Top Infection Prevention News of the Week-November 18, 2019

November 20, 2019



#5: CDC Observes C difficile Awareness Month as New Study Shows Efficacy of FMT

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wants to reduce instances of Clostridioides difficile infection (CDI) by 30% by 2020. With just a couple of months to go, the agency has declared November to be Clostridioides difficile Awareness Month. The disease affects nearly 500,000 people and kills about 15,000 Americans annually, according to the agency.

As part of its efforts, the CDC is urging healthcare personnel to revisit the agency’s Infection Control Guideline Library and is working to build “prevention collaboratives” with states that have high incidences of CDI. In addition, it works with healthcare facilities to identify and address barriers to preventing infection.

The CDC is tracking the size and scope of the problem in healthcare facilities, how many antibiotics are used, and pinpointing at-risk populations. Its 2016 National and State Healthcare-Associated Infections Progress Report provides a summary of select HAIs, including C. diff, across hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, inpatient rehab facilities, and skilled nursing facilities. Access to prevention experts and outbreak and laboratory support to facilities as well as local health departments is also being offered.

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#4: Phage Therapy Steps Further Out of the Wings to Take On Superbugs

Diane Shader Smith writes in STAT about how she wants something good to come out of the death of her daughter, Mallory, at 25. Aside from telling the story of her daughter’s valiant struggle with cystic fibrosis in a book, she is also spreading the word about phage therapy. 

Phage therapy isn’t new; before antibiotics came along phages were seen as a potential infection-fighting treatment. But then phage therapy fell off the radar and is still relatively unknown (a January article in Healthline was titled “What Is Phage Therapy?”). It has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for use in humans only in emergency situations. 

As Infection Control Today reported in May, phage therapy is suddenly gaining heightened interest.

Phage-bacteriophages-are viruses that use lytic bacteriophages to treat pathogenic bacterial infections by thwarting bacterial growth. Bacteriophage means “bacteria eater,” and they are found in soil, sewage, water, and other places bacteria live. 

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#3: CDC Reports Major Progress in Decreasing Healthcare-Associated Infections

Acute care hospitals reduced Clostridium difficile infections by 12%, central line-associated bloodstream infections by 9%, and catheter-associated urinary tract infections by 8% between 2017 and 2018, according to the 2018 National and State Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAI) Progress Report issued today by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The report updates 2015 benchmark data, and shows that there has been “significant progress” made across the board.

Still, much more needs to be done the CDC notes, adding that about 1 in 31 US patients get at least 1 infection associated with hospital care every day. About 35,000 Americans die of antibiotic-resistant infections each year, or 1 every 15 minutes.

The “report demonstrates notable progress, yet the threat is still real,” CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD, said at today’s press briefing. 

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#2: Aspergillus Endangers Children at Hospital for Second Time This Year

The presence of the fungus Aspergillus has forced the closing of 11 operating rooms at Seattle Children’s Hospital, marking the second such closure in a year. All 14 of the hospital’s operating rooms will be closed later in the week, said hospital spokeswoman Kathryn Mueller. 

"On November 10, routine air test results revealed the presence of Aspergillus in the air in 3 of our operating rooms and 2 procedural areas," Mueller said. "The rooms in which Aspergillus was detected have been closed. We are also investigating 2 new potential Aspergillus surgical site infections."

The hospital has had to postpone some surgeries and move others to different hospitals. Aspergillus is a fungus whose spores are present in the air and can cause illnesses in people with weakened immune systems, damaged lungs, and asthma. Infections caused by Aspergillus include invasive aspergillosis, ABPA CPA, and aspergilloma. 

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#1: CDC Puts 2 Superbugs in Its Urgent Category: Candida auris and Carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter

When the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its report updating the state of infection prevalence and antibiotic-resistance threats Wednesday, most of the attention focused on the revelation that more people have died from antibiotic-resistant infections than was previously believed. In 2013, the CDC estimated that 23,000 people a year die as a result of antibiotic-resistant germs. The new estimate nearly doubles that figure to 44,000. 

Attention was also paid to the fact that, despite this initial undercounting of mortality, prevention methods seem to be working. Although the overall number of deaths each year is higher, the overall number of people dying from antibiotic-resistant infections has dropped since 2013. 

Acute care hospitals reduced Clostridium difficile infections by 12%, central line-associated bloodstream infections by 9%, and catheter-associated urinary tract infections by 8% between 2017 and 2018.

Read the full story here.