Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Euro 2012 health warnings: measles and STDs

The 2012 UEFA European Football Championship or Euro 2012 is ready to kick off next Friday and hundreds of thousands of spectators are expected to converge on the hosting countries of Poland and Ukraine and health officials are warning about some health risks that may be encountered.
Both the British Health Protection Agency (HPA) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued warnings this week concerning measles in that part of Europe.
Both health agencies are urging travelers to the Ukraine for the football championship to ensure their vaccines are up-to-date.
The HPA said Monday that vaccine shortages in the Ukraine for the past two years have led to more than a million unvaccinated children in the country.
The CDC issued a measles outbreak notice Fridayreporting the seriousness of the situation in Ukraine:
As of May 14, 2012, the Ministry of Health of Ukraine reported 9,173 suspected measles cases in 2012, mostly in the western regions of the country.
The HPA expect the measles outbreak to continue to increase during its peak transmission season until June.
And the Ukraine is not alone; measles is a big problem in many European countries, where many of the fans will be traveling from.
Naturally, anytime you get that many people to assemble in one area, some unvaccinated and susceptible, the risks of respiratory infections increase dramatically. Ensuring vaccinations are up-to-date for other respiratory illnesses like influenza would also be advised.
In addition, anytime you get a large amount of out-of-towners coming to an area, the prostitutes will be there looking for business.
In the US, we see this when big events occur like the Super Bowl, and this is expected with the political conventions in Tampa and Charlotte this summer.
Not surprisingly, Ukraine’s sex industry is also gearing up for Euro 2012. In a Channel News Asia story Wednesday, it is reported that "Kiev's prostitutes are preparing actively for Euro 2012," one Ukrainian sex site said, claiming that some are even studying the history of the 16 nations taking part in the tournament, plus the basics of football, to get a competitive edge.
This has drawn the ire of the feminist group, Femen and Anna Hutsol, who is targeting the upcoming Euro 2012. They warn against the rise of sex tourism in Ukraine under the banner of “Ukraine is not a brothel".
Prostitution is big business in Ukraine since becoming a misdemeanor six years ago. The country now hosts somewhere around 70,000 sex workers, and with prostitution comes sexually transmitted diseases of all kinds.
HIV for instance has become a major problem in the Ukraine which currently has Eastern Europe and Central Asia's highest rates of HIV infection. Sexual intercourse is the main form of transmission in the country. Formerly, it was injecting drug use.
The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)report at least 350,000 people aged 15 and over up in the nation of 46 million are living with the HIV virus that can lead to AIDS. Ukrainian prostitutes carry a high percentage of HIV positive people.
The UEFA has even started a campaign urging football fans to where a condom when having sex—prostitute or otherwise.
If you are traveling to partake in the Euro 2012 championship, ensure you take all the necessary precautions to avoid bringing an infectious disease back home with you.

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Accutane can increase risk of eye infections according to study

Photo/P33tr at wikimedia commons

Anyone who has taken the strong acne medicine, Accutane, knows some of the uncomfortable side-effects — dry lips and peeling skin.
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that researchers from the Tel Aviv University School of Public Health found that the drug, Isotretinoin (Accutane or Roaccutane) would also affect the lubrication of the eyelids increasing the chance of eye infections including conjunctivitis (pink eye) or sties.
The study was published in the journal Archives of Dermatology.
According to a Tel Aviv University press release Wednesday, researchers from TAU's School of Public Health took data from around 15,000 adolescents from the Maccabi Health Care Services database.
The children were then divided into three groups: adolescents who did not have acne, adolescents who did have acne but were not taking oral medicine, and adolescents who had acne but were taking Accutane or Roaccutane.
In the study there was 1,791 adolescents that developed inflammatory ocular diseases with pink eye (conjunctivitis) being the most common infection. Out of these that had the infection, 991 were in the medicated group. The acne group with no medication had 446 infections, and the acne free group had 354 infections.
They conclude that four percent of the acne medication group was infected by pink eye, while only 2 percent were infected in the normal group.
It is recommended that dermatologists and patients understand the eye damage that can come with Accutane treatment. The use of artificial tears or eye drops can help alleviate this issue.

