Tag Archives: infectious diseases

Superbug: Member’s book about MRSA released

Superbug: The Fatal Menace of MRSA,” AHCJ member Maryn McKenna’s second book, has been released today. McKenna, a member of AHCJ’s board of directors, has written extensive primers about MRSA and avian and pandemic influenza for AHCJ members. She also will moderate a luncheon session, “Influenza! Lessons learned from a year of H1N1,” at Health Journalism 2010.

McKenna, an independent journalist who also wrote “Beating Back the Devil: On the Front Lines with the Disease Detectives of the Epidemic Intelligence ServiceBeating Back the Devil, was featured on NPR’s Fresh Air this morning to talk about methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Her Superbug blog keeps up with the latest news and developments about MRSA.

Study: C. diff. on the rise among children

A study published in the April 2010 issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases finds the incidence of Clostridium difficile appears to be increasing in children. Other studies have found the diarrhea-causing bacterium is becoming “more severe and complicating many hospitalizations” among adults but this study found that “between 1997 and 2006, the rates of hospitalization for C. difficile in children nearly doubled.”

Researchers reported a low rate of C. diff. among newborns, which they say supports the concept that the bacteria does not cause disease among newborns.However, the study concludes that “In contrast, the relatively high rate of CDI-related hospitalizations among non-newborn infants indicates an urgent need for studies to determine how often C. difficile causes true disease in this population.”

Clostridium difficile Infection among Hospitalized Children, United States, 1997-2006
M.D. Zilberberg et al.


CDC’s Overview of Clostridium difficile Infections
MedlinePlus information

Mumps outbreak hits more than 1,500 in N.Y., N.J.

More than 1,500 cases of mumps in New York and New Jersey have prompted the CDC to update the public on the outbreak in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

According to the CDC, the outbreak appears to have originated with an 11-year-old boy who returned from a trip to the United Kingdom and then attended a summer camp for observant Jewish boys. The illness was transmitted to other attendees and staff members and has since spread as those people returned home. The CDC says 97 percent of the people with mumps “are members of the tradition-observant Jewish community.”

Child with mumps (Photo: Public Health Image Library)

Child with mumps (Photo: Public Health Image Library)

The CDC’s report includes information about how many of the people found to have mumps have been vaccinated – 88 percent had received one dose and 75 percent had received two doses.

The CDC says that, since 1967, when the mumps vaccine was licensed, to the early 2000s, the number of reported cases has gone from 186,000 to less than 500 annually but points out that “the effectiveness of the mumps component of the MMR vaccine is lower than that of the measles and rubella components.”

“The CDC hypothesized that the relatively closed social world of the communities and the large family sizes within them have played a role in preventing the disease from spreading further,” according to a brief from the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy.

Lack of vaccinations may hurt ‘herd immunity’

USA Today‘s Liz Szabo writes about experts’ fears that unvaccinated children will lead to outbreaks of some infectious diseases.

Experts say that parents may be reducing children’s “herd immunity” – keeping germs out of circulation by vaccinating kids. As an example, Szabo tells the story of one child who has a rare immune deficiency and developed meningitis.

Thanks to the success of vaccines, few parents today know anyone who has become sick with a serious contagious disease, says William Schaffner, an infectious-disease expert at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Instead, parents are often concerned about chronic illnesses, such as asthma, allergies or autism, which don’t have a clear cause.

Szabo cites statistics from The New England Journal of Medicine that show the number of children who are exempt from immunization requirements has gone up 50 percent from 1991 to 2004.