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Microbiology Australia Microbiology Australia
Issue 4

Vertical Transmission, November 2007

It is with great pleasure that I welcome Liz Harry to the roles of Vice-President Scientific Affairs and Chair of the National Scientific Advisory Committee (NSAC). Liz will be well known to many of our members. She is an associate professor at the Institute for the Biotechnology of Infectious Diseases, at the University of Technology, Sydney, where she heads a team of twelve research and postdoctoral students. Liz has been very active within The Australian Society for Microbiology (ASM). She has been a committee member in the NSW branch for th...

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From the Editors, November 2007

This is our last edition of Microbiology Australia for 2007 and we take this opportunity to wish you a Happy Christmas (yes it is next month!). We hope it has been a rewarding year for all of you.

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Towards an integrated approach to the problem of antimicrobial resistance in Australia

'The threat is real, the science is in, the time for action is now!' A familiar refrain that for most of us is associated with the debate surrounding global warming, but surely equally applicable to the situation surrounding its microbiological equivalent ? antimicrobial resistance (AMR). We are all well aware of AMR and the consequences of its emergence and spread, following the recognition of this phenomenon when the ?antibiotic era? began only a few decades ago. Perhaps we have been somewhat complacent about AMR, in that we have relied overm...

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Recent World Health Organization initiatives for antimicrobial resistance control

The World Health Organization (WHO) overseeing of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) containment issues in the last decade has varied in intensity. From 1999 onwards, concerted focus from the WHO led to the development of a multi-disciplinary framework for AMR containment at a country level. However, implementation of the WHO Global Strategy for the Containment of Antimicrobial Resistance (the Global Strategy) was overtaken first by events in the USA in 2001 and later by related and other bio-security issues. By 2003, loss of funding and a restruct...

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Global antibacterial resistance issues

The clinical use of antimicrobial agents has spawned, as an unwanted consequence, the widespread emergence of bacteria resistant to these valuable drugs. During the past fifty years, resistant organisms have caused problems throughout the world, as will be documented in this brief paper.

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Molecular science of antimicrobial resistance

The study of bacterial resistance to antimicrobial agents is a complex science that requires an understanding of the genetic, molecular and physiological mechanisms of resistance, and the effect of antibiotic selection pressures on bacterial populations in different environments.

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Antimicrobial resistance in animals and impacts on food safety and public health

Few issues in applied microbiology excite as much debate as the threatened transfer of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) from animals to cause disease in humans. Yet, almost four decades after the first warning of the potential risk to human health from the use of antimicrobials in agriculture 1, and after a plethora of national and international reports with similar conclusions, broad agreement is lacking on key elements of scientific fact, responsibilities and interventions. This article briefly considers some areas of concern and misunderstandi...

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Antimicrobial resistance ? a public health issue?

With any decision to label a disease a public health issue comes an implicit understanding that action must be taken and that there should be a government intervention or management plan ? but there is no standard definition of what constitutes a public health issue. Most often the factors considered are the number of cases, the vulnerability of the affected group and rapidity of spread, and the levels of morbidity and mortality caused. The cost to the community ? either directly in managing the disease or in loss of work or productivity ? is a...

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Resistance to antiviral agents: balancing good and evil

Antiviral agents have been difficult to find and we still have only a handful that meet the safety and effectiveness we have come to expect from antibacterial agents. Some, because of these limitations, are reserved for serious conditions such as HIV, hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C and CMV in immunocompromised patients. The widespread use of antivirals has been a phenomenon of the last one to two decades, following on from the development of the nucleoside analogues for herpes viruses. Not unexpectedly, it is only in the very recent past that w...

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Impact of antifungal resistance in Australia

The last two to three decades have seen a major increase in invasive fungal infections (IFIs), a small, but increasing proportion of which are caused by pathogens with partial or complete resistance to antifungal drugs. The increase in IFIs has largely been associated with the increase in immunocompromised and critically ill patients. Opportunistic infections with relatively drug-resistant environmental fungi account for much of the resistance. In addition, amongst the only fungal species to colonise humans, Candida, two species that are resist...

