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1.  A Host-Based RT-PCR Gene Expression Signature to Identify Acute Respiratory Viral Infection 
Science translational medicine  2013;5(203):203ra126.
Improved ways to diagnose acute respiratory viral infections could decrease inappropriate antibacterial use and serve as a vital triage mechanism in the event of a potential viral pandemic. Measurement of the host response to infection is an alternative to pathogen-based diagnostic testing and may improve diagnostic accuracy. We have developed a host-based assay with a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) TaqMan low-density array (TLDA) platform for classifying respiratory viral infection. We developed the assay using two cohorts experimentally infected with influenza A H3N2/Wisconsin or influenza A H1N1/Brisbane, and validated the assay in a sample of adults presenting to the emergency department with fever (n = 102) and in healthy volunteers (n = 41). Peripheral blood RNA samples were obtained from individuals who underwent experimental viral challenge or who presented to the emergency department and had microbiologically proven viral respiratory infection or systemic bacterial infection. The selected gene set on the RT-PCR TLDA assay classified participants with experimentally induced influenza H3N2 and H1N1 infection with 100 and 87% accuracy, respectively. We validated this host gene expression signature in a cohort of 102 individuals arriving at the emergency department. The sensitivity of the RT-PCR test was 89% [95% confidence interval (CI), 72 to 98%], and the specificity was 94% (95% CI, 86 to 99%). These results show that RT-PCR–based detection of a host gene expression signature can classify individuals with respiratory viral infection and sets the stage for prospective evaluation of this diagnostic approach in a clinical setting.
PMCID: PMC4286889  PMID: 24048524
2.  Disease Progression in Hemodynamically Stable Patients Presenting to the Emergency Department With Sepsis 
Aggressive diagnosis and treatment of patients presenting to the emergency department (ED) with septic shock has been shown to reduce mortality. To enhance the ability to intervene in patients with lesser illness severity, a better understanding of the natural history of the early progression from simple infection to more severe illness is needed.
The objectives were to 1) describe the clinical presentation of ED sepsis, including types of infection and causative microorganisms, and 2) determine the incidence, patient characteristics, and mortality associated with early progression to septic shock among ED patients with infection.
This was a multicenter study of adult ED patients with sepsis but no evidence of shock. Multivariable logistic regression was used to identify patient factors for early progression to shock and its association with 30-day mortality.
Of 472 patients not in shock at ED presentation (systolic blood pressure > 90 mm Hg and lactate < 4 mmol / L), 84 (17.8%) progressed to shock within 72 hours. Independent factors associated with early progression to shock included older age, female sex, hyperthermia, anemia, comorbid lung disease, and vascular access device infection. Early progression to shock (vs. no progression) was associated with higher 30-day mortality (13.1% vs. 3.1%, odds ratio [OR] = 4.72, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 2.01 to 11.1; p ≤ 0.001). Among 379 patients with uncomplicated sepsis (i.e., no evidence of shock or any end-organ dysfunction), 86 (22.7%) progressed to severe sepsis or shock within 72 hours of hospital admission.
A significant portion of ED patients with less severe sepsis progress to severe sepsis or shock within 72 hours. Additional diagnostic approaches are needed to risk stratify and more effectively treat ED patients with sepsis.
PMCID: PMC4283798  PMID: 20370777
sepsis; outcomes; septic shock; progression; biomarkers
3.  An integrated transcriptome and expressed variant analysis of sepsis survival and death 
Genome Medicine  2014;6(11):111.
Sepsis, a leading cause of morbidity and mortality, is not a homogeneous disease but rather a syndrome encompassing many heterogeneous pathophysiologies. Patient factors including genetics predispose to poor outcomes, though current clinical characterizations fail to identify those at greatest risk of progression and mortality.
The Community Acquired Pneumonia and Sepsis Outcome Diagnostic study enrolled 1,152 subjects with suspected sepsis. We sequenced peripheral blood RNA of 129 representative subjects with systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) or sepsis (SIRS due to infection), including 78 sepsis survivors and 28 sepsis non-survivors who had previously undergone plasma proteomic and metabolomic profiling. Gene expression differences were identified between sepsis survivors, sepsis non-survivors, and SIRS followed by gene enrichment pathway analysis. Expressed sequence variants were identified followed by testing for association with sepsis outcomes.
The expression of 338 genes differed between subjects with SIRS and those with sepsis, primarily reflecting immune activation in sepsis. Expression of 1,238 genes differed with sepsis outcome: non-survivors had lower expression of many immune function-related genes. Functional genetic variants associated with sepsis mortality were sought based on a common disease-rare variant hypothesis. VPS9D1, whose expression was increased in sepsis survivors, had a higher burden of missense variants in sepsis survivors. The presence of variants was associated with altered expression of 3,799 genes, primarily reflecting Golgi and endosome biology.
