Industry News

12 Infected With New Swine Flu Strain

Posted by on Jan 16, 2012 in NEW PRODUCTS & TECHNOLOGY | Comments Off

12 Infected With New Swine Flu Strain

The days of medical masks at airports and widespread panic may be coming back—that’s because at least 12 humans are believed to have been infected with a new strain of swine flu that’s not covered by this season’s vaccine.

The new swine flu strain, H3N2v, has shown at least some potential for human-to-human transmission in those 12 individuals, which makes it especially dangerous. Between 2009 and mid-2010, more than 17,000 people died worldwide from the highly contagious H1N1 swine flu strain, leading the World Health Organization to call the strain a pandemic.

The 12 people with the new swine flu strain live in Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Officials for the Centers for Disease Control say the sample size of H3N2 infections is too small to know whether it will pose a threat to the population at large.

“It’s a very small sample and it’s geographically spread, which makes it more difficult to get a handle on it,” says Jeffrey Dimond, a CDC spokesman. “Most of the cases have come through direct contact with the animals, through the 4H Club and that sort of thing.”

In order to have a true threat of causing an epidemic or pandemic, Dimond says the virus needs to spread easily between humans.

“If you’re in close contact with someone who’s ill, that’s one thing,” he says. “To make it like the pandemic flu of a few years ago, it has to be highly contagious from human to human.”

H3N2v or another new flu strain could disrupt what CDC officials expected to be a relatively quiet flu season. Each year’s flu vaccine protects against specific strains of the virus that researchers expect to circulate. In October, Joe Bresee, chief of CDC’s influenza epidemiology and prevention branch, said he was confident this year’s vaccine would protect against the most dangerous flu strains.

“The flu viruses this year’s vaccine will protect against are very well-matched to those flu viruses that [were] circulating [in October],” he said. “We will have a vaccine that provides good protection this season to help keep influenza illness and serious complications down.”

While it’s too early to tell if the new H3N2 strain (or another unexpected strain) will develop into a larger threat, the CDC admits the current vaccine will do little to help stop the virus.

“These viruses are substantially different from human influenza A (H3N2) viruses, so the seasonal vaccine is expected to provide limited cross-protection among adults and no protection to children,” the CDC wrote in a report released in late November.

Study Shows Effectiveness of Antimicrobial Copper

Posted by on Jan 16, 2012 in NEW PRODUCTS & TECHNOLOGY | Comments Off

Study Shows Effectiveness of Antimicrobial Copper

Results from a comprehensive multi-site clinical trial demonstrated that the use of antimicrobial copper surfaces in intensive care unit rooms reduced the amount of bacteria in the rooms by 97 percent and resulted in a 41 percent reduction in the hospital acquired infection rate.

According to researchers, this study is one of the first to demonstrate the value of a passive infection control intervention, one that does not rely on staff or patients remembering to take action. The results will be presented on Oct. 21 at the 49th annual meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) in Boston.

Objects in hospital patient rooms are a potential breeding ground for bacteria that cause infections. According to Dr. Michael Schmidt, vice chairman of microbiology and immunology at the Medical University of South Carolina, and a researcher on this study, bacteria on ICU room surfaces are responsible for up to 80 percent of patient infections. The results of this study demonstrate that reducing the amount of bacteria in the patient’s environment significantly lowers the risk of infection.

The study was funded by the U.S. Department of Defense and took place at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, the Medical University of South Carolina, and the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, both in Charleston. As part of the study, common objects such as bed rails, overbed tray tables, nurse call buttons and IV poles, were replaced with antimicrobial copper versions.

Independent laboratory testing has demonstrated that when cleaned regularly, antimicrobial copper products kill greater than 99.9 percent of the following bacteria within two hours of exposure: MRSA, VRE, Staphylococcus aureus, Enterobacter aerogenes, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and E. coli O157:H7. For a complete listing of approved EPA public health claims for antimicrobial copper, visit www.antimicrobialcopper.com. Study results are to be submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for review and approval. Because many factors contribute to the risk of infection, individual results may vary.

The Copper Development Association is the information, education, marketing and technical development arm of the copper, brass and bronze industries in the U.S.

