The Handoff: Your Week in Infectious Disease News – 3/31/17

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.

— Somalia is starting an effort to vaccinate 450,000 people against cholera. The New York Times reports that in 2015 Somalia had 15,619 known cholera cases; this year it has already had over 13,000 cases and 333 deaths. Only one-third of the United Nation’s $864 million in aid has been raised.

— A research team at Trinity College Dublin has found a way to prevent Staphylococcus aureus biofilms from accumulating on medical devices implanted in the body such as heart valves and hip replacements. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, will help to understand the role of homophilic interactions in staphylococcal adhesion and hopefully in designing of new molecules to prevent biofilm formation during infection. 

— Tuberculosis and HIV co-infections increased by 40% in Europe between 2011 and 2015 as reported by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the WHO Regional Office for Europe. New tuberculosis cases and deaths, however, declined by 4.3% and 8.5%, respectively, in the same time period.

— Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have developed a smartphone-based diagnostic device to detect Zika, chikungunya, and dengue viruses within 30 minutes. The device, according to the study published in Scientific Reports, can be powered by a 5 V USB source such as a USB power bank or solar panel and detects the viruses from blood, urine, and saliva.

Blood-sucking flies can be used as ‘flying syringes’ to detect emerging infectious disease in animals before they spread to humans, according to research published in eLife. This research can help in preventing future outbreaks of Ebola and Zika viruses.

— Researchers at the University of Florida and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that sequential transmission of dengue virus occurs between households in the same neighborhood and are transmitted from the same family of mosquitoes. The study, published in Science, observed that in Bangkok, Thailand 60% of cases were less than 200 meters apart and came from the same transmission chain.

— Researchers at the University of North Carolina are developing an implantable drug delivery system for long lasting HIV-prevention. They have received a $1.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, where they will test and evaluate the injectable formula in animal models.

— Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have found that the hormone hepcidine, responsible for controlling iron metabolism, may help to prevent pneumonia from spreading throughout the body. The study published in JCI Insight showed that mice lacking hepcidin were susceptible to bacterial pneumonia, and ultimately died once pneumonia spread from the lungs to the bloodstream.

— The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine issued recommendations to eliminate hepatitis B and hepatitis C as public health issues in the US by 2030. The report states that the plan will require aggressive testing, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention methods coordinated by a federal effort.