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NIHR Signal Herpes zoster vaccine reduces chances of shingles after stem cell transplants
A non-live vaccine against herpes zoster provides good, though partial protection for adults undergoing autologous (using the patient’s own) stem cell transplant for treatment of blood cancers. These people cannot use the usual live vaccine, because of their suppressed immune system. An industry-funded trial of the vaccine involved 1,846 patients from 28 countries, including the UK. Two doses of the vaccine resulted in a 68% reduction in cases of shingles over 21 months of follow-up. Shin...
NIHR Signal Long-term macrolide antibiotics reduce risk of exacerbations of bronchiectasis
People with bronchiectasis (not caused by cystic fibrosis) who take long-term macrolide antibiotics are around 50% less likely to experience acute worsening of symptoms like cough and sputum production (an exacerbation) than people taking a placebo. Bronchiectasis guidelines only recommend preventative macrolide antibiotics in people with frequent exacerbations who do not carry a bacterium (Pseudomonas aeruginosa). This review pooled data from three trials in 341 patients where erythromycin or ...
NIHR Signal Clinicians prescribe antibiotics for childhood respiratory tract infection based on assessment, rather than parental expectation
Implied parental expectation of antibiotic prescription does not appear to affect clinician prescribing for childhood respiratory tract infection in primary care. Parents typically accept clinicians’ treatment recommendations based on symptoms and signs, with a minority seeking further home care advice. This NIHR-funded analysis of 56 videoed primary care consultations is the first such study to be carried out in the UK, covering diverse populations from both deprived and affluent neighbo...
NIHR Signal Four-drug treatment for HIV offers no benefit over standard three-drug treatment
Quadruple drug therapy for people starting HIV treatment offers no benefit over the currently recommended triple therapy. Antiretroviral (anti-HIV) therapy is highly effective, with almost all treated individuals in the UK surviving as long as non-infected people. The courses now available mean those treated are usually unable to pass on the virus. There are several classes of treatment and individual drugs which can be used in various combinations. The British HIV Association currently recomme...
NIHR Signal Antibiotics reduce complications after assisted vaginal delivery
Preventative antibiotics halve the risk of infection for women who have assisted vaginal delivery using forceps or suction-cup devices. About 10% of women receiving antibiotics develop an infection within six weeks of delivery compared with 20% of women who receive a placebo. Antibiotics are not routinely recommended for women undergoing assisted delivery as there hasn’t been enough evidence that they reduce maternal infection rates. This large NIHR-funded trial, including almost 3,500 wo...
NIHR Signal Antiretroviral treatment can reduce the risk of HIV transmission between male partners to ‘zero’
The risk of transmission of HIV between gay couples when the HIV-positive partner is taking antiretroviral treatment that successfully suppresses the viral load is ‘effectively zero.’ A study of men from 14 European countries, including the UK, found no cases of transmission of HIV from an HIV-positive partner taking antiretroviral therapy to an HIV-negative partner, as long as the viral load of the HIV-positive partner remained undetectable or very low. The study recorded an avera...
NIHR Signal Antimicrobial central venous catheters do not reduce infections in pre-term babies
Central venous catheters (CVCs) impregnated with antimicrobial agents are no better than standard CVCs for avoiding bloodstream infection in pre-term babies. This NIHR-funded trial compared peripherally inserted CVCs that had been impregnated with a combination of the antifungal miconazole and the broad-spectrum antibiotic rifampicin, against standard non-antimicrobial-impregnated CVCs for preterm babies in intensive care. Rates of bloodstream infections were similar in both groups, and no diff...
NIHR Signal Smartphones instead of direct supervision can improve adherence rates for TB treatment
People who need supervision take their medication for tuberculosis (TB) more reliably when using a smartphone to send video evidence instead of direct observations;for example, by attending a clinic appointment. Almost double the number of observations was completed in the video-supervised arm at six months than when people were directly observed. Ensuring the effectiveness of treatment is central to worldwide TB control. Directly-observed treatment, in which a healthcare professional supervise...
NIHR Signal Decision support tools can help GPs reduce antibiotic prescriptions for respiratory conditions
A 12% reduction in GP antibiotic prescriptions for respiratory conditions was achieved through the use of electronic decision and training tools. This reduction did not increase the risk of serious infections compared to usual care. The low-cost intervention in this large NIHR-funded trial included a short training webinar for GPs and feedback on their practice’s prescribing rates. The decision support tool gave prompt access to NICE prescribing guidelines and printable patient informatio...
NIHR Signal Treating asymptomatic MRSA on discharge from hospital reduces risk of later infection
Use of medicated creams, mouthwash and body wash for six months after discharge from hospital led to a 30% lower risk of MRSA infection, compared with basic hygiene education. This study was carried out in the USA using 2,121 adults who had tested positive for MRSA in hospital, but who had no symptoms. Meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria have developed resistance to widely-used antibiotics. MRSA is easily transferable within healthcare settings, and people may become colo...
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