Clinical Microbiology Reviews

Published by American Society for Microbiology
Online ISSN: 1098-6618
Print ISSN: 0893-8512
Publications
Application of multiplex PCR for diagnosis of viral infections 
PCR has revolutionized the field of infectious disease diagnosis. To overcome the inherent disadvantage of cost and to improve the diagnostic capacity of the test, multiplex PCR, a variant of the test in which more than one target sequence is amplified using more than one pair of primers, has been developed. Multiplex PCRs to detect viral, bacterial, and/or other infectious agents in one reaction tube have been described. Early studies highlighted the obstacles that can jeopardize the production of sensitive and specific multiplex assays, but more recent studies have provided systematic protocols and technical improvements for simple test design. The most useful of these are the empirical choice of oligonucleotide primers and the use of hot start-based PCR methodology. These advances along with others to enhance sensitivity and specificity and to facilitate automation have resulted in the appearance of numerous publications regarding the application of multiplex PCR in the diagnosis of infectious agents, especially those which target viral nucleic acids. This article reviews the principles, optimization, and application of multiplex PCR for the detection of viruses of clinical and epidemiological importance.
 
Sites of modification by aminoglycoside-modifying enzymes.
Phosphorylation of kanamycin A by APH(3)s.
Mechanism-based inhibition of APH(3)s.
Substrate profiles of aminoglycoside nucleotidyltransferases
Aminoglycoside antibiotics have had a major impact on our ability to treat bacterial infections for the past half century. Whereas the interest in these versatile antibiotics continues to be high, their clinical utility has been compromised by widespread instances of resistance. The multitude of mechanisms of resistance is disconcerting but also illuminates how nature can manifest resistance when bacteria are confronted by antibiotics. This article reviews the most recent knowledge about the mechanisms of aminoglycoside action and the mechanisms of resistance to these antibiotics.
 
The issue of determining which human papillomavirus (HPV) is present in a clinical specimen (typing specimens for HPVs) is receiving attention because HPVs cause condyloma acuminata and are associated with the continuum of disease which ranges from dysplasia to invasive genital cancer. Morphological inspection of precancerous lesions is not sufficient to determine which lesions will progress and which will not. A number of research tools based primarily on deoxyribonucleic acid hybridization have been developed. These permit identification and typing of HPV in genital tract scrapings or biopsies. Some HPV types (e.g., HPV-16 and HPV-18) have been identified in high-grade dysplasias and carcinomas more commonly than other types (e.g., HPV-6) and have been designated "high risk" types for cervical cancer. Thus, the question arises whether HPV typing would improve patient management by providing increased sensitivity for detection of patients at risk or by providing a prognostic indicator. In this review, the available typing methods are reviewed from the standpoint of their sensitivity, specificity, and ease of application to large-scale screening programs. Data implicating HPVs in the genesis of genital tract cancers are reviewed, as is the association of specific HPV types with specific outcomes. We conclude that there is currently no simple, inexpensive assay for HPV types, although such assays may be developed in the future. Analysis of the typing data indicates that, while HPV types can be designated high risk and low risk, these designations are not absolute and thus the low-risk group should not be ignored. In addition, interpretation of the data is complicated by finding high-risk types in individuals with no indication of disease. Insufficient data exist to indicate whether knowledge of the presence of a given HPV type is a better prognostic indicator than cytological or histological results. Thus, more research is needed before it can be determined whether typing information will augment the method currently in use for deciding treatment regimen and whether it warrants widespread use.
 
The traditional identification of bacteria on the basis of phenotypic characteristics is generally not as accurate as identification based on genotypic methods. Comparison of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene sequence has emerged as a preferred genetic technique. 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis can better identify poorly described, rarely isolated, or phenotypically aberrant strains, can be routinely used for identification of mycobacteria, and can lead to the recognition of novel pathogens and noncultured bacteria. Problems remain in that the sequences in some databases are not accurate, there is no consensus quantitative definition of genus or species based on 16S rRNA gene sequence data, the proliferation of species names based on minimal genetic and phenotypic differences raises communication difficulties, and microheterogeneity in 16S rRNA gene sequence within a species is common. Despite its accuracy, 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis lacks widespread use beyond the large and reference laboratories because of technical and cost considerations. Thus, a future challenge is to translate information from 16S rRNA gene sequencing into convenient biochemical testing schemes, making the accuracy of the genotypic identification available to the smaller and routine clinical microbiology laboratories.
 
Flow diagram demonstrating various approaches for the identification and detection of microorganisms in clinical samples using sequence-based technology. The combination of the two steps denoted by an asterisk () is known as RT-PCR. Modified from reference 1 with permission of the publisher.  
Hill's epidemiologic criteria for causal association a Causal criterion Causal association
In situ oligonucleotide detection of a cluster of B. (Rochalimaea) henselae organisms in a tissue lesion from a patient with BA. A specific oligonucleotide probe was designed from the B. henselae 16S rDNA sequence and linked to biotin. Bound probe (arrowheads) was detected with a streptavidin-alkaline phosphatase conjugate. Original magnification, 1,000. Photo courtesy of Donald Regula, Department of Pathology, Stanford University.  
Flow diagram describing a sequence-based approach taken to identify the uncultivated bacillus associated with Whipple's disease.  
Flow diagram describing the events leading to the identification of the microbe associated with HPS and the development of specific screening tests. ELISA, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay; IgM, immunoglobulin M.
Over 100 years ago, Robert Koch introduced his ideas about how to prove a causal relationship between a microorganism and a disease. Koch's postulates created a scientific standard for causal evidence that established the credibility of microbes as pathogens and led to the development of modern microbiology. In more recent times, Koch's postulates have evolved to accommodate a broader understanding of the host-parasite relationship as well as experimental advances. Techniques such as in situ hybridization, PCR, and representational difference analysis reveal previously uncharacterized, fastidious or uncultivated, microbial pathogens that resist the application of Koch's original postulates, but they also provide new approaches for proving disease causation. In particular, the increasing reliance on sequence-based methods for microbial identification requires a reassessment of the original postulates and the rationale that guided Koch and later revisionists. Recent investigations of Whipple's disease, human ehrlichiosis, hepatitis C, hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, and Kaposi's sarcoma illustrate some of these issues. A set of molecular guidelines for establishing disease causation with sequence-based technology is proposed, and the importance of the scientific concordance of evidence in supporting causal associations is emphasized.
 
Common clinical manifestations of syphilis 
Syphilis is a chronic disease with a waxing and waning course, the manifestations of which have been described for centuries. It occurs worldwide, and the incidence varies significantly with geographic location. Transmission is mainly by sexual contact. The causative organism, Treponema pallidum, was first described in 1905, but because of the inability to culture the organism and the limitations of direct microscopy, serologic testing is the mainstay of laboratory diagnosis. The disease has been arbitrarily divided into several stages. The primary stage is defined by a chancre at the site of inoculation. The secondary stage is characterized by a polymorphic rash, lymphadenopathy, and other systemic manifestations. A variable asymptomatic latent period follows, which for epidemiologic purposes is divided into early (<1 year) and late (>1 year) stages. The early stages (primary, secondary, and early latent) are potentially infectious. The tertiary stage is the most destructive and is marked by cardiovascular and neurologic sequelae and gummatous involvement of any organ system. Congenital infection may result in protean early or late manifestations. Unlike many other bacteria causing infectious diseases, the organism remains sensitive to penicillin, and this remains the mainstay of therapy.
 
Outbreaks of the severe dengue syndrome, dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF), emerged beginning in the 1950s, marking a dramatic change in the dengue syndrome. While intense investigations in multiple directions have been conducted for many years to elucidate the intrinsic mechanisms conducive to the development of DHF, no consensus has yet emerged. Meanwhile, relatively little attention has been paid to the occurrence of severe dengue and death prior to the 1950s. This comprehensive review was designed to evaluate outbreak records in the early dengue history to better understand the epidemiologic background and other factors that existed before the emergence of DHF outbreaks. By applying a set of stringent criteria to remove unreliable data as much as possible and by interpreting the results conservatively, a short list of etiologically more reliable outbreaks with high mortality was obtained. The results show that severe dengue syndrome, clinically very much compatible with DHF, occurred far more frequently in multiple locations than it had been assumed before; that the magnitudes of mortality in several outbreaks were not negligible; and that the epidemiologic background features shared among these outbreaks in the early period were, with the exceptions of more limited demographic changes, generally similar to the post-1950 conditions.
 
