The CDC's International Infection Control Program: Partners in Prevention

by Erica Mitchell | August 21 2023

Alongside its work in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintains an ongoing international presence, providing support and expertise across a variety of healthcare activities. By working with partners in typically low- and middle-income countries, the International Infection Control Program (IICP) focuses efforts on reducing healthcare-associated infections, antimicrobial resistance, and infectious disease outbreaks. In today's post, we will learn about this global program that helps keep all global citizens safe.

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Plasmids Take A Hike

by Erica Mitchell | August 16 2023

Imagine a group of hikers setting out on a 100-mile trek through a remote forest, each taking their own path and traveling alone. Each carries a backpack with supplies necessary for survival such as water, food, tent, and first aid kit. However, a few of them also carry a survival handbook with instructions on how to survive in the wild during life-threatening situations. Unfortunately, this book is extremely heavy, adding 50 lbs the backpack. Who will arrive at the destination?

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Bacterial Armor: The Germs that Become Tanks and How to Eradicate Them

by Erica Mitchell | July 10 2023

Eradicating pathogens from environmental surfaces in hospitals is a daily fight. Keeping bacteria from reproducing on surfaces, finding reservoirs in hard-to-clean areas, and forming biofilms requires daily disinfection, and ideally, some form of continuous mitigation. In today's post, we will look at the threats posed by bacteria that are even more adept at surviving on surfaces: Spore-forming bacteria, and how hospitals are trying to keep these persistent pathogens from threatening their patients.

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What is the ARLAB Network?

by Erica Mitchell | May 10 2023

As a response to the growing global and national threat of antibiotic resistance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) established a network of labs whose sole mission is to help detect, prevent, contain and respond to outbreaks of antibiotic resistant pathogens. Today's post will explore this mission and how it is implemented.

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A Wave of Candida auris infections: Crashing in Hospitals Nationwide

by Erica Mitchell | April 3 2023

We've covered Candida auris in this blog before. Not only has it been one of the pathogens of concern cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this fungus also infected record numbers of inpatients during the COVID-19 pandemic. This disease-causing pathogen has hit headlines once again, this time brining attention to troubling increases in rates and resistance. What can hospitals - and patients - do to avoid this dangerous hospital-associated infection?

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Increase in Resistant Shigella Infections: 5 Things to Know about Shigella XDR

by Erica Mitchell | March 6 2023

A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Health Advisory addresses an increase in "extensively-drug-resistant" (XDR) Shigella, the strain that caused 5% of cases of shigellosis in 2022, up from 0% in 2015. Antibiotic resistance has been a top priority for years with national and world health organizations, so what sets this particular strain apart? In today's post, we will cover the 5 things you need to know about this strain of Shigella.

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Thankful for Antibiotics

by Erica Mitchell | November 23 2022

On a fall day in 1928, a window was left open in a London laboratory, letting in a cool breeze. Carried on that breeze were microscopic spores of mold, tiny particles that fell gently onto a work surface covered with open Petri dishes culturing Staphylococcus bacteria. One spore landed on the rich culture medium of a dish and began to grow, contaminating the experiment in progress. This contamination, to the surprise of the scientist when he returned to check on his experiment, was peculiar. The mold had not simply grown, it had also destroyed all the bacteria around it, leaving a clear boundary all around its perimeter. The scientist was Alexander Flemming, and his determination to find out what was going on in this peculiar, unexpected, serendipitous mistake would lead to the world-changing discovery of antibiotics. 

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What Are ESKAPE Pathogens?

by Erica Mitchell | October 17 2022

In 2008, the medical field presented data to the federal government in support of funding to study antimicrobial resistance in hospital-associated pathogens. A leading figure in the effort, Dr. Louis B. Rice, had spent his career studying the mechanisms of antibiotic resistance and knew first-hand the threat presented by resistant pathogens as hospital-acquired infections. In his statement of support to continued funding of research, Dr. Rice coined a term that has become a useful acronym for anyone working in the field of infection prevention and control: ESKAPE pathogens. In today's post, we will discover these pathogens and the status of our fight against them since Dr. Rice first devised the term.

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We Now Return to Your Regularly Scheduled Pandemic: Hospital Associated Infections

by Erica Mitchell | September 23 2022

In a widely-circulated interview, President Biden stated that the pandemic was, in effect, over. While not an official statement and also clarified over the next few days, the idea that the worst of the pandemic is over has been echoed by global medical experts. So what now? A return to "normal" in the medical field does not mean no more infections; in fact, it means returning to a world where almost 100,000 people die each year from infections they acquired while receiving medical care - most of which are preventable. There are many similarities between a pandemic and the on-going crisis of hospital-acquired infections, and in today's post, we will explore them. 

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Pathogens Can Become Resistant to Disinfectants?

by Erica Mitchell | July 25 2022

Bacteria have been around for, oh, 3.5 billion years or so. They didn't achieve this longevity without collecting a few tricks up their sleeves. Among them is the ability to adapt to their environments from one generation to the next, activating certain genes during times of distress, changes in humidity, and access to nutrients. The resulting tricks are known collectively as "resistance." Bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics such as penicillin, creating dangerous drug-resistant strains. They can also become resistant to disinfectants, including those used in today's hospitals. In today's post, we'll learn why that matters.

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