Beliefs about sexual orientation linked to voting behavior in the 2016 presidential election

first_imgShare on Twitter Share on Facebook Pinterest Email A recent study found that belief in the discreteness, homogeneity, and informativeness of sexual orientation was related to an increased likelihood of being a Republican and of voting for Donald Trump in 2016. The study was published in Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity.Theorists have considered an array of explanations for President Donald Trump’s rise to the presidency in 2016, a feat that surprised many. Two issues that are thought to have separated voters during the election are sexuality and gender.“In addition to a focus on racism and White supremacy, research has explored how sexuality and gender were polarizing issues in the election due largely to Vice President Mike Pence’s anti-LGBT+ attitudes and support for discriminatory policies (Blair, 2017), as well as what some have identified as the Trump voters’ “possessive investment in White heteropatriarchy” (Strolovitch et al., 2017),” study authors Patrick Grzanka and colleagues say.center_img LinkedIn Share A study was conducted using data from two samples of American college students. The final sample included 189 students from a private university in New York and 98 from a state school in Arizona. All subjects had completed a survey measuring beliefs about sexual orientation along four subscales: discreteness — belief that sexual orientation categories are “distinct and non-overlapping”, homogeneity — belief that members of the same sexual identity are similar to one another, naturalness — belief that sexual orientation is innate, and informativeness — belief that a person’s sexual orientation says much about who they are.Participants also disclosed their political party affiliation and indicated who they intended to vote for in the 2016 election.The analysis revealed three profiles of participants. One profile, referred to as the multidimensional essentialism profile, was marked by “moderate-to-high” scores on all four of the subscales related to beliefs about sexual orientation. A second profile contained those who showed the highest levels of belief in the discreteness, homogeneity, and informativeness of sexual orientation, and was referred to as high DHI. The final profile was named the naturalness-only group, and members had the highest levels of belief in the naturalness of sexual orientation, and the lowest levels for homogeneity, discreteness, and informativeness.Importantly, these profiles were associated with differences in political affiliation and voting behavior. First, those in the high DHI profile were the most likely to be Republican (49%). By contrast, only 14% of the multidimensional essentialism group and 10% of the naturalness-only group identified as Republican.High DHI participants were also more likely to express intent to vote for Trump. As the researchers emphasize, “these differences were pronounced, whereby nearly half of those in the high DHI profile intended to vote for Trump compared to 10% in the multidimensional essentialism profile and less 2% in the naturalness-only profile.”The authors express that what made the naturalness-only group distinct was not their belief in naturalness, but that members of this group had the lowest scores on the other subscales, “beliefs that, for example, knowing someone is gay tells you a lot about them, that lesbian women are very similar to one another, and that you cannot have more than one sexual orientation.” In actuality, the naturalness scores in this group did not differ significantly from the naturalness scores in the high DHI group.Grzanka and team reflect, “our findings do contribute to a developing argument that “born this way” ideology may possess increasingly less explanatory power when it comes to distinguishing support for, or opposition to, LGBT+ rights and broader forms of social equality (Walters, 2014). If biogenetically informed beliefs about sexual orientation are more commonly held by individuals across the political spectrum, then studying other beliefs about sexual orientation will be key to understanding what predicts positive or negative attitudes toward sexual minorities.”The study, “Do Beliefs about Sexual Orientation Predict Voting Behavior? Results from the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election”, was authored by Patrick R. Grzanka, Katharine H. Zeiders, Elliot S. Spengler, Lindsay T. Hoyt, and Russell B. Toomey.last_img read more

