NEWS SCAN: Bacteria on docs' coats; foot-and-mouth outbreak; dengue, pneumococcal vaccine efforts

Feb 11, 2011

Study: Doctors' short sleeves equal long sleeves for collecting bacteria
Rolling up one's sleeves may help a person better prepare for hard work, but it does not appear to reduce contamination of clothing for physicians, according to a new study. University of Colorado researchers reported in the Journal of Hospital Medicine that they found that doctors wearing short-sleeved shirts for an 8-hour shift had statistically similar levels of drug-resistant and other bacteria on their clothing compared as did those wearing long-sleeved coats. They tested freshly laundered uniforms of 100 physicians at Denver Health, 50 wearing short-sleeved shirts and 50 wearing their usual white coats. At the end of the day samples were taken from the doctors' wrists, cuffs, and pockets, and researchers found no significant differences in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) or other bacteria colony counts between the uniform styles. They also found that freshly washed uniforms were nearly sterile prior to use but had collected nearly 50% of their total bacteria count after 3 hours. The results run counter to recent efforts by British agencies to discourage the wearing of long-sleeved coats by physicians in hopes of decreasing bacterial transmission, according to a press release on the study from Wiley-Blackwell, the journal's publisher.
Feb 10 J Hosp Med abstract
Feb 10 Wiley-Blackwell news release

North Korea reports foot-and-mouth disease, asks for help
North Korea has been hit hard with foot-and-mouth disease and has asked the United Nations (UN) for help, according to a report in South Korea's The Korea Herald today. The nation admitted yesterday for the first time that it has an outbreak, more than 40 days after the disease was reported in Pyongyang by other sources. The announcement is unusual for the communist North Korea, which rarely shares outbreak information outside its borders. The state's official news agency has reported that thousands of livestock, including cows and pigs, have died from the highly contagious disease despite quarantine efforts, and that the outbreak has spread to eight provinces. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization will dispatch three to five experts to Pyongyang to determine the scope of the outbreak, according to Radio Free Asia. South Korea has been battling foot-and-mouth disease since last November and has culled more than 3 million livestock.
Feb 11 Korea Herald report

Dengue Vaccine Initiative launched
The International Vaccine Institute (IVI) announced the launch of a new Dengue Vaccine Initiative (DVI) yesterday, supported by a $6.9 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. IVI is collaborating with the Sabin Vaccine Institute, Johns Hopkins University, and the World Health Organization (WHO) to foster vaccines to control dengue fever, which is becoming more widespread around the globe. The DVI "will accelerate the development and utilization of safe, affordable and broadly protective vaccines to combat dengue," according to a Sabin press release. "The global dengue community is on the eve of many important breakthroughs in dengue research and development," said Dr. John Clemens, director-general of IVI. The DVI will "undertake concentrated work" in two countries, Colombia and Thailand, according to the release, to gather data on disease burden, vaccine demand, cost of illness, and seroprevalence of dengue infection, It will also conduct private-demand and cost-of-illness studies in Brazil and Vietnam.

Kenya joins global pneumococcal vaccine initiative
In an effort initiated by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), Kenya will start vaccinating hundreds of infants Feb 14 against pneumococcal disease, according to a story from AllAfrica Global Media today. Kenya becomes the fifth country to roll out the campaign, after Nicaragua, Guyana, Sierra Leone, and Yemen. GAVI has garnered support to introduce such campaigns in 19 countries this year, with a goal of reaching 40 nations by 2015. The new pneumococcal vaccines used in these campaigns have been tailored for children in developing countries, in that they cover the pneumococcal serotypes most prevalent in these regions, according to a GAVI news release. GAVI and its partners, including the WHO, hope to avert about 700,000 pneumonia-related deaths by 2015 and up to 7 million deaths by 2030. Pneumococcal disease kills more than a million people each year, half of whom are children, according to the AllAfrica story.
Feb 11 AllAfrica story

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