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November 2016

Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal

Highlights: Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 22, No. 11, November 2016

The articles of interest summarized below will appear in the November 2016 issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, CDC’s monthly peer-reviewed public health journal. This issue will feature Bacterial Pathogens. One article (no. 4, Baylisascaris) from the December 2016 issue is also summarized below. The articles are embargoed until October 12, 2016, 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. EID requests that, when possible, you include a live link to the article in your stories.

1. Transmission of Babesia microti Parasites by Solid Organ Transplantation, Meghan B. Brennan, et al.

Babesia microti, a parasite of red blood cells, is the most common cause of human babesiosis in the United States. This parasite is spread by the bite of Ixodes scapularis ticks (i.e., deer ticks) and, less often, by blood transfusion. Transmission by organ transplantation has not previously been described. This report describes 2 people who developed babesiosis and did not have risk factors for acquiring the parasite from a tick or a transfusion, but had received kidney transplants from the same organ donor. The donor had received multiple transfusions on the day he died. One of the organ donor’s blood donors was found to have serologic (antibody) evidence of B. microti infection when tested postdonation (during the investigations). This blood donor, who lived in a babesiosis-endemic area, probably became infected by a tick bite and transmitted the parasite to the organ donor by a transfusion, which likely resulted in transmission to the kidney recipients by organ transplantation. Although babesiosis can be life threatening (especially in people with weak immune systems), both kidney recipients did well after receiving antibiotic therapy for the infection. Clinicians should consider the possibility of babesiosis in patients who develop unexplained fever and hemolytic anemia after blood transfusion or organ transplantation, even in regions where Babesia parasites are not spread by ticks.

Contact: Dr. Gregory Gauthier, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, via Emily Kumlien, UW Health Media Relations, 608-265-8133 or 608-516-9154.

2. Dog-Mediated Human Rabies Death, Haiti, 2016, Ryan M. Wallace et al.

Although rabies in humans has been almost eliminated in most of the Western Hemisphere, it persists in Haiti. Despite improved disease tracking (surveillance) in Haiti since the 2010 earthquake, capacity for detecting and responding to rabies cases is still limited, as recently indicated by a woman’s death. In November 2015, the woman sought healthcare for a dog-bite wound but was not offered rabies vaccination. In January 2016, when symptoms appeared, she went to a hospital and received a presumptive diagnosis of rabies but no palliative care. The hospital administrator reported the suspected rabies case to the national Department of Epidemiology and Laboratory Research, as required by Haiti’s surveillance system. However, because they had no contact information for the woman, hospital personnel could not follow up. A veterinarian later learned through community word-of-mouth that the woman had died. Although this death illustrates the limitations of rabies detection and response in Haiti, the country has made considerable strides in controlling rabies deaths through efforts such as dog vaccination, implementation of an integrated bite case management system, and training of healthcare providers. Continued support and expansion of such programs are needed to eventually eliminate rabies in Haiti.

Contact: CDC Press Office, or 404-639-3286.

3. Risk Factors for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus Infection among Healthcare Personnel, Basem M. Alradaddi et al.

Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), first identified in 2012, often results in severe respiratory illness in people, and many cases are fatal. The infection can be acquired from infected camels or people. To learn more about risk factors for acquiring MERS in healthcare facilities, researchers interviewed and tested blood samples from healthcare providers who worked in hospitals where MERS patients received treatment. They found that risk for MERS was highest among healthcare workers who had been in close contact with MERS patients, especially radiology technicians and nurses. Risk was lower among those who had received infection control training and those who wore N95 respirators (as opposed to medical masks) when working with MERS patients. Thus, following recommended infection control practices effectively reduces the risk for healthcare providers working with MERS patients.

Contact: Tariq A. Madani, Department of Medicine, King Abdulaziz University, Saudi Arabia; email:

4. SPECIAL EARLY RELEASE ARTICLE FROM THE DECEMBER 2016 ISSUE Baylisascaris procyonis Roundworm Seroprevalence among Wildlife Rehabilitators, United States and Canada, 2012–2015, Sarah G.H. Sapp, et al. 

Baylisascaris procyonis (commonly known as raccoon roundworm) is a parasite that can cause a potentially fatal neurologic condition known as neural larva migrans or eye disease known as ocular larva migrans in humans. However, the full spectrum of symptoms caused by this disease (called baylisascariasis) is not fully understood, and limited evidence suggests that people can be infected but have no symptoms. Wildlife rehabilitators, who may handle raccoons extensively and come in contact with raccoon feces that can contain the parasite’s infectious eggs, might be at risk for baylisascariasis. To assess this risk, researchers measured the immune response (antibodies against B. procyonis) in blood from a sample of wildlife rehabilitators from the United States and Canada and administered a questionnaire about rehabilitation practices. They detected antibodies in 7% of participants, suggesting that exposure to this parasite might be occurring without causing clinical disease. Properly using personal protective equipment and consistently practicing hand hygiene when handling animals and during potential contact with feces can reduce the occupational risk for baylisascariasis among wildlife rehabilitators.

Contact: Sarah G.H. Sapp, Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, College of Vet Med; University of Georgia, email: