The annual meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America was held from Oct. 3 to 7 in San Francisco and attracted more than 5,000 participants from around the world, including scientists, physicians, and other health care professionals. The conference featured education courses and comprehensive educational programs focusing on the latest advances in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of infectious diseases.
In one study, Kathryn Dalton, V.M.D., M.P.H., of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and colleagues found a risk of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) contamination for pediatric oncology patients who participate in animal-assisted interventions/pet therapy programs in hospital settings, and this risk is higher for patients who have more contact with the therapy dog.
The investigators found that using antiseptic shampoo and wipes on the therapy dog minimized the chances of the dog spreading MRSA to patients, while increasing the safety of pet therapy visits and not diminishing the physical and mental health benefits for patients.
“While there is still a risk of pathogen/germ contamination to patients who participate in pet therapy, using this new antiseptic protocol on the therapy dog can increase the safety of these visits, so it can continue to be used as an important alternative therapy for patients,” Dalton said. “We are continuing to do research on this topic, and were just recently awarded a grant to expand this therapy dog intervention to other departments and hospitals. Our goal is to establish evidence-based guidelines for the appropriate implementation of pet therapy in hospitals, to ensure the program’s sustainability for patients.”
In another study, Rachel L. Epstein, M.D., of the Boston Medical Center, and colleagues found that only one-third of adolescents/young adults with a diagnosed opioid use disorder (OUD) from a national sample of U.S. Federally Qualified Health Centers were tested for hepatitis C virus (HCV), and of those, 11 percent were positive for HCV (i.e., had evidence of exposure to HCV).
“Of youth tested for HCV, only 11 percent were also tested for HIV, despite similar risk factors for each infection and recommendations for at least one-time HIV testing in all individuals 13 to 64 years old (although the age range of that guidance is being re-evaluated),” Epstein said.
For youth diagnosed with HCV, 1.8 percent of those tested had been exposed, a little less than half of those had chronic infection, and about one-third with chronic HCV had evidence of receiving care for their HCV.