 and 2003, highlighting the need for adolescents to receive booster vaccines combining pertussis antigens with tetanus and diphtheria toxoids (Tdap) as recommended in mid-2005 by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), according to a report in the Dec. 23 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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FDA Approves Tamiflu for Flu Prevention in Kids Under 12

THURSDAY, Dec. 29 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of Tamiflu (oseltamivir phosphate) for the prevention of influenza A and B in children between the ages of 1 and 12 years, who have been exposed to the flu. Tamiflu is already approved for the prevention and treatment of influenza in adolescents aged 13 and older and in adults, and for treatment in pediatric patients older than age 1.

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More STD Patients' Partners Treated in Nurse-Run Program

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 28 (HealthDay News) -- A nurse-run program to increase notification of sexual partners of patients with chlamydia can be as successful and cost-effective as referring patients to a specialized clinic, and can also be conducted in a primary-care setting, according to a report published Dec. 15 by the British Medical Journal.

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Web Site Boosts Parental Acceptance of MMR Vaccine

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 28 (HealthDay News) -- An online, evidence-based guide addressing concerns about the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine may encourage more parents to vaccinate their children, according to a study published Dec. 13 in the British Medical Journal.

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Coma Outcomes on Soap Operas Too Good to Be True

TUESDAY, Dec. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Coma patients in soap operas experience significantly rosier outcomes than their real-life counterparts, according to a study published in the Dec. 24 issue of the British Medical Journal.

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Childhood Diarrhea Prevalent in Industrialized Nations

TUESDAY, Dec. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Childhood diarrhea is still an important cause of morbidity in developed, industrialized countries where the risk factors include child-to-child transmission in daycare centers, foreign travel and lower socioeconomic status, according to a study in the January issue of Epidemiology.

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Mold Genomes Shed Light on Soy Sauce, Sake and Sickness

FRIDAY, Dec. 23 (HealthDay News) -- International teams of researchers announced the sequence of three Aspergillus genomes this week in the Dec. 22 issue of Nature, including Aspergillus oryzae, which is used in soy sauce and sake production; Aspergillus nidulans, the model laboratory mold; and Aspergillus fumigatus, the bane of physicians everywhere for causing allergies, asthma attacks, and death in immunocompromised patients. The sequence should help provide tools for the diagnosis and treatment of such infections.

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Variant Gene Increases Effect of Secondhand Smoke in Kids

THURSDAY, Dec. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Children with a genetic variant of the tumor necrosis factor gene TNF-308 are especially susceptible to secondhand smoke and have an increased risk of developing respiratory illnesses that keep them home from school, according to a study in the Dec. 15 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

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Genetic Variants Boost Risk of Severe Malaria in Children

THURSDAY, Dec. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Children with severe malaria are more likely to have certain genetic variants in an immune system-signaling molecule, according to a study published online Dec. 21 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition. The polymorphisms in the toll-like receptor (TLR) genes seem to increase the risk of developing severe disease.

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Number of West Nile Virus Cases Higher in U.S. in 2005

TUESDAY, Dec. 20 (HealthDay News) -- There were 2,744 cases of West Nile virus (WNV) reported in the United States in 2005, an increase from 2,359 cases in 2004, according to a report in the Dec. 16 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Overall, 42 states reported human cases of WNV, with California representing about a third of these.

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Hospital 'Handoffs' Common Source of Medical Errors

TUESDAY, Dec. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Poor communication during hospital "handoffs," when patient care transitions from one physician or team of physicians to the next, may be responsible for many of the estimated 44,000 to 98,000 deaths that occur each year in U.S. hospitals due to medical errors, according to a study published in the December issue of Academic Medicine.

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Respiratory Syncytial Virus Gets Early Start in 2005

TUESDAY, Dec. 20 (HealthDay News) -- The peak season for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) began mid-October in the southern United States this year, and health-care providers should consider RSV as a possible diagnosis and provide prophylaxis for high-risk populations, according to a report in the Dec. 16 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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CDC Finds Impaired Fecundity Increased in U.S. Women

MONDAY, Dec. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Increasing numbers of U.S. women are having difficulty getting pregnant, according to a 244-page report released Monday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report also finds that women's reproductive experiences, marital status and history of sexually transmitted infections vary significantly by socioeconomic status, ethnicity, race and age at first intercourse.

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Company Recalls NeutroSpec Imaging Agent After Deaths

MONDAY, Dec. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Acting at the request of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the makers of NeutroSpec (Technetium 99m Tc fanolesomab), an imaging agent approved to diagnose appendicitis, are voluntarily withdrawing the product from the market.

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Cholera Grows, Diversifies on Crustacean Shell Compound

MONDAY, Dec. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Vibrio cholera was previously thought to mutate and diversify only through conjugation or by naturally induced DNA mutations. Now a study in Science suggests that the bacteria can take up exogenous DNA through "natural competence" while growing on chitin, the carbohydrate that makes up the shell of crustaceans and is found in the natural habitat of cholera.

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Universal Pertussis Vaccine Urged for Adolescents

THURSDAY, Dec. 15 (HealthDay News) -- The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a new policy Wednesday recommending universal vaccination for pertussis at 11 to 12 years of age, and catch-up vaccinations of older adolescents.

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FDA Warns Supplement Makers Against Avian Flu Claims

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 14 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued warning letters Tuesday to nine supplement manufacturers marketing products that claim to have the potential to treat or prevent avian or other types of flu.

