Weekly Digest: States compare CLABSIs, what the Obama budget means for health, and vaccination at the India-Pakistan border

17 Feb 2012
Andrea Titus

A round-up of news on drug resistance and other topics in global health.

In the United States, new data on HHS’s Hospital Compare website on rates of central-line associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) is prompting comparisons of health systems across state lines.  Kaiser Health News reports that patients in Maryland, Mississippi, Louisiana, Maine and New Hampshire were the most likely to acquire CLABSIs whereas patients in Hawaii, Alaska, South Dakota, Kansas and Indiana had the lowest rates. 

Louise Slaughter, Congress’s only microbiologist, is asking fast food chains across the United States to disclose the antibiotics in their meat products.

Flu season in the U.S. may be late this year, but it appears to finally be picking up.  Flu is correlated with an uptick in antibiotic prescribing.

Remember yaws?  A close relative of syphilis, the chronic bacterial infection affecting skin, bones, and joints, is re-emerging across tropical regions, but research suggests that azithromycin is an effective treatment.

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that antibiotics treat sinus infections about as well as placebos.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) publishes an HAI-Net study on surveillance of healthcare-associated infections in Europe, noting "high incidence of life-threatening ICU-acquired infections with multiresistant bacteria."

Scientists at North Carolina State University create a compound that boosts the efficacy of existing antibiotics against drug resistant bacteria, particularly strains producing NDM-1.

WHO convenes a meeting to discuss how and whether to proceed with the publication of controversial research on an engineered, highly contagious strain of H5N1 avian influenza.  Nature’s Declan Butler explains the debate around publishing the research, which some experts worry could compromise biosecurity.  The meeting concluded with a consensus to delay publication to further educate the public.

Debate continues over the global death toll attributable to malaria, after the Lancet publishes a study that doubles the count of the World Health Organization.  One trend both groups can agree on: malaria deaths are declining worldwide.

The Boston Globe reports on research into therapeutic vaccines to treat, rather than prevent, disease.

The release of President Obama’s 2013 budget request has many analyzing its potential impact on U.S. health efforts.  While the CDC would see a drop in overall funding, CMS funds would increase. In the international arena, the president’s budget scale up funding for the beleaguered Global Fund to Treat AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, but slices into the overall budget for the Global Health Initiative, including PEPFAR (the president’s emergency plan for AIDS relief).  Kaiser Global Health will host a live webcast this Tuesday: The President's Budget Request: What Does It Mean For U.S. Global Health Efforts?

India, now polio-free for over a year, begins a campaign to vaccinate Pakistani children at the border.  There were over 190 reported polio cases in Pakistan in 2011.

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Antibiotic Resistance