News Scan for Apr 08, 2015

first_imgUS report is cautious on climate change impact on infectious diseasesA draft White House report on the impact of climate change on human health takes a cautious tone regarding the possible effects of a warming climate on the prevalence of infectious diseases.The report, “The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment,” was released by the US Global Climate Change Research Program yesterday. The program has invited public comments on the report and is also submitting it to the National Academy of Sciences for peer review.The report says climate is just one of many factors that affect the distribution of diseases caused by pathogens carried by vectors such as mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks. Other factors are land use, socioeconomic and cultural variables, pest control, access to health care, and human responses to disease risk.”Whether climate change in the U.S. will increase the chances of domestically acquiring diseases such as dengue fever is uncertain, due to vector-control efforts and lifestyle factors, such as time spent indoors, that reduce human-insect contact,” the report states.”There is a need for finer-scale, long-term studies to help quantify the relationships among weather variables, vector range, and vector-borne pathogen occurrence, the consequences of shifting distributions of vectors and pathogens, and the impacts on human behavior. Enhanced vector surveillance and human disease tracking are needed to address these concerns,” the document says.It observes that food- and water-borne diarrheal diseases, including salmonellosis and campylobacteriosis, are more common when temperatures are higher, but that patterns differ by place and pathogen. Increases in such diseases are also associated with both unusually high and low precipitation.”Risks of waterborne illness and beach closures resulting from changes in the magnitude of recent precipitation (within the past 24 hours) and in lake temperature are expected to increase in the Great Lakes region due to projected climate change,” the report states.Climate change report landing pageFull report  WHO: Global flu continues to taperInfluenza activity continued to decrease globally, except in some tropical nations, but remained above the seasonal threshold in the Northern Hemisphere, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in an update yesterday. It reported on data through Mar 22, which is about a week behind what individual nations are reporting.Activity decreased in North America and Europe but remains slightly above the seasonal threshold in North America, the WHO said. The proportion of viruses testing positive for influenza B continued to increase in both regions, which is typical late in the season.Flu activity likewise decreased in northern Africa, the Middle East, and western Asia, with the exception of Turkey, where it increased as 2009 H1N1 and influenza B co-circulated. The H1N1 strain predominated in northern Africa and the Middle East. The only country in temperate east Asia seeing an increase in flu was South Korea.In the tropics, reports of flulike illness increased in Colombia, Ecuador, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico, while influenza activity remained high and 2009 H1N1 predominated in India and Bhutan.Just a little over half of influenza viruses from sentinel labs were influenza strain (51.1%), with the rest influenza B. Almost all “B” strains belonged to the Yamagata lineage, which is the strain in the trivalent (three-strain) vaccine.Apr 6 WHO update Officials note 8 H7N9 deaths in Zhejiang provinceOfficials in China’s Zhejiang province have quietly posted notice of 10 fatal H7N9 avian flu cases in March, 8 of which were not previously reported, according to a post today by FluTrackers, an infectious disease news message board.The data were included in a table on the Zhejiang Provincial Health and Family Planning Commission Web site that listed 43 fatalities involving notifiable infectious diseases. FluTrackers was able to identify that 2 of the 10 were already confirmed in late March. No details were provided on the new fatal cases.The new cases bring to 654 the global total for the disease, according to a case list maintained by FluTrackers.Apr 8 FluTrackers post FluTrackers H7N9 cases list FAO: 7 recent H5N1 cases in EgyptEgypt has had seven recent cases of H5N1 avian flu in people, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today, according to FluTrackers.Two cases each were confirmed in Sohag and Sharqia governorates, while Giza, Qaiyubia, and Kafr el-Sheikh each had one. All cases were reported on Apr 6, the FAO said, with “observation” dates ranging from Mar 20 to Mar 27 and dates of test results varying from Mar 29 to Apr 4. No other details were provided, including patient age, sex, disease severity, and possible poultry contact.Egypt has reported at least 135 H5N1 cases this year, according to a case list compiled by FluTrackers.Apr 8 FluTrackers post FluTrackers 2015 H5N1 case count in Egyptlast_img read more

News Scan for May 22, 2015

first_imgSierra Leone, Guinea report 10 more Ebola casesSierra Leone has reported three more lab-confirmed Ebola infections in two different districts, while a case detection push in Guinea’s Forecariah district—a disease hot spot over the past several weeks—has turned up seven more cases, the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) reported today.The cases in Sierra Leone are new ones reported since the last World Health Organization weekly epidemiologic update on May 20, reflecting cases reported to the country’s National Ebola Response Centre between May 19 and May 21. Two infections are in Western Area Urban district, and the other is in Port Loko. One of the Western Urban Area cases prompted the quarantine of six households near Freetown.Meanwhile, the cases in Guinea were reported between May 16 and May 19, the first 4 days of a case-finding and sensitization campaign targeting Forecariah district.The cases lift the overall outbreak total to 26,971 confirmed, probable, and suspected cases in the three main outbreak countries. The number of deaths has reached 11,122, according to UNMEER.May 22 UNMEER update Qatar reports another MERS infectionFor the second day in a row, Qatar’s Supreme Council of Health (SCH) reported a new MERS-CoV case, the country’s fourth this year.The patient is a 73-year-old Qatari citizen who is hospitalized with severe pneumonia, according to a translated SCH statement flagged and posted by Avian Flu Diary, an infectious disease news blog. Yesterday the SCH announced a MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) infection in a 29-year-old foreigner who works at a camel farm.According to a case list kept by FluTrackers, an infectious disease news message board, the latest case lifts Qatar’s total from the virus to 15, which includes 6 deaths.Elsewhere, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health (MOH) today reported two deaths in previously announced case-patients. They include a 30-year-old Saudi woman from Hofuf and a 36-year-old Saudi man from Khamis Mushait. The country’s number of infections remained at 1,002, with the newly reported deaths lifting the fatality total from the disease to 436. The MOH added that 558 people have recovered from MERS, while 7 are still in treatment and 1 is in home isolation.May 22 Avian Flu Diary post May 22 Saudi MOH statement Salmonella outbreak linked to raw tuna grows to 53 casesA Salmonella outbreak apparently associated with raw tuna in sushi has increased to 53 cases in nine states, with most cases in California, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported yesterday. The new number is up by two cases from a day earlier.The source of contamination has not been conclusively determined, but 34 of 36 sick people who were interviewed said they had eaten sushi containing raw tuna in the week before their symptoms began, the CDC said.California has reported 31 of the 53 cases. Other states and their numbers are Arizona, 10; New Mexico, 6, and 1 each in Illinois, Mississippi, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.Illness-onset dates ranged from Mar 5 to May 3, the CDC said. Among 46 people with available information, 10 were hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported.The outbreak involves Salmonella Paratyphi B variant L(+) tartrate(+), an unusual strain. It typically causes diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever starting 12 to 72 hours after exposure, the CDC said, but it doesn’t cause paratyphoid fever, enteric fever, or typhoid fever.No common brand or supplier of raw tuna linked to illnesses has been identified so far, and hence there are no specific preventive steps for restaurants, retailers, or consumers to take, the agency said.But the CDC repeated its warning that those at increased risk for complications of foodborne illness—children under age 5, seniors, pregnant women, and the immunocompromised—should not eat any raw fish or raw shellfish.May 21 CDC statement Related May 19 CIDRAP News itemlast_img read more

