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CDC investigates deadly bacteria's link to doctors' offices

CDC investigates deadly bacteria's link to doctors' offices | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

The Centers for Disease Control is raising a red flag that a potentially deadly bacteria may be lurking in your doctor's office.

The bacteria, C. difficile, is typically found in hospitals, but a study out Wednesday reports a substantial number of people contracted the bug who hadn't been in a hospital, but had recently visited the doctor or dentist.

The bacteria can cause deadly diarrhea, according to the CDC, with infections on the rise. The new report shows nearly half a million Americans infected in various locations in one year, with 15,000 deaths directly attributed to C. diff.

In a 2013 study, researchers found C. diff present in six out of seven outpatient clinics tested in Ohio, including on patients' chairs and examining tables.

The CDC is so concerned that they're starting a new study to try to assess nationally whether people are getting C. diff in doctors' offices.

"This is really an important issue. We need to understand better how people are getting C. diff," said Dr. Cliff McDonald, a medical epidemiologist at the CDC.

In the meantime, patients should wash their hands after visiting the doctor's office -- with soap and water, because alcohol-based gels don't get rid of C.diff.

Another tip: Question your doctor whenever you're prescribed an antibiotic. Powerful broad-spectrum antibiotics wipe away good bacteria in your gut that fight off the bad bacteria, which leads the way to C. diff.

Johns Hopkins safety expert Dr. Peter Pronovost recommends asking your doctor if you really need an antibiotic, if there's a less powerful one that will treat your infection, and if you're being prescribed the antibiotic for the shortest time possible.

The CDC study, published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine, said 150,000 people who had not been in the hospital came down with C. diff in 2011. Of those, 82% had visited a doctor's or dentist's office in the 12 weeks before their diagnosis.

The CDC is hoping its new study will help determine cause and effect, because it's possible the patients had C. diff to begin with and went to the doctor to get help. It's also possible that antibiotics prescribed during the doctor's visit, and not microbes at the doctor's office, caused the infection.

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You Will Feel Better's curator insight, February 26, 2015 3:56 PM

This is why PureWorks foam is an absolute necessity! 

https://youwillfeelbetter.buyygy.com/90forLifeStore/en/pureworks

4CalebWalker's curator insight, March 12, 2015 10:11 AM

CDC/ I did not realize that they investigated things that did not apply to a general population/ I agree with them taking their time to investigate and control the situation

Ashley Maddox's comment, March 12, 2015 3:00 PM
1 scoop plus 1comment =20
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Is This Year's Flu Shot Any Good?

Is This Year's Flu Shot Any Good? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Flu season is taking off in the U.S. Over the last two weeks, I’ve seen an increasing number of feverish, achey, glassy-eyed patients testing positive for influenza A, most of whom were not vaccinated. My experience tracks well with the CDC’s flu surveillance. Vaccinations were available early enough this year that I’ve been able to give shots to many patients in time. Unfortunately, the CDC is reporting that so far, this year’s vaccine is not a great match for the flu that is going around.

But what does this mean?

First, the news is not all bad. Usually, even “bad” flu vaccines provide some protection. But let’s get into some of the details.

Each year, epidemiologists follow the influenza virus as it makes its way around the globe. This surveillance has been very good over the years, but once in a while there is a gap in coverage. Most flu vaccines cover three strains* of flu, often two strains of flu A and one of flu B (there is another shot that has a second B strain). The last several years, the dominant strain has been A but there are many different types of flu A.


Influenza A types are named based on the types of proteins they carry: hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N). The flu pandemic in 2009 was caused by a type A(H1N1). So far this year, an A (H3) virus is winning the fight. Of the 85 samples that have been tested so far, 48% are the H3N2 included in this year’s vaccines, but the rest are similar to H3N2 subtypes that were not included in this year’s shots.

While concerning, this is not a disaster. First, very few samples have been tested so far. As the season progresses we’ll have more data to make judgements. If the current trends hold (and there’s no guarantee), the flu shot still covers nearly half the circulating viruses very well, and probably offers partial protection against the rest. Even with the “mismatch”, the flu shot still offers significant protection.

If you haven’t yet gotten your flu shot, get to it. There’s no down side, and the protection, while not perfect, might still save you weeks of misery, and perhaps even your life.



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Deadlier Flu Season Is Possible, C.D.C. Says

Deadlier Flu Season Is Possible, C.D.C. Says | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

This year’s flu season may be deadlier than usual, and this year’s flu vaccine is a relatively poor match to a new virus that is now circulating, federal health officials warned on Thursday.

Flu is unpredictable, but what we’ve seen thus far is concerning,” said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The C.D.C. has alerted doctors to the problem and has urged them to prescribe antiviral drugs like Tamiflu to vulnerable patients with flu symptoms without waiting for a positive flu test.

The season has only just begun, but 91 percent of the approximately 1,200 samples tested thus far are of the H3N2 subtype of influenza A, Dr. Frieden said. Almost all the rest were influenza B. There were almost no samples of the H1 subtype, a descendant of the 2009 swine flu strain.

Years in which H3 subtypes are more common than H1 subtypes tend to lead to more hospitalizations and deaths, he added.




Moreover, about half of those H3 subtypes — or about 45 percent of all the samples tested so far — are of a new H3 subtype that this season’s flu vaccine does not protect well against.

The new subtype first appeared overseas in March, Dr. Frieden said. Because it was not found in many samples in the United States until September, it is too late to change the vaccine, he said.

The flu vaccine is now usually grown in cell broths rather than in chicken eggs, as it was just a few years ago. That speeds up a process that once took at least six months — but it still takes about four months.

The C.D.C. still recommends that all Americans get flu shots because they are as protective as usual against the older H3 strain, influenza B and the small numbers of H1. And they may provide at least a weak defense against the newer H3.

But because of the increased danger from the H3 strain — and because B influenza strains can also cause serious illness — the C.D.C. recommends that patients with asthma, diabetes or lung or heart problems see a doctor at the first sign of a possible flu, and that doctors quickly prescribe antivirals like Tamiflu or Relenza.

Those medications are “not miracle drugs,” Dr. Frieden saidd. The earlier they are given in the illness, the better they work, and all they usually do is shorten the illness by one day — but in a vulnerable patient, that may mean the difference between death and survival.

Five children are known to have died from flu-related illnesses this season, Dr. Frieden said.



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