The activation of immune response-related genes seen in sepsis survivors was muted in sepsis non-survivors. The association of sepsis survival with a robust immune response and the presence of missense variants in VPS9D1 warrants replication and further functional studies.
Trial registration NCT00258869. Registered on 23 November 2005.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13073-014-0111-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4274761  PMID: 25538794
4.  Discriminative Value of Inflammatory Biomarkers for Suspected Sepsis 
Circulating biomarkers can facilitate sepsis diagnosis enabling early management and improved outcomes. Procalcitonin (PCT) has been suggested to have superior diagnostic utility compared to other biomarkers.
Adults with suspected sepsis in the Emergency Department were enrolled. PCT, CRP, and IL-6 were correlated with infection likelihood, sepsis severity, and septicemia. Multivariable models were constructed for length-of-stay and discharge to a higher level of care.
Of 336 enrolled subjects, 60% had definite infection, 13% possible infection and 27% no infection. Of those with infection, 202 presented with sepsis, 28 with severe sepsis, and 17 with septic shock. Overall, 21% of subjects were septicemic. PCT, IL6, and CRP levels were significantly higher in septicemia (median PCT 2.3 vs. 0.2ng/mL; IL-6 178 vs. 72pg/mL; CRP 106 vs. 62mg/dL, p<0.001). Biomarker concentrations increased with greater likelihood of infection and sepsis severity. Using ROC analysis, PCT best predicted septicemia (0.78 vs. IL-6 0.70 and CRP 0.67) but CRP better identified clinical infection (0.75 vs. PCT 0.71 and IL-6 0.69). A PCT cut-off of 0.5ng/mL had 72.6% sensitivity and 69.5% specificity for bacteremia as well as 40.7% sensitivity and 87.2% specificity for diagnosing infection. A combined clinical-biomarker model revealed that CRP was marginally associated with length-of-stay (p=0.015), but no biomarker independently predicted discharge to a higher level of care.
In adult Emergency Department patients with suspected sepsis, PCT, IL-6, and CRP highly correlate with several infection parameters, but do not meaningfully predict length-of-stay or need for discharge to a higher level of care.
PMCID: PMC3740117  PMID: 22056545
Sepsis; Procalcitonin; Interleukin-6; C-Reactive Protein; Sensitivity and Specificity
5.  Widespread Dissemination of CTX-M-15 Genotype Extended-Spectrum-β-Lactamase-Producing Enterobacteriaceae among Patients Presenting to Community Hospitals in the Southeastern United States 
Extended-spectrum-β-lactamase (ESBL)-producing organisms are increasingly prevalent. We determined the characteristics of 66 consecutive ESBL-producing isolates from six community hospitals in North Carolina and Virginia from 2010 to 2012. Fifty-three (80%) ESBL-producing isolates contained CTX-M enzymes; CTX-M-15 was found in 68% of Escherichia coli and 73% of Klebsiella isolates. Sequence type 131 (ST131) was the commonest type of E. coli, accounting for 48% of CTX-M-15-producing and 66% of CTX-M-14-producing isolates. In conclusion, the CTX-M genotype and ST131 E. coli were common among ESBL isolates from U.S. community hospitals.
PMCID: PMC3910860  PMID: 24247126
6.  Unsuspected Leptospirosis Is a Cause of Acute Febrile Illness in Nicaragua 
Epidemic severe leptospirosis was recognized in Nicaragua in 1995, but unrecognized epidemic and endemic disease remains unstudied.
Methodology/Principal Findings
To determine the burden of and risk factors associated with symptomatic leptospirosis in Nicaragua, we prospectively studied patients presenting with fever at a large teaching hospital. Epidemiologic and clinical features were systematically recorded, and paired sera tested by IgM-ELISA to identify patients with probable and possible acute leptospirosis. Microscopic Agglutination Test and PCR were used to confirm acute leptospirosis. Among 704 patients with paired sera tested by MAT, 44 had acute leptospirosis. Patients with acute leptospirosis were more likely to present during rainy months and to report rural residence and fresh water exposure. The sensitivity of clinical impression and acute-phase IgM detected by ELISA were poor.
Leptospirosis is a common (6.3%) but unrecognized cause of acute febrile illness in Nicaragua. Rapid point-of-care tests to support early diagnosis and treatment as well as tests to support population-based studies to delineate the epidemiology, incidence, and clinical spectrum of leptospirosis, both ideally pathogen-based, are needed.
