New York: People hospitalised during the pandemic both for Covid and other conditions have a higher rate of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections compared to patients hospitalised before the pandemic, according to a study.
An estimated 1.2 million people worldwide died in 2019 from antibiotic-resistant infections, and this number is predicted to increase ten-fold by 2050.
There have been studies reporting that the pandemic was associated with antimicrobial resistance (AMR) secondary infections, possibly due to the increase in the use of antibiotics to treat Covid-19 patients and disruptions to infection prevention and control practices in overwhelmed health systems.
The study, presented at this year's European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) being held in Portugal, evaluated the pandemic's impact on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in 271 hospitals across the US.
The researchers assessed AMR rates per 100 hospital admissions before and during the Covid pandemic, and examined whether drug-resistant infections were acquired in the community-onset setting (defined as a culture collected less than two days after admission) or in the hospital-onset setting (more than two days after admission).
In total, 1,789,458 patients were admitted to the hospital in the pre-pandemic period and 3,729,208 during the pandemic.
The number of patients admitted to the hospital with at least one AMR infection was 63,263 in the pre-pandemic period and 129,410 during the pandemic.
Patients who tested positive or negative for Covid had higher levels of AMR than patients before the pandemic, 4.92 per 100 admissions and 4.11 per 100 admissions, respectively.
For hospital-associated infections, the AMR rate was 0.77 per 100 admissions before the pandemic and 0.86 per 100 admissions during the pandemic, and highest at 2.19 per 100 admissions in patients with Covid-19.
When looking at community-onset infections, the AMR rate was 2.76 per 100 admissions in the pre-pandemic period, and 2.61 per 100 admissions during the pandemic.
"These new data highlight the importance of closely monitoring the impact of Covid-19 on antimicrobial resistance rates, said Dr Karri Bauer from the US pharmaceutical company Merck.
"It is particularly worrying that antibiotic resistance has been rising during the pandemic in both SARS-CoV-2 positive and negative patients. Hospital-acquired infections are a major concern, with antimicrobial resistance rates significantly higher during the pandemic than before," he added. (Agency)
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A combination of high-dose Vitamin D, Omega-3s, and simple home strength exercises can help reduce cancer risk in healthy adults aged 70 or older by 61 per cent, claims a study.
Published in Frontiers in Aging, it is the first study to test the combined benefit of three affordable public health interventions for the prevention of invasive cancers that has grown past the original tissue or cells where it developed, and spread to otherwise healthy surrounding tissue.
Apart from preventative recommendations such as not smoking and sun protection, public health efforts that focus on cancer prevention are limited, according to Dr Heike Bischoff-Ferrari of the University Hospital Zurich in Switzerland.
"Preventive efforts in middle-aged and older adults today are largely limited to screening and vaccination efforts," Bischoff-Ferrari noted.
Studies have shown that Vitamin D inhibits the growth of cancer cells. Similarly, Omega-3 may inhibit the transformation of normal cells into cancer cells, and exercise has been shown to improve immune function and decrease inflammation, which may help in the prevention of cancer.
However, there was a lack of robust clinical studies proving the effectiveness of these three simple interventions, alone or combined.
Bischoff-Ferrari and her colleagues tested the effect of daily high-dose Vitamin D3 (one form of Vitamin D supplements), daily supplemental Omega-3s, and a simple home strength exercise, alone and in combination, on the risk of invasive cancer among adults aged 70 or older.
The three-year trial, held in Switzerland, France, Germany, Austria, and Portugal, involved 2,157 participants.
The results show that all three treatments (Vitamin D3, Omega-3s, and exercise) had cumulative benefits on the risk of invasive cancers, Bischoff-Ferrari said.
Each of the treatments had a small individual benefit but when all three treatments were combined, the benefits became statistically significant, and the researchers saw an overall reduction in cancer risk by 61 per cent.
"Our results, although based on multiple comparisons and requiring replication, may prove to be beneficial for reducing the burden of cancer," Bischoff-Ferrari said, adding the need for further studies. (agency)
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Danish researchers have found evidence that pigs can spread dangerous antibiotic-resistant superbug Clostridioides difficile to humans.
A team from the University of Copenhagen and Statens Serum Institut in Denmark found samples of the superbug C.difficile more commonly in piglets and sows than slaughter pigs across 14 pig farms in Denmark.