News Scan for Jul 12, 2016

first_imgResearchers find Zika persists in female genital tractA French research team yesterday reported the first known detection of Zika virus in the genital tract of an infected woman, along with signs that it persists there after it clears from blood and urine. The team, from Guadeloupe and Toulouse, reported its findings in a letter to The Lancet Infectious Diseases.The 27-year-old woman was sick in May, and a rapid blood test was positive for Zika virus. She was being monitored for oocyte preservation as part of Guadeloupe’s protocol for women with infertility in the Zika setting, but the stimulation process was halted, based in her illness, and she was advised to practice safe sex and regularly use condoms.Her genital swab, endocervical swab, and cervical mucus sample were all positive for Zika virus RNA on day 3 of her illness. However, on day 11 when blood and urine tests were negative, her cervical mucus sample was still positive for Zika RNA.The researchers said though it’s not known if infectious virus was present, the findings have implications for sexual transmission from women to men and vertical transmission from a mother to her fetus.Jul 11 Lancet Infect Dis letter USDA to share food safety data regularly on data.govThe US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced yesterday plans to share huge amounts of food safety information on the government Web site, Data.gov. The information will be updated quarterly and is meant to increase both agency transparency and consumer information.”Consumers want more information about the foods they are purchasing, and sharing these details can give them better insight into food production and inspection, and help them make informed purchasing decisions,” said USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Al Almanza in a Jul 11 press release.FSIS said it has worked on developing a web platform for sharing the data points for more than 6,000 meat, poultry, and egg facilities for 7 years in response to President Obama’s “Open Government Plan.” This is the first time the agency will be routinely sharing establishment-specific data with the public.The data sets will show results from chemical residue testing, advocated meat recovery testing, results from Salmonella and Campylobacter testing in poultry, and results for Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli and Salmonella in meat. FSIS will also release test results for Listeria and Salmonella in ready-to-eat products and processed egg products.Jul 11 USDA news release China notes new H7N9 avian flu case, 3 new deaths; outbreak hits 800China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission (HFPC) today reported a new H7N9 avian flu case in June, bringing the country’s total for that month to seven cases. Officials added that three previously reported patients have died, according to an HFPC report translated by FluTrackers, an infectious disease message board.The newly reported infection expands the outbreak to 800 cases since the first case was confirmed in China in 2013, according to a list maintained by FluTrackers.The agency did not specify which province the newly reported case was in, nor did it provide details on the patient. The HFPC report simply listed 7 cases, including 7 that were fatal. FluTrackers had earlier already noted 6 of the cases, 3 in Hebei province and 1 each in Jiangsu, Liaoning, and Zhejiang.The HFPC noted that 5 of the 7 cases proved fatal, whereas earlier reports listed only 2 fatalities among the 6 that FluTrackers had noted.Jul 12 FluTrackers post FluTrackers H7N9 case listlast_img read more

