Top Infectious Disease News of the Week—September 22, 2019


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

#5: EEE Spreads Nationwide as Virus Claims 2nd Life in Massachusetts

A 10th human case of eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) in Massachusetts has also become the state’s second fatality, the state Department of Public Health (DPH) has announced.

A total of 35 Massachusetts communities are now considered at critical risk of the mosquito-borne virus, while 40 are at high risk, and 128 at moderate risk.

“We continue to emphasize the need for people to protect themselves from mosquito bites,” Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH, said in a statement. “The unusually warm weather…will increase outdoor activity among people and mosquitoes. It is absolutely essential that people take steps to avoid being bitten by a mosquito.”

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#4: USPSTF Updates Recommendations for Asymptomatic Bacteriuria Screening

The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has downgraded its recommendation regarding the screening of pregnant women for asymptomatic bacteriuria, based on reduced applicability of the previous evidence.

The new recommendations were published today in JAMA.

Among the general population, it is reported that women have the highest prevalence of asymptomatic bacteriuria, although rates increase with age in both men and women.

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#3: Study Demonstrates Long-Term Immunogenicity of 2-Dose HPV Vaccination Schedule

A 2-dose schedule of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination in girls was noninferior to 3 doses for at least 10 years, a new study in Canada found.

The study, published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, was a follow-up to a randomized clinical trial. It included girls ages 6 to 13 years who were randomized to receive 2 or 3 doses of the quadrivalent vaccine compared with women ages 16 to 26 years who received 3 doses. Antibody levels were evaluated at 7, 24 and 120 months after the first dose.

“At 10 years after the first dose, antibody responses in girls who received 2 doses 6 months apart were comparable to those in young women who received 3 doses of vaccine,” lead author Robine Donken, PhD, postdoctoral research fellow at the Vaccine Evaluation Center & Women’s Health Research Institute at the University of British Columbia, told Contagion®. “The 2-dose schedule was approved in 2014, partly based on the results of this study up to 36 months, and has since been used as the recommended dosing schedule in many countries worldwide. This study, therefore, demonstrates the long-term immunogenicity of the 2-dose HPV vaccination schedule, which is very reassuring.”

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#2: Efficacy of Hand Sanitizers Against Influenza

Ethanol-based disinfectants (EBDs), commonly known as hand sanitizers, are a good defense against flu viruses, though there is room for improvement with this disinfection method, according to a report published in mSphere.

Investigators from Japan examined the effectiveness of EBDs against seasonal influenza A virus (IAV) in order to determine the actual efficacy of these hand sanitizers against pathogens in mucus. Recent literature on the subject suggests mucosal proteins may decrease the effectiveness of EBDs, the study authors explained. The team had previously established that effectiveness of EBDs against IAV in mucus may depend on physical factors such as viscoelasticity and not chemical factors, such as organic matter.

“From the viewpoint of mass transfer theory, we had predicted that the virus in mucus would be somewhat resistant to alcohol disinfectants,” study co-leader Ryohei Hirose, MD, PhD, a physician and molecular gastroenterologist, explained to Contagion®.

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#1: Trump Issues Executive Order on Influenza Vaccine Modernization

President Donald Trump issued an executive order on Thursday, September 19, 2019, in an attempt to improve and modernize influenza vaccine manufacturing processes to develop vaccines that provide more effective and longer lasting protection.

The order directly refers to the method of egg-based vaccine production as being outdated and calls upon expansion or implementation of alternative methods that would allow for quicker responses to emerging influenza virus.

“It is the policy of the United States to modernize the domestic influenza vaccine enterprise to be highly responsive, flexible, scalable, and more effective at preventing the spread of influenza viruses,” the order reads.

The executive order acknowledges influenza as a public health and national security priority due to the potential to inflict harm on the United States through large-scale illness and death, as well as disruption of the nation’s activities.

Under the order, a National Influenza Vaccine Task Force has been established. The goal of the Task Force is to compile a report, which includes a 5-year plan to promote new vaccine manufacturing technology and to accelerate the development of a universal flu vaccine.

The report, which must be submitted within 120 days of the order, will also include the Task Force’s recommendations for including multi-sector partnership, innovation, and guidance for increasing the uptake of vaccination against influenza among vulnerable populations.

The Task Force will be co-chaired by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Health and Human Services (or their designees). The committee will also consist of senior officials from the Departments of Defense, Justice, Agriculture, Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, the US Food and Drug Administration, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.

Read the full article.

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