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PLOS BLOGS Speaking of Medicine and Health

This Week in PLOS Medicine: Inflammation Links Social Adversity & Diabetes, New Diagnostic for Sepsis, Fake Meds, & More

This week PLOS Medicine publishes the following new articles:

Image Credit: tup wanders, Flickr
Image Credit: tup wanders, Flickr

Diabetes is strongly associated with socioeconomic status: low income, low education, and low occupational status are all linked to a higher risk for type 2 diabetes. Silvia Stringhini and colleagues analyzed data from the ongoing Whitehall II study, which has followed a group of British civil servants since the mid-1980s, and report that a substantial part (roughly 1/3) of this association appears to be attributable to chronic inflammation. Future studies could test interventions that reduce chronic inflammation to determine the extent to which social inequalities attributable to chronic inflammation are reversible.

Nathan Ledeboer and colleagues report that a new automated diagnostic test (the Verigene BC-GP test) can quickly and accurately identify most leading causes of Gram-positive bacterial blood stream infections and the presence of three antibiotic resistance genes. The new technology could lead to faster diagnosis and treatment of patients suffering from sepsis (a life-threatening condition typically triggered by a bacterial infection in the bloodstream). The outcome of sepsis is affected by many factors, but fast, accurate identification of the bacterial infection and determination of its antibiotic susceptibility is essential to ensure that patients receive appropriate antibiotics.

Peter Byass and colleagues raise questions about the recent, high-profile Global Burden of Disease estimates. The authors have several concerns with the estimates used in the original analyses, including that the data source of the estimates is not publically available, the large uncertainty surrounding the estimates, and the gaps in the available data. They argue that estimates of population health carry their own uncertainties and may be flawed in some instances, and conclude that in the long-term, there can be no substitute for properly counting and accounting for all the world’s citizens.

Agnes Binagwaho and colleagues describe Rwanda’s experience of pharmacovigilance for medicines for malaria and tuberculosis, and call for a global treaty and leadership by the World Health Organization (WHO) to address the global manufacture and trade in substandard and fake medicines. Substandard and fake medicines are a major public health issue that cause unnecessary deaths around the world and threaten to undermine recent progress against infectious diseases by facilitating drug resistance.


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