January 2008 Briefing - Infectious Disease

Here are what the editors at HealthDay consider to be the most important developments in Infectious Disease for January 2008. 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.

Intensive Care Outbreak Linked to Moisturizer

THURSDAY, Jan. 31 (HealthDay News) -- An outbreak of Burkholderia cepacia infection in a Spanish intensive care unit (ICU) was traced back to moisturizer kept in the unit's treatment carts, which was contaminated during the manufacturing process, according to a paper published Jan. 31 in Critical Care.

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Young Children Rapidly Excrete Vaccine Mercury

THURSDAY, Jan. 31 (HealthDay News) -- A recent prospective observational study of mercury concentration in blood, urine and stool of neonates and infants recently vaccinated with thimerosal-containing vaccines showed that ethyl mercury had a short half-life in these children and was primarily excreted rapidly in feces. This differs from oral methyl mercury from fish, which has a longer half-life in humans and toxicity at low concentrations, researchers report in the February issue of Pediatrics.

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Sublingual Flu Vaccinations Show Promise in Mice

TUESDAY, Jan. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Delivering influenza vaccines by the sublingual route may be effective and safe -- without redirecting viruses to the brain as can occur in the intranasal route -- according to the results of a study in mice reported online Jan. 28 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition.

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Young Children at Risk from Cough and Cold Medicines

TUESDAY, Jan. 29 (HealthDay News) -- More than 7,000 children under age 12 are rushed to U.S. emergency departments each year after ingesting cough and cold medicines, usually after doing so without parental supervision, and children aged 2 to 5 may be at special risk, according to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study published online Jan. 28 in Pediatrics.

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Pot Linked to Severe Liver Fibrosis in Hepatitis C Virus

MONDAY, Jan. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Daily marijuana use is associated with a higher likelihood of moderate to severe liver fibrosis in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, according to research published in the January issue of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

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CDC: Pregnant Women Need to Know Cytomegalovirus Risk

MONDAY, Jan. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Fewer than half of obstetricians and gynecologists counsel pregnant patients on the risk of congenital cytomegalovirus and on preventive measures they can take to minimize the chances of infection, according to a report published in the Jan. 25 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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CDC: Influenza Tests Widely Used in Primary Care Settings

MONDAY, Jan. 28 (HealthDay News) -- In a survey of primary care physicians on their use of influenza tests and antiviral drugs for patients presenting with flu-like illness, 69 percent reported using tests and 53.8 percent prescribed antiviral medication, researchers report in the Jan. 25 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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Urokinase Rinse Lowers Catheter Infection Risk

FRIDAY, Jan. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Rinsing central venous catheters with urokinase lowers the incidence of catheter-related infection with coagulase-negative staphylococci, researchers report in the Jan. 20 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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CDC: Salmonellosis Outbreak Linked to Pet Turtles

FRIDAY, Jan. 25 (HealthDay News) -- A multistate outbreak of Salmonella infections is primarily the result of exposure to small pet turtles purchased at pet stores, flea markets or over the Internet, according to a report published in the Jan. 25 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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Physicians Are Urged to Join Fight to Protect Environment

FRIDAY, Jan. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Damage to the environment caused by human activity poses huge risks to global health, and therefore health professionals have a responsibility to actively work toward correcting these problems, according to an analysis published in the Jan. 26 issue of BMJ.

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Condom Use an Imperfect Solution to Disease Control

FRIDAY, Jan. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Used consistently, condoms can play a key role in reducing the spread of sexually transmitted infections, according to a "Head to Head" article published in the Jan. 26 issue of BMJ, but the relentless rise of such diseases is testament to the failure of condom promotion, according to an opposing article presenting the argument for a less condom-focused approach to disease control.

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Researchers Link Protein to Amebic Erythrophagocytosis

THURSDAY, Jan. 24 (HealthDay News) -- A protein involved in the recognition and ingestion of dead erythrocytes, a hallmark of behavior by the protozoan parasite Entamoeba histolytica, has been identified, researchers report in the January issue of PLoS Pathogens.

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Virulence Factors of Ebola, Anthrax Elucidated

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Anthrax bacteria require production of their own nitric oxide (NO) to be virulent, one group of researchers has found, while another research group has generated a modified Ebola virus that can be safely handled outside a biosafety level-4 facility, according to two studies published online Jan. 22 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition.

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Electronic Reporting of Lyme Disease Burdens State System

TUESDAY, Jan. 22 (HealthDay News) -- The introduction of a statewide electronic reporting system for Lyme disease in New Jersey has overloaded the ability of local health departments to investigate the rise of electronically reported Lyme cases and has diverted attention away from other public health priorities, according to a report published Jan. 18 in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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Nasal Wash Benefits Children with Colds and Flu

TUESDAY, Jan. 22 (HealthDay News) -- In school-age children, the regular use of a saline nasal wash may help reduce cold and flu symptoms and may also help prevent future upper respiratory tract infections, researchers report in the January issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology -- Head & Neck Surgery.

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Mouse Model Useful for Showing HIV Prevention

MONDAY, Jan. 21 (HealthDay News) -- The female reproductive tract of a humanized mouse model has been shown to contain all populations of human cells necessary for HIV-1 infection, allowing researchers to demonstrate that antiretroviral prophylaxis can prevent vaginal transmission of the virus. The research was reported in the January issue of PLoS Medicine.