Researchers Explore How Contaminated Surfaces Transmit Nosocomial Pathogens

Posted by on Jan 16, 2012 in NEW PRODUCTS & TECHNOLOGY | Comments Off

Researchers Explore How Contaminated Surfaces Transmit Nosocomial Pathogens

In a review article in the latest issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, researchers Jonathan Otter, Saber Yezli and Gary French acknowledge that while outbreaks of infection have been associated with contaminated hospital equipment and environmental surfaces, “the degree to which ongoing contamination of the surface environment contributes to the development of healthcare-associated infections is unclear, and approaches to control are uncertain.” They add further, “Hospital patients shed pathogens into their surrounding environments, but there is debate over the importance of the resulting surface contamination as a source for subsequent transmission.”

 

In the article, Otter, et al. review evidence that nosocomial pathogens are shed by patients and can contaminate hospital surfaces at concentrations sufficient for transmission, can survive for extended periods, can persist despite attempts to disinfect or remove them, and can be transferred to the hands of healthcare providers. They also review evidence that improved environmental hygiene can help to bring outbreaks under control and reduce endemic nosocomial transmission.

The researchers conclude, “The historical perspective that contaminated surfaces contribute negligibly to nosocomial transmission has been reevaluated in light of new information. There is now compelling evidence that contaminated surfaces make an important contribution to the epidemic and endemic transmission of C. difficile, VRE, MRSA, A. baumannii, and P. aeruginosa and to the epidemic transmission of norovirus. However, few studies have quantified the link between contaminated surfaces and the risk of transmission. This is in part due to the difficulties in conducting research in this area because of the multifaceted nature of nosocomial transmission. In addition, the widespread view that contaminated surfaces are relatively unimportant in transmission has meant that fundholders and administrators have not commissioned research in this area until relatively recently. There is now sufficient evidence to support further studies in this area to identify the best methods of achieving and maintaining clean hospitals and to evaluate the cost and effectiveness of such interventions with respect to reducing the incidence of hospital-associated infections. In particular, there is a need to conduct large, high-quality prospective controlled trials to identify interventions that significantly reduce surface contamination and transmission.”

Reference: Otter JA, Yezli S and French GL. The Role Played by Contaminated Surfaces in the Transmission of Nosocomial Pathogens. Infect Control Hosp Epidem. Vol. 32, No. 7. Pp. 687-699. July 2011.

Ethical and Regulatory Issues in the Health Care Industry

Posted by on Jan 6, 2012 in REGULATORY ISSUES | 0 comments

Ethical and Regulatory Issues in the Health Care Industry

One of the foremost issues regarding regulation in the health care industry is the compliance with Medicare standards. The Medicare standards, in turn, are themselves made up of a wide range of individual issues that include, but by no means are limited to: the clarification of the necessity for advanced beneficiary notices, streamlining the process for writing orders for diabetic glucose monitoring supplies, as well as many others. At present, the methods of addressing these concerns cut a broad swath, ranging from mere word processing work in which clarification is made through rewriting the language of policy to full scale changes in those policies or regulations. In some cases, however, it has actually been necessary to introduce regulations through legislation.

As with just about every other industry in the post-9/11 world that is American society today, the health care industry has been struggling to devise ways to address the opposing forces of security and the right to privacy in ways that are acceptable to those fighting on either side. The ability to please both those who desire security and those who value privacy can only be compromised when staring down at the pile of regulations that health care providers must acquiesce to regarding the transmission of electronic patient information, with significant punishments in place for not following them. Responding to these issues has resulted in a series of safeguard measures. Some of these measures include such things as educational programs to increase the basic awareness of security issues, including but not limited to classes in password management. Another security safeguard measure that is recommended beyond these basics is the establishment of a strictly defined and overseen hierarchical structure of security flow management. Furthermore, this management process must include highly organized and tightly focused evaluations as well as a contingency plan in the case of regulatory oversights. One of the most basic yet effective methods that many health care providers institute boils down to nothing more complicated than limiting workstation access or even workstation security devices to prevent unauthorized or untrained users from allowing improper transmissions simply by accident.

