Read on for our roundup of important, interesting, or insightful microbiology news we have spotted this month.
In early May, the Department of Health and Social Care confirmed that Dr Thomas Waite had been appointed as interim deputy chief medical officer for England.
Dr Wait, a consultant epidemiologist will support Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Professor Chris Whitty, Deputy Chief Medical Officer (DCMO) Professor Jonathan Van Tam, and the government on COVID-19 related issues for the next 12 months.
May has been a month for concern and careful monitoring of the Coronavirus situation as B.1.617.2, also known as the Indian variant, or Delta continues to be troublesome in some areas of the country. The variant is thought to be more transmissible and could result in more hospitalisations. Despite concerns around the Indian variant, there are no plans yet to delay the lifting of Coronavirus restrictions as the government and scientific advisors continue to monitor the situation.
In good news, the UK’s vaccination programme has continued at a good pace, with more than half of all adults now receiving their second dose.
To further boost vaccination efforts, a single-dose vaccine made by Janssen has been approved for use in the UK by the medicines regulator.
Researchers have developed a vaccine that protects animals from Salmonella – bacteria that is notoriously difficult to vaccinate against due to because it modifies itself too quickly and evades vaccines. However, researchers at ETH Zurich and the University of Basel have discovered they can use this fast evolution against Salmonella by guiding the bacteria into becoming weaker – rather than trying to kill it outright.
the study shows that the newly developed vaccine is more effective at protecting against Salmonella than the currently approved vaccines used for pigs and chickens. The discovery could now lead to other vaccines against microorganisms, especially those that reside in the gut.
In other animal-related news, two preliminary studies have shown trained dogs were able to detect SARS-CoV-2 positive samples with an accuracy greater than 90%.
Although PCR detection tests are the most accurate and reliable method of confirming COVID-19 infections, it is thought dogs could be used for fast, mass screening, at airports for example.
Becton Dickinson (BD) this month secured a CE mark and European approval for a Human Papillomavirus (HPV) test that women can perform at home. Self-collected swabs can be posted for laboratory analysis to help reach women who haven’t attended appointments, or had examinations cancelled due to Coronavirus.
More than half of all cervical cancers are found in women who’ve never been screened before or have missed examinations so routine testing for the HPV virus is essential when it comes to fending off a largely preventable disease.
Campylobacter, one of the most common causes of foodborne illness can be spread through sexual contact says a study led by infectious disease epidemiologist Katrin Kuhn, PhD at the OU Hudson College of Public Health.
Although illness caused by the bacteria is quite common, the study is the first to prove this mode of transmission and highlights the importance of investigating other causes of human illness in a time where the media is dominated by COVID-19 news.