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Multidrug-Resistant MRSA Clone Found in Male Homosexuals

TUESDAY, Jan. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Infection with a multidrug-resistant clone of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is becoming an important source of disease among men who have sex with men in San Francisco and Boston, according to research published online Jan. 15 in advance of publication in the Feb. 19 print issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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FDA Approves Tysabri for Some Crohn's Disease Patients

TUESDAY, Jan. 15 (HealthDay News) -- The drug Tysabri (natalizumab), previously approved as a treatment for some forms of multiple sclerosis, received approval Jan. 14 from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for moderate-to-severe Crohn's disease patients whose inflammation has not responded to conventional therapy. But Tysabri is associated with so many side effects that the FDA is requiring patients who receive the drug to enroll in a restricted distribution program: Crohn's Disease -- Tysabri Outreach Unified Commitment to Health (CD-TOUCH) Prescribing Program.

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Inflammation Activates Adrenal Immune Cells

MONDAY, Jan. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Systemic inflammation appears to trigger profound local changes in adrenal gland immune cells. Changes include induction of inflammatory mediators as part of a complex signaling circuit, which is a process that may be involved in regulating stress hormone release, reports an article published online Jan. 3 in Endocrinology.

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Changes to Childhood Vaccination Schedule

MONDAY, Jan. 14 (HealthDay News) -- The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has published its annual update on recommendations for childhood immunization in the Jan. 11 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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Daily Stopping of Sedation in ICU Patients Promising

FRIDAY, Jan. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Among mechanically ventilated, critically ill patients, a daily period of interruption of sedation paired with a spontaneous breathing trial (SBT) leads to fewer days spent on the ventilator, shorter intensive care unit (ICU) and hospital stays, and reduced mortality compared to patients treated with daily SBTs alone, reports an article published in the Jan. 12 issue of The Lancet.

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Clinical Rule Predicts Severe Illness in Infants

FRIDAY, Jan. 11 (HealthDay News) -- A clinical algorithm consisting of seven signs and symptoms is useful for predicting severe illness in infants and could be used in developing countries to identify the infants who most need to be hospitalized, according to an article published in the Jan. 12 issue of The Lancet.

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Flu Shots Don't Cut Pulmonary Disease Exacerbations

FRIDAY, Jan. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Although a large percentage of people with α1-antitrypsin deficiency (AATD) were vaccinated against influenza during a recent flu season, it didn't reduce their exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a report published in the January issue of Chest.

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Cord Blood Infections Common in Very Preterm Births

THURSDAY, Jan. 10 (HealthDay News) -- In babies born between 23 and 32 weeks' gestation, umbilical cord blood infections with Ureaplasma urealyticum and Mycoplasma hominis bacteria are common, and are associated with placental inflammation and adverse newborn outcomes, according to a report published in the January issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

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Surgical Site Infection Risk Elevated in Certain Patients

THURSDAY, Jan. 10 (HealthDay News) -- In patients who undergo spinal surgery, the risk of surgical site infection is increased in those with diabetes or an elevated preoperative or postoperative serum glucose level, according to study findings published in the January issue of the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.

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No Benefit to Steroids in Septic Shock

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 9 (HealthDay News) -- New data challenges common practices in the treatment of septic shock: intensive insulin therapy does not improve outcomes compared to conventional insulin therapy, but increases the likelihood of severe hypoglycemic events, and treatment with hydrocortisone is no better than placebo, even among corticotropin non-responders, according to two articles published in the Jan. 10 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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New Meningococcal Vaccine Proves Effective for Infants

TUESDAY, Jan. 8 (HealthDay News) -- A new glycoconjugate vaccine against invasive meningococcal infections in infants has proved to be immunologically effective against serogroups A, C, W-135 and Y, researchers report in the Jan. 9/16 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Shorter Treatment Duration for Hepatitis C May Be OK

TUESDAY, Jan. 8 (HealthDay News) -- In the treatment of hepatitis C virus infection, a shorter duration of treatment with pegylated interferon (IFN) and ribavirin may be acceptable in patients who rapidly clear the virus, according to two articles published in Hepatology in January.

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No Link Between Mercury in Childhood Vaccines and Autism

MONDAY, Jan. 7 (HealthDay News) -- In California children, the prevalence of autism has continued to increase despite the removal of thimerosal from most vaccines, suggesting that mercury exposure is not a primary cause of autism, according to an article published in the January issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

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Oral Antibiotics Effective for Severe Pneumonia in Children

FRIDAY, Jan. 4 (HealthDay News) -- An outpatient regimen of high-dose oral amoxicillin is equivalent to hospitalization and treatment with parenteral antibiotics in a sample of Pakistani children with severe pneumonia, findings that could impact current World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines advocating hospitalization of children with severe pneumonia, according to an article published in the Jan. 5 issue of The Lancet.

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Suspected Viral Meningitis Warrants Hospital Referral

FRIDAY, Jan. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Because of the difficulty of reliably differentiating viral and bacterial meningitis clinically, suspected cases of viral meningitis should always be referred to hospital, according to an article published in the Jan. 5 issue of BMJ.

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Polymorphism Linked to Aneurysms in Kawasaki's

THURSDAY, Jan. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers identified a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) associated with Kawasaki disease susceptibility and outcome, a finding that highlights the importance of activated T cells in the disease process. The research was published in the January issue of Nature Genetics.

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Retroperitoneal Resistant Staph Infections Described

THURSDAY, Jan. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Retroperitoneal infections caused by community-associated, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) appear to have a favorable prognosis when diagnosed and treated in a timely fashion with antibiotics and appropriate drainage, according to an article published in the January issue of the Journal of Urology.

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Phagocytosis and Autophagy Cellular Pathways Linked

THURSDAY, Jan. 3 (HealthDay News) -- The cellular processes of phagocytosis, in which a macrophage engulfs extracellular organisms, and autophagy, in which a cell destroys intracellular organisms or unwanted cellular debris, appear to be linked, according to an article published in Nature in December.

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