Staphylococcus aureus determined the cause of Buddhist monastery outbreak

The causative agent of a Mother’s Day food poisoning outbreak that sickened 150 people at a Buddhist monastery in Putnam County, New York has been identified as Staphylococcus aureus according to the Putnam County Health Department.
A report Thursday from the news source, Hudson Valley-Your News Now says health officials determined some of the food served at the monastery in Kent Cliffs was held at improper temperatures; however, they say they may never know what food actually caused the outbreak.
The outbreak occurred at the Buddhist Garden Festival at the Chuang Yen Monastery in Kent Cliffs. At least 700 people attended the Mother's Day celebration event, including 500 from Chinatown in New York City.
Initial speculation was the source of the outbreak was “sticky rice balls” served at the event, however, health officials say linking the bacterium to any particular dish may be impossible because samples were collected after the event was over and many foods were similar.
Staphylococcal food intoxication is caused by several of the enterotoxins of Staphylococcus aureus. These toxins are heat-stable and cannot be killed by cooking.
People typically get this usually abrupt food poisoning through eating a foodstuff that contains the staphylococcal enterotoxin, especially foods that come in contact with food handler’s hands, either without subsequent cooking or inadequate heating or refrigeration.
Foods most commonly implicated are pastries, custards, salad dressings, sandwiches and meat products. When these foods remain at room temperature for a period (usually a several hours) prior to consumption, the staph bacteria are allowed to multiply and produce the toxin.
The time between eating the offending food product and the onset of symptoms is short, from 30 minutes to 8 hours.
This intoxication presents itself quickly with sometimes violent onset; severe cramps, nausea, vomiting and often accompanied by diarrhea. The illness typically lasts a day or two. Serious complications and deaths are rare.
· Prevention of staphylococcal food poisoning requires:
· Food handlers must be educated about strict food hygiene, temperature control, handwashing, and sanitation.
· In addition, the dangers of working with exposed skin, nose or eye infections.
· Those workers with boils, lesions, or abscesses must be temporarily excluded from food handling duties.
· Reduction in food handling time, from initial preparation to service, to a minimum of 4 hours at room temperature. Also proper temperature control must be observed when storing food either hot or cold.
Read more infectious disease news and information at Outbreak News

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Arthritis drug, Auranofin, may be effective against amebiasis and Giardia


A common rheumatoid arthritis (RA) drug may prove effective in treating two common protozoan parasites found worldwide.
Researchers from UC San Diego School of Medicine, UC San Francisco and Wake Forest School of Medicine say the 25-year-old RA medicine, auranofin, may be able to treat the pathogens that cause amebiasis, Entamoeba histolytica, and giardiasis, Giardia intestinalis.
The research was published in the online journal, Nature Medicine, Sunday, May 20.
The research team says that the gold-containing auranofin (brand name ridaura) is effective at attacking a protective enzyme, thioredoxin reductase, the amoeba needs for its survival.
They say that auranofin was ten times more potent against E. histolytica than the standard antimicrobial treatment, metronidazole.
In a mouse model of amebic colitis and a hamster model of amebic liver abscess, the drug markedly decreased the number of parasites, damage from inflammation, and size of liver abscesses.
Lead researcher, Professor Sharon Reed, from the University of California at San Diego said, "This new use of an old drug represents a promising therapy for a major health threat”.
The drug has been granted "orphan-drug" status (which identifies a significant, newly developed or recognized treatment for a disease, which affects fewer than 200,000 persons in the United States) from the Food and Drug Administration andhas applied for approval to start clinical trials to treat both amebiasis and giardiasis in humans.
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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Today is the first ‘National Hepatitis Testing Day’

Photo/CDC James Gathany

Today is the first National Hepatitis Testing Day in the United States. The day is an opportunity to emphasize the importance of being tested forviral hepatitis B and C.
Called the “silent” disease, viral hepatitis progresses slowly and rarely causes symptoms of liver damage until decades after infection.
Millions of Americans have chronic hepatitis; most of them do not know they are infected. This is the main thrust behind the new educational initiative.
To learn more about National Hepatitis Testing Day events, visit the National Hepatitis Testing Day website.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

