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1.  Estimating Risk of C. difficile Transmission from PCR Positive but Cytotoxin Negative Cases 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e88262.
The use of molecular methods to diagnose Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) has improved diagnostic yield compared to conventional methods. However, PCR testing can detect colonization and has introduced several practical challenges pertaining to need for treatment and isolation of cases.
For all new cases detected by real-time PCR, concurrent cytotoxin assay was performed and genetic characterization with MLVA (multi-locus variable number tandem repeat analysis) was done to determine relatedness. We used PCR cycle threshold (Ct) of detection as surrogate marker for bacterial burden in stool.
Overall, 54 cases of CDI were detected during the study period. 42 were concurrently tested by CYT and characterized by MLVA .MLVA analysis revealed marked genetic diversity with no ongoing outbreaks; four cases were due to NAP1 strain. CYT −/PCR + cases had a higher median Ct value of detection compared to CYT+/PCR + cases (28.2 vs 22.5; p = 0.01). Among 25 strains that were genetically related, 9/11 isolates in this dominant cluster were positive by CYT compared to 4/14 in non-dominant clusters (p = 0.02).
CYT−/PCR+ cases contribute to hospital based transmission. However, the risk of transmission of C. difficile from CYT +/PCR+ cases may be higher than those that are CYT−/PCR+.
PMCID: PMC3921148  PMID: 24523882
3.  Emergence of Daptomycin-Resistant VRE: Experience of a Single Institution 
Recent surveillance from US hospitals shows that more than 99.5% of vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) isolates remain susceptible to daptomycin. This report describes emergence of daptomycin-resistant VRE at a major cancer center. The percentage of patients with daptomycin-resistant VRE bacteremia increased from 3.4% in 2007 to 15.2% in 2009 (P = .03). Without susceptibility data, empiric daptomycin therapy for VRE infections should be used with caution.
PMCID: PMC3676937  PMID: 21460492
4.  The Changing Epidemiology of Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococcus (VRE) Bacteremia in Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant (HSCT) Recipients 
The impact of the rising prevalence of vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE) prior to hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) and changes in transplant techniques on risk of VREB (VRE bacteremia) early after HSCT is not known. This is a retrospective study of 247 adult patients who underwent allogeneic HSCT in the years 2008 and 2009 at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Sixty-eight of 247 (27.5%) patients were VRE colonized on pretransplant screening. VRE was the leading cause of bacteremia in the first 30 days after HSCT; 23 of 43 (53.5%) patients with positive blood cultures had VRE. Only 13 (57%) of the 23 patients with early VREB were colonized with VRE on pre-HSCT screening cultures. Mortality was directly attributable to VRE infection in 9% of patients with early VREB. VRE is emerging as the most common cause of preengraftment bacteremia in patients undergoing allogeneic HSCT, and is associated with substantial mortality. Pre-HSCT screening for VRE with stool cultures will not identify all patients who are at risk for VREB. The use of alternate agents with activity against Gram-positive bacteria for fever and neutropenia early after HSCT should be evaluated further in prospective studies.
PMCID: PMC3670412  PMID: 20685257
VRE; Preengraftment bacteremia; Allogeneic transplant
5.  Central Line–Associated Bloodstream Infection Surveillance outside the Intensive Care Unit: A Multicenter Survey 
The success of central line–associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI) prevention programs in intensive care units (ICUs) has led to the expansion of surveillance at many hospitals. We sought to compare non-ICU CLABSI (nCLABSI) rates with national reports and describe methods of surveillance at several participating US institutions.
Design and Setting
An electronic survey of several medical centers about infection surveillance practices and rate data for non-ICU patients.
Ten tertiary care hospitals.
In March 2011, a survey was sent to 10 medical centers. The survey consisted of 12 questions regarding demographics and CLABSI surveillance methodology for non-ICU patients at each center. Participants were also asked to provide available rate and device utilization data.
Hospitals ranged in size from 238 to 1,400 total beds (median, 815). All hospitals reported using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) definitions. Denominators were collected by different means: counting patients with central lines every day (5 hospitals), indirectly estimating on the basis of electronic orders (n = 4), or another automated method (n = 1). Rates of nCLABSI ranged from 0.2 to 4.2 infections per 1,000 catheter-days (median, 2.5). The national rate reported by the CDC using 2009 data from the National Healthcare Surveillance Network was 1.14 infections per 1,000 catheter-days.
Only 2 hospitals were below the pooled CLABSI rate for inpatient wards; all others exceeded this rate. Possible explanations include differences in average central line utilization or hospital size in the impact of certain clinical risk factors notably absent from the definition and in interpretation and reporting practices. Further investigation is necessary to determine whether the national benchmarks are low or whether the hospitals surveyed here represent a selection of outliers.
