Congress Passes Zika Funding Bill

Congress passed and President Obama signed a 10-week continuing resolution, which includes $1.1 billion for Zika virus research.

ASM Acts to Counter Zika Virus Outbreak

The emerging threat of Zika virus infection.

ASM Urges Action to Combat Zika Emergency

Current events linked to the Zika virus make aggressive public health actions and funding to combat this emerging infectious disease more crucial than ever.
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  • ASM Comments on FDA Cephalosporin Rule
  • ASM Comments on GRANTS Act
  • ASM Meets with Clinical Laboratory Coalition


  • ASM Teleconferences
  • ASM Conferences
  • ASM Journal Articles of Interest


  • CDC announced the availability of a new Norovirus toolkit
  • National Biodefense Science Board (NBSB) Public meeting
  • FDA protects important class of antimicrobial drugs for treating human illness 
  • S. Typhimurium Infections Associated with Exposure to Clinical and Teaching Microbiology Laboratories
  • FDA expands use of Prevnar 13 pneumococcal vaccine for people ages 50 and older
  • FDA expands use of HIV drug Isentress to children and adolescents
  • Chikungunya Vaccine Trial Begins Enrollment
  • Experimental Vaccine Partially Protects Monkeys from HIV-Like Infection
  • Genital Herpes Vaccine Moderately Protective against One of Two Herpes Viruses
  • MMWR Articles of Interest


  • Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) Guidelines Updated
  • CLSI 2012 AST Update Teleconference
  • Pause on Avian Flu Transmission Research
  • ASCP Continuing Education Courses Available
  • Lab Tests Online updates
  • Articles of Interest


ASM Comments on FDA Cephalosporin Rule
ASM supports the recently issued FDA rule on use of antimicrobial drugs in food animals.  The rule prohibits certain uses of cephalosporin drugs in livestock and this is a positive step towards preserving the effectiveness of antimicrobials against infections and reducing the risk of drug resistance among certain pathogenic bacteria.  To read ASM’s comments, go to:  January 25, 2012 - ASM Comments on FDA Cephalosporin Rule.

ASM Comments on GRANTS Act
ASM sent a letter to members of the House of Representatives expressing concerns about H.R. 3433, the Grant Reform and New Transparency (GRANT) Act of 2011.  The letter can be on-line at: January 24, 2012 - ASM Comments on GRANTS Act.

ASM meets with the Clinical Laboratory Coalition
ASM staff member Kimberly Walker attended a December 13 meeting with Clinical Laboratory Coalition (CLC) members to discuss pending legislation.   H.R.3207, entitled Modernizing Laboratory Test Standards for Patients Act of 2011, was introduced by Rep. Burgess (TX-26) and proposes to prevent FDA from exercising regulatory authority over Lab-Developed Tests (LDTs) and Direct-to-Consumer Tests (DTCs).  The text of this bill can be found at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-112hr3207ih/pdf/BILLS-112hr3207ih.pdf


ASM Conferences

11th ASM Conference on Candida and Candidiasis

March 29 - April 2, 2012

San Francisco, California


ASM Journal Articles of Interest

It is Time to Use Treponema-Specific Antibody Screening Tests for Diagnosis of Syphilis 
Some FDA approved assays that detect treponema-specific antibodies have been developed.  As a result, many high-volume clinical laboratories have begun to offer a reverse syphilis testing algorithm where a treponema-specific test is used for screening, followed by a nontreponemal test. More can be found at this link http://jcm.asm.org/content/50/1/2.full

Identification of Non-diphtheriae Corynebacterium by Use of Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization–Time of Flight Mass Spectrometry
Authors evaluated the Bruker Biotyper MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry for identification of 92 clinical isolates of Corynebacterium species in comparison to identification using rpoB or 16S rRNA gene sequencing. The full paper can be viewed at the link http://jcm.asm.org/content/50/1/160.full

Compound in Apples Inhibits E. coli O157:H7
Phloretin, a compound that is abundant in apples and strawberries inhibits the highly pathogenic E. coli O157:H7 biofilms while sparing a beneficial strain of E. coli that also forms biofilms in the human gut, according to a paper in the December 2011 issue of Infection and Immunity. 

