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Subspecialties Microbiology and immunology, COVID-19, Screening and monitoring, Point of care testing

What’s New in Infectious Disease?

Fight the Resistance

A new algorithm accurately identifies asymptomatic methicillin-resistant Staphylococcusaureus (MSRA) carriers in both simulated and real-world settings (1). The results guided targeted interventions; isolating 1 percent of high-risk patients every four weeks led to 12 percent reduction of MSRA colonization.

Infection Detection

A new flexible, wireless, battery-free sensor uses bacteria-responsive DNA hydrogel to detect Staphylococcus aureus in wounds before visible signs appear (2). The wireless infection detection on wounds (WINDOW) sensor is thin and flexible, so it can be embedded into a wound dressing and track virulence factor activity on demand.

A decorative image of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria
Credit: Janice Haney Carr, Matthew J. Arduino, DRPH, USCDCP (CC0).

Evading Detection

New evidence shows that circulation of a non-SARS-CoV-2 epidemic can significantly distort SARS-CoV-2 surveillance – increasing testing demand but reducing observed SARS-CoV-2 percent positivity during an outbreak (3). Using multiplex PCR tests and a low number of samples can help correct the positivity rate and avoid surveillance bias.

The Great Escape

A study of blood samples from over 12,000 individuals in Ethiopia has estimated that the “test-treat-track” strategy may have missed nearly 10 percent of malaria cases caused by Plasmodium falciparum (4). Two genetic mutations to the parasite – pfhrp2 and pfhrp3 deletions – were found to allow it to go undetected.

Saliva Samples

Unlike other commercial antigen tests, signal-amplified antigen rapid tests using saliva samples have exhibited sensitivity above 90 percent to both fasted and non-fasted saliva samples in detecting SARS-CoV-2 (5). This is comparable to the clinical sensitivity of RT-PCR and could be useful for point-of-care testing in resource-limited environments.

Meet the Curator

How did the Infectious Disease Curator come about?

In March 2020, we started a newsletter then called The COVID-19 Curator to bring you the news you needed about the pandemic – fast. But, as vaccination rates increased and the face of the pandemic changed, we began to see the first glimmer of light at the end of a very long, dark tunnel – though it was still clear we weren’t out of it just yet (and with the untimely arrival of Omicron, this has never been truer!). As a result, we updated our Curator to bring you news about not just COVID-19, but also other infectious diseases affecting the global population. Though SARS-CoV-2 continues to affect our everyday lives, specialties such as immunology and virology are more in the spotlight than ever before and deserve to stay there. Moreover, infectious disease research has been given an undeniable boost (one of very few upsides to COVID-19). Thus, the Infectious Disease Curator was born – or, technically, evolved.

So, what exactly is the Infectious Disease Curator?

Our weekly newsletter explores humanity’s ongoing battle against infectious diseases and delivers it in a five-minute roundup. The sky’s the limit for what we cover – from HIV/AIDS and COVID-19 to malaria, Ebola, and more! – because we understand that our growing audience comes from many different facets of the medical and research community. Moving forward, we also want to get community members involved and showcase the vital work they’re doing in the field.

This article is based on a selection of stories from The Infectious Disease Curator – a weekly newsletter exploring humanity’s ongoing battle against infectious diseases. To read the latest issue and subscribe for free, click here.

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  1. S Pei et al., Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 118, e2111190118 (2021). PMID: 34493678.
  2. Z Xiong et al., Sci Adv, 7, eabj1617 (2021). PMID: 34797719.
  3. A Kovacevic et al., J Infect Dis, 13, jiab459 (2021). PMID: 34514500.
  4. SM Feleke et al., Nat Microbiol, 6, 1289 (2021). PMID: 34580442.
  5. DJH Tng et al., Mikrochim Acta, 189, 14 (2021). PMID: 34870771.
About the Author
Liv Gaskill

During my undergraduate degree in psychology and Master’s in neuroimaging for clinical and cognitive neuroscience, I realized the tasks my classmates found tedious – writing essays, editing, proofreading – were the ones that gave me the greatest satisfaction. I quickly gathered that rambling on about science in the bar wasn’t exactly riveting for my non-scientist friends, so my thoughts turned to a career in science writing. At Texere, I get to craft science into stories, interact with international experts, and engage with readers who love science just as much as I do.

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