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ID Week Comes to Philadelphia

IDweek2014_4CfullThe annual infection diseases conference known as ID Week kicked off in Philadelphia yesterday, and it couldn’t be more timely. And it’s not just because of Ebola.  A slew of other outbreaks have been in the public eye as of late: enterovirus, MERS, dengue fever. 

The program organizers have shifted gears accordingly, adding special sessions on the emerging threats for the thousands of infectious disease specialists—many from Penn Medicine—expected to attend the conference at the Philadelphia Convention Center, which goes until October 12. 

For those not familiar with ID Week, it’s a joint meeting of four infectious diseases societies, the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society (PIDS), the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA), and the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA). This is the third year it’s been held.

Special sessions on enterovirus D68—which has now sickened over 500 people in 43 states—and MERs, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, the viral respiratory illness first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012, have been added to the program, along with dengue fever, which a string of countries have battled recently.  What do we know about adult enterovirus infections? Is the US prepared for MERS? Where do we stand with a vaccine?  All these questions and more will be tackled. But Ebola is, of course, the main focus—and kicked off the meeting.

On Wednesday, Robert Fowler, MD, MSC, of the University of Toronto, who is currently on the ground in Sierra Leone, spoke about his personal experiences with the outbreak and supportive care measures that can be implemented in resource-poor settings. "It's grim on the ground," said Fowler, who works with the World Health Organization, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

Inger Damon, MD, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also gave an update on the Ebola crisis and what is being done to curtail the outbreak in West Africa and in the United States. News of the death of the Texas Ebola patient hit just a few hours before. 

A Twitter chat hosted by the CDC also took place Wednesday afternoon.

"Standard infection control practices in US healthcare facilities apply to #Ebola  but must be rigorously & meticulously adhered to," Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, tweeted. "#Ebola on dry surfaces can survive for several hrs. Virus in body fluids can survive up to several days at room temp #cdcchat #idweek2014," tweeted one doctor.

Wednesday night’s opening plenary session was extended by 30 minutes to allow for a talk by Bruce Ribner, MD, MPH, of Emory University, who will focus on the Ebola patients treated at Emory.

But the topics don't stop there. New studies on antibiotic stewardship, MRSA, HIV, and many other evergreen issues will be presented this the week—several of which come from Penn Medicine faculty.

On Friday, Vincent Lo Re, MD, MSCE, assistant professor in the division of Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology, and Dana Byrne, MD, MSCE, a former fellow the division of Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology, will present a study on bone density in patients with HIV and hepatitis C.

We know this group is more susceptible to “non-AIDS-related” conditions during the course of their treatment, but where exactly in the bone the treatments affect is less clear. The researchers found that patients on antiretroviral drugs had lower tibial trabecular (spongy bone where the red blood marrow is produced) bone density and significant endocortical (the bone on the inside surface) bone loss compared to healthy patients. (Abstract 645, October 10, Room: 107-AB).  Knowing the structural underpinnings for this bone fragility could help researchers find new ways to combat the side effect.  “Future studies should evaluate the mechanisms for these abnormalities and explore if successful hepatitis C therapy can reverse bone loss in this co-infected group,” said Lo Re.

On Saturday, Dana Byrne, MD, MSCE, a former fellow the division of Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology, will present a study that found people co-infected with HIV and hepatitis B who are being dually treated were significantly more at risk for hip fractures. (Abstract 1603, October 11, Room: Expo Hall BC)

On Saturday, Valerie Cluzet, MD, a fellow in the division of Infectious Diseases, will present an oral abstract on a study that investigated the use of body wash with chlorhexidine gluconate and an intra-nasal mupirocin ointment (an antibiotic cream) to treat skin infections of methicillin-resistant MRSA.  Researchers, including Ebbing Lautenbach, MD, chief of the division of Infectious Diseases, found that patients who used the wash and ointment at least half the time as directed were able to clear the infections more rapidly. (Abstract 1336, October 11, 11:45am, Room109-AB).

Yesterday, Neil O. Fishman, MD, associate chief medical officer, was also part of an educational session on the importance of effective antibiotic stewardship programs, where participants discussed strategies at hospitals and interventions with unique populations, such as outpatient setting and long-term care facilities.  

“We’re really at a critical juncture in healthcare now,” Fishman told the Hospitalist this week for a story on the topic. “We’re dangerously close to a pre-antibiotic era where we don’t have antibiotics to treat common infections.”

For more on the conference and abstracts, click here.

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