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Archives Of Infectious Disease Blog From Medicineworld.Org


November 27, 2008, 5:19 AM CT

Parents are the unsung heroes

Parents are the unsung heroes
It's a parents worst nightmare, a newborn baby going under the knife to repair a heart defect. If the baby survives, that's when the real work begins for parents. University of Alberta nursing professor Gwen Rempel has seen hundreds of babies on the brink as a former pediatric cardiology nurse; she wanted to find out just what parents go through.

"I'm not 100 per cent convinced that health-care professionals get what these parents are doing," said Rempel. "I think [pediatric cardiology nurses] really pleased to offer what we offer and we're proud of ourselves that these kids are now surviving." .

Rempel interviewed parents from across Western Canada, talking to both mothers and fathers about their day-to-day life with a child growing up with a congenital heart defect.

"These parents are extraordinary in what they're doing. Not just what they're doing for their child, but what they're doing to take care of themselves," said Rempel.

In these families, it's all about teamwork. Common public perception is that mothers do most of the work with newborns, but in these families fathers know just as much about their baby. The study observed that some of the things both the mothers and the fathers were doing included calculating how much formula the baby needed, feeding the baby and monitoring both the baby's weight and oxygen levels.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


November 27, 2008, 5:17 AM CT

Winter brings flu, summer brings bacterial infections

Winter brings flu, summer brings bacterial infections
In the same way that winter is usually known to be the "flu season," a new study suggests that the dog days of summer may well be the "bacterial infection" season.

Scientists have discovered that serious infections caused by gram-negative bacteria can go up as much as 17 percent with every 10 degree increase in seasonal temperature. The findings, which were based on seven years of data from infections in a Baltimore hospital, suggest that the incidence there of some of these illnesses might be up to 46 percent higher in summer than in winter.

The cause is not known, researchers said, but the seasonal variation is clear.

"Gram-negative bacteria are a frequent cause of urinary tract, gastrointestinal and respiratory infections, as well as more serious things like pneumonia, wound or blood infections," said Jessina McGregor, an assistant professor in the College of Pharmacy at Oregon State University. "Everyone knows there is a seasonality to some viral infections such as influenza or the common cold, but we're now finding that some of these bacterial infections peak in the heat of summer".

Recognition of these seasonal trends, the scientists said, may improve disease diagnosis, prompt therapys and better interventions to prevent the infections in the first place.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


November 17, 2008, 10:18 PM CT

Antibiotics, your gut and you

Antibiotics, your gut and you
We are always being told by marketers of healthy yogurts that the human gut contains a bustling community of different bacteria, both good and bad, and that this balance is vital to keeping you healthy. But if you target the disease-causing bacteria with medicine, what might be the collateral damage to their health-associated cousins that call the human body home?.

A new study by Les Dethlefsen et al, would be published this week in the online open-access journal PLoS Biology, looks into the changes that happen in the human gut when it is exposed to the widely used antibiotic, ciprofloxacin. Ciprofloxacin is prescribed for many conditions, including common afflictions such as urinary tract infections. It was previously believed to cause only modest harm to the abundant beneficial bacteria of the human body.

To investigate ciprofloxacin's effect on health-associated bacteria a team of researchers, led by Dr. David Relman of Stanford University, catalogued types of bacteria present in the faeces of volunteers who were undergoing a course of therapy of ciprofloxacin. The DNA-analysis technique, massively-parallel pyrosequencing, was central to their approach, which is outlined in a companion paper scheduled for publication in PLoS Genetics on Friday the 21st of November. With this technique, the scientists examined the diversity and abundance of bacteria present in human faeces, identifying over 5,600 different bacterial species and strains. The dramatically increased detection power of this approach allowed the team to track carefully the changes in the gut's bacterial community both during and after the course of therapy.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


November 11, 2008, 9:14 PM CT

Molecule that stops SARS

Molecule that stops SARS
SARS virus
A Purdue University researcher has created a compound that prevents replication of the virus that causes SARS and could lead to a therapy for the disease.

"The outbreak of SARS in 2003 led to hundreds of deaths and thousands of illnesses, and there is currently no therapy," said Arun Ghosh, the Purdue professor that led the molecular design team. "Eventhough it is not currently a threat, there is the concern that SARS could return or be used as a biological weapon. It is important to develop a therapy as a safeguard".

