Clinical Microbiology Issues Update - June 2012


PSAB ACTIVITIES

  • ASM Sends Letter to Congress on Government Scientist Travel Restriction Amendments
  • ASM Submits Comments to NAS on Seeking Solutions Conference
  • ASM Signs BARDA Letter
  • ASM Comments on Draft Recommendations for Identification of Chronic HCV Infection
  • ASM Attends OMB Briefing

ASM NEWS, JOURNAL ARTICLES AND UPDATES

  • ASM Teleconferences
  • ASM Conferences
  • ASM Journal Articles of Interest
  • Clinical Microbiology Mentoring Opportunities
  • Learn about ASM’s Involvement in Development of Evidence-based Practice Guidelines
  • PSAB asm2012 Activities
  • AAM Releases a New Report on Developing Point-of-Care Diagnostic Tests

FEDERAL AGENCY UPDATES

  • The House Approves H.R. 5651, The FDA Reform Act of 2012
  • Report on CDC’s Internal Laboratory Activities
  • FDA Approves New Antibacterial Treatment for Plague
  • NIH Scientists Identify New HIV-Inhibiting Protein
  • NIH-Funded Scientists Trace Origin and Development of Vancomycin-Resistant S. aureus
  • MMWR Articles of Interest

OTHER INFORMATION AND UPDATES

  • CLSI Activities at the 2012 Clinical Lab Expo
  • CLIA Update 2012: "Hear What's in the Works"
  • The Science and Applications of Microbial Genomics
  • Articles of Interest

PSAB ACTIVITIES 

ASM Sends Letter to Congress on Government Scientist Travel Restriction Amendments
ASM suggests modification of the amendments to S. 1789, the “21st Century Postal Service Act,” and H.R. 2146, the “Digital Accountability and Transparency Act.” These amendments would severely limit the ability of federal government employees to participate in research, public health and educational conferences with members of the scientific community.  To see the letter, go to May 17, 2012 - ASM Sends Letter to Congress on Government Scientist Travel Restriction Amendments.

ASM Submits Comments to NAS on Seeking Solutions Conference
ASM submitted a letter to The National Academies Committee on Advancing Institutional Transformation for Minority Women in Academia and the Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine with demographic information about women microbiologists from a recent survey.  To see the NAS letter in full, please go to May 24, 2012 - ASM Submits Comments to NAS on Seeking Solutions Conference.

ASM Signs BARDA Letter
ASM signed a letter in support of an appropriation for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) of at least $547 million for Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, the level requested by the Administration.  BARDA funds development of medical countermeasures, including vaccines, antiviral drugs, diagnostics and antibiotics.  To read the letter go to:  http://www.asm.org/images/pdf/Policy/bardaapprops.pdf.

ASM Comments on Draft Recommendations for Identification of Chronic HCV Infection
The ASM sent comments to CDC on the Federal Register notice, “Recommendations for the Identification of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) Chronic Infection”. These draft recommendations are intended to increase the proportion of persons with chronic HCV who are properly diagnosed and treated.  ASM’s comments address specific aspects of the laboratory testing process for HCV.  To read ASM's comments go to: June 6, 2012 - ASM Comments on Draft Recommendations for Identification of Chronic HCV Infection.

ASM Attends OMB Briefing
ASM and other members of the Coalition for Health Funding met with the public health branch of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The conversation mostly surrounded the impending sequester and the budget planning for FY 2014. 

ASM NEWS, JOURNAL ARTICLES AND UPDATES

ASM Conferences

3rd ASM Conference on Antimicrobial Resistance in Zoonotic Bacteria and Foodborne Pathogens

June 26 – 29, 2012

Aix-en-Provence, France

For a complete list of upcoming ASM conferences, please go to:  http://conferences.asm.org/.

ASM Journal Articles of Interest

Garlic Constituent Blocks Biofilm Formation, Could Benefit CF Patients and Others
Bacterial biofilms are far more resistant than individual bacteria to the armories of antibiotics developed to combat them. Now Tim Holm Jakobsen and Michael Givskov of the University of Copenhagen, and their collaborators have pinpointed a constituent of garlic that attacks a key step in biofilm development; this effort they hope may offer help in particular for patients with cystic fibrosis. The research is published in the May 2012 issue of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. 

Experimental Vaccine Elicits Robust Response Against Both HIV and Tuberculosis
Clinician researchers in China have developed a vaccine that acts simultaneously against HIV-1 and M. tuberculosis (Mtb). An estimated 14 million people worldwide are coinfected with the two pathogens.  The vaccine is composed of antigens from both pathogens. The team, led by Sidong Xiong of Fudan University, Shanghai, incorporated four Mtb epitopes into a backbone composed of HIV-1 p24 protein, a protein that is known to produce protective immunity against HIV-1. The research is published in the May 2012 issue of Clinical and Vaccine Immunology.  

