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January 2015

Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal

Highlights: Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 21, No. 1, (January 2015)


The articles summarized below will appear in the January 2015 issues of Emerging Infectious Diseases, CDC’s monthly peer-reviewed public health journal. This issue will feature high-consequence pathogens. The articles are embargoed until December 10, 2014, 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.

Click here to visit the Emerging Infectious Disease journal page

1. Rates and Risk Factors for Coccidioidomycosis among Prison Inmates, California, USA, 2011, Charlotte Wheeler et al.

Coccidioidomycosis is caused by fungi found in certain dry regions of the southwestern United States. Infection is acquired by breathing in fungal spores; it is not spread person to person. Although infection with this fungus can cause no symptoms at all, it can also be persistent and can disseminate outside of the lungs, causing potentially fatal disease in some people.  In 2005, the rate of cases of coccidioidomycosis in two California prisons was much higher than that in the surrounding communities. Despite actions to decrease infection, in 2011 the rate of cases in the two prisons remained high. A study found that inmates of African-American ethnicity were at higher risk for disseminated coccidioidomycosis than inmates who were white, and that inmates with diabetes were at higher risk for being hospitalized for coccidioidomycosis for 10 days or more than inmates who did not have diabetes. These findings contributed to court-mandated exclusion of African-American inmates and inmates with diabetes from these two California prisons.

Contact Charlotte Wheeler via:
Joyce Hayhoe
California Correctional Health Care Services, Elk Grove, CA

2. Epidemiology of Human Plague in the United States, 1900–2012, Kiersten J. Kugeler et al.

The history of human plague in the United States provides a unique opportunity for long-term study of a zoonotic (animal-to-human) disease introduced onto a continent. Most previously published reports have been limited to a specific geographic area or time frame. To comprehensively summarize the history of plague since its introduction, researchers analyzed data from all reported cases in the United States during 1900–2012. They identified 3 distinct eras (1900–1925, 1926–1964, and 1965–2012) that varied by frequency, nature, and geographic distribution of cases. Factors that changed between eras were the populations at risk, availability of antibiotics and quality of diagnostic tests. Overall, the emergence of human plague in the United States paralleled the introduction of exotic plants and animals. Regardless of a person’s race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status, the primary risk factors for plague infection in the United States are behaviors and conditions that increase both direct and indirect human contact with rodents and their fleas.

Contact Kiersten J. Kugeler via:
CDC Press Office

3. Streptococcus equisubsp. zooepidemicus Infections Associated with Guinea Pigs, Karen Gruszynski et al. 

“Strep equi subspecies zooepidemicus” (Sez) is a bacterium that can infect animals and people. However, transmission from animals to people is rare; when it occurs, it is usually associated with consumption of raw milk or contact with horses (by people with underlying health conditions). Recently, however, infection in family members was linked to guinea pigs. The first patient to become sick had recently purchased 4 guinea pigs, one of which died shortly before the patient got sick. The second patient had cleaned the guinea pigs’ enclosure 2 days before becoming sick. Genetic analysis revealed close similarities between the organism isolated from the people and the guinea pigs. Thus, a diagnosis of Sez infection should be considered for patients who have had contact with guinea pigs or their environment. Likewise, patients with Sez infection should be asked not only about exposure to animals previously associated with this organism—horses, pigs, ruminants, monkeys, cats, and dogs––but also to guinea pigs.

Contact Karen Gruszynski via:
Virginia Department of Health, Office of Epidemiology, Richmond, VA

4. Fatal Legionellosis after Water Birth, Texas, USA, 2014, Elyse Fritschel et al.

The recent popularization of water birth in multiple industrialized nations has emphasized the need to acknowledge and reduce infection risk from waterborne pathogens. In January 2014, the United States experienced its first reported infant legionellosis death after water birth. The ensuing investigation revealed gaps in infection control practices for midwives during home water birth procedures and highlighted the need to improve infection control education, increase client awareness, and standardize procedures for birthing tub use and maintenance.

Contact Elyse Fritschel via:
Carrie Williams
Texas Department of State Health Services