• Drug-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.

  • New Smallpox Vaccine Tested by USAMRIID Receives FDA Approval

    Army scientists played a key role in testing a new smallpox vaccine approved last week by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Marketed under the brand name JYNNEOS, the product, developed by Bavarian Nordic, is a live, non-replicating vaccine for the prevention of both smallpox and monkeypox disease in adults.

  • The Risk of Lab-Created Pandemic Pathogens

    In 2017, considerable new data became available which calls for a new estimation of the risk of release into the community of lab-created potential pandemic pathogens. In a new study, one expert writes that these are “the most worrisome potential pandemic pathogens because a highly transmissible strain released from a lab into the community could seed a pandemic with substantial worldwide fatalities.”

  • Engineered Viruses Could Fight Antibiotic Resistance

    Antibiotic resistance is a one of the world’s most pressing public health problems. Scientists working on an Army project have developed a new weapon to combat super-bugs, which could protect Soldiers and fight resistance.

  • Declaring Vaccine Hesitancy One of the Ten Biggest Health Threats in 2019 Is Unhelpful

    The rhetoric is well-known: vaccines work, the science is settled, vaccine-hesitant parents are uninformed or misguided victims of the social media platforms where crooks spread fake science. It is taken as a given that vaccines are similarly and uniformly beneficial – aside from rare side effects – and no sane person would question that. But are vaccines similarly and uniformly beneficial? There is no doubt that vaccines can induce immunological “memory” against their target disease. And, at the population level, this reduces the risk of getting the target disease. Vaccine led to the eradication of smallpox, and we are close to eradicating two other serious infections: polio and measles. But we don’t have a lot of evidence about the overall health effects of vaccines. Everybody has been so sure that vaccines only protected against the target infection, nothing else, and so nobody studied the overall health effects. They were simply assumed to be proportionally beneficial. We do not have the evidence for all vaccines to tell vaccine-hesitant parents that it is overall beneficial for their child to receive each one of them. Rather, we have to acknowledge that there are things about vaccines that have not been investigated very well.

  • Powerful Potential Weapon May Overcome Antibiotic Resistance

    UNC School of Medicine researchers led by Brian Conlon, PhD, discover how molecules called rhamnolipids could make common aminoglycoside antibiotics effective against the toughest Staph infections.

  • Bashar al-Assad’s Updated, Sinister Version of Biological Warfare

    Biological warfare is generally understood as the deliberate wartime introduction of a lethal pathogen with the intent to kill or maim. Syria under President Bashar al-Assad is pursuing a sinister variation—one with long and dangerous historical precedents. Assad’s government has allowed pathogens normally controlled by public health measures—such as clean water, sanitation, waste disposal, vaccination, and infection control—to emerge as biological weapons through the deliberate destruction and withholding of those measures. The conflict has in effect reversed public health advances to achieve levels of disease not seen since the Napoleonic era.

  • German law would require measles vaccination to attend schools, kindergartens, daycare

    German children will have to prove they have had a measles vaccination before they would be allowed to attend kindergarten or go to school. A new draft law imposes steep fines on parents who refuse to immunize their children.

  • UN agency launches new vehicle to fund antimicrobial resistance

    The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) has launched a new funding vehicle meant to accelerate the response to rising global rates of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The AMR Multi-Partner Trust Fund was developed through the joint efforts of the Tripartite—the FAO and sister UN agencies the World Organization for Animal Health, and the World Health Organization.

  • Religion and vaccine refusal are linked. We have to talk about it.

    As measles cases have surged across the US and Europe this year, there’s been a lot of talk about what’s causing the outbreaks. Among the most discussed issues: mistrust of the medical establishment, populist politics fueling vaccine doubt, and the spread of misinformation on social media. A comprehensive survey found that people in higher-income countries were among the least confident in vaccine safety — particularly in North America and Europe. Meanwhile, vaccine trust was highest in countries where preventable diseases still spread, such as Bangladesh and Rwanda. So the further people are from outbreaks, and the more distant the memory of diseases like whooping cough and measles, the more likely they are to shun vaccines. Julia Belluz writes in Vox that the survey also uncovered something that unites some of the communities where outbreaks have been spreading lately, and it’s not as easy to talk about: religious belief.

  • A first: Salmonella resistant to antibiotics of last resort found in U.S.

    Researchers have found a gene that gives Salmonella resistance to antibiotics of last resort in a sample taken from a human patient in the U.S. The find is the first evidence that the gene mcr-3.1 has made its way into the U.S. from Asia.

  • Russian trolls, bots spread false vaccine information on Twitter

    A study found that Russian trolls and bots have been spreading false information about vaccination, in support of the anti-vaccination movement. The false information was generated by propaganda and disinformation specialists at the Kremlin-affiliated, St. Petersburg-based IRA. The Kremlin employed IRA to conduct a broad social media disinformation campaign to sow discord and deepen divisions in the United States, and help Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential election.

  • New estimates aim to define the true burden of superbug infections

    Millions of Americans who experience complications from an antibiotic-resistant infection each year. These infections place a substantial clinical, emotional, and financial burden on patients, their families, and the US healthcare system. But just how many people in the United States are dying from antibiotic resistance? Many researchers and epidemiologists wrestle with that question.

  • A global wave of measles cases fed by conspiracies and misinformation has health officials worried

    The number of people infected with measles keeps rising in the Washington State and neighboring Oregon. Rick Noack writes that “complacency over vaccinations has been accompanied by outright rejection of the scientific evidence on measles vaccines that has saved over 21 million lives since 2000, according to the WHO. Unsubstantiated conspiracy theories on supposedly negative side effects of vaccinations, either against measles or in a broader context, have gained momentum in some communities, in the United States and other countries.” He notes that deliberately spreading misinformation on vaccines to suggest that citizens are being lied to by their leaders has become a go-to recipe of some populist politicians. Thus, after years of railing against vaccines and even proposing a law against them in 2015, Italy’s Kremlin-supported Five Star Movement is now part of the country’s government.

  • Widespread, occasional use of antibiotics linked to resistance

    The increasing prevalence of antibiotic resistance in the U.S. appears more closely linked to their occasional use by many people than to their repeated use among smaller numbers of people. A new study also found that antibiotic use varies across the nation, and that in areas where particular antibiotics are used more frequently, resistance to those antibiotics is higher.