Recent news of interest from the world of infectious diseases:
- Since the development of the first vaccine against smallpox in 1796, vaccines have become one of the most remarkable success stories in global health, and are estimated to have saved 730 million lives worldwide—more than 10 times the population of Britain. Smallpox has been eliminated and other vaccine-preventable diseases—such as polio—are nearing the point of eradication. Deaths of children under five years of age have fallen in every region of the world. Progress has been dramatic since 1990, thanks largely to the availability of vaccines as well as other health measures in developing countries. Despite the myths and misconceptions associated with vaccines, nine in 10 people now get the vaccinations they need.
- Antibiotic resistant bacteria are one of the biggest public health issues we are facing in the coming decades, but there is one method of transmission that is not getting enough attention according to a recent study conducted by researchers from Peking University in Beijing—antibiotic resistance genes are spreading through the air. Both dead and alive bacteria can become airborne, moving to new locations and spreading genes further. View tips on slowing the spread of resistant bacteria.
- For many adults, the word “vaccination” conjures images of dreaded trips to the pediatrician decades ago. But it’s not all about the kids. Adults—even those 50 and older—need vaccines to protect against serious, and potentially deadly, diseases. Protection from some childhood vaccines can wear off over time, and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may change. Read about the vaccines recommended for adults age 50 and older to make sure you are protected.
- A recently published multi-year study compared the District of Columbia and 23 states with legislation to promote the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine with states without similar policies and found that promoting the HPV vaccine does not lead to more teen sex. According to CDC, HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection—nearly 80 million people (about one in four) are currently infected in the US and another 14 million become newly infected each year, many in their teens or early 20s. “Concern that legislation will increase risky adolescent sexual behaviors should not be used when deciding to pass HPV legislation,” the study said.
- Pregnant women are advised to avoid soft cheeses, but should get certain vaccines, including an influenza (flu) shot and a Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis) vaccine. The seasonal flu shot is recommended because the immune system is affected by pregnancy and pregnant women are more likely to get seriously sick from influenza and related complications. Tdap protects newborns against pertussis (or whooping cough) and is a very contagious and potentially deadly disease, especially for infants. According to CDC, half of all babies who get pertussis end up in the hospital, and some die. There is data to show giving Tdap vaccine during each pregnancy works to protect newborns, who get pertussis antibodies in utero from the mother. Read more about the importance of maternal immunizations.
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The time to deal with vaccine misinformation is immediately. And the way to deal with it is through building connections and expressing empathy.