September 2020

Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal

Highlights: Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 26, No. 9, September 2020

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 include a live link 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

The articles of interest summarized below will appear in the September 2020 issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, CDC’s monthly peer-reviewed public health journal. This issue will feature Emerging Viruses. The articles are embargoed until August 12, 2020, at 12 p.m. EDT.

1.    Emergence of pstS-Null Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococcus faecium Clone ST1478, Canada, 2013–2018, Melissa McCracken et al.

Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) are disease-producing bacteria, known for their antibiotic resistance; infections are acquired mainly in healthcare settings. VRE infections in the bloodstream are associated with more severe illness, longer hospital stays, higher healthcare costs, and more deaths. In Canada, VRE were identified in 1993, but rates of colonization (person carries VRE in the body and can spread it to others but is not ill from it) and infection (person is ill from VRE) remained relatively low until 2013–2018, when VRE bloodstream infections increased significantly (113%) in acute care hospitals in Canada. Increased infections coincided with more frequent detection of VRE clone ST1478. This newly reported clone was resistant to several antibiotics, including daptomycin, one of the few remaining VRE treatment options. The emergence of these infections might be the result of a more powerful bacteria or lessened defenses in terms of hospital infection prevention and control practices.

Contact: Health Canada and Public Health Agency of Canada, Media Relations Phone: 613-957-2983, Email:

2.    Web-Based Interactive Tool to Identify Facilities at Risk of Receiving Patients with Multidrug-Resistant Organisms, Rany Octarian et al.

Antimicrobial resistance is an urgent public health threat, causing an estimated 2,868,700 infections and 35,900 deaths each year in the United States. Multidrug-resistant organisms (MDROs), including carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and organisms related to antimicrobial drug use and resistance, such as Clostridioides difficile, often are the cause of healthcare-associated infections. These pathogens can colonize patients (i.e. patients carry the organism in their bodies and can spread it to others even if they themselves do not become ill). When patients visit multiple healthcare facilities, they can spread MDROs across a community and introduce new pathogens into a region. To identify facilities at risk for receiving patients colonized or infected with MDROs, researchers at the Tennessee Department of Health developed a web-based program for identifying patient-sharing networks among healthcare facilities in Tennessee. The program maps the facility of interest with its connected facilities that receive or send patients, the number of interfacility transfers, and facilities at risk for receiving transfers from the facility of interest. This tool can help other health departments enhance their MDRO outbreak responses.

Contact: Shelley Walker, Director, Office of Communication & Media Relations, Tennessee Department of Health, Phone: 615-253-5184, Email:

3.    Molecular Description of a Novel Orientia Species Causing Scrub Typhus in Chile, Katia Abarca et al.

Scrub typhus is a potentially fatal disease caused by Orientia tsutsugamushi bacteria. Although scrub typhus has been known for centuries and currently threatens >1 billion people in Asia and Australasia, it is widely underdiagnosed and underreported. Once considered to be restricted to the Asia Pacific region, scrub typhus has recently been discovered in southern Chile. Researchers there analyzed Orientia gene sequences (specifically the rrs and htrA genes) from 18 scrub typhus patients. The specimens were found to be of a different genetic grouping (clade) from other Orientia species, indicating that they constitute a novel species. Until these isolates are cultivated and fully characterized, they will be designated as Candidatus Orientia chiloensis, after the Chiloé Archipelago where the pathogen was initially identified.

Contact: Thomas Weitzel, Laboratorio Clínico, Clínica Alemana de Santiago, Santiago, Chile; Phone (mobile): +56 9 82074823; Email: or



Page last reviewed: October 13, 2020