Author Summary
Leptospirosis, transmitted by pathogenic species of the bacterium Leptospira, is distributed worldwide but infections due to unrecognized epidemic or endemic disease are under-appreciated. We prospectively studied patients ≥2 years of age who presented with acute febrile illness in Nicaragua and systematically collected detailed information about exposures and features of the illness as well as serum and blood to confirm acute infections. Among 704 patients with paired sera tested by MAT, we found acute leptospirosis in 6.3% (44/704). Patients with acute leptospirosis were more likely to present during rainy months and to report rural residence and fresh water exposure. Leptospirosis is a common (6.3%) but unrecognized cause of acute febrile illness in Nicaragua.
PMCID: PMC4109853  PMID: 25058149
7.  SERS Molecular Sentinel Nanoprobes for Viral Infection Diagnostics 
Analytica chimica acta  2013;786:153-158.
In this paper, we describe a surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS)-based detection approach, referred to as “molecular sentinel” (MS) plasmonic nanoprobes, to detect an RNA target related to viral infection. The MS method is essentially a label-free technique incorporating the SERS effect modulation scheme associated with silver nanoparticles and Raman dye-labeled DNA hairpin probes. Hybridization with target sequences opens the hairpin and spatially separates the Raman label from the silver surface thus reducing the SERS signal of the label. Herein, we have developed a MS nanoprobe to detect the human radical S-adenosyl methionine domain containing 2 (RSAD2) RNA target as a model system for method demonstration. The human RSAD2 gene has recently emerged as a novel host-response biomarker for diagnosis of respiratory infections. Our results showed that the RSAD2 MS nanoprobes exhibits high specificity and can detect as low as 1 nM target sequences. With the use of a portable Raman spectrometer and total RNA samples, we have also demonstrated for the first time the potential of the MS nanoprobe technology for detection of host-response RNA biomarkers for infectious disease diagnostics.
PMCID: PMC4022285  PMID: 23790305
Surface-enhanced Raman scattering; SERS; nanoprobe; infectious disease detection
8.  Dusp3 and Psme3 Are Associated with Murine Susceptibility to Staphylococcus aureus Infection and Human Sepsis 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(6):e1004149.
Using A/J mice, which are susceptible to Staphylococcus aureus, we sought to identify genetic determinants of susceptibility to S. aureus, and evaluate their function with regard to S. aureus infection. One QTL region on chromosome 11 containing 422 genes was found to be significantly associated with susceptibility to S. aureus infection. Of these 422 genes, whole genome transcription profiling identified five genes (Dcaf7, Dusp3, Fam134c, Psme3, and Slc4a1) that were significantly differentially expressed in a) S. aureus –infected susceptible (A/J) vs. resistant (C57BL/6J) mice and b) humans with S. aureus blood stream infection vs. healthy subjects. Three of these genes (Dcaf7, Dusp3, and Psme3) were down-regulated in susceptible vs. resistant mice at both pre- and post-infection time points by qPCR. siRNA-mediated knockdown of Dusp3 and Psme3 induced significant increases of cytokine production in S. aureus-challenged RAW264.7 macrophages and bone marrow derived macrophages (BMDMs) through enhancing NF-κB signaling activity. Similar increases in cytokine production and NF-κB activity were also seen in BMDMs from CSS11 (C57BL/6J background with chromosome 11 from A/J), but not C57BL/6J. These findings suggest that Dusp3 and Psme3 contribute to S. aureus infection susceptibility in A/J mice and play a role in human S. aureus infection.
Author Summary
Staphylococcus aureus causes life-threatening infections in humans. Host genetic determinants influence the outcome of S. aureus infection, yet are poorly understood. Susceptible A/J and resistant C57BL/6J mice provide a unique platform to study the genetic difference responsible for variable host response to S. aureus infection. We showed that chromosome 11 in A/J was responsible for susceptibility to S. aureus. We further identified a QTL locus on Chromosome 11 significantly associated with S. aureus susceptibility. Five genes in the QTL (Dcaf7, Dusp3, Fam134c, Psme3, and Slc4a1) were significantly differently expressed in a) susceptible vs. resistant mice, and b) humans with S. aureus blood stream infection vs. healthy human subjects. Three genes (Dusp3, Psme3, and Dcaf7) were down-regulated in susceptible A/J mice. siRNA-mediated knockdown of Dusp3 and Psme3 in bone marrow derived macrophage (BMDMs) significantly enhanced cytokine responses through NF-κB activity upon S. aureus challenge in a pattern that was also present in S. aureus-challenged BMDMs from susceptible CSS11 (chr. 11 from A/J but otherwise C57BL/6J) mice, but not resistant C57BL/6J mice. These findings suggest that Dusp3 and Psme3 contribute to S. aureus infection susceptibility in A/J mice and play a role in human S. aureus infection.
