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Top 5 Contagion® News Articles for the Week of August 13, 2017


#3: A Global Catastrophic Biologic Risk By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet

Global catastrophic biological risks (GCBRs) have increasingly become an area of concern for policy and research, and yet, we struggle with a core definition. How can we address a distressing concept if we do not truly know what it is?

The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security took on this challenge and brought forth the collective minds of biodefense and biosecurity experts to formulate a working definition for GCBRs that would allow us to truly address the problem. A subset of global catastrophic risks, these are unique in that they are biological, which requires a particularly exceptional response.

The definition the Center for Health Security developed for GCBRs is, “Those events in which biological agents—whether naturally emerging or reemerging, deliberately created and released, or laboratory engineered and escaped—could lead to sudden, extraordinary, widespread disaster beyond the collective capability of national and international governments and the private sector to control. If unchecked, GCBRs would lead to great suffering, loss of life, and sustained damage to national governments, international relationships, economies, societal stability, or global security.”

Read more about Global Catastrophic Biological Risks, here.

#2: About Antibiotics: Complete the Course, or Stop When You Feel Better?

All medical professionals have likely dealt with the aftermath of the media’s picking up a provocative article or concept and popularizing it, often with an unintended change in the original message. Usually I cringe when I hear these, knowing that I will be facing questions about the mixed message that was sent. After all, how many times have we almost cured cancer? However, this time, I was happy to see a focus on the undetermined importance of fixed antibiotic durations, commonly presented under the guise of “maybe you can stop antibiotics when you feel better” or something similar.

This wave of consumer stories was stimulated by an interesting hybrid review/commentary written in the BMJ at the end of July 2017 by Llewelyn and colleagues.1 Titled “The Antibiotic Course Has Had Its Day,” the article challenged the notion that completing antibiotic courses after symptom resolution has any benefit. The authors were right to do so. The notion of fixed-duration antibiotic courses is not supported in the literature, something that can probably be discerned by the relationships between antibiotic durations and numbers of convenience. Even more intriguing is the lack of an evidence base for the most common reasons cited for the mantra to “take all your medicine even if you feel better.” Two common rationales for this exist.

Continue reading about whether or not you should complete the course of antibiotics, here.

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