March 2018

Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal

Highlights: Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 24, No. 3, March 2018

The articles of interest summarized below will appear in the March 2018 issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, CDC’s monthly peer-reviewed public health journal. This issue will feature Mycobacteria. The articles are embargoed until February 14, 2018, at noon ET.

Important 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 link directly to the actual journal article in your stories. Once the embargo lifts, this month’s articles will be found in the Ahead of Print section of the EID website at

1. Epidemiology of Coccidioidomycosis Outbreaks Reported Worldwide, 1940–2015, Michael Freedman et al.

Coccidioidomycosis, also known as Valley fever, is a disease caused by the fungus Coccidioides. The disease is endemic to the western United States, northern Mexico, and parts of Central and South America. Infection occurs primarily by inhalation of spores, which are known to persist in soil, and nearly 40% of infected people become ill, typically within 1 to 3 weeks of exposure and often with a flu-like syndrome characterized by cough, shortness of breath, fever, and fatigue. Each year in the United States, about 10,000 coccidioidomycosis cases are reported. However, the disease is widely underdiagnosed, and those cases probably represent a small fraction of the actual number. Because much remains unknown about its epidemiology and because coccidioidomycosis outbreaks have not been systematically studied, researchers reviewed documented coccidioidomycosis outbreaks from the period 1945–2015 to identify common features and prevention opportunities. They found that most outbreaks (85%) were associated with environmental exposures; the 2 largest outbreaks resulted from an earthquake and a large dust storm. More than one third of outbreaks occurred in areas where coccidioidomycosis was not previously known to be endemic, and more than half involved occupational exposures. Because coccidioidomycosis outbreaks can be difficult to detect and challenging to prevent, the authors of this study argue that increased awareness of coccidioidomycosis among public health professionals, healthcare providers, and the public is needed.


Contact: CDC Media Relations; 404-639-3286 or

2. Global Health Estimate of Invasive Mycobacterium chimaera Infections Associated with Heater–Cooler Devices in Cardiac Surgery, Rami Sommerstein et al.

In 2014, invasive Mycobacterium chimaera infection associated with use of heater–cooler devices during open-heart surgery was identified as a new disease entity. Infection with Mycobacterium chimaera, a slow-growing type of nontuberculous mycobacteria, tends to develop a long time (often more than a year) after the procedure, and because there is no established treatment, 50% of patients die. Heater–cooler devices help keep patients’ circulating blood and organs at a specific temperature during the procedure. The most likely cause of these infections is contamination of the heater–cooler devices from one manufacturing site. To learn more about the extent of this worldwide epidemic, researchers analyzed data from Switzerland, the leading country for recognizing and researching the outbreak. Their extrapolated findings indicated that there have been 156–282 new cases per year in the 10 countries that do the most heart valve replacement surgeries; 51–80 of these cases were in the United States. More cases might be found if researchers conducted a focused search in each country where this device has been used and if countries required reporting of invasive nontuberculous mycobacterial infections.

Contact: Rami Sommerstein, Bern University Hospital, Department of Infectious Diseases, via Insel Gruppe AG, Media Service, Communication, +41 (0)31 632 79 25,


Page last reviewed: March 15, 2018