British researchers warn of the potential danger of ‘fish pedicures’

Photo/kazuyuki via wikimedia commons

Although the infection risks associated with ichthyotherapy, or “fish pedicures”, is mostly recognized to be quite low, researchers from the United Kingdom warn that the fish and transport water could harbor some very serious pathogens.
In the June 2012 issue of the CDC publication, Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID), published online this week, scientists from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science Weymouth Laboratory (CEFAS) point out that the doctor fish and the water cultured positive for a well-known cause of skin and soft tissue infections, Streptococcus agalactiae.
This microorganism and others like Vibrio vulnificus, Aeromonas and Mycobacterium were found in fish intercepted at the airport by the CEFAS. These pathogens could be quite dangerous for individuals who are immunosuppressed or have other underlying condition like diabetes and liver disease.
They also warn that individuals with obvious cuts or breaks in the skin should abstain from the procedure.
In addition, they reported that many of these organisms were also multi-drug resistant, making them that more dangerous.
In the EID letter, the authors say an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 Garra rufa fish come into the UK weekly to supply the nearly 300 “fish spas”. The fish are imported from the waters of Asian nations like Indonesia.
The practice of ichthyotherapy is mostly banned in the US and Canada.
What is a “fish pedicure”?
It is a procedure where patients place their feet, or sometimes their whole bodies, in spas that contain the doctor fish.
The fish feed on dead skin. The therapy is used to treat a variety of skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis or just for cosmetic purposes.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Ocala, FL pharmacy linked to fungal endophthalmitis outbreak

Fusarium Photo/CDC

An Ocala, Florida pharmacy with a history of problems has been linked to an outbreak of a rare fungal eye infection according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The outbreak that has affected at least 33 people in seven states is due to the dye, Brilliant Blue-G (BBG) and the drug triamcinolone, both used in eye surgeries, prepared at Franck's Compounding Lab in Ocala, Florida according to a report released yesterday, May 4, in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).
According to the report:
As of April 30, a total of 33 confirmed and probable cases have been identified, with earliest onset of symptoms in November 2011. Of these, 20 cases (13 probable and seven confirmed) are associated with BBG dye use, and 13 (two probable and 11 confirmed) are associated with triamcinolone use. All BBG or triamcinolone products administered to patients reportedly were purchased from Franck's. All available isolates from the seven confirmed cases associated with BBG dye use were identified by culture or genetic sequencing as the mold Fusarium incarnatum-equiseti species complex. All available isolates from the 11 confirmed cases that occurred following intravitreal injection of triamcinolone-containing products have been identified as the moldBipolaris hawaiiensis. Both Fusarium and Bipolaris are ubiquitous molds present in air, soil, and water. Among the 30 patients for whom data are available, 23 (77%) have suffered some degree of vision loss, ranging from partial to severe, or worsened vision because of infection; 24 (80%) have required repeat ophthalmic surgery.
Microbiological testing of unopened BBG dye syringes revealed multiple bacterial and fungal species, including F. incarnatum-equiseti species, complex, Rhodotorula, Bullera, Pseudomonas, and Enterobacter species.
CDC officials said the investigation to identify the root cause is ongoing and warned doctors and patients to stay away from "compounded products labeled as sterile from Franck's".
Testing of the triamcinolone is in progress. Earlier this week, the Pharmacist-in-charge of  Franck's Compounding issued a recall notice for triamcinolone acetonide P.F. 80mg/ml.
Certain formulations required for treatment of various ailments are not available from the pharmaceutical companies and are prepared using sterile ingredients at a compounding pharmacy such as Francks.
A Franck’s spokesperson said it has resolved the issue and made several changes, including hiring a new pharmacist to oversee quality assurance.
The pharmacy is cooperating fully with the investigation.
Franck’s previously was previously investigated in 2009 for its veterinary compounding which resulted in the death of 21 prize polo horses.