Obama, Congress air cautious optimism over Zika funds

first_imgAfter an Oval Office meeting with top Senate and House leaders yesterday, President Barack Obama said he was hopeful that Zika funding would be part of an agreement to continue funding the government, a step Congress needs to take before it adjourns again at the end of the month.In other developments, Florida reported 14 more local Zika illnesses yesterday and today and new details were published about the investigation into an unusual Zika case that surfaced in Utah in July, when an elderly man apparently passed the virus to his son, who was one of his caregivers.Funding progress citedThe meeting included House and Senate leaders from both parties, and afterward, Obama told reporters that he was encouraged by work that’s being done, according to an Associated Press (AP) report.Ahead of the White House meeting, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement that members on both sides have been working on an agreement to responsibly fund the government and have already made a lot of progress. “I expect to move forward this week on a continuing resolution through December 9 at last year’s enacted levels and include funds for Zika control and our veterans,” he said.Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he was cautiously optimistic that the Senate would complete its work on Zika and the continuing resolution to temporarily fund the government. “But it can happen only if Republicans are resolved to not play politics with these important issues,” he said in a statement.At a press briefing before the White House meeting, Obama’s press secretary, Josh Earnest, addressed a question about talk that Republican lawmakers might include a Zika bill without Planned Parenthood riders that would pay for funding with cuts to other programs. He said Obama forwarded the original funding proposal, based on input from public health experts, 7 months ago and said the legislation has been bogged down in Planned Parenthood and other controversial riders.”So the President is, once again, going to make the case that that’s exactly what Republicans in Congress should do,” Earnest said. “And again, I think it’s an open question about whether or not they’ll fulfill their responsibilities. Hopefully they will.”Health officials, professional groups urge fundingAt a media telebriefing today, meanwhile, federal health officials and leaders from two doctor’s groups pushed again for Congress to approve Zika funding, with money running out amid local illnesses and affected pregnancies increasing in the continental United States and its territories.Beth Bell, MD, MPH, director of the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said Zika funding that had been earmarked from repurposed Ebola response money is essentially all spent. She warned that critical public health may not be able to move forward, such as mosquito surveillance and multiyear studies on Zika-related birth defects. She said the funding lapse could cancel vaccine work and slow the developments of new Zika tests.”We hope they will do the right thing,” Bell said of lawmakers.Thomas Gellhaus, MD, president of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said developing better and faster tests for Zika virus is an urgent need, because the method for confirming infections is often complex, with pregnant women often having to wait several weeks for results, depending on where they live.He also said women of childbearing age need options for preventing pregnancy, in light of the Zika threat. “We don’t know how to prevent Zika, but we do know how to prevent unplanned pregnancy. We need to act now and act together.”Karen Remley, MD, executive director and chief executive officer of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said babies born with congenital Zika virus infections need extensive screening and access to care in the short term, and she urged Congress to keep in mind that affected children and their families will need comprehensive support in the years ahead, given that the estimated healthcare cost per Zika-affected child is about $10 million over his or her lifetime.”This is a major public health issue, and adequate funding is very important,” she said.Local Florida cases hit 70In related news, the number of local Zika cases in Florida continues to climb, with the Florida Department of Health (Florida Health) reporting 14 more yesterday and today. Three patients are from the Wynwood transmission area, including two who were sick in late July, but officials were waiting on antibody tests to rule out other mosquito-borne illnesses such as dengue and chikungunya. Another six infections are linked to the active transmission area in Miami Beach.Four new patients are Miami-Dade County residents, and health officials are still investigating where they were exposed to the virus. One of the patients is a Palm Beach County resident, apparently representing the fourth local case from that area, and efforts are under way to pinpoint where he or she was infected.The new cases lift Florida’s local case total to 70. Yesterday the agency reported seven more travel-related cases, including the first in Nassau County. The state now has 621 imported Zika cases.In related developments and as if to underscore the concerns health officials voiced today, pregnant women in Miami-Dade County are facing major delays in learning the results of Zika tests, which the state is offering for free, with a large number of women taking them up on the offer, the New York Times reported yesterday.Florida announced the testing offer on Aug 3, and according to the Times, many women are waiting at least 4 or 5 weeks for their test results. Sources linked the delays to a variety of reasons: complicated testing protocols, bureaucratic problems, and lack of resources.Doctors worry that the delays are adding to the stress of pregnancies and complicating decisions on carrying or terminating pregnancies, according to the Times.Florida is monitoring 86 pregnant women who are infected with Zika virus.Utah case hints at body fluid risks in severe infectionsThe Utah case involved an elderly man with underlying health conditions who contracted a Zika infection during travel abroad. The illness in the man’s son was unusual, because it didn’t involve sexual transmission, triggering an intense investigation by Utah health officials and the CDC into how the younger man was exposed and if any others were infected or if the virus was circulating in local mosquito populations.The team published the preliminary results of their investigation today in an early online edition of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).According to the report, the son had cared for his father for several days, and a blood sample from the elderly man obtained 2 days before he died from septic shock revealed Zika viral load that was 100,000 times higher than normal for infected patients.Nineteen family contacts who lived in the same household or had contact with the man’s body fluids were interviewed and tested, including 13 who—like the son—had hugged the man and kissed his face. The son had assisted hospital staff with the man’s care on one occasion, but didn’t have direct contact with his stool. No other Zika infections were detected in any of the other family contacts.Healthcare workers (86) and residents of 238 households within a 200-meter radius of the two homes the older man stayed in before he died were interviewed and offered Zika testing. Antibody testing is under way for all who submitted blood samples, and urine samples were collected for anyone reporting Zika-like symptoms in the 14 days before their interviews. As of Aug 22, no other Zika infections have been detected.Mosquito surveillance near the two homes is under way, and adult mosquitoes are being analyzed and tested for Zika virus. So far no Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquitoes—the two types known to carry the virus—have been identified.The investigators said though it’s not clear how the younger man was infected, he had close contact with his father while the elder man’s viral load was very high.The researchers warned that family contacts should be aware that blood and other body fluids of severely ill Zika infections might be infectious. They also said the case underscores the importance of contact precautions for health providers working with all patients, including those who have possible Zika virus infection.See also:Sep 12 AP storySep 12 Mitch McConnell statementSep 12 Harry Reid statementSep 12 White House briefing transcriptSep 12 Florida Health daily Zika updateSep 13 Florida Health daily Zika updateSep 12 New York Times storySep 13 MMWR reportlast_img read more

