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Top 5 Contagion® News Articles for the Week of April 16, 2017

The Top 5 articles of this past week focused on old and emerging infectious diseases. The first article in our list provides information on a disease once thought to be completely eradicated across the world—smallpox—and how it may be poised to make an unwelcome comeback. Conversely, the article the tops our list explores a case of an infection with an emerging tick-borne disease—Powassan virus—and how we may be seeing more infections across the country. This week we also highlighted the growing concern over hospital / manufacturer partnerships to test new infection prevention products, as well as the increase in influenza B infections across the country and a newly discovered compound to fight the flu. Finally, our coverage of new research showing multidrug-resistant organisms in biofilms were found on disinfected dry hospital surfaces in four countries, rounds out our list. 

#5: Is Smallpox Poised to Make a Comeback? 

Smallpox, a deadly infectious disease previously deemed completely eradicated by the World Health Assembly may be on the edge of making a comeback, according to developments highlighted in several recent news reports.
The last person to acquire the virus was a 3-year-old girl in Bangladesh in 1975, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, according to recent news reports, the melting of frozen tundra in Siberia has, in fact, unearthed infected corpses of individuals who died from smallpox during earlier epidemics. The corpses were “covered with sores ‘that look like the marks left by smallpox’.” Researchers also found fragments of smallpox DNA.
In addition, a rare occurrence of smallpox has occurred at the Kakrapar Nuclear Power Plant in Western India. According to investigators, contaminated carbon dioxide used at the plant may have smallpox-like corrosion in leaky pipes inside the complex.
These naturally-occurring cases of smallpox are not the only possible cause of a resurrection of the disease, though. Read on to learn more about other potential causes of a smallpox comeback.

#4:  Keeping Infection Control Clean 

Hospitals and disinfection companies typically build alliances in order to test out new disinfection products, which allows both the hospital and the disinfection company to be on the “cutting edge of new infection prevention practices.” Oftentimes the partnerships are successful, and bring to light the successes (and failures) of the product. Sometimes, however, the ultimate goal of infection prevention gets lost in the midst of the alliance. One such case was highlighted in an article this week by Contagion® contributor, Saskia Popescu, MPH, MA, CIC.
The partnership between the company Sage and Rush University Medical Center (UMC) in Chicago recently came under scrutiny when positive results of Sage’s disinfectant chlorhexidine wipe led to an increase in the recommended use of the wipe as an alternative to sponge baths. In fact, a majority of hospitals now follow this recommendation. However, an increase in allergic reactions as a result of the use of these wipes has spurred the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take a closer look at chlorhexidine. The disinfectant “continues to raise concerns over adverse reactions, which are in turn drawing attention to other products and partnerships that may be biasing the infection prevention environment.” One such concern is over the fact that a Rush UMC infectious disease physician was the lead author on many of the Sage studies that touted their effectiveness and safety. “A new lawsuit and growing scrutiny of incentivizing practices between Sage and many of its hospital partnerships have increased attention on the potential for biased research.”
Read more about the growing case against the “off-label” use chlorhexidine wipes, here.

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