06 May, 2011

"Shocking" diphtheria death, and KPC alert in Uruguay

“Shocking” diphtheria death in Autralia
A 22 year old Brisbane woman has died from diphtheria; it is believed she was unvaccinated. Diphtheria is a severe respiratory infection caused by Corynebacterium diphtheriae. The president of the Australia Medial Association noted "In the (early) 1900s it was the most common cause of death from an infectious disease." In fact, Alaska’s famous Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race commemorates the heroic efforts of mushers and their sled dogs to relay diphtheria antitoxin from Anchorage to Nome during a 1925 outbreak. Today diphtheria is very rare in industrialized countries like Australia, but it remains a problem in many parts of the world including nations in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and the former USSR. The diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus combination vaccine has been very effective in fighting the disease.

KPC Alert in Uruguay           
In the last two months, three Uruguayan patients have died in Montevideo from the now well known antibiotic-resistant bacteria, KPC. Bacteria with the Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemases (KPC) enzyme are extremely dangerous because they are able to inactivate antibiotics such as penicillin, cephalosporin, aztreonam and carbapenems. This bacterium spreads quickly and results in death in about 50% of the cases. KPC infections were first publicized in 2001 at a hospital in North Carolina and then in New York City in 2003. KPC has spread worldwide to Israel, France and China. In the last year, infections have been reported in Argentina, Brazil, Columbia and now Uruguay.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has officially issued a warning for all countries to avoid possible KPC outbreaks.

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