The difference may be due to the younger pigs having a microbiota composition that makes them more susceptible to a successful colonisation, the researchers said.
C. difficile is a bacterium that infects the human gut and is resistant to all but three current antibiotics. Some strains contain genes that allow them to produce toxins that can cause damaging inflammation in the gut, leading to life-threatening diarrhoea, mostly in the elderly and hospitalised patients who have been treated with antibiotics.
"Our finding of multiple and shared resistance genes indicate that C. difficile is a reservoir of antimicrobial resistance genes that can be exchanged between animals and humans," said Dr. Semeh Bejaoui from the varsity.
"This alarming discovery suggests that resistance to antibiotics can spread more widely than previously thought, and confirms links in the resistance chain leading from farm animals to humans," Bejaoui added.
The study was presented at this year's European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) being held in Portugal. In the study, the team investigated the prevalence of C. difficile strains in livestock (pigs) and the potential for zoonotic spread of antimicrobial resistance genes by comparing to clinical isolates from Danish hospital patients.
Stool samples were collected from 514 pigs in two batches from farms across Denmark between 2020 and 2021. Batch A included 330 samples from sows, piglets and slaughter pigs from fourteen farms in 2020. The 184 samples in batch B were collected during slaughtering in 2021.
Out of 514 pigs samples, 54 had evidence of C. difficile. Further analyses of 40 samples, found that C. difficile was more common in piglets and sows than slaughter pigs. The researchers speculate that this may be due to the difference in age between piglets and adult pigs with the younger pigs having a microbiota composition that makes them more susceptible to a successful colonisation.
In total, thirteen sequence types found in animals matched those found in patient's stool samples. ST11, an animal-associated strain, was the most common. In sixteen cases, ST11 strains in humans and animals were identical.
All isolates from animals were positive for the toxin genes and ten were also hypervirulent, with an even greater capacity to cause disease.
In total, 38 isolates from the animals contained at least one resistance gene and overall, resistance was predicted for seven classes of antibiotics, of which the most common were macrolides, beta-lactams, aminoglicosides and vancomycin -- which are important for treating severe bacterial infections.
The team blamed the overuse of antibiotics in human medicine and as cheap production tools on farms affecting efforts to cure bacterial infections.
"Of particular concern is the large reservoir of genes conferring resistance to aminoglycosides, a class of antibiotics to which C. difficile is intrinsically resistant they are not needed for resistance in this species. C. difficile thus plays a role in spreading these genes to other susceptible species," Bejaoui said. (agency)
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Six in 10 people with SARS-CoV-2 still have at least one symptom of long Covid a year later, with fatigue, shortness of breath and irritability being the most common, a new study has shown.
The study, being presented at this year's European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) in Portugal, found that Covid-19 symptoms that don't clear up after 15 weeks are likely to last at least a year.
An estimated 25-40 per cent of people with Covid-19 develop long Covid, persisting symptoms that can affect multiple organs and include mental health problems.
Most of the data to date, however, is based on patients who were hospitalised with Covid-19 and it isn't clear how it applies to Covid-19 cases more generally.
To find out more, Aurelie Fischer and colleagues at the Luxembourg Institute of Health in Luxembourg, surveyed almost 300 people a year after they were diagnosed with Covid.
The 289 participants (50.2 per cent women) had an average age of 40.2 years and were divided in three groups, based on the severity of their initial infection: asymptomatic, mild and moderate/severe Covid-19.
They were asked to fill in a detailed questionnaire about whether they were experiencing 64 common long Covid-related symptoms.
A third (34.3 per cent) were experiencing fatigue a year on, 12.9 per cent said respiratory symptoms were affecting their quality of life and more than half (54.2 per cent) had ongoing sleep problems.
Participants who had moderate/severe Covid-19 were twice as likely to still have at least one symptom a year on than those whose initial infection was asymptomatic. Having had moderate/severe Covid-19 was also associated with more sleep problems after a year than being asymptomatic (63.8 per cent vs. 38.6 per cent).
"Participants with a mild form of the acute illness were more likely than those who'd been asymptomatic to have at least one symptom at one year, and to have sleep problems, but to a lesser extent than those with a moderate or severe acute illness," Fischer said.
One in seven participants (14.2 per cent) said they could not envisage coping with their symptoms long-term.
