NEWS SCAN: Carriage of drug-resistant bacteria, court upholds almond safety measure, staph toxin vaccine

Feb 27, 2013

Study reports drug-resistant-bacteria carriage for more than 1 year
Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) remained in patients' bodies more than a year after hospital discharge, according to a study published in the American Journal of Infection Control. Israeli researchers analyzed follow-up cultures from the rectal swabs of 97 CRE-positive patients who had been discharged from a Jerusalem hospital in 2009 and 2010. The mean time for cultures to come back negative was 387 days (95% confidence interval, 312-463). At 3 months, 78% of patients remained culture positive. This number dropped to 65% at 6 months, 51% at 9 months, and 39% at 1 year. Those whose cultures remained positive could transmit CRE to others, according to a news release today from the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), which publishes the journal. The authors note that those with multiple hospitalizations and those with clinical disease were more likely to carry CRE longer. They recommend that such patients "be admitted under conditions of isolation and cohorting until proven to be CRE-negative."
March Am J Infect Dis abstract
Feb 27 APIC news release

Appeals court upholds Salmonella treatment for almonds
A US appeals court on Feb 22 ruled that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has the authority to require that California-grown almonds be treated to reduce Salmonella contamination, the Associated Press (AP) reported. The final version of the order went into effect in September 2007 after outbreaks in 2001 and 2004 sickened US and Canadian patients. The mitigation measures came from the Almond Board of California, which in 2006 recommended a mandatory treatment program that produces at least a 4-log reduction in Salmonella contamination prior to shipment, according to previous reports. However, a group of almond growers has argued that the USDA overstepped its bounds and that the chemical and heat treatments confuse consumers who want to buy unprocessed almonds. The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld a lower-court decision and said that the growers waived their claims by not raising them during rulemaking.
Feb 22 US Court of Appeals decision
Mar 30, 2007, Federal Register notice

Firm starts trial of vaccine against staph toxin listed as bioterror agent
A Maryland firm announced yesterday the launch of a phase 1 clinical trial of a vaccine to counter staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB), a potential bioterrorism agent. Integrated BioTherapeutics (IBT), based in Gaithersburg, Md., aims to enroll 28 volunteers to test the safety and immunogenicity of the vaccine, called STEBVax, which contains an attenuated form of SEB. The trial is sponsored by the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and is being conducted at the University of Maryland. SEB is one of several toxins that are released by Staphylococcus aureus and are listed as common causes of food poisoning. The company described the toxin as a "superantigen," because it can trigger an intense inflammatory response leading to toxic shock. SEB is listed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a Category B biological agent, meaning it is moderately easy to disseminate and can cause moderate morbidity and low mortality. "SEB is a biowarfare threat to the US, and the superantigens can be critical factors affecting the outcome of Staphylococcus aureus infections," said IBT President M. Javad Aman in a press release. He said the trial marks "the first time a vaccine for such a potent toxin is being tested in humans."
Feb 26 IBT press release

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