As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus can be transmitted through coughing or sneezing, and the infection can quickly spread from person to person. SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, spread through two dozen countries over a period of a few months before it was contained. A total of 8,098 people worldwide became ill and 774 died.

In addition to its ability to block the SARS virus, the molecular compound that inhibits the virus provides new insights into a group of proteins found in a range of diseases including childhood croup, herpes and cancer, Ghosh said.

"The molecular inhibitor we developed is very potent against the SARS virus by binding to and blocking the use of a specific protein, called papain-like protease, or PLpro, involved in viral replication and evasion of the immune system," said Ghosh who has a joint appointment in chemistry and medicinal chemistry and molecular pharmacology. "This is the first design and discovery of an inhibitor for this class of proteins. We are hopeful that this will open the door to new therapys for other diseases as well".........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


November 11, 2008, 9:02 PM CT

Airport malaria: cause for concern in the US

Airport malaria: cause for concern in the US
In a global world, significant factors affect the spread of infectious diseases, including international trade, air travel and globalized food production. "Airport malaria" is a term coined by scientists to explain the more recent spread of malaria to areas such as the United States and Europe, which some researchers credit to warmer climate changes.

Airport malaria is transmitted when a mosquito infected with the disease bites a human within the vicinity (commonly one mile or less) of an international airport. Warmer climate changes in major U.S. cities with a large presence of international air traffic, such as New York and Los Angeles, seem to have created a more welcoming environment where these infected mosquitoes can survive. It begins with a mosquito that is transported during an international flight from a malaria-endemic region. Once the infected female mosquito leaves the aircraft, it can survive long enough to seek blood meals and transmit the disease to other humans within the airport. This type of international transmission creates an increased possibility for the reintroduction of not just malaria, but other detrimental diseases such as dengue and Chikungunya fever, into areas where they are not normally found. For example, people infected with malaria can travel anywhere in the world in 24 hours or less and as long as the malaria-transmitting mosquitoes are present, countries can face larger local outbreaks of imported malaria.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


October 29, 2008, 9:44 PM CT

New Chemical Key That Could Unlock Hundreds Of New Antibiotics

New Chemical Key That Could Unlock Hundreds Of New Antibiotics
Chemistry scientists at The University of Warwick and the John Innes Centre, have found a novel signalling molecule that could be a key that will open up hundreds of new antibiotics unlocking them from the DNA of the Streptomyces family of bacteria.

With bacterial resistance growing scientists are keen to uncover as a number of new antibiotics as possible. Some of the Streptomyces bacteria are already used industrially to produce current antibiotics and scientists have developed approaches to find and exploit new pathways for antibiotic production in the genome of the Streptomyces family. For a number of years it was thought that the relatively unstable butyrolactone compounds represented by "A-factor" were the only real signal for stimulating such pathways of possible antibiotic production but the Warwick and John Innes teams have now found a much more stable group of compounds that may have the potential to produce at least one new antibiotic compound from up to 50% of the 1000 or so known Streptomyces family of bacteria.

Colonies of bacteria such as Streptomyces naturally make antibiotics as a defence mechanism when those colonies are under stress and thus more susceptible to attack from other bacteria. The colonies need to produce a compound to spread a signal across the colony to start producing their natural antibiotic weapons.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


October 27, 2008, 5:42 AM CT

Vaccinating family members offers important flu protection to newborns

Vaccinating family members offers important flu protection to newborns
Vaccinating new mothers and other family members against influenza before their newborns leave the hospital creates a "cocooning effect" that may shelter unprotected children from the flu, a virus that can be life-threatening to infants, as per scientists at Duke Children's Hospital.

The hospital-based outreach tested in this study proved effective at boosting immunization rates in parents particularly new fathers and siblings who otherwise may not be vaccinated.

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend vaccinating newborns for flu because they're too young, however they're a part of the population that is at highest risk," explains Emmanuel (Chip) Walter, MD, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Duke Children's Hospital. He presented the findings of the CDC-funded study at the annual ICAAC/IDSA meeting in Washington, DC.

