News Scan for Jan 23, 2020

Zika surveillance in US
Pharma support for stewardship
Liverpool antibiotic resistance lab

CDC offers updated surveillance data on Zika birth defects in the US

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and its state partners today updated surveillance data on birth defects related to prenatal Zika virus infection and found that defects in 22 US jurisdictions reached a peak prevalence of 7.0 per 1,000 live births in February 2017. The findings are published in this week's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports (MMWR).

The data were collected among live births from Jan 1, 2016, and Jun 30, 2017, in parts of the United States with widespread local transmission of Zika, with limited local transmission, and with no transmission. Among 2,004,630 live births, 3,359 infants and fetuses with birth defects potentially related to Zika virus infection during pregnancy were identified (1.7 per 1,000 live births; 95% confidence interva, 1.6 to 1.7).

"The peak occurrence of birth defects potentially related to Zika virus infection in areas with widespread local transmission occurred in February 2017, 6 months after the reported peak of the Zika virus outbreak in these areas in August 2016," the authors said. In areas with little local transmission, the prevalence increased 20% during October through December 2016, although not significantly, the CDC said. No increase in defects was seen in areas without local transmission.

The study adds 18 months' worth of data to the CDC's surveillance of Zika-related birth defects, which originally showed that, in states and territories with documented local Zika virus transmission, the prevalence of birth defects potentially related to Zika virus infection during pregnancy increased 21% during the second half of 2016 compared with the first half.

"The previous report grouped widespread and limited local transmission areas together, reporting a 21% increase in prevalence for these areas combined," the authors concluded. "Stratification by local transmission levels provides support that the significant increase in prevalence is exclusive to widespread local Zika virus transmission areas."
Jan 24 MMWR study


Paper highlights pharmaceutical support for stewardship

A paper today in Clinical Infectious Diseases outlines the role that pharmaceutical companies can play in antibiotic stewardship.

The paper, authored by a representative of Merck & Co., argues that while pharmaceutical companies have a leading role in developing new antibiotics and vaccines to counter the threat of AMR, many companies are also actively supporting antibiotic stewardship efforts. It goes on to explain why pharmaceutical companies invest in stewardship.

First and foremost, they write, since stewardship is essential to improving patient outcomes and quality of care, companies in the infectious disease space have a social responsibility to support it. But they also note that pharmaceutical companies can benefit from stewardship in a number of ways. For example, improved surveillance and greater awareness of local and regional resistance patterns enables clinicians to recognize patients who might appropriate novel antibiotics. In turn, if those novel antibiotics produce better outcomes for patients, clinicians will advocate for them. In addition, reducing inappropriate antibiotic use could slow the development of resistance in currently available drugs and prolong their commercial lifespan. 

The paper goes on to point out ways in which large pharmaceutical companies are well-suited to promote judicious antibiotic use, and to highlight some of Merck's stewardship activities.

"As illustrated by this case study, the pharmaceutical industry is well-positioned to play a part in the global response—not only through drug and vaccine development, but also through taking tangible action to support responsible antimicrobial use."
Jan 23 Clin Infect Dis paper


New antimicrobial resistance research lab launched in Liverpool

The University of Liverpool and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine yesterday announced the launch of a new lab for antimicrobial resistance (AMR) research at The Centre of Excellence in Infectious Disease Research (CEIDR).

According to a CEIDR press release, the new National Institute for Health Research Antimicrobial Resistance Laboratories will provide state-of-the-art infrastructure for scientists to develop personalized antibiotic therapies to prevent and treat drug-resistant infections.

CEIDR says the lab's research goals will include developing new antibiotic molecules, vaccines, and other antibacterial products, personalizing their use, and ensuring they are used in a sustainable manner. Other planned projects include the creation of a city-wide surveillance and feedback system to promote optimal antibiotic use and detect AMR in Liverpool.

"With Liverpool's long and pioneering history in infectious diseases research, and its considerable strengths in enabling sciences and technologies, CEIDR is in a prime position to contribute to the national and international agenda in AMR," said Dame Sally Davies, the UK Special Envoy on Antimicrobial Resistance.
Jan 22 CEIDR press release

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