News/ Trends/ Analysis

Nov. 1, 2010


News/ Trends/ Analysis

Mayo Clinic to test more patients for hepatitis C.At least three patients at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL, were infected with hepatitis C after a healthcare worker injected himself with painkillers his patients were supposed to receive. In August, former radiology technician Steven Beumel, 47, was fired after admitting to injecting himself with Fentanyl intended for patients and refilling the syringes with saline. He was arrested on a minor felony related to stealing drugs; law-enforcement officials say he could face more charges as the investigation continues. Mayo Clinic initially identified 3,209 patients who were at risk of contracting hepatitis C at its facility but has added 2,100 more patients to contact for testing, the Times-Union/Jacksonville reports. So far, three patients have been diagnosed with cases of hepatitis C that are genetically similar to the type Beumel has, Mayo officials say. One of those patients died from the virus; another died from an unrelated illness. The third patient remains alive.

Amoeba blamed in organ-transplant deaths.Two Arizona organ-transplant recipients died of an infection from a microscopic parasite they got from their organ donor, according to U.S. health officials. Two patients who received organ transplants from the same donor have died of encephalitis caused by Balamuthia mandrillaris, an amoeba found in soil. The 27-year-old organ donor was a landscaper thought to have died of a stroke on July 21, the Arizona Daily Star reported on Sept. 17. The donor had a large skin lesion on his back for about six months that he had attributed to an insect bite, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says. The organ recipients included a 56-year-old man who received a liver, and a 24-year-old man who received a kidney and pancreas. The liver recipient died Aug. 17 and the kidney-pancreas recipient died Aug. 30. Two other people received organs from the same donor — a man in California who received his heart on July 22 and a man in Utah who received the other kidney on July 23. Those patients have not shown any symptoms and have been placed on pre-emptive therapy, according to the Sept. 16 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

Infectious diseases

Flu vaccine should be condition of employment.The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) recommends that the annual seasonal flu vaccine be required for initial and continued employment of all healthcare employees, regardless of whether they have direct patient contact. The SHEA's policy statement, issued Aug. 31, says the mandate should be implemented as part of a multifaceted flu-infection-control program that is clearly communicated to employees, and exemptions should only be allowed for those with medical contraindication. As of mid-January, 61.9% of healthcare workers received the 2009-2010 seasonal flu vaccine, according to the CDC, but only 37.1% were immunized against the influenza A(H1N1) virus. In 2004, the Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle became the nation's first healthcare system to require staff to be immunized, says SHEA. The Center's vaccine rate among more than 5,000 employees and adjunct personnel is about 98%. BJC HealthCare in St. Louis, MO, achieved 98% immunization among its more than 26,000 employees after making flu vaccinations mandatory in 2008.


One in five gay men HIV positive. A new study conducted by the CDC reports that 19% of gay or bisexual men in 21 major U.S. cities are infected with HIV — and almost half of those who carry the virus are unaware of it. The study, based on interviews and testing of 8,153 men who have sex with men (MSM) in 21 major cities in 2008 revealed that 28% of blacks, 18% of Latinos, and 16% of whites are infected with HIV. Forty-four percent of MSM with the virus were unaware that that they were infected. The study, published Sept. 24 issue of MMWR, found that young, sexually active gay men are least likely to know their health status: 63% were unaware they were HIV positive. Black men were least likely to be aware of their infection: 59% did not know they were infected, compared to 46% of Hispanic men and 26% of white men. More than half (55%) of MSM unaware of their infection reported not having an HIV test during the preceding 12 months.

New studies

Genetic variants linked to ovarian cancer discovered. An international team of scientists has discovered new genetic variants affecting a woman's risk for ovarian cancer, HealthDay News reports. Researchers from the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, MN, and colleagues from the United States, Europe, Canada, and Australia used data from earlier genomic studies to compare the genomes of 10,283 women with ovarian cancer to 13,185 healthy women. The researchers found five genetic variants in regions of the genome (chromosomes 2, 3, 8, 17, and 19) associated with ovarian-cancer risk. Four out of five of these variants were more common in women who had serous ovarian cancer, the most common and aggressive form of the disease. The study was published in the Sept. 19 online edition of the journal Nature Genetics.


Dec. 4-7. The 52nd Annual Meeting and Exposition of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) at the Orange County (FL) Convention Center, in Orlando, includes nearly 30 educational sessions covering a variety of hematologic topics. Learn more at

Jan. 29-Feb. 2, 2011. The Association for Lab Automation's LabAutomation2011 will take place at the Palm Springs (CA) Convention Center. This event offers knowledge-sharing across a wide range of scientific disciplines and industries such as drug discovery and development, clinical diagnostics, agriculture and food, forensics and security, and more. Learn more at

Feb. 4-5, 2011. The 18th annual First Coast Infectious Disease/Clinical Microbiology Symposium will be held at the Sawgrass Marriott in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. Go to