Infectious Diseases Watch

Published Online: Tuesday, February 16, 2010
CDC Offers Guidance for Haiti Relief Workers

As health care workers—including pharmacists— travel to Haiti to help with the ongoing relief effort, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued guidance for volunteers going to the devastated island. The report— prepared by the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, National Center for Preparedness, Detection, and Control of Infectious Diseases— advises relief workers and clinicians to obtain vaccines before traveling to Haiti, including routine vaccines, such as MMR, DPT, polio, seasonal and H1N1 flu, and varicella. Additionally, vaccines for hepatitis A, typhoid, hepatitis B, and rabies are also recommended, as well as a current tetanus shot.

Because Haiti has a high prevalence of HIV among its population, health care workers are encouraged to take precautions by wearing gloves, masks, and protective eyewear or face shields during procedures that are likely to require contact with blood and bodily fluids, mucous membranes, or broken skin. Insect-borne malaria and dengue also occur in Haiti, and the CDC guidelines include important information on these illnesses. Rates of tuberculosis (TB) are very high in Haiti, so medical workers are advised to take a tuberculin skin test before travel and then 8 to 10 weeks after returning. If there is contact with a known TB patient, a personal respiratory protective device is recommended.

For more information, go to www. cdc.gov.


STDs Increase Among Young Women


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) annual study on sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), released in November 2009, revealed that STDs were increasing in younger women and continued to disproportionately affect the African- American population. The study tracked reported cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis in the United States during 2008, and showed that chlamydia and gonorrhea are most prevalent among young women aged 15 to 19, with some 409,531 cases reported. Syphilis rates are also rising, with an increase from 3.8 cases per 100,000 in 2007 to 5.3 in 2008.

The CDC estimates that there are about 19 million sexually transmitted infections each year, almost half of them among individuals aged 15 to 24. This younger population is a prime target for prevention as more physicians offer the group information on the serious consequences of STDs.

Racial disparities also appeared in STD rates in the report. Although African Americans represent approximately 12% of the US population, they accounted for approximately 71% of gonorrhea cases and almost half of all chlamydia and syphilis cases. For the complete study, go to www.cdc.gov/std/ stats08/surv2008-complete.pdf. 


Face Masks Limit Influenza’s Spread

A new study, published in the February 15 issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases, revealed that face masks and hand hygiene can effectively reduce the transmission of influenzalike illnesses during the flu season.

Researchers at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, led by Allison E. Aiello, PhD, studied more than 1400 college students. Participants were divided into 3 groups: those who wore face masks, those who wore face masks and used an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and a control group thatreceived no intervention.

After 3 weeks, there were significant reductions in the incidence of influenza-like symptoms in the hand sanitizer/ mask group and in the mask group when compared with the control group. In the hand sanitizer/mask group, researchers found a reduction of influenza-like symptoms ranging from 35% to 51% when compared with the control group. The use of hand sanitizers did not substantially contribute to reducing symptoms, as the incidence of symptoms between the hand sanitizer/mask group and the mask-only group were not statistically different.

For details on the study, go to www.idsociety.org.


New Vaccine Strategy May Protect Against RSV

Researchers from the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, reported on a new vaccine strategy that induces antibodies capable of blocking interaction among disease-causing proteins, which may offer a safe, effective approach against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). The findings were reported in the January 2010 issue of the Journal of Virology. RSV is a significant human virus that can cause life-threatening respiratory illnesses in infants, young children, and the elderly. Visit http://jvi.asm.org for more information. ■



FAST FACT: More than 90% of influenza-related deaths are in people aged 65 or older.





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