News » Chapter 18 Introduction to Pathogens and Airborne and Contact Transmission

Mutations in influenza H5 HA can render droplet transmission ability

Contributed by savsani on Jul 24, 2013 - 03:26 PM

Influenza viruses are a great threat to humans and have very well proven their pandemic nature such as the H1N1 pandemic in 2009. They contain the protein haemagglutinin (HA) which determines the host range by identifying specific receptors such as sialic acid linked to galactose by α2,6-linkages in humans. Recent studies at UW-Madison and University of Tokyo by Yoshihiro Kawaoka have identified a reassortant H5 HA/H1N1 virus that can be transferred through droplet transmission in a ferret model and is capable of identifying Siaα2,6Gal linkages.

Serious Problem, Simple Solution

Contributed by paustian on Jun 13, 2013 - 03:16 PM

A team of researchers at the University of Iowa, lead by Marin Schweizer, have developed guidelines that could reduce the incidence of post-surgery infections by more than 70%. The sources of post-operative infection in 85% of cases originated with the patient. They were infecting themselves, sometimes with highly resistant microbes, such as MRSA. These microbes were found to be harbored in the nasal passages  and the patients would transmit the microbe by touching their nose and then the wound. The protocol for this procedure is very simple,

  • Swab patients’ noses looking for both MRSA staph and those that are sensitive to methicillin before surgery
  • For the 30 percent of patients who have staph naturally in their noses, apply an anti-bacterial nose ointment in the days before surgery
  • At surgery, give an antibiotic specifically for MRSA to patients who have the MRSA strain in their noses; for all others, give a more general antibiotic

The researchers are now conducting a study at 20 community hospitals nationwide to test its effectiveness. Judging from past, similar interventions, this should be successful. Interestingly, the study reported that 47% of hospitals do not use nose ointment before surgeries.  Staph infections are extremely dangerous, and drug resistant strains, such as MRSA, can be nearly impossible to control.

The CDC and H7N9 Influenza

Contributed by paustian on Jun 07, 2013 - 08:10 AM

Dr Michael Shaw and his team at the CDC are making rapid progress in understanding the H7N9 influenza virus that is causing lethal cases of flu in China. There is great concern about this virus, and its potential to cause a serious pandemic. Currently the virus is not transmitting readily human-to-human, with most cases being bird-to-human. Unfortunately, the virus does not seem to greatly sicken birds, making it harder to detect and easier to spread. You can find some cool graphics and images of influenza at the CDC


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