Fighting Fire with Fire

512px-Bacillus_subtilis_Gram_stain

A study published in PLOSone back in September analyzed the microbial-fighting capability of … well, microbes. The authors evaluated the efficacy of cleaning hospital rooms with food-grade Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus pumilus, and Bacillus megaterium. The authors concluded that cleaning hospitals rooms with these organisms reduced the number of hospital-acquired-infection-causing organisms on surfaces.

It’s an intriguing idea, and not that out of the box; lots of antimicrobial agents are derived from other microorganisms (I’m looking at you, penicillin). It’ll be interesting to see where other researchers take this.

Click here to read the full study.

Swails

Kelly Swails, MT(ASCP), is a laboratory professional, recovering microbiologist, and web editor for Lab Medicine.

New National Strategy for Antibiotic Resistance

Last week, the White House published a National Strategy for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria and President Obama signed an executive order that orders the implementation of the strategy. The report covers a lot of information, but two goals stuck out as being especially pertinent for laboratory professionals.

By 2020:

  • 95 percent of hospitals report data on their antibiotic use to the CDC
  • create regional laboratory networks for testing resistant bacteria and make the data publicly, electronically, available.

Both of these goals require the cooperation of clinical laboratories including (but certainly not limited to)  infrastructure upgrades, data collection, and procedural changes. In an era when laboratories have less resources than ever before, will this stretch microbiology departments too far? Based on available resources, are these goals attainable?

If you’d like a comprehensive overview of the government’s strategy, check out Maryn McKenna’s excellent post on Wired’s Superbug blog.

Swails

Kelly Swails, MT(ASCP), is a laboratory professional, recovering microbiologist, and web editor for Lab Medicine.

CDC Recommendations for Laboratory Detection of STDs

Several months ago the CDC updated their recommendations for laboratory detection of Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

A summary:

Chlamydia trachomatis

  • Swabs must have a plastic or wire shaft and a rayon, Dacron, or cytobrush tip.
  • Swabs must be inserted 2-3 cm into the male urethral or 1-3 cm into the endocervical canal followed by 2-3 rotations
  • Specimens should be sent to the laboratory 1) within 24 hours of collection, 2) in sucrose phosphate glutamate buffer or M4 media, and 3) at less than or equal to 4 degrees C

Neisseria gonorrhoeae

  • Gram stain of male urethral specimen that contains PMS and intracellular Gram-negative diplococcic is considered diagnostic
  • A negative Gram stain result does NOT rule out infection
  • Swabs must have a plastic or wire shaft and a rayon, Dacron, or cytobrush tip.
  • Swabs must be inserted 2-3 cm into the male urethral or 1-3 cm into the endocervical canal followed by 2-3 rotations
  • For specimen transport, culture transport systems are preferred over swab transport systems
  • Specimens should be plated and incubated in an increased CO2 environment as soon as possible
  • Culture media should include selective (such as Thayer-Martin or Martin-Lewis) and nonselective (such as chocolate) agar
  • Oxidase-positive, Gram-negative diplococcic that grow on selective media can be presumptively identified as N. gonorrhoeae

Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) are superior when compared to other culture and nonculture diagnostic methods for both organisms. However, it’s important that lab professionals understand the limitations of these tests.

Microbiologists should take the time to read the report here.

 

Swails

Kelly Swails, MT(ASCP), is a laboratory professional, recovering microbiologist, and web editor for Lab Medicine.

CLSI Releases New Microbiology Standard for Detection of Anaerobes

Anyone who has worked in Microbiology for any length of time knows that anaerobes are finicky at best and impossible to identify at worst. Having guidelines for their identification would be helpful. Enter CLSI.

From their press release:

“The Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) released a new microbiology standard, Principles and Procedures for Detection of Anaerobes in Clinical Specimens; Approved Guideline (M56-A). This document presents standardized, cost-effective, and efficient best practice processes for anaerobe bacteriology to assist clinical laboratories in selecting those methods that lead to improved patient care.”

 

It’s That Time of Year Again

It’s a few days after a major holiday (Memorial Day in the United States), and clinical microbiologists knows what that means. It’s foodborne illness season! According to the CDC, Norovirus and Salmonella are the biggest culprits, but several organisms can be implicated.

If your lab doesn’t recover Salmonella, Campylobacter, or E. coli O157:H7 often, consider brushing up on the identifying characteristics of these organisms. (Do you know which one doesn’t ferment sorbitol?) It’s also helpful to keep the patient history (in particular, their travel history) in mind when reading enteric cultures or performing a microscopic ova and parasite examination. Also, now is a good time to be sure your reporting procedures (including local public health contact information) are up to date.

Check out the CDC’s website for more information on foodborne outbreaks, including how many people are affected.

 

Swails

Kelly Swails, MT(ASCP), is a laboratory professional, recovering microbiologist, and web editor for Lab Medicine.

 

Your Microbiome and Your Health

The fine folks at Scientific American recently published a fascinating blog post about the diversity of one’s fecal bacteria. While it’s long been thought gut microbiomes can vary widely from day to day within the same person, the advent of direct-to-consumer microbiome testing has uncovered that variety can exist within the same specimen.

What? You’ve never heard of personal microbiome testing? Think of it as 23andMe for feces. Ubiome and American Gut provide this service for folks who aren’t squeamish about collecting their own stool swabs.

From the laboratory professional perspective, what do you think about this type of direct-to-consumer testing? Do you think testing a patient’s microbiome has a future in diagnostic or preventative medicine?

 

Swails

Kelly Swails, MT(ASCP), is a laboratory professional, recovering microbiologist, and web editor for Lab Medicine.