"Newborns have the highest rate of hospitalizations due to influenza when in comparison to any other age group of children. Their rates of influenza-related hospitalization are similar to people age 80 and older. And, in some seasons the influenza-associated mortality rate is highest among infants. We want to protect the newborn by vaccinating the entire family, and send parents home with one less thing to worry about".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 27, 2008, 5:37 AM CT

High-dose influenza vaccine shows increased immune response

High-dose influenza vaccine shows increased immune response
Washington, DC, October 26, 2008 - Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of sanofi-aventis Group, announced recently that an investigational high-dose influenza vaccine demonstrated increased immune responses among adults 65 years of age and older compared with the standard influenza vaccine. The candidate high-dose intramuscular formulation of the influenza vaccine is being developed by sanofi pasteur.

The results were reported today at the 48th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC)/Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) 46th annual meeting.

As per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the currently available inactivated influenza vaccine offers public health benefits in reducing influenza-related morbidity and mortality in elderly adults. Study authors explain, however, that as people age, the immune system tends to weaken. Elderly adults become not only more susceptible to infections, but also less responsive to vaccination. When infected with the influenza virus, they are less able to mount an immune response to neutralize the attack. "Development of an influenza vaccine that will provide an improved immune response in elderly adults is important because this population has the highest rates of complications from influenza including hospitalization and death," said Ann R. Falsey, MD Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Rochester School of Medicine, Rochester, NY; Infectious Diseases Unit, Rochester General Hospital. Approximately 90 percent of the 36,000 average annual influenza-associated respiratory and circulatory related deaths occur among adults 65 years of age and older.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


October 23, 2008, 5:32 AM CT

How antibiotic sets up road block to kill bacteria

How antibiotic sets up road block to kill bacteria
Researchers have taken a critical step toward the development of new and more effective antibacterial drugs by identifying exactly how a specific antibiotic sets up a road block that halts bacterial growth.

The antibiotic, myxopyronin, is a natural substance that is made by bacteria to fend off other bacteria. Researchers already knew that this antibiotic inhibited the actions of an enzyme called RNA polymerase, which sets gene expression in motion and is essential to the life of any cell.

But until now, scientists did not know the mechanism behind how the antibiotic actually killed the bacteria.

Key to investigating this mechanism is the use of the powerful imaging technique X-ray crystallography, which allows scientists to see the fine details of the complex between the antibiotic and its target.

In the case of myxopyronin, the antibiotic binds to RNA polymerase in a way that interferes with the enzyme's ability to use DNA to start the process of activating genes so they can make proteins.

"This is the first antibiotic that we know that inhibits polymerase before it even starts RNA synthesis," said Irina Artsimovitch, a coauthor of the study and an associate professor of microbiology at Ohio State University.

The research is published online in the journal Nature........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


October 20, 2008, 5:46 AM CT

Bird flu vaccine protects people and pets

Bird flu vaccine protects people and pets
A single vaccine could be used to protect chickens, cats and humans against deadly flu pandemics, as per an article reported in the recent issue of the Journal of General Virology The vaccine protects birds and mammals against different flu strains and can even be given to birds while they are still in their eggs, allowing the mass vaccination of wild birds.

The emergence of bird flu has posed a major challenge to researchers designing vaccines as it can infect many different animals, including birds, pets and people. Now, scientists in the USA have discovered that a vaccine based on a bird flu virus could be used to protect several species against different influenza viruses.

"The world is experiencing a pandemic of influenza in birds caused by an H5N1 virus. Eventhough it has been restricted to Eurasia and some countries in Africa, there is a risk that this virus may spread worldwide," said Professor Daniel Perez from the University of Maryland, USA. "The H5N1 virus also has an unusual expanded host range: not only birds and humans have been infected but also cats, which are commonly resistant to influenza. To prepare for a pandemic, it would be ideal to have a vaccine that could be used in multiple animal species".

The scientists observed that the central genes or 'backbone' of the H9N2 virus that infects guinea fowl can protect birds and mice against highly pathogenic strains of influenza. They modified the virus to make it less pathogenic and then used it to vaccinate mice. Three weeks after being vaccinated, the mice were infected with the potentially lethal H1N1 virus the same virus that caused the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. All the vaccinated mice survived with no signs of disease. Vaccinated mice also survived infection with the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus, again showing no signs of disease.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
Scientists at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston have found a genetic marker that may identify individuals at greater risk for life-threatening infection from the West Nile virus. Results of the study are reported in the Nov. 15 print edition of Journal of Infectious Diseases.

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