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Weekly Digest: Tourism spreading superbugs; Mapping cases could reduce Africa’s cholera burden by fifty percent; Cambodia study shows antimalarial resistance began in 2008

Weekly Digest: Tourism spreading superbugs; Mapping cases could reduce Africa’s cholera burden by fifty percent; Cambodia study shows antimalarial resistance began in 2008

Tourism spreading antibiotic resistant superbugs, new study reveals. Analysis of stool samples of UK residents has shown that drug-resistant gut bacteria are more common in UK residents who were born in or had traveled recently to certain countries. The destinations visited in the recent travel group included Africa, China, Latin America, Southeast Asia, Pacific Asia and Afghanistan.  [TelegraphJournal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy]

Mapping cases could reduce Africa’s cholera burden by fifty percent. A modeling study based on real cholera outbreaks suggests that interventions delivered in the area immediately around reported cases could result in more effective and efficient outbreak control. Oral cholera vaccines, distribution of prophylactic antibiotics, and improvements to water and sewer infrastructure are methods which can be optimized to reduce disease burden and disease control costs.  [EurekAlert,  Science Daily,  PLoS Medicine]

Retrospective study shows antimalarial resistance in Cambodia began in 2008.  Researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute in the UK studying the history of Cambodia’s current Malaria outbreak have found that the dangerous mutations found in Plasmodium falciparum parasites in 2013 had their roots in mutations that were present but unidentified in 2008. The outbreak first affected Cambodia, then Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam.  [EurekAlert, Lancet]

 Yellow fever transmission continued during winter in Brazil and now threatens cities.  The advance of yellow fever towards urban areas has health authorities using all available control methods in the hopes of slowing the spread of the virus, which is spread by the infamous Aedes aegypti. Brazil produces its own vaccine against yellow fever but may have missed opportunities to improve vaccine coverage during “quiet” times when no outbreaks were occurring.  Anti-vaccine activists appear to have made headway in convincing some Brazilians to refuse vaccination. [New York Times]

 A portion of hospital associated infections are from hospital roommates or former bed occupants. Enhanced environmental cleaning methods may be highly cost-effective in the battle against healthcare-associated infections, according to a recent study published in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology. Researchers in New York carried out a case-control study of over 750,000 patients discharged from four hospitals and determined that patients who acquired an HAI were almost 6 times more likely to have been exposed to a prior bed occupant infected or colonized with the same pathogen.  [Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology]

 A new carrier to protect vaccines from freezing has been approved by WHO.  An Indian company, AOV International, recently passed the World Health Organization’s performance, quality, and safety tests and has become the first to manufacture and field-test the low-cost vaccine carrier.  The appropriate technology non-profit PATH designed the carrier to address the logistical problem of keeping vaccines cold without freezing them during “the last mile” of transport to clinics and outreach programs.  [BioSpectrumIndia, PATH]

 New sputum test for TB diagnosis could spare the need for cultures.  A new method of fluorescent staining of live tuberculosis bacteria shows promise as a simplified diagnostic test for active TB infection.  The test eliminates the need for “washing” sputum specimens to remove “background noise,” as only the stained TB cells are illuminated. The method has been tested successfully in laboratory and clinical settings, but it is not yet known if the test detects both active and latent TB cells.  Researchers at the University of Witwatersrand believe the staining method could assist in determining whether individual patients are responding to their treatment by quantifying the live TB cells in the sputum.  [Science Translational Medicine, Science Daily]

Australia hopes to share cervical cancer vaccine success with the world. The number of young women infected with human papilloma virus in Australia has dramatically decreased since the inception of free school-based vaccination in 2007.  Nearly eighty percent of fifteen year old girls and over seventy percent of fifteen year old boys received HPV vaccination in Australia in 2016. Elsewhere, in some high-income countries, the cost of HPV vaccine countries is high, and in some low-income countries, the vaccine is unavailable.  [The Guardian]

Volunteers received 1200 Euros each to help scientists find a cure for schistosomiasis.  Researchers in Holland received approval from an ethics board to recruit volunteers for their study, in which each volunteer will “host” parasites in their body for twelve weeks. Seventeen people are participating. When was the last time you volunteered to have parasitic worms enter your bloodstream? [ScienceNew York Times]

New efforts to develop group A strep vaccine. New approaches to create a vaccine for streptococcus A are being tested by researchers in the US and Australia, but funds and interest may be lacking, according to an article in Newsweek magazine. In the US, serious complications of the infection result in about 1100 deaths per year.  But in 2015, in India alone, 100,000 people died from illnesses caused by the pathogen, and almost twice that number died worldwide.  Data from England also suggest that Group A strep illness may be on the rise in the UK as well.  [NewsweekLancet]

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