A weekly roundup of news on drug resistance and other topics in global health.
Will Zika plague the Olympics?
The virus may not have many immediate effects on athletes and attendees of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but could spread worldwide after they return to their home countries, writes CDDEP Research Analyst Elena Martinez in a post on the CDDEP blog
. The World Health Organization declared Thursday that there is now a “strong scientific consensus”
that infection with Zika virus causes the birth defect microcephaly and neurological disorder Guillain-Barré syndrome. [CDDEP
A long course of antibiotics does not increase Lyme disease patients’ quality of life
, according to research
published in The New England Journal of Medicine
. Researchers conducted a double-blind trial in the Netherlands with more than 2,000 Lyme disease patients. They treated all patients for two weeks with ceftriaxone, then randomly administered one of three treatments
twice daily for 12 weeks: 1) doxycycline plus placebo, 2) clarithromycin plus hydroxychloroquine or 3) two placebos. After treatment, they assessed physical functioning, role limitations due to physical health issues, pain and general health perceptions. They found no significant differences in outcome among the three groups. [New England Journal of Medicine
More than 2 million doses of outdated or improperly stored vaccines were sold to consumers in China.
WHO has urged the Chinese government to take regulatory action to protect these childhood vaccines after a sluggish response—the scandal was revealed a year ago. Twenty-nine pharmaceutical companies and 15 health departments have been implicated in the $90 million in sales, and scores of criminal cases brought
. The vaccines are those not required for all infants, but include things like chicken pox and hepatitis A. [The Economist
Completed pneumococcal vaccinations and breastfeeding in the first year of life are linked to a decline in infant ear infections. Reporting in Pediatrics
, researchers assessed records of 367 infants and found that those who were breastfed had a reduced risk of developing upper respiratory tract and ear infections—the leading indications for antibiotic prescriptions in infants. Finally, they found that children who received a newer version of the pneumococcal vaccine, released in 2010, were slightly less likely to contract an ear infection
Different species of gut bacteria evolve quickly to compete with each other—sometimes to the benefit of their human hosts.
Scientists at the University of Oxford infected roundworms with either Enterococcus or Staphylococcus bacteria,
and noted that Enterococcus
killed about one percent of the worms, while Staph
killed about half of them. The researchers then infected worms with both bacteria at once, and found that competition between the two species protected the worms from Staph
reducing death rate to 18 percent. They then removed the Enterococcus
from the worms, grew the bacterium outside of the worm host, and re-infected a new generation of genetically identical worms with the cultured Enterococcus
and the original Staph
. At the end of 15 such cycles, less than one percent of the worms died, indicating that the evolved Enterococcus
had become even more effective worm protectors. According to study author Kayla King
, “We’ve taken a very reductive approach. In the future, we want to understand how these interactions play out in a much more diverse community.” [National Geographic
, ISME Journal