Feb 26, 2009 | 1
Curing tuberculosis that's resistant to the most commonly used, first-line drugs is a growing problem, with an estimated half million people worldwide now infected with so-called MDR (multi-drug resistant) TB. Of those, an estimated 50,000 have extensively drug-resistant (XDR) strains that don't respond to more potent drugs, either. Now scientists say they've hit upon a potential breakthrough: an antibiotic previously dismissed as useless against TB killed 13 resistant strains of the bacteria in the lab when it was combined with another drug.
The finding, published today in Science, has yet to be tested in people, study co-author John Blanchard, a biochemistry professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, tells ScientificAmerican.com. But in a Petri dish, the meds, meropenem and clavulanate, destroyed and stopped the replication of the resistant TB bacteria, cultured from mucus samples from South Korean patients.
Feb 17, 2009 | 6
We've been hearing for some time now about the proliferation of drug-resistant staph infections caused by bacteria that are stronger than antibiotics. Today there's an indication that in at least one small portion of the universe, the infections are actually on the decline.
The rate of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bloodstream infections from central lines (intravenous catheters) in hospital intensive care units (ICUs) dropped by half between 1997 and 2007, according to research in tomorrow's Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). It’s unclear exactly how many Americans become sick with MRSA in ICUs every year, but an estimated 94,360 Americans contracted such infections in 2005, just over a quarter of them caught in the hospital, according to CDC research published two years ago in JAMA. MRSA is responsible for 5.6 percent of all central line-caused infections.
Jan 29, 2009 | 4
You wouldn’t think peanut butter could have such long-lasting, ill effects, but the company whose peanut products caused a nationwide outbreak of salmonella infections is now recalling everything it has manufactured at its contaminated Blakely, Ga., plant since January 1, 2007.
Peanut Corp. of America (PCA) announced the recall yesterday, after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released documents showing that PCA in 2007 and 2008 knowingly sold products that it had tested and knew were tainted. The embattled manufacturer earlier this month pulled peanut butter and peanut paste (used in baked goods and candies) made at its Blakely plant after July 1 of last year, but has now expanded the recall to dry and oil roasted peanuts, granulated peanuts and peanut meal made there after January 1, 2007. The lots begin with number 7, 8 or 9 and were distributed to institutions, food service industries, and food companies around the country and in Canada, Haiti, Korea and Trinidad.
Jan 23, 2009
Pres. Obama late yesterday named bioterrorism and infectious disease expert Richard Besser interim director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Besser, 49, a pediatrician and longtime CDC researcher, will fill the slot—at least temporarily—vacated by Julie Gerberding, who headed the agency for six years during the Bush administration.
Besser, most recently director of the CDC's Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response, is an expert on biological and chemical weapons, and on preparing for and responding to public health emergencies. He studied food-borne illness in the agency's Epidemic Intelligence Service and led a nationwide campaign to prevent overuse of antibiotics, which as been blamed for a rise in drug-resistant infections.
Jan 19, 2009 | 4
If doctors suspect a patient has been abused, they generally check for telltale signs, such as multiple injuries in various stages of healing. But new research suggests they may be missing an important clue: fractures around the eye or upper face.
A study published today in the Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery found that such injuries are more common in female victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) — defined as physical, sexual or emotional violence between partners or former partners — than among women who were assaulted during, say, a robbery, or hurt in a car accident, who are more likely to suffer broken jaws.
Jan 15, 2009
The deaths of two more people may be linked to a nationwide outbreak of salmonella that began in contaminated peanut butter.
Authorities in Idaho and Minnesota yesterday reported the deaths, bringing the total to five, according to the Associated Press. Two deaths in Virginia and another in Minnesota were confirmed Tuesday.
Though all five had salmonella when they died, their causes of death haven’t been determined. Some 434 people have been infected with Salmonella typhimurium since September, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Salmonella causes diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps and usually goes away in four to seven days. People with more severe cases are treated with antibiotics.
Jan 12, 2009 | 2
Two developments from the land of presidential transition: Julie Gerberding resigned as chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) after six-plus years in the post, and Frank Torti, principal deputy commissioner at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), becomes the agency's acting commish next week to pave the way for new Obama administration appointees.
Gerberding, 53, announced her resignation late Friday in an email to CDC staffers, according to the Associated Press. An internist, Gerberding became the first woman to head the CDC when she took the helm in July 2002. CDC chief operating officer William Gimson will take the reins as acting director after President-elect Barack Obama is sworn in next Tuesday.
The CDC investigates outbreaks of disease, the cause and prevalence of medical problems, and promotes healthy lifestyles.
Jan 9, 2009
Tamiflu, an antiviral used to treat the flu, doesn’t work against most of the virus circulating in the U.S. this season, federal officials say.
It's not a serious problem so far, because fewer than the usual number of people have caught the flu this year, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) authorities say. But 99 percent of cases this year are resistant to the drug, compared to 11 percent last year, The New York Times reports.
The resistance seems to stem from a spontaneous mutation in the virus, not the result of overuse of the drug, according to the Times. They've advised patients to use a Tamiflu rival, Relenza, or an older med called rimantadine, according to Bloomberg News.
Jan 8, 2009 | 3
Some 388 people have been sickened in a new, nationwide outbreak of the bacterial illness salmonella. The source of the infection, which is typically spread through consumption of contaminated food, is unknown.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating the outbreak, which has hit 42 states since September. Ohio has reported more than 50 cases of salmonella since October, the Associated Press reports.
This strain of the illness, Salmonella typhimurium, usually comes from poultry, cheese and eggs, and the CDC is advising people not to eat raw or undercooked meat or un-pasteurized dairy products, to scrub their hands after touching raw meat and to thoroughly wash any produce.
Dec 8, 2008
An experimental malaria vaccine for babies reduced the chances of developing the mosquito-borne illness by more than half, scientists are reporting today. The results, from two trials conducted in Kenya and Tanzania, are the most promising yet in the quest to develop effective immunization against the life-threatening parasite.
The findings on GlaxoSmithKline's RTS,S/AS01 showed a 53 percent lower risk of infection over eight months and were presented today at the annual American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene meeting in New Orleans. They build on results published last year that found that GSK's RTS,S/AS02 vaccine (the same shot formulated with a different adjuvant, or immune-enhancing additive) slashed the risk of a first-time malaria infection by 66 percent in infants who received the full three-dose course. A safety study on that vaccine published in today's online edition of the New England Journal of Medicine showed about the same efficacy — a 65 percent reduction in first-time infections for babies 12 months and younger.
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