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Top 5 Contagion&reg News Articles Month of August 2017

Potentially defective personal protection equipment, patients’ involvement in hand hygiene, probiotics that work against C. difficile, what makes delafloxacin unique, and a new discovery against the herpes virus make up the Top 5 articles for the month of August 2017.

#5: CDC Quarantines Potentially Defective Equipment

A recent 60 Minutes report is drawing attention to potentially defective equipment stockpiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although this special first aired in 2016, it was re-run the week of August 8, 2017, which brought forth the question of, “what is being done?”

The special focused on personal protective equipment (PPE) that was being stockpiled by the CDC for use against future outbreaks or public health emergencies, such as treating an influx of Ebola patients during an outbreak. The 60 Minutes investigative team filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain documents regarding MicroCool gowns that are part of the US Strategic National Stockpile (SNS). The SNS, according to the CDC, is the “nation’s largest supply of potentially life-saving pharmaceuticals and medical supplies for use in a public health emergency severe enough to cause local supplies to run out.”

Learn more about the potentially defective equipment that was quarantined, here.

#4: Hand Hygiene in Hospitals Increases with Patient Involvement

Despite decreasing statistics, healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) continue to be a major source of infections in the United States. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that, “on any given day, about 1 in 25 hospital patients has at least one HAI.” Arguably, one of the best ways to prevent HAIs is through performing appropriate hand-hygiene; however, reports reveal that 70% of healthcare workers and 50% of surgical teams do not routinely practice hand hygiene. Now, researchers from the West Virginia University (WVU) School of Medicine may have come up with a way to help decrease those numbers by empowering patients to take an active role in their provider’s hand hygiene.

The new research, published in the American Journal of Infection Control, and led by Allison Lastinger, MD, of the WVU School of Medicine, details the results of a cross-sectional, anonymous, self-administered questionnaire that was administered to 114 parents of hospitalized children and 108 adult patients (from December 2015 to June 2016), as well as primary care physicians (29 residents and 60 attending physicians in November 2015) at the WVU Medicine J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital. The questionnaire surveyed the respondents on their feelings about a new patient empowerment tool, designed to enable patients to take an active role in encouraging healthcare provider hand hygiene.

Continue reading more about how to increase hand hygiene through patient involvement, here.

#3: Probiotic Proves Deadly Against Clostridium Difficile

In the fight against bacterial pathogens, researchers are finding new weapons in “good” bacteria, as a new study suggests that probiotics may be used to kill dangerous Clostridium difficile bacteria.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United States sees nearly 500,000 C. difficile infections each year. The “superbug” is one of the biggest drug-resistant threats plaguing the country’s healthcare system, killing an estimated 14,000 individuals each year and costing about $1 billion annually in medical expenses. C. difficile infections typically occur in individuals who have recently taken antibiotics to fight another infection, as the antibiotics kill off the beneficial bacteria in the gut and thus, make patients more susceptible to infection if they come into contact with contaminated surfaces. C. difficile spores can also be spread by healthcare workers’ hands. The pathogen leads to inflammation in the colon, and symptoms of an infection include watery diarrhea, fever, nausea, and loss of appetite; such infections are becoming increasingly drug-resistant and recurrent. In addition, more than 80% of deaths caused by C. difficile infections occur in adults who are 65 or older.

Read more about the probiotic that is active against C. difficile, here.

#2: What Makes Delafloxacin a Unique Antibiotic for Skin Infections?

Antibiotic resistance has become a major clinical challenge in both the hospital and community setting with multidrug resistant pathogens becoming more common. Skin and skin structure infections account for over 7 million cases annually in the community with almost 2% of cases admitted to hospital. Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus), both methicillin susceptible (MS) and resistant (MR), are the most causative species; however, Gram-negative species are emerging in certain patient types.

Almost all antibiotics are written empirically so choices should include agents with an appropriate spectrum. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved delafloxacin (BAXDELA) for acute bacterial skin and skin structure infections in adults.3 This new fluoroquinolone is available in both tablet, 450 mg, and intravenous, 300 mg, formulations and can be dosed for 5-14 days twice daily.

Learn more about delafloxacin, here.

#1: Herpes Study Yields Surprising Discovery: A Potential Broad-Spectrum Antiviral

A large proportion of the world’s population is infected with herpes simplex virus (HSV), and because most individuals do not present with symptoms, they often are not aware of their status. Primary infection and reactivation of the virus can have negative health implications, ranging from cold sores to mild genital lesions to severe ocular that can result in loss of vision entirely, and therefore, a treatment for the virus is imperative.

Researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health may have found a solution in a new target for treatments against the virus. They conducted a study that offers insight into how a particular cellular enzyme complex regulates HSV. Their findings were surprising—by inhibiting the cellular enzyme complex in question, EZH2/1, they were able to suppress the infection. Furthermore, the researchers showed that the EZH2/1 inhibitors “also enhanced the cellular antiviral response in cultured cells in mice,” according to the official press release.

Study authors write that once an individual is infected with HSV, the virus “establishes lifelong latency in sensory neurons.” However, latent genomes can be reactivated and cause recurrent disease. Many of the pharmaceuticals on the market designed to fight against HSV “target the viral DNA polymerase” to stop “late-stage viral replication.”

Continue reading about the herpes discovery, here.