Archive for the ‘Infectious disease’ Category

“We’re embarrassed”: US is close to losing measles-elimination status

August 28th, 2019
“We’re embarrassed”: US is close to losing measles-elimination status

(credit: Paramount/CBS)

There’s a “reasonable chance” that the US will soon lose its status as a country that has eliminated measles. That’s according to Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The World Health Organization considers a disease eliminated from a country or region if it has gone at least 12 months without continuous spread of said disease. (This is different from disease eradication, which is when a disease is completely stamped out globally. Humans have only managed to eradicate two diseases: smallpox and rinderpest, which infects cattle and other ruminants.)

The US triumphantly declared measles eliminated in 2000—after spending decades tenaciously working to promote widespread vaccination. (The CDC had originally hoped to have it eliminated by 1982.) And in 2016, the WHO declared measles eliminated from the Americas altogether. WHO’s Regional Office for the Americas (PAHO) celebrated the news with announcements titled, in part, “Bye, bye measles!”

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Posted in anti-vaccine, CDC, disease, Infectious disease, measles, outbreaks, science, vaccine, WHO | Comments (0)

Two Ebola drugs boost survival rates, according to early trial data

August 13th, 2019
BUTEMBO, CONGO - JULY 27: A healthcare member inoculates a man for Ebola suspicion to take precautions against the disease in Butembo, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Enlarge / BUTEMBO, CONGO - JULY 27: A healthcare member inoculates a man for Ebola suspicion to take precautions against the disease in Butembo, Democratic Republic of the Congo. (credit: Getty | Anadolu Agency)

For the first time, preliminary clinical-trial results suggest that two experimental Ebola drugs can lower the death toll of the deadly virus, health officials announced Monday.

Two other experimental drugs used in the trial were less effective and will be abandoned.

The data comes from the PALM trial, which is short for the Swahili phrase Pamoja Tulinde Maisha, meaning Together Save Lives. The trial began in late 2018 amid the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is still ongoing and is now the second-largest outbreak on record. Ebola responders in the DRC aimed to enroll 725 patients, but they only used data from 499 for the preliminary analysis of the results.

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Posted in antibody, antiviral, clinical trial, ebola, Infectious disease, NIH, outbreak, science, WHO | Comments (0)

Got a horrifying foreign superbug? You may have more than one

August 1st, 2019
Stylized photograph of a woman in a hospital bed.

Enlarge (credit: Getty | BSIP)

The sad tale of a US resident who fell ill while traveling abroad has prompted an ominous warning from health experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—that is, that the most horrifying, highly drug-resistant infections known to health experts tend to travel in packs.

The patient who prompted the warning was traveling in Kenya in the late summer of 2018 when a cerebral hemorrhage struck. The brain bleed landed the traveler in a hospital there for a month, during which time doctors performed a variety of procedures. Those included placing a feeding tube and inserting a breathing tube into the neck. The patient encountered several complications during the treatments, including sepsis, pneumonia, and a urinary tract infection, requiring courses of potent antibiotic and anti-fungal medications.

In September, the severely ill patient was medically evacuated to an acute-care hospital in Maryland. There, doctors found that the patient had become infected with several of the most dreaded multi-drug-resistant bacteria. These include oxacillinase-48-like-producing carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae and the New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase-producing carbapenem-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Both germs are notoriously difficult to treat and can be deadly.

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Posted in anti fungal, antibiotics, bacteria, candida auris, drug resistant infection, fungus, Infectious disease, multi-drug resistance, outbreak, pathogenic fungus, Staff, superbug | Comments (0)

WHO declares Ebola outbreak an international emergency

July 17th, 2019
Health workers communicate information about Ebola at an Ebola screening station on the road between Butembo and Goma on July 16, 2019, in Goma, DRC.

