ASCLS eNewsBytes
Aug. 7, 2012

Study: Bacteria-immune system 'fight' can lead
to chronic diseases

Infection Control Today
Results from a study conducted at Georgia State University suggest that a "fight" between bacteria normally living in the intestines and the immune system, kicked off by another type of bacteria, may be linked to two types of chronic disease. The study suggests that the "fight" continues after the instigator bacteria have been cleared by the body, according to Andrew Gewirtz, professor of biology at the GSU Center for Inflammation, Immunity and Infection. That fight can result in metabolic syndrome, an important factor in obesity, or inflammatory bowel disease.More

Health official: Ebola outbreak slows in Uganda
The Associated Press via The New York Times
Doctors were slow to respond to an outbreak of Ebola in Uganda because symptoms were not always typical, but a World Health Organization official said that the authorities were halting the spread of the deadly disease. The official, Joaquim Saweka, the W.H.O. representative in Uganda, said everyone known to have had contact with Ebola victims had been isolated. More

Cervical cancer risk no higher in women with HIV
MedPage Today
The five-year risk of developing cervical cancer was similar in women with and without HIV infection as long as they were HPV negative and had normal cervical cytology, researchers said in Washington, D.C. In 145 women without HIV infection, six cases of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia were detected compared with nine cases of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia found in 219 HIV-infected women, for a cumulative incidence of 5 percent in both groups, reported Marla Keller, M.D., from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, and colleagues.More

Cases of novel swine influenza surging
Medscape Medical News
The number of individuals sickened by a novel swine influenza virus since July 2011 has surged to 29, with 12 new cases reported in a recent week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced. Direct or indirect contact with pigs explains how most of the 29 individuals, predominantly children, caught the virus. However, the CDC has identified a few cases of human-to-human transmission, and the agency is closely monitoring the virus to see whether it mutates into a version more easily spread among humans. More

Clinical pathology laboratories should be aware of new malpractice risks from genetic testing
Dark Daily
Genetic testing is creating a new source of medical malpractice liability and early cases have generated substantial settlements for the plaintiffs. Any clinical laboratory organization or pathologist involved in genetic testing should pay serious attention to this emerging field of malpractice law.More

New Hampshire revises hepatitis C testing plans
The Associated Press via The Boston Globe
After one false start, New Hampshire health officials again are announcing plans to test thousands of people who may have been exposed to hepatitis C by a hospital technician now facing criminal charges. David Kwiatkowski is accused of stealing drugs from Exeter Hospital's cardiac catheterization lab and contaminating syringes that were used on patients, 30 of whom have been diagnosed with the same strain of hepatitis C he carries. More

CDC: West Nile virus on rise in US
With 241 cases of West Nile virus and four related deaths reported so far this year, the United States is experiencing the biggest spike in the mosquito-borne illness since 2004, health officials report. Eighty percent of these infections have occurred in three states – Texas, Mississippi and Oklahoma – which have seen earlier activity than usual. Overall, 42 states had detected West Nile virus infections in people, birds or mosquitoes as of July 31, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.More

Vitamin D deficiency common in critically ill children
Medscape Medical News
According to two recent studies, two-thirds of children admitted to pediatric intensive care units may be deficient in vitamin D, which may make them vulnerable to more severe illness. The studies were published online Aug. 6 in Pediatrics. Vitamin D deficiency is common in critically ill adults and is associated with sepsis and more severe critical illness, but the associations between vitamin D deficiency and pediatric critical illness have not yet been determined.More

17-year-old programs artificial 'brain' to diagnose breast cancer
Fox News
A high school junior has created a computer brain that can diagnose breast cancer with 99 percent sensitivity. Seventeen-year-old Brittany Wenger of Sarasota, Fla., wrote a breast cancer-diagnosing app based on an artificial neural network, basically a computer program whose structure is inspired by the way brain cells connect with one another.More

Michigan woman with flesh-eating infection necrotizing fasciitis dies
CBS News
A Farmington Hills, Mich. woman has died after battling the flesh-eating bacterial infection necrotizing fasciitis. Thirty three-year-old Crystal Spencer died in Commerce Township, Mich., according to the Detroit Free Press. She passed away about one month after she had originally been admitted to the hospital for the disease, CBS Detroit reported. More

Stem cell findings point toward new cancer treatments
Los Angeles Times
When cancers are treated, tumors may shrink but then come roaring back. Now studies on three different types of tumors suggest a key reason why: The cancers are fueled by stem cells that chemotherapy drugs don't kill. The findings – made by independent research teams that used mice to study tumors of the brain, intestines and skin – could change the approach to fighting cancers in humans, experts said.More

Iowa student earns coveted CLS award
Spencer Daily Reporter
Kari Echtenkamp opened her email last month and learned that she had won the Martha Winstead scholarship from the Alpha Mu Tau fraternity, an organization supported by the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science. She'd applied for national fraternity scholarship after her professor, Linda Fell, told the class about the opportunity. "You never think you're going to win," Echtenkamp, a 2008 graduate of Spencer High School, said. "I was so excited." More

Massachusetts first to create statewide health information database
Massachusetts is the first state in the nation to begin creating a statewide health information exchange, thanks to a $16.9 million federal grant. When completed, providers, hospitals and others involved in patient care will be able to exchange clinical data via a secure statewide network. Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to receive federal funding participation to create a Health Information Exchange. More

Pathologists at South Carolina hospital are preparing to use next generation gene sequencing for cancer patients
Dark Daily
One early effort to apply next generation gene sequencing to cancer diagnostics and therapeutics is a collaboration that involves Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center in Greenville, S.C., and Lab21, Inc., a British company. GHS wants to use next gene sequencing as an integral part of the evaluation of every cancer patient cared for in the GHS system. The partnership between GHS and Lab21 provides evidence for pathologists and clinical laboratories that first mover hospitals and health systems are now taking steps to incorporate next generation gene sequencing into their cancer care protocols.More

US infectious disease chief urges flu scientists to 'engage,' support H5N1 research moratorium
A voluntary moratorium on potentially dangerous experiments aimed at understanding highly virulent strains of the H5N1 influenza virus should continue for the time being, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci told a meeting of flu scientists in New York City. But, he added, scientists should redouble their efforts to engage with the larger public to gain support for the vital but risky work. More

Study: Untreated rabies may not be lethal for all
HealthDay via U.S. News & World Report
Bucking the notion that untreated rabies always proves lethal to humans, scientists studying the virus in isolated pockets of the world have found evidence that either natural resistance or an immune response may stave off certain death for some. Traveling to the Peruvian Amazon, where outbreaks of rabies infections are spurred by highly common vampire bats, researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention learned that 10 percent of natives appeared to have survived exposure to the virus without any medical intervention. Another 11 percent were found to have antibodies in their blood that would neutralize rabies.More

Natural-language processing tools flag breast, prostate cancer
Researchers claimed success using an SAS-based natural-language processing tool to detect breast and prostate cancers from pathology reports, according to a study. Results from the SAS-based coding, extraction and nomenclature tool were compared with a random sample of 400 breast and 400 prostate cancer patients diagnosed at Kaiser Permanente Southern California whose results were classified manually.More