PMCID: PMC4047107  PMID: 24901344
10.  An integrated clinico-metabolomic model improves prediction of death in sepsis 
Science translational medicine  2013;5(195):195ra95.
Sepsis is a common cause of death, but outcomes in individual patients are difficult to predict. Elucidating the molecular processes that differ between sepsis patients who survive and those who die may permit more appropriate treatments to be deployed. We examined the clinical features, and the plasma metabolome and proteome of patients with and without community-acquired sepsis, upon their arrival at hospital emergency departments and 24 hours later. The metabolomes and proteomes of patients at hospital admittance who would die differed markedly from those who would survive. The different profiles of proteins and metabolites clustered into fatty acid transport and β-oxidation, gluconeogenesis and the citric acid cycle. They differed consistently among several sets of patients, and diverged more as death approached. In contrast, the metabolomes and proteomes of surviving patients with mild sepsis did not differ from survivors with severe sepsis or septic shock. An algorithm derived from clinical features together with measurements of seven metabolites predicted patient survival. This algorithm may help to guide the treatment of individual patients with sepsis.
PMCID: PMC3924586  PMID: 23884467
11.  Metabolomic Derangements Are Associated with Mortality in Critically Ill Adult Patients 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e87538.
To identify metabolomic biomarkers predictive of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) mortality in adults.
Comprehensive metabolomic profiling of plasma at ICU admission to identify biomarkers associated with mortality has recently become feasible.
We performed metabolomic profiling of plasma from 90 ICU subjects enrolled in the BWH Registry of Critical Illness (RoCI). We tested individual metabolites and a Bayesian Network of metabolites for association with 28-day mortality, using logistic regression in R, and the CGBayesNets Package in MATLAB. Both individual metabolites and the network were tested for replication in an independent cohort of 149 adults enrolled in the Community Acquired Pneumonia and Sepsis Outcome Diagnostics (CAPSOD) study.
We tested variable metabolites for association with 28-day mortality. In RoCI, nearly one third of metabolites differed among ICU survivors versus those who died by day 28 (N = 57 metabolites, p<.05). Associations with 28-day mortality replicated for 31 of these metabolites (with p<.05) in the CAPSOD population. Replicating metabolites included lipids (N = 14), amino acids or amino acid breakdown products (N = 12), carbohydrates (N = 1), nucleotides (N = 3), and 1 peptide. Among 31 replicated metabolites, 25 were higher in subjects who progressed to die; all 6 metabolites that are lower in those who die are lipids. We used Bayesian modeling to form a metabolomic network of 7 metabolites associated with death (gamma-glutamylphenylalanine, gamma-glutamyltyrosine, 1-arachidonoylGPC(20:4), taurochenodeoxycholate, 3-(4-hydroxyphenyl) lactate, sucrose, kynurenine). This network achieved a 91% AUC predicting 28-day mortality in RoCI, and 74% of the AUC in CAPSOD (p<.001 in both populations).
Both individual metabolites and a metabolomic network were associated with 28-day mortality in two independent cohorts. Metabolomic profiling represents a valuable new approach for identifying novel biomarkers in critically ill patients.
PMCID: PMC3907548  PMID: 24498130
12.  Reconstructing a B-Cell Clonal Lineage. II. Mutation, Selection, and Affinity Maturation 
Affinity maturation of the antibody response is a fundamental process in adaptive immunity during which B-cells activated by infection or vaccination undergo rapid proliferation accompanied by the acquisition of point mutations in their rearranged immunoglobulin (Ig) genes and selection for increased affinity for the eliciting antigen. The rate of somatic hypermutation at any position within an Ig gene is known to depend strongly on the local DNA sequence, and Ig genes have region-specific codon biases that influence the local mutation rate within the gene resulting in increased differential mutability in the regions that encode the antigen-binding domains. We have isolated a set of clonally related natural Ig heavy chain–light chain pairs from an experimentally infected influenza patient, inferred the unmutated ancestral rearrangements and the maturation intermediates, and synthesized all the antibodies using recombinant methods. The lineage exhibits a remarkably uniform rate of improvement of the effective affinity to influenza hemagglutinin (HA) over evolutionary time, increasing 1000-fold overall from the unmutated ancestor to the best of the observed antibodies. Furthermore, analysis of selection reveals that selection and mutation bias were concordant even at the level of maturation to a single antigen. Substantial improvement in affinity to HA occurred along mutationally preferred paths in sequence space and was thus strongly facilitated by the underlying local codon biases.
