Friday, March 15, 2013
Emerging Infectious Disease journal issue:
Predicting Hotspots for Influenza Virus Reassortment
The influenza pandemics of 1957 and 1968 were deadly; each killed about 1 million people. Both pandemics resulted from the mixing of genetic material of 2 types of closely related flu viruses, called reassortment. This occurs when both viruses infected the same host at the same time. This mixing produced a virus that was more lethal than either alone. This mixing could also happen again. Studies in mice have raised the possibility that mixing of the human seasonal flu virus and the bird flu virus could produce a novel virus that could spread rapidly and kill many people. To determine where such mixing is most likely to occur, researchers evaluated livestock densities and agricultural practices (looking for areas with human and bird flu viruses and high concentrations of pigs). They concluded that the areas at highest risk for a future flu pandemic are coastal and central China and the Nile Delta region of Egypt.
MRSA Infection Risk among HIV-infected Adults
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections has emerged as an important public health problem. HIV-infected persons are at increased risk for infection and colonization (carrying the bacteria without signs of infection). Because colonization increases risk for MRSA infection, prevention should be aimed at decreasing colonization. But where and how? To learn where on the body these bacteria are most likely to colonize, researchers collected samples from HIV-infected patients and monitored these patients over time. Although the nose is considered the primary reservoir of S. aureus, in this study the groin was also frequently colonized with MRSA, and those with groin colonization were more susceptible to developing active MRSA infection later. These data suggest that to prevent active MRSA infections, HIV-infected persons should maintain good general hygiene which includes groin hygiene and take steps to avoid potential MRSA exposures (e.g., by not sharing personal items that may become MRSA contaminated such as towels, bedding, and razors and by keeping cuts and scrapes clean and covered).