Fleas Collected from Norway Rats in Downtown LA Carry Human Pathogen
A recent study showed that 72 percent of the fleas collected from Los Angeles, CA rats carried B. rochalimae.  F

Inaccuracy of the Disk Diffusion Method Compared with the Agar Dilution Method for Susceptibility Testing of Campylobacter spp
The agar dilution method has been standardized by the CLSI for the susceptibility testing of Campylobacter species, but the disk diffusion test is currently widely used, since it is easy to perform in clinical laboratories. In this study, the disk diffusion method was compared to the agar dilution method by analyzing the activities of seven antimicrobial agents against 174 Campylobacter strains collected in Finland. For more, see the full paper at this link http://jcm.asm.org/content/50/1/52.full

Yield of Sputum for Viral Detection by Reverse Transcriptase PCR in Adults Hospitalized with Respiratory Illness 
RT-PCR is rapid, sensitive, and specific for viral infection diagnosis but is rarely applied to sputum samples. Authors evaluated the diagnostic yield of RT-PCR for detection of nine virus types by the use of nose and throat swabs (NTS) and sputum samples from patients admitted to the hospital with acute respiratory tract illnesses.  The full paper can be viewed at the link http://jcm.asm.org/content/50/1/21.full

Polymicrobial Interactions: Impact on Pathogenesis and Human Disease
This review focuses on polymicrobial biofilm-mediated infections and examines the contribution of bacterial-bacterial, bacterial-fungal, and bacterial-viral interactions during human infection. For more, see the full paper at this website  http://cmr.asm.org/content/25/1/193.full

Comparative Study of Different Sources of Pertussis Toxin (PT) as Coating Antigens in IgG Anti-PT Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assays
This study represents an effort to improve the reliability and reproducibility of serological assays for Bordetella pertussis.  See the full report here http://cvi.asm.org/content/19/1/64.full

Bed Bugs: Clinical Relevance and Control Options
Since the late 1990s, bed bugs of the species Cimex lectularius and Cimex hemipterus have undergone a worldwide resurgence. Over 40 pathogens have been detected in bed bugs, but there is no definitive evidence that they transmit any disease-causing organisms to humans. For more about these insects, see http://cmr.asm.org/content/25/1/164.full


CDC announced the availability of a new Norovirus toolkit
The toolkit is designed to help healthcare providers manage and stop outbreaks of norovirus, one of the most common causes of gastroenteritis outbreaks in the U.S. More information is available by going to this site http://www.cdc.gov/hai/pdfs/norovirus/229110-ANorovirusIntroLetter508.pdf

National Biodefense Science Board (NBSB) Public meeting
The NBSB will hold a public meeting on February 2, 2012 beginning at 10:30 a.m. lasting until 12:30 p.m. The agenda is subject to change as priorities dictate.  For dial-in access to the meeting, please go to http://www.phe.gov/Preparedness/legal/boards/nbsb/meetings/Pages/120202meeting.aspx

FDA protects important class of antimicrobial drugs for treating human illness 
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an order that prohibits certain uses of the cephalosporin class of antimicrobial drugs in cattle, swine, chickens and turkeys effective April 5, 2012. For more information, go to http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm285704.htm

Investigation Update: Human Salmonella Typhimurium Infections Associated with Exposure to Clinical and Teaching Microbiology Laboratories
In October 2010, PulseNet, the national molecular subtyping network for foodborne disease surveillance, detected a multistate cluster of Salmonella Typhimurium infections with a particular pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) pattern and other genetic characteristics.  CDC collaborated with public health officials in several states to investigate this cluster of infections associated with exposure to clinical and teaching microbiology laboratories.  For the whole report, go to http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/typhimurium-laboratory/011712/index.html

FDA expands use of Prevnar 13 pneumococcal vaccine for people ages 50 and older
Prevnar 13, a pneumococcal 13-valent conjugate vaccine, was approved December 30 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for people ages 50 years and older to prevent pneumonia and invasive disease caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae.  For more information, see the press release at http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm285431.htm

FDA expands use of HIV drug Isentress to children and adolescents
Isentress, an HIV Integrase drug also known as raltegravir, was approved December 21 for use with other antiretroviral drugs for the treatment of HIV-1 infection for children and adolescents ages 2-18. For more, please see http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm284473.htm

Chikungunya Vaccine Trial Begins Enrollment
An experimental vaccine to prevent chikungunya fever, a mosquito-borne viral infection, is being tested in a clinical trial conducted by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) scientists at the National Institutes of Health. For more, see http://www.niaid.nih.gov/news/newsreleases/2011/Pages/ChikungunyaVaxTrial.aspx

Experimental Vaccine Partially Protects Monkeys from HIV-Like Infection
New vaccine research in monkeys suggests that scientists are homing in on the critical ingredients of a protective HIV vaccine and identifies new HIV vaccine candidates to test in human clinical trials.  For more information, see the press release at http://www.niaid.nih.gov/news/newsreleases/2012/Pages/SIVvax.aspx

