Strategies on Emerging Pathogens for Infection Preventions

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A presentation at APIC 2024 will feature strategies for combating emerging pathogens, emphasizing preparedness for infection preventionists amid rising global health threats, including dengue, measles, and new unknown pathogens.

For over 4 years, the world has dealt with SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen that causes COVID-19. Yet, how many other pathogens are emerging in the US due to climate change?

One presentation at the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) 2024 Annual Conference & Exposition, June 3 to 5 in San Antonio, Texas, discusses the pathogens threatening the US that infection preventionists (IPs) should be aware of.

The presentation, “Emerging Pathogen Threats: Strategies for Infection Prevention & Control,” will be given by Doe Kley, RN, MPH, T-CHEST, LTC-CIP, CIC, infection prevention fellow for Clorox Professional Products Co and Mariana Torres Portillo, MD, pediatric infection disease doctor, and specialist surveillance manager, epidemic intelligence, for BlueDot Inc. To learn what inspired them to present this topic, Infection Control Today® (ICT®) spoke with Kley and Torres Portillo.

“Given the fact that we just endured 4 years of the COVID-19 pandemic and that we continue to see new pathogens emerging, Dr Torres, and I felt that the timing was right to share some of the data on the threats that are most likely to impact the United States,” Kley told ICT. “While we will be looking at the global level, we will funnel our talk down to the United States level and then dive even further to the facility level. We'll provide some practical infection prevention and control measures for addressing these threats. And our hope is that infection preventionists (IPs) will leave our session with preparations for the next emerging threat. As being top of mind, you know, these events can no longer be thought of in terms of being 100-year events, climate change, and other factors have really impacted the speed with which these new pathogens are coming at us. And the reality is that these pathogens will always be a threat, and IPs need to ensure that they in their facilities are adequately prepared.”

Torres agreed, “Infectious diseases are emerging at a greater frequency and severity, while the focus might be COVID-19, because it has been like the logic pandemic historically, and also like probably the most recent, it is important to understand that over the last 24 years, there have been at least 12 public health emergencies of international concerns, which accounts approximately for 2 every year.” Torres said. “However, it is not that mathematically perfect because if we refer back to COVID-19, we were still in the midst of the pandemic in 2022 when another public health international emergency came in, and we will know it as well as mpox.”

Torres continued, explaining what else inspired the 2 IPs to present this topic at APIC. “I would say in total inspiration for this topic has been that previously controlled pathogens that we have in the past, for example, dengue and measles are apparently coming back into the United States. So, it seems again, like are we going back to the future. And I would say as well it's only a matter of time before we confront another pathogen that we don't know. “It might be very similar to SARS-CoV-2, or imports that already was threatening Africa, but we also had to learn something new about it.

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