News/ Trends/ Analysis

April 1, 2010

H1N1 flu cases in the U.S. reach 59 million.
About one in five
U.S. residents — 59 million Americans — have had H1N1 flu since the
pandemic began in April 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) estimates. About 265,000 people have been hospitalized
with complications from H1N1, and nearly 12,000 have died, according to
CDC statistics. The majority of people who were hospitalized had an
underlying condition, with asthma being the most common. The United
States experienced its first wave of 2009 H1N1 pandemic activity in the
spring of 2009, followed by a second wave of H1N1 activity in the fall.
Activity peaked during October and then declined in January. The rise in
flu activity last October is in contrast to non-pandemic influenza
seasons. Influenza activity usually peaks in January, February, or

Travelers warned of yellow-fever cases/deaths in
CDC has issued a yellow-fever outbreak notice for certain areas of
Brazil. Southern Brazil states Rio Grande do Sul and Sao Paolo have seen
nearly 50 cases of yellow fever with approximately 40% of those infected
dying. This is the first time since 1966 that human yellow fever cases
have been reported in Rio Grande do Sul. Brazil does not require
yellow-fever vaccinations to enter the country; however, the CDC
recommends people get vaccinated when traveling to an area where there
is a risk of yellow-fever transmission.

Soldiers contract malaria in Haiti. Six American soldiers involved in the aid mission in Haiti have been
diagnosed with malaria, reports Stars and Stripes. A U.S.
military spokesman says one soldier diagnosed with falciparum malaria
(the strain of mosquito-borne parasite most common in Haiti and the most
dangerous) has been evacuated to the Army hospital at Fort Bragg, NC.
The other soldiers are being treated in Haiti. According to Army
officials, soldiers deployed to Haiti are given prophylactic doxycycline
48 hours before deployment. In addition, soldiers are to have their
uniforms treated with an insecticide and apply DEET to their skin
throughout the day.

Spider bite can cause anemia. Although brown recluse spider bites are not a widespread cause of
anemia, the diagnosis should be considered in patients with unexplained
anemia, according to a study from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
In a recent issue of The Journal of Pediatrics, St. Jude
hematologists reported on six previously healthy adolescents treated for
acute, symptomatic anemia. The illnesses were linked to hemolytic anemia
that was eventually traced to brown recluse spider bites. Researchers
noted that the spiders' venom triggers a widespread reaction in about
30% of children, and systemic reactions include hemolytic anemia, kidney
failure, and clotting problems.

Severe allergic reaction to meat may not be rare. A
carbohydrate in meat may be the unrecognized cause of recurring severe
allergic reactions in some patients. The study, presented at the
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology annual meeting in
February, included 60 people in Australia and the United States who
experienced anaphylaxis with no known cause. Allergy tests revealed that
25 of the 60 patients had positive responses to the sugar
galactose-a-1,3-galactose (alpha-gal) found in beef, lamb, pork, and
other mammalian meats, according University of Virginia scientists. The
response was considered positive at a level greater than 1.0 IU/mL of
IgE. In three cohorts of idiopathic anaphylaxis patients, 20% to 50%
tested positive for the allergy. Learn more at

The complexity and power of the methods, instrumentation, and computer systems matter little in comparison to the knowledgeable and motivated individuals who reach out, accept the challenges, and provide the solutions to the problems that continually arise. Keep up all the good work you do.

 —Leland B. Baskin, MD, FCAP,
Division Head, General Laboratory,
Calgary Laboratory Services,
Calgary, Alberta, Canada


May 3-6. APHL Newborn Screening and Genetic Testing Symposium at the DoubleTree
Hotel Universal in Orlando will address newborn screening, genetic
testing, and policy issues important to public-health laboratories.
Technologies such as tandem mass spectrometry, DNA analysis, molecular
genetics, and more will be featured in oral presentations, poster
sessions, exhibits, a meet-the-manufacturers session, and an optional
tour of the Florida state public-health laboratory. For information,
visit .

May 4-6. CLMA ThinkLab'10 will take place at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas.
ThinkLab'10 will feature a variety of educational sessions specifically
designed for emerging lab leaders as well as seasoned C-Level executives
with more than 40 breakout sessions covering a wide range of topics
including molecular diagnostics. Learn more at

May 17-19. The Molecular Pathology Essentials Course 2010 at Hyatt Regency Atlanta
will focus on the essential knowledge and current practice of clinical
molecular pathology, with an emphasis on case-based examples and
technologies. Register at .

July 25-29. The 2010 AACC Annual Meeting and Clinical Lab Expo at the Anaheim, CA,
Convention Center will include plenary sessions, symposia, interactive
workshops, short courses, brown bag sessions, posters, oral
presentations, and more, as well as more than 650 exhibitors. Learn more
at .


May 11, 1:00 p.m. EST. “Top Ten Preanalytic
Threats to Accurate Results,” presented by the Center for Phlebotomy
Education, will discuss common reasons specimens fail to yield accurate
test results, such as IV contamination, failure to mix specimens, under
filling tubes, faulty centrifugation, processing delays, and more. Visit .