During the past several years, it has become quite evident that positron emission tomography (PET) with 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) imaging can play a major role in the management of patients with suspected infection. Particularly, several groups have demonstrated that this powerful imaging methodology is very effective in the evaluation of osteomyelitis, infected prostheses, fever of unknown origin, and AIDS. In view of its extraordinary sensitivity in detecting disease activity and the ability to quantitate the degree of FDG uptake, PET might prove to be an appropriate modality for monitoring disease activity and evaluating response to therapy. FDG-PET has many advantages over existing imaging techniques for the diagnosis of infectious diseases. These include feasibility of securing diagnostic results within 1.5 to 2 h, excellent spatial resolution, and accurate anatomical localization of sites of abnormality. The availability of PET/computed tomography as a practical tool has further enhanced the role of metabolic imaging in many settings. In the future, this modality is very likely to be employed on a routine basis for detecting, characterizing, and monitoring patients with suspected and proven infection.
 
Antibacterial properties of the stomach. The stomach is intrinsically resistant to bacterial colonization. Factors which contribute to this resistance include gastric acidity, lactoferrin, and antibacterial peptides (LL-37, ␤ -defensin 1, and ␤ -defensin 2). The gastric epithelial layer constitutes a physical barrier that prevents entry of bacteria into the gastric mucosa. Ribbon diagrams of lactoferrin, ␤ -defensins, and LL-37 are derived from published structures (24, 200, 218). 
Colonization factors of H. pylori. Multiple bacterial factors contribute to the ability of H. pylori to colonize the stomach. Urease contributes to the acid resistance of H. pylori . Flagella permit bacterial motility, which allows bacterial penetration of the mucus layer. Several outer membrane proteins, including BabA, SabA, AlpA, AlpB, and HopZ, can mediate bacterial adherence to gastric epithelial cells. 
Innate immune recognition of H. pylori . Innate immune recognition of H. pylori leads to production of proinflammatory cytokines by macrophages (M ␾ ), DCs, mast cells, and gastric epithelial cells. Innate immune recognition of H. pylori is mediated at least in part through TLRs. In addition, H. pylori peptidoglycan (PG) can be recognized by intracellular Nod receptors (239). Interactions between H. pylori and gastric epithelial cells lead to activation of NF- ␬ B and alteration in gene transcription in the epithelial cells. Production of IL-8 by epithelial cells leads to recruitment of neutrophils (polymorphonuclear leukocytes [PMNs]), which can phagocytose opsonized bacteria and produce reactive oxygen species (ROI) or reactive nitrogen species (RNI). The activation of mast cells results in degranulation and production of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines. 
Effects of H. pylori on T lymphocytes. Multiple H. pylori factors can suppress T-cell activity. VacA inhibits NFAT activity in T cells, leading to diminished IL-2 production, and also inhibits T-cell proliferation (37, 77, 219). Arginase inhibits T-cell receptor (TCR) signaling (256). An unidentified low-molecular-weight protein has been reported to inhibit T-cell proliferation by blocking cell cycle progression (78). 
Helicobacter pylori is a gram-negative bacterium that persistently colonizes more than half of the global human population. In order to successfully colonize the human stomach, H. pylori must initially overcome multiple innate host defenses. Remarkably, H. pylori can persistently colonize the stomach for decades or an entire lifetime despite development of an acquired immune response. This review focuses on the immune response to H. pylori and the mechanisms by which H. pylori resists immune clearance. Three main sections of the review are devoted to (i) analysis of the immune response to H. pylori in humans, (ii) analysis of interactions of H. pylori with host immune defenses in animal models, and (iii) interactions of H. pylori with immune cells in vitro. The topics addressed in this review are important for understanding how H. pylori resists immune clearance and also are relevant for understanding the pathogenesis of diseases caused by H. pylori (peptic ulcer disease, gastric adenocarcinoma, and gastric lymphoma).
 
Since 1971, the CDC, EPA, and Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) have maintained the collaborative national Waterborne Disease and Outbreak Surveillance System (WBDOSS) to document waterborne disease outbreaks (WBDOs) reported by local, state, and territorial health departments. WBDOs were recently reclassified to better characterize water system deficiencies and risk factors; data were analyzed for trends in outbreak occurrence, etiologies, and deficiencies during 1971 to 2006. A total of 833 WBDOs, 577,991 cases of illness, and 106 deaths were reported during 1971 to 2006. Trends of public health significance include (i) a decrease in the number of reported outbreaks over time and in the annual proportion of outbreaks reported in public water systems, (ii) an increase in the annual proportion of outbreaks reported in individual water systems and in the proportion of outbreaks associated with premise plumbing deficiencies in public water systems, (iii) no change in the annual proportion of outbreaks associated with distribution system deficiencies or the use of untreated and improperly treated groundwater in public water systems, and (iv) the increasing importance of Legionella since its inclusion in WBDOSS in 2001. Data from WBDOSS have helped inform public health and regulatory responses. Additional resources for waterborne disease surveillance and outbreak detection are essential to improve our ability to monitor, detect, and prevent waterborne disease in the United States.
 
The advancement of genetic techniques has greatly boosted taxonomic studies in recent years. Within the genus Mycobacterium, 42 new species have been detected since 1990, most of which were grown from clinical samples. Along with species for which relatively large numbers of strains have been reported, some of the new species of mycobacteria have been detected rarely or even only once. From the phenotypic point of view, among the new taxa, chromogens exceed nonchromogens while the numbers of slowly and rapidly growing species are equivalent. Whereas conventional identification tests were usually inconclusive, an important role was played by lipid analyses and in particular by high-performance liquid chromatography. Genotypic investigations based on sequencing of 16S rRNA gene have certainly made the most important contribution. The investigation of genetic relatedness led to the redistribution of the species previously included in the classically known categories of slow and rapid growers into new groupings. Within slow growers, the intermediate branch related to Mycobacterium simiae and the cluster of organisms related to Mycobacterium terrae have been differentiated; among rapid growers, the group of thermotolerant mycobacteria has emerged. The majority of species are resistant to isoniazid and, to a lesser extent, to rifampin. Many of the new species of mycobacteria are potentially pathogenic, and there are numerous reports of their involvement in diseases. Apart from disseminated and localized diseases in immunocompromised patients, the most frequent infections in immunocompetent people involve the lungs, skin, and, in children, cervical lymph nodes. The awareness of such new mycobacteria, far from being a merely speculative exercise, is therefore important for clinicians and microbiologists.
 
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. The precise role of bacterial infection in the course and pathogenesis of COPD has been a source of controversy for decades. Chronic bacterial colonization of the lower airways contributes to airway inflammation; more research is needed to test the hypothesis that this bacterial colonization accelerates the progressive decline in lung function seen in COPD (the vicious circle hypothesis). The course of COPD is characterized by intermittent exacerbations of the disease. Studies of samples obtained by bronchoscopy with the protected specimen brush, analysis of the human immune response with appropriate immunoassays, and antibiotic trials reveal that approximately half of exacerbations are caused by bacteria. Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae, Moraxella catarrhalis, and Streptococcus pneumoniae are the most common causes of exacerbations, while Chlamydia pneumoniae causes a small proportion. The role of Haemophilus parainfluenzae and gram-negative bacilli remains to be established. Recent progress in studies of the molecular mechanisms of pathogenesis of infection in the human respiratory tract and in vaccine development guided by such studies promises to lead to novel ways to treat and prevent bacterial infections in COPD.
 