China reports 17 H7N9 cases as fast disease progression noted

first_imgChina’s weekly number of H7N9 avian flu cases continues to slowly decline following an unprecedented spike of cases over the winter, with 17 more illnesses, 3 of them fatal, reported in the past week.Also, a research team from China published an analysis of cases in Jiangsu province this season, which raises questions about whether illnesses have become more severe over the past few H7N9 waves.New cases in 6 Chinese provincesCiting mainland health officials, Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection (CHP) said today in a weekly update that 17 new cases were reported from Mar 24 to Mar 30 in six provinces, most of them in Hunan, Jiangsu, and Guangxi provinces. All patients were adults, with illness onsets ranging from Mar 6 to Mar 24.Sixteen of the patients had exposure to poultry or poultry markets, a known risk factor for contracting H7N9.China has now reported at least 555 cases and 179 deaths in the fifth H7N9 wave. The country first reported the disease in 2013.Experts probe reasons for H7N9 surgeThe analysis of H7N9 cases in Jiangsu province appeared yesterday in the latest issue of Eurosurveillance.Jiangsu is one of the most affected provinces regarding H7N9 cases and is part of southern China’s poultry production hub. The report by Jiangsu researchers covers 109 fifth-wave cases reported through Jan 31, a number that exceeds all of the cases reported for the first four H7N9 waves in that province.Ten of Jiangsu’s 13 cities have been affected this season, with officials reporting a possible human-to-human case cluster and a coinfection with seasonal flu, presumably H3N2.The demographic profile of Jiangsu’s cases this season is similar to previous H7N9 waves, but the investigators said that, over the past three waves, disease progression seems faster, with the median time from symptom onset to intensive care unit admission decreasing from 9 to 10 days to 7 days. Likewise, the median time from symptom onset to death has also become shorter: 13.5 for the current wave, compared with 15 to 28 days for the last four waves.Genetic analysis of strains from recent Jiangsu cases, however, showed no known mutations that would make the virus more transmissible to people, easier to spread among people, or resistant to neuraminidase inhibitors, the most commonly used class of antiviral drugs.A December spike in cases could have been influenced by weather conditions as well as higher levels of contamination in poultry, the authors said, adding that an increase in environmental positives hints that the virus might be more resistant to higher ambient temperatures. They added, though, that more work is needed to analyze genetic sequences and to study the interactions among the factors that lead to human infections.Several cities, including Suzhou, Wuxi, and Changzhou, temporarily closed live-poultry markets in December, which was followed by a case decline in January, with an even steeper drop in February.The group concluded that it’s crucial to monitor the pandemic potential and the impact that recent genetic changes may have on the poultry industry. Also, they said more efforts are needed to more quickly identify the disease in people, especially at community clinics, which is where nearly half of H7N9 patients first seek medical care.See also:Mar 31 CHP H7N9 updateMar 30 Eurosurveill reportlast_img read more

