Get the upper hand on infections and infestations


CDC continues to build US laboratory capacity to rapidly detect Zika virus infection

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) purchased approximately $2.5 million in laboratory supplies and equipment in August to enhance US laboratory capacity to test for Zika virus. The CDC says these purchases help to ensure that states can meet the growing demand for testing and rapid identification of Zika infection, by providing them with materials that allow them to perform testing for Zika virus infection.

Relatively few labs in the US are certified to test for Zika. As a result, when samples are collected, they often have to be shipped to a local health department lab for testing. If the local health department lab doesn’t currently perform Zika testing, it will coordinate testing and ship the samples to CDC. Depending on the CDC lab’s workload, processing and reporting time of a result may take two to four weeks.

To help states expand access to Zika testing and reduce the amount of time to receive results, CDC has sent materials to help them expand lab capacity and perform testing to detect both current and recent cases of Zika virus infection. Forty-three states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and nine Department of Defense (DOD) laboratories have received material that allows them to conduct testing for recent Zika infection using a CDC-developed test called the MAC-ELISA. MAC-ELISA tests are intended for use in detecting antibodies that the body makes to fight a Zika virus infection. These antibodies (in this case, immunoglobulin M, or IgM) appear in the blood of a person infected with Zika virus beginning 4 to 5 days after the start of illness and last for about 12 weeks.  Labs in 41 of those states, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, along with five DOD labs, have completed the process required to implement the MAC-ELISA assay test.

CDC has also sent material to all states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico and 16 DOD labs that allows them to use a second CDC-developed Zika test, called the Trioplex rRT-PCR test, which allows doctors to tell if an individual is currently infected with chikungunya, dengue, or Zika using just one test, rather than three separate tests for each virus. Forty-eight states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico and 16 DoD labs have completed the process to be able to use that test. This expanded lab capacity allows states to perform testing to detect active Zika virus infection and more rapidly identify cases.

AMA Applauds United Nations for Taking Major Step to Combat Antimicrobial Resistance Worldwide

The American Medical Association (AMA) has long supported efforts to prevent the spread of drug-resistant organisms in health care facilities and communities. Specifically, the AMA says, it has adopted numerous policies and advocated for legislation over the years supporting efforts to address antimicrobial resistance, including reducing barriers to antibiotic development through incentives. Because antibiotics are important in the treatment of human infections, AMA policy also calls for continued education on the appropriate use of antimicrobial agents as well as bringing an end to the practice of using medically-important antibiotics for growth promotion in animals.

AMA President Andrew W. Gurman, MD recently released the following statement:

“As concerns continue to mount over the global public health threat posed by antimicrobial resistance, the AMA commends the United Nations (UN) for taking a major step this week aimed at combatting this growing public health epidemic. The UN’s newly adopted declaration will help shine a much needed spotlight on the dangers of antimicrobial resistance and help ensure the appropriate use of antibiotics in humans and animals to help limit the spread of disease.

“With a decline in the effectiveness of available antibiotics, it is extremely important that we continue to take steps to ensure the appropriate use of antibiotics across all settings. The AMA will continue to do its part to educate physicians on the importance of antibiotic stewardship in the inpatient and outpatient settings and provide them with the latest tools to help alleviate uncertainty when prescribing antibiotics.”

Experimental Antibiotic Developed to Treat MRSA Infection

According to a report from, a new experimental antibiotic developed by scientists at Rutgers University successfully treats the deadly methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection and restores the efficacy of a commonly prescribed antibiotic that has become ineffective against MRSA. In research published in the July issue of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, scientists from the university report that the combination of the antibiotic they developed, TXA709, with cefdinir, successfully treated the MRSA infection in animals.

Phase I clinical trials on the new antibiotic, which will assess and evaluate its safety and effectiveness in humans, are expected to begin next spring.

At-Home Nail Fungus Treatment

Cure-Ex nail fungus laser treatment device is now available from online beauty retailer, iSkinProducts. The portable device can be used on fingernails or toenails and a user can use the Cure-Ex laser from the comfort of their own home, according to the company.

The Cure-Ex nail fungus treatment device uses low laser therapy that combines pulse laser radiation to target fungus deep in the tissue beneath the nail bed; and blue light energy, which kills the fungus on the nail surface to prevent reinfection and encourage healthy nail growth.

Laser treatment for nail fungus has been proven to increase ATP molecules, energy-rich molecules that provide organic material needed to sustain life processes within the body. An influx of ATP molecules causes the fungus cells to cease making their own ATP, which stops the growth and begins the healing process.

Research to Combat Antibiotic Resistance

The CDC has awarded more than $14 million to fund new approaches to combat antibiotic resistance, including research on how microorganisms naturally present in the human body can be used to predict and prevent infections caused by drug-resistant organisms. The awards, made through CDC’s Broad Agency Announcement (BAA), support activities in the CDC Antibiotic Resistance Solutions Initiative. The initiative, which also provides funding for state health departments and other partners, implements the tracking, prevention, and antibiotic stewardship activities outlined in the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria.

“Understanding the role the microbiome plays in antibiotic-resistant infections is necessary to protect the public’s health,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH. “We think it is key to innovative approaches to combat antibiotic resistance, protect patients, and improve antibiotic use.”

The majority of the projects are being conducted through universities across the country and one by a commercial company and two by a nonprofit. Awardees include: Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Emory University, Georgia Institute of Technology, The Joint Commission, Ohio State University, OpenBiome, Pennsylvania State University, Rutgers University, Synthetic Biologics, Inc., University of Georgia, University of California Berkley, University of California Davis, University of Cincinnati, University of Colorado, University of Maryland, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, University of Virginia, University of Oregon, University of Utah, Virginia Commonwealth University, Washington University and Yale University. Some awardees are conducting multiple projects. n


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About Practical Dermatology

Practical Dermatology is the monthly publication that provides coverage of medical care, cosmetic advancements, and practice management for clinicians in the field. With straight-forward, how-to advice from experts in various fields, we strive to enhance quality of care and improve the daily operation of dermatology practices.