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Highlights: Emerging Infectious Diseases February 2010


The first four articles will appear in the February 2010 edition of Emerging Infectious Diseases, CDC’s monthly peer-reviewed public health journal. The fifth article will appear in the March 2010 edition of EID. All five articles are embargoed until Jan. 13, 2010, at 12:00 PM ET.

1. Concurrent Silicosis and Mycosis at Death

Yulia Iossifova et al.

“Why are my co-workers getting sick?” “Am I at risk too?” People who breathe in fine silica dust at work started asking these types of questions after noticing some of their co-workers were getting fungal lung disease (mycosis). In response, researchers set out to learn whether silica dust, coal mine dust, or asbestos fibers made workers more susceptible. Inhalation of silica dust, coal mine dust, or asbestos fibers can cause lung disease. They found that those who died with lung disease from silica dust (silicosis) were more likely to also have fungal lung disease. This association may be because silica dust, more than coal mine dust or asbestos fibers, is more toxic to the cells needed to fight fungal lung infection. Doctors should be alert for fungal lung infections in these workers and should suggest ways to reduce the amount of silica dust and fungi they breathe in.

Contact Dr. Kathleen Kreiss via:
Fred Blosser
Public Affairs Officer
CDC, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

2. Frequency of Coccidioidomycosis among College Athletes

Nicole G. Stern et al.

Valley fever is a fungal infection, commonly found in parts of Arizona and California, which usually causes a pneumonia that can not be distinguished from bacterial or viral infections of the lung without specific tests. Researchers wondered if college athletes who train in the southwest United States were more susceptible to valley fever than others their age. They reviewed medical records and found that athletes receiving scholarships at the University of Arizona were four times more likely than other students to be diagnosed with valley fever, but they were also tested for valley fever five times more frequently. Researchers suspect that the increased testing could easily account for most, if not all, of the increased diagnosis of valley fever in athletes. If this is true for the athletes, it is also likely that more frequent testing of all patients with pneumonia and endemic exposure to valley fever may increase the frequency of accurate diagnosis and better treatment of the disease.

John N. Galgiani, MD
Valley Fever Center for Excellence, University of Arizona College of Medicine
(520) 626-4968

3. Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus Meningitis, New York City, 2009

Deborah S. Asnis

LCVM, a disease that can attack the nervous system, was previously unrecognized in New York City until a taxi driver got sick with the disease in the winter of 2009. Although the taxi driver didn't report being exposed to rodents, the typical source of exposure, laboratory tests confirmed his infection. Health care providers wondered how he got LCVM. They considered that he could have gotten it from a corneal transplant, but this possibility was unlikely because he received the transplant more than a year before becoming sick. Mice often move indoors in the winter, but how he got the disease remains a mystery. Also unknown is how many other people in New York City have LCVM infection. Since 2009, doctors in New York City are now required to report cases of LCVM to the health department, so health officials can learn more about the disease's prevalence.

Deborah S. Asnis, MD
Flushing Hospital Medical Center - Infectious Diseases/Internal Medicine

4. Novel Human Bocavirus in Children with Acute Respiratory Tract Infection

Jing-rong Song et al.

Sudden respiratory tract (lung and upper airway) infection is a leading cause of illness and death of children. So when a new virus, closely related to a virus known to cause respiratory tract infection in children, was discovered in 2009, researchers examined whether this new virus was present in respiratory tract infections. They determined that it does. They found this new virus in children who had been hospitalized for respiratory tract infection; often these children were infected with other viruses at the same time. Most of the children with the new virus were younger than 3 years old. Although this study was done in China, researchers have reason to believe that this virus exists worldwide.

Zhao-jun Duan, PhD,
Professor and Director, Department of Viral Diarrhea
National Institute for Viral Disease Control and Prevention, China CDC

5. Influenza A Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 Virus Infection in Domestic Cat

Brett A. Sponseller et al.

Flu viruses that infect humans exist in nature in a limited number of animals, usually wild birds. So what does it mean when flu viruses infecting humans are found in other species, like domestic pigs, pet ferrets, and now . . . domestic cats and dogs? Finding the first case of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic flu virus in a cat that lived solely indoors with people who had recently had flu-like symptoms means that the people probably infected the cat. The discovery has many implications. It means that certain evolving flu viruses may not be as species specific as we thought. It also means they may be taking up residence in companion animals, that infected companion animals may be infecting each other and that flu can probably be spread from people to animals (reverse zoonosis). Mostly, finding 2009 H1N1 pandemic flu virus in this case and, later, four other cases in domestic cats from separate households means that people who have companion animals need to remember that when they get sick, they may be capable of infecting their pets. More studies are needed to better understand on the role of companion animals during this current pandemic.

Contact the authors via:
Thomas W. Ligouri
Communications and Events Program Coordinator, Iowa State University
(515) 294-4257




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