IDWeek Digs Deep Into Zika

Caroline Helwick

October 21, 2016

NEW ORLEANS — Everything infectious disease specialists need to know about the Zika virus, including epidemiology, virology, countermeasures, and postinfectious sequelae, will be covered during three symposia dedicated to the topic here at IDWeek 2016.

"IDWeek has developed into a great interdisciplinary meeting," said Daniel McQuillen, MD, senior staff physician at Lahey Hospital and Medical Center in Burlington, Massachusetts, who is the IDWeek program chair for the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA).

"We arrange our symposia to have a number of talks from various disciplines, focused on a certain theme or an outbreak of interest, such as Zika," he explained.

"We also have a plenary presentation and four late-breaking session abstracts on Zika," he told Medscape Medical News. Pathogenic mechanisms, sexual transmission, rapid diagnosis, candidate vaccines, and other Zika-related topics will all be center stage.

"For me, the real highlight is that four of the top professional societies in infectious disease come together for this meeting, with lots of synergy," Dr McQuillen said.

The global multidisciplinary conference was created 5 years ago as the annual scientific meeting of the IDSA, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, the HIV Medicine Association, and the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society.

A number of oral presentations will examine other prominent and unusual outbreaks.

Demystifying Outbreaks

"We have sessions and presentations on topics that are literally ripped from the headlines," said Arjun Srinivasan, MD, associate director for healthcare-associated infection prevention programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

These include a featured oral abstract that describes how infection related to Mycobacterium chimaera recently triggered an alert from the CDC. The outbreak was linked to manufacturing-related contamination of a heater–cooler device (LivaNova) used during cardiac surgery. Researchers from the University of Iowa in Iowa City will describe the manifestations and sequelae of these infections, which include several deaths.

The study is "an excellent epidemiologic examination of this outbreak, and one that is important because of the amount of cardiac surgery being performed today," said Dr McQuillen.

He also called attention to a rare outbreak of community-associated Elizabethkingia anophelis. Researchers from Wisconsin, the center of the outbreak, will describe what is known about this multidrug-resistant organism in a late-breaking session.

 
We have sessions and presentations on topics that are literally ripped from the headlines. Dr Arjun Srinivasan
 

As usual, antimicrobial stewardship will garner attention in multiple sessions, with topics ranging from effective institutional practices to optimal antibiotic selection. And during the Clinical Controversies sessions, debates will be presented on the treatment of staphylococcal osteomyelitis with oral antibiotics alone, the risk for HIV transmission to a sexual partner when the viral load has been rendered undetectable by therapy, and the role of asymptomatic carriers of Clostridium difficile.

Dr McQuillen also pointed to a study on the use of infectious disease consultations to reduce multidrug-resistant Gram-negative infections, and a late-breaking abstract that examines infection control practices and precautions that effectively prevent transmission of the Zika virus to healthcare workers.

"The thing I love most about IDWeek is its cutting-edge science that is also 'cross-cutting,' " said Dr Srinivasan. "It's the only meeting out there where attendees not only hear the latest and greatest research findings, they also have the chance to learn in so many different areas."

The multidisciplinary nature and the spirit of collaboration of IDWeek are exemplified by the opening plenary at this year's meeting.

"We often focus on one topic, but this year, with so many different things going on in our specialty, it seemed apt to celebrate some topics, examine some others, and look to the future," said Dr McQuillen. "And we have an impressive lineup to do that."

The plenary session opens with a presentation by Ambassador-at-Large Deborah Birx, MD, coordinator of US government activities to combat HIV/AIDS and US special representative for global health diplomacy, entitled 20 Years of Antiretroviral Therapy.

"This year marks the twentieth anniversary of effective antiretroviral therapy, and that's pretty momentous," said Dr McQuillen.

Also on the plenary session schedule will be Antibiotic Resistance, and Where We Are Today, by Thomas Frieden, MD, director of the CDC; Zika Virus: New Lessons and Future Challenges from an Area of Endemicity, by Mauro Schechter, MD, PhD, from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro; and Microbes, Infectious Disease and the Future of Medicine, by David Relman, MD, who is past president of the IDSA.

The closing sessions will be timely and provocative as well. Speakers will examine how climate change is driving patterns of infectious disease, especially among refugees.

Dr McQuillen and Dr Srinivasan have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

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