News Scan for Dec 07, 2017

New Lyme tests
Guinea worm disease

New Lyme tests offer faster, more accurate diagnosis, experts say

A new analysis in Clinical Infectious Diseases suggests that new tests can be used to help diagnose Lyme disease, the most prevalent tick-borne illness in North America.

Each year, there are more than 300,000 cases of Lyme disease diagnoses in America. When the telltale "bullseye" rash isn't present, clinicians need to rely on lab tests. The most comon tests are those used to detect antibodies to the Lyme-causing Borrellia bacteria in the patient.

Unfortunately, most current tests—approved by the US Food and Drug Administration based on principles more than 20 years old—can result in higher rates of false-negatives and false-positives compared with newer tests, according to the analysis.

"New tests are more exact and are not as susceptible to the same false-positive or false-negative results associated with current tests," said Steven Schutzer, MD, of Rutgers University, in a university news release. This is because they can use as targets more specific parts of the bacteria.

A team of experts said newer diagnostic tests just developed and others in development may more accurately and quickly detect infection with Borrelia bacteria, which are transmitted by ticks. Early treatment with antibiotics leads to better patient outcomes, the authors said.
Dec 7 Clin Infect Dis analysis
Dec 7 Rutgers University press release
Dec 7 Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory news release


Cases of Guinea worm disease decline to 8 in first half of 2017

Although cases of Guinea worm disease (dracunculiasis) increased slightly worldwide in 2016, officials have reported only eight cases in the first half of this year in only one country, which is promising news for potential eradication of the disease, researchers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported today in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

The number of global cases rose from 22 in four nations in 2015 to 25 in three nations in 2016. But from January to June of this year only 8 cases were reported, all in Chad. That compares with 10 cases in three countries in the same period of 2016.

In addition, the number of infected domestic dogs more than doubled from 2015 to 2016—from 503 to 1,011—but then declined to 537 during January through June 2017, compared with 653 during the same period in 2016.

"The emergence of infected dogs in Chad especially, and program disruptions caused by civil unrest and insecurity in Mali and South Sudan, are now the greatest challenges to interrupting transmission," the investigators wrote. "Rigorous implementation (including recent interventions to prevent transmission to and from dogs) must be maintained in Chad to ensure continued progress during 2017 and beyond."
Dec 8 MMWR report

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