The Handoff: Your Week in Infectious Disease News – 3/24/17

As infectious diseases evolve, it can be challenging to stay current with the latest research. The Handoff is a weekly roundup of the most important news and updates covering the diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases. Keep your finger on the pulse of infectious diseases with The Handoff.

Candida auris, an emerging fungus that can cause invasive infections, might become the latest concerning nosocomial infection. The infection, proven to be deadly and highly drug-resistant, has been reported in New York, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey. The highest number of cases (34) was reported in New York.

— A pilot study published in PLoS One has shown that interferon β-1a treatment may ease Ebola virus disease symptoms. The class of drugs used to treat hepatitis and some forms of multiple sclerosis, increased survival rate among patients with Ebola virus.

— The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced that a packing company in Waco, Texas is recalling approximately 73,742 pounds of meat for possible E coli O103 contamination. The company is recalling boxes with a March 6, 2017 production date. Thus far, there have been no confirmed reports of illness.

Researchers at John Hopkins Medicine have developed a tool that aids in finding hepatitis C virus mutations faster and more efficiently than ever before, according to a study published in PLoS Pathogens. The tool will hopefully aid in the development of a vaccine.

— The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has reported 287 cases of hepatitis A virus in Europe. The outbreak is linked to MSM with only 9 women affected in 13 countries since February 2016. The ECDC is advising promotion of hepatitis A virus vaccination among MSM.

— A sample collected from a guinea fowl in Jackson County, Alabama was tested positive for low pathogenic H7N9 avian influenza. The sample, collected at the TaCo-Bet Trade Day flea market was tested by the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Iowa. While this suspected strain of avian flu does not pose a risk to the food supply, the company decided to depopulate the entire flock at the commercial breeder operation.

— Scientists developed a mathematical model of HIV progression, transmission, and intervention tailored to 127 countries and showed that HIV infections are surging, millions of diagnosed people are not receiving treatment, and the battle against the epidemic may be helped by the development of a vaccine.  Findings were reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

— A research team from Purdue University, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and the Washington University School of Medicine have determined that the structure of a human antibody bound to the Zika virus may help in the development of antiviral medications. The new study was published in Nature Communications. To learn more, check out the video below.