NEWS SCAN: Resistant gonorrhea, contaminated sink, Ebola and orangutans, Olympic disease surveillance, vaccine testing contract

Jul 20, 2012

ECDC sounds alarm about increase in drug-resistant gonnorhea
Cases of gonorrhea and syphilis are increasing in Europe as gonorrhea is becoming more resistant to antimicrobial drugs, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) warned yesterday in Eurosurveillance. In 2010, 32,000 cases of gonorrhea, 18,000 cases of syphilis, and more than 345,000 cases of chlamydia were reported across Europe, according to an editorial. Separate reports in the issue deal with increases in sexually transmitted diseases in Germany, England, and Sweden in 2011. The increases probably reflect a combination of increased testing and an increase in risky sexual behavior by men who have sex with men and by young adults, according to the editorial. It says that Neisseria gonorrhoeae has developed resistance to most of the antimicrobial drugs introduced over the years. Surveillance from 2009 and 2010 shows that resistance to cefixime is spreading across Europe, and resistance to ceftriaxone also appears to be increasing. "These results are extremely worrying as the loss of both cefixime and ceftriaxone as treatment options for gonorrhoea would have a significant impact on public health," the editorial states. The authors call for close monitoring of the rising rates of gonnorrhea and syphilis and targeting of public health interventions at the affected groups. The ECDC statement follows a World Health Organization (WHO) warning in June that urgent action is needed to prevent the spread of untreatable gonorrhea.
Jul 19 Eurosurveillance editorial
Jun 6 WHO statement

Study: Source of hospital Klebsiella infections was down the drain
Researchers from Toronto report that a sink was the pathogen reservoir for a persistent cluster of infections with an antimicrobial-resistant strain of Klebsiella oxytoca, a mainly healthcare-associated pathogen acquired from environmental surfaces. From October 2006 to March 2011, 66 patients in a Toronto hospital were infected with class A extended-spectrum beta-lactamase-producing K oxytoca with one of two DNA fingerprints, according to the researchers' report in Emerging Infectious Diseases. New cases continued to crop up despite reinforcement of infection control measures and other precautions. When the investigators cultured samples from a sink in the intensive care unit, they found K oxytoca strains that matched those in the patients. New cases stopped after the sink drain was modified, cleaning frequency was increased, and an antimicrobial stewardship program was launched. "Sinks should be considered potential reservoirs for clusters of infection caused by K oxytoca," the report states.
Jul 18 Emerg Infect Dis report

Wild Indonesian orangutans show evidence of Ebola, Marburg infections
In a study in Indonesia, almost one fifth of wild orangutans tested had antibodies to Ebola virus and a much smaller percentage had antibodies to Marburg virus, according to a report in PLoS One. Indonesian and Japanese researchers analyzed serum samples from 353 healthy Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) on Kalimantan Island, Indonesia, from December 2005 to December 2006. Using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay with recombinant viral surface glycoprotein antigens, they found seropositivity for Ebola virus in 18.4% (65/353) of the animals and seropositivity for Marbug virus in 1.7% (6/353). In addition, most Ebola-positive samples showed specificity to Zaire, Sudan, Cote d'Ivoire, or Bundibugyo viruses, all of which have been found so far only in Africa. "These results suggest the existence of multiple species of filoviruses or unknown filovirus-related viruses in Indonesia, some of which are serologically similar to African" Ebola viruses, the authors wrote. No confirmed human Ebola virus infections have been reported outside Africa, though the Ebola Reston strain has been found in monkeys imported to the United States and Italy from the Philippines, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Jul 18 PLoS One report
CDC information about Ebola

ECDC heightens surveillance for Olympics
Though infectious diseases aren't likely to pose major problems at the upcoming 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in London, the ECDC said yesterday that it, along with its partners, are enhancing surveillance for the events as part of ongoing communicable disease assessment. The group said in a statement that the biggest risk to visitors is likely to be food and waterborne diseases from improper food handling and poor hand hygiene practices. The ECDC added that it isn't aware of any major public health problems that occurred at the recent EURO 2012 soccer tournament in Poland and the Ukraine. For the upcoming Games, the ECDC said it has adapted media screening tools to quickly flag threats in the UK and in participating countries and is exploring the use of social media and blogs in monitoring disease developments. As part of joint activities with global health partners, the ECDC and the UK's Health Protection Agency will each have liaison officers to share risk assessments affecting those attending the Games as well as the wider EU community.  Member states will receive a daily bulletin of relevant public health events. The Olympic Games run from Jul 27 through Aug 12 and the Paralympic Games from Aug 29 through Sep 9.
Jul 19 ECDC statement

Battelle wins 10-year US contract to test infectious-disease countermeasures
Battelle Memorial Institute announced this week that it has won a 10-year federal contract worth up to $102.5 million to evaluate and test vaccines and other biologics for infectious diseases. The work will support the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in developing medical countermeasures, including those for emerging and biodefense pathogens, the institute said in a press release. The work will be conducted at Battelle's biosafety level 3 laboratories and new toxicology research facility in West Jefferson, Ohio. The contract provides for preclinical, nonclinical, and clinical testing as needed to obtain data that will contribute to decisions by the Food and Drug Administration about product safety and efficacy, the statement said. Battelle, based in Columbus, Ohio, describes itself as the world's largest nonprofit research and development organization.
Jul 18 Battelle press release

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