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Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal

Highlights: Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 18, No. 10, October 2012


The articles of interest summarized below will appear in the October 2012 issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, CDC’s monthly peer-reviewed public health journal. This issue will feature primates. The articles are embargoed until September 12, 2012, at 12 p.m. EDT.

Note: Not all articles published in EID represent work done at 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. Nontuberculous Mycobacteria in Household Plumbing as Possible Cause of Chronic Rhinosinusitis, Wellington S. Tichenor, et al.

Millions of Americans live with chronic sinus infection. Most infections are caused by either bacteria or fungi. Some of these infections can be hard to treat, eluding medical and surgical treatment and persisting for months or even years.  A recent study in New York found that some patients with a chronic sinus infection had a tuberculosis like organism (a mycobacteria) in their sinuses and the same organism was also in the tap water at their homes.  These mycobacteria can be resistant to commonly used antimicrobial drugs.  Doctors should check for mycobacteria in patients with treatment-resistant sinus infection. Patients who flush their sinuses at home should use sterile saline, not tap water.

Wellington S. Tichenor

2. Monkey Bites among U.S. Military Members, Afghanistan, 2011, Luke E. Mease and Katheryn A. Baker

If you were to list all the dangers faced by U.S. military personnel serving in Afghanistan, your list would be long, but would it include monkey bites? It should. The U.S. Army recently examined this risk and found that in just four months, 10 service members were bitten by monkeys. And there may have been more, unreported, bites. Most monkeys were pets owned by Afghan National Security Forces and Afghan civilians, so the risk of being bitten could increase as U.S. forces work more closely with these Afghan people. Monkey bites can spread rabies, tetanus or other bacterial infections, or B-virus infection to humans. Bites can be minimized by enforcing military policies that prohibit pet adoption and animal contact, and secondary infections can be reduced by providing better training to military health care providers on how to treat animal bites.

Luke E. Mease
Army Health Clinic

3. Wild Birds and Urban Ecology of Ticks and Tick-borne Pathogens, Chicago, Illinois, USA, 2005–2010, Sarah A. Hamer et al.

No longer do you have to visit rural areas to find ticks; birds are flying them directly to you. When researchers sampled several thousand birds in Chicago, they found that some carried ticks; and some of these ticks carried the organism that spreads Lyme disease. Although the number of infected ticks on these birds was low, risk for their invading an area and spreading infection to humans cannot be ignored. If conditions are favorable, a few infected ticks can quickly multiply. Migratory birds also carried tick species only known to be established in central and South America.  Limited introduction and successful establishment of ticks and disease-carrying organisms pose a major health risk for humans, wildlife, and domestic animals in urban environments worldwide.

Sarah A. Hamer
Veterinary Integrative Bioscience Department
Angela G. Clendenin
Director, Communications & Public Relations
(979) 862-2675

4. Anthroponotic Enteric Parasites in Monkeys in Public Park, China, Jianbin Ye et al.

Some infections are known to spread from animals to humans; others, from humans to animals. And some are not so neatly categorized. Recently, 3 diarrhea-causing parasites of humans were found in apparently healthy monkeys in a public park in China. How the monkeys became infected is unknown. It is possible that the parasites were spread from humans. No matter how the monkeys became infected, park visitors are at risk for infection from the monkeys.  Park visitors, who are allowed to feed and play with the monkeys, should be informed that they can get diarrhea directly from the monkeys or from contaminated lake or drinking water.

Yaoyu Feng
East China University of Science


5. Epidemiology of Foodborne Norovirus Outbreaks, United States, 2001–2008, Aron J. Hall et al.

In the United States, the leading cause of foodborne illness is norovirus, with an average of one foodborne norovirus outbreak reported every day.  The more we know about how this virus is spread and in which foods, the better we can ward off future outbreaks.  A recent study identified the most common sources of foodborne norovirus outbreaks as ready-to-eat foods that contain fresh produce and mollusks that are eaten raw, such as oysters. Most implicated foods had been prepared in restaurants, delicatessens, and other commercial settings, and were most often contaminated by an infected food worker. Although possible contamination during production, harvesting, or processing cannot be overlooked, food safety during meal preparation should be emphasized. Food handlers should wash their hands, avoid bare-handed contact with ready-to-eat foods, and not work when they are sick.

Aron J. Hall
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Via CDC Media Relations (404) 639-3286 or


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