The world had been anticipating another influenza pandemic since the last one in 1968. The pandemic influenza A H1N1 2009 virus (A/2009/H1N1) finally arrived, causing the first pandemic influenza of the new millennium, which has affected over 214 countries and caused over 18,449 deaths. Because of the persistent threat from the A/H5N1 virus since 1997 and the outbreak of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus in 2003, medical and scientific communities have been more prepared in mindset and infrastructure. This preparedness has allowed for rapid and effective research on the epidemiological, clinical, pathological, immunological, virological, and other basic scientific aspects of the disease, with impacts on its control. A PubMed search using the keywords "pandemic influenza virus H1N1 2009" yielded over 2,500 publications, which markedly exceeded the number published on previous pandemics. Only representative works with relevance to clinical microbiology and infectious diseases are reviewed in this article. A significant increase in the understanding of this virus and the disease within such a short amount of time has allowed for the timely development of diagnostic tests, treatments, and preventive measures. These findings could prove useful for future randomized controlled clinical trials and the epidemiological control of future pandemics.
 
SUMMARY New antimicrobial agents are always needed to counteract the resistant pathogens that continue to be selected by current therapeutic regimens. This review provides a survey of known antimicrobial agents that were currently in clinical development in the fall of 2012 and spring of 2013. Data were collected from published literature primarily from 2010 to 2012, meeting abstracts (2011 to 2012), government websites, and company websites when appropriate. Compared to what was reported in previous surveys, a surprising number of new agents are currently in company pipelines, particularly in phase 3 clinical development. Familiar antibacterial classes of the quinolones, tetracyclines, oxazolidinones, glycopeptides, and cephalosporins are represented by entities with enhanced antimicrobial or pharmacological properties. More importantly, compounds of novel chemical structures targeting bacterial pathways not previously exploited are under development. Some of the most promising compounds include novel β-lactamase inhibitor combinations that target many multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria, a critical medical need. Although new antimicrobial agents will continue to be needed to address increasing antibiotic resistance, there are novel agents in development to tackle at least some of the more worrisome pathogens in the current nosocomial setting.
 
Malassezia species are members of the human cutaneous commensal flora, in addition to causing a wide range of cutaneous and systemic diseases in suitably predisposed individuals. Studies examining cellular and humoral immune responses specific to Malassezia species in patients with Malassezia-associated diseases and healthy controls have generally been unable to define significant differences in their immune response. The use of varied antigenic preparations and strains from different Malassezia classifications may partly be responsible for this, although these problems can now be overcome by using techniques based on recent work defining some important antigens and also a new taxonomy for the genus. The finding that the genus Malassezia is immunomodulatory is important in understanding its ability to cause disease. Stimulation of the reticuloendothelial system and activation of the complement cascade contrasts with its ability to suppress cytokine release and downregulate phagocytic uptake and killing. The lipid-rich layer around the yeast appears to be pivotal in this alteration of phenotype. Defining the nonspecific immune response to Malassezia species and the way in which the organisms modulate it may well be the key to understanding how Malassezia species can exist as both commensals and pathogens.
 
Summary of the distribution and genetic context of the OXA-type enzymes in Acinetobacter baumannii . The arrows and corresponding percentages represent the degrees of amino acid homology between the enzyme clusters. The enzyme clusters within large circles signify the acquired enzyme types, in contrast to the naturally occurring OXA-51 cluster within the large square. 
Delineation of Acinetobacter genomic species
Countries that have reported an outbreak of carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii . Red signifies outbreaks reported before 2006, and yellow signifies outbreaks reported since 2006. 
Mechanisms of resistance in Acinetobacter baumannii Antimicrobial class and resistance mechanism Enzyme(s) a Reference(s)
Comparison of EUCAST, CLSI, and BSAC breakpoints for various antibiotics versus Acinetobacter spp.
Acinetobacter baumannii has emerged as a highly troublesome pathogen for many institutions globally. As a consequence of its immense ability to acquire or upregulate antibiotic drug resistance determinants, it has justifiably been propelled to the forefront of scientific attention. Apart from its predilection for the seriously ill within intensive care units, A. baumannii has more recently caused a range of infectious syndromes in military personnel injured in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. This review details the significant advances that have been made in our understanding of this remarkable organism over the last 10 years, including current taxonomy and species identification, issues with susceptibility testing, mechanisms of antibiotic resistance, global epidemiology, clinical impact of infection, host-pathogen interactions, and infection control and therapeutic considerations.
 
Beta-lactamases continue to be the leading cause of resistance to beta-lactam antibiotics among gram-negative bacteria. In recent years there has been an increased incidence and prevalence of extended-spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBLs), enzymes that hydrolyze and cause resistance to oxyimino-cephalosporins and aztreonam. The majority of ESBLs are derived from the widespread broad-spectrum beta-lactamases TEM-1 and SHV-1. There are also new families of ESBLs, including the CTX-M and OXA-type enzymes as well as novel, unrelated beta-lactamases. Several different methods for the detection of ESBLs in clinical isolates have been suggested. While each of the tests has merit, none of the tests is able to detect all of the ESBLs encountered. ESBLs have become widespread throughout the world and are now found in a significant percentage of Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae strains in certain countries. They have also been found in other Enterobacteriaceae strains and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Strains expressing these beta-lactamases will present a host of therapeutic challenges as we head into the 21st century.
 
Fungal infections are becoming more frequent because of expansion of at-risk populations and the use of treatment modalities that permit longer survival of these patients. Because histopathologic examination of tissues detects fungal invasion of tissues and vessels as well as the host reaction to the fungus, it is and will remain an important tool to define the diagnostic significance of positive culture isolates or results from PCR testing. However, there are very few instances where the morphological characteristics of fungi are specific. Therefore, histopathologic diagnosis should be primarily descriptive of the fungus and should include the presence or absence of tissue invasion and the host reaction to the infection. The pathology report should also include a comment stating the most frequent fungi associated with that morphology as well as other possible fungi and parasites that should be considered in the differential diagnosis. Alternate techniques have been used to determine the specific agent present in the histopathologic specimen, including immunohistochemistry, in situ hybridization, and PCR. In addition, techniques such as laser microdissection will be useful to detect the now more frequently recognized dual fungal infections and the local environment in which this phenomenon occurs.
 
Vaccination against Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) diseases began a quarter of a century ago with a polysaccharide vaccine; this vaccine was followed by four different conjugates 10 years later. In this review, the burden of global Hib disease is quantified following this 25-year period of vaccine availability to determine the potential impact of conjugate vaccines. This task was accomplished by analysis of data available in 10 languages in 75 geographical regions of over 50 countries. All severe Hib diseases, not only meningitis, were characterized, and special attention was paid to the most vulnerable age group, i.e., children aged 0 to 4 years. Prior to vaccination, the weighted worldwide incidence of meningitis in patients younger than 5 years was 57/100,000, and for all Hib diseases except nonbacteremic pneumonia, it was 71/100,000, indicating 357,000 and 445,000 cases per year, respectively. At least 108,500 of these children died. For all age groups combined, there were 486,000 cases of Hib disease, excluding pneumonia, with 114,200 deaths and probably an equal number of sequelae per annum. If the figures for nonbacteremic pneumonia are included, a conservative estimate is that over 2.2 million cases of infection and 520,000 deaths from Hib disease occurred worldwide, but the true numbers might have been greater. Despite these large numbers and availability of safe and efficacious vaccines, only 38,000 cases annually are prevented-a meager 8% or less than a 2% reduction in cases, depending on whether nonbacteremic pneumonia is included in the calculations. Although vaccination has had great success in some affluent countries, the current level of activity has had a very small impact globally. The use of conjugates, preferably with a reduced number of doses and in combination with other vaccines or perhaps in fractional doses, should be extended to less privileged countries, where most Hib disease occurs.
 