PMCID: PMC3670413  PMID: 22869259
6.  Hospital-Onset Clostridium difficile Infection Rates in Persons with Cancer or Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant: A C3IC Network Report 
A multicenter survey of 11 cancer centers was performed to determine the rate of hospital-onset Clostridium difficile infection (HO-CDI) and surveillance practices. Pooled rates of HO-CDI in patients with cancer were twice the rates reported for all US patients (15.8 vs 7.4 per 10,000 patient-days). Rates were elevated regardless of diagnostic test used.
PMCID: PMC3670420  PMID: 23041818
7.  Adverse outcomes associated with contact precautions: A review of the literature 
Contact Precautions (CP) are a standard method for preventing patient-to-patient transmission of multiple drug-resistant organisms (MDROs) in hospital settings. With the ongoing worldwide concern for MDROs including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and broadened use of active surveillance programs, an increasing number of patients are being placed on CP. Whereas few would argue that CP are an important tool in infection control, many reports and small studies have observed worse noninfectious outcomes in patients on CP. However, no review of this literature exists.
We systematically reviewed the literature describing adverse outcomes associated with CP. We identified 15 studies published between 1989 and 2008 relating to adverse outcomes from CP. Nine were higher quality based on standardized collection of data and/or inclusion of control groups.
Four main adverse outcomes related to CP were identified in this review. These included less patient-health care worker contact, changes in systems of care that produce delays and more noninfectious adverse events, increased symptoms of depression and anxiety, and decreased patient satisfaction with care.
Although CP are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as an intervention to control spread of MDROs, our review of the literature demonstrates that this approach has unintended consequences that are potentially deleterious to the patient. Measures to ameliorate these deleterious consequences of CP are urgently needed.
PMCID: PMC3557494  PMID: 19249637
8.  Sustained Reduction of Microbial Burden on Common Hospital Surfaces through Introduction of Copper 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2012;50(7):2217-2223.
The contribution of environmental surface contamination with pathogenic organisms to the development of health care-associated infections (HAI) has not been well defined. The microbial burden (MB) associated with commonly touched surfaces in intensive care units (ICUs) was determined by sampling six objects in 16 rooms in ICUs in three hospitals over 43 months. At month 23, copper-alloy surfaces, with inherent antimicrobial properties, were installed onto six monitored objects in 8 of 16 rooms, and the effect that this application had on the intrinsic MB present on the six objects was assessed. Census continued in rooms with and without copper for an additional 21 months. In concert with routine infection control practices, the average MB found for the six objects assessed in the clinical environment during the preintervention phase was 28 times higher (6,985 CFU/100 cm2; n = 3,977 objects sampled) than levels proposed as benign immediately after terminal cleaning (<250 CFU/100 cm2). During the intervention phase, the MB was found to be significantly lower for both the control and copper-surfaced objects. Copper was found to cause a significant (83%) reduction in the average MB found on the objects (465 CFU/100 cm2; n = 2714 objects) compared to the controls (2,674 CFU/100 cm2; n = 2,831 objects [P < 0.0001]). The introduction of copper surfaces to objects formerly covered with plastic, wood, stainless steel, and other materials found in the patient care environment significantly reduced the overall MB on a continuous basis, thereby providing a potentially safer environment for hospital patients, health care workers (HCWs), and visitors.
PMCID: PMC3405627  PMID: 22553242
9.  Relapse Versus Reinfection: Surveillance of Clostridium difficile Infection 
Molecular typing was used to examine surveillance definitions for recurrent Clostridium difficile–associated diarrhea. Among 102 patients, 85 had a second episode within 8 weeks, 88% of which were relapses. Of 49 second episodes occurring after > 8 weeks, 65% were relapses. Categorization of a recurrent episode occurring after >8 weeks as a new infection may misrepresent the majority of episodes for surveillance.
PMCID: PMC3246877  PMID: 21976462
10.  Clinical and Laboratory Characteristics of Clostridium difficile Infection in Patients with Discordant Diagnostic Test Results 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2012;50(4):1303-1307.
The aim of this study was to compare the clinical and laboratory characteristics of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) in patients with discordant test results for the cytotoxin assay (CYT) and PCR assays. A retrospective study from May to August 2008 and March to May 2010 was performed. CDI was diagnosed in 128 patients. PCR increased the yield of C. difficile cases by 2-fold compared to that of the CYT assay. Fifty-six cases (44%) were detected by PCR only (CYT negative). Forty-nine percent of patients with non-NAP1 strains were detected by PCR only, compared to 28% of those infected with NAP1 strains (P < 0.05). No significant differences were found in the clinical severity of illness and outcome among patients that tested positive for CDI by both tests (CYT and PCR) compared to those that tested positive by PCR only.
PMCID: PMC3318505  PMID: 22238444
11.  Novel Use of Surveillance Data to Detect HIV-Infected Persons with Sustained High Viral Load and Durable Virologic Suppression in New York City 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e29679.