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Over 150 Flu-Related Deaths in U.S. Children in 2003-2004

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Although most influenza-related deaths occur among the elderly, an analysis suggests that over 150 children died from the flu in the United States during the 2003-2004 season, most of them younger than age 5. The results of the study are published in the Dec. 15 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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U.S. Hospitals Lag in Adopting Safety Recommendations

TUESDAY, Dec. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Despite some improvements in hospital patient safety systems, many hospitals have made slow progress in adopting 1998 recommendations from the Institute of Medicine National Roundtable on Health Care Quality or from subsequent reports, according to a study published in the Dec. 14 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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CDC Urges Doctors to Be Alert for Malarial Relapses

MONDAY, Dec. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Although malaria in the United States usually occurs in travelers who don't follow disease-prevention recommendations, it can reoccur in residents who haven't traveled in years, according to a case report published in the Dec. 9 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Week Report. The case involved a 23-year-old Nigerian immigrant who experienced a malaria relapse after four symptom-free years as a U.S. resident.

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B. cereus Outbreak Caused Scalp Infections in Cadets

MONDAY, Dec. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Primary cutaneous disease attributed to Bacillus cereus rarely occurs in immunocompetent persons or in nonhealth-care settings, but an outbreak of the disease occurred among healthy cadets enrolled in a Georgia military program, according to a report published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in their Dec. 9 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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FDA Warns Eyedrops Contaminated with Bacteria

THURSDAY, Dec. 8 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned consumers this week not to use Miracle II Neutralizer and Miracle II Neutralizer Gel products because they are bacterially contaminated and could cause severe infections.

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Malaria Resistance Stems from Uncontrolled Artemisinin Use

THURSDAY, Dec. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Artemisinin-resistant strains of malaria have been found in French Guiana and Senegal, where use of the drug is uncontrolled, according to a report in the Dec. 3 issue of The Lancet. The report indicates the need for increased vigilance and coordination in drug deployment.

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Genital Herpes Linked to Perinatal HIV Transmission

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Pregnant women infected with HIV may be more likely to vertically transmit the virus if they also have genital herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection, according to a study in the December issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

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Paneth Cell Deficiencies Found in Crohn's Disease of Ileum

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Reduced expression of Paneth cell (PC) alpha-defensins, such as HD5 and HD6, may compromise mucosal host defenses and cause Crohn's disease of the ileum, according to a study published online Dec. 5 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Diabetic Foot Wounds Respond to Two New Treatments

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Negative pressure wound therapy and once-a-day intravenous antibiotic therapy with ertapenem both show promise as new approaches in the healing of diabetic foot wounds. Two studies describing these approaches were published in the Nov. 12 issue of The Lancet.

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Hospital-at-Home Works for Some Patients

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Home hospitalization is feasible, safe and effective for some acutely ill, elderly patients, according to a study published in the Dec. 6 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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Few Adverse Side Effects Seen with Intranasal Flu Vaccine

TUESDAY, Dec. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Widespread use of live, attenuated intranasal flu vaccine has not caused unexpected serious risks when used as recommended in the first two flu seasons after licensure, according to a study in the Dec. 7 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Hospitalization for Pneumonia on the Rise Among Elderly

TUESDAY, Dec. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Hospitalizations for pneumonia increased by 20% between 1988 and 2002 in patients aged 64 to 85, and an increasing prevalence of comorbid conditions such as heart disease and diabetes may be the reason why, according to a report in the Dec. 7 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. One in 20 patients over age 85 is hospitalized for pneumonia every year.

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Wounds Heal More Slowly in the Unhappily Married

TUESDAY, Dec. 6 (HealthDay News) -- A hostile marriage can slow wound healing and increase blood levels of proinflammatory cytokines, according to a study published in the December issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

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Group B Streptococcal Disease Drops in Newborns

TUESDAY, Dec. 6 (HealthDay News) -- The rate of group B streptococcal (GBS) disease in newborn infants dropped by 31% between 2000-2001 and 2004 after universal screening was introduced, according to the Dec. 2 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Black infants remain at highest risk for both early-onset and late-onset GBS disease.

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West Nile Virus Screening Test Gains FDA Approval

MONDAY, Dec. 5 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it has approved the first West Nile virus (WNV) blood test. The Procleix WNV Assay, which was developed by Gen-Probe Inc. and is marketed by Chiron Corp., will be used to test donated blood, organs, cells and tissue for the virus. There have been 30 cases so far of WNV infection via blood transfusion, including nine cases that were fatal.

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Percentage Increase in U.K. Men Who Say They Pay for Sex

MONDAY, Dec. 5 (HealthDay News) -- The percentage of British men who say they've paid women for sex doubled between 1990 and 2000, according to a study published in the December issue of Sexually Transmitted Infections.

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Toxic Strain of Clostridium Difficile Linked to Death

FRIDAY, Dec. 2 (HealthDay News) -- A new, more toxic strain of Clostridium difficile may be causing severe diarrhea and other symptoms in relatively young patients, and is linked to the death of a pregnant woman, according to the Dec. 2 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Physicians should be alert to Clostridium difficile-associated disease (CDAD) in patients previously thought to be at low risk, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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New Guidelines Issued for Sinusitis Diagnosis

THURSDAY, Dec. 1 (HealthDay News) -- A joint task force of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology and the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology this week issued new recommendations for the treatment and management of sinusitis.

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Breakdown in Placental Barrier Boosts Infant HIV Risk

THURSDAY, Dec. 1 (HealthDay News) -- A breakdown in the placental barrier, or microtransfusions, appear to increase the risk of vertical transmission during vaginal deliveries, according to a study published in the January 2006 open-access medical journal PLoS Medicine.

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