October 17, 2022
OHT research explores the effects of humidity and human movement on COVID-19 transmission.
One Health Trust researchers investigated the effects of humidity and mobility on COVID-19 transmission trends in the United States between March 2020 and March 2021. Their findings demonstrated an overall negative correlation between absolute humidity and COVID-19 cases; reduced humidity may enhance aerosolized transmission risks. Human movement was found to have a significant positive association with COVID-19 transmission, meaning that frequent movement between residences and shops during holiday seasons can greatly increase COVID-19 cases. The researchers theorize that while the number of COVID-19 cases increases when humidity levels fall in the winter, mobility remains the predominant driver of COVID-19 transmission. [Nature]
Malawi’s progress in the fight against AMR.
In collaboration with the World Health Organization and with support from antimicrobial resistance (AMR) experts in Malawi, OHT researchers reviewed progress with the implementation of the country’s national action plan on AMR. Advances in the AMR agenda include the establishment of a national AMR surveillance system, the inclusion of AMR in IPC training for healthcare workers, and continuous improvement of guidelines to ensure the appropriate use of antibiotics. Although financial constraints challenge the implementation of AMR strategies, Malawi is one of the few countries in the African region with a dedicated budget for AMR, indicating the government’s support in the fight against AMR. [WHO]
Refugee mothers frequently face disrespectful maternal care during childbirth.
Researchers conducted a qualitative, interview-style study of 24 postpartum refugee women in Lebanon to assess healthcare providers’ treatment of refugee women during childbirth. Commonly reported adverse experiences included verbal and physical abuse, disrespectful and discriminatory communication, substandard care, denial of birth companions, and privacy violations. Previously shown to perpetuate the normalization of disrespectful care, mistreatment during childbirth was prevalent among Middle Eastern refugee women in Lebanon. [BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth]
India’s pharmaceutical industry is crucial to the export of classic antibiotics.
As “the world’s pharmacy,” India has the third-largest pharmaceutical industry in the world in terms of volume. A new approach to tracing “antibiotic geographies” based on global trade data reveals that the Indian pharmaceutical industry has achieved significant growth in the last two decades and plays an important role in global antibiotic geographies by dominating exports of older formulations, such as penicillins and streptomycins. A similar tracing approach could be used to understand drug export trends involving other global powerhouses, like China, to create a more detailed picture of the international antibiotic trade. [Social Science & Medicine]
Improved hand hygiene compliance among European healthcare workers following intervention.
Researchers evaluated hand hygiene (HH) compliance among healthcare before and after the implementation of a Prevention of Hospital Infections by Intervention and Training program in 14 acute care hospitals across 11 countries in Europe. Overall, average HH compliance increased significantly from 43.1% to 58.7%, indicating that the intervention was successful despite large differences in HH compliance across ICUs. Individual HH compliance change was positively correlated with the nurse-to-patient ratio and negatively correlated with ICU activity levels. A better understanding of differences in transmission risks across ICUs is necessary to inform future interventions. [Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control]
Massive scaling-up efforts are needed to stop the spread of AMR.
Growing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) poses an imminent threat to humanity, and researchers have determined that already strained systems for containment are struggling to outpace the spread. Major AMR drivers like human and hospital waste, byproducts from animal manure, and integrated aquaculture farms are increasing production, which experts believe is adversely affecting the existing systems for AMR control. Research suggests disrupted wildlife habitats and contaminated vegetables resulting from AMR in agriculture, but investigation into these areas remains scarce. Novel interventions like bioremediation may help existing strategies keep up with changing AMR trends, but progress ultimately depends on global uptake and coordination. [Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology]
COVID-19 is linked to the appearance of multidrug-resistant pathogens.
A recent meta-analysis revealed that while bacterial co-infections and secondary infections were rare in COVID-19 patients, the rampant inappropriate use of antibiotics during the pandemic may have increased the emergence of multidrug-resistant (MDR) bacteria. The review identified that patients with COVID-19 were more at risk of developing secondary infections from MDR ESKAPE pathogens (E. faecium, S. aureus, K. pneumoniae, A. baumannii, P. aeruginosa, and Enterobacter species), pointing to the empirical prescription of antibiotics as a causative factor. Stronger AMR surveillance networks and updated microbiology tools that can enhance diagnostic capacity are needed to reduce further dissemination of ESKAPE pathogens, especially in countries with a higher disease burden. [Healthcare Associated Infections]
Antimicrobials in Japanese ICU patients associated with multidrug-resistant bacteria.
A large multicenter study of Japanese ICU patients found that levels of multidrug-resistant (MDR) bacteria were significantly higher following the administration of broad-spectrum antimicrobials for more than 72 hours than in patients who received narrow-spectrum antimicrobial therapy. As broad-spectrum antimicrobial administration remains an essential component of treatment for the critically ill, this study aims to provide new information that can help guide the development of de-escalation practices for MDR bacteria. Since Japan exhibits one of the lowest de-escalation rates in a developed country (13%), further cohort studies with larger sample sizes in other countries are needed to increase global insight into best practices for broad-spectrum antimicrobial usage. [Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control]
Disrupting the life cycle of malaria parasites may outpace resistance evolution.
New perspectives in malaria control point to sporogony (spore formation) as a possible intervention to disrupt the life cycle of malaria parasites (P. falciparum). Experts argue that chemical treatment of parasites undergoing sporogony within mosquito vectors may reduce parasite transmission, as the parasites are more vulnerable to chemicals at this stage. While spore-targeting compounds can temporarily alleviate the burden of drug-resistant malaria parasites and insecticide-resistant mosquitos, researchers caution that more robust control strategies must continually be developed, as parasite counter-evolution is ubiquitous. Deployment of these new control tools within an antimicrobial stewardship program would also minimize potential risks associated with resistance evolution, as the evolutionary consequences of chemically targeting sporogony remain unknown. [Trends in Parasitology]
Women’s ages may influence menstrual disorders following COVID-19 vaccines.
In a stratified analysis examining the potential link between COVID-19 vaccines and menstrual disorders in the US, researchers collected reports of adverse menstrual reactions from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) starting from its inception in 1990 to November 2021. They found that slightly more than 40% of young adult women aged 30-49 reported menstrual disorders after exposure to the vaccine, a near ten-fold increase in this age group when compared with the period before the vaccine was marketed to the public. A closer examination of the effects of COVID-19 vaccines on menstruation is still warranted to determine causality and overcome inherent reporting biases from VAERS. [BMC Women’s Health]
Image from Canva.