The prevention paradox: E. coli versus Klebsiella

The prevention paradox, as described in 1981, is the “seemingly contradictory situation where the majority of cases of a disease come from a population at low or moderate risk of that disease, and only a minority of cases come from the high risk population (of the same disease). This is because the number of people at high risk is small”, see. In our world this reflects the question how to prevent transmission of ESBL-producing E. coli (ESBL-EC) or K. pneumoniae (ESBL-KP), or both. A new study may help to decide. Continue reading

Making MRSA carriage a crime?

A new chapter has been added to our successful MRSA Search and Destroy policy. Yesterday, a healthcare professional, providing homecare to elderly, testified on Dutch television (item starts @ 12.30 minutes) how unnoticed MRSA carriage had influenced her and her family’s life. It is very laudable that she was willing to share her experience, but it was kind of spooky that she felt that she could only do this if unrecognizable, as if the underworld was still after her and her family. Apparently, MRSA carriage has become a criminal or shameful thing. Continue reading

The antibiotic resistance crisis resolved by bacteriophages

I am regularly asked why we don’t treat infections caused by multidrug resistant bacteria with bacteriophages. Last Friday, the same question made it to the best viewed talkshow on Dutch television (The World Turns On), and in about 10 minutes the global threat of antibiotic resistance was resolved. Here is how….  Continue reading

Being prepared for the next pandemic

One of the first things you learn in medical school (or at least the oldest thing I remember from that time) is that the next flu pandemic can happen any time, now! You can’t argue with it, and it holds for all pathogens with pandemic potential. Pandemics (or what could become one) are threatening (think of Ebola and SARS) and usually give rise to many questions, such as what is the optimal diagnostic approach, treatment and prevention strategy. Research plans emerge, but before the studies can start, the pandemic is over, and hardly anything has been learned. That, now, should end. Continue reading

The hidden reservoir of SDD users

A next little piece of evidence on the effectiveness of Selective Digestive Decontamination (SDD). Nienke Plantinga pooled all data from the 16,528 patients that had been enrolled in a randomized evaluation of SDD since 25 years, in an Individual Patient Data meta-analysis, see. Not surprisingly SDD was associated with better survival in intensive care unit (ICU), as it was in most of the individual studies. Yet, the pooled etsimates also provide more certainty (and precision) on the beneficical effects of SDD on hospital survival and failed to confirm previous suggestions that SDD was more effective in surgical than in medical patients. Continue reading

Synbiotics and neonatal sepsis

With this blog I am leaving my beaten path: neonatal sepsis and probiotics. But so does this double-blind placebo-controlled study published today in Nature. To me, probiotics are still “something promising since 25 years”, without ever having substantiated that promise (like Ajax and the Chicago Cubs, until recently). In fact, colleagues of mine once led a study in which probiotics apparently killed patients with acute pancreatitis. This new study may change my view completely.

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Dead bacteria cannot mutate

As a young and angry PhD student I was confronted with the concept of Selective Digestive Decontamination (SDD). That was in the early nineties (previous millennium). Coming from the field of microbiology I expected that SDD would increase antibiotic resistance. It were intensivists that told me not to worry: “antibiotics in SDD kill bacteria and dead bacteria cannot mutate”. They may have been right, suggests a new study. Continue reading