Schistosomiasis japonica is a serious communicable disease and a major disease risk for more than 30 million people living in the tropical and subtropical zones of China. Infection remains a major public health concern despite 45 years of intensive control efforts. It is estimated that 865,000 people and 100,250 bovines are today infected in the provinces where the disease is endemic, and its transmission continues. Unlike the other schistosome species known to infect humans, the oriental schistosome, Schistosoma japonicum, is a true zoonotic organism, with a range of mammalian reservoirs, making control efforts extremely difficult. Clinical features of schistosomiasis range from fever, headache, and lethargy to severe fibro-obstructive pathology leading to portal hypertension, ascites, and hepatosplenomegaly, which can cause premature death. Infected children are stunted and have cognitive defects impairing memory and learning ability. Current control programs are heavily based on community chemotherapy with a single dose of the drug praziquantel, but vaccines (for use in bovines and humans) in combination with other control strategies are needed to make elimination of the disease possible. In this article, we provide an overview of the biology, epidemiology, clinical features, and prospects for control of oriental schistosomiasis in the People's Republic of China.
 
Despite significant improvements in leprosy (Hansen's disease) treatment and outlook for patients since the introduction of multidrug therapy (MDT) 3 decades ago, the global incidence remains high, and patients often have long-term complications associated with the disease. In this article, we discuss recent findings related to genetics, susceptibility, and disease reservoirs and the implications of these findings for Hansen's disease control and health outcomes for patients. We describe the continued difficulties associated with treatment of inflammatory episodes known as "leprosy reactions," which cause much of the disability associated with the disease and can affect people for many years after MDT is complete. We also discuss some of the contemporary challenges for physicians and patients, including international and internal migration of people affected by the disease. We suggest some important areas of focus for future Hansen's disease research. Copyright © 2015, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.
 
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is an important community and nosocomial respiratory pathogen for infants and young children. RSV causes especially severe disease in the prematurely born or those with chronic cardiopulmonary diseases. Elderly persons and those with T-cell deficiencies, such as bone marrow transplant recipients, are also at high risk for serious lower respiratory tract infections. To date, prevention of RSV infections by vaccination has proven elusive and no preventive drugs exist. Studies in animals and humans have shown that the lower respiratory tract can be protected from RSV infection by sufficient circulating RSV neutralizing antibody levels. Recently, an RSV hyperimmune immune globulin (RSVIG) was developed and tested for the prevention of RSV infections or reduction of disease severity. Passive immunization of high-risk children with RSVIG during the respiratory disease season effected significant reductions in RSV infections, hospitalizations, days of hospitalization, intensive care unit admissions, days in the intensive care unit, and ribavirin use. Studies in cotton rats and owl monkeys show that RSV infections can also be treated with inhalation of immune globulin at doses substantially smaller than required for parenteral treatment. Therapeutic trials of parenteral RSVIG have been completed and are pending analysis. The use of polyclonal, hyperimmune globulins and perhaps human monoclonal antibodies provides an additional approach to the prevention and perhaps the treatment of certain viral lower respiratory tract infections such as those caused by RSV.
 
Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a life-threatening tick-transmitted infection, is the most prevalent rickettsiosis in the United States. This zoonosis is firmly entrenched in the tick host, which maintains the rickettsiae in nature by transovarian transmission. Although the incidence of disease fluctuates in various regions and nationwide, the problems of a deceptively difficult clinical diagnosis and little microbiologic diagnostic effort persist. Many empiric antibiotic regimens lack antirickettsial activity. There is neither an effective vaccine nor a generally available assay that is diagnostic during the early stages of illness, when treatment is most effective. Microbiology laboratories that offer only the archaic retrospective Weil-Felix serologic tests should review the needs of their patients. Research microbiologists who tackle these challenging organisms have an array of questions to address regarding rickettsial surface composition, structure-function analysis, and pathogenic and immune mechanisms, as well as laboratory diagnosis.
 
Number of confirmed seafood-associated outbreaks and outbreak-related cases, by year and etiology, 1973 to 2006. 
Number of confirmed seafood-associated outbreaks, by etiology and month of occurrence, 1973 to 2006. 
Number of confirmed seafood-associated outbreaks in the United States, by state, 1973 to 2006. 
Percentages of seafood-associated outbreaks of infection attributable to seafood commodities in four multiyear ranges. 
Numbers of outbreaks and sporadic cases of Vibrio infection, by species and year, 1997 to 2006. 
Seafood is part of a healthful diet, but seafood consumption is not risk-free. Seafood is responsible for an important proportion of food-borne illnesses and outbreaks in the United States. Seafood-associated infections are caused by a variety of bacteria, viruses, and parasites; this diverse group of pathogens results in a wide variety of clinical syndromes, each with its own epidemiology. Some seafood commodities are inherently more risky than others, owing to many factors, including the nature of the environment from which they come, their mode of feeding, the season during which they are harvested, and how they are prepared and served. Prevention of seafood-associated infections requires an understanding not only of the etiologic agents and seafood commodities associated with illness but also of the mechanisms of contamination that are amenable to control. Defining these problem areas, which relies on surveillance of seafood-associated infections through outbreak and case reporting, can lead to targeted research and help to guide control efforts. Coordinated efforts are necessary to further reduce the risk of seafood-associated illnesses. Continued surveillance will be important to assess the effectiveness of current and future prevention strategies.
 
M protein is a major virulence determinant for the group A streptococcus by virtue of its ability to allow the organism to resist phagocytosis. Common in eucaryotes, the fibrillar coiled-coil design for the M molecule may prove to be a common motif for surface proteins in gram-positive organisms. This type of structure offers the organism several distinct advantages, ranging from antigenic variation to multiple functional domains. The close resemblance of this molecular design to that of certain mammalian proteins could help explain on a molecular level the formation of epitopes responsible for serological cross-reactions between microbial and mammalian proteins. Many of the approaches described in the elucidation of the M-protein structure may be applied for characterizing similar molecules in other microbial systems.
 
A variety of techniques, including the use of live oral vaccines, have been used to deliver antigens to the gut-associated lymphoid tissues in an attempt to initiate production of specific secretory immunoglobulin A for protection against pathogens that colonize or cross mucosal surfaces to initiate infection. A number of attenuated Salmonella mutants are able to interact with the lymphoid tissues in the Peyer's patches but are not able to cause systemic disease. Some of these mutants are effective as live vaccines (i.e., able to protect against infection with the virulent Salmonella parent) and are candidates for use as carriers for virulence determinants of other mucosal pathogens. This has been shown to be an effective means of stimulating significant levels of specific mucosal secretory immunoglobulin A directed against the carrier strains and against a variety of heterologous antigens and has been shown to stimulate production of serum antibodies and cell-mediated responses as well. This review examines the history of this mechanism of vaccine delivery and summarizes the most recent applications of this evolving technology. This is a technique for vaccine delivery with significant potential for influencing the management of infectious diseases on a large scale. It can be used not only for vaccines against enteric bacterial pathogens but also for vaccines against a variety of other bacteria, viruses, and parasites. The results obtained to date are encouraging, and there is great potential for development of safe, effective, affordable vaccines.
 
Recent isolations of Rhodococcus equi from cavitatory pulmonary disease in patients with AIDS have aroused interest among medical microbiologists in this unusual organism. Earlier isolations from humans had also been in immunosuppressed patients following hemolymphatic tumors or renal transplantation. This organism has been recognized for many years as a cause of a serious pyogranulomatous pneumonia of young foals and is occasionally isolated from granulomatous lesions in several other species, in some cases following immunosuppression. The last decade has seen many advances in understanding of the epidemiology, pathogenesis, diagnosis, treatment, and immunity to infection in foals. The particular susceptibility of the foal is not understood but can be explained in part by a combination of heavy challenge through the respiratory route coinciding with declining maternally derived antibody in the absence of fully competent foal cellular immune mechanisms. R. equi is largely a soil organism but is widespread in the feces of herbivores. Its growth in soil is considerably improved by simple nutrients it obtains from herbivore manure. About one-third of human patients who have developed R. equi infections had contact in some way with herbivores or their manure. Others may have acquired infection from contact with soil or wild bird manure. R. equi is an intracellular parasite, which explains the typical pyogranulomatous nature of R. equi infections, the predisposition to infection in human patients with defective cell-mediated immune mechanisms, and the efficacy of antimicrobial drugs that penetrate phagocytic cells.
 
Individuals with cystic fibrosis have abbreviated life spans primarily due to chronic airway infection. A limited number of types of organisms are responsible for these infections, with Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa being of primary importance. In the pre-antibiotic era, greater than 90% of deaths due to infection were caused by S. aureus and death usually occurred in the first 2 years of life. With the advent of effective antistaphylococcal therapy, life spans increased and P. aeruginosa became the pathogen of primary importance. P. aeruginosa isolates recovered from patients with cystic fibrosis have a unique phenotypic characteristic referred to as "mucoid." The mucoid phenotype is due to the production of a mucoid exopolysaccharide. A mucoid exopolysaccharide is believed to play a central role in the establishment of chronic pseudomonal lung infection in these patients. A third organism, Pseudomonas cepacia, has recently been detected in the airways of older patients with cystic fibrosis and is associated with increased mortality. The virulence of P. cepacia is not understood, but the organism is extremely refractory to antimicrobial therapy. Other bacteria, including Haemophilus influenzae and members of the family Enterobacteriaceae, appear to play a secondary role in airway infection. Aspergillus fumigatus is the most important fungal agent causing allergic bronchopulmonary disease. The role of viruses has only recently been examined. At least in some patients with cystic fibrosis, respiratory syncytial virus may be important in predisposing to subsequent bacterial infections.
 
Human V specificities of pyrogenic exotoxins a Pyrogenic exotoxin Human V specificity
Possible fate of T cells that encounter superantigen (SAg) in vivo.  
Interplay between T-cell-and APC-derived cytokines and induction of inflammatory cytokine cascade by superantigen (SAg).
Superantigen-directed, T-lymphocyte-mediated killing of tumor cells.
The recent discovery of the mode of interaction between a group of microbial proteins known as superantigens and the immune system has opened a wide area of investigation into the possible role of these molecules in human diseases. Superantigens produced by certain viruses and bacteria, including Mycoplasma species, are either secreted or membrane-bound proteins. A unique feature of these proteins is that they can interact simultaneously with distinct receptors on different types of cells, resulting in enhanced cell-cell interaction and triggering a series of biochemical reactions that can lead to excessive cell proliferation and the release of inflammatory cytokines. However, although superantigens share many features, they can have very different biological effects that are potentiated by host genetic and environmental factors. This review focuses on a group of secreted pyrogenic toxins that belong to the superantigen family and highlights some of their structural-functional features and their roles in diseases such as toxic shock and autoimmunity. Deciphering the biological activities of the various superantigens and understanding their role in the pathogenesis of microbial infections and their sequelae will enable us to devise means by which we can intervene with their activity and/or manipulate them to our advantage.
 
Bartonella spp. are facultative intracellular pathogens that employ a unique stealth infection strategy comprising immune evasion and modulation, intimate interaction with nucleated cells, and intraerythrocytic persistence. Infections with Bartonella are ubiquitous among mammals, and many species can infect humans either as their natural host or incidentally as zoonotic pathogens. Upon inoculation into a naive host, the bartonellae first colonize a primary niche that is widely accepted to involve the manipulation of nucleated host cells, e.g., in the microvasculature. Consistently, in vitro research showed that Bartonella harbors an ample arsenal of virulence factors to modulate the response of such cells, gain entrance, and establish an intracellular niche. Subsequently, the bacteria are seeded into the bloodstream where they invade erythrocytes and give rise to a typically asymptomatic intraerythrocytic bacteremia. While this course of infection is characteristic for natural hosts, zoonotic infections or the infection of immunocompromised patients may alter the path of Bartonella and result in considerable morbidity. In this review we compile current knowledge on the molecular processes underlying both the infection strategy and pathogenesis of Bartonella and discuss their connection to the clinical presentation of human patients, which ranges from minor complaints to life-threatening disease.
 
Human fungal pathogens have become an increasingly important medical problem with the explosion in the number of immunocompromised patients as a result of cancer, steroid therapy, chemotherapy, and AIDS. Additionally, the globalization of travel and expansion of humankind into previously undisturbed habitats have led to the reemergence of old fungi and new exposure to previously undescribed fungi. Until recently, relatively little was known about virulence factors for the medically important fungi. With the advent of molecular genetics, rapid progress has now been made in understanding the basis of pathogenicity for organisms such as Aspergillus species and Cryptococcus neoformans. The twin technologies of genetic transformation and "knockout" deletion construction allowed for genetic tests of virulence factors in these organisms. Such knowledge will prove invaluable for the rational design of antifungal therapies. Putative virulence factors and attributes are reviewed for Aspergillus species, C. neoformans, the dimorphic fungal pathogens, and others, with a focus upon a molecular genetic approach. Candida species are excluded from coverage, having been the subject of numerous recent reviews. This growing body of knowledge about fungal pathogens and their virulence factors will significantly aid efforts to treat the serious diseases they cause.
 
Leukocyte sources of type 1 and type 2 cytokines 
In the mid-1980s, Mosmann, Coffman, and their colleagues discovered that murine CD4+ helper T-cell clones could be distinguished by the cytokines they synthesized. The isolation of human Th1 and Th2 clones by Romagnani and coworkers in the early 1990s has led to a large number of reports on the effects of Th1 and Th2 on the human immune system. More recently, cells other than CD4+ T cells, including CD8+ T cells, monocytes, NK cells, B cells, eosinophils, mast cells, basophils, and other cells, have been shown to be capable of producing "Th1" and "Th2" cytokines. In this review, we examine the literature on human diseases, using the nomenclature of type 1 (Th1-like) and type 2 (Th2-like) cytokines, which includes all cell types producing these cytokines rather than only CD4+ T cells. Type 1 cytokines include interleukin-2 (IL-2), gamma interferon, IL-12 and tumor necrosis factor beta, while type 2 cytokines include IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-10, and IL-13. In general, type 1 cytokines favor the development of a strong cellular immune response whereas type 2 cytokines favor a strong humoral immune response. Some of these type 1 and type 2 cytokines are cross-regulatory. For example, gamma interferon and IL-12 decrease the levels of type 2 cytokines whereas IL-4 and IL-10 decrease the levels of type 1 cytokines. We use this cytokine perspective to examine human diseases including infections due to viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi, as well as selected neoplastic, atopic, rheumatologic, autoimmune, and idiopathic-inflammatory conditions. Clinically, type 1 cytokine-predominant responses should be suspected in any delayed-type hypersensitivity-like granulomatous reactions and in infections with intracellular pathogens, whereas conditions involving hypergammaglobulinemia, increased immunoglobulin E levels, and/or eosinophilia are suggestive of type 2 cytokine-predominant conditions. If this immunologic concept is relevant to human diseases, the potential exists for novel cytokine-based therapies and novel cytokine-directed preventive vaccines for such diseases.
 
