NEWS SCAN: UK antibiotic-resistance warning, C difficile survey, more fungal infections, H5N1 in India, polio in Pakistan

Mar 11, 2013

England's top doctor puts antibiotic-resistance on risk list
Dame Sally Davies, England's chief medical officer, today added antibiotic resistance to the country's risk register, a move designed to bring the issue more attention and action by the country's politicians as well as global health groups, the UK Health Protection Agency (HPA) said today in a statement. Davies made the announcement during the launch of a report on infections and the rise of antimicrobial resistance. Data from the HPA's antimicrobial resistance reference laboratory detected only 3 samples positive for antibiotic resistance in 2003, compared with 800 in 2012, according to the statement. The report highlights the shrinking pool of antibiotics that can be used to treat resistant pathogens and encourages medical professionals and societies to protect them, as well as support the development of new ones, according to a Department of Health (DH) statement. The report details 17 recommendations, including placing the problem on the risk register and using better healthcare hygiene. Dr Anthony Kessel, HPA medical director, said in the statement, "We must change our attitude about antibiotics."
Mar 11 HPA statement
Mar 11 Department of Health press release
Mar 11 UK report on infections and antimicrobial resistance

APIC survey shows slow progress in battle with C difficile
Hospitals have stepped up their efforts to prevent Clostridium difficile infections in the past 3 years, but the efforts have not yielded a great deal of progress so far, according to a survey by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC). The "Pace of Progress" survey, completed by 1,087 APIC members, indicates that 70% of infection preventionists have taken new steps to stop the resistant intestinal pathogen since March 2010, according to an APIC press release. Forty-two percent of respondents said they have seen a decline in C difficile infections over the years, while 43% have not. The survey also showed that only 21% of facilities have added more infection prevention staff to address the problem. The poll exposed an inconsistency between cleaning efforts and monitoring, APIC reported. Ninety-two percent of respondents have increased their emphasis on environmental cleaning and equipment decontamination, but 64% said they rely on observation rather than more reliable monitoring technologies to assess cleaning effectiveness. Fourteen percent said that nothing was being done to monitor room cleaning. The findings were presented today at APIC's Clostridium Difficile Education and Consensus Conference in Baltimore. The group said 14,000 Americans die of C difficile infections each year.
Mar 11 APIC press release
Full survey results

Steroid-linked fungal outbreak reaches 722 cases, 50 deaths
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today reported two more fungal infections and one more death in a widespread outbreak tied to fungus-contaminated injectable steroid drugs, raising the case count to 722 and the death toll to 50. Today's update says 240 of the cases were meningitis only, 138 involved meningitis with spinal or paraspinal infections, 7 involved stroke without lumbar puncture, 304 were paraspoinal or spinal infection only, 32 were peripheral joint infections only, and 2 were paraspinal or spinal infections with peripheral joint infections. The outbreak, which surfaced last fall, has been linked to three recalled lots of methylprednisolone acetate produced by New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass.
Mar 11 CDC outbreak update

H5N1 strikes poultry farm in India
Highly pathogenic H5N1 avian flu has struck a poultry farm in Bihar state, India, killing 338 birds, according to a report to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). The report says 4,000 birds are susceptible but does not say whether culling of the remaining birds is planned to stop disease spread. Officials are investigating the source of the virus, adding, "An intensive surveillance campaign has been launched in [a] 10 km radius zone." The premises will be disinfected. Bihar state is near India's borders with Nepal and Bangladesh. The country's last H5N1 outbreak was in October 2012.
Mar 9 OIE report

Polio vaccination prompts militant actions against Pakistani parents
Militants in Pakistan's tribal areas are threatening the parents who have their children vaccinated against polio, according to media reports. On Mar 7 militants surrounded an area of Khyber agency after polio vaccinators left and tied up and beat the parents who had their children vaccinated, according to a Mar 9 report in the Express Tribune, a newspaper based in Karachi. The group's commander tied up 20 people and demanded money for their release, and those who were freed were told to boycott further campaigns, according to the report. Meanwhile, a polio vaccine campaign is scheduled to launch in Pakistan's tribal areas on Mar 23, according to a report today in The News International, also based in Karachi, which cited Geo News. The goal of the 3-day campaign is to immunize 700,000 children. However, 200,000 youngsters in the South and North Waziristan regions won't be vaccinated, due to security concerns.
Mar 9 Tribune story
Mar 11 News International story
In other developments, the Japanese government has extended its grant by $2.62 million for polio vaccination in Pakistan, The Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) reported today. Most of the money will cover 13 million doses of oral polio vaccine. The money is administered through the United Nation's Children Fund (UNICEF).
Mar 11 APP story

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