Recent items of interest from the world of infectious diseases:
- According to researchers in South Korea, shingles was found to raise the risk of stroke by 35% and the risk of heart attack by almost 60%. Shingles is most common in individuals with weaker immune systems, including older adults, but vaccination can help reduce the severity and likelihood of experiencing the disease.
- Based on a discovery by a team at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, the 50-year-old flu virus model is being revamped, revealing pandemic prediction possibilities. The findings found loopholes in the way the flu virus packages genetic material. When one strain co-mingles with another flu strain inside a cell, these loopholes allow the viruses to swap genetic material and mutate into new flu strains. Knowing about these loopholes and how they interact may provide scientists the opportunity to better predict pandemics and find new ways to disrupt the flu virus.
- In a few years, influenza vaccination may be as easy as putting on a Band-Aid. Scientists have developed a microneedle patch that makes vaccination quick, easy, and painless. The dime-sized patch has 100 tiny microneedles made of a mixture of the vaccine and a water-soluble polymer barely visible to the human eye. Patients will feel nothing more than the sensation of an adhesive bandage being applied to the skin.
- According to updated data published by WHO and UNICEF, the number of countries reaching and sustaining 90% coverage of children with routine life-saving vaccinations has doubled since 2000. The new data also highlight the fact that 65 countries will require game changing strategies in order to meet the Global Vaccine Action Plan goal.
- Deaths from measles have risen to new heights in Europe in the past year. The rapid spread of the measles virus has led to more than 3,300 cases and 35 deaths in Romania, Italy, Germany, and Portugal. Nearly all of the recorded deaths have been in unvaccinated individuals. In the US, the total number of 2017 measles cases in Minnesota rose to 79. Measles is highly infectious and airborne — meaning it can remain in the air for two hours after an infected person leaves an area. Vaccination is safe and effective in protecting individuals against the disease.