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In autumn 2012, Massachusetts schools implemented comprehensive competitive food and beverage standards similar to the US Department of Agriculture’s Smart Snacks in School standards. We explored major themes raised by food-service directors (FSD) regarding their school-district-wide implementation of the standards.
For this qualitative study, part of a larger mixed-methods study, compliance was measured via direct observation of foods and beverages during school site visits in spring 2013 and 2014, calculated to ascertain the percentage of compliant products available to students. Semi-structured interviews with school FSD conducted in each year were analysed for major implementation themes; those raised by more than two-thirds of participating school districts were explored in relationship to compliance.
Massachusetts school districts (2013: n 26; 2014: n 21).
Data collected from FSD.
Seven major themes were raised by more than two-thirds of participating school districts (range 69–100 %): taking measures for successful transition; communicating with vendors/manufacturers; using tools to identify compliant foods and beverages; receiving support from leadership; grappling with issues not covered by the law; anticipating changes in sales of competitive foods and beverages; and anticipating changes in sales of school meals. Each theme was mentioned by the majority of more-compliant school districts (65–81 %), with themes being raised more frequently after the second year of implementation (range increase 4–14 %).
FSD in more-compliant districts were more likely to talk about themes than those in less-compliant districts. Identified themes suggest best-practice recommendations likely useful for school districts implementing the final Smart Snacks in School standards, effective July 2016.
To describe an outbreak of severe Group A Streptococcus (GAS) infections that appeared to be associated with use of a biologic dermal substitute on foot wounds
Retrospective cohort study of cases and similar uninfected patients
Patients attending the podiatry clinic at a Veterans Affairs Medical Center between July 2011 and November 2011
Microbiology laboratory data were reviewed for the calendar year, a case definition was established and use of the biologic dermal substitute was discontinued. Staff were cultured to identify potentially colonized employees. A case–cohort study was designed to investigate risk factors for disease. Emm typing and pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) were performed to identify strain similarity.
In 10 months, 14 cases were identified, and 4 of these patients died. All strains were emm type 28 and were identical according to PFGE. Discontinuation of biologic dermal substitute use halted the outbreak. A prior stroke was more common in the case cohort vs uninfected patient cohorts. The number of patients attending the clinic on 13 probable transmission days was significantly higher than on nontransmission days. We identified 2 patients who were present in the clinic on all but 1 probable transmission day. Surveillance cultures of podiatry clinic staff and cultures of the same lot of retained graft material were negative.
A carrier was not identified, and we believe the outbreak was associated with inter-patient transmission likely due to lapses in infection control techniques. No additional cases have been identified in >3 years following the resumption of dermal substitute use in May 2012.
Infect. Control Hosp. Epidemiol. 2016;37(3):306–312
To study the molecular epidemiology of vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE) colonization and to identify modifiable risk factors among patients with hematologic malignancies.
A hematology-oncology unit with high prevalence of VRE colonization.
Patients with hematologic malignancies and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation recipients admitted to the hospital.
Patients underwent weekly surveillance by means of perianal swabs for VRE colonization and, if colonized, were placed in contact isolation. We studied the molecular epidemiology in fecal and blood isolates by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis over a 1-year period. We performed a retrospective case-control study over a 3-year period. Cases were defined as patients colonized by VRE, and controls were defined as patients negative for VRE colonization. Case patients and control patients were matched by admitting service and length of observation time.
Molecular genotyping demonstrated the primarily polyclonal nature of VRE isolates. Colonization occurred at a median of 14 days. Colonized patients were characterized by longer hospital admissions. Previous use of ceftazidime was associated with VRE colonization (P < .001), while use of intravenous vancomycin and antibiotics with anaerobic activity did not emerge as a risk factor. There was no association with neutropenia or presence of colonic mucosal disruption, and severity of illness was similar in both groups.
Molecular studies showed that in the majority of VRE-colonized patients the strains were unique, arguing that VRE acquisition was sporadic rather than resulting from a common source of transmission. Patient-specific factors, including prior antibiotic exposure, rather than breaches in infection control likely predict for risk of fecal VRE colonization.