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Leading scientists debate superbugs, epidemics and pandemics at major UK conference

28th October 2009

World leading scientists and medical experts will next month debate superbugs and major infections that are prevalent in Britain - as well as globally - including swine flu, Bluetongue, MRSA and C difficile, at a major three day conference.

Concerns about resistance to antibiotics will also be highlighted at Infection 2009, the largest and most prestigious scientific conference in the UK. It is being held on 11-13 November at the International Convention Centre, Birmingham and will be led by Conference President Sir Richard Sykes, chairman of NHS London.

More than 400 health professionals involved in the management of infections have signed up for this most timely and significant event which will address the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of infection diseases, both in the medical and surgical arena.

Hosted by the Federation of Infection Societies, it includes over 60 sessions covering:

  • Epidemic and pandemic planning
  • Swine flu
  • Animal infections and human health
  • Medical tourism
  • Clostridium difficile in an ageing population
  • Surgical infections
  • Future bug free hospital design and infection control
  • Improving the patient experience
  • Evolution and antibiotic resistance

Sir Richard said there was a very strong and positive message from the conference regarding superbugs.

"These are very challenging times and there is a pressing need for us to update our knowledge base and continue to drive forward our understanding about some of the huge problems that we have today regarding superbugs. Infectious diseases are an enormous issue for all of us, especially the development of resistance by antibiotics and the appearance of new infectious agents," he said. 

"New and emerging diseases, the threat of epidemics and pandemics, and the rise of resistance to antimicrobial agents, continue to push the boundaries of professional knowledge and experience. Multidisciplinary and coordinated approaches to infection management are essential. It is also crucial that to be successful, we must learn and work together. I am confident that our speakers of scientific excellence at this conference will enable us to develop these vital links."

Keynote speakers on the swine flu pandemic include Prof Neil Ferguson, who will share his mathematical modeling and analysis of the H1N1 virus on the 2009 swine flu pandemic carried out at Imperial College, London.  Prof Ferguson, who advises the UK, US and Chinese governments and the World Health Organisation on the management of the swine flu pandemic, will discuss the challenges of working with ever-changing and incomplete data, and needing to draw preliminary conclusions when underlying uncertainty is huge.

Another speaker on this topic is Prof Lindsey Davies who has led the Department of Health's pandemic preparedness programme for the last three years.  On 11 June 2009 the World Health Organisation declared a pandemic of influenza H1N1.  She will reflect on how the UK has responded to this hugely significant public health event and offer thoughts on potential scenarios for the coming months.

The media is invited to attend a Question Time session chaired by Fiona Godlee, Editor of the British Medical Journal, which will be held on Friday, 13 November at 4pm. The prestigious panel will include Sir Richard Sykes and will focus on how health professionals can improve the patient experience, as well as key issues from the conference.

The event will also promote European Antibiotic Awareness Day on Thursday,
12 November when students from the Arthur Terry School, Birmingham, will take part in a range of activities on the e-Bug and Science Fair stand.

A number of key organisations, societies and disciplines have collaborated in the development of a programme of scientific excellence for this conference, including the Department of Health, Royal College of Nursing, British Geriatric Society, Intensive Care Society, National Concern for Healthcare infections and colleagues in veterinary and surgical and intensive care medicine.

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