Clinical Microbiology: Bugs & Drugs

Molecular techniques allow us to determine bacterial relatedness in ways previous generations couldn’t, and because of this, several species have been renamed or recategorized in recent years. However, this can cause chaos and miscommunication in the clinical lab! Here are three stories of recent taxonomical change suggestions and how they have been resolved.  
Anaerobic infections offer a unique set of challenges in diagnosing and antibiotic susceptibility testing. The most recent Hot Topic in Clinical Microbiology offers an opportunity to learn best practices in diagnosis of anaerobic infections. We also provide recent Journal of Clinical Microbiology resources to complement the presentation. 
While Lyme disease is the tick-borne illness people associate most readily with deer tick bites, the incidence of Babesia microti in the Northeast US has been increasing steadily. There are a range of tools, some new but many old, that can aid the diagnostician in detection of this important pathogen.
Taxonomic splitting of bacterial species can change AST recommendation. What should clinical microbiologists do when new species are assigned to the Enterobacteriaceae or when species are renamed? Romney Humphries addresses this problem in this week's Bugs & Drugs.
Recent outbreaks in clinical and teaching microbiology labs emphasize the importance of good biosafety practices. This week we provide resources to help brush up on biosafety, one of the most important aspects of working in a microbiology lab.
The Journal of Clinical Microbiology publishes everything clinical, from applications of new diagnostic technologies to global epidemiological reports. On this week's Bugs & Drugs, we spoke with JCM Editor-in-Chief Alexander McAdam about the resources JCM provides to clinical microbiologists and recent changes in the journal.  
Monday, 07 August 2017 14:45

Have Microscope … Will Travel

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Interested in applying your laboratory skills in resource-limited areas? Volunteer work can be very fulfilling. Opportunities and experiences are discussed in this week's Bugs & Drugs.
How does one interpret an MIC if there is no clinical breakpoint for the tested drug/bug combination? Some tools, including the epidemiological cut-off value and PK/PD breakpoints can help!
When laboratories provide susceptibility reports to clinicians, they must decide whether to include minimal inhibitory concentrations (MICs) or to report categorical interpretations (such as susceptible or resistant) alone. In some cases knowing the MIC value can help doctors, but in other cases it may just be… TMI.
Summertime brings people closer to the great outdoors - and to arthropods that can spread disease! In this week's Bugs & Drugs, we emphasize the importance of a full patient history and provide resources on infections of leisure.
Bloodstream infections are a major cause of morbidity and mortality, and identifying the causative organism(s) is critical. Can the most important step in this process really be as simple as collecting enough volume of blood for culture? Let’s discuss some of the evidence, and the role of the clinical microbiology laboratory in this important testing process.
Several of the American Society for Clinical Pathology's "40 Under Forty"  include young, successful ASM members, and we here at Bugs & Drugs reached out to ask them about their research and careers. 
Monday, 26 June 2017 09:33

C. difficile—Innocent until Proven Guilty?

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Accurate diagnosis of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) is challenging for all involved—clinicians, laboratorians, and patients—leaving everyone frustrated.  Current approaches to diagnosis of CDI prioritize either detection of the organism itself, or detection of toxins produced by the organism.  In this blog post, Nira Pollock explores how these diagnostic strategies differ in approach and perspective regarding the guilt of the suspect—should C. difficile be considered “innocent until proven guilty,” or “guilty until proven innocent”?
Point-of-care diagnostic testing is quickly advancing, in part due to advances in molecular testing. Our latest Bugs & Drugs post provides resources for keeping up-to-date with the latest molecular tests, including infection characteristics such as antibiotic resistance.
The ever-changing CLSI recommendations for colistin testing (and one lab director’s endless frustration with this!) are reviewed.
Next-generation sequencing techniques are quickly moving into the clinical microbiology lab. ASM provides a number of resources to help you learn best practices for their application and interpretation for infectious disease diagnoses.
Molecular technologies revolutionized microbiology as well as  medicine, patient care, infection control and prevention, and overall hospital operation.
Examining histology or microscopy images, combined with a patient history, can help clinicians provide a proper infectious disease diagnosis. Practice your diagnostic skills by viewing the Journal of Clinical Microbiology Photo Quiz and ASM Case Study resources in this week's Bugs & Drugs.
Monday, 24 April 2017 09:19

16S Alphabet Soup: A Quick Guide

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Broad-range bacterial 16S PCR and sequencing as a clinical diagnostic tool is quickly gaining in popularity. This post offers a quick refresher on the applications, limitations, and aliases of this test.
Collecting, transporting, and storing patient specimens plays a major role in infection diagnoses. ASM provides a number of resources regarding best practices and the latest research regarding specimen collection!
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