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Weekly Digest: Indians escalate antibiotic use; Right start to healthcare could aid growth in India; Dengue vaccine fallout continues

Weekly Digest: Indians escalate antibiotic use; Right start to healthcare could aid growth in India; Dengue vaccine fallout continues

Indians escalate antibiotic use. According to The Times of India feature article, based on data from CDDEP’s ResistanceMap, The Lancet and the World Health Organization (WHO),  India’s antibiotic usage went up by 62 percent between 2001 and 2010. Indians consumed 12.9 billion antibiotic pills in 2010, up from 8 billion in 2001. In comparison, China and the US were estimated to consume 10 billion and 6.8 billion pills, respectively in 2010. In a WHO survey, 75 percent of Indian respondents thought that colds and flu can be treated with antibiotics, and only 58 percent knew that they should stop taking antibiotics only after completing the prescribed course. [The Times Of India]

Investments in child development are essential to support economic growth in India. In an op-ed in The Hindu, CDDEP Director Ramanan Laxminarayan writes that India could race ahead in economic growth, but only if it gave children the right start in health and nutrition. Providing the benefits of vaccines, early nutrition, and a childhood free of diseases such as malaria and dengue would support growth that reaches all Indians. [The Hindu]

New antibiotics required against drug-resistant TB, Gram-negative bacteria. A study in The Lancet Infectious Diseases makes a case for development of antibiotics against multidrug-resistant tuberculosis and Gram-negative bacteria. The researchers say that the global strategy should include targeting antibiotic-resistant bacteria responsible for community-acquired infections. [The Lancet Infectious Diseases]

Dengue vaccine fallout continues. The Philippines continues to investigate the rollout of Sanofi’s Dengvaxia in its immunization program. The government is examining whether the manufacturer ignored early warning signs of the vaccine’s potential to cause severe dengue infections in some people. The controversy has also triggered bigger questions: how to administer the vaccine only to those who have been previously infected when there is no rapid test available for dengue. [Wall Street Journal, New York Times]

Counseling parents on vaccines helps increase coverage. A study in Pediatrics finds that mandatory counseling for parents seeking to opt out of immunization for their children helped to lower the rate of exemptions. According to the study, forty percent fewer parents sought exemptions after receiving counseling on “the benefits and risks of immunizations.” [Pediatrics]

Ecological approach to preventing the emergence of drug-resistance. Researchers report that resistance can be prevented by “reducing the availability of a nutrient for which drug-resistant parasites are especially hungry.” Rather than killing the parasites, resource-limiting drugs could slow their emergence. Such medications could be more easily designed and developed than new antibiotics. [PNAS, Science Daily]

Antibiotics could reduce the spread of sexually transmitted infections. A study in The Lancet Infectious Diseases has triggered questions about the desirability of reducing sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in people who have had unprotected sex by providing them antibiotics within 24 hours after intercourse. Although such a strategy may be effective in reducing STIs, it could lead to drug resistance. [The Lancet Infectious Diseases, Stat News]

Fecal transplants effective against recurrent Clostridiumdifficile infections. Fecal microbiota transplants (FMT) have high long-term success rates against recurrent Clostridium difficile infections (CDI), according to a study in Clinical Infectious Diseases. A survey finds that 82 percent patients who had received FMT had no recurrence of CDI in a follow-up of twenty-two months. [Clinical Infectious Diseases]

Yemen: fastest growing cholera outbreak in modern history. Yemen has recorded a million cases of cholera, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross. More than four out of five Yemenis lack access to food, fuel, clean water, and healthcare according to reports. [Al Jazeera]

US confirms case of new variant H3N2. Influenza has spread to twelve states in the US and the US Centers for Disease Prevention and Control has confirmed a new case of variant H3N2 (H3N2v) flu. The agency reports that Influenza A remains the dominant strain detected across states. [CDC update, CIDRAP]

US lifts funding ban on research on pandemic viruses. The US National Institutes of Health has lifted a three-year freeze on funding gain-of-function research on potential pandemic viruses such as SARS and MERS. The US Department of Health and Human Services has also released a framework for guiding funding decisions about proposed research. [NIH statement, CIDRAP, Nature article, NYT, ScienceMag]

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Image courtesy: The Times of India