Returning travelers cause sizable malaria burden in US

first_imgOver a recent 15-year period, close to 1,500 US travelers a year were hospitalized for treatment of malaria acquired overseas, far more than were treated for other travel-related diseases, according to a study published yesterday on the eve of World Malaria Day.In related news, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced yesterday that a pilot program for administering the world’s first malaria vaccine to young children will be conducted in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi starting next year.Imported cases cost $555 millionMalaria transmission in the United States was stopped in the 1950s, but a steady stream of travelers are bringing the disease home with them, suggesting that many travelers are not taking adequate precautions, according to the study published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (AJTMH).Researchers looked for malaria cases in hospitalization discharge records in the 2000 to 2014 Nationwide Inpatient Sample, according to the report. They estimated there were 22,029 malaria-related hospitalizations over the 15 years, or 4.88 per million population, with 4,823 severe cases and 182 in-hospital deaths.”It appears more and more Americans are traveling to areas where malaria is common and many of them are not taking preventive measures, such as using anti-malarial preventive medications and mosquito repellents, even though they are very effective at preventing infections,” Diana Khuu, PhD, MPH, lead author of the study, said in an AJTMH news release. She is a scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles.The findings showed that malaria-linked hospitalizations, averaging 1,489 per year, were far more common than hospitalizations for most other travel-related diseases, according to the release. For example, dengue fever, which is common in Latin America, accounted for 259 hospitalizations per year over the same period.The malaria patients were hospitalized for an average of 4.36 days, at an average cost of $25,789, the report said. The total cost of the cases over the 15 years came to about $555 million.The burden fell disproportionately on patients who were male, black, or 25 to 44 years old, the study found. Plasmodium falciparum malaria—the most deadly type—accounted for most of the hospitalizations, and August was the month with the most cases.Since about 69% of all malaria patients need hospital treatment, the scientists estimated that about 2,100 people in the United States have malaria each year, according to the release.Khuu commented that mosquitoes capable of carrying malaria are common in parts of the United States, and that increases in the number of travelers coming home with the disease increase the risk of re-establishing the disease in the country. But the study found no significant change in the rate of malaria hospitalizations over the study period.Malaria vaccinations planned in AfricaMeanwhile, plans to give the new malaria vaccine, called RTS,S, to children in parts of Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi were announced yesterday by the WHO’s Regional Office for Africa. The vaccine was developed to protect young children from P falciparum malaria.The pilot program will assess whether the vaccine’s protective effect in children 5 to 17 months old, shown in phase 3 testing, can be replicated in real life, the WHO said. Specifically, the program will test the feasibility of delivering the required four doses of RTS,S, the vaccine’s potential role in reducing childhood deaths, and its safety in routine use.WHO officials describe the vaccine as a complementary tool that could be added to the core package of WHO-recommended measures for preventing malaria, including insecticide-treated bed nets, spraying indoor walls with insecticides, and preventive medicines for pregnant women and young children.Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi were chosen for the program because they have high coverage with treated bed nets, good malaria and immunization programs, high malaria burdens, and participation in the RTS,S phase 3 trials, the WHO said.RTS,S was developed by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and is the first malaria vaccine to succeed in a phase 3 trial, the WHO noted. In 2015, two WHO advisory groups recommended pilot vaccination programs in three to five settings in sub-Saharan Africa.Several non-governmental global health agencies are partnering to provide $49.2 million for the first phase of the pilot program (2017 to 2020), which will be complemented by in-kind contributions from the WHO and GSK, the WHO said.WHO cites progress, challengesIn other malaria news, the WHO yesterday reported progress and big remaining challenges in the battle against the disease. The agency said the rate of new malaria cases fell by 21% globally from 2010 to 2015, and death rates fell by 29% in the same 5-year period. In sub-Saharan Africa, which bears 90% of the malaria burden, cases and death rates fell by 21% and 31%, respectively.Still, in 2015 the global malaria toll was 429,000 deaths and 212 million new cases, with one child dying from malaria every 2 minutes, the WHO said.The agency’s long-term malaria strategy calls for reducing cases and deaths by 90% and eliminating the disease in at least 35 countries by 2030. Interim 2020 targets call for 40% reductions in cases and death rates and for eliminating malaria in at least 10 countries.Funds for malaria prevention, researchOther malaria news related to World Malaria Day included announcements about grants for malaria prevention and research:The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria said today it would provide more than $242 million over 3 years to continue the battle against malaria in Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam. The grant will be the group’s largest regional allocation and the first with the specific goal of eliminating the disease in a specific region. The step continues the fund’s Regional Artemisinin-resistance Initiative, launched in 2013.The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) announced late last week it would provide about $9 million in first-year funding for seven malaria research centers around the world. The awards will go to three new and four existing centers that work in 14 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The 7-year awards continue NIAID’s 2010 program that created the International Centers of Excellence for Malaria Research (ICEMRs) in regions where malaria is endemic.See also:Arp 24 AJTMH abstractApr 24 AJTMH press releaseApr 24 WHO-Africa press release on vaccination programApr 24, 2015, CIDRAP News story “First malaria vaccine shows promise despite efficacy drop-off”Oct 23, 2015, CIDRAP News story “WHO experts urge gradual rollout of malaria vaccine”Apr 24 WHO press release on malaria progress and challengeslast_img read more

