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Year : 2010  |  Volume : 28  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 272-273

Research snippets from the medical world

Department of Microbiology, Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre, Raisen Bypass Road, Karond, Bhopal - 462 036, Madhya Pradesh, India

Date of Submission22-Jun-2010
Date of Acceptance12-Jul-2010
Date of Web Publication17-Jul-2010

Correspondence Address:
P Desikan
Department of Microbiology, Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre, Raisen Bypass Road, Karond, Bhopal - 462 036, Madhya Pradesh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0255-0857.66467

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How to cite this article:
Desikan P. Research snippets from the medical world. Indian J Med Microbiol 2010;28:272-3

How to cite this URL:
Desikan P. Research snippets from the medical world. Indian J Med Microbiol [serial online] 2010 [cited 2020 May 30];28:272-3. Available from:

In these days of rapid technological advances, nothing can be too far fetched. Be that as it may, it seems to border on science fiction, when the epidemiology of infectious disease is determined from space. In an extensive study, parameters such as altitude, temperature, humidity, rainfall and the normalised difference vegetation index (NDVI) were investigated for correlation with the distribution of Kala-Azar in northeastern India (Geospat Health 2010 May;4(2):155-65). As the disease showed a high correlation with the prevailing topographic conditions, an attempt was made to improve the relative strength of the approach to predict the potential for endemicity of Leishmaniasis by introducing satellite imagery complemented with a geographical information system database.

Given the endemicity of Leishmaniasis and the need for rapid and accurate laboratory diagnosis, a study evaluated the sensitivity of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification for the detection of Leishmania DNA from Giemsa-stained bone marrow slides from 115 patients with suspected Visceral Leishmaniasis (VL) (Parasitol Res. 2010 May 25. [Epub ahead of print]). The assay had a higher sensitivity (69%) than microscopic examination (57%) and culture (21%). In addition, PCR was able to detect VL in 12% of samples which were negative by microscopy.

Leishmaniasis and tuberculosis: This unholy alliance has been reported in a 52-year-old male in Sri Lanka Int J Dermatol. 2010 May;49(5):549-51) who presented with severe local destruction of his upper and lower lips and total destruction of the anterior nasal septum. This goes to show that one can never rule out a co-infection with multiple organisms in any infectious pathology.

Venezuelan Equine encephalitis (VEE) is currently considered a re-emerging disease of both human and animal importance. An alert has been issued in Panama following an outbreak of VEE in that country ( ). Human VEE is very difficult to distinguish clinically from dengue and other tropical and sub-tropical febrile illnesses. Consequently, VEE may go unreported, until it has reached epidemic proportions. A study has suggested that enzootic strains of VEE subtype ID in the Amazon region, Peru, may be less pathogenic to humans than the epizootic variants (Emerg Infect Dis. 2010 Mar;16(3):553-6). However, deaths of two persons with evidence of acute VEE virus infection in Peru indicate that the risk of fatal VEE infection in Peru continues to be significant. Unfortunately, robust epidemiological studies may be hampered by the fact that many VEE cases may remain underreported.

In an attempt to help prevent VEE, a genetically modified strain of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV), V3526, was formalin inactivated for evaluation as a candidate vaccine for VEE (Vaccine 2010 Apr 19;28(18):3143-51). Formalin-inactivated V3526 (fV3526) with and without adjuvant was tested for immunogenicity and efficacy in BALB/c mice and results were compared with that of the existing inactivated VEEV vaccine, C84. It was found that efficacy following subcutaneous or aerosol challenge was not significantly different between the fV3526 formulations or compared to C84, despite C84 being administered in more doses and higher concentration of viral protein per dose.

An ongoing outbreak of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) in Kosovo may be a cause for concern. The National Institute of Public Health of Kosovo (NIPH) has reported a total of 75 hospitalisations, including four deaths, due to CCHF between the 26th April 2010 and the 9th June 2010 ( ). A study examining the epidemiology, disease patterns and immunological profiles of cases with CCHF in Kosovo over a period of 15 years (1995-2009) found that the morbidity rate was 0.49 in 100,000 inhabitants and the mortality rate was 26.76 deaths in 100 lab confirmed cases (Med Arh. 2010;64(2):91-3). Hyperendemic zones were found in Central and Southwest Kosovo. Seroprevalence in the asymptomatic population was 24.3%. Antibodies to CCHF were also found in 14% of livestock and in 32.6% of sheep. Phylogenetically, the CCHF virus isolated in Kosovo was the same as the one isolated in Drosdov (Russia).

In an attempt to elucidate the pathogenesis of CCHF, the differential influences of CCHF viral RNA load, antibody response and cytokine production on the severity and outcome of the disease in 46 patients with confirmed acute CCHF in Kosovo were examined in a study (Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2010 May 19. [Epub ahead of print]). The viral load strongly correlated with the severity and outcome of the disease. A weak antibody response and high levels of IL-10, INF-gamma and TNF-alpha were associated with poor outcomes. Interestingly, reduced levels of IL-12 were detected in all CCHF patients.

Mycotoxin contamination of pistachios represents a serious food safety hazard. A study evaluated fungal contamination and aflatoxin (AF) and ochratoxin A (OTA) occurrence in 31 pistachio samples. A total of 31 pistachio samples were collected from retail outlets from different regions of Algeria. The most frequently found fungi were Aspergillus spp. (52%) and Penicillium spp. (38%). Two samples contained AFs (always below the EU maximum tolerable level) and one sample showed OTA contamination.

Mayaro virus (MAYV) disease is a mosquito-borne zoonosis endemic in humid forests of tropical South America. The virus is closely related to other alphaviruses that produce a dengue-like illness accompanied by long-lasting arthralgia. An outbreak of MAYV disease has been reported from the Portugesa state of Venezuela, with a cumulative total of 77 cases with no deaths ( ). Though the disease has South American origin, rapid globalisation has ensured that the disease may spread to any part of the world. A French tourist developed high-grade fever and severe joint manifestations following a 15-day trip in the Amazon basin, Brazil, and was diagnosed with MAYV infection in January 2010 (Euro Surveil. 2010;15(23). pii: 19588). This case is the first reported in a traveller returning from an endemic South American country to Europe.

Closer home, a construction worker in the Gansu Province of China died soon after he hunted, cooked, and ate an infected marmot ( ). He was diagnosed with bubonic plague. A strong case for vegetarianism, perhaps!

Incidentally,  Yersinia More Details pestis, the aetiologic agent of plague, has only recently evolved from  Yersinia pseudotuberculosis More Details J Bacteriol. 2010 June 11. [Epub ahead of print]).


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