Relationship between species and OspA and OspC serotypes of B. burgdorferi sensu lato. OspA serotype J10 of Japanese isolates corresponds to the European B. afzelii strains of serotype 2. Data from references 152 and 279 are included. Adapted from reference 278 with permission of the publisher.
Simplified dendrogram of 136 Lyme disease spirochete isolates from different B. burgdorferi sensu lato species based on their RAPD fingerprints. The numbers of isolates for each B. burgdorferi sensu lato species studied is indicated in parenthesis. The size of the vertical bars of the triangles for the four major B. burgdorferi sensu lato species represents the number of isolates studied, while the position of the left angle of these triangles is representative of the percent similarity within each of these species. Modified from reference 268.
Typing of B. burgdorferi sensu lato isolates by using the rrfA-rrlB intergenic spacer PCR-RFLP analysis. The rrfA-rrlB intergenic spacer was am- plified by PCR, and this was followed by the analysis of Mse I restriction poly- morphism of PCR products. The eight B. burgdorferi sensu lato species included are B. burgdorferi sensu stricto (pattern A), B. garinii (patterns B and C), B. afzelii (pattern D), B. japonica (pattern E), B. valaisiana (pattern F), B. lusitaniae (pattern G), B. bissettii sp. nov. (pattern I), and B. andersonii (pattern L). Modified from reference 196 with permission of the publisher. 
B. burgdorferi sensu lato strains used for phylogenetic analysis in Fig. 4
Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato, the spirochete that causes human Lyme borreliosis (LB), is a genetically and phenotypically divergent species. In the past several years, various molecular approaches have been developed and used to determine the phenotypic and genetic heterogeneity within the LB-related spirochetes and their potential association with distinct clinical syndromes. These methods include serotyping, multilocus enzyme electrophoresis, DNA-DNA reassociation analysis, rRNA gene restriction analysis (ribotyping), pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, plasmid fingerprinting, randomly amplified polymorphic DNA fingerprinting analysis, species-specific PCR and PCR-based restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis, and sequence analysis of 16S rRNA and other conserved genes. On the basis of DNA-DNA reassociation analysis, 10 different Borrelia species have been described within the B. burgdorferi sensu lato complex: B. burgdorferi sensu stricto, Borrelia garinii, Borrelia afzelii, Borrelia japonica, Borrelia andersonii, Borrelia valaisiana, Borrelia lusitaniae, Borrelia tanukii, Borrelia turdi, and Borrelia bissettii sp. nov. To date, only B. burgdorferi sensu stricto, B. garinii, and B. afzelii are well known to be responsible for causing human disease. Different Borrelia species have been associated with distinct clinical manifestations of LB. In addition, Borrelia species are differentially distributed worldwide and may be maintained through different transmission cycles in nature. In this paper, the molecular methods used for typing of B. burgdorferi sensu lato are reviewed. The current taxonomic status of B. burgdorferi sensu lato and its epidemiological and clinical implications, especiallly correlation between the variable clinical presentations and the infecting Borrelia species, are discussed in detail.
 
(Top) Diagram of a simple retrovirus genome showing the 5 cap, the 3 poly(A)tail, and the tRNA primer site. U3 and U5 are unique sequences located where shown. When the retrovirus genome is reverse transcribed (bottom), the U3 and U5 sequences are duplicated as LTRs that contain the principal regulatory sequences. Viral RNA transcription is initiated from the provirus genome at the U3-R boundary. The CCAAT and TAATA start signals and enhancer-promoter sequences are located upstream from the RNA initiationtranscription site and specifically bind cellular transcription factors that are explicit proteins often of nucleolar origin (Fig. 3).
Contemporary simple and complex retroviruses
Retroviral diagnostics have become standard in human laboratory medicine. While current emphasis is placed on the human exogenous viruses (human immunodeficiency virus and human T-cell leukemia virus), evidence implicating human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) in various human disease entities continues to mount. Literature on the occurrence of HERVs in human tissues and cells was analyzed. Substantial evidence documents that retrovirus particles were clearly demonstrable in various tissues and cells in both health and disease and were abundant in the placenta and that their occurrence could be implicated in some of the reproductive diseases. The characteristics of HERVs are summarized, mechanisms of replication and regulation are outlined, and the consistent hormonal responsiveness of HERVs is noted. Clear evidence implicating HERV gene products as participants in glomerulonephritis in some cases of systemic lupus erythematosus is adduced. Data implicating HERVs as etiologic factors in reproductive diseases, in some of the autoimmune diseases, in some forms of rheumatoid arthritis and connective tissue disease, in psoriasis, and in some of the inflammatory neurologic diseases are reviewed. The current major needs are to improve methods for HERV detection, to identify the most appropriate HERV prototypes, and to develop diagnostic reagents so that the putative biologic and pathologic roles of HERVs can be better evaluated.
 
Protection against pathogens is a prerequisite for survival of most organisms. To cope with this continuous challenge, complex defense mechanisms have evolved. The construction, adaptation, and maintenance of these mechanisms are under control of an extensive network of regulatory proteins called cytokines. A great number of cytokines have been described over the last 2 decades. This review consists of an overview of cytokines that are involved in immune responses and describes some historical and general aspects as well as prospective clinical applications. Major biological effects together with information on cytokine receptors, producers, inducers, and biochemical and molecular characteristics are listed in tables. In addition, some basic information is given on cytokine receptor signal transduction. Finally, the recent discoveries of cytokine receptors functioning as coreceptors in the pathogenesis of human immunodeficiency virus are summarized.
 
Vascular structure of a hepatic lobule. The liver is composed of elementary functional units called lobules. A single lobule is depicted. Each lobule is made of parenchymal cells, mainly hepatocytes (HCs), which account for up to 80% of the total liver volume, and nonparenchymal cells (6.5% of the total volume) located in the sinusoidal compartment. Inside the lobule, hepatocytes are arranged in irregular radiating columns bathed by blood-carrying spaces called sinusoids. Lobules are prisms with a hexagonal cross section, the vertices of which are marked by the portal triad: the hepatic arteriole (HA), portal veinule (PV), and bile duct (BD). Around 75% of the blood entering the sinusoids comes from the portal veinule. The remainder enters the sinusoids principally through branches of the hepatic arterioles via the arteriosinus twigs. Sometimes, direct connections (arterioportal anastomoses [APA]) are observed within the terminal portal veinules. Blood then leaves the sinusoids through the efferent centrolobular vein (CV). Please note that for reasons of clarity, this schematic view does not respect the exact scale and numbers of cells within a lobule. 
Entamoeba histolytica trophozoite within a sinusoid. The sinusoidal wall is made of LSECs and, with hepatocytes (HCs), delimitates the DS, in which SCs and components of the ECM are found. Leukocytes (LCs) are present in the sinusoidal lumen (SL), as are KCs, which additionally straddle the endothelium. The diagram presents the major factors involved in the interaction between E. histolytica and the liver endothelium. Within the hepatic sinusoids, trophozoites undergo complement attack and oxidative stress provoked by the high-oxygen partial pressure. Amoebae resist these threats by using Gal/GalNAc lectin (blue ellipses), lytic factors such as cysteine proteases (white ellipses), reducing enzymes (purple ellipse), and potentially other molecules of as-yet-unknown function (black ellipses). Trophozoites adhere to the endothelium and cause the apoptosis of LSECs. Amoebae can then migrate to the parenchyma (yellow arrow) through the newly created breach or between LSECs. 
Amoebic liver abscess. Seven days after intraportal injection, the typical histological presentation of amoebic liver abscess in hamsters resembles a centripetral trophozoite layer (indicated by an arrow) stained with antiamoebic antibodies (in red) surrounding a central necrotic zone (indicated by “N”) and facing an external area containing large numbers of inflammatory cells (indicated by an arrowhead and stained with hematoxylin [in blue]). Scale bar, 50 ␮ m. 
Control of host responses by Entamoeba histolytica . Following stimulation by Gal/GalNAc lectin (blue ellipses) and (probably) other amoebic surface factors (black ellipses), macrophages produce TNF, which promotes the production of reactive oxygen intermediates (ROI) or reactive nitrogen intermediates (RNI), with the latter including NO. ROI and RNI are detoxified by the parasite’s reducing enzymes (purple ellipses): among them are peroxiredoxin, p34 thioredoxin reductase (p34), and an iron-containing superoxide dismutase (Fe-SOD). Trophozoites can also prevent NO production by converting arginine to ornithine. Amoebae can also synthesize (and make host cells synthesize) PGE 2 , which reduces TNF and class II MHC (MHC II) production. The above-described mechanisms that E. histolytica uses to subvert the inflammatory response appear to be essential for ALA development, along with other amoebic features supported by the Gal/GalNAc lectin, lytic proteins like amoebapores and CPs (white ellipses), and molecules of unknown function (black ellipses), such as the virulence factor KERP1. 
Amoebiasis by Entamoeba histolytica is a major public health problem in developing countries and leads to several thousand deaths per year. The parasite invades the intestine (provoking diarrhea and dysentery) and the liver, where it forms abscesses (amoebic liver abscesses [ALAs]). The liver is the organ responsible for filtering blood coming from the intestinal tract, a task that implies a particular structure and immune features. Amoebae use the portal route and break through the sinusoidal endothelial barrier to reach the hepatic parenchyma. When faced with systemic and cell-mediated defenses, trophozoites adapt to their new environment and modulate host responses, leading to parasite survival and the formation of inflammatory foci. Cytopathogenic effects and the onset of inflammation may be caused by diffusible products originating from parasites and/or immune cells either by their secretion or by their release after cell death. Liver infection thus results from the interplay between E. histolytica and hepatic cells. Despite its importance in terms of public health burden, the lack of integrated data on ALA genesis means that we have only an incomplete description of the initiation and development of hepatic amoebiasis. Here, we review the main steps of ALA development as well as the responses triggered in both the host and the parasite. Transcriptome studies highlighted parasite factors involved in adherence to human cells, cytopathogenic effects, and adaptative and stress responses. An understanding of their role in ALA development will help to unravel the host-pathogen interactions and their evolution throughout the infection.
 
