Top Infectious Disease News of the Week—April 1, 2018

In case you missed them, we've compiled the top five infectious disease articles from this past week.

#5: Aggressive Containment Combats Spread of Nightmare Bacteria

In a telebrief presented on April 3, 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discussed how its coordinated efforts with health departments at the local and state levels are protecting individuals by stopping the spread of new and unusual types of antibiotic resistance throughout the United States.

CDC has implemented the nationwide Antibiotic Resistance Laboratory Network (ARLN) to facilitate prompt analysis of bacterial samples forwarded by local and state health departments. And, in a Vital Signs report released on April 3, CDC details how the network identified microbes with new or unusual antibiotic resistance genes in the United States in the first nine months of 2017.

Read more about Nightmare Bacteria.

#4: First Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine Recommended by WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced today that they are recommending a typhoid conjugate vaccine (TCV), Typbar-TCV, for use in infants and children >6 months old in those countries where the infection is endemic. Typhoid affects nearly 12 million individuals and is responsible for about 128,000 to 161,000 deaths each year, according to the WHO.

These recommendations come on the heels of a review of the vaccine by the WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization in October 2017. According to a statement released by the Typhoid Vaccine Acceleration Consortium, "The group considered data on vaccine safety, efficacy, feasibility, and affordability, as well as the growing rates of drug-resistant typhoid. Based on these discussions, SAGE recommended TCVs for children over the age of 6 months. These recommendations were accepted and reported in the WHO updated position paper on typhoid vaccines in the Weekly Epidemiological Report published on March 30, 2018."

Read more about the typhoid conjugate vaccine, Typbar-TCV.

#3: Solving the Problem of Antimicrobial Resistance: The UN Can’t Do It Alone

Despite the growing threat of antibiotic resistance worldwide, the global consumption of antibiotics continues to increase at an alarming rate. In fact, it is estimated that the number of defined daily doses of antibiotics was 35 billion in 2015, a 65% jump since 2000.

Although the World Health Organization (WHO) has stressed that the world is running out of effective, available antibiotics, and many meetings and action plans have been put into place on a local and national scale, resistance seems to be outpacing development. Which begs the question: what more can be done in the war against resistance?

In a recent webinar, Ramanan Laxminarayan, PhD, founder and director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics, & Policy (CDDEP), and senior research scholar and lecturer at the Princeton Environmental Institute at Princeton University, stressed that although the United Nations (UN) has acknowledged the severity of the situation by drafting up a plan to address the issue, action and accountability are needed in order to turn things around.

Read more about what needs to be done in order to make a difference in the fight against antimicrobial resistance.

#2: Influenza B Causes Another Spike in Flu Hospitalizations for March

The proportion of individuals visiting their doctor for influenza-like illness (ILI) has continued to drop closer to national baseline levels, according to the newest flu activity summary from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In week 12 ending March 24, 2018, ILI fell from 2.8% the previous week to 2.5%; however, it remains above the 2.2% national baseline. ILI hit its peak of 7.5% this flu season during week 6. The number of states reporting widespread flu activity fell in week 12 to Puerto Rico and 16 states, while Influenza B viruses continued to have a late-season predominance, making up more than 57% of flu-positive tests.

State health officials around the country are warning the public that despite the overall drop in flu activity, influenza B is causing a “second wave” of flu illnesses for the 2017-2018 flu season. In Washington State, the Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) is reminding area residents that the flu season isn’t over yet.

Read more about influenza B in the United States.

#1: Salmonella Outbreaks Relentlessly Beat Down on the United States

Salmonella has consistently made headlines the past few months as several outbreaks continue to beat down on the United States. The bacteria are responsible for about 1.2 million infections in the United States on an annual basis; food is often the source for the majority of cases.

Currently, there are 3 big multistate Salmonella outbreaks that health officials around the country are persistently working to quell:

  • Salmonella I 4,[5],12:b:(50), Javiana, Okatie,Thompson outbreak linked to kratom
  • Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak linked to chicken salad
  • Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak linked to dried coconut

The outbreak linked to kratom, an opioid substitute, has consistently been in the news. At time of publication, 132 individuals have been infected across 38 states; 38 of these individuals have required hospitalization. To date, no associated deaths have been reported.

Kratom has been a concern for health officials for some time and on November 2017 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a public health advisory warning consumers not to use the product. On March 10, 2018, PDX Aromatics, a small family-owned local business based in Portland, Oregon, issued a voluntary recall, and later, expanded the recall for some of their kratom-containing products.

Read more about the ongoing Salmonella outbreaks hitting the United States.