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International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases, March 19-22, 2006

International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases

The International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases took place March 19-22 in Atlanta. About 1,700 participants from 75 countries attended the conference, which included new data on avian influenza, climate change, disease outbreaks in the U.S. military and zoonotic infections.

"The conference covered the gamut of avian influenza, not only documenting cases Southeast Asia and elsewhere, but also covering its epidemiology in poultry and migratory birds, looking at control mechanisms and evaluating its genetics," said J. Todd Weber, M.D., the meeting's co-chair and director of the Office of Antimicrobial Resistance at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. For example, Rebecca Garten, Ph.D., of the CDC, and colleagues presented genetic research showing an increase in the spectrum of avian influenza viruses with pandemic potential.

"We also had sessions on climatic and social forces, showing how changes in the weather and the environment and how unstable governments intersect with emerging infectious diseases," Weber said. M. Kate Thomas, MSc., of the Public Health Agency in Guelph, Canada, and colleagues presented research showing how warmer temperatures and extreme rainfall are contributing to water-borne outbreaks of Escherichia coli O157:H7, Campylobacter and Cryptosporidium. In another study, Joshua Michaud, a Ph.D. candidate of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C., and colleagues reported that they used game theory to create an epidemic model showing how emerging infectious diseases spread under conditions of no international cooperation versus full international cooperation.

"One session addressed emerging infections in the military, which has contemporary interest because of the situation in Iraq," Weber said. Dennis Faix, M.D., of NEPMU 5 in San Diego, and colleagues described how Q fever was responsible for an outbreak of febrile illness affecting over half the U.S. Marines in a single platoon in western Iraq. "Risk factors identified in this outbreak were tick bites and possibly exposure to camels and the births of sheep and dogs," the researchers conclude.

In addition, novel retroviruses have been identified in African bush-meat hunters. William Switzer, Ph.D., of the CDC, and colleagues presented research on 930 central Africans who had contact with non-human primate blood through hunting, butchering and keeping primate pets. The researchers identified two new human t-lymphotropic viruses (HTLVs) and demonstrated greater HTLV diversity than was previously recognized.

"Although avian influenza falls under the umbrella of zoonotic infections, a number of other such infections were discussed," Weber said. "It's a subject of intense interest and the sessions were well-attended."

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Staph Infections More Common in Hospitalized Diabetics

THURSDAY, March 23 (HealthDay News) -- Hospitalized diabetics are twice as likely to develop Staphylococcus aureus infections as other patients, according to research presented this week at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in Atlanta.

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Human Metapneumovirus Can Infect Turkeys

WEDNESDAY, March 22 (HealthDay News) -- Human metapneumovirus, which is genetically related to avian metapneumovirus, can cause infection in turkeys, according to research presented this week at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in Atlanta.

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Flu Viruses Becoming Resistant to Adamantanes

WEDNESDAY, March 22 (HealthDay News) -- Influenza A viruses worldwide are rapidly developing resistance to adamantane drugs, and in some countries up to 95 percent of isolates are resistant to the drugs, according to research presented this week at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in Atlanta.

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Salmonella Drug-Resistance Generally Declining

WEDNESDAY, March 22 (HealthDay News) -- Non-typhi Salmonella (NTS), a leading cause of bacterial foodborne illness, has become less resistant to antibiotic treatment over time, although there are exceptions, according to research presented this week at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in Atlanta.

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Methamphetamine Use Linked to MRSA Infections

WEDNESDAY, March 22 (HealthDay News) -- Methamphetamine users may be at increased risk of skin and soft tissue infections caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), according to research presented this week at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in Atlanta.

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2004-2005 Flu Shot Largely Ineffective in Wisconsin

WEDNESDAY, March 22 (HealthDay News) -- During Wisconsin's 2004-2005 influenza season, more than two-thirds of influenza-infected individuals identified in a vaccine effectiveness study had received flu vaccine, according to research presented this week at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in Atlanta. Researchers said the vaccine failure was probably caused by the circulation of a drifted viral variant.

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MRSA Strains Can Be Isolated from U.S. Pets

WEDNESDAY, March 22 (HealthDay News) -- Strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) that are found in hospital patients can also be isolated from pets, according to a Pennsylvania study presented this week at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in Atlanta.

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Horse Influenza Virus Widespread in Pet Dogs

TUESDAY, March 21 (HealthDay News) -- An equine influenza virus, H3N8, is widespread in the American pet dog population, and may have been spread by infected racing greyhounds in Florida, Texas and Iowa, according to research presented this week at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in Atlanta.

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Early Vaccination Increases Children's Pertussis Risk

TUESDAY, March 21 (HealthDay News) -- Children who receive their fifth dose of pertussis vaccine at age 4 instead of age 5 are more than twice as likely to later develop pertussis, according to research presented this week at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in Atlanta.

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In Petting Zoos, E. coli O157:H7 Can Contaminate Shoes

MONDAY, March 20 (HealthDay News) -- Petting zoo visitors may be at risk of Escherichia coli O157:H7 infection because of poor hygiene or from stepping in manure, according to two studies presented this week at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in Atlanta.

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Multiple Pathogens Found in Flu Patients in Thailand

MONDAY, March 20 (HealthDay News) -- Newly recognized pathogens and previously unrecognized ones have emerged among pneumonia patients in rural Thailand, according to research presented this week at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in Atlanta.

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