NEWS SCAN: Fighting antibiotic resistance, rotavirus vaccine's indirect benefits, Sudan yellow fever immunization

Jan 24, 2013

Experts call for new steps to battle antibiotic resistance
Three infectious disease experts writing in today's New England Journal of Medicine called for new approaches to infection control, antibiotic stewardship, and drug development to combat the growing problem of highly resistant bacteria. The three authors—Brad Spellberg, MD, of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and John G. Bartlett, MD, and David N. Gilbert, MD, both past presidents of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA)—underscored what the World Economic Forum recently called "arguably the greatest risk" to human health. "Antibiotic-resistant microbes infect more than 2 million Americans every year and kill more than 100,000 annually," said Spellberg in a UCLA news release. In their commentary the experts recommended stricter controls for prescribing antibiotics and changes in hospital practices, including greater disinfection and moving away from invasive drug-delivery systems like intravenous catheters. They also said regulatory approaches need to encourage antibiotic development, citing a proposal from the IDSA that would allow approval of new antibiotics based on smaller, less expensive clinical trials. In addition, they called for eliminating use of antibiotics to promote food-animal growth and exploring ways to treat infections without building resistance, such as immune-based therapies.
Jan 24 N Engl J Med commentary
Jan 24 UCLA news release

Rotavirus vaccine in children may help protect adults
Pediatric rotavirus vaccination may indirectly protect unvaccinated adults from the highly contagious disease, according to a study yesterday in Clinical Infectious Diseases. The study found that initiation of rotavirus vaccination in kids was associated with a decline of rotavirus in adult stool samples by almost half during the peak rotavirus season. The findings suggest that vaccinating kids against the virus may be more cost effective than previously thought, given rotavirus-related healthcare costs in adults, an accompanying IDSA press release said. Researchers tested stool samples from adults who had diarrhea that were submitted from February to May at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago from 2006 through 2010. Among 3,530 samples, the prevalence of rotavirus declined from 4.35% in 2006-07 (before the introduction of rotavirus vaccine in kids) to 2.24% in 2008-10, a relative decline of 48.4%. The authors conclude, "This observation strongly suggests that pediatric rotavirus vaccination protects adults from rotavirus," but they caution, "We are unable to prove that pediatric vaccination caused the decline in the adult rotavirus, but this is a limitation of any study of indirect protection."
Jan 23 Clin Infect Dis abstract
Jan 24 IDSA press release

Sudan launches third yellow fever vaccine campaign
Sudan's health ministry will launch a third round of immunizations on Jan 26 in the next phase of its battle against a yellow fever outbreak that has been sickening people in the Darfur region since November, according to a statement yesterday from the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean (EMRO). The agency said an appeal to the international community and donor countries resulted in more doses of the vaccine that recently arrived in Khartoum and will enable officials to vaccinate 2 million more people. The earlier two vaccination campaigns, funded mainly by the European Commission, the United Nations, and Sweden, reached more than 3 million people. The latest round is funded by the United Kingdom and the United States. The WHO said other governments and organizations also supported the campaigns financially and with staffing. So far the yellow fever outbreak has led to more than 840 illnesses and 171 deaths. The latest total reflects an increase of 108 cases and 7 deaths from the WHO's last case-count update on Dec 6. The outbreak has affected more than 35 of 64 localities in Darfur.
Jan 23 WHO EMRO statement

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