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12 November 2013

Superbug C. diff cases rise in some hospitals

The number of people falling sick with the superbug Clostridium difficile (C. diff) has risen in some hospitals in the south of England.

The number of cases reported by the Royal Berkshire, Basingstoke and Winchester hospitals have doubled within a year. There has also been a spike in new cases of the bacterial infection outside hospital, including in communities in Reading, Bracknell and Basingstoke.

However, the rates in some hospitals are decreasing.


5 August 2013

Fonterra botulism scare leads to import ban in China, Vietnam and Russia
China, Vietnam and Russia have banned the import of milk powder and whey protein from the New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra after a botulism scare.
The company warned on Saturday that a batch of whey protein produced last year contained bacteria that could lead to the illness. The ingredient was exported to factories in China, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Australia.
Chinese shops cleared hundreds of tonnes of food products from their shelves and officials in Wellington said Beijing had banned imports of all Fonterra milk powder and whey protein. They added that Moscow had banned all New Zealand dairy goods despite not receiving any of the affected products.
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said botulism was a rare but serious paralytic illness which could be fatal. Symptoms included double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth and muscle weakness.
The case is a blow to New Zealand, which has thrived on a reputation for high-quality food products. Dairy products account for about a quarter of its exports and the industry is worth £6.1bn. Fonterra is the world's fourth-largest dairy company and this year announced plans to build a new plant in China.
The scare is likely to cause particular concern in China, where consumers have increasingly turned to foreign products after numerous food scandals involving domestic goods.

(The Guardian)

11 March 2013

Antibiotic resistance 'a catastrophic threat'
The Government's Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, states that a growing resistance to antibiotics should be ranked along with terrorism on a list of threats to the nation. Nigel Brown, President of the Society for General Microbiology backed Dame Sally's comments stating that urgent action is required by microbiologists and other scientists to identify and produce new antibiotics, and to tackle the problem of antibiotic resistance and its transmission

Global action is needed to fight antibiotic, or antimicrobial, resistance and fill a drug “discovery void” by researching and developing new medicines to treat emerging, mutating infection.

Laura Piddock, a professor of microbiology at Birmingham University and director of the campaign group Antibiotic Action, welcomed Davies' efforts to raise awareness of the problem.

Nigel Brown, President of the Society of General Microbiology, also backed Dame Sally's comments and agreed the issues demanded urgent action. He said we will have to would work hard to better understand infectious diseases, reduce transmission of antibiotic resistance, and help develop new antibiotics. “The techniques of microbiology and new developments such as synthetic biology will be crucial in achieving this,” he said.

(The Independent)

15 February 2013

Sea bed to be mined for antibiotics.
Scientists are to hunt for new antibiotics at the bottom of the ocean in an £8m project led by experts at Aberdeen University. A team, led by scientists at Aberdeen University, is hunting for undiscovered chemicals among life which has evolved in deep sea trenches. Prof Marcel Jaspars said the team hoped to find "the next generation" of infection-fighting drugs. England's chief medical officer has warned of an "antibiotic apocalypse" with too few new drugs in the pipeline. Few samples have ever been collected from ocean trenches - deep, narrow valleys in the sea floor that can plunge down to almost 6.8 miles (11km). Yet researchers believe there is great potential for discovering antibiotics in these extreme conditions. Life in these incredibly hostile environments is effectively cut off and has evolved differently in each trench. The international team will use fishing vessels to drop sampling equipment on a reel of cables to the trench bed to collect sediment. Scientists will then attempt to grow unique bacteria and fungi from the sediment which can be extracted and refined to discover new antibiotics. Starting in the autumn with the Atacama Trench in the eastern Pacific Ocean - about 100 miles (161km) off the coast of Chile and Peru - the EU-funded research will also search deep trenches off New Zealand as well waters off the Antarctic. Arctic waters off Norway will also be explored.
(BBC -