Head of fungal meningitis outbreak pharmacy sentenced to 9 years in prison

first_imgA US district court judge yesterday sentenced Barry Cadden, owner and head pharmacist of a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy implicated in a 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak linked to contaminated corticosteroid shots, to 9 years in prison.The sentencing followed Cadden’s Mar 22 conviction by a federal jury of racketeering and mail fraud charges, while acquitting him of all 25 counts of second-degree murder.The 2012 outbreak sickened 753 people, 64 of them fatally, and prompted extensive federal inspections and stricter oversight of compounding pharmacies. The outbreak was the largest public health crisis ever tied to a pharmaceutical product.Judge hands down less than maximum sentenceIn a statement yesterday, the US Attorney’s Office for the Massachusetts district said Cadden, age 50, was sentenced by Judge Richard Stearns to 108 months in prison and 3 years of supervised release, plus forfeiture and restitution to be determined later. According to an earlier report, he could have faced a maximum of 20 years in prison on each of the mail fraud and racketeering counts.Patients and family members of people affected by the outbreak appeared in court yesterday and asked the judge to give Cadden a severe sentence, and were disappointed by the judge’s ruling, the Boston Herald reported.The attorney’s office said Cadden authorized and directed the shipment of contaminated methylprednisolone acetate injections to nationwide customers of New England Compounding Center, sometimes before tests to confirm sterility were completed. He never notified customers when the products had nonsterile results or ingredients were expired. Some batches were made by an uncertified pharmacy technician, and Cadden repeatedly took steps to evade US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversight.Outbreak fallout led to tighter oversightFDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, said in the attorney’s office statement that protecting Americans from unsafe and contaminated drugs is the core of the FDA’s mission.”Since this tragedy, Congress has given the FDA important new authorities, and the agency has implemented key policies, all to provide a greater assurance of safety over compounded medicines. As part of these efforts, we will continue to hold accountable those who violate the law and put patients at risk,” he said.In a separate statement yesterday, the FDA said since the outbreak and enactment of the Drug Quality and Security Act (DQSA) in late 2013 it has devoted extensive resources to compounding oversight and implementing the new law’s provisions.As of Jun 1, the FDA said it has conducted more than 400 inspections, including 109 at outsourcing facilities, and has issued more than 150 warning letters advising compounders of significant violations. Also, the FDA has sent more than 50 letters detailing inspection findings to state regulators and has overseen 125 recalls involving compounded drugs.Also, in implementing the DQSA the FDA has issued 21 draft guidance documents, 10 final guidance documents, three proposed rules, one final rule, and a draft memorandum of understanding.See also:Jun 26 US Attorney’s Office statementJun 26 Boston Herald storyJun 26 FDA statementMar 23 CIDRAP News scan “Executive convicted in fungal meningitis outbreak trial”last_img read more

CDC keeping a watchful eye on Candida auris

first_imgEditor’s Note: This story was updated Jul 21, 2017, with comments from Tina Tan, MD, MPH, New Jersey state epidemiologist.In June 2016, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a clinical alert about an emerging multidrug-resistant fungus causing serious and frequently deadly invasive infections in healthcare settings around the world. The warning was intended as a message to healthcare providers to keep an eye out for Candida auris, which at that point had been found in only a handful of US patients.More than a year later, the CDC has identified 98 clinical C auris infections in nine states, some of them dating back to 2013, and the fungus has been isolated from an additional 110 patients. That’s not a lot, but it’s more than CDC officials wanted to see.”We were really hoping it wasn’t here yet, to be honest with you,” Tom Chiller, MD, MPHTM, chief of the Mycotic Diseases Branch at the CDC, said in an interview.Gaining hospital footholdsCandida infections are not uncommon in US hospitals, and they’re often associated with high morbidity and mortality. But C auris is different, and it doesn’t act like a “typical Candida,” Chiller said. Most Candida infections are isolated incidents that occur in patients who carry the yeast in their gut. But what Chiller had learned from his conversations with colleagues in countries like Pakistan and the United Kingdom was that C auris was being transmitted in hospitals.”That’s what caused us to put out the alert,” Chiller said. “That was enough evidence to push us over the edge and say, ‘yeah, this is definitely a hospital-transmitted organism.'”So far, C auris appears to be following that pattern in the United States, with clear indications of hospital transmission. While six states have reported only one clinical case, New York and New Jersey have reported 68 and 20, respectively, and whole-genome sequencing has revealed that the isolates within each state appear highly related to one another. Furthermore, the epidemiology indicates that many of the New York and New Jersey patients had overlapping stays at interconnected long-term–care facilities and acute care hospitals.”To say that transmission is occurring in these settings is definitely the case,” Chiller said.That’s confirmed by Tina Tan, MD, MPH, New Jersey state epidemoliogist. “Among our cases…what we’re commonly seeing is that there has been healthcare exposure,” Tan said in an interview.Hospital transmission is occurring because C auris likes to stay on skin and is hard to kill when it gets on hospital surfaces. And once it gets into a healthcare facility, it tends to stay. “It’s a lot more challenging once it’s got a foothold,” Chiller said.But what’s not clear is exactly how the fungus is being transmitted, whether patients are acquiring it from hospital bedding or bed rails, for example, or from healthcare workers who’ve had contact with infected or colonized patients. “We know those are all ways in which typical hospital bacteria is transmitted, so we’re tackling them all,” Chiller added.In response, the CDC is recommending that all infected or colonized patients be placed in a single-patient room under standard and contact precautions, and that those rooms are disinfected daily. The agency also recommends screening close contacts of C auris patients for potential colonization and informing receiving healthcare facilities when an infected or colonized patient is being transferred.Tan said her department is also focusing on opportunities to improve and reinforce hand hygiene in affected facilities, not only among staff but also among patients and visitors. “That’s really important as well, to ensure that visitors are aware of some of the considerations related to infection control and hand hygiene,” she said.  Concerns over high resistanceCDC investigators have also found worrisome evidence of another trend seen in international C auris cases—resistance to the three major classes of antifungals used to treat Candida infections.In the May 19 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), investigators reported that antifungal susceptibility tests of the first 35 clinical isolates showed that 86% were resistant to fluconazole, 43% were  resistant to amphotericin B, and 3% were resistant to echinocandins.Chiller called the evidence of multidrug resistance “super concerning.”Preventing spillover to healthier populationsAlso unclear is just how deadly the fungal pathogen is. C auris, which was originally identified in the ear of a patient in Japan in 2009, can cause serious invasive infections that affect the bloodstream, heart, brain, ear, and bones, and Chiller said the mortality rate has been high. But to this point, the cases have involved patients with multiple underlying health conditions, which makes it difficult to know whether the infection is killing patients.”These patients are very complicated, so it’s hard to tease apart,” Chiller said. “A lot of the times they’re sick with other things, and then they get Candida auris on top of that.”A CDC fact sheet estimates that more than 1 in 3 patients with invasive C auris infection die. But Chiller said that a recent review by colleagues in Pakistan of 100 candidemia patients indicated that at least half died from the infection. In addition, some of the patients were relatively healthy. The spread of C auris into healthier populations is a scenario Chiller is hoping to prevent in US hospitals.”We want to keep it a rare infection,” he said. “I’m just concerned that if it spills over into the general realm of Candida infections, like it has in some of these other countries, then we are dealing with the potential for a highly resistant bug to really take off.” See also:Jul 17 CIDRAP News story “CDC reports uptick in Candida auris cases”May 19 MMWR Notes from the Fieldlast_img read more