The disposal of the voluminous amounts of hazardous waste may be the single most dangerous aspect of the entire health care industry, at least as it relates to security measures. Proper and safe disposal of toxic and hazardous waste becomes a primary issue for developing regulatory compliance because it affects not only health care employees, but the general populace. The focus of this kind of training often is almost remedial simply due to employees having little or no experience in dealing with these kinds of materials and not being fully cognizant of the extent of the potential risk. In addition it has been deemed extremely important to initiate organizational hierarchies with an eye toward assigning responsibility for dealing with the proper disposal of waste. In partnership with assigning responsibility it also becomes very important that a tracking system is instituted in order to establish a chain of command to follow the waste stream. And finally it is recommended that systematic evaluation and analysis of the process for disposing of hazardous waste be conducted in order to improve upon any flaws or gaps in the system. These evaluations must be conducted regularly and with the utmost seriousness, unlike the manner in which most businesses conduct fire and even emergency drills.

Pathogens Linger Despite Terminal Room Cleaning and Disinfection

Posted by on Jan 6, 2012 in NEW PRODUCTS & TECHNOLOGY | 0 comments

Pathogens Linger Despite Terminal Room Cleaning and Disinfection

Farrin A. Manian, MD, MPH, of the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Department of Infection Control at St. John’s Mercy Medical Center in St. Louis, and colleagues, sought to study the frequency of isolation of Acinetobacter baumannii complex (ABC) and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) from surfaces of rooms newly vacated by patients with multidrug-resistant (MDR) ABC following various rounds of routine terminal cleaning and disinfection (C/D) with bleach or one round of C/D followed by hydrogen peroxide vapor (HPV) treatment.

In the study conducted in a 900-bed tertiary care hospital, the researchers obtained ABC and MRSA cultures from hospital rooms including 312 rooms after following four rounds of C/D, 37 rooms after one round of C/D before and after HPV treatment, and 134 rooms after one round of C/D and HPV treatment.

The researchers report that after four rounds of C/D, 83 (26.6 percent) rooms had one or more culture-positive sites; 102 (1.8 percent) sites in 51 (16.4 percent) rooms grew ABC, and 108 (1.9 percent) sites in 44 (14.1 percent) rooms grew MRSA. They report that the addition of HPV treatment to one round of C/D resulted in a significant drop in ABC- and MRSA-positive room sites for both organisms. Following one round of C/D and HPV treatment, six (4.5 percent) rooms were culture-positive for ABC, MRSA, or both.

Manian, et al. concluded that routine terminal cleaning and disinfection of hospital rooms vacated by MDRABC-positive patients may be associated with a significant number of ABC- or MRSA-positive room surfaces even when up to four rounds of C/D are performed. The researchers also say that the addition of HPV treatment to one round of C/D appears effective in reducing the number of persistently contaminated room sites in this setting.

Reference: Manian FA, et al. Isolation of Acinetobacter baumannii Complex and Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus from Hospital Rooms Following Terminal Cleaning and Disinfection: Can We Do Better? Infect Control Hosp Epidem. Vol. 32, No. 7. Pp. 667-672. July 2011.

Bad Bug Update 01

Posted by on Jan 6, 2012 in BAD BUG UPDATE | 0 comments

Bad Bug Update 01

The latest new scary bug to become antibiotic resistant is one we are all to familiar with, klebsiella pneumoniae, which is the bacteria  coupon  that IS useD for validation along with the spore geobacillus  stearothermophilus. This  new strain is equipped with a gene that enables them to produce an enzyme that disables antibiotics to include carbapenam antibiotics, the last line of defense for infections that don’t respond to other drugs.This enzyme is called the klebsiella pneumoniae  carbapenamase or  “KFC”.

This bug has been reported by hospitals in more than 20 states and  is spreading rapidly. It typically strikes the critically ill, and is fatal in 30-60% of the cases. Fortunately these drugs are almost exclusively in hospitals and have not  become community based yet.

The other bugs are motivated by the NDM-1 gene , which is a another  very adaptable gene that hitches onto many types of common germs and confers broad drug resistance, creating dangerous “superbugs” . So far the gene altered bacteria have been found in only three states, California, Massachusetts  and Illinois,   and confine themselves mainly  to gut and urinary track infections. It is believed that this altered gene emanated  from India and Pakistan. The gene is carried by bacteria that can spread hand to mouth, which makes sound  hygiene  practices mandatory.  Scientists believe that the ingredients are there for world wide transmission. The over use of antibiotics is being blamed for  allowing  these mutant genes to evolve. That,  conjunctive with the fact that there are no new “ last line of defense” drugs  far enough  along In the R&D pipeline to bring relief to an outbreak in the near future, makes this all too  scary.