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Top Infectious Disease News of the Week—February 25, 2018

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

#5: Researchers Identify Source of Inflammation and Tissue Damage in Chlamydia Infections

Harvard Medical School researchers have discovered critical information about inflammation that causes complications in chlamydia infections. The study, conducted in mice, pinpointed the cells responsible for this inflammation. Additionally, the investigators concluded that 2 separate immune pathways are key players in the way in which the body deals with chlamydia: one pathway clears the bacteria, while another fuels inflammation and tissue damage.

The results of the research, published in PNAS, indicate that complications result from the inflammation that occurs when Chlamydia trachomatisis presents in the body and immune cells travel to the source: reproductive organs. However, the investigators concluded that the protective immune cells are not responsible for getting rid of the bacteria; that job falls on a different class of immune cells.

Read more about the source of inflammation and tissue damage in chlamydia infections.

#4: Survival and Cost Considerations of Cytomegalovirus for Recipients of Allogeneic Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation

Two poster presentations at this year’s BMT Tandem Meetings of the Center for International Blood & Marrow Transplant Research and the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation held in in Salt Lake City, Utah, have provided a compelling extension of the recent phase 3 clinical trial (NCT02137772; Marty FM et al., The New Engl J Med 2017 377:2433-2444) that demonstrated the efficacy of prophylactic therapy with letermovir for the prevention of cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection in patients receiving allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HCT).

HCT involves immunosuppression. This is necessary for the success of the transplant. But, it carries the danger of lessened resistance to potentially lethal infections like CMV. CMV is one of the most common infections that occur following transplantation. The normal post-HCT strategy for over a decade has involved blood checks for the presence of CMV nucleic acid in patients who display no symptoms of infection. If the genetic material is detected, treatment swings to a reactive response involving intravenous (IV) ganciclovir or its oral prolog, valganciclovir, or the IV application of either foscarnet or cidofovir.

Read more about the BMT Tandem poster presentations.

#3: A New Year, A New Lead, and New Offerings to Come

It is a pleasure to write you as the new editor-in-chief of Contagion®. I have enjoyed watching this publication launch and rapidly scale up its offerings since it began 2 short years ago. I find the newness of Contagion® appealing and am excited to help shape this young publication into the go-to resource for infectious diseases (ID) practitioners. It is my hope that Contagion® will be a primary platform that practitioners use to stay up-to-date on ID-related news as our contributors summarize and synthesize the wealth of data available.

Since taking the reins, I have moved to expand upon the offerings in Contagion®in some areas and refocus others. Two new sections have been created. Monica Mahoney, PharmD, will be leading “In the Literature” where contributors provide critical analyses of new studies of importance in ID as they are published. Sara Schulz, MD, will lead our “Case Study” articles where cases of diagnostic or therapeutic interest are described and reviewed, with pertinent teaching points highlighted. These sections are being introduced in this issue, and I am confident they will become highlights of Contagion® moving forward.

Read the rest of our new editor-in-chief’s letter.

#2: The Role of Dental Providers in Preventing HPV-Related Oral Cancer

In the United States, about 3,200 new cases of oropharyngeal cancer are diagnosed each year in women, and about 13,200 in men. More than 70% of these cases are related to human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.

In a February 21st symposium hosted by PreteenVaxScene and the Virtual Immunization Communication Network, a panel of speakers discussed how dental professionals can play an integral role in increasing HPV vaccination rates and decreasing HPV-related cancer. Dental providers should, thus, educate themselves about HPV and HPV vaccines, to gain the knowledge and competence to talk with patients and their parents about these topics.

Read more about the dentist’s role in HPV-related oral cancer prevention.

#1: For Infectious Disease Physicians, A Busy Career Comes With Added Responsibility

While getting a Master of Public Health degree at Tulane University, Sheela Shenoi, MD, MPH, worked with an agency focused on providing health care to HIV-positive patients. Thus, when she decided to become a physician with a focus on infectious disease, she more or less knew what she was getting into.

“That was my introduction to the challenges that patients with HIV face,” she said.

What she didn’t yet realize—what she couldn’t fully understand until she began her medical and research career—was the degree to which her career choice would require her to engage in public advocacy on behalf of her patients.

“I certainly underappreciated the need to be an advocate,” she told Contagion®. “I think a lot of us come into it saying I’m going to do good science and the science is going to speak for itself.”

More often than not, it doesn’t work out that way.

“Literally you have to advertise what you’ve done and advocate for the people you’re serving and the people whose lives your work will affect,” said Dr. Shenoi, now an assistant professor of medicine at Yale University.

In a profession already plagued by high levels of burnout, physicians who focus on diseases that disproportionately affect stigmatized populations face an added responsibility: making sure their work gets the attention of people in a position to facilitate change.

Read the rest of our top article of the week.