Monday, 20 November 2017 15:42

Diagnostic tools play an important role in public health

Written by 

Much of our public health infrastructure remains behind the scenes, and that may be especially true for the tools needed for surveillance, diagnostics, and treatment assessments. Diagnostic tools are required to diagnose disease, of course, but also contribute to surveillance efforts to understand disease potential, transmission, and treatment. Diagnostic tools have been highlighted through a number of studies here on ASM blogs. Here are the recent features: 

Microbial identification and tracking: the next generation

In the wake of the next-generation sequencing revolution, there is no substitute for whole-genome sequencing as a method to pinpoint the exact strain of an unknown microbial species. As NGS technology has advanced, sequencing costs have decreased and applications of the technology have broadened. Clinical applications are no exception, and a series of review articles in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology highlights how public health will benefit from these new applications.

Interlab reproducibility in bacterial genotyping by whole-genome sequencing

One of the most important aspects of a new laboratory protocol is its reproducibility. A protocol must produce the same results when performed by different scientists at different labs, and this is especially important when considering new diagnostic protocols. As whole-genome sequencing (WGS) becomes increasingly used for diagnostic purposes in clinical microbiology labs, the accuracy of WGS-derived diagnoses is important to verify. A new Journal of Clinical Microbiology report demonstrates the reproducibility of accurate results derived by WGS-based typing. 

Is it safe to go into the ocean? Standardizing methods for water safety surveillance

“Human waste represents one of the greatest public health risks in the U.S. and worldwide,” says Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Research Geneticist Orin Shanks. He and his EPA research team are working to generate standard genetic biomarkers that indicate the presence of human-associated fecal bacteria. 

Point-of-care testing for influenza

“Do I have the flu?” Influenza point of care tests may be able to answer this question quickly. However, despite the simplicity and speed of these tests, they come with many “behind the scenes” considerations to be addressed prior to implementation. In this post, we review some significant technical, biological, and regulatory issues of influenza point-of-care testing. 

Point-of-care diagnostics via molecular tests

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. 

One microbial pathogen ‘disguised’ as another leads to misdiagnoses

Misdiagnosed infectious disease etiologies can be a very dangerous mistake for sick patients. Most clinical microbiology labs are able to use sophisticated biochemical and genetic tests to differentiate microbial species and strains, but newly emerging pathogens can be misidentified if they closely mimic another. That appears to be the case with the newly emerging fungal pathogen, Candida auris.

Non-culture based fungal diagnostic tests

Timely diagnosis of fungal infections is sometimes impaired by the slow growth in culture or low yield of culture for certain organisms. Let’s discuss some of the non-culture based fungal diagnostic tests that are available in clinical microbiology laboratories. 

New tools to detect new virus

In 2015, a new human hepegivirus (HHpgV-1) was identified by using a novel, high throughput sequencing technique. Concerns were raised that this virus was found in blood to be used for transfusions, potentially passing on the infection. But without tools to test for its presence, there was no way to know how widespread HHpgV-1 infection is, or whether it is associated with human disease.

Diagnostic guidelines for bloodstream infections aim to shorten time to accurate therapy

One of the most dangerous places for an infection to occur is in the bloodstream. Septicemia, when microbes are present in the blood, not only allows bacteria access to other internal organs through the highway of our circulatory system, but also can cause a massive inflammatory response, leading to septic shock. Conditions that increase risk of bloodstream infections, such as invasive surgery or implantation of an indwelling device, are carefully monitored and are sometimes accompanied by prophylactic antimicrobial drugs to prevent this very serious condition.

Last modified on Monday, 20 November 2017 16:51