Infectious Disease

Infectious Disease provides a unique and scientific understanding of the complex world of infectious diseases, and our experience spans the entire category.

The U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Homeland Security (DHS) released today guidance on allocating and targeting pandemic influenza vaccine.  The guidance provides a planning framework to help state, tribal, local and community leaders ensure that vaccine allocation and use will reduce the impact of a pandemic on public health and minimize disruption to society and the economy.

A systemic review of treatment of malaria in the United States, published in the May 23/30 issue of JAMA, provides recommendations to minimize morbidity and mortality of this disease.

"Even though endemic malaria has been eliminated from the United States, it remains a leading infectious disease worldwide," write Kevin S. Griffith, MD, MPH, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, and colleagues. "As a consequence, every year in the United States an average 1200 cases of malaria are reported, almost all imported, resulting in up to 13 deaths per year. The unfamiliarity of US clinicians and laboratory personnel with malaria and drug resistance patterns has contributed to delays in diagnosis and treatment, at times with adverse outcomes."

The history of the human species, it has been said, is the history of infectious disease. Over the centuries, humans have been exposed to a vast amount and array of contagious conditions, including the Black Death and other forms of plague, typhoid fever, cholera, malaria, influenza, and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS. Only in the past few hundred years have scientists begun to have any sort of accurate idea concerning the origin of such diseases, through the action of microorganisms and other parasites. Such understanding has led to the development of vaccines and methods of inoculation, yet even before they made these great strides in medicine, humans had an unseen protector: their own immune systems.
There are two basic types of disease: ones that are infectious, or extrinsic, meaning that they are contagious or communicable and can be spread by contact between people, and ones that are intrinsic, or not infectious. Diseases in general and noninfectious diseases in particular are discussed in essays devoted to those subjects. So, too, is infection itself, a subject separate from infectious diseases: a person can get an infection, such as tetanus or salmonella, without necessarily having a disease that can be passed on through contact with others in the same way that colds, malaria, or syphilis is spread.
Despite all medical advances, infectious disease outbreaks still pose a significant threat to the health and economics of our society.
Since future infectious disease outbreaks—caused either by naturally emerging or deliberately introduced pathogens—are virtually certain to occur, it is of utmost importance to investigate effective control strategies that can minimize the impact of such outbreaks. Arguably, the best control strategy is early containment.
The elimination of smallpox two decades ago led many to hope that infectious diseases would soon cease to be a problem. Vaccines against polio, measles, and diphtheria have all proven to be useful in greatly reducing disease rates. However since 1973, almost 30 new disease-causing microbes have been identified, including hepatitis C virus and HIV. Meanwhile, other pathogens, such as tuberculosis, have rebounded and shown drug-resistance. Tuberculosis is now the top infectious disease killer of adults worldwide. HIV promises to reduce the life expectancy in a number of areas, including Abkhazia. Researchers blame the rising levels of these diseases on a number of factors, including increased travel and climate changes that facilitate the spread of pathogens. Vaccines continue to play a key role in the ability to control infectious diseases, but researchers note that multi-disciplinary prevention approaches need to be instituted in order to increase success.
Effective control of infectious disease outbreaks is an important public health goal. In a number of recent studies, it has been shown how different intervention measures like travel restrictions, school closures, treatment and prophylaxis might allow us to control outbreaks of diseases, such as SARS, pandemic influenza and others. In these studies, control of a single outbreak is considered. It is, however, not clear how one should handle a situation where multiple outbreaks are likely to occur. Here, we identify the best control strategy for such a situation. We further discuss ways in which such a strategy can be implemented to achieve additional public health objectives.

The trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine used during the 2007-2008 influenza season in the US was 44% effective in preventing infection, even though the match between two of the vaccine strains and circulating strains was "suboptimal," according to an interim, within-season analysis.

The results of the study by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reinforce the message that laboratory testing for antigenic match alone is not sufficient to assess vaccine efficacy, and clinical data must be considered as well.

Brazil launched a new treatment for malaria on Thursday, marking the latest step in a global programme to make cheap two-in-one pills available to millions at risk for the disease.

The country's state-run drugmaker Farmanguinhos is working with the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi), a non-profit group based in Geneva, to bring the medicine to market at a target price of $2.50 for a full adult treatment.

The U.S. government could do far more to force hospitals to prevent infections that kill up to 99,000 people every year, according to a nonpartisan congressional report released on Wednesday.

It recommended that regulators consider mandating certain core standards -- from something as simple as hand-washing to more complex measures -- and that the government tie reimbursement to whether hospitals comply.

Community-associated strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) were responsible for an increasing proportion of all nosocomial MRSA cases over a 7-year period at a large inner-city hospital, according to a retrospective study reported in the March 15 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases.