News Scan for Dec 09, 2015

CDC lab regulator out
Antimicrobial overuse
Global STI incidence

CDC replaces top lab regulator in wake of biosafety missteps

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has replaced its longtime head of national lab regulation after a series of key lab safety breaches involving bioterror pathogens like Bacillus anthracis—which causes anthrax—and H5N1 avian flu viruses, USA Today reported yesterday.

In a statement yesterday, the CDC declined to specify why it replaced Robbin Weyant, PhD, as director of the agency's Division of Select Agents and Toxins on Nov 9. The move happened 18 days after the CDC completed an internal review of the national lab regulation program that was launched after an extensive USA Today probe revealed multiple problems nationwide with lab safety and security and a program cloaked in secrecy, even after inspectors identified safety lapses.

Weyant headed lab regulation at the CDC since 2006 and now lists his position on LinkedIn as a senior advisor in the CDC's lab safety office, yesterday's story said. He declined to comment on the reason for his job change but told USA Today, "I'm extremely excited about the opportunity to contribute to CDC's new office dedicated to supporting laboratory safety."

In a statement, Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy, R-Pa., said, "We’ll be taking a close look at CDC's actions and are disappointed the agency did not consult with the Committee prior to its announcement. Strong and effective management of the select agent program is our top priority, and we want to know whether this signals deeper problems that CDC has not yet disclosed."
Dec 8 USA Today story


UK group lists steps to limit antimicrobial misuse in ag, environment

A UK expert group recommends several steps to reduce unnecessary use and waste of antimicrobials in agriculture and the environment, including setting a global target for use in food animals and minimum standards to reduce manufacturing waste released into the environment.

The group, called the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR-Review), was commissioned by UK Prime Minister David Cameron and outlined the problem and its recommended response in a 44-page report released yesterday. It published an initial paper detailing the crisis of drug-resistant pathogens and their impact on human health and the economy a year ago. AMR-Review followed that with a report in February on initial steps to take and one in May on how governments around the globe need to act to stimulate the development of new antibiotics.

In its new report, AMR-Review said antibiotic use in food production needs to be restricted to a global target per kilogram of livestock and fish. "We need to reduce global levels of antibiotic use in agriculture, to an agreed limit for each country, but it should be for individual countries to decide how best to achieve this goal." Antibiotics important for human use should be restricted or even banned for animal use, the report adds.

The group also advocates for the rapid development of minimal standards to reduce waste from antimicrobial manufacturing released into the environment. "The risk of drug resistance must urgently become a key environmental consideration for all pharmaceutical companies, healthcare buyers and regulatory agencies everywhere," the report authors write.

A third major recommendation is to improve surveillance to monitor antimicrobial-resistance and drug-overuse problems in agriculture and the environment. AMR-Review also lays out ways policies could be implemented, and it says countries could lower antimicrobial use in agriculture by focusing more on vaccines, rapid diagnostics, and public awareness.
Dec 8 AMR-Review report
AMR-Review home page


WHO: Globally, more than 1 million new STIs occur each day

Each day almost 1 million teens and adults through age 49 contract one of four common sexually transmitted infections (STIs), according to estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO) published yesterday in PLoS One, and the number tops 1 million when more STIs are included.

WHO experts based their estimates on prevalence data published in the literature from 2005 through 2012. They found that among girls and women 15 to 49 years old in 2012, the estimated prevalence of chlamydia was 4.2%, gonorrhea 0.8%, trichomoniasis 5.0%, and syphilis 0.5%. Among men, the percentages were 2.7%, 0.6%, 0.6%, and 0.48%, respectively.

These figures correspond to about 131 million new cases of chlamydia, 78 million of gonorrhea, 143 million of trichomoniasis, and 6 million of syphilis that year, or 358 million cases of those four diseases.

If the data were combined with previous estimates of herpes and human papillomavirus infections, the STI incidence tops 1 million cases a day in this age-group, the WHO said yesterday in a news release. A large proportion of the new STI cases occur in adolescents and young adults who may not know they are infected, which can harm their future sexual and reproductive health, the agency added.
Dec 8 PLoS One study
Dec 8 WHO news release

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