The Handoff: Your Week in Infectious Disease News – 5/5/17

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.

— Researchers at the Lodz University of Technology in Poland have developed an innovative wound dressing made from chitin, a substance formed from the shells of crustaceans. The new wound dressing is expected to eventually replace classic hydrogel dressings, according to the study published in Radiation Physics and Chemistry. With antimicrobial resistance becoming a worldwide health threat, the innovative wound cover has the possibility of preventing tens of thousands of infections.

— Zika virus was found in cerebrospinal fluid, lymph nodes, and colorectal tissue of rhesus monkeys infected with the virus 7-10 days after it was cleared from their blood, urine, and mucosal secretions. The study, published in Cell, suggests that the virus in the central nervous system could contribute to neurological issues associated with human cases.

— The Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care does not recommend screening low risk adults for hepatitis C virus, according to their guideline published in Canadian Medical Association Journal. The recommendation comes from the lack of evidence that mass screening proves beneficial to patients. 

— Engineered nanosponges, encapsulated in the membranes of red blood cells, help to reduce the severity of infections caused by group A Steptococcus and necrotizing fasciitis. The study, presented at the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, showed that the nanosponges can block the ability of infecting bacteria from damaging host cells and preserve the immune function in vitro and in vivo.

— Researchers at the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit, Vietnam found that daily platelet counts in children with early stage dengue infection can predict patients who are high at risk of dengue shock syndrome.

— Boston, New Bedford, and Springfield have the most prominent clusters of hepatitis C infection in Massachusetts, according to a Tufts University School of Medicine study. Public health researchers used geographic information systems, spatial epidemiology, and statistical modeling to find significant HCV clusters based on rates per 100,000 people.

— Gut bacteria called Clostridia could be the answer to preventing digestive system infection-related death in human neonates. Clostridia helps digest food as well as provides protection against infection in mice, according to the study published in Science.

— Research presented at the 27th European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases showed that it is possible to quickly and accurately test and identify drug-resistant bacteria. Scientists from Imperial College London and the South Paris University tested colistin resistance against 134 colonies of bacteria using a mass spectrometer. 

— A mysterious Ebola-like illness has claimed 12 lives in Africa. Symptoms of the illness include fever, vomiting, headaches, and diarrhea. According to the World Health Organization, most of the deaths are connected to a funeral of a religious leader in Greenville, Sinoe County. Tests are being conducted by the CDC in Atlanta to establish possible association between any food and drinks served at the funeral ceremony.