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The CDC Reports That Salmonella Is Still A Major Problem

Salmonella food infections continue despite success reducing disease caused by other pathogens, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

Easter 2010 by by raleighwoman via Flickr and a Creative Commons licenseSalmonella should be targeted because while infection rates have not declined significantly in more than a decade, they are one of the most common, the CDC reports in its latest Vital Signs.

Contaminated food causes approximately 1,000 reported disease outbreaks and an estimated 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths annually in the U.S. Salmonella causes 1 million foodborne infections annually, incurring an estimated $365 million in direct medical costs. Salmonella infections in 2010 increased 10% from 2006-2008.

The same prevention measures that reduced Escherichia coli infections to less than 1 case per 100,000 need to be applied more broadly to reduce Salmonella and other infections, the CDC reports. These measures include: Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

Inpatient Infectious Disease: Ambiguity Is Often The Rule Of The Day

Ambiguity. Medicine, like art, is filled with ambiguity, at least the way I practice it. Most of my practice is in the hospital. I am sometimes called to see patients that other physicians cannot figure out. And that puts me at a disadvantage, because the doctors who were referring patients to me are all bright, excellent doctors. Often the question is ‘Why does the patient have a fever?’ or ‘Why is the patient ill?’ Sometimes I have an answer. Most of the time I do not.

I am happy, however, to be able to tell the patient what they don’t have. I can often inform the patient and their family that whatever they have is probably not life-threatening or life-damaging, just life-inconveniencing, and most acute illnesses go away with no diagnosis. I always put the ‘just’ in air quotes, because illnesses that require hospitalization are rarely ‘just.’ Just without quotes is reserved for the antivaccine crowd and applied to the small number of deaths from vaccine preventable diseases in unvaccinated children. John Donne they ain’t.

We are excellent, I tell them, at diagnosing life-threatening problems that we can treat, and terrible at diagnosing processes that are self-limited. Of course diagnostic testing is always variable. No test is 100% in making a diagnosis, and often with infections I cannot grow the organism that I suspect is causing the patient’s disease. So for hospitalized patients, ambiguity and uncertainty are the rule of the day. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*

Human Breast Milk For Sale Without FDA Regulation

The June issue of Wired carries a feature on the Booming Market for Human Breast Milk. You can read about the under-the-counter and over-the-Internet sale of “liquid gold” with a typical asking price in the range of $1 to $2.50 an ounce.
Here’s a taste, from the article:

…“rich, creamy breast milk!” “fresh and fatty!”… Some ship coolers of frozen milk packed in dry ice. Others deal locally, meeting in cafés to exchange cash for commodity…

Late last year, the FDA issued a warning about feeding your child human milk from strangers. Still, the stuff’s barely regulated.

milk containers, Wired Magazine, June 2011

As much as I think it’s a good idea for women to breast feed their babies as best they can, I was pretty shocked to learn about this unregulated industry.  Mainly because if a woman who donates milk is infected with a virus, like HIV or HTLV-1, the milk often contains the virus. The infant can absorb the virus and become infected. Feeding human breast milk from an unknown donor is kind of like giving a child a blood transfusion from a stranger, unchecked by any blood bank.

I’m not sure why Wired ran this story, which is admittedly interesting. Maybe it’ll push the FDA to take a more aggressive stance on this matter, as it should.

*This blog post was originally published at Medical Lessons*

How To Treat Horse And Donkey Bite Wounds

Earlier this week this tweet from @prsjournal caught my eye

Most Popular: Management of Horse and Donkey Bite Wounds: A Series of 24 Cases: No abstract available http://bit.ly/lgNkCS

I missed this article when it came out in the June 2010 issue of the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Journal.  As I have covered fire ant bites, cat bites, and snake bites.  Fellow blogger Bongi has written about hippo bites.  It’s time to cover horse and donkey bites.

Dr. Köse, Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Harran University Hospital, Turkey and colleagues presented a retrospective evaluation of 24 patients treated for animal bites (19 horse and five donkey bites) from 2003 to 2009.  The head and neck were the most frequent bite sites (14 cases), followed by the extremities (8 cases) and the trunk (2 cases).

The article is very short, representing their personal viewpoint and experience. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Suture for a Living*

Raw Milk: Tipping The Odds In Favor Of Bacteria

It is hard to get infected. The immune system is robust and has a multitude of interlinking defenses that are extremely efficient in beating off most pathogens. Most of the time.

Fortunately, it is a minority of microbes that have evolved to be virulent in humans. Bacteremia is common with our own microbiome. When you brush or floss, bacteria leak into the blood stream:

We identified oral bacterial species in blood cultures following single-tooth extraction and tooth brushing. Sequence analysis of 16S rRNA genes identified 98 different bacterial species recovered from 151 bacteremic subjects. Of interest, 48 of the isolates represented 19 novel species of Prevotella, Fusobacterium, Streptococcus, Actinomyces, Capnocytophaga, Selenomonas, and Veillonella.

but with a good immune system, low virulence bacteria and no place to go, unfortunately the bacteria rarely cause infections.

Even heroin users rarely get infection. Heroin is a rich melange of bacteria and, on occasion, yeasts (I hate to say contaminated, since avoiding microbes is hardly a worry of heroin manufacturers), and the water used for injection is rarely sterile, yet infections are relatively rare despite the filth in which many heroin users exist.

I used to be somewhat fatalistic about hospital acquired infections. However, as the institutions in which I have worked have proven, almost all infections in the hospital are preventable if the institutions aggressively pursue high standards of care.

There are many systems in place in society to prevent infections: flush toilets, good nutrition, public health, vaccines, antibiotics, good hygiene, and an understanding of disease epidemiology, and I suspect people forget there are bugs out there that are pathogenic, just waiting to sicken and kill us. At least a couple of times a year I see patients come into the hospital, previously healthy, who rapidly die of acute infections.  But for most people, most of the time,  it takes a lot of effort to get an infection.

From my perspective we are Charlie Chaplain on skates , mostly unaware of the infections that awaits us if we do something silly, Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*

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