October 19th, 2014

Almost Filovirus-Free (That is, Ebola-Free) ID Link-o-Rama

insufferable on facebookIf you’re an ID doctor right now, the filovirus of the moment Ebola is consuming a big chunk of all of your non-clinical time — and this is particularly true for those heavily involved in Infection Control, who are spending every waking hour responding to public hysteria, to various clinicians who seem to have all the answers, and to ever shifting federal, state, and regional guidelines. Thank you for doing this!

So as change of pace, I bring you this Almost Filovirus-Free ID Link-o-Rama, though this ever-challenging epidemic does make an appearance at the end.

  • There’s been a bit of controversy on mandatory flu shots for certain healthcare workers at a certain New England hospital, whatever that could be. In response, I offer this brilliant Mark Crislip essay (it’s actually more of a tirade), which is republished annually by him and quoted by others, and falls easily into the must read now category — you will laugh, you will cry, and if you’re a health care provider you will nod your head with recognition many times, wishing you had the guts to write it yourself.
  • Speaking of vaccines, this coverage of national immunization rates for children in kindergarten reminds us that while vaccine refusers can dangerously cluster within communities, overall the USA is still doing quite well — which is why our outbreaks of vaccine-preventable illnesses are comparably small compared with Western Europe. School regulations requiring vaccination before school entry is policy for the public good at its best — it’s what you’d expect an ID doctor married to a pediatrician to say, but so be it.
  • Enterovirus 68 — which is now known as Enterovirus D68 — is feeling a bit left out of the Panic Virus Hysteria, but here’s some good news: there’s a faster, better test to diagnose the infection, which will no doubt give a much better sense of the full spectrum of disease, and whether it is truly linked to neurologic syndromes.
  • Kudos to my friend, colleague, and co-ID fellow (don’t ask when) Libby Hohmann, whose study of … um … ingesting frozen poop pills (that’s the easiest way to say it) for C diff points to a future treatment of this nasty condition. Sure beats having a colonoscopy (prep and sedation) or a nasogastric tube (mega-yuck) for delivery of the required donor material.
  • On the inpatient ID side, Staph aureus MICs may not matter after all. If you combine this result with the lack of clinical studies correlating vancomycin levels with outcome, and the fact that every ID fellow spends a big chunk of his/her energy chasing these levels until they are perfect, can we have some sanity on this vanco level issue please?
  • And while we’re talking about our oh-so familiar foe Staph aureus, and in particular MRSA, this editorial suggests we reconsider patient isolation for this infection and for VRE. Seems it’s probably unnecessary — with several major medical centers (Cleveland Clinic, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Detroit Medical Centers, others) already stopping this practice. Boy that would be liberating.
  • That editorial was part of a fun-packed JAMA issue that was completely devoted to Infectious Diseases, including a study showing that around half of all hospitalized patients receive at least one dose of an antibiotic. And the most commonly prescribed drug? Vancomycin, followed (in order) by ceftriaxone, piperacillin-tazobactam, then levofloxacin. I wonder what proportion of patients admitted to a medical service get a cardiac ECHO?
  • Guess what? Measuring CD4 cell counts in stable HIV patients on suppressive treatment doesn’t influence treatment decisions. No surprise. The problem, of course, is convincing our patients that the test we’ve been doing for all these years is no longer relevant — easier said than done!
  • OK, Filovirus time. The policy of treating all US Ebola virus disease patients in special biocontainment units has not as far as I can tell been formally enacted, but that’s what’s currently happening. There’s been some confusion about the capacity our system has for doing so, as not all the beds in all the units can be occupied simultaneously, but it seems that it’s a grand total of 11 beds — the NIH has 2, and Emory, Nebraska, and Montana each has 3.

Department of Shameless Self Promotion:  You can now sign up and get notification about the latest post by putting your email address in the box on the right. Not saying you want to do this, just that you can.

And while we’re on the topic of self promotion, here’s a painfully funny takedown of egregious Facebook behavior. Don’t complain that you weren’t warned — because we’ve all been there, done that.

2 Responses to “Almost Filovirus-Free (That is, Ebola-Free) ID Link-o-Rama”

  1. Robert Glassman says:

    Love the informative, witty review of key issues in the space. Thx

  2. Loretta S says:

    Vanco is the most commonly prescribed antibiotic? Yikes. Glad to hear isolation for MRSA and VRE is being reconsidered. What a huge use of resources that practice is; if it isn’t necessary, then let’s not do it any more.

    Thanks for the Link-o-Rama. Love the bite-sized bits of clinically-relevant information.

HIV Information: Author Paul Sax, M.D.

Paul E. Sax, MD

Contributing Editor

NEJM Journal Watch
Infectious Diseases

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