SUMMARY Acute apical abscess is the most common form of dental abscess and is caused by infection of the root canal of the tooth. It is usually localized intraorally, but in some cases the apical abscess may spread and result in severe complications or even mortality. The reasons why dental root canal infections can become symptomatic and evolve to severe spreading and sometimes life-threatening abscesses remain elusive. Studies using culture and advanced molecular microbiology methods for microbial identification in apical abscesses have demonstrated a multispecies community conspicuously dominated by anaerobic bacteria. Species/phylotypes commonly found in these infections belong to the genera Fusobacterium, Parvimonas, Prevotella, Porphyromonas, Dialister, Streptococcus, and Treponema. Advances in DNA sequencing technologies and computational biology have substantially enhanced the knowledge of the microbiota associated with acute apical abscesses and shed some light on the etiopathogeny of this disease. Species richness and abundance and the resulting network of interactions among community members may affect the collective pathogenicity and contribute to the development of acute infections. Disease modifiers, including transient or permanent host-related factors, may also influence the development and severity of acute abscesses. This review focuses on the current evidence about the etiology and treatment of acute apical abscesses and how the process is influenced by host-related factors and proposes future directions in research, diagnosis, and therapeutic approaches to deal with this disease.
 
When antibiotic combinations are used to provide a broader spectrum of antimicrobial activity or in an attempt to prevent the emergence of resistant organisms, it is rarely necessary or practical to perform tests of drug interactions in vitro. In vitro testing of combinations may be useful when combinations are used in an attempt to attain synergistic interactions. In some cases, screening methods can be used as substitutes for formal synergy testing. This paper examines the mechanisms of antibiotic interaction leading to synergism or antagonism, surveys attempts to correlate in vitro observations with efficacy in animal models, and reviews clinical data providing evidence for or against a useful role of synergistic antibiotic interactions in the treatment of human infections.
 
The use of recreational drugs of abuse has generated serious health concerns. There is a long-recognized relationship between addictive drugs and increased levels of infections. Studies of the mechanisms of actions of these drugs became more urgent with the advent of AIDS and its correlation with abused substances. The nature and mechanisms of immunomodulation by marijuana, opiates, cocaine, nicotine, and alcohol are described in this review. Recent studies of the effects of opiates or marijuana on the immune system have demonstrated that they are receptor mediated, occurring both directly via specific receptors on immune cells and indirectly through similar receptors on cells of the nervous system. Findings are also discussed that demonstrate that cocaine and nicotine have similar immunomodulatory effects, which are also apparently receptor mediated. Finally, the nature and mechanisms of immunomodulation by alcohol are described. Although no specific alcohol receptors have been identified, it is widely recognized that alcohol enhances susceptibility to opportunistic microbes. The review covers recent studies of the effects of these drugs on immunity and on increased susceptibility to infectious diseases, including AIDS.
 
Acanthamoeba spp. are free-living amebae that inhabit a variety of air, soil, and water environments. However, these amebae can also act as opportunistic as well as nonopportunistic pathogens. They are the causative agents of granulomatous amebic encephalitis and amebic keratitis and have been associated with cutaneous lesions and sinusitis. Immuno compromised individuals, including AIDS patients, are particularly susceptible to infections with Acanthamoeba. The immune defense mechanisms that operate against Acanthamoeba have not been well characterized, but it has been proposed that both innate and acquired immunity play a role. The ameba's life cycle includes an active feeding trophozoite stage and a dormant cyst stage. Trophozoites feed on bacteria, yeast, and algae. However, both trophozoites and cysts can retain viable bacteria and may serve as reservoirs for bacteria with human pathogenic potential. Diagnosis of infection includes direct microscopy of wet mounts of cerebrospinal fluid or stained smears of cerebrospinal fluid sediment, light or electron microscopy of tissues, in vitro cultivation of Acanthamoeba, and histological assessment of frozen or paraffin-embedded sections of brain or cutaneous lesion biopsy material. Immunocytochemistry, chemifluorescent dye staining, PCR, and analysis of DNA sequence variation also have been employed for laboratory diagnosis. Treatment of Acanthamoeba infections has met with mixed results. However, chlorhexidine gluconate, alone or in combination with propamidene isethionate, is effective in some patients. Furthermore, effective treatment is complicated since patients may present with underlying disease and Acanthamoeba infection may not be recognized. Since an increase in the number of cases of Acanthamoeba infections has occurred worldwide, these protozoa have become increasingly important as agents of human disease.
 
Parasitic diseases are receiving increasing attention in developed countries in part because of their importance in travelers, immigrants, and immunocompromised persons. The main purpose of this review is to educate laboratorians, the primary readership, and health care workers, the secondary readership, about the potential hazards of handling specimens that contain viable parasites and about the diseases that can result. This is accomplished partly through discussion of the occupationally acquired cases of parasitic infections that have been reported, focusing for each case on the type of accident that resulted in infection, the length of the incubation period, the clinical manifestations that developed, and the means by which infection was detected. The article focuses on the cases of infection with the protozoa that cause leishmaniasis, malaria, toxoplasmosis, Chagas' disease (American trypanosomiasis), and African trypanosomiasis. Data about 164 such cases are discussed, as are data about cases caused by intestinal protozoa and by helminths. Of the 105 case-patients infected with blood and tissue protozoa who either recalled an accident or for whom the likely route of transmission could be presumed, 47 (44.8%) had percutaneous exposure via a contaminated needle or other sharp object. Some accidents were directly linked to poor laboratory practices (e.g., recapping a needle or working barehanded). To decrease the likelihood of accidental exposures, persons who could be exposed to pathogenic parasites must be thoroughly instructed in safety precautions before they begin to work and through ongoing training programs. Protocols should be provided for handling specimens that could contain viable organisms, using protective clothing and equipment, dealing with spills of infectious organisms, and responding to accidents. Special care should be exercised when using needles and other sharp objects.
 
Mycobacterium tuberculosis is known to synthesize alpha-, methoxy-, and keto-mycolic acids. We propose a detailed pathway to the biosynthesis of all mycolic acids in M. tuberculosis. Fatty acid synthetase I provides C(20)-S-coenzyme A to the fatty acid synthetase II system (FAS-IIA). Modules of FAS-IIA and FAS-IIB introduce cis unsaturation at two locations on a growing meroacid chain to yield three different forms of cis,cis-diunsaturated fatty acids (intermediates to alpha-, methoxy-, and keto-meroacids). These are methylated, and the mature meroacids and carboxylated C(26)-S-acyl carrier protein enter into the final Claisen-type condensation with polyketide synthase-13 (Pks13) to yield mycolyl-S-Pks13. We list candidate genes in the genome encoding the proposed dehydrase and isomerase in the FAS-IIA and FAS-IIB modules. We propose that the processing of mycolic acids begins by transfer of mycolic acids from mycolyl-S-Pks13 to d-mannopyranosyl-1-phosphoheptaprenol to yield 6-O-mycolyl-beta-d-mannopyranosyl-1-phosphoheptaprenol and then to trehalose 6-phosphate to yield phosphorylated trehalose monomycolate (TMM-P). Phosphatase releases the phosphate group to yield TMM, which is immediately transported outside the cell by the ABC transporter. Antigen 85 then catalyzes the transfer of a mycolyl group from TMM to the cell wall arabinogalactan and to other TMMs to produce arabinogalactan-mycolate and trehalose dimycolate, respectively. We list candidate genes in the genome that encode the proposed mycolyltransferases I and II, phosphatase, and ABC transporter. The enzymes within this total pathway are targets for new drug discovery.
 
