August 2022

Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal

Highlights: Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 28, No. 8, August 2022

The articles of interest summarized below will appear in the August 2022 issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, CDC’s monthly peer-reviewed public health journal. This issue will feature zoonotic infections. The articles are embargoed until July 13, 2022, at noon Eastern time.

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  1. Incidence of Nontuberculous Mycobacterial Pulmonary Infection, by Ethnic Group, Hawaii, USA, 2005–2019, Rebekah A. Blakney et al.
    Nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) are mycobacteria are found in the environment (soil, dust, and water, including plumbing). Some cause severe disease. Although anyone can get an NTM infection, some people are at increased risk, including those with underlying lung disease or depressed immune systems. Risk is also affected by geographic location (highest in the southeastern United States and Hawaii) and ethnic group (highest among Asian Pacific Islanders). To further clarify differences in risk among people of different ethnic groups in Hawaii, researchers examined electronic health records for Kaiser Permanente Hawaii beneficiaries during 2005–2019. They found that risk was higher among people who were underweight and people who were Asian, regardless of body weight. Possible reasons for differences among ethnic groups include genetic ancestry, behavioral, or environmental factors. Possible connections to body weight may be associated with weight loss and resultant changes in the substances produced by fat (adipokines). Although these results may not apply to populations outside of Hawaii, healthcare providers in Hawaii should be alert for nontuberculous pulmonary infections in people who are Asian, underweight, or both.
    Contact: D. Rebecca Prevots, NIAID, NIH, Rockville, MD; phone: 202-957-1962.
  2. Toxigenic Corynebacterium diphtheriae Infection in a Cat, Texas, USA, Ronald Tyler Jr. et al.
    In October 2020, a Texas veterinary clinic evaluated a male domestic shorthair cat 10 years of age for an oozing wound. A swab of the wound was analyzed by the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory and found to contain Corynebacterium diphtheriae bacteria. The laboratory then sent the C. diphtheriae isolate to CDC for confirmation and toxigenicity testing. An investigation was conducted to identify possible exposures to toxigenic C. diphtheriae, identify potential human and animal carriers, and provide prevention measures. Although C. diphtheriae was not detected among those human and animal contacts tested; no source for the infection was identified. Because of the limited availability of C. diphtheriae sequences from animals, there were insufficient data to determine whether the source of infection was from human or animal contact. The findings do not confirm whether animals might serve as reservoirs for diphtheria, but they highlight the need for further study regarding transmission. This case also underscores the need to promptly identify C. diphtheriae infections in companion animals.
    Contact: Chris Van Deusen, Director of Media Relations, Texas Department of State Health Services; email: or phone: 512-776-7119.
  3. Association of Environmental Factors with Seasonal Intensity of Seropositivity of Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae among Arctic Caribou, Alejandro Aleuy et al.
    In the Arctic, several populations of caribou (Rangifer tarandus) have been declining while infectious diseases among the region’s wildlife have been increasing. The bacterium Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae was described recently as a notable cause of illness and death among several Arctic wildlife species. It can also infect humans. Researchers investigated epidemiologic and environmental factors influencing the prevalence of E. rhusiopathiae in Arctic caribou and found that seropositivity was highest in summer, peaking in September, and was highest among adult males. Summer seroprevalence increases tracked with the oestrid index (an indirect measure of harassment by insects), icing and snowing events, and precipitation levels. The findings highlight the influence of environmental factors on disease prevalence and could be instrumental in developing prevention and mitigation efforts against diseases associated with climate change among Arctic wildlife and human populations. Such efforts could include enhanced caribou surveillance and public health campaigns to educate people who might be exposed (e.g., from hunted animals) on safe practices to avoid Erysipelothrix infections, especially in years preceded by summer seasons with a high oestrid index.
    Contact: Alejandro Aleuy, Department of Ecosystem and Public Health, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada; email: or phone: +1 (587) 435 5408.



Page last reviewed: July 12, 2022