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Top Infectious Disease News of the Week—January 14, 2018

Stay up-to-date on the latest infectious disease news by checking out our top 5 articles of the week.

#5: SHEA Releases Guidance on Duration of Contact Precautions for MDR Infections

The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) has released guidance on when hospital workers should stop contact precautions for patients with multidrug-resistant bacterial infections. In addition, the expert guidance, published in the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, also provides an assessment of the role that molecular testing plays in making this decision.

Antibiotic-resistant health care-associated infections are on the rise and are responsible for increased morbidity, mortality, and financial burden. In order to prevent these hard-to-treat infections from spreading throughout facilities, initiating timely contact precautions is imperative. Contact precautions include donning gowns, gloves, and masks, and are tailored specifically to protect against organisms such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), and Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), and Clostridium difficile (C. difficile).

Read more about the expert guidance, here.

#4: Non-ventilator Hospital-acquired Pneumonia: An Emerging Threat

Non-ventilator hospital-acquired pneumonia (NV-HAP) has long been associated with mostly elderly patients in intensive care units (ICU), but now, a new study has found that half of the patients with these infections are under the age of 65 and most acquire these infections outside of the ICU.

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can occur due to bacterial, viral, or fungal pathogens, and is typically marked by symptoms such as a cough, fever, and difficulty breathing. Worldwide, pneumonia is the leading infectious cause of death in children under the age of 5. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that Streptococcus pneumoniae is a common cause of bacterial pneumonia, and recommends the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine to prevent these infections for all children younger than 2 years old, all adults 65 years or older, and individuals 2 through 64 years old who have certain medical conditions. Vaccines for pertussis (whooping cough), varicella (chickenpox), measles, and influenza can also prevent pneumonia caused by those illnesses.

Read more about NV-HAP, here.

#3: US Flu Season Hits Its Peak

With all but just 1 state reporting widespread influenza activity during Week 1 ending January 6, 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the United States has hit its peak for flu season.

According to the CDC’s weekly FluView report, Hawaii reported regional flu activity during week 1, making it the only state not experiencing widespread flu. The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness has held steady at 5.8%, still well above the national baseline of 2.2%. The CDC also notes that flu-related hospitalizations since October 1, 2017, rose to 6,486, a sharp increase from the 3,927 hospitalizations reported the previous week by the CDC. In addition, 7 flu-related pediatric deaths were reported to the CDC during week 1, bringing the total number of pediatric flu deaths to 20 so far, this season.

To read more about flu in the United States, just go here.

#2: Dentists Key to Promoting HPV Prevention

New research out of the University of South Florida College of Public Health and published in the Journal of the American Dental Association is highlighting how dentists can contribute to educating patients about the risks of human papillomavirus (HPV) to aid in the fight against the infection.

Much like how dentists are now becoming involved in the fight against antimicrobial resistance, they can also aid in the fight against many infections that impact the mouth, such as sexually transmitted infections. As the most common sexually transmitted disease, HPV is directly related to about 3,200 new cases of all oropharyngeal cancers in women, and 13,200 in men, each year, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These cancers can affect the base of the tongue, the tonsils, and walls of the pharynx, all of which are seen and usually examined by dentists, but not usually brought up by the clinician unless there is an obvious issue, such as a lump.

"Given the alarming increase of HPV-attributable oropharyngeal cancers, dentists and dental hygienists may be key agents for promoting HPV prevention," lead investigator Ellen Daley, PhD, a professor at the University of South Florida College of Public Health stated in a press release on the research. "However, there's a serious need for better training and education in the dental community."

Read more about dentists’ role in HPV prevention, here.

#1: Teva Pharmaceuticals Announces Launch of Generic HIV Drug

The US Department of Health & Human Services reports that 1.1 million individuals in the United States are living with HIV. Furthermore, in 2016, 39,782 individuals were diagnosed with the virus. The good news is, thanks to antiretroviral therapy, an HIV diagnosis no longer equates to a death sentence.

Now, Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd. has announced that they will launch a generic version of an antiretroviral medication atazanavir (commercially known as Reyataz).

“Atazanavir sulfate capsules are a protease inhibitor indicated for use in combination with other antiretroviral agents for the treatment of HIV-1 infection for patients 6 years and older weighing at least 15 kg,” according to the official company press release.

In clinical trials, approximately 20% of patients treated with atazanavir sulfate developed a rash. Teva reported that some patients also developed Stevens-Johnson syndrome, erythema multiforme, and toxic skin eruptions, according to the press release. Additionally, the most common adverse reactions include nausea, jaundice/scleral icterus, rash, headache, abdominal pain, vomiting, insomnia, peripheral neurologic symptoms, dizziness, myalgia, diarrhea, depression, and fever.

Teva reports that Rayataz had sales of $402 million in the United States, as indicated by October 2017 IMS data.

Read the rest of this week’s top article, here