Two doctors in PPE conversing

Mali’s progress against antimicrobial resistance.

In collaboration with the World Health Organization and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) focal persons in Mali, One Health Trust researchers reviewed Mali’s progress with the implementation of the national action plan (NAP) on AMR. Since the plan’s inception in 2018, Mali has made important strides to combat AMR, including establishing a patient-based AMR surveillance system and expanding infection prevention and control initiatives. However, the NAP on AMR awaits formal endorsement from the government. Governmental support and adequate funding would provide the critical support needed to overcome barriers imposed by years of instability and security issues and the recent COVID-19 pandemic. [WHO]

COVID-19 mitigation measures increased the risk of influenza transmission among household members.

Researchers hypothesized that the reduced exposure to influenza viruses during the pandemic – a result of non-pharmaceutical preventive measures – would increase people’s susceptibility to influenza in the coming years. Transmission studies conducted in the US revealed that 50 percent of the household contacts of an influenza patient were infected within seven days in the 2021-2022 flu season, compared to 20 percent in pre-pandemic flu seasons. Lower titers of antibodies against influenza, due to less exposure and lower vaccination rates, plausibly contributed to the disparity in infection risk, resulting in an unusually early start to the 2022-2023 influenza season. [JAMA]

Metalloantibiotics offer an alternative to ineffective antibiotics.

As experts search for alternatives to antibiotics, metal ions, previously shown to exhibit antimicrobial properties, are gaining traction as an effective treatment for bacterial infections. In contrast to previous metal-based technologies, such as free metal ions and metallophores, metalloantibiotics use a metal complex of an organized arrangement of ligands around a metal center. In addition to the slow-growing research into metalloantibiotics, antimicrobial compounds using the metal ruthenium are currently in preclinical development, sparking cautious hope among researchers for the potential of these agents in treating bacterial infections. [Nature]

Lessons from the pandemic could help expand access to diagnostics. 

A new commentary highlights ten opportunities that rose during the COVID-19 pandemic that can be leveraged to expand access to diagnostic testing worldwide. Some opportunities relate to individual behaviors, such as increased public literacy around diagnostics and normalized self-testing. Others are centered around a newfound political awareness that has sparked interest in molecular diagnostics and gene sequencing. Policymakers increasingly see diagnostics as a means of preparing for future pandemics, but the authors emphasize the need to expand access to all diagnostic opportunities, not just those used in outbreaks. [eClinicalMedicine]

Modifiable synthetic antibiotics prove effective in in-vitro studies.

Chemical variants of synthetic antibiotics called conjugate oligoelectrolytes, or COEs, were tested for their broad-spectrum antibiotic activity and in vitro cytotoxic activity in cultured mammalian cells. One candidate, COE2-2hexyl, emerged as a clear leader in its effectiveness, as it exhibited antibacterial activity against Gram-negative bacteria without evoking resistance and had levels of in vitro cytotoxicity similar to those of the broad-spectrum antibiotic ciprofloxacin. In vivo testing revealed that COE2-2hexyl was not intrinsically toxic; however, it conferred significant protection against MRSA and carbapenem-resistant K. pneumoniae in murine sepsis models compared to infected, mock-treated mice. The modular nature of COEs allows for rapid upscaling and easy manipulation to address patient needs. [eBioMedicine]

Pneumococcal disease and RSV dynamics may be temporally linked in children under five.

A time-series analysis assessed the incidence of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) in Quebec and its relationship with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) dynamics in the second half of 2021. Researchers observed a surge in IPD cases which was temporally associated with an unusually early outbreak of RSV that began in July 2021 following the partial lifting of COVID-related infection prevention measures. Statistical modeling revealed that just over three-fourths of all IPD cases in children under five were attributed to RSV. In contrast, IPD trends in adults seemed to correlate more strongly with influenza transmission patterns than RSV. While no causal relationship between the two infections can be drawn from the data, researchers highlight that RSV and IPD dynamics might be temporally linked, especially in young children. [The Lancet Regional Health]

Reduced healthcare-seeking behavior in Kenya.

Researchers conducted a cross-sectional survey analyzing healthcare-seeking behavior related to acute respiratory illnesses in Kenya. Only 10 percent of cases were reported for acute respiratory illness and severe pneumonia in a sample size of 30,000 individuals in 2018; less than 40 percent sought medical treatment or hospitalization. Furthermore, higher socioeconomic status was associated with increased healthcare-seeking behavior, citing the inability to pay and lack of available beds as barriers to seeking medical treatment. Greater utilization of hospital resources and surveillance systems is recommended to build capacity and help increase healthcare-seeking behavior across several demographics in this region. [BMC Public Health]

Resurgence of COVID-19 occurs with or without oral antivirals.

A retrospective cohort study of approximately 4,500 COVID-19 patients in Hong Kong revealed that antiviral therapy did not impact viral burden rebound rates; however, certain risk factors such as age (18-65 years), comorbidity, and corticosteroid use were more likely to increase viral rebound. Additionally, higher vaccination rates were associated with increased vaccine-induced immune imprinting in individuals, which may limit immune activity against new variants. While adverse clinical outcomes were not observed, further examination is required to delineate the mechanisms surrounding viral rebound to guide clinical management practices. [The Lancet Infectious Diseases]

Increased temperatures may worsen diarrheal infection rates. 

The current climate crisis poses additional challenges for countries that struggle with high Shigella infection rates and limited resources. A modeling study estimated that rates of infectious diarrhea due to Shigella in children are highest in all territories of the Central African Republic and South Sudan. Similar studies revealed higher Shigella pathogenicity at temperatures above 37 degrees Celsius, which raises concern over more frequent and extreme weather events (floods, cyclones, heat waves) in low-resource settings. Additionally, global studies across different climate zones are needed to assess the spatiotemporal dynamics of increased temperature and Shigella pathogenicity. [The Lancet Global Health]


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