DiversityNursing Blog

Girl 'Cured' of HIV at Birth Now Has Virus, Doctors Say

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Jul 14, 2014 @ 01:34 PM

By GILLIAN MOHNEY

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A girl believed to be “cured” of HIV at birth now has detectable levels of the virus, health officials said today.

The unnamed girl, dubbed the “Mississippi baby” after being born to an HIV-positive mother in 2010 and quickly treated with an intense dose of antiretroviral medication, showed no signs of the virus for roughly four years, according to the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease. But a recent round of tests revealed detectable levels of HIV in her blood as well as antibodies to the virus and a decreased T-cell count -- all signs of the infection.

“Certainly, this is a disappointing turn of events for this young child, the medical staff involved in the child’s care, and the HIV/AIDS research community,” NIAID director Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a statement. “Scientifically, this development reminds us that we still have much more to learn about the intricacies of HIV infection and where the virus hides in the body.”

The case of the Mississippi baby made headlines across the globe after being published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. Hannah Gay, the University of Mississippi Medical Center pediatrician who treated the infant at birth, was listed as one of Time magazine’s most influential people of 2013.

Gay's decision to give the newborn antiretroviral medication in the days before it was confirmed that she was in fact HIV-positive was controversial, since there was only a 25 percent chance that the girl would contract the virus from her mother.

The girl continued treatment for 18 months before her mother stopped taking her to her clinic appointments. Five months later, when she went back for a check-up, she surprised doctors with undetectable levels of the virus.

At first, Gay and her colleagues said the baby had been “functionally cured” of the virus, but later revised their language to “remission” to better convey that there was a chance the virus could rebound, they said at the time.

Although the girl's positive test results have been described as a disappointment, experts say her case still shows tremendous progress in treating the virus that causes AIDS.

“The fact that this child was able to remain off antiretroviral treatment for two years and maintain quiescent virus for that length of time is unprecedented,” Dr. Deborah Persaud, professor of infectious diseases at the John Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore, said in a statement released by NIAID. “Typically, when treatment is stopped, HIV levels rebound within weeks, not years.”

Persaud is one of the two pediatric HIV experts involved in the ongoing analysis of the case.

“This virus is amazingly recalcitrant,” said Fauci. “It’s in reservoirs, except we don’t know every place in the body where the reservoir is going to be.”

NIAID and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development announced today that they would provide funding to analyze the unique case and will take the new findings into account during a new clinical trial.

Source: abcnews.go.com


Topics: virus, cured, baby, HIV

'Drastic action is needed' now to stop Ebola epidemic

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Jul 02, 2014 @ 11:59 AM

By Danielle Dellorto, Miriam Falco, and Jen Christensen

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The Ebola epidemic isn't getting any better in Africa.

The World Health Organization reports there have been 759 cases, including 467 deaths in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia since the outbreak began in March, according to a statement the organization released on Tuesday.

The World Health Organization has said "drastic action is needed" to stop the deadly outbreak in West Africa. It has sent teams of experts to help locals deal with the epidemic. WHO will meet this week to discuss how to contain it.

Relief workers on the ground said the epidemic has hit unprecedented proportions.

"The epidemic is out of control," said Dr. Bart Janssens, director of operations for Doctors Without Borders.

Complicating matters, the countries hit hardest by the epidemic have major medical infrastructure challenges. There is also a real sense of mistrust toward health workers from communities. In Sierra Leone and Guinea, WHO has said that community members have thrown stones at health care workers trying to investigate the outbreak.

In April, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta traveled to Conakry, Guinea, to report on what was being done to treat patients and contain the outbreak.

"It took only moments to feel the impact of what was happening here," Gupta wrote after landing in Conakry. "There is a lot we know about Ebola, and it scares us almost as much as what we don't know."

Ebola outbreaks usually are confined to remote areas, making the disease easier to contain. But this outbreak is different; patients have been identified in 60 locations in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Officials believe the wide footprint of this outbreak is partly because of the proximity between the jungle where the virus was first identified and cities such as Conakry. The capital in Guinea has a population of 2 million and an international airport.

People are traveling without realizing they're carrying the deadly virus. It can take between two and 21 days after exposure for someone to feel sick.

Ebola is a violent killer. The symptoms, at first, mimic the flu: headache, fever, fatigue. What comes next sounds like something out of a horror movie: significant diarrhea and vomiting, while the virus shuts off the blood's ability to clot.

As a result, patients often suffer internal and external hemorrhaging. Many die in an average of 10 days.

Doctors Without Borders, also known as Médecins Sans Frontières, has been working to fight the epidemic since March. The group has sent more than 300 staff members and 40 tons of equipment and supplies to the region to help fight the epidemic.

Still, the group warns, it's not enough.

"Despite the human resources and equipment deployed by MSF in the three affected countries, we are no longer able to send teams to the new outbreak sites."

The good news is that Ebola isn't as easily spread as one may think. A patient isn't contagious -- meaning they can't spread the virus to other people -- until they are already showing symptoms.

Serious protective measures

Inside the isolation treatment areas in Conakry, doctors focus on keeping the patients hydrated with IV drips and other liquid nutrients. Health officials have urged residents to seek treatment at the first sign of flu-like symptoms.

There is no cure or vaccine to treat Ebola, but MSF has shown it doesn't have to be a death sentence if it's treated early. Ebola typically kills 90% of patients. This outbreak, the death rate has dropped to roughly 60%.

The outbreak will be considered contained after 42 days -- twice the incubation period -- with no new Ebola cases.

Source: cnn.com


Topics: virus, Ebola, epidemic, medical

Last year's flu season wound up on the mild side, CDC says

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Jun 11, 2014 @ 01:00 PM

By KAREN KAPLAN

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Another influenza season is in the books, and overall it caused less sickness and death than flu seasons in the recent past, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Between Sept. 29, 2013, and May 17, 2014, a total of 53,471 specimens sent to U.S. labs tested positive for a flu virus. Among them, 87% were influenza A viruses, and the most common of these were versions of the H1N1 virus that prompted the swine flu epidemic in 2009. The other 13% of the confirmed specimens were influenza B viruses.

The CDC findings, which were published Thursday in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, did not estimate a total number of flu deaths for the 2013-14 flu season. But based on records kept by doctors and hospitals, researchers concluded that flu activity in the last year resulted in “lower levels of outpatient illness and mortality” compared with years when the predominant strains were versions of the H3N2 virus.

At least 96 children died of the flu in the last year, laboratory tests confirmed. Those deaths were reported in 30 states, New York City and Chicago. In about half of these cases, the patients had at least one preexisting condition, such as a neurologic disorder or a pulmonary disease, that may have made them more vulnerable to the flu.

The most striking statistic in the report is the rate of hospitalization among people between the ages of 50 and 64. Over the course of the entire flu season, the cumulative hospitalization rate for these adults was 54.3 per 100,000 people. In the previous four years, that figure has been as low as 8.1 and it never topped 40.6.

The report noted one human case of a H3N2 virus that was first spotted in pigs in 2010 and was identified in a dozen people the following year. The new case was a child from Iowa who had direct contact with pigs. The patient fully recovered, apparently without spreading it to relatives or anyone else, according to the CDC.

The vaccine for the 2014-15 flu season will be based on the same four viruses, the CDC said.

Source: latimes.com

Topics: flu, virus, CDC, vaccine

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