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Indian Journal of Medical Microbiology
Medknow Publications on behalf of Indian Association of Medical Microbiology
ISSN: 0255-0857 EISSN: 1998-3646
Vol. 29, Num. 1, 2011, pp. 80-81

Indian Journal of Medical Microbiology, Vol. 29, No. 1, January-March, 2011, pp. 80-81

Research Snippets

Research snippets from the medical world

Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre, Raisen Bypass Road, Bhopal - 462 038, Madhya Pradesh, India

Correspondence Address: P Desikan, Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre, Raisen Bypass Road, Bhopal - 462 038, Madhya Pradesh, India,

Date of Submission: 29-Dec-2010
Date of Acceptance: 04-Jan-2011

Code Number: mb11024

Zoonotic infections raise the spectre of new and emerging infections among humans. There have been recent reports of deer-associated parapoxvirus infection in deer hunters (N Engl J Med. 2010 30 Dec;363(27):2621-7). Parapoxviruses belong to the double-stranded DNA family of poxviruses that infect ruminants, and zoonotic transmission to humans results from occupational exposures. Parapoxvirus infection in humans begins with an incubation period of 3-7 days, followed by the development of one or more erythematous maculopapular lesions that evolve over the course of several weeks into nodules. In 2009, parapoxvirus infection was diagnosed in two deer hunters in the eastern United States after the hunters had field-dressed (removed the entrails from) white-tailed deer. Deer populations continue to increase, leading to the possibility that there will be more deer-associated parapoxvirus infections.

There are alarming reports that sandflies may not be the only vectors for leishmaniasis. There is claim of evidence that "biting midgets" may also act as vectors for leishmaniasis ( ). This underlines the need to maintain sharp surveillance on the disease worldwide. Pharmacovigilance is one of the ways to determine the potential benefits of a public health programme aimed at reducing or eliminating a specific disease. A recent article (Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 2010 Dec 22. [Epub ahead of print]) has outlined an approach for such a donor-funded programme, using pharmacovigilance in leishmaniasis as an example.

At least 2.5 million people will be vaccinated in northern Uganda against yellow fever. This is following an outbreak of yellow fever which had, by the weekend of 25 th and 26 th Dec, 2010, killed 45 people and infected 178 others ( ). Vector control is an important aspect of yellow fever prevention. To understand the distribution of the vector, an update was carried out on the distribution of the mosquito species in Cape Verde (West Africa), based on 26 unpublished technical reports (1983-2006) and on the results of an entomological survey carried out in 2007 (J Vector Ecol. 2010 Dec;35(2):307-12). Nine mosquito species were identified. Of these, four were major vectors of yellow fever, lymphatic filariasis, malaria and dengue. Density of mosquito species negatively correlated with the distance of the islands from the mainland but not with the size of the islands.

On 28 December 2010, two people succumbed to encephalitis at a hospital in Gorakhpur, taking the toll due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome in eastern Uttar Pradesh to 541 in the year 2010. In the meanwhile, the Japanese encephalitis vaccination drive was successfully completed in seven districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh ( ). Infection with Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) causes neuroinfection and neuroinflammation characterized by profound neuronal destruction/dysfunction and concomitant microgliosis/astrogliosis. Glial cells express RANTES (regulated upon activation, normal T-cell expressed and secreted) with chemotactic activity in response to JEV infection. Also, a study (Neurochem Int. 2010 Dec 16. [Epub ahead of print]) found that both astrocytes and microglia responded to JEV infection by releasing RANTES through a process probably related to viral replication. The released RANTES from glial cells might play a role in the recruitment of immune cells during JEV infection.

A new strain of MRSA has been found in the Isle of Man, as reported by their Department of Health (DoH). The DoH said it had recently detected a small number of patients infected by a bacterium called MRSA USA 300. The strain was found to mostly affect young, fit and healthy people, was thought to be transmitted in sports centres, gyms and pools ( ). Virulence and antibiotic resistance of Staphylococcus aureus are, to a large extent, determined by the acquisition of mobile genetic elements (MGEs). Up to now, these elements were known to comprise either resistance or virulence determinants, but not a mixture of the two. However, a recent study (Virulence. 2010 Oct 27;1(1):49-51) found a combination of toxin and resistance genes on one staphylococcal MGE. If such bundling is possible, it may lead to an even faster acquisition of toxin and resistance genes by S. aureus.

Hanta virus continues to haunt, with reports of fatal infection with the virus coming in from French Guiana and Chile ( , ). For rapid diagnosis of viral infections, four new fluorescence-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays to detect the Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever virus (CCHFV), Andes virus (ANDV), Hantaan virus (HANV), and Sandfly Fever Sicilian virus (SFSV) have recently been described (Methods Mol Biol. 2011;665:357-68). These assays are based on species-specific hydrolysis probes targeting the nucleocapsid protein gene for CCHFV and SFSV and the glycoprotein gene for ANDV and HANV.

An outbreak of anthrax that claimed the lives of 13 drug addicts has officially been declared over, but the bad news is that the contaminated heroin that caused it could soon be back on the streets x ( ). In the decades around 1900, industrial anthrax attracted significant attention from medical practitioners, legislators and the general public in Britain. Attempts to reduce the incidence of the disease ranged from basic health measures to national legislation. Another effort involved the production of industrial warning posters (or cautionary notices) which were designed for use in the factory environment. A recent article (Endeavour. 2010 Dec 20. [Epub ahead of print]) describes the context in which these notices appeared and adds to our understanding of the disease as well as the perceptions at that time.

An outbreak of meningococcal disease in Colorado caused by genetically identical strains of Neisseria meningitidis ( health/2626 0041/detail.html ) has caused much alarm in the community. Following adhesion to human brain endothelial cells, N. meningitidis initiates signaling cascades, which lead to the opening of intercellular junctions, allowing meningeal colonization. The mechanism was recently elucidated (Cell. 2010 Dec 23;143(7):1149-60). It was found that N. meningitidis specifically stimulates a β2-adrenoceptor/β-arrestin signaling pathway in endothelial cells. Cytoskeletal reorganization mediated by β-arrestin stimulated molecules stabilizes bacterial adhesion to endothelial cells, whereas β-arrestin-dependent delocalization of junctional proteins results in anatomical gaps used by bacteria to penetrate into tissues. The identification of this mechanism opens perspectives for treatment and prevention of meningococcal infection.

Early detection of multidrug resistant tuberculosis is essential to reduce mortality and interrupt transmission, but the complexity and infrastructure needs of sensitive methods limit their accessibility and effect. Xpert MTB/RIF, an automated molecular test for Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) and resistance to rifampin (RIF), with fully integrated sample processing was evaluated in 1730 patients with suspected drug-sensitive or multidrug-resistant pulmonary tuberculosis. It was found that the MTB/RIF test provided sensitive detection of tuberculosis and rifampin resistance directly from untreated sputum in less than 2 hours with minimal hands-on time (N Engl J Med. 2010 Sep 9;363(11):1005-15).

The president′s bioethics commission in the US has concluded that there is no need to temporarily halt research or to impose new regulations on the controversial new field known as synthetic biology. Synthetic biology uses genetic engineering and other techniques to create novel organisms tailored for particular tasks ( ). I presume that is good news. On that note, I wish you all a very happy new decade!

Copyright 2011 - Indian Journal of Medical Microbiology

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