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AMD in Action: Fighting Infectious Disease on Many Fronts

Whole genome sequencing pinpoints source of listeriosis outbreak

  Tray of caramel apples - some with nuts and some withoutDuring the fall of 2014, a multi-state outbreak of listeriosis sent 34 people to the hospital; seven people died. Listeriosis is caused by the germ Listeria. Listeriosis is rare, but it strikes hard at the most vulnerable people – older adults, pregnant women, newborn babies, and people with weakened immune systems. Because listeriosis can be deadly, it is important to identify the source of the germ quickly to keep more people from getting sick. However, Listeria is difficult to identify and can lurk in foods that we don’t suspect.

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Tried-and-true and State-of-the-art Combine to Uncover a Hidden Virus

CDC Microbiologists Olga Kosoy and Amy Lambert, in blue protective gear, working together in the lab. While doing routine virus isolation from a blood sample collected from a patient enrolled in a study of Heartland virus, a recently discovered tick-associated virus, CDC microbiologist Olga Kosoy’s keen eye saw something unexpected: evidence of another virus. Because it seemed completely different, she asked CDC scientist Amy Lambert to sequence the virus genome using the powerful tools of Advanced Molecular Detection (AMD). Both were surprised to find that they had discovered an entirely new human pathogen.

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Identifying Enterovirus in Children with Respiratory Illness

little girl getting breathing treatmentIn mid-August 2014, hospitals in Missouri and Illinois notified CDC of an increase in admissions of children with severe respiratory illness. The hospitals sent specimens to CDC’s Polio and Picornavirus Laboratory to sequence the virus and determine the type. CDC identified enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) in most of the specimens.

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CDC laboratories produce first genomic sequence of Liberian Ebola

A colorized electron micrograph of ebola virusWith the largest Ebola outbreak in history raging through West Africa, understanding whether the virus is changing as it spreads through different populations can help responders know what treatments to use and also help research laboratories develop new tools to speed diagnosis in the field.

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Zeroing in on “nightmare bacteria” CRE hot spots in a Colorado hospital, 2012

  high magnification depiction of carbapenem-resistant bacteriaThe diagnosis of a drug-resistant “nightmare bacteria” in two Colorado patients spurred hospital and state health officials to join forces with CDC to investigate. These bacteria — Carpabenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE — have become resistant to all or nearly all of the antibiotics we have today. Untreatable and hard-to-treat infections from CRE germs are on the rise among patients in medical facilities.

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Multistate outbreak of hepatitis A infection linked to pomegranate seeds from Turkey

pomegranateScientists traced a hepatitis A outbreak affecting 165 people to a frozen berry blend product. Whole genome sequencing and advanced analytic methods helped them identify a shipment of pomegranate seeds from Turkey as the source of the outbreak.

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Whole Genome Sequencing Pinpoints Single Case and Potential New Listeria Source

Woman eating a saladIn routine food testing, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency found Listeria in bagged lettuce. Investigators conducted whole genome sequencing and found one of the closest matches between an infected person and a contaminated food product that they had ever seen.

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Using AMD methods to track polio

Child taking medicineWhen polio broke out in the Horn of Africa in 2013, Kenya lab technicians quickly identified the source as a wild virus and sent specimens to CDC. Overnight, CDC scientists sequenced the virus and identified it as coming from Nigeria—on the other side of the continent.

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Decoding Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus: AMD provides quick answers

  An electron micrograph showing spherical particles within the cytoplasm of an infected cellIn early May 2014, CDC received a mucus specimen from a MERS patient. In less than 48 hours, CDC used Advanced Molecular Detection (AMD) methods to sequence the complete virus genome.

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