PMCID: PMC4001017  PMID: 24795717
somatic hypermutation; experimental influenza infection; antibody selection; antibody affinity maturation; phylogenetics
13.  Chikungunya as a Cause of Acute Febrile Illness in Southern Sri Lanka 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82259.
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) re-emerged in Sri Lanka in late 2006 after a 40-year hiatus. We sought to identify and characterize acute chikungunya infection (CHIK) in patients presenting with acute undifferentiated febrile illness in unstudied rural and semi-urban southern Sri Lanka in 2007.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We enrolled febrile patients ≥ 2 years of age, collected uniform epidemiologic and clinical data, and obtained serum samples for serology, virus isolation, and real-time reverse-transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR). Serology on paired acute and convalescent samples identified acute chikungunya infection in 3.5% (28/797) patients without acute dengue virus (DENV) infection, 64.3% (18/28) of which were confirmed by viral isolation and/or real-time RT-PCR. No CHIKV/DENV co-infections were detected among 54 patients with confirmed acute DENV. Sequencing of the E1 coding region of six temporally distinct CHIKV isolates (April through October 2007) showed that all isolates posessed the E1-226A residue and were most closely related to Sri Lankan and Indian isolates from the same time period. Except for more frequent and persistent musculoskeletal symptoms, acute chikungunya infections mimicked DENV and other acute febrile illnesses. Only 12/797 (1.5%) patients had serological evidence of past chikungunya infection.
Our findings suggest CHIKV is a prominent cause of non-specific acute febrile illness in southern Sri Lanka.
PMCID: PMC3846738  PMID: 24312651
14.  The host response to infection: advancing a novel diagnostic paradigm 
Critical Care  2012;16(6):168.
Capturing the host response by using genomic technologies such as transcriptional profiling provides a new paradigm for classifying and diagnosing infectious disease and for potentially distinguishing infection from other causes of serious respiratory illness. This strategy has been used to define a blood-based RNA signature as a classifier for pandemic H1N1 influenza infection that is distinct from bacterial pneumonia and other inflammatory causes of respiratory disease. To realize the full potential of this approach as a diagnostic test will require additional independent validation of the results and studies to examine the specificity of this signature for viral versus bacterial infection or co-infection.
PMCID: PMC3672566  PMID: 23134694
15.  Arbovirus Diseases, Southeastern United States 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2013;19(11):e130650.
PMCID: PMC3837680
arbovirus; southeastern United States; arbovirus diseases; mosquitoes; viruses
16.  Risk Factors for and Estimated Incidence of Community-associated Clostridium difficile Infection, North Carolina, USA1 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2010;16(2):198-204.
Antimicrobial drug exposure is the most common modifiable risk factor for infection.
We determined estimated incidence of and risk factors for community-associated Clostridium difficile infection (CA-CDI) among patients treated at 6 North Carolina hospitals. CA-CDI case-patients were defined as adults (>18 years of age) with a positive stool test result for C. difficile toxin and no hospitalization within the prior 8 weeks. CA-CDI incidence was 21 and 46 per 100,000 person-years in Veterans Affairs (VA) outpatients and Durham County populations, respectively. VA case-patients were more likely than controls to have received antimicrobial drugs (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 17.8, 95% confidence interval [CI] 6.6–48] and to have had a recent outpatient visit (aOR 5.1, 95% CI 1.5–17.9). County case-patients were more likely than controls to have received antimicrobial drugs (aOR 9.1, 95% CI 2.9–28.9), to have gastroesophageal reflux disease (aOR 11.2, 95% CI 1.9–64.2), and to have cardiac failure (aOR 3.8, 95% CI 1.1–13.7). Risk factors for CA-CDI overlap with those for healthcare-associated infection.
PMCID: PMC2958012  PMID: 20113547
Clostridium difficile; enteric infections; incidence; risk factors; community; bacteria; research
17.  Quantitative Models of the Dose-Response and Time Course of Inhalational Anthrax in Humans 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(8):e1003555.
Anthrax poses a community health risk due to accidental or intentional aerosol release. Reliable quantitative dose-response analyses are required to estimate the magnitude and timeline of potential consequences and the effect of public health intervention strategies under specific scenarios. Analyses of available data from exposures and infections of humans and non-human primates are often contradictory. We review existing quantitative inhalational anthrax dose-response models in light of criteria we propose for a model to be useful and defensible. To satisfy these criteria, we extend an existing mechanistic competing-risks model to create a novel Exposure–Infection–Symptomatic illness–Death (EISD) model and use experimental non-human primate data and human epidemiological data to optimize parameter values. The best fit to these data leads to estimates of a dose leading to infection in 50% of susceptible humans (ID50) of 11,000 spores (95% confidence interval 7,200–17,000), ID10 of 1,700 (1,100–2,600), and ID1 of 160 (100–250). These estimates suggest that use of a threshold to human infection of 600 spores (as suggested in the literature) underestimates the infectivity of low doses, while an existing estimate of a 1% infection rate for a single spore overestimates low dose infectivity. We estimate the median time from exposure to onset of symptoms (incubation period) among untreated cases to be 9.9 days (7.7–13.1) for exposure to ID50, 11.8 days (9.5–15.0) for ID10, and 12.1 days (9.9–15.3) for ID1. Our model is the first to provide incubation period estimates that are independently consistent with data from the largest known human outbreak. This model refines previous estimates of the distribution of early onset cases after a release and provides support for the recommended 60-day course of prophylactic antibiotic treatment for individuals exposed to low doses.
Author Summary
Anthrax poses a potential community health risk due to accidental or intentional aerosol release. We address the need for a transparent and defensible quantitative dose-response model for inhalational anthrax that is useful for risk assessors in estimating the magnitude and timeline of potential public health consequences should a release occur. Our synthesis of relevant data and previous modeling efforts identifies areas of improvement among many commonly cited dose-response models and estimates. To address those deficiencies, we provide a new model that is based on clear, transparent assumptions and published data from human and non-human primate exposures. Our resulting estimates provide important insight into the infectivity to humans of low inhaled doses of anthrax spores and the timeline of infections after an exposure event. These insights are critical to assessment of the impacts of delays in responding to a large scale aerosol release, as well as the recommended course of antibiotic administration to those potentially exposed.
PMCID: PMC3744436  PMID: 24058320
18.  HACEK Infective Endocarditis: Characteristics and Outcomes from a Large, Multi-National Cohort 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e63181.
The HACEK organisms (Haemophilus species, Aggregatibacter species, Cardiobacterium hominis, Eikenella corrodens, and Kingella species) are rare causes of infective endocarditis (IE). The objective of this study is to describe the clinical characteristics and outcomes of patients with HACEK endocarditis (HE) in a large multi-national cohort. Patients hospitalized with definite or possible infective endocarditis by the International Collaboration on Endocarditis Prospective Cohort Study in 64 hospitals from 28 countries were included and characteristics of HE patients compared with IE due to other pathogens. Of 5591 patients enrolled, 77 (1.4%) had HE. HE was associated with a younger age (47 vs. 61 years; p<0.001), a higher prevalence of immunologic/vascular manifestations (32% vs. 20%; p<0.008) and stroke (25% vs. 17% p = 0.05) but a lower prevalence of congestive heart failure (15% vs. 30%; p = 0.004), death in-hospital (4% vs. 18%; p = 0.001) or after 1 year follow-up (6% vs. 20%; p = 0.01) than IE due to other pathogens (n = 5514). On multivariable analysis, stroke was associated with mitral valve vegetations (OR 3.60; CI 1.34–9.65; p<0.01) and younger age (OR 0.62; CI 0.49–0.90; p<0.01). The overall outcome of HE was excellent with the in-hospital mortality (4%) significantly better than for non-HE (18%; p<0.001). Prosthetic valve endocarditis was more common in HE (35%) than non-HE (24%). The outcome of prosthetic valve and native valve HE was excellent whether treated medically or with surgery. Current treatment is very successful for the management of both native valve prosthetic valve HE but further studies are needed to determine why HE has a predilection for younger people and to cause stroke. The small number of patients and observational design limit inferences on treatment strategies. Self selection of study sites limits epidemiological inferences.
PMCID: PMC3656887  PMID: 23690995
19.  Clinical Presentation, Etiology and Outcome of Infective Endocarditis in the 21st Century: The International Collaboration on Endocarditis-Prospective Cohort Study 
Archives of internal medicine  2009;169(5):463-473.
The aim of this study was to provide a contemporary picture of the presentation, etiology and outcome of infective endocarditis (IE) in a large patient cohort from multiple locations worldwide.
Prospective cohort study of 2781 adults with definite IE admitted to 58 hospitals in 25 countries between June 2000 and September 2005.
