The infinite trio from South Africa

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the 8th FIDSSA Congress in Johannesburg (Federation of Infectious Diseases Societies of Southern Africa). I was invited to talk on infection control in the Netherlands, SDD and empiric antibiotic strategies in ICU. I never felt more distance between my habitat and that of my hosts. It surpassed the 3732 miles in the air. I learned a lot; from how it is to go into military conflict areas to identify Ebola cases, fighting a cholera outbreak after a tropical cyclone in Mozambique to the infinite trio, which stands for carbapenem resistant Klebsiella, Pseudomonas and Acinetobacter. Continue reading

A pore way of dying (for MDR-GNB)

The lack of new antibiotics for Gram-negative bacteria is one of the cornerstones of the global crisis of antibiotic resistance. The quest is finding a molecule with antibacterial activity that can pass the double-layered cell wall and that manages to remain in the cell long enough to kill. New lab-based studies suggest that such antibiotics may already exist, and that the solution to activate them is widely available, and for free. As these findings were published in not-so-well-known-and-hardly-read journals for clinicians, such as EMBO journal and Scientific Reports, here follows the summary for dummies (written by a dummy). Continue reading

Summer break – don’t go near the water?

I trust you are enjoying a well-deserved summer break or packing your bags to take off. In case you missed this paper in the daily list of new ones on biorxiv, it tells you where to swim safely and where not. Elena Buelow, from Germany, a former PhD student in our lab in Utrecht and now post-doc in Limoges, France, reported. So, if you are floating quietly in a pittoresque small river and you see a hospital building on the hill near the next bend in the river, are you still in safe waters? Continue reading

Are the robots taking over? The role of machine learning and AI in tackling infectious diseases

I attended a brilliant seminar at Imperial College last week on the role of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) in infectious management, and to a lesser extent, infection prevention and control. There’s so much potential for this exciting technology to revolutionise the way we identify, treat, and prevent the spread of infectious diseases. But, there’s also some risks – some are already asking whether the robots are taking over, and whether that is an entirely good thing!

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Studying bacteriophages: catch-22

As posted previously, bacteriophage therapy is making a remarkable come-back, if measured in media attention. It is portrayed as safe and effective in treating infections where antibiotics fail. Yet, well-designed controlled studies either lack or failed to demonstrate benefits. All we have are case reports, with – with no exception – spectacular results. But that doesn’t make bacteriophages part of our daily options for treatment. And thus, desperate patients pay thousands of euros for bacteriophages in Georgia, Poland and Belgium for self-treatment, while – at the same time – all of us seem to agree that efficacy and safety should be determined. Continue reading

The war against CPE

An interesting publication on the control of CPE last week. Not in Nature, Science of Journal of Hospital Infection, but in the “Staatsblad van het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden”. The paper, “Besluit van 26 april 2019, houdende aanpassing van het Besluit publieke gezondheid vanwege een meldingsplicht voor Carbapenemaseproducerende Enterobacteriaceae”, with King Willem-Alexander as first author, implies that on April 26th it was decided that from July 1st 2019 on, by law, all CPE detected in the Netherlands must be notified, see. A next step in our war against CPE.

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The challenges of detecting colistin resistance in CPE

Colistin resistance in CPE is bad news. Colistin is an older antibiotic that has been effectively brought out of retirement to tackle CPE infections. We have first-hand experience of witnessing the emergence and spread of colistin resistance in CPE – and it’s not a pretty sight. Colistin susceptibility testing is very tricky from a diagnostic laboratory viewpoint – and so I was interested in this recently published paper from colleagues at Imperial evaluating a rapid MALDI-TOF based approach to detecting colistin resistance, which looks very promising indeed.

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