News Scan for Aug 09, 2022

News brief

Study: Bat SAR-CoV spillovers infect about 66,000 each year in virus hot spots

In the first known estimate of the SARS-CoV spillover risk from bats to people, researchers who studied bat populations in South East Asia and interactions with humans estimate that about 66,280 people a year are infected each year. The team, based at EcoHealth Alliance, published their findings today in Nature Communications. The group also included two scientists from China's Wuhan Institute of Virology.

To make their prediction model, they examined data on 26 bat species with known SARS-CoV sequences and mapped out their habitats, which cover most of Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Nepal, Bhutan, peninsular Malaysia, southeast China, and western Indonesia.

The team focused on regions with high bat SARS-CoV host richness and human population overlap. South China is still a hot spot, but other regions stood out due to large human populations, including Java island in Indonesia, northern India, and some parts of Myanmar. Then they based their human infection estimate on serologic evidence of prior exposure, behavioral risk, and antibody duration.

Though the spillovers appear to be common, most cases aren't identified clinically or through surveillance, the team wrote, adding that many diverse viral strains may not be able to replicate well in people, cause illness, or transmit well enough to trigger an outbreak.

The maps and estimates can be used to target field studies and look for clusters of cases involving new coronaviruses, they wrote.

In a press release from EcoHealth Alliance, Peter Daszak, PhD, its president and study team lead, said the report identified where the next SARS-like virus could originate, and the EcoHealth's teams are already working with partners in the hot spots to find evidence of outbreaks. "This is how we can prevent the next pandemic," he said.

Linfa Wang, PhD, a study coauthor who directs the emerging infectious diseases program at Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore, said with serology tools to identify who is infected, "we are working to ground-truth the paper's conclusions about rates of spillover."
Aug 9 Nat Commun abstract
Aug 9 EcoHealth Alliance
press release


Survey: ID doctors view antimicrobial stewardship programs positively

A survey of US pediatric infectious disease (ID) physicians found highly favorable opinions of antimicrobial stewardship programs (ASP), both among ASP and non-ASP doctors, researchers reported yesterday in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

Overall, 176 of 359 (49%) pediatric ID physicians surveyed responded. Among the respondents, 94% of ASP physicians and 81% of non-ASP physicians agreed that the ASP at their institution had improved appropriate antibiotic prescribing in the previous 2 years, while 91% of ASP physicians and 84% of non-ASP physicians disagreed with the statement that the ASP had been too focused on reducing antibiotic costs, compromising patient care, with a larger proportion of ASPs strongly disagreeing.

Most physicians in both groups were not concerned that ASPs make recommendations without seeing patients and were either neutral or not concerned about the impact on prescriber autonomy, unintended consequences of guidance, decreases in prescriber efficiency, or delays in antibiotic initiation.

The study authors note that since the response rate was less than 50%, the findings may not be representative of all US pediatric ID physicians. They add that studies to better characterize ASP practices, evaluate patient outcomes, and improve ASP collaborations with ID physicians are needed.
Aug 8 Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol abstract


CWD confirmed at quarantined deer farm in Minnesota's Winona County

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been found another Minnesota white-tailed deer farm, this time in Winona County in a herd that was already under quarantine as part of the response to a positive detection at another farm, the Minnesota Board of Animal Health (MBAH) said in a recent statement.

The positive sample is from a 4-year-old doe. The farm has been under quarantine since October 2020, after CWD was found in a Houston County deer from the Winona County farm. The investigation expanded when deer on a farm from Beltrami County were found to be infected in late winter 2021. Winona and Houston counties are in southeastern Minnesota, and Beltrami County is in the northwestern region. The infected herds in Houston and Beltrami counties were depopulated.

CWD had been found earlier at another Winona County deer farm, prompting a special hunt that turned up CWD for the first time in wild deer. The farm where CWD was newly confirmed has been double fenced since 2015.

Linda Glaser, DVM, MBAH's interim executive director, said officials are working with the producer and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) on a depopulation and testing plan.

CWD is a fatal prion disease spread between cervids such as deer and elk through contaminated environments, antler velvet, and body fluids and tissues. Though the disease isn't known to infect humans, some experts fear it could cause a disease similar to bovine spongiform encephalopathy ("mad cow disease"). Health officials warn against eating meat from infected animals.
Aug 5 MBAH news release

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