International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases, March 16-19, 2008
The International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases took place March 16-19 in Atlanta. The conference attracted about 1,950 attendees, presented more than 400 posters and featured about 50 oral presentations covering subjects such as surveillance, epidemiology, research, communication and training, bioterrorism and prevention and control of emerging infectious diseases in the United States and around the world.
"The conference is very diverse and multi-disciplinary. The subject matter has a very broad appeal, and not only to practicing physicians and researchers," said program co-chair Nina Marano, D.V.M., M.P.H., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Global Migration and Quarantine. "We tried to strive for a theme of public and private foundations working together to address emerging infectious diseases."
Highlights included "Public Health Security in the 21st Century: Working Together Under the International Health Regulations," a keynote address delivered by David Heymann, M.D., assistant-director-general for health security and environment at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland. "He talked about how public health and the WHO have changed as a result of SARS," Marano said. "The new international health regulations -- which instituted a 24-hour reporting requirement -- give the WHO more teeth in insisting that countries be more forthcoming about outbreaks of infectious diseases that cross borders."
One of the most forward-looking presentations -- "Emerging Threats: Can We Predict and Prevent Them?" -- was delivered by Larry Brilliant, M.D., director of Google's philanthropic arm Google.org. "He asked the public health community to recognize the power of Google as a novel surveillance system that can detect emerging threats before they become local, regional or global crises," Marano said. "He suggested that we use the power of the Internet to check for an unusual number of hits on subjects such as 'childhood paralysis,' which could indicate an emerging outbreak of polio."
Other well-attended presentations included "The Global Threat of Avian Influenza: Can We Predict and Prevent an Influenza Pandemic?," which was delivered by Nancy Cox, Ph.D., director of CDC's Influenza Division; and "Climate Change: The Public Health Response," which was delivered by Howard Frumkin, M.D., director of the CDC's National Center for Environmental Health.
"Dr. Frumkin gave a moving talk on climate change in which he compared its effects on children to those of the atom-bomb scare of the 1950s," Marano said. "In both cases, these fears were expressed in children's drawings, which showed hopelessness about the future. We can't underestimate the mental effects of climate change on children. But he handled it in a positive manner, and said it's important to emphasize to children that people are working on solutions we hadn't thought of before."
From a clinical standpoint, one of the most important studies presented at the conference was a safety review of the human papillomavirus recombinant vaccine, which was led by Wan-Ting Huang, M.D., of the CDC's Immunization Safety Office. Huang and colleagues analyzed data on more than 30,000 pre-licensure doses and found that the rate of serious adverse events was comparable to placebo (0.9 percent versus 1 percent). They also analyzed data on more than 12.4 million post-licensure doses. They found that the rate of serious adverse events was 1.9 per 100,000 doses and identified a new serious adverse event: vasovagal syncope. They said the data "provides reassurance" about the vaccine's safety.
"Clinicians who are vaccinating young women can use these early indicators to reassure patients and parents that this seems to be a generally safe vaccine," Marano said.
ICEID: S. Aureus Pneumonia May Be Increasing Problem
THURSDAY, March 20 (HealthDay News) -- Community-acquired pneumonia caused by the Staphylococcus aureus bacterium has been estimated to account for 3 percent to 5 percent of all cases, but the actual figure may be significantly higher and may include infections caused by methicillin-resistant S. aureus strains, according to research presented at the 2008 International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in Atlanta.
ICEID: Eating Habits Vary Dramatically By Gender
THURSDAY, March 20 (HealthDay News) -- American men and women have strikingly different diets, and men are more likely than women to consume certain foods that carry a high risk of transmitting infectious disease, according to research presented at the 2008 International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in Atlanta.
ICEID: West Nile Virus Causes Long-Term Complications
WEDNESDAY, March 19 (HealthDay News) -- West Nile virus infection can cause long-term symptoms, especially in patients who present with encephalitis, according to research presented at the 2008 International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in Atlanta.
ICEID: Vaccine Reduces Pneumococcal Disease Rates
WEDNESDAY, March 19 (HealthDay News) -- Since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved seven-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7) for children under age 5 in 2000, rates of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) have significantly declined in all age groups while rates of IPD caused by non-vaccine strains have increased modestly, according to research presented at the 2008 International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in Atlanta.
ICEID: Leafy Greens Account for More Foodborne Illnesses
WEDNESDAY, March 19 (HealthDay News) -- Leafy greens account for an increasing proportion of foodborne disease outbreaks that is not entirely due to an increase in leafy green consumption, according to research presented at the 2008 International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in Atlanta.