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Public Health Experts Provide Update on Current Infectious Diseases Threats

WASHINGTON, July 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Updates on the impact of climate changes on insect-borne diseases, the control of MRSA infections, and the importance of childhood immunizations were presented today at a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The news conference, sponsored by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID), also addressed the growing challenge of prevention and treatment of infections due to drug resistant bacteria.

"Infectious diseases pose an ongoing threat to the nation's public health," said Susan J. Rehm, MD, NFID medical director and vice chair, Department of Infectious Disease, at the Cleveland Clinic. "As health care professionals, we need to continue to identify these threats and educate the public about both prevention and effective measures to help control these threats."

The challenges associated with insect-borne infections and climate changes were presented by David M. Morens, M.D., at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institute of Health (NIH). Approximately 1.5 million of 14.8 million annual infectious disease deaths are attributable to insect-borne diseases worldwide. These diseases, such as yellow fever, dengue fever, encephalitis, Chagas disease and leishmaniasis may cause conditions ranging from encephalitis to congestive heart failure, cirrhosis of the liver, blindness and hemorrhagic fevers. Scientists are studying the effects of global warming and the impact of climate changes on increasing insect-borne infections. "The most important needs are better understanding of the behavior of complex ecosystems to which insects belong, reinvigoration of scientific and public health defenses, and more powerful tools to prevent, control and treat insect-borne diseases," said Dr. Morens.

Additional topics discussed at the 13th Richard J. Duma/NFID Annual News Conference and Symposium on Infectious Diseases included:

-- How Should We Respond to MRSA?: Loren Miller, MD, MPH, director of the

Infection Control Program at Harbor-UCLA, associate professor of

medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of

California, Los Angeles and faculty member in the division of Adult

Infectious Diseases at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, discussed methods to

control and prevent MRSA infections. Methicillin-resistant

Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections have become increasingly common

in the past few years. MRSA poses risk for infection within and outside

healthcare settings. MRSA are a type of Staphylococcus aureus

bacteria, commonly known as "Staph" that are resistant to many commonly

used antibiotics. "There is no simple magic bullet to respond to MRSA.

Efforts to prevent MRSA need to be multi-faceted and coordinated,"

stated Dr. Miller.

-- Childhood and Adolescent Vaccines: More Important than Ever: Larry K.

Pickering, MD, FAAP, senior advisor to the director of the National

Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases of the Centers for

Disease Control and Prevention, executive secretary of the Advisory

Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and professor of pediatrics

in the department of pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine

outlined the successes achieved by the immunization program; the

importance and benefits of childhood, adolescent and adult immunization

platforms; the effects of an unvaccinated population; and future

advances to further improved health. "Today, recommended vaccines are

available to prevent 16 infectious diseases as well as two forms of

cancer. As future vaccines become available to prevent other infectious

diseases, cancers, and other conditions, funding mechanisms must be

protected and public confidence in the safety and effectiveness of

vaccines must not be permitted to erode," stated Dr. Pickering.

-- Prevention and Treatment of Infections Due to Drug Resistant Bacteria:

Antibiotics Can't Be the Only Answer: Robert A. Weinstein, MD,

professor of medicine and chairman of the Division of Infectious

Diseases, Stroger Hospital at Cook County and chief operating officer

at the Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center for the Prevention, Care and

Research of Infectious Diseases, Rush Medical College, Chicago,

Illinois provided an overview of antibiotic resistance and infection

control practices to help reduce its occurrence. "Antibiotic

resistance is driven by lapses in infection control, as well as by

antibiotic overuse. Infection control improvements are essential to

controlling antibiotic resistance," said Dr. Weinstein.

About the News Conference and Symposium

The 13th Richard J. Duma/NFID Annual News Conference and Symposium on Infectious Diseases was supported, in part, by unrestricted educational grants to NFID from Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Pfizer Inc., Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical, Roche, sanofi pasteur, and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals.

This event is named for former NFID president and executive director Richard J. Duma, MD, PhD, currently director of infectious diseases at Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Florida.

About the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases

The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) is a non-profit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1973 and dedicated to educating the public and healthcare professionals about the causes, treatment and prevention of infectious diseases. For more information, please visit

SOURCE National Foundation for Infectious Diseases
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