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Top Infectious Disease News of the Week—November 17, 2019

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

#5: Ebola Virus Can Persist in Male and Female Survivors Following Discharge

Ebola RNA can be present in body fluids up to 40 months post-discharge from a treatment facility, according to a new report in Open Forum Infectious Diseases.

A multinational team of investigators studied bodily fluids from Ebola virus disease patients up to 40 months after their treatment discharge in order to make strides in obtaining knowledge about viral persistence of the disease. The study authors wrote that this knowledge and understanding is necessary because of increased frequency and serious impact of Ebola outbreaks and epidemics.

There have been 28 major Ebola outbreaks reported across Africa since the first 1, reported in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The investigators studied patients in Southeast Guinea, an area where a disastrous outbreak occurred from 2013 to 2016. During the outbreak 11,000 individuals were killed and more than 28,000 individuals were infected. The outbreak started in a rural area of Guinea, as is typical for an Ebola outbreak, but eventually reached the capital cities of neighboring countries Liberia and Sierra Leone, as well, the study authors explained. Their analysis included 800 of the 1270 Ebola survives from Guinea.

Read the full article.

#4: FDA Investigates Scombrotoxin Fish Poisoning Linked to Yellowfin Tuna

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is working with state authorities to investigate incidents of scombrotoxin fish poisoning linked to yellowfin tuna.

The FDA investigation has identified 47 illnesses of scombrotoxin fish poisoning that occurred between August 8, 2019, and October 15, 2019.

Though the FDA asked for the supplier of yellowfin tuna associated with the majority of illnesses, Truong Phu Xanh Co., LTD, to initiate a voluntary recall, the firm has not recalled any product at this time.

Read the full article.

#3: Hepatitis A Outbreak Linked to Blackberries

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced a multistate outbreak of hepatitis A potentially linked to blackberries.

The agency is working with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local partners to investigate the outbreak.

According to the CDC, there have been 11 outbreak-associated cases of hepatitis A in Indiana, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. At this time there have been 6 hospitalizations, but no deaths have been reported. The onset of illness dates range from October 15 to November 5, 2019.

Read the full article.

#2: CDC Announces E Coli Outbreak Likely Linked to Romaine

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials have notified the public of an ongoing investigation regarding a multistate outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7 infections likely connected to romaine lettuce. CDC, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and state officials are collaborating to identify illnesses and trace the contamination through the transmission chain.

As of November 18, 2019, a total of 17 people from 8 states have been reported infected with the outbreak strain. Onset of illness dates range from September 24 to November 8, 2019.

A total of 7 hospitalizations have been reported thus far, with 2 people developing hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. There have been no deaths reported.

Read the full article.

#1: Contagion® Connect Episode 4: Timothy Ray Brown's Advocacy for HIV Cure Research

Interview transcript (modified slightly for readability):

Welcome to Contagion® Connect. This new podcast will bring you expert perspectives on trending infectious disease topics.

In this episode, we feature a conversation with Timothy Ray Brown recorded at ANAC 2019 in Portland, Oregon. Brown became the first person to be cured of HIV after received a stem-cell transplant to treat leukemia. At first, he desired to remain anonymous and was referred to as the “Berlin Patient.” However, in 2010, Brown came forward and has become an advocate for people living with HIV. He hopes to see the day when all individuals when HIV can be cured safely.

Contagion®: Can you tell me a little bit about your decision to come forward as the “Berlin Patient” and why advocacy is so important to you?

Brown: Leading up to 2010, after my story broke in the New England Journal of Medicine, and then started becoming an important story, I decided I did not really want to be the “Berlin Patient” anymore. I wanted to have people know me by my name and so and I decided that I couldn't be the only person in the world cured of HIV. I was at that point, I didn't want that anymore. I wanted more people to be cured—I wanted everyone with HIV to be cured. And, and so in order to do that, I had to release my name and my image to the public and, and since then, I've become kind of a cheerleader for HIV cure.

Contagion®: Now can you talk to be a bit more about how nurses and providers should exhibit empathy towards their patients and why it is important for HIV care?

Brown: Nurses, doctors, and providers are very important to people living with HIV. It's very important that, that they do not show any stigma and that they are sex-positive and basically show no judgment toward the patient, no matter what.

It's also very important that they establish a very close relationship with their patients. At this point, many, many providers only schedule like 20 minutes for the patient and that's not enough, and so it's very important to extend that time. I think the reason why they do that is financial, that unless they have a certain number of patients each day, they can't really survive.

Listen to the podcast.