Enlarge / Health workers communicate information about Ebola at an Ebola screening station on the road between Butembo and Goma on July 16, 2019, in Goma, DRC. (credit: Getty | John Wessels)

The World Health Organization on Wednesday declared the nearly year-long Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

The declaration could boost funding and support for outbreak-response efforts, which have been hampered by violence and community distrust in the affected areas. Since January, officials have reported 198 attacks on health responders, which left seven dead and 58 healthcare workers and patients injured.

“It is time for the world to take notice and redouble our efforts. We need to work together in solidarity with the DRC to end this outbreak and build a better health system,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said today in a statement. “Extraordinary work has been done for almost a year under the most difficult circumstances. We all owe it to these responders—coming from not just WHO but also government, partners, and communities—to shoulder more of the burden.”

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Posted in ebola, Infectious disease, outbreak, public health, science, WHO | Comments (0)

Measles is killing more people in the DRC than Ebola—and faster

July 15th, 2019
A man receives a vaccine against Ebola from a nurse outside the Afia Himbi Health Center on July 15, 2019 in Goma.

Enlarge / A man receives a vaccine against Ebola from a nurse outside the Afia Himbi Health Center on July 15, 2019 in Goma. (credit: Getty | PAMELA TULIZO )

As the world anxiously monitors the outbreak of Ebola in Democratic Republic of the Congo, health officials note that a measles outbreak declared last month in the country has killed more people—mostly children—and faster.

Since January 2019, officials have recorded over 100,000 measles cases in the DRC, mostly in children, and nearly 2,000 have died. The figures surpass those of the latest Ebola outbreak in the country, which has tallied not quite 2,500 cases and 1,665 deaths since August 2018. The totals were noted by World Health Organization Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in a speech today, July 15, at the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland.

"Frankly, I am embarrassed to talk only about Ebola," Dr. Tedros said (he goes by his first name). He gave the speech in response to two new developments in the Ebola outbreak. That is that two Ebola responders were murdered in their home in the DRC city of Beni, and that officials on Sunday had identified the first case of Ebola in Goma, a DRC city of over one million at the border with Rwanda.

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Posted in democratic republic of Congo, ebola, Ebola Outbreak, global health, Infectious disease, measles, measles outbreak, outbreak, public health, science, virus, WHO | Comments (0)

Savage tick-clone armies are sucking cows to death; experts fear for humans

July 11th, 2019
Scary arachnid is fat.

Enlarge / Engorged Haemaphysalis longicornis female tick. (credit: Commonsource)

Ravenous swarms of cloned ticks have killed a fifth cow in North Carolina by exsanguination—that is, by draining it of blood—the state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services warned this week.

Experts fear that the bloodthirsty throngs, which were first noticed in the United States in 2017, will continue their rampage, siphoning life out of animals and eventually transmitting diseases, potentially deadly ones, to humans.

Just last month, infectious disease researchers in New York reported the first case of the tick species biting a human in the US. The finding was “unsurprising” given the tick’s ferocious nature, according to Dr. Bobbi S. Pritt, director of the Clinical Parasitology Laboratory in Mayo Clinic. And it’s “extremely worrisome for several reasons,” she wrote in a commentary for the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

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Posted in Asian longhorned tick, cattle, cow, Haemaphysalis longicornis, Infectious disease, Invasive species, parasites, public health, science, ticks, vector-borne diseases | Comments (0)

Mysterious illness that paralyzes healthy kids prompts plea from CDC

July 10th, 2019
13-year-old boy recovering in a Denver hospital from a suspected case of human enterovirus 68 during a 2014 outbreak.

Enlarge / 13-year-old boy recovering in a Denver hospital from a suspected case of human enterovirus 68 during a 2014 outbreak. (credit: Getty | Cyrus McCrimmon)

After a record number of cases in 2018 of a rare, puzzling illness that causes paralysis in otherwise healthy kids, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are urging doctors to hasten reporting and boost data collection before the next big wave of illness hits—which is expected in 2020.

