NEWS SCAN: Possible 'herd immunity' in flu, H5N1 in gut tissue, call for new antibiotics

Mar 10, 2010

Study: Vaccinating children creates herd immunity for flu
Giving children a flu shot can help protect unvaccinated adults against influenza as well, according to a randomized trial of the vaccine in unvaccinated religious communities. Canadian and United States researchers write in the Journal of the American Medical Association that they created a randomized trial in 46 Hutterite religious communities in Canada during the 2008-09 flu season in which 947 children aged 3 to 15 were given either the seasonal flu shot or, as a control, the hepatitis A vaccine. Flu-vaccine coverage in the communities was 83%. Among communities where children and teens got the flu shot, the attack rate for flu was 3.1%; among the control communities, it was 7.6%. The researchers say those results offer experimental evidence to support previous observational and modeling predictions that the best control of influenza comes from vaccinating the young.
Mar 10 JAMA abstract

H5N1 avian flu virus reproduces in gut as well as lungs
The H5N1 avian influenza virus can replicate in the human gut as well as in the lungs, according to Chinese researchers writing in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. The researchers found viral antigen in samples of gut tissue from a patient known to have died from H5N1, and they also experimentally infected samples of human gut tissue with the virus in the laboratory. Unexpectedly, gut epithelium, like lung epithelium, turns out to contain specific areas where the sialic acid alpha-2,3 receptors to which avian flu viruses preferentially bind are expressed. The finding illuminates the gastrointestinal illness reported in some H5N1 victims, and also suggests that H5N1 may spread from person to person not only via the exhaled droplets that are the primary mode of transmission, but also via feces.
Mar 8 J Infect Dis abstract

IDSA calls for developing 10 new antibiotics by 2020
Asserting that the spread of drug-resistant infections "may change the practice of medicine as we know it," the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) has called for a global commitment to develop 10 new safe and effective antibiotics by 2020. There are few drugs in the pipeline that improve on existing ones and few on the horizon to fight the pathogens that cause most US hospital infections, the IDSA said in a policy statement published online yesterday by Clinical Infectious Diseases. Without new antibiotics, interventions now taken for granted, such as surgery, transplantation, and cancer treatment, could become impossible, the group warned. It announced the launch of a new "10 X '20" initiative in collaboration with eight other medical and pubic health organizations to spur the development of 10 new systemic antibacterials. Achieving this will also require the development of new diagnostic tests for multidrug-resistant infections, the IDSA said. It likened this effort to President John F. Kennedy's 1961 declaration of the goal of sending people to the moon within a decade. "We have a moral obligation to ensure, in perpetuity, that the treasure of antibiotics is never lost and that no infant, child, or adult dies unnecessarily of a bacterial infection caused by the lack of effective and safe antibiotic therapies," the statement said.
IDSA's "10 X '20" policy statement

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