News Scan for Aug 27, 2018

first_imgUSDA issues alert over raw chicken tied to Salmonella illnessesThe US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and Empire Kosher Poultry, Inc. late last week issued a public health alert over Salmonella illnesses in several states that might be tied to raw chicken products.FSIS was notified of multiple Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i:- illnesses in northeastern  and mid-Atlantic states on Jun 18. “Working in conjunction with public health partners, FSIS determined that there is a potential link between Empire Kosher brand raw chicken products and this illness cluster,” the agency said in a news release. “Based on available epidemiological information, multiple case-patients have been identified in the northeastern and mid-Atlantic United States, many of whom reported consumption of Empire Kosher brand chicken products.”The Empire Kosher brand raw chicken items include whole chicken and chicken parts that were produced and sold from September 2017 to June 2018. Officials issued the alert “out of an abundance of caution.” FSIS did not specify the number of cases, and Empire, of Mifflintown, Pa., has not recalled its products at this point.About half of affected patients have been hospitalized, and illness-onset dates range from September 2017 to June 2018. “FSIS continues to work with the company and public health partners and will provide updated information should it become available,” the agency said.The FSIS recommends cooking raw poultry to 165°F before eating it.Aug 24 FSIS news release Senate passes big spending bill with increased public health fundingLate last week the US Senate passed an $857-billion “minibus” package for the fiscal year beginning on Oct 1 that increases National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding by 5.4% ($2 billion) to $39.1 billion and includes historic amounts for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and other departments.The bill, which also funds the departments of education, defense, and ;abor, is considered a bipartisan success, passing on a vote of 85-7, according to Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology (GEN) News. The House has until Sep 30 to pass the bill.The bill includes $550 million dedicated to the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria (CARB), up $37 million from last year’s budget.The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) would get $562 million, up $25 million from last year, and $120 million would go toward funding research on a universal flu vaccine. That’s $20 million more than was designated in last year’s budget.According to a story published by Medpage Today, NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, said at a Senate hearing on the bill that the funds will allow for 1,100 new grants to first-time investigators through the Next Generation Researchers Initiative.Other proposals include $425 million for Alzheimer’s research and $190 million for cancer research. An additional $3.7 billion will go toward targeting the opioid abuse crisis, including increasing spending on mental health services, and funding research for the development of non-opioid painkillers. Aug 24 GEN News storyAug 24 Medpage Today story PAHO urges measles vaccination ramp-up in South AmericaWith an ongoing measles outbreak in Venezuela, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) urged member states to aggressively vaccinate against the disease.”It is vital that we continue vaccinating in order to reach more than 95% of our children everywhere,” said PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne, MD, in a press release. “We must also strengthen national epidemiological surveillance and establish rapid response teams to expeditiously manage suspected cases, prevent new cases and halt outbreaks. These measures to sustain elimination were agreed to by Ministers of Health in 2017. These commitments must be renewed.”Endemic transmission of measles was reestablished in Venezuela in 2017. As of Aug 20 of this year, Venezuela confirmed 3,545 cases of measles, including 62 deaths.Although measles remains eliminated from all other PAHO countries, 10 countries in South America besides Venezuela have reported 1,459 confirmed cases of measles and 6 deaths since the outbreak in Venezuela began: Antigua and Barbuda (1 case), Argentina (8), Brazil (1,237, including 6 deaths), Canada (19), Colombia (60), Ecuador (17), Guatemala (1), Mexico (5), Peru (4), and the United States (107).In Brazil, most cases have been connected to the Venezuelan outbreak.The current outbreak in South America occurred just 1 year after World Health Organization Americas Region became the first in the world to obtain the measles elimination certification. Most countries in the region reported their last endemic cases more than 18 years ago, PAHO said. Aug 24 PAHO press release Aug 20 PAHO epidemiologic updatelast_img read more