News Trends Analysis

March 19, 2015

Infectious Disease

CDC informs healthcare community and public about measles outbreak and urges universal vaccination. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Health Advisory to notify public health departments and healthcare facilities about the multi-state measles outbreak linked to an amusement park in California and to provide guidance for healthcare providers nationwide. From the Health Advisory:

“The United States is experiencing a large multi-state measles outbreak that started in California in December 2014 and has spread to 16 additional states and Mexico. The initial confirmed case-patients reported visiting Disneyland Resort Theme Parks in Orange County, CA, from December 17 through December 20, 2014. From December 28, 2014, through February 6, 2015, 121 confirmed cases of measles linked to this outbreak have been reported to CDC, 88 from California, 32 from 16 other states, and one from Washington, DC. In addition to the U.S. cases, one case was reported from Mexico in an unvaccinated child who visited Disneyland Resort Theme Parks on December 17 and December 20, 2014. At this time, no source case for the outbreak has been identified, but it is likely that a traveler (or more than one traveler) who was infected with measles overseas visited the Disney parks in December during their infectious period.

“Healthcare providers should ensure that all of their patients are current on MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine. They should consider measles in the differential diagnosis of patients with fever and rash and ask patients about recent international travel or travel to domestic venues frequented by international travelers. They should also ask patients about their history of measles exposures in their community. Please disseminate this information to healthcare providers in hospitals and emergency rooms, to primary care providers, and to microbiology laboratories.”  

CDC releases report on recent lab incident and makes recommendations for continued safety improvements. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has completed an internal investigation of an incident that occurred in December within the agency’s Ebola virus laboratory, which resulted in no illness and was unlikely to have involved an exposure to live Ebola virus. CDC’s investigation found that this laboratory incident occurred for two main reasons : 1) lack of a written study plan that had been approved by a supervisor; and 2) a study plan workflow that was not designed to sufficiently minimize the possibility that human error could result in potential exposure. CDC will take steps to improve safety as a result of this review.  

In December, CDC reported that a small amount of material from an experiment that was part of an Ebola virus study was securely transported from a select‐agent‐approved BSL‐4 lab to a select‐agent‐approved BSL‐2 lab and may have contained live virus. The