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Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal

Highlights: Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 17, No. 9, (September 2011)


The articles of interest summarized below will appear in the September 2011 issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, CDC’s monthly peer-reviewed public health journal. The articles are embargoed until August 10, 2011, at 12 p.m. EDT.

Note: Not all articles published in EID represent work done at CDC. In your stories, please clarify whether a study was conducted by CDC (“a CDC study”) or by another institution (“a study published by CDC” ). The opinions expressed by authors contributing to EID do not necessarily reflect the opinions of CDC or the institutions with which the authors are affiliated.

1. Canine Serology as Adjunct to Human Lyme Disease Surveillance, Paul Mead et al.

Like canaries in a mine, dogs can indicate Lyme disease risk in humans. The bacterium that causes Lyme disease is spread by ticks, and whether a dog (sick or healthy) has been exposed to infected ticks can be detected by blood testing. A comparison of data from humans and dogs shows strong agreement between these two, independent measures of Lyme disease risk. In addition, however, data from dogs may help predict areas of Lyme disease emergence. Combining data from humans and dogs could help health officials focus Lyme disease prevention efforts, as well as help doctors interpret clinical and laboratory findings.

Dr. Paul Mead via:
CDC Media Relations

2. Tattoo-associated Mycobacterium haemophilum Skin Infection in Immunocompetent Adult, 2009, Meagan K. Kay et al.

Cosmetic surgery, body piercing, and tattooing can lead to infection, particularly in people with weakened immune systems. Although tattooing is not a sterile procedure, measures should be taken to minimize risk of infection including properly training tattoo artists and using sterile equipment. Two newly reported infections after tattooing stand out because they occurred in people with healthy immune systems and because they were caused by a type of bacteria, Mycobacterium haemophilum, not previously found in tattoo infections. The infection might have come from the tap water used to dilute the ink.  Because these bacteria are not usual suspects in tattoo infections and because testing for them is difficult and takes a long time, labs don’t routinely run these tests.  From now on, however, doctors should consider Mycobacterium haemophilum as a possible cause of tattoo infection and should ask labs to test for them.

Meagan K. Kay
(206) 423-3156

3. Differential Risk for Lyme Disease along Hiking Trail, Germany, Dania Richter and Franz-Rainer Matuschka

Cattle and goats as protection against Lyme disease?  A study of risk along a hiking trail in Germany found that risk was much lower on the parts of the trail that passed through cattle or goat pasture than through meadow or abandoned land.  Not only were there fewer ticks in the pasture, but fewer ticks from those areas carried the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. Proposed reasons are that grazing decreases the tick habitat and that ticks lose Lyme disease bacteria when they feed on these animals. Thus, using land as cattle and goat pasture might also minimize Lyme disease risk for people on that land. Particular methods of landscape management also appear to support public health.

Dr. Dania Richter
Abteilung Parasitologie, Institut für Pathologie, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin
+49 30 838 70372

4. Geographic Distribution of Endemic Fungal Infections among Older Persons, United States, John W. Baddley et al. 

Americans are living longer than ever, which means they can continue to travel and enjoy outdoor activities. However, the downside of breathing in all that fresh outdoor air is risk for fungal disease. Fungal infections are more common in older people, whose immune systems may be weakened by age, other disease, or immunosuppressive drugs. Examination of Medicare claims showed that three important types of fungal infections in older populations occurred mostly in the midwestern and western parts of the United States. Prevention efforts should focus on these areas, and doctors in these areas should consider fungal infections in older patients with respiratory disease.

John W. Baddley
Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham

(205) 934-5191

5. High Rates of Malaria among US Military Members Born in Malaria-Endemic Countries, 2002–2010, Ellen R. Wertheimer et al.

Before deploying soldiers to areas with malaria, the U.S. military instructs them on malaria protection and supervises their uses of protective measures. Why, then, are rates of malaria 44 times higher among U.S. military members who were born in West Africa? Findings of a recent study suggest that malaria risk is high when military members travel to their birth countries to visit friends and family in West Africa. While on leave in West Africa, nobody makes military members take antimalarial drugs, sleep under bednets, or take other actions to prevent mosquito bites. When growing up in their malarious home lands, current military members may not have worried about malaria; and when they return home as soldiers, they may assume that they still don't need to worry. However, childhood immunity to malaria wanes over time. As a result, U.S. military members who are born in countries with malaria are susceptible when they return home; protective measures should be emphasized before such individuals return to their homelands.

Ms. Judith L. Evans
Public Relations and Media Specialist
Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, Silver Spring, MD
(301) 319-2255 (office)
(202) 679-6668 (cell)

6. Increasing Incidence of Invasive Haemophilus influenzae Disease in Adults, Utah, USA,

Matthew P. Rubach, et al.

Haemophilus influenzae type b (commonly called Hib) has gone from being a major cause of childhood illness to being almost nonexistent in children, thanks to a Hib vaccine. In adults, however, a different type of Haemophilus influenzae infection is increasing. This type of invasive disease can be fatal, especially for those older than 65, and there is no vaccine. Reasons for the increase might be changes in the organism, more people at high risk, or decreasing immunity. A vaccine against the invasive form in adults is needed.

Matthew P. Rubach, MD
Division of Infectious Diseases, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC



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