Monitoring of the uptake and efficacy of ART in a population often relies on cross-sectional data, providing limited information that could be used to design specific targeted intervention programs. Using repeated measures of viral load (VL) surveillance data, we aimed to estimate and characterize the proportion of persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in New York City (NYC) with sustained high VL (SHVL) and durably suppressed VL (DSVL).
Methods/Principal Findings
Retrospective cohort study of all persons reported to the NYC HIV Surveillance Registry who were alive and ≥12 years old by the end of 2005 and who had ≥2 VL tests in 2006 and 2007. SHVL and DSVL were defined as PLWHA with 2 consecutive VLs ≥100,000 copies/mL and PLWHA with all VLs ≤400 copies/mL, respectively. Logistic regression models using generalized estimating equations were used to model the association between SHVL and covariates. There were 56,836 PLWHA, of whom 7% had SHVL and 38% had DSVL. Compared to those without SHVL, persons with SHVL were more likely to be younger, black and have injection drug use (IDU) risk. PLWHA with SHVL were more likely to die by 2007 and be younger by nearly ten years, on average.
Nearly 60% of PLWHA in 2005 had multiple VLs, of whom almost 40% had DSVL, suggesting successful ART uptake. A small proportion had SHVL, representing groups known to have suboptimal engagement in care. This group should be targeted for additional outreach to reduce morbidity and secondary transmission. Measures based on longitudinal analyses of surveillance data in conjunction with cross-sectional measures such as community viral load represent more precise and powerful tools for monitoring ART effectiveness and potential impact on disease transmission than cross-sectional measures alone.
PMCID: PMC3265470  PMID: 22291892
13.  Control of Occupational Hepatitis B Among Healthcare Workers in the Czech Republic, 1982 to 1995 
Occupational hepatitis B remains a threat to healthcare workers (HCWs) worldwide, even with availability of an effective vaccine. Despite limited resources for public health, the Czech Republic instituted a mandatory vaccination program for HCWs in 1983. Annual incidence rates of acute hepatitis B were followed prospectively through 1995. Despite giving vaccine intradermally from 1983 to 1989 and intramuscularly as half dose from 1990 to 1995, rates of occupational hepatitis B decreased dramatically, from 177 cases per 100,000 workers in 1982 (before program initiated) to 17 cases per 100,000 in 1995. Among high-risk workers, the effect was even more dramatic (from 587 to 23 per 100,000). We conclude that strong public-health leadership led to control of occupational hepatitis B among HCWs in the Czech Republic, despite limited resources that precluded administering full-dose intramuscular vaccine for much of the program. Application of a similar program should be considered for other countries in regions that currently do not have a hepatitis B vaccination program.
PMCID: PMC2925678  PMID: 10823572
14.  The Free Condom Initiative: Promoting Condom Availability and Use in New York City 
Public Health Reports  2009;124(4):481-489.
In 2005, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) made free condoms available to organizations through a Web-based ordering system. In 2006, we interviewed managers and patrons about free condom availability, acquisition, and use in venues where people at high risk for human immunodeficiency virus congregate. DOHMH condom distribution increased from 5.8 million in 2004 to 17.3 million in 2006. Overall, managers reported making condoms available at 76% (309/409) of high-priority venues, but only at 40% of gay bars. Among patrons who saw free condoms, 80% (280/351) reported taking them; 73% (205/280) of those who reported taking them also reported using them. A simple, Web-based ordering system dramatically increased condom distribution. In the venues we sampled, the majority of patrons acquired and used free condoms when available and visible, suggesting that increasing free condom availability may increase use. Special efforts are needed to ensure availability at gay bars.
PMCID: PMC2693161  PMID: 19618784
15.  Mycobacterium haemophilum Infection after Alemtuzumab Treatment 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2008;14(11):1821-1823.
PMCID: PMC2630725  PMID: 18976587
M. haemophilum; infectious complications; alemtuzumab; letter
17.  Occupational Deaths among Healthcare Workers 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2005;11(7):1003-1008.
Recent experiences with severe acute respiratory syndrome and the US smallpox vaccination program have demonstrated the vulnerability of healthcare workers to occupationally acquired infectious diseases. However, despite acknowledgment of risk, the occupational death rate for healthcare workers is unknown. In contrast, the death rate for other professions with occupational risk, such as police officer or firefighter, has been well defined. With available information from federal sources and calculating the additional number of deaths from infection by using data on prevalence and natural history, we estimate the annual death rate for healthcare workers from occupational events, including infection, is 17–57 per 1 million workers. However, a much more accurate estimate of risk is needed. Such information could inform future interventions, as was seen with the introduction of safer needle products. This information would also heighten public awareness of this often minimized but essential aspect of patient care.
PMCID: PMC3371777  PMID: 16022771
Hepatitis; HIV; SARS; tuberculosis; healthcare worker; occupational safety; vaccinia
18.  The 1947 Smallpox Vaccination Campaign in New York City, Revisited 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2004;10(5):960-961.
PMCID: PMC3323221  PMID: 15216846

Results 1-18 (18)