The median age of the cohort was 57.9 (IQR 43.2–71.8) years and 72% had native valve IE. Most (77%) patients presented early in the disease (<30 days) with few of the classic clinical hallmarks of IE. Recent health-care exposure was found in one quarter of patients. Staphylococcus aureus was the most common pathogen (31%). Mitral (41%) and aortic (38%) valves were infected most commonly. Complications were common: stroke (17%); embolization other than stroke (23%); heart failure (32%) and intracardiac abscess (14%). Surgical therapy was common (48%) and in-hospital mortality remained high (18%). Prosthetic valve involvement (OR 1.47, 95%CI 1.13–1.90), increasing age (OR 1.30, 95%CI 1.17–1.46 per 10-year interval), pulmonary edema (OR 1.79, 95%CI 1.39–2.30), S. aureus infection (OR 1.54, 95%CI 1.14–2.08), coagulase-negative staphylococcal infection (OR 1.50, 95%CI 1.07–2.10), mitral valve vegetation (OR 1.34, 95%CI 1.06–1.68), and paravalvular complications (OR 2.25, 95%CI 1.64–3.09) were associated with increased risk of in-hospital death, while viridans streptococcal infection (OR 0.52, 95%CI 0.33–0.81) and surgery (OR 0.61, 95%CI 0.44–0.83) were associated with decreased risk.
In the early 21st century, IE is more often an acute disease, characterized by a high rate of S. aureus infection. Mortality remains relatively high.
PMCID: PMC3625651  PMID: 19273776
20.  Heterogeneous Vancomycin-Intermediate Susceptibility Phenotype in Bloodstream Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Isolates from an International Cohort of Patients with Infective Endocarditis: Prevalence, Genotype, and Clinical Significance 
The Journal of infectious diseases  2009;200(9):1355-1366.
The significance of heterogeneous vancomycin-intermediate Staphylococcus aureus (hVISA) is unknown. Using a multinational collection of isolates from methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) infective endocarditis (IE), we characterized IE patients with and without hVISA, and genotyped the infecting strains.
MRSA bloodstream isolates from 65 patients with definite IE from 8 countries underwent PCR for 31 virulence genes, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, and multilocus sequence typing. hVISA was defined using population analysis profiling (PAP).
Nineteen (29.2%) of 65 MRSA IE isolates exhibited hVISA by PAP. Isolates from Oceania and Europe were more likely to exhibit hVISA than isolates from the United States (77.8% vs. 35.0% vs. 13.9%; P < .001). The prevalence of hVISA was higher among isolates with a vancomycin minimum inhibitory concentration of 2 mg/L (P = .026). hVISA-infected patients were more likely to have persistent bacteremia (68.4% vs. 37.0%; P = .029) and heart failure (47.4% vs. 19.6%; P = .033). Mortality of hVISA- and non-hVISA-infected patients did not differ (42.1% vs. 34.8%, P = .586). hVISA and non-hVISA isolates were genotypically similar.
In these analyses, hVISA occurred in over one-quarter of MRSA IE isolates, was associated with certain IE complications, and varied in frequency by geographic region.
PMCID: PMC3600359  PMID: 19811099
hVISA; Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus; endocarditis; genotype
21.  An Outbreak of Rift Valley Fever in Northeastern Kenya, 1997-98 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2002;8(2):138-144.
In December 1997, 170 hemorrhagic fever-associated deaths were reported in Carissa District, Kenya. Laboratory testing identified evidence of acute Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV). Of the 171 persons enrolled in a cross-sectional study, 31(18%) were anti-RVFV immunoglobulin (Ig) M positive. An age-adjusted IgM antibody prevalence of 14% was estimated for the district. We estimate approximately 27,500 infections occurred in Garissa District, making this the largest recorded outbreak of RVFV in East Africa. In multivariate analysis, contact with sheep body fluids and sheltering livestock in one’s home were significantly associated with infection. Direct contact with animals, particularly contact with sheep body fluids, was the most important modifiable risk factor for RVFV infection. Public education during epizootics may reduce human illness and deaths associated with future outbreaks.
PMCID: PMC2732454  PMID: 11897064
Rift Valley fever; Kenya; zoonosis; hemorrhagic fever
22.  Gene Expression-Based Classifiers Identify Staphylococcus aureus Infection in Mice and Humans 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e48979.
