A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Health Advisory addresses a recent 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a report addressing the impact COVID-19 has had on antimicrobial resistance. While other reports have covered the incidence of hospital-associated infections during COVID, this report focused on the prevalence of drug-resistant strains of the pathogens causing the HAIs. The report reveals that the top drug-resistant pathogens are transmitted via contaminated surfaces, which become reservoirs for these strains that elude our most powerful treatments. In today's post, we will share their findings and their implications for infection prevention.
Pharmacists are an essential part of a medical team. While many people believe the pharmacist only dispenses medication, their impact on healthcare is far more significant. Hospital pharmacists, for example, can be responsible for making purchasing decisions, monitoring drug therapy, preparing IV medication, and overseeing drug administration. It is this last responsibility that has the greatest impact on infection control: The hospital pharmacists can play a significant role in antibiotic stewardship, one of the key components of reducing dangerous infections.
One of the tools available to infection preventionists, hospital epidemiologists and healthcare practitioners is the antibiogram. While not all facilities or networks will have an up-to-date version of this report, they are becoming more common. What is an antibiogram and how can it be used? In simple terms, an antibiogram is a report that shows how susceptible strains of pathogens are to a variety of antibiotics.
A study demonstrated that regular soap has the same impact as antibacterial soap at killing bacterial during hand washing. Today we'll explore this study, the chemical being evaluated, and what these results mean to the debate about whether or not antibacterial soaps are helpful.
The infection control landscape is difficult to navigate without an understanding of the key terms used by experts in the field. Some of these terms have found their way into every-day language, but often without the technical nuances that can make a big difference in a health care setting. Today we will start to demystify the terminology of infection control, starting with four "anti" terms.