Antibiotics Boost Risk of Infection with Antifungal-Resistant Candida
Previous exposure to certain antibiotics could boost the risk of infection with drug-resistant strains of a severe fungal infection.  Candida species are frequent causes of hospital acquired infection. Patients at greatest risk are those with “prolonged hospitalization, abdominal surgery, antibiotic treatment, neutropenia, and central venous catheterization,” Ronen Ben-Ami of Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Tel Aviv, Israel, and his colleagues write.  Researchers report their findings in the May 2012 issue of the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. 

Clinical Microbiology Mentoring Opportunities
Learn more about career opportunities for clinical microbiologists during informal chats with practicing clinical microbiologists of various backgrounds! Learn about becoming a clinical microbiologist or enhancing your position as one.   Visit the Clinical Microbiology Lounge (Convention Center, Room 112) June 16-18, 11:00 AM-12:00 noon or 1:00-2:00 PM. A list of CMs who will be on-site to talk with you will be posted on the CM Portal, http://clinmicro.asm.org, after June 4.

Learn about ASM’s Involvement in Development of Evidence-based Practice Guidelines
Members are currently working on two guidelines. They will be available in the Clinical Microbiology Lounge (Convention Center, Room 112) on Sunday and Monday from 1:00 – 2:00 PM to answer your questions and share what they have learned. Many of you may be interested to learn how to structure your research articles so that they meet the evidence-based criteria.

PSAB asm2012 Activities
The Public and Scientific Affairs Board (PSAB) is sponsoring a number of clinical microbiology interest sessions at asm2012 in San Francisco:

Sunday, June 17, 11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

In the Year 2525: Survival Strategies and Clinical Microbiology's Leadership Role in Tomorrow's Healthcare Teams

Developed by the Committee on Professional Affairs

Esplanade Ballroom 305

Tuesday, June 19, 11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

The Practice of Clinical Microbiology in Pediatrics

Esplanade Ballroom 305

Check the daily schedule at http://gm.asm.org/ for more details.

AAM Releases a New Report on Developing Point-of-Care Diagnostic Tests
The American Academy of Microbiology (AAM) has released the latest report on point of care testing, entitled “Bringing the Lab to the Patient: Developing Point-of-Care Diagnostics for Resource Limited Setting, June 2012”.  

FEDERAL AGENCY UPDATES

The House Approves H.R.5651, the FDA Reform Act of 2012
H.R. 5651, “The Food and Drug Administration Reform Act of 2012”, passed in the House on May 30.  It would provide a five-year extension to the collection of industry user fees that fund the FDA’s review of prescription drugs and medical devices. Of particular interest are two new provisions contained in the bill.  The first prohibits FDA issuance of draft guidance on the regulation of Laboratory Developed Tests (LDTs) without a 60 day notification to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Senate Health Education and Pensions Committee.  The second, entitled “Generating Antibiotic Incentives Now”, would provide a five year extension of exclusivity for any antibacterial product for human use that treats a serious and life threatening infection caused by a qualifying pathogen such as MRSA, multidrug resistant Mycobacterium spp., and ESBL producing K. pneumoniae and E. coli strains.  The Senate version, S.3187, “The Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act of 2012”, does not contain the provision on LDTs and passed by a vote of 96-1 on May 24.  

Report on CDC’s Internal Laboratory Activities
At the request of the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations, CDC delivered to the committee in early May 2012 a detailed report on CDC’s internal laboratory activities for FY 2011. The report highlights the extraordinary depth and breadth of CDC’s laboratory work to protect health in the United States and abroad. In addition, the report includes many examples of our laboratories’ health impacts, spanning virtually all the domains in which CDC works, including infectious diseases and emergency preparedness.  To read the report go to:  http://www.cdc.gov/osels/lspppo/senate_report.html

FDA Approves New Antibacterial Treatment for Plague
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Levaquin (levofloxacin) to treat patients with plague on April 27. The agency also approved the drug to reduce the risk of getting plague after exposure to Yersinia pestis.  The FDA approved Levaquin for plague under the agency’s Animal Efficacy Rule, which allows efficacy findings from adequate and well-controlled animal studies to be used in cases where it is not feasible or ethical to conduct trials in humans. To see the announcement in full, please go to http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm302220.htm

NIH Scientists Identify New HIV-Inhibiting Protein
Scientists have identified a new HIV-suppressing protein in the blood of people infected with the virus. In laboratory studies, the protein, called CXCL4 or PF-4, binds to HIV such that it cannot attach to or enter a human cell. The research was led by Paolo Lusso, M.D., Ph.D., chief of the Section of Viral Pathogenesis in the Laboratory of Immunoregulation at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).  To read more, please see http://www.niaid.nih.gov/news/newsreleases/2012/Pages/CXCL4.aspx

NIH-Funded Scientists Trace Origin and Development of Vancomycin-Resistant S. aureus
NIH-funded scientists have determined the genome sequences of a dozen strains of vancomycin resistant Staphylococcus aureus. The researchers demonstrated that resistance arose independently in each strain, and identified shared features among the strains that may have helped them acquire vancomycin resistance and evade human immune defenses.  For more information, please go to this link:  http://www.niaid.nih.gov/news/newsreleases/2012/Pages/VRSA.aspx

MMWR Articles of Interest

Notes from the Field: False-Positive Measles Test — Maine, February 2012
On February 7, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention was notified of suspected measles infection in an unvaccinated woman aged 57 years. A serum specimen collected on January 31 demonstrated a high titer of measles IgM and was positive for measles IgG on testing at a reference laboratory.  An investigation conducted after initial laboratory testing did not find a likely source of measles exposure.  Parvovirus testing demonstrated a high titer of parvovirus IgM but was negative for parvovirus IgG, consistent with recent infection. This case highlights the importance of careful epidemiologic investigation to guide appropriate laboratory testing and the crucial role of state public health laboratories in confirming or ruling out infectious diseases of public health concern.

Measles Outbreak Associated with an Arriving Refugee: Los Angeles County, California, August–September 2011
On August 26, 2011, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) was notified of suspected measles in a refugee from Burma who had arrived in Los Angeles, CA, on August 24, after a flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Passengers on the flight included 31 other refugees who then traveled to seven other states.  In California alone, 50 staff members from LACDPH and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) interviewed and reinterviewed 298 contacts.  Measles was diagnosed in three contacts of the index patient (patient A); no secondary cases were identified. 

Hepatitis Awareness Month and National Hepatitis Testing Day: May 2012
May marked the 17th anniversary of Hepatitis Awareness Month and the first National Hepatitis Testing Day in the United States. In 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) developed a comprehensive viral hepatitis action plan that outlines strategies in six areas to improve viral hepatitis prevention, care, and treatment in the United States.

Notes from the Field: Investigation of Leptospirosis Underreporting:  Puerto Rico, 2010
Human leptospirosis is a reportable disease in Puerto Rico.  In 2010, a total of 59 leptospirosis cases were reported, including one death. Barriers to determining the actual burden of leptospirosis in Puerto Rico include the unavailability of diagnostic testing on the island, no system of veterinary surveillance to detect animal cases, and no environmental surveillance to identify circulating serovars.  In January 2010, CDC's Dengue Branch initiated enhanced surveillance in Puerto Rico to determine the rate of dengue deaths through detection of fatal acute febrile illness cases at hospitals and pathology laboratories, and through review of death certificates.  As a first step toward developing strategies to improve leptospirosis surveillance and diagnostic capacity in Puerto Rico, reasons for underreporting were investigated

Neonatal HSV Infection Following Jewish Ritual Circumcisions that Included Direct Orogenital Suction: New York City, 2000–2011
During November 2000–December 2011, a total of 11 newborn males had laboratory-confirmed HSV infection in the weeks following out-of-hospital Jewish ritual circumcision, investigators from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) learned. Ten of the 11 newborns were hospitalized; two died.  

OTHER INFORMATION AND UPDATES

CLSI Activities at the 2012 Clinical Lab Expo
From July 16 until July 20 the CLSI will hold a variety of meetings during the 2012 Clinical Lab Expo to be held at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, CA.

CLIA Update 2012: "Hear What's in the Works"
The American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) is presenting a quick update on what changes are due to be implemented. Get the latest on CMS’s plans to integrate the new CLSI EP-23 quality control document into its interpretive guidelines and what that will mean for your laboratory.  Mark your calendars for June 27, 2:00-2:45PM.  

The Science and Applications of Microbial Genomics
On June 12th and 13th 2012, the Institute of Medicine’s Forum on Microbial Threats will host a public workshop to explore new scientific tools and methods for detecting and characterizing microbial species in order to better appreciate the microbial world around us. 

Articles of Interest

Colorado Researcher Team Develops Drug to Combat Viruses, Including West Nile
The Mirror
June 7, 2012
Collaborators at Colorado State University and the University of Northern Colorado are developing a drug that can stop replication of West Nile, dengue and yellow fever viruses.  The research of Brian Geiss, Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology and Susan Keenan, Associate Professor and Director of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Northern Colorado, appears this week online in the Journal of Virology.  They are developing a drug that can bind to a protein critical for viral replication and block the protein’s function.  

E. coli Outbreak Kills Child and Sickens 14 in Florida, 5 Other States
Orlando Sentinal
June 8, 2012
A mysterious and scattered outbreak of E. coli O145 is linked to 14 illnesses, including a child's death, health officials say.  No source of contaminated food has been identified in the illnesses, which occurred in April and May. 

Irritable Bowel, Ulcerative Colitis Linked to Intestinal Fungi
LA Times
June 8, 2012
Bacteria in the gut play a crucial role in human health, and imbalances in bacterial populations can contribute to many disorders. New research suggests that fungi, though not as common in the intestines as bacteria, may also play a role in causing and modulating disease.

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