Genital Herpes Vaccine Moderately Protective against One of Two Herpes Viruses
An investigational vaccine intended to prevent genital herpes disease in women was found to be moderately effective against one of the two types of HSV that cause genital herpes, according to an analysis published January 5 in the New England Journal of Medicine.  To read the press release go to:  http://www.niaid.nih.gov/news/newsreleases/2012/Pages/HerpevacHSV1.aspx

MMWR Articles of Interest

Update: Influenza A (H3N2)v Transmission and Guidelines — Five States, 2011
From August 17 to December 23, 2011, CDC received reports of 12 human infections with influenza A (H3N2)v viruses that have the matrix (M) gene from the influenza A (H1N1)pdm09 virus (formerly called swine-origin influenza A [H3N2] and pandemic influenza A [H1N1] 2009 viruses, respectively.  See the following link for the full report http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6051a4.htm?s_cid=mm6051a4_w

Imported Human Rabies — New Jersey, 2011
New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (NJDHSS) contacted CDC about possible rabies in a hospitalized Haitian woman aged 73 years because she had acute, progressive encephalitis of unknown etiology. On July 18, CDC confirmed rabies virus infection, later identified as a canine rabies virus variant present in Haiti. For more, see the whole report at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6051a2.htm?s_cid=mm6051a2_w

Hospital-Associated Measles Outbreak — Pennsylvania, March–April 2009
In March 2009, a physician notified the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADOH) of a measles case involving an unvaccinated child. Within 5 days, four additional cases were reported to PADOH and the Allegheny County Health Department. All five infected persons had been in the same hospital emergency department.  For the whole report, go to http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6102a2.htm?s_cid=mm6102a2_w


CLSI Publishes 2012 Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing Standards
The Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) recently published updated editions of its antimicrobial susceptibility testing (AST) standards.  To order them, go to http://www.clsi.org/Content/NavigationMenu/NewsandEvents/PressReleases/Dec_11_M02M07M100.htm

CLSI 2012 AST Update Teleconference, February 1 & 2, 2012 
Each January, CLSI updates standards for antimicrobial susceptibility testing (AST). It is important for clinical laboratories to incorporate the new recommendations into routine practice to detect and report antimicrobial resistance. This teleconference will highlight the new changes.  For more information, please see http://www.aphl.org/courses/Documents/2012/588-601-602-12-ast.pdf

Pause on Avian Flu Transmission Research
To provide time for discussions on highly pathogenic H5N1 influenza viruses researchers have agreed on a voluntary pause of 60 days.  See the agreement, published online on January 20, here http://www.sciencemag.org/site/feature/data/hottopics/biosecurity/Fouchier.Express.pdf

"Algae Gone Wild: When Plants Become Pathogens”  one of many continuing education courses of interest to microbiologists, is available from ASCP by going to http://www.ascp.org/Store/Online-CE/CSMB1106.html.

“A Pain In The Neck: Fusobacterium necrophorum Infection,“ discusses Lemierre disease and is geared for laboratory professionals.   You can assess this course by going to http://www.ascp.org/Store/Online-CE/CSMB1106.html

Lab Tests Online updates the Measles and Mumps Chapter
Lab Tests Online is in the process of updating its resources.  The first of these updates of interest to microbiologists is the Measles and Mumps page.  To see it, please see the website http://labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/measles/tab/glance

Articles of Interest

Stealth tactics of bacteria revealed
New Scientist
January 4, 2012
Harvard University researchers developed the "morbidostat", a device that constantly monitors the growth of bacteria in the presence of an antibiotic, increasing the concentration of the drug as the bacteria evolve resistance. Using the morbidostat, the team investigated how Escherichia coli responded to three different antibiotics over 25 days.

DNA Implanted Bacteria To Detect Glucose
Medical News Today
January 4, 2012
Recently, the team of students at the Missouri S&T chapter of iGEM - the International Genetically Engineered Machine Foundation - designed a biological system using pieces of DNA implanted in E. coli to use changes in osmolarity to identify glucose.

Novel Compound To Halt Virus Replication Identified By Researchers
Medical News Today
January 5, 2012
Utilizing state of the art screening techniques, virus, and a library of chemicals, researchers identified compounds that could stop Vaccinia from replicating inside human cells. In studying how one of these compounds work, they discovered that the virus can enter the cell in its presence, but once the virus internalizes, the compound inactivates an essential piece of virus machinery.

How Hard Would It Be for Avian Flu to Spread?
New York Times
January 2, 2012
How Hard Would It Be for Avian Flu to Spread?  Biosecurity advisers to the American government have urged that full details not be published for fear that terrorists could make use of them. The World Health Organization warned that while such studies were important, they could have deadly consequences.