Staphylococcus aureus causes a spectrum of human infection. Diagnostic delays and uncertainty lead to treatment delays and inappropriate antibiotic use. A growing literature suggests the host’s inflammatory response to the pathogen represents a potential tool to improve upon current diagnostics. The hypothesis of this study is that the host responds differently to S. aureus than to E. coli infection in a quantifiable way, providing a new diagnostic avenue. This study uses Bayesian sparse factor modeling and penalized binary regression to define peripheral blood gene-expression classifiers of murine and human S. aureus infection. The murine-derived classifier distinguished S. aureus infection from healthy controls and Escherichia coli-infected mice across a range of conditions (mouse and bacterial strain, time post infection) and was validated in outbred mice (AUC>0.97). A S. aureus classifier derived from a cohort of 94 human subjects distinguished S. aureus blood stream infection (BSI) from healthy subjects (AUC 0.99) and E. coli BSI (AUC 0.84). Murine and human responses to S. aureus infection share common biological pathways, allowing the murine model to classify S. aureus BSI in humans (AUC 0.84). Both murine and human S. aureus classifiers were validated in an independent human cohort (AUC 0.95 and 0.92, respectively). The approach described here lends insight into the conserved and disparate pathways utilized by mice and humans in response to these infections. Furthermore, this study advances our understanding of S. aureus infection; the host response to it; and identifies new diagnostic and therapeutic avenues.
PMCID: PMC3541361  PMID: 23326304
23.  A Host Transcriptional Signature for Presymptomatic Detection of Infection in Humans Exposed to Influenza H1N1 or H3N2 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e52198.
There is great potential for host-based gene expression analysis to impact the early diagnosis of infectious diseases. In particular, the influenza pandemic of 2009 highlighted the challenges and limitations of traditional pathogen-based testing for suspected upper respiratory viral infection. We inoculated human volunteers with either influenza A (A/Brisbane/59/2007 (H1N1) or A/Wisconsin/67/2005 (H3N2)), and assayed the peripheral blood transcriptome every 8 hours for 7 days. Of 41 inoculated volunteers, 18 (44%) developed symptomatic infection. Using unbiased sparse latent factor regression analysis, we generated a gene signature (or factor) for symptomatic influenza capable of detecting 94% of infected cases. This gene signature is detectable as early as 29 hours post-exposure and achieves maximal accuracy on average 43 hours (p = 0.003, H1N1) and 38 hours (p-value = 0.005, H3N2) before peak clinical symptoms. In order to test the relevance of these findings in naturally acquired disease, a composite influenza A signature built from these challenge studies was applied to Emergency Department patients where it discriminates between swine-origin influenza A/H1N1 (2009) infected and non-infected individuals with 92% accuracy. The host genomic response to Influenza infection is robust and may provide the means for detection before typical clinical symptoms are apparent.
PMCID: PMC3541408  PMID: 23326326
24.  Methicillin-Susceptible Staphylococcus aureus Endocarditis Isolates Are Associated With Clonal Complex 30 Genotype and a Distinct Repertoire of Enterotoxins and Adhesins 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2011;204(5):704-713.
Background. Using multinational collections of methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) isolates from infective endocarditis (IE) and soft tissue infections (STIs), we sought to (1) validate the finding that S. aureus in clonal complex (CC) 30 is associated with hematogenous complications and (2) test the hypothesis that specific genetic characteristics in S. aureus are associated with infection severity.
Methods. IE and STI isolates from 2 cohorts were frequency matched by geographic origin. Isolates underwent spa typing to infer CC and multiplex polymerase chain reaction for presence of virulence genes.
Results. 114 isolate pairs were genotyped. IE isolates were more likely to be CC30 (19.5% vs 6.2%; P = .005) and to contain 3 adhesins (clfB, cna, map/eap; P < .0001 for all) and 5 enterotoxins (tst, sea, sed, see, and sei; P ≤ .005 for all). CC30 isolates were more likely to contain cna, tst, sea, see, seg, and chp (P < .05 for all).
Conclusions. MSSA IE isolates were significantly more likely to be CC30 and to possess a distinct repertoire of virulence genes than MSSA STI isolates from the same region. The genetic basis of this association requires further study.
PMCID: PMC3156104  PMID: 21844296
25.  Unsuspected Rickettsioses among Patients with Acute Febrile Illness, Sri Lanka, 2007 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2012;18(5):825-829.
We studied rickettsioses in southern Sri Lanka. Of 883 febrile patients with paired serum samples, 156 (17.7%) had acute rickettsioses; rickettsioses were unsuspected at presentation. Additionally, 342 (38.7%) had exposure to spotted fever and/or typhus group rickettsioses and 121 (13.7%) scrub typhus. Increased awareness of rickettsioses and better tests are needed.
PMCID: PMC3358078  PMID: 22516455
Rickettsial infection; rickettsia; serologic tests; Sri Lanka; fever; scrub typhus; bacteria

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