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Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal

Highlights: EID, Vol. 17, No. 6 (June 2011)


The articles of interest summarized below will appear in the June 2011 issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, CDC's monthly peer-reviewed public health journal. The articles are embargoed until Wednesday, May 11, 2011, at 12:00pm EDT.

Note: The EID journal publishes articles by scientists around the world, as well as CDC scientists. To correctly describe CDC's role, please clarify in your story whether a study was conducted by CDC or was conducted by the author's institution and published in CDC's Emerging Infectious Diseases journal.

1. Binary Toxin and Death after Clostridium difficile Infection

Sabrina Bacci, et al.

Infection with Clostridium difficile bacteria causes diarrhea and commonly occurs in hospitalized patients. This infection can be deadly, so knowing which patients are at highest risk is helpful. Researchers have found that infections caused by C. difficile bacteria containing genes for a specific toxin (binary toxin) are more likely to result in death. They do not yet know whether the toxin itself actually makes the bacteria more harmful or whether the gene is merely a red flag indicating that its carriers are more harmful. Regardless, knowing if this gene is present can help doctors treat patients accordingly to try and prevent more severe disease and death.

Sabrina Bacci
Department of Epidemiology, Statens Serum Institut
Copenhagen, Denmark

2. Bedbugs as Vectors for Drug-Resistant Bacteria

C. Lowe and M. Romney

The concept of bedbugs alone is creepy enough, but what if they could spread bacteria? A study in an impoverished urban area of Vancouver, where bedbug infestations are increasing, found bedbugs carrying two types of drug-resistant bacteria, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and vancomycin-resistant enterococci. Although bedbugs have not been shown to spread disease, we know now that they at least carry bacteria known to cause these sometimes hard-to-treat infections.

Dr. Marc G. Romney
St. Paul's Hospital/Providence Health Care
Vancouver, Canada

3. Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus in Retail Meat, Detroit, Michigan, USA

Kanika Bhargava, et al.

MRSA has been identified worldwide in meat sold for human consumption. The extent and type of contamination varies according to type of meat (pork, beef, poultry), the country in which the meat was processed, and the molecular make-up of the MRSA organism. A recent study found that retail beef, chicken, and turkey examined in Michigan contained the human type of MRSA (USA300), not the animal type (ST398) more commonly found in Europe. This finding indicates that in the United States, meat contamination may come from human meat handlers, not the animals themselves. However, because ST398, the animal type of MRSA, has been found in live pigs in this country, it may be only a matter of time before it appears in the food chain.

Yifan Zhang
Department of Nutrition and Food Science, Wayne State University
Detroit, Michigan

4. Decline in Campylobacteriosis After Interventions Aimed at Poultry

Ann Sears, et al.

Campylobacteriosis can be reduced by decreasing contamination of poultry meat produced for human consumption. This is the lesson learned from an epidemic of campylobacteriosis in New Zealand. Cases of this foodborne infection started rising there in the 1980s, peaked in 2006 with the highest rates reported internationally, but then rapidly declined by 50 percent. The rise coincided with people eating more fresh poultry meat, and the decrease coincided with measures to reduce contamination of this meat. Although a direct cause and effect has not been proven, it is likely. Exactly which measures were most effective remains unknown but some of the interventions included: setting mandatory targets to reduce Campylobacter contamination of poultry, better hygiene practices, and changes to the chilling process.

Michael Baker, Associate Professor
University of Otago
Wellington, New Zealand
+64 4 9186802

5. Reflections on 30 Years of AIDS

Kevin M. De Cock, et al.

On June 5, 1981, CDC's MMWR reported the first five cases of what later become known as AIDS. Since then, the global public health community has achieved tremendous scientific, social, and human progress related to AIDS care, treatment and prevention. We now know what causes AIDS and how it is spread. Science and reason have generally overcome fears and irrational responses, and have limited discrimination associated with HIV infection. Advocacy groups have formed around a central theme of human rights. HIV prevention measures have decreased HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, improved the safety of blood and blood products, and, in the industrialized world, virtually eliminated mother-to-child HIV transmission. Lifesaving, albeit not curative, treatments are now available to patients in low- and middle-income countries around the world. Hospital hygiene and safe injection practices have become topics of global concern. Although an effective vaccine remains elusive and HIV remains the world's leading infectious disease challenge, millions of infections have been prevented and millions of life years have been saved. The global mobilization against HIV/AIDS and the enormous resources invested have had an incalculable impact, most of it positive, on global health in general.

Contact Kevin M. De Cock, MD via:
Kathryn Harben
Center for Global Health

The opinions expressed by authors contributing to this journal do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors' affiliated institutions. Use of trade names is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by any of the groups named above.



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