• Buildings & healthCOVID-19 and the Built Environment

    Social distancing has Americans mostly out of the places they usually gather and in their homes as we try to reduce the spread of COVID-19. But some buildings, such as hospitals and grocery stores, have to remain open, and at some point, most of us will go back to the office or workplace. What is the role of building design in disease transmission, and can we change how we design the built environment to make it healthier? Modern buildings are generally designed to promote social mixing — from open plan living areas in homes to open offices where many workers share space. By promoting interaction and chance encounters, these layouts are thought to generate more creativity and teamwork. At the same time, they are probably also really great for spreading viruses around.

  • Public healthTyphoid: Neglect Outside Rich Countries Threatens New Global Health Emergency

    The emergence of untreatable strains of typhoid threatens a new global health emergency that requires urgent collective action, experts argue. Typhoid still affects at least 11 million people every year, with the real figure potentially as high as 18 million. The authors of a new study are calling for global health institutions to dedicate new resources to tackling typhoid, which they say has become a neglected disease of poorer countries following its elimination in many high-income countries.

  • SuperbugsDrug-Resistant Infections Climbing in England

    A new report from Public Health England (PHE) shows an increase in antibiotic-resistant infections in England, despite a decline in antibiotic consumption. There were an estimated 60,788 antibiotic-resistant infections in England in 2018, a 9 percent increase from 2017, when 55,812 drug-resistant infections were reported. That’s the equivalent of 165 new antibiotic-resistant infections every day.

  • Flesh-eating bacteriaYes, Flesh-Eating Bacteria Are in the Warm Coastal Waters – but it doesn’t mean you’ll get sick

    By Brian Labus

    News reports about flesh-eating bacteria — V. vulnificus —tend to focus on people dying or losing limbs from the bacteria. It’s not front-page news when someone has a mild skin infection or eats a bad oyster and spends a couple days in the bathroom. We don’t often identify the most mild illnesses because people typically don’t seek medical care for them. Even so, V. vulnificus infections are rare. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 205 infections occur each year, of which 124 were reported in 2014, including 21 deaths.

  • Infectious diseaseNew layer of medical preparedness to combat emerging infectious disease

    Researchers supporting the PREventing EMerging Pathogenic Threats PREEMPT program will model viral evolution in animal populations, quantify the probability of human pathogen emergence, and pursue proof-of-concept interventions to prevent viral spread to humans.

  • EpidemicsAn outbreak of Nipah virus in India can help explain the future of infectious disease

    By Alanna Shaikh

    India’s Kerala state has just faced an outbreak of Nipah virus. Seventeen people have died so far. That wouldn’t seem so serious, but only eighteen people were infected. To make matters worse, there is no known cure or vaccine for Nipah – all doctors can offer is supportive treatment while the victim’s immune system attempts to fight off the virus, which causes brain damage. Nipah is a near perfect example of an emerging infectious disease. Its history and evolution follow the pattern of almost every new virus.

  • Outbreak detectionMimicking the human immune system to detect outbreaks faster

    Our immune systems are made up of billions of white blood cells searching for signs of infections and foreign invaders, ready to raise the alarm. Sandia National Laboratories computer scientists have been working to improve the U.S. biosurveillance system that alerts authorities to disease outbreaks by mimicking the human immune system.

  • SuperbugsLow level of worrisome resistant bacterium in U.S.

    A new multistate surveillance study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that the incidence of a multidrug-resistant bacterial pathogen capable of causing severe infections and spreading easily is low and mainly confined to healthcare facilities. And CDC officials would like to keep it that way. a team of researchers from the CDC and public health departments across the country report that the overall annual incidence of carbapenem-nonsusceptible Acinetobacter baumannii is 1.2 cases per 100,000 persons, and that nearly all the cases were healthcare-associated.

  • BiosafetyDozens of safety violations found at U.K. biolabs

    The U.K. Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said that there have been more than 40 incidents at high-security biolabs between June 2015 and July 2017. Mistakes led to staff being infected and falling ill at labs run by hospitals, private companies, and Public Health England.

  • FluFlu hospitalizations climb as U.S. season hits new heights

    Flu hospitalizations across the United States are still increasing, and at least by one metric the season has reached a height not seen since the 2009-10 pandemic, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s). In addition, despite elderly adults being the most hospitalized group, they often do not receive influenza tests, new research shows.

  • FluFlu spreads by aerosols, not just coughs, sneezes

    It is easier to spread the influenza virus (flu) than previously thought, according to a new study. People commonly believe that they can catch the flu by exposure to droplets from an infected person’s coughs or sneezes or by touching contaminated surfaces. But, new information about flu transmission reveals that we may pass the flu to others just by breathing.

  • PlagueLimited global risk of Madagascar’s pneumonic plague epidemic

    Mathematical models have proven the risk of the on-going pneumonic plague epidemic in Madagascar spreading elsewhere in the world is limited. The study also estimated the epidemic’s basic reproduction number, or the average number of secondary cases generated by a single primary case, at 1.73. The case fatality risk was 5.5 percent. This was the world’s first real-time study into the epidemiological dynamics of the largest ever pneumonic plague epidemic in the African nation.

  • SuperbugsHeading off the post-antibiotic age

    Worldwide deaths from antibiotic-resistant bugs could rise more than tenfold by 2050 if steps aren’t taken to head off their spread. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned of the danger of a “post-antibiotic age,” tracing the spread of antibiotic resistance to rampant overprescribing, to the widespread use of the drugs to promote livestock growth, and to the relative trickle of new drugs being developed as possible replacements.

  • PlagueHow plague attacks us – and how we should defend ourselves

    The plague that is believed to have caused the Black Death still occasionally ravages populations, albeit to a much smaller extent than before. Now we know more about how the bacteria attack us. But how does the plague bacterium attack human beings, and how does the body defend against its constantly evolving attacks? New research on the bacterium is yielding new answers.

  • Bacteria zappingSanitizers made of paper kill bacteria dead

    Imagine wearing clothes with layers of paper that protect you from dangerous bacteria. Now you can: Researchers have invented an inexpensive, effective way to kill bacteria and sanitize surfaces with devices made of paper. The motivation for the invention was to create personal protective equipment that might contain the spread of infectious diseases, such as the devastating 2014 outbreak of Ebola in West Africa.