New zoonotic disease detected in China.

Using metagenomic analysis, researchers identified the Langya henipavirus (LayV), as the likely cause of at least 35 cases of infections in China’s Shandong and Henan provinces from 2019 to 2021. Although little is known about LayV, it is related to Hendra and Nipah viruses, and documented symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, loss of appetite, muscle aches, nausea, and headaches. While most symptoms are mild, serious complications, including pneumonia, and abnormalities in liver and kidney function may have been associated with this infection in some cases. There is some direct evidence suggesting humans caught the virus from wild shrews, however, at this stage, scientists cannot tell if the virus can spread from human to human.[Scientific American]

Sanger sequencing from sputum could aid rapid clinical decisions for TB treatment.

Between June 2015 and December 2016, researchers collected sputum specimens and socio-demographic and TB-related data of 226 Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC) culture-positive multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) suspect cases in Ethiopia. Phenotypic drug susceptibility testing (pDST) for five anti-TB drugs was compared with the results of a Sanger sequencing analysis of seven resistance determining regions in the genes. Drug resistance was found for all antibiotics tested, with isoniazid (52.2%) and streptomycin (44.5%) having the highest resistance rates. A significant alignment between phenotypic and genotypic DST results suggests that Sanger sequencing could be performed as a complementary measure to routine phenotypic DST in Ethiopia. [PLOS ONE]

Greater investment in research and development and a sustainable marketplace are needed for effective antibiotics.

Antibiotic effectiveness is threatened by pathogens evolving to become resistant over time. However, new antibiotic discovery and development are lagging behind and are no longer cost-effective using traditional reimbursement models. As a result, the number of companies and laboratories seeking to find and distribute new antibiotics is decreasing. Guaranteeing the existence of effective antibiotics requires innovation, which depends on changes in policy; an increased understanding of the societal value of antibiotics; and investment in antibiotic alternatives, such as narrow-spectrum drugs, bacteriophages, monoclonal antibodies, and vaccines, along with effective diagnostics. [Science Translational Medicine]

A monoclonal antibody was found to reduce asthma attacks in children.

290 Black and Latinx children (6 to 17 years) from low-income urban neighborhoods in the United States with complicated asthma and high blood levels of eosinophils, were assigned at random to receive an injection of either a monoclonal antibody (mepolizumab) or a placebo once every four weeks for 12 months. Participants who received mepolizumab had 27% fewer asthma attacks. An exploratory analysis of gene activity in cells collected from the study participants’ nasal secretions at the beginning and end of the trial showed that the antibody lowered the activity of three networks of genes associated with airway inflammation and asthma attacks. [NIH]

The presence of diagnostic testing does not guarantee fewer antibiotic prescriptions.

One popular suggestion to combat antimicrobial resistance resulting from overprescribing antibiotics is point-of-care diagnostic testing (POCT). Contrary to previous assertions, an economical model showed that POCT does not always reduce the number of antibiotics prescriptions and can even cause the opposite result. Changes in antibiotic prescription trends depend on the real-life distribution of doctors who prescribe antibiotics after using POCT versus doctors who stop prescribing antibiotics after POCT due to concerns about AMR. [The European Journal of Health Economics]

Genetic changes are possibly responsible for the rapid spread of monkeypox in 2022.

Monkeypox cases in the last two months have surpassed the number of confirmed or probable cases of human monkeypox in the entire 20th century globally. It was recently observed that an enzyme called apolipoprotein B editing complex (APOBEC3) – which creates double-stranded breaks in DNA – may be contributing to the recent jump in transmission and evolution of human monkeypox virus 1 (hMPXV1). A better understanding of the significance that these mutations have in disease transmission is necessary to decrease disease spread. [The Lancet Microbe]

Successful vaccine clinical trials bring hope for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) prevention.

Following multiple failures of late-stage clinical trials for RSV vaccine candidates, recent years have brought great developments for RSV vaccines and immunoprophylaxis, with nine vaccine candidates being in phase 3 clinical trials. Live attenuated viruses (LAVs), recombinant vectors, mRNA vaccines, and other candidates have displayed high efficacy against RSV with acute respiratory illness. A single dose of one monoclonal antibody against the pre-Fusion protein of RSV was found to have more than 75% efficacy lasting for five months in full-term infants. Alongside these developments, there is an urgent need for strategies that ensure access and affordability of these protection measures in LMICs, where 99% of RSV childhood deaths occur. [The Lancet Infectious Disease]

Infection control compliance requires better training and access to supplies.

A survey of 400 healthcare workers (HCWs) from primary care facilities in the Songwe region of Tanzania between January and March 2021 revealed a 66% overall compliance to infection prevention and control standard precautions (IPCSPs). Low compliance rates were attributed to poor attitude, inadequate knowledge about IPCSPs, and insufficient safety supplies. IPC training and the number of years of work experience predicted high compliance with IPCSPs, highlighting the need for resources to expand IPCSP training and implementation in healthcare facilities. [Infection Prevention in Practice]

Severe maternal outcomes among Indian women worsened between 2019 and 2020.

Severe maternal outcomes (SMOs), defined as maternal near misses and maternal deaths, were measured in an OB/GYN department in Chandigarh, India between 2019 and 2020 to assess the effects of COVID-19 on maternal health. The total number of births in the facility dropped from 6,056 in 2019 to 4,140 in 2020. Women who experienced SMOs increased from 4.6% in 2019 to 6.5% in 2020, with the incidence of near misses rising from 3.5% to 5.1% in the same timeframe. Hemorrhage, the most common cause of maternal near misses in the study, increased in incidence from 45.8% to 50.2% between 2019 and 2020. [Clinical Epidemiology and Global Health]