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December 2016

Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal

Highlights: Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 22, No. 12, December 2016

The articles of interest summarized below will appear in the December 2016 issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, CDC’s monthly peer-reviewed public health journal. This issue will feature Zoonotic Infections. The articles are embargoed until November 16, 2016, at 12 p.m. EST.

Note: Not all articles that EID publishes represent work done at CDC or by CDC staff. In your stories, please clarify whether a study was conducted by CDC (“a CDC study”) or by another institution (“a study published by CDC in the EID journal”). 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 actual journal article in your stories.

1. Vertebrate Host Susceptibility to Heartland Virus, Angela M. Bosco-Lauth, et al.

First identified in 2009, Heartland virus in the United States has caused serious disease in nine people and two deaths. Previous studies have shown that a certain species of tick (Amblyomma americanum) can carry this virus and that certain vertebrate animals in the same vicinity as the ticks have shown evidence of infection with this virus (that is, they showed an immune response against the virus). In this study, researchers explored whether those vertebrates are susceptible to infection and whether they can carry the virus (thereby indicating a potential role as a source of infection). The researchers experimentally inoculated raccoons, goats, chickens, rabbits, hamsters, and laboratory mice with Heartland virus and found that only one group of mice (Ag129), which do not have fully functioning immune response systems, showed associated illness from the virus. The findings indicate that a poorly functioning immune system may increase the chances of developing Heartland disease, and that these mice could be used to increase understanding of the Heartland virus. 

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

2. Investigation of and Response to 2 Plague Cases, Yosemite National Park, California, USA, 2015, Mary Danforth, et al.

Although plague is a rare disease in the United States and its cause and treatment are known, it still carries a high risk of serious illness and death for people and animals infected with the bacteria that cause it (Yersinia pestis). In August 2015, when two Yosemite Park visitors were diagnosed with plague, public health authorities took immediate action. They conducted an environmental investigation and found that the patients had been infected in different locations and that at least two distinct strains of Y. pestis were circulating among infected rodents and fleas in certain areas of the park. About 4.3 million people visited Yosemite in 2015. Subsequent public education efforts and insecticide applications in select areas to control rodent fleas probably reduced the risk of plague transmission to park visitors and staff.

Contact:        CDPH Office of Public Affairs  916-440-7259

3. Infectious Dose of Listeria monocytogenes in Outbreak Linked to Ice Cream, United States, 2015, Régis Pouillot, et al.

Listeria monocytogenes is responsible for some of the most serious outbreaks of foodborne illness, including deaths. Pregnant women, older adults, and immunocompromised people are especially susceptible to infection with these bacteria, a condition known as listeriosis. In early 2015, an outbreak of invasive listeriosis linked to ice cream products was identified in the United States. To determine how much of the bacteria it took to make a person sick (that is, infectious dose), researchers estimated the amounts of bacteria most likely consumed by susceptible people, pregnant women, older adults and the general population. They found that many people ate some contaminated product, but that the low levels of the bacteria in the implicated ice cream did not cause illness in most people. Nonetheless, the outbreak underscores the ongoing risk for listeriosis that people with weakened immune systems face and the need for effective risk management to prevent infections among highly susceptible people.

Contact:         Megan McSeveney, Press Officer, FDA or 240-402-4514