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Drug-resistant bacteria
March 5th, 2014
11:02 AM ET

CDC: Hospitals contributing to rise of superbugs

Health officials have long been warning us about the overuse of antibiotics and the rise of drug-resistant "superbugs." Now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is shining a light on how hospitals are contributing to the problem.

"Prescribing (antibiotics) varies widely among hospitals," CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden, an infectious disease expert, said in a press conference Tuesday. "Practices that are not optimal are putting patients at unnecessary risk of future drug-resistant infections, allergic reactions and intestinal infections that can be deadly."
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Hospitals getting better at preventing MRSA
November 25th, 2013
04:00 PM ET

Hospitals getting better at preventing MRSA

Severe MRSA infections have decreased by 54.2% in U.S. hospitals since 2005, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suggesting efforts to combat the deadly superbug are working.

MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is a type of staph infection. While about one in three people carry staph on their skin, usually without getting sick, studies show approximately two in 100 people carry MRSA.

MRSA is called a "superbug" because it is one of the bacterial infections that has developed a resistance to commonly-used medications. The CDC attributes the rise of superbugs to the overuse of antibiotics in the general population.

Since 2005, the CDC has been tracking MRSA cases in nine cities across the United States. An estimated 80,400 invasive MRSA infections occurred in 2011, compared to about 111,200 in 2005, according to the public health organization. The results were published in one of the American Medical Association's scientific journals, JAMA Internal Medicine.
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Pertussis vaccine in teens may reduce infant hospitalizations
October 21st, 2013
03:13 PM ET

Pertussis vaccine in teens may reduce infant hospitalizations

More adolescents being vaccinated for pertussis appears to result in fewer pertussis-related hospitalizations in infants, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics.

"The number of hospitalizations in 2011 we observed were 30% of  what we would have expected had there not been a vaccine," says lead study author Dr. Katherine Auger, who also specializes in pediatric hospital patient care at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. "For every 10,000 infants, we saw 3.3 pertussis hospitalizations. We expected 10.7 hospitalizations had there not been a vaccine."

The study looked at hospitalization rates, using nationwide inpatient samples, and compared it to data before and after the so-called Tdap vaccination was recommended for universal administration to adolescents in 2006.

Also known as whooping cough, pertussis is a highly contagious and often serious disease, especially in young children.  FULL POST


New deadly flu launched by live bird markets
August 21st, 2013
05:01 PM ET

New deadly flu launched by live bird markets

The new strain of bird flu that killed at least 40 people in China this year likely evolved through close contact between ducks and chickens in markets selling live birds, according to a genetic analysis published in the journal Nature. At least 130 people became infected during the outbreak, which began in March.

“We clearly identified that the source of human infection came from the infected chickens, not any other types of birds,” said Yi Guan, a professor of virology at the University of Hong Kong and one of the study authors. The analysis also shows the virus was shed from the birds' oral or upper respiratory tract, not from fecal material. According to Yi, this suggests that H7N9 reasonably well adapted to infect humans, a finding that's supported by other research.

The research group also discovered a previously unrecognized variety of bird flu – an H7N7 strain, with a genetic makeup similar to the novel H7N9 strain. The H7N7 strain was also able to infect mammals in laboratory conditions.

Any variety of influenza is broadly characterized by two of its proteins: the type of hemaglutinin (“H”) and the type of neuraminidase (“N”).
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MERS unlikely to cause pandemic - for now, experts say
July 4th, 2013
06:34 PM ET

MERS unlikely to cause pandemic - for now, experts say

For the past few months, near-daily reports of new cases and deaths from a new type of coronavirus called MERS raised fears that another pandemic, similar to SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), was looming.

That's not the case, according to new research from France published Thursday in the British medical journal The Lancet.

A mathematical analysis of the known cases suggests that "MERS-CoV does not yet have pandemic potential," even when looking at the worst-case scenario, according to researchers. They looked at the "reproduction value" or R-value, which is a calculation of  the number of infections caused by one infected person.

If the R-value is bigger than 1, the number of infections will grow exponentially. For example, if 10 people have MERS and the R-value is two, then those 10 people would infect 20 people, and they would then infect 40 people etc., explains Chris Bauch, a professor of applied mathematics at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, and one of the authors of an editorial accompanying the research. FULL POST


Report: New bird flu deadlier than swine flu
June 23rd, 2013
06:35 PM ET

Report: New bird flu deadlier than swine flu

The H7N9 bird flu virus, first identified in humans earlier this year, kills about 36% of infected people admitted to hospitals in China, according to a new report published Sunday in the British medical journal The Lancet.

Far more difficult to estimate, according to the study, is how many die in the general population after becoming infected, as the most severe cases are also more likely to lead to hospitalization.

That estimate – a 0.16% to 2.8% overall fatality rate for those showing symptoms of infection – suggests that the H7N9 virus is less deadly than the H5N1 Bird Flu first appearing in 2003, and more deadly than the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic. FULL POST


Meningitis vaccines urged before NYC Pride events
The 2012 Gay Pride parade in New York. Health officials are urging men to be vaccinated against meningitis this year.
June 17th, 2013
06:23 PM ET

Meningitis vaccines urged before NYC Pride events

While meningitis has reached an all-time low in the United States, an op-ed in this week's Annals of Internal Medicine highlights cases of a deadly meningitis strain among men who have sex with men.

Cities including New York, Toronto, and San Francisco have launched public awareness campaigns to promote vaccination, but the authors also call on physicians to assess the risk to their patients and discuss the strain.

Since August 2010, 22 cases have been reported in New York City among men who have sex with men. More than half of those were already HIV positive. Seven men died.  In fact, in New York City last year, men who have sex with men were 50 times more likely than the general population to be infected with the virus, according to city health officials.

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Vinegar could save tens of thousands of lives
A women's rally in India. A new study says vinegar could help reduce cervical cancer deaths in the country.
June 3rd, 2013
02:11 PM ET

Vinegar could save tens of thousands of lives

In some parts of the world, cancer patients are treated with some of the newest targeted cancer drugs which can cost more than$100,000 per year, while in other regions, patients don't even know they have cancer because they're not being screened.

But where pap smears are not available, there may be a decidedly low-tech way to screen for cervical cancer and reduce cancer deaths, according to a large clinical trial released Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Chicago: swabbing a woman's cervix with vinegar.

This study out of India is one of the top five out of more than 5,300 studies presented at the conference. It was given a spotlight usually reserved for the newest blockbuster drug research. FULL POST


Study suggests new approach to dengue fever
Mosquitoes spread a disease called dengue fever.
April 7th, 2013
01:05 PM ET

Study suggests new approach to dengue fever

Dengue fever may be more than three times more prevalent than current estimates, according to a new report. 

The study, led by researchers at the University of Oxford in England, estimates there are 390 million dengue infections around the world each year. Currently, the World Health Organization puts the number between 50 and 100 million infections each year. Researchers hope their findings will help pinpoint parts of the world most vulnerable to dengue fever and develop strategies to treat it.

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FDA approves new type of flu shot
November 21st, 2012
12:34 PM ET

FDA approves new type of flu shot

The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new flu vaccine for adults that is not egg-based, although it hasn't yet been tested on people with egg allergies.

The manufacturing process for the vaccine, called Flucelvax, is similar to the egg-based production method, but the virus strains included in the new vaccine are "grown in animal cells of mammalian origin instead of in eggs," the FDA says.

"The cell-based vaccine is as safe and effective as traditional egg-based vaccine and the technology used to manufacture it is more flexible and reliable than the traditional technology," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a statement Tuesday.

It is, however, only approved for adults 18 and older, according to the FDA.
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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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