The mycobacteria are an important group of acid-fast pathogens ranging from obligate intracellular parasites such as Mycobacterium leprae to environmental species such as M. gordonae and M. fortuitum. The latter may behave as opportunistic human pathogens if the host defenses have been depleted in some manner. The number and severity of such infections have increased markedly with the emergence of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) epidemic. These nontuberculous mycobacteria tend to be less virulent for humans than M. tuberculosis, usually giving rise to self-limiting infections involving the cervical and mesenteric lymph nodes of young children. However, the more virulent serovars of M. avium complex can colonize the bronchial and intestinal mucosal surfaces of healthy individuals, becoming virtual members of the commensal gut microflora and thus giving rise to low levels of skin hypersensitivity to tuberculins prepared from M. avium and M. intracellulare. Systemic disease develops when the normal T-cell-mediated defenses become depleted as a result of old age, cancer chemotherapy, or infection with human immunodeficiency virus. As many as 50% of human immunodeficiency virus antibody-positive individuals develop mycobacterial infections at some time during their disease. Most isolates of M. avium complex from AIDS patients fall into serotypes 4 and 8. The presence of these drug-resistant mycobacteria in the lungs of the AIDS patient makes their effective clinical treatment virtually impossible. More effective chemotherapeutic, prophylactic, and immunotherapeutic reagents are urgently needed to treat this rapidly increasing patient population.
 
SUMMARY Paragonimiasis is a parasitic lung infection caused by lung flukes of the genus Paragonimus, with most cases reported from Asia and caused by P. westermani following consumption of raw or undercooked crustaceans. With the exception of imported P. westermani cases in immigrants, in travelers returning from areas of disease endemicity, and in clusters of acquired cases following consumption of imported Asian crabs, human paragonimiasis caused by native lung flukes is rarely described in the United States, which has only one indigenous species of lung fluke, Paragonimus kellicotti. Clinicians should inquire about the consumption of raw or undercooked freshwater crabs by immigrants, expatriates, and returning travelers, and the consumption of raw or undercooked crayfish in U.S. freshwater river systems where P. kellicotti is endemic when evaluating patients presenting with unexplained fever, cough, rales, hemoptysis, pleural effusions, and peripheral eosinophilia. Diagnostic evaluation by specific parasitological, radiological, serological, and molecular methods will be required in order to differentiate paragonimiasis from tuberculosis, which is not uncommon in recent Asian immigrants. All cases of imported and locally acquired paragonimiasis will require treatment with oral praziquantel to avoid any potential pulmonary and cerebral complications of paragonimiasis, some of which may require surgical interventions.
 
The pathogens that cause Lyme disease (LD), human anaplasmosis, and babesiosis can coexist in Ixodes ticks and cause human coinfections. Although the risk of human coinfection differs by geographic location, the true prevalence of coinfecting pathogens among Ixodes ticks remains largely unknown for the majority of geographic locations. The prevalence of dually infected Ixodes ticks appears highest among ticks from regions of North America and Europe where LD is endemic, with reported prevalences of < or =28%. In North America and Europe, the majority of tick-borne coinfections occur among humans with diagnosed LD. Humans coinfected with LD and babesiosis appear to have more intense, prolonged symptoms than those with LD alone. Coinfected persons can also manifest diverse, influenza-like symptoms, and abnormal laboratory test results are frequently observed. Coinfecting pathogens might alter the efficiency of transmission, cause cooperative or competitive pathogen interactions, and alter disease severity among hosts. No prospective studies to assess the immunologic effects of coinfection among humans have been conducted, but animal models demonstrate that certain coinfections can modulate the immune response. Clinicians should consider the likelihood of coinfection when pursuing laboratory testing or selecting therapy for patients with tick-borne illness.
 
Many legal issues will affect the health care worker during the AIDS pandemic. These issues are now beginning to be contested in our courts. It is certain that their numbers will continue to grow in the foreseeable future. As local, state, and federal governments design and implement new laws concerning PWA, mechanisms for surveillance, and control of AIDS, new issues are sure to arise. These will undoubtedly involve persons concerned with providing service to those afflicted with this illness. The direction of health care research has already been altered by AIDS. Societal relationships have been affected, as evidenced by the increasing number of legal charges filed when the question of HIV infection involves a patient, student, employee, or other citizen. Inevitably, the health care worker who has contact with PWA will be asked to participate in the mechanisms of the resulting legal contests. If the case reports cited above are an indication of the legal struggles ahead, appearance as a witness to provide scientific information as well as information about the care and treatment afforded PWA will be required of health care workers with increasing frequency.
 
Naturally acquired immunity to falciparum malaria protects millions of people routinely exposed to Plasmodium falciparum infection from severe disease and death. There is no clear concept about how this protection works. There is no general agreement about the rate of onset of acquired immunity or what constitutes the key determinants of protection; much less is there a consensus regarding the mechanism(s) of protection. This review summarizes what is understood about naturally acquired and experimentally induced immunity against malaria with the help of evolving insights provided by biotechnology and places these insights in the context of historical, clinical, and epidemiological observations. We advocate that naturally acquired immunity should be appreciated as being virtually 100% effective against severe disease and death among heavily exposed adults. Even the immunity that occurs in exposed infants may exceed 90% effectiveness. The induction of an adult-like immune status among high-risk infants in sub-Saharan Africa would greatly diminish disease and death caused by P. falciparum. The mechanism of naturally acquired immunity that occurs among adults living in areas of hyper- to holoendemicity should be understood with a view toward duplicating such protection in infants and young children in areas of endemicity.
 
Human cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a ubiquitous deoxyribonucleic acid virus that commonly infects a majority of individuals at some time during their life. Although most of these CMV infections are asymptomatic, certain patient groups are at risk to develop serious illness. Understanding the epidemiology of this virus is a key element in the development of strategies for preventing CMV disease. However, a number of features of this virus complicate such understanding. Following infection, CMV can remain latent, with subsequent reactivation; the factors controlling latency and reactivation and those factors which determine whether a CMV infection will be symptomatic are unknown. CMV disease can be acquired by natural routes, including horizontal and vertical transmission. Due to the ubiquity of CMV, the delineation of CMV transmission by these natural routes is complicated by the myriad of possible sources. Moreover, concerns over the risk of CMV transmission to the seronegative pregnant female have been raised in relation to preventing CMV transmission. By using molecular biologic techniques, much knowledge has been gained regarding the transmission of CMV disease by natural routes; however, a number of questions remain unanswered. The transmission of CMV infection by natural routes is therefore reviewed and the issues are highlighted. Primary infection, reactivation, and reinfection are the types of active CMV infections that can occur in an immunocompromised patient. In addition to natural routes of infection, introduction of presumably latently infected organs and requirements for multiple blood transfusions increase potential exposure to CMV in the immunocompromised patient. Understanding the epidemiology of CMV infections in the immunocompromised patient is difficult and in some instances controversial due to the complexity and interdependency of a number of factors which lead to CMV infection. In an immunocompromised individual, a major risk factor in developing overt CMV-related disease is associated with the serological status of an organ donor, the recipient, and the blood product given to these patients. In addition, a large body of inferential data supports the transmission of CMV by blood products or organs from seropositive donors; however, the mechanisms by which transmission occurs remain unclear. The possible sources and mechanisms of transmission of CMV infections in the immunocompromised host are reviewed. Lastly, strategies for the ultimate prevention of CMV disease are discussed in light of the epidemiology of CMV infections. To date, these strategies have included use of CMV-seronegative blood products or organs, antiviral agents, and vaccines.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)
 
Top-cited authors
David Paterson
  • Royal Brisbane Hospital
George A Jacoby
  • Lahey Hospital and Medical Center
Trine H Mogensen
  • Aarhus University Hospital
Harald Seifert
  • University of Cologne
Michael Z. David
  • University of Pennsylvania