NEWS SCAN: 2009 H1N1 in seals, dialysis infections, dengue travel warning, global TB deaths

May 15, 2013

2009 H1N1 found in California elephant seals
US researchers have detected the 2009 H1N1 (pH1N1) virus in wild elephant seals off the central California coast, the first such detection in a marine mammal, according to a study in PLoS One today. From 2009 through 2011, scientists from the University of California, Davis (UCD) tested nasal swabs from more than 900 marine mammals of 10 different species off the Pacific Coast from Alaska to California. They detected the pH1N1 virus in 2 of 42 adult female northern elephant seals tested, neither of which appeared ill. They also detected antibodies to the virus (hemagglutination inhibition titer of 1:40 or greater) in 28 juveniles of 167 tested in 2010, indicating more widespread exposure. The seals all tested negative on land in early 2010 before they went out to sea, but when they returned from the sea in spring 2010, they tested positive. "We thought we might find influenza viruses, which have been found before in marine mammals, but we did not expect to find pandemic H1N1," lead author Tracey Goldstein, PhD, with the UCD Health Institute and Wildlife Health Center, said in a UCD press release.
May 15 PLoS One report
May 15 UCD news release


Study: CDC guidelines reduced bloodstream infections in dialysis patients
A study in 17 outpatient dialysis centers showed that the use of prevention guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reduced overall bloodstream infections (BSIs) in dialysis patients by about a third and slashed BSIs related to vascular access by more than half. The study was published in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases. In a statement, the CDC said about 80% of dialysis patients need a central line placed in a neck or chest vein, which poses a risk of bloodstream infections. Because of a growing rate of hospitalizations for bloodstream infections in dialysis patients, in 2009 the CDC launched a prevention project. Dialysis centers that participated in the study adopted interventions that included chlorhexidine for catheter exit-site care, staff training and competency assessments on catheter care, hand hygiene and vascular access care audits, and reporting of infection and adherence rates to staff. The researchers examined up to 12 months of infection data predating the interventions and up to 15 months of infection data (January 2010 through march 2011) during the interventions. The mean overall BSI and access-related BSI rates were 1.09 and 0.73 events per 100 patient-months in the pre-intervention period and 0.89 and 0.42 events per 100 patient-months during the intervention period, respectively. The authors concluded that "modeled rates" decreased 32% for overall BSIs (P = 0.01) and 54% for access-related BSIs (P < 0.001).
May 13 CDC statement
May 13 Am J Kidney Dis study

Jump in dengue cases prompts UK travel warning
Spurred by a tripling of dengue infections in returning travelers, British officials today warned people planning trips abroad to follow steps to avoid mosquito bites at all times, according to a statement from Public Health England (PHE). As of late April, 141 confirmed and probable dengue infections have been reported in travelers returning to England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, compared with 51 during the same period last year. Travel to Thailand was linked to 37 of the cases, followed by Sri Lanka (13), Barbados (11), Brazil (9), and Jamaica (6). Imported dengue in those who traveled to Thailand has increased steadily since 2011, PHE said. Dr. Jane Jones, a PHE travel medicine expert, said in the statement that the increase is concerning and urged anyone getting sick within 2 weeks of travel to Southeast Asia, the Far East, the Indian subcontinent, or the Caribbean to seek medical care. Dr Dipti Patel, joint director of the National Travel Health Network and Centre, said in the statement that prevention steps include avoiding mosquito bites, particularly at dusk and dawn, using appropriate repellents, and wearing protective clothing.
May 15 PHE statement

WHO: TB deaths have dropped 40% since 1990
Health in the world's poorest nations has improved dramatically since 1990, as have gaps between countries with the best and worst health status, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today in a progress report on efforts to meet Millennium Development Goals. One example is that tuberculosis (TB) deaths have decreased by more than 40% in that period. In a news release today on its World Health Statistics 2013 report, the WHO said the gap has narrowed between the top and bottom countries, from 62 TB deaths per 100,000 population in 1990 to 41 in 2011. Progress, however, has not been even, with just a 34% reduction in nations with the highest TB death rates compared with 70% in those with the lowest rates. But the WHO said TB deaths could drop 50% by 2015 if trends continue. The agency also said that the gap between nations with the highest and lowest rates of new HIV infections has narrowed from 360 to 261 cases per 100,000 population since 1990. It also emphasized that many low- and middle-income nations often continue to lack good access to medicine.
May 15 WHO news release

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