The Daily Dose – Sanofi-Pasteur to Filipino children: Drop Dead

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An article in Science provides an update to the dengue vaccination controversy that occurred in the Philippines in 2016. It involved a nationwide vaccination campaign in which a Sanofi Pasteur drug called Dengvaxia was administered to kindergarten and elementary school children. A year later Sanofi announced that the vaccine may actually cause the onset of severe Dengue rather than protecting against it. Apparently, the pharmaceutical behemoth doesn’t care all that much about the children it has endangered. According to Science, “Sanofi Pasteur has no plans to conduct a big, complex study, although it is following the fate of about 1% of the vaccinated children for 5 years. ‘I’m pretty alarmed by the lack of interest,’ says retired dengue researcher Scott Halstead, who worked at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, for many years.” Not surprising, but no less disappointing.

Different geographies possess different antibiotic resistance characteristics peculiar to that area. Identifying the specific forms of resistance helps in the proper prescription of antibiotics. Researchers took samples of sewage and wastewater in New York City. They found a number of resistance genes spread across the five boroughs. “All samples were positive for the presence of the seven antibiotic resistance genes tested, based on real-time quantitative PCR assays, with higher levels observed for tetracycline resistance genes at all time points. For five of the seven genes, abundances were significantly higher in May than in February and August.”

Our trip around the world continues in London, where researchers took samples from frequently touched public surfaces and tested for multi drug resistant staphylococcus. Their results were disturbing. “281 out of 600 (46.83%) staphylococci isolates recovered were multidrug resistant, of which 49 (8.17%) were mecA positive. There was significantly higher proportion of multidrug resistant staphylococci (P = 0.0002) in East London (56.7%) compared to West London (49.96%).”

The next stop in our global antibiotic resistance survey beings us to Melbourne, where researchers tested for resistant Neisseria gonorrhea. According to their findings, “Multivariate analysis identified risk factors for multidrug-resistant (MDR) N. gonorrhoeae, namely female sex and country of birth, with MDR isolates more common in individuals born in north-east Asia, further highlighting the importance of this region and international travel as factors in the cross-border transmission of MDR N. gonorrhoeae.”

Our final stop along the antibiotic resistance survey journey leaves us in Russia, where researchers also investigated resistance in N. gonorrhea. Specifically, they tested bacterial susceptibility to beta-lactams. Sad to say, the news was not positive. “The majority of isolates (21 of 25) carrying the blaTEM plasmid also contained the conjugative plasmid with tetM (resistance to tetracyclines), consistent with previously reported data that the presence of the conjugative plasmid facilitates the transfer of other plasmids associated with antimicrobial resistance.” In other words, bacteria are swapping resistance genes like handshakes.


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