As the opioid crisis has continued to plague the nation, a less-reported story for journalists to consider is the surging number of bacterial and viral infections threatening to make the crisis worse.
The rise includes an increase in bacterial infections caused by Staphlococcus aureus, a pathogen that is often resistant to antibiotics – and a climb in new HIV, hepatitis, sexually transmitted diseases and skin and soft tissue infections.
“A converging public health crisis is emerging because the opioid epidemic is fueling a surge in infectious diseases,” said the Journal of Infectious Diseases in August 2019. Continue reading
Two high-profile safety breaches have highlighted the importance of close adherence to infection control protocols in dental clinics and offices.
In both recent cases, patients have been advised to undergo testing for HIV and hepatitis B and C due to possible exposure to bloodborne pathogens.
In Seattle and nearby Vashon Island, news broke in early April that nearly 1,300 students face infection risks because equipment used in school clinics was improperly sterilized. Ten school-based dental clinics operated by Neighborcare, a local health center have been impacted by the safety breach. Continue reading
Neil Moralee via Flickr
Socioeconomic factors such as poverty and living conditions play a role in shaping infection risk and disease outcomes.
Many times people in poverty live in crowded conditions, have limited access to quality health care, must work when they are sick, eat less nutritiously, get less sleep, face more stress and are more likely than others to abuse drugs and alcohol. All of these factors hinder immunity and increase susceptibility to infection and death. Continue reading
Photo: Courtesy of the San Diego Union TribuneTent “cities” have swelled in southern California, creating crowded and unsanitary conditions.
Cases of infectious diseases such as hepatitis A, B and C, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have surged as the opioid epidemic has worsened over the past several years, two public health officials said during a Aug. 23 webcast for AHCJ members.
The increasing number of infectious disease cases are likely due to infected needle injections, unprotected sex, homelessness, lack of access to medical care and other socioeconomic challenges associated with people who have physical addictions to drugs and opioids.
Graphic courtesy of HuffPostLauren Weber and her colleagues recently tracked the increase in hepatitis A cases across the country, noting surges beyond California. What started off as a simple map soon drove a larger story about a growing national crisis.
It was supposed to be a simple map. But what started as a small graphics project at HuffPost soon transformed into a revealing piece on the nation’s hepatitis outbreaks.
Writer and editor Lauren Weber, who also runs HuffPost’s The Morning Email, and her colleague had been following the outbreak in San Diego. They built up their sources and kept pressing for more information, soon connecting the dots to other outbreaks outside of the one in California that had made national headlines. Continue reading