Further, the analysis also revealed that some groups of symptoms tend to occur together, suggesting that there are multiple different types of long Covid.
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London: Carbohydrates, proteins and fats are essential nutrients to all animals. Yet dietary variation between species, populations and individuals can vary dramatically.
In an international collaborative study, researchers from Australia, Denmark and Finland investigated how individuals of the same population differ in their ability to survive on various diets.
The researchers utilised a genetic reference panel consisting of roughly 200 closely related fruit fly strains (Drosophila melanogaster). The flies were fed six different diets containing high concentrations respectively of protein, sugar, starch, coconut oil or lard, or a combination of sugar and lard.
The strains used in the study have had their genomes fully mapped, which made it possible to link the differences seen in the experiments to specific genetic variation.
The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, found that small genetic differences affected the flies' ability to use the energy of various nutrients.
"Unexpectedly, we found that the fruit fly strains differed considerably, for example, in their ability to survive on a high-sugar diet. What makes this particularly surprising is the fact that the food consumed by fruit flies in nature contains a lot of sugars," said Essi Havula, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki and the lead author of the study.
"The genes that regulate metabolism have been conserved well in evolution, which is why we can learn a lot about human metabolism through studies carried out with fruit flies," Havula adds.
In genetic analyses, the researchers identified a number of genes that contributed to the ability of flies to tolerate sugar. Most of these genes are found also in humans and have been suggested in previous genome-wide association studies to play a role in obesity and Type-2 diabetes.
In addition, the researchers demonstrated that the JNK pathway, one of the most important stress-signalling pathways, regulated sugar metabolism and storage-fat synthesis in the case of high-sugar diets in the study.
"It appears that dietary sugar causes stress to the cells, giving the JNK pathway an important role in how effectively flies tolerate and process sugar," Havula said.
According to the researchers, most of the findings can be applied to humans as well, even though further research is still needed. Havula pointed out that the study provides concrete evidence on how the same dietary recommendations do not necessarily suit everyone.
One option is to develop nutrition in a more personalised direction with the help of nutrigenomics, they suggested.
Read More► 1 in 4 Adults Suffer Missed Liver Disorder Linked to Heart Disease: Study
New York: About 25 per cent or one in four adults worldwide has a liver condition, often undiagnosed, that raises risk for heart disease, according to a new American Heart Association scientific statement.
The condition, called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), occurs when abnormally elevated amounts of fat are deposited in the liver, sometimes resulting in inflammation and scarring.
"NAFLD is a common condition that is often hidden or missed in routine medical care. It is important to know about the condition and treat it early because it is a risk factor for chronic liver damage and cardiovascular disease," said P. Barton Duell, chair of the statement writing committee.
The statement is published in the Association's peer-reviewed journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology.
There are two types of NAFLD: one when only fat is present in the liver (called non-alcoholic fatty liver), and the other when inflammation and scarring are also present (called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH).
NAFLD often raises risk of heart disease and is the leading cause of death in people with the liver condition.
The diseases share many of the same risk factors, including metabolic syndrome (elevated blood sugar and blood triglycerides, increased abdominal fat and high blood pressure); Type 2 diabetes; impaired glucose tolerance (prediabetes); and obesity.
However, people with NAFLD are at higher risk of heart disease than people who have the same heart disease risk factors without the liver condition.
NAFLD can go undiagnosed for years, as the initial stages generally have no symptoms and people feel well, and routine blood tests may not show liver abnormalities.
Often, elevated liver enzymes in blood, a possible sign of NAFLD, may be mis-attributed to a side effect of medication or to recent alcohol consumption. In addition, the absence of elevated liver enzyme levels does not rule out NAFLD or NASH.
According to the statement, a specialised ultrasound that measures liver elasticity, fat and stiffness (a result of scarring) in the liver can detect NAFLD.
This type of liver scan is a non-invasive way to help diagnose and monitor treatment in NAFLD and NASH, yet it is underused. Liver biopsy is the definitive test for the diagnosis of more advanced stages of NAFLD, however, it is invasive and expensive.
However, NAFLD is often preventable by maintaining a healthy body weight, exercising regularly, eating a heart-healthy foods diet and managing conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and elevated triglycerides (a type of fat) in the blood, the statement noted. (Agency)
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