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January 360: Trending Infectious Disease News of the Month

JAN 31, 2020 | CONTAGION® EDITORIAL STAFF
As an eventful January comes to an end, we’re looking back at important infectious disease news from the past month.

The outbreak of a novel coronavirus originating in China has made headlines across the world. The outbreak initially started in Wuhan, a city in the central province of Hubei. Now, travel-related cases have been reported both in neighboring Asian nations and western countries including France and the United States.

Early in the outbreak, Contagion® contributor Saskia v. Popescu, PhD, outlined some of the challenges China would face going forward. Contagion® also reported on the clinical characteristics of the first novel coronavirus cases as information has come out of China.

Contagion® has also stayed on top of the latest developments in the ongoing 2019-20 flu season, providing information on the predominant seasonal strain and tracking national case counts.

Looking ahead to the new decade, the World Health Organization released a list of urgent health challenges that require urgent attention, and we detailed the place of infectious diseases among the challenges identified.

According to the WHO, infectious diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis, hepatitis, and malaria will lead to an estimated 4 million deaths in 2020.

News out of the infectious disease pipeline included the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of fidamoxicin (Dificid) for pediatric Clostridioides difficile infections.   

The FDA also approved micafungin for injection use in pediatric patients. The product inhibits an enzyme essential for fungal cell wall synthesis and is fungicidal for Candida.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices also released new recommendations for Tdap and Td vaccines. New recommendations allow either Tdap or Td to be used in some situations, increasing flexibility for providers.

Contagion® released Episode 5 of our podcast, Contagion Connect, “Ebola: Past, Present, Future.” The podcast features interviews with John Johnson, project lead for Ebola vaccination with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)France, and Jason Kindrachuk, a professor of virology at the University of Manitoba.

The podcast features comparison of the West African and ongoing Democratic Republic of the Congo Ebola outbreaks, as well as a look at the future for those who survive the disease.

Finally, Contagion® launched a new campaign to promote good practices in antimicrobial stewardship called #StewardTip. Our first #StewardTip featured Conan MacDougall, PharmD, MAS, BCPS, BCIDP. Other contributors include Madeline King, PharmD, and Ryan Stevens, PharmD, BCIDP.

Twice a week we’ll feature expert advice on the myths and realities of antibiotic use, so be sure to follow us on social media and bookmark the #StewardTip homepage.

As always, check out the Contagion® Outbreak Monitor to learn more about infectious diseases outbreaks in your area and around the world.

Let’s take a look at the top 5 web articles from the month of January:

#5 CDC Confirms First US Case of Wuhan Coronavirus
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has officially confirmed the first case of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) or Wuhan coronavirus in the United States. 

CDC and Washington state officials said in a telebriefing that the patient is a male US resident who arrived at Seattle-Tacoma airport on January 15, 2020. The patient did not have a fever at the time of arrival, and the flight was not a direct flight from Wuhan.

Additionally, the patient did not go to implicated animal markets in Wuhan, nor did he report close contact with an ill individual. 

Read the full article.

 #4 Clinical Characteristics of the First 2019-nCoV Cases in Wuhan, China

Cases of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which originated in China, have now spread to Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Singapore, and the United States. Over 557 cases of the novel virus have been confirmed as of January 23, 2020.

On January 24, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed a second case of 2019-nCoV in a female patient in Chicago. The patient visited Wuhan and returned to Chicago on January 13 but was not ill while traveling. Two cases of 2019-nCoV were also confirmed in France, according to reports by the Associated Press. 

A team of investigators from Wuhan, China, have also released an article detailing the clinical characteristics of the first 41 patients infected with 2019-nCoV. Their article, featuring information on epidemiology, laboratory, and radiology elements of the initial cases confirmed in Wuhan was published in The Lancet.

Read the full article.

#3 Influenza B/Victoria Strain Predominating 2019-20 US Flu Season Thus Far

For the first time since the 1992-93 influenza season, influenza B viruses are the predominant circulating flu virus in the United States. Typically, influenza B viruses circulate near the end of the flu season. In fact. in the previous 3 flu seasons B/Victoria viruses accounted for <10% of influenza isolates.

This year appears to be quite the contrast. Between September 29 through December 28, 2019, influenza B viruses accounted for 59.2% of influenza-positive results reported nationwide. Of these isolates, 97.9% belonged to the B/Victoria lineage.

Read the full article.

#2 Early 2020 Flu Season Statistics and Other Influenza News

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that for the first week of 2020, influenza virus remains high, but indicators for severity—such as hospitalizations and deaths—are not high at this point in the flu season, which can run into the springtime.

The CDC also said that visits to health care providers for influenza-like illness decreased from 7.0% during the holiday week (between Christmas and New Year’s) to 5.8% the first week of January. That number is considered below the “epidemic” threshold. However, all regions remain above their baselines, and there are 46 states plus Puerto Rico that report “widespread” flu activity.
 
Read the full article.

#1 CDC Reports 13 Million Flu Cases Thus Far in 2019-20 Season

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released data from the second week of the 2020 influenza season. The FluView report, which includes data for the week ending January 11, 2020, indicates that influenza activity remains high, but severity is not considered high at this point in the season.

At this point in the season, CDC estimates indicate that there have been 13 million influenza illnesses, 120,000 hospitalizations, and 6600 flu-related deaths.

The CDC notes that the number of respiratory specimens that tested positive for the flu at clinical laboratories decreased over the past week from 23.6% to 22.9%. Visits to clinicians for influenza-like illness also decreased from 5.7% last week to 4.7% this week; however, activity for all US regions remain above baseline. In fact, 34 jurisdictions are experiencing high influenza-like illness activity.

Read the full article.
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