Fecal Transplants in the News

An article posted today at The Atlantic discusses fecal transplants and FDA regulation. Dr. Colleen Kraft (co-author of a paper on fecal transplant protocols that appeared in Lab Medicine) is quoted in the article, and it’s worth a read.

Mycobacterium chimaera Infections in Cardiac Surgery Patients

A group of physicians from the University of Iowa have started a dialogue about Mycobacterium chimaera infections in patients who have undergone cardiac surgery. It seems as though the bacteria finds its way to the patients via a heater-cooler device used during their procedure. If you’re a micro tech or a pathologist and you come across a cardiac patient who has a fever of unknown origin, night sweats, loss of energy, and failure to gain weight, M. chimaera is something to keep in mind.

You can read more about this issue in the original blog post from the Iowa infectious disease doctors, Maryn McKenna’s write up over at Nat Geo, and the CDC guidance paper.

The Future Cost of Antimicrobial Resistance

Over on Superbug, Maryn McKenna (are you following her yet? No? If you’re into infectious disease, you should) discusses a recent report on the global ramifications of antimicrobial resistance. In it, the authors project by 2050, 10 million deaths a year will be attributed to infections caused by six resistant organisms. (Those are: Klebsiella pneumoniae, E. coli, MRSA; HIV, TB and malaria.) These deaths will cause an estimated loss of 100 trillion dollars of lost gross national product.

So what can laboratory professionals and pathologists do to help stop these predictions from coming true? For starters:

  • Advocate for and implement antibiotic stewardship programs.
  • Educate the public about proper antibiotic use.
  • Practice good laboratory safety practices.

What else can labs, microbiologists, and pathologists do to stem the tide of antibiotic resistance?


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

Internationally Safe

With the serious and concerning news about international contagious disease, it’s always appropriate to remind ourselves of safety, both personal and protective. What laboratory professional has not donned the gown, the mask, the gloves…in an effort to protect ourselves, and also protect the patients we serve? We all have…but we all have also occasionally been cavalier about it.

In these times of viruses and antibiotic-resistant strains of microbes—and who knows what iterations of the above are in the “evolutionary muck” of the future—we stand in the cautionary shadow of the devastation they can cause. The invention of the microscope only served to give us a view of our un-seeable enemies, and they are countless.

I travel extensively, internationally and within the USA, and the risks of contagion are all around. It helps to keep yourself personally prepared by encouraging a robust immune system, eating/sleeping and hydrating well, and staying as healthy as is possible—but as we all know that is not always enough. It will also serve us well, as laboratory professionals, to both practice and teach personal protection in compromised situations. When at work, it’s obvious…but when in someone else’s lab, or hospital, or clinic, or even railway station, we must be diligent and alert to the unseen dangers of contagious disease contamination. Laboratory scientists are trained to treat every single action, specimen, and encounter as if it were a threat to health and safety, and yet…do we?

Life is short, disease is inevitable, and safety precautions are a must…but also a choice. Choose wisely, and don’t compromise! If your hospital/laboratory/healthcare system is following PPE and international safety regulatory compliance, good for you and those around you. We are the most knowledgeable infectious control specialists on the planet, and we have the obligation to lead the way in international and personal safety.

And as I mentioned in my last blog, let’s roll up our lab coat sleeves—and put those gloves and masks on…we have a lot of work to do!



Beverly Sumwalt, MA, DLM, CLS, MT(ASCP) is an ASCP Global Outreach Volunteer Consultant.


How the Government Shut Down Affects Your Health

The shutdown has far-reaching implications for your health.

The government-funded Centers for Disease Control employs detectives that investigate foodborne illnesses, infectious disease outbreaks, and influenza viral patterns.  They work hard to keep us healthy and productive. You know what happens when the government shuts down? They stop detecting. Development of next year’s flu vaccine gets delayed. Flu outbreaks aren’t tracked. Right now, there’s a Salmonella outbreak that isn’t being investigated as thoroughly as it would be if the CDC were open for business.  (If you’re interested in the CDC’s role in outbreak investigation, that link is here.)

The Superbug blog has a great post about the government shutdown and your health. 

-Kelly Swails