Top Infectious Disease News of the Week—June 3, 2018

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

#5: H7N9 Spreading Westward from Southern and Eastern China

A recent study has shown that highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) A(H7N9) virus is spreading westward from southern and eastern China.

Qiqi Yang, Wei Shi, and Lei Zhang, from Beijing Normal University, China, and colleagues published the results of their study online in the June 2018 issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) monthly peer-reviewed public health journal.

“We report cases of human infection with H7N9 virus, including in 1 person who was infected with a highly pathogenic variant, in Shaanxi Province, western China, during April and May 2017,” the authors write.

Read more about H7N9 in China.

#4: Officials Launch Ring Vaccination Campaign in the DRC to Quell Deadly Ebola Outbreak

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continues to struggle with an ongoing Ebola outbreak that is thought to have sickened 54 individuals since April 4, 2017 and claimed 25 lives.

In its latest update, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that the current total number of cases includes 35 confirmed, 13 probable, and 6 suspected cases reported from 3 different health zones in Equateur Province: Bikoro (10 confirmed), Iboko (21 confirmed), and Wangata (4).

One of the central efforts being made to quell the outbreak comes in the form of a massive ring vaccination campaign, which Dr Michael Ryan, WHO assistant general-director of Emergency Preparedness and Response stressed in a recent statement is “a new and vital tool in the control of Ebola.”

For the most recent case counts, be sure to check out the Contagion® Outbreak Monitor.

Read more about the Ebola outbreak in the DRC.

#3: Patient Preferences for Physician Attire

In health care and infection prevention, it’s easy to focus on the functionality and safety of clothing for health care professionals. We focus on the utility of scrubs and the dangers of ties for physicians, but does the attire that a physician wears impact the patient’s preferences in terms of care?

Patient experience and satisfaction scores are increasingly becoming a focal point for hospital performance. A positive patient experience is frequently associated with stronger adherence to treatment and better patient outcomes. In a time where the Yelp-effect can influence physician antimicrobial prescription practices, it’s not unlikely that it would also play into how physicians dress. As such, investigators on a new study across 10 hospitals within the United States sought to evaluate patient perceptions and expectations with their physicians, particularly regarding attire, to determine if there is an association between attire and the patient experience.

Read more about patient preferences for physician attire.

#2: HIV in Women Better Managed Than Diabetes

The results of a new study reveal that rates of viral suppression in women infected with HIV have improved since 2001; however, control of diabetes mellitus (DM) has remained poor, regardless of HIV status.

As individuals who are living with HIV are living longer, thanks to the aid of antiretroviral therapy (ART), up to 84% of them will have at least 1 non-communicable, chronic disease (eg, diabetes) by the year 2030, according to the results of a study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases. In fact, data have shown that individuals how are living with HIV have a “1.6 times adjusted-prevalence of DM compared with the general population.”

Read more about HIV management in women.

#1: FDA Provides Insight on Deadly Multistate E coli Outbreak Linked with Romaine Lettuce

The Escherichia coli (E coli) outbreak linked with romaine lettuce has claimed more lives as it continues to beat down on the United States.

The good news, however, is that any immediate risk associated with it is gone, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as any contaminated products are thought to have already worked through the food supply and are no longer available for consumption.

“This is a serious and tragic outbreak and we’re devoting considerable effort to identifying the primary source,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, and Stephen Ostroff, MD, write in a recent statement. “This outbreak of E coli O157:H7 illnesses is the largest in the United States in more than 10 years.”

As of June 1, 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report 197 confirmed cases associated with the outbreak spanning 35 states. Forty-five percent (89) of these individuals have required hospitalization for their illnesses and 13% (26) went on to develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Furthermore, 5 individuals have died.

“These statistics reflect the severity of this particular food-borne illness. The kidney damage that’s associated with HUS can require temporary dialysis and the kidneys may never fully recover,” Drs Gottlieb and Ostroff write. “For these reasons, anytime outbreaks caused by this pathogen occur, we need to find the root cause of the contamination and determine what went wrong. We need to relay these findings to industry so that measures can be put in place to prevent it from happening again.”

Health officials were able to identify 1 source for a cluster of illnesses involved in the outbreak, Harrison Farms. As mentioned in our last update, contaminated whole heads of romaine lettuce were sold from the farm to a prison in Nome, Alaska, where 8 inmates subsequently fell ill. However, officials were unable to identify just where in the supply chain that contamination occurred.

Now, officials have been working on performing extensive traceback efforts of the lettuce to identify points of convergence from multiple identified illness clusters with a common point of exposure.

“Traceback involves working backward from the point of consumption or purchase of the product through the supply chain,” they write. “It often includes investigating the multiple steps along the way.”

For the most recent case counts associated with the outbreak, be sure to check the Contagion® Outbreak Monitor.

Read more about the ongoing E coli outbreak linked with romaine lettuce.