The illness is called acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, and is marked by the sudden onset of limb weakness (usually upper limb), paralysis, and spinal lesions seen on MRI scans. It most often occurs in children. It’s unclear what causes it and why instances are increasing—though officials suspect that a relative of poliovirus is involved. There is no specific treatment, and doctors can’t predict how affected patients will fare; some regain muscle strength and recover full use of paralyzed limbs over time, some don’t. In rare cases, AFM can cause respiratory failure and death.

AFM first gained attention in 2014, when health officials noted a spike in the polio-like condition nationwide and began carefully documenting cases. Since then, health officials have seen a distinct every-other-year pattern to the illness.

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Posted in acute flaccid myelitis, AFM, CDC, enterovirus, immune responses, Infectious disease, motor neurons, MRI, muscle weakness, neurological condition, paralysis, polio, science, west nile | Comments (0)

Antivaxxers turn to homeschooling to avoid protecting their kids’ health

July 8th, 2019
Stylized photograph of a boy writing at a desk.

Enlarge / A boy at school. (credit: Getty | Florian Gaertner )

Anti-vaccine advocates in New York are encouraging parents to homeschool their children rather than protect them from serious diseases, according to a recent report in The Wall Street Journal.

The move by New York anti-vaccine groups comes just weeks after state lawmakers eliminated exemptions that allowed parents to opt their children out of standard school vaccination requirements on the basis of religious beliefs. Very few religions actually have objections to vaccinations, and the ones that do tend to have relatively few followers. But many parents who reject vaccines based on falsehoods and misinformation about their safety have claimed religious objections as a way to dodge immunization requirements.

As cases of measles in the United States have exploded in recent years—largely due to a small but loud band of anti-vaccine advocates misinforming parents—states are now cracking down on non-medical exemptions. New York, which has faced a massive and prolonged outbreak since last September, is the fifth state to eliminate religious exemptions. It joins California, Maine, Mississippi, and West Virginia. Overall, lawmakers in 26 states have recently introduced bills aimed at tightening rules on who can receive exemptions, according to The Hill.

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Posted in anti-vaccine, CDC, exemptions, Infectious disease, measles, measles outbreak, new york, outbreak, public health, science, vaccination | Comments (0)

Anti-vax teen that fought ban amid chickenpox outbreak loses in court—again

July 1st, 2019

Judges in Kentucky have handed down another legal defeat to the unvaccinated teenager who sued his local health department for banning him from school and extracurricular activities amid a chickenpox outbreak earlier this year.

The Kentucky Court of Appeals on Friday quietly sided with the health department, saying that it was acting well within its powers to protect public health. The appeals court quoted an earlier ruling by the US Supreme Court saying that “Of paramount necessity, a community has the right to protect itself against an epidemic of disease which threatens the safety of its members.”

The Northern Kentucky Health Department declared the latest court decision a “resounding victory for public health in Kentucky,” in a statement.

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Posted in anti vacine, chickenpox, Infectious disease, public health, science, vaccine | Comments (0)

Hard-to-kill poop parasites that lurk in swimming pools on the rise, CDC warns

July 1st, 2019
What's going on in that swim diaper?

Enlarge / What's going on in that swim diaper? (credit: Getty | BSIP)

Whatever you do this summer, don’t drink the pool water.

Outbreaks of the gastrointestinal parasite cryptosporidium have been spurting upward since 2009, with the number of outbreaks gushing up an average of 13% each year, according to researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The germ spreads via the fecal-oral route and causes explosive, watery diarrhea that can last for up to three weeks. Most victims pick up the infection from recreational waters, such as swimming pools and water parks.

The main trouble is that crypto is extremely tolerant of chlorine and can happily stay afloat in well-treated pools for more than seven days. Thus, sick swimmers are the main source of infection—often young children who have yet to master toilet skills and also have more of a tendency to gulp pool water. An infected person can shed 100 million parasite eggs in one bout of diarrhea. Knocking back just 10 or fewer eggs in contaminated pool water can lead to an infection.

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Posted in CDC, crypto, Infectious disease, parasite, parasitic infection, public health, science | Comments (0)