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Resistance testing in parasites: a review

The burden of parasitic diseases in the world is enormous and 41% of the world?s population lives in areas where malaria is transmitted. Each year 350?500 million cases of malaria occur worldwide, and over one million people die, most of them young children in sub-Saharan Africa. About 2 billion people are affected worldwide, of whom 300 million suffer associated severe morbidity. At least 1 billion people ? one sixth of the world?s population, or 1 in 6 persons, suffer from one or more neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), most of which are para...

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Antimicrobial resistance in veterinary medicine ? issues and controversies from an Australian perspective

Antimicrobial resistance in veterinary isolates came to renewed prominence in the late 1990s in response to the recognition of an association between the use of avoparcin as a growth promotant in livestock feeds and vanA vancomycin resistance in enterococcal pathogens in humans 1. Since then there have been many regulatory changes in many countries that have resulted in a reduction in use of antimicrobial growth promoters (AGPs) in livestock feeds. The EU has banned the use of most growth promoters and in Australia post-JETACAR avoparcin (a gly...

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A resistant culture - ?superbugs? in Australian hospitals

Antimicrobial resistance is not new in Australian hospitals. In 1946, shortly after penicillin became available for treatment of civilians, a penicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus strain caused ~50% of staphylococcal surgical wound infections at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH), in Sydney. During the 1950s, another virulent penicillin resistant S. aureus strain (phage type 80/81) emerged in neonatal units in Sydney and spread to other hospitals in Australia and overseas, to the families of affected infants and to the general communi...

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An overview of emerging community based antimicrobial resistance

The development of community antimicrobial resistance should not surprise any budding microbiologist. Bacteria are highly adaptable and mutations are acquired or selected in response to any number of stresses. In the 21st century the major ?stressor? is profligate human and veterinary antibiotic use, and inappropriate antimicrobial use in food and agricultural sectors. Worldwide, resistance in the community has been well described in many bacterial species. In this overview, we focus on community resistance in three bacterial species ? Streptoc...

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AMR and tuberculosis: Voldemort returns?

There has been significant progress in implementing global tuberculosis (TB) control strategies in the last decade. Indeed, in all but sub-Saharan Africa, the incidence of TB appears to be declining. While only the Western Pacific region reached the World Health Organization (WHO) imposed 2005 STOP TB program targets, worldwide case detection and treatment success has greatly improved. Why is there no celebration?; the number of new cases continues to steadily rise, particularly in China, India and the African continent and an alarming proporti...

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Epidemic potential and antimicrobial resistance in Clostridium difficile

Clostridium difficile is the most commonly diagnosed cause of infectious hospital-acquired diarrhoea. C. difficile was first isolated in 1935 but not identified as the main causative agent of antibiotic-associated diarrhoea (AAD) and pseudomemranous colitis (PMC) until 1977. The spectrum of disease caused by C. difficile ranges from asymptomatic colonisation to colitis that can progress to more severe PMC. Complications include colonic perforation and death. The term C. difficile-associated diarrhoea (CDAD) is used to describe the symptomatic m...

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Australian Government attempts at regulatory and other control of antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobial resistance has been on the government agenda in Australia since the early 1980s. At that time the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) established a working party composed of human and veterinary microbiologists to look at antibiotic use and, in particular, the risks of using them in stockfeed. This action was taken in response to continuing reports from overseas, particularly the United Kingdom, of resistant and multi-resistant Salmonella species being selected in food animals and spread to humans. The working par...

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An ongoing national programme to reduce antibiotic prescription and use

High levels of antibiotic use have been associated with higher levels of antimicrobial resistance. The National Prescribing Service (NPS) has been running national programs to reduce prescription and use of antibiotics in Australia since 1999. These programs have used a range of strategies to influence general practitioners, community pharmacists and consumers. Over time, there have been modest changes in consumer attitudes towards antibiotics and antibiotic prescription rates continue to decline.

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ASM Affairs, November 2007

Carrick Citation for two ASM members; EDSIG: Meeting the needs of microbiology education in 2010: become a scholarly teacher; The Antimicrobial Special Interest Group of The Australian Society for Microbiology; ASM awards; ASM new members; ASM sustaining members

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