Infectious Diseases

Category archives for Infectious Diseases

Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory illness characterized by fever, cough, and shortness of breath, and it has been fatal in 30% of the cases identified since the disease was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. On May 2, CDC announced the first US case of MERS, in a patient who traveled from Saudi Arabia to Indiana.

For the first time, the World Health Organization has examined antimicrobial resistance, and the grim findings won’t be surprising to anyone who’s been following this issue.

Unfortunately, it’s not too terribly surprising that diseases of the developing world don’t attract as much research attention as diseases common in wealthier countries. However, a new study not only underscores that trend, it actually found zero relationship between global disease burden and health research.

Cholera had spared Haiti for a century or more, so it was not unreasonable that people asked where did the pathogen come from in 2010. But public health people might have explained that the question was a distraction. Why so? Very simply, knowing how Vibrio cholerae arrived in Haiti would not help control its spread or prevent future outbreaks.

It’s not the first study to examine the enormous health and economic benefits of vaccines. But it’s certainly another impressive reminder about the power — and value — of prevention.

Most people infected with mosquito-borne West Nile virus don’t experience any symptoms at all. However, the tiny percentage of cases that do end up in the hospital total hundreds of millions of dollars in medical costs and lost productivity.

“Millions of Americans use antibacterial hand soap and body wash products. Although consumers generally view these products as effective tools to help prevent the spread of germs, there is currently no evidence that they are any more effective at preventing illness than washing with plain soap and water,” wrote the US Food and Drug Administration…

This year’s flu season and the Dracula cough

An ER nurse’s observations about this year’s flu season.

Links to recent pieces on child agriculture workers killed on the job, imagining a future in which antibiotics no longer work, and various aspects of the inadequate US safety net.

Antibiotic-resistant infections kill 23,000 people in the US and sicken two million each year, and the problem is getting worse, warns a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency ranks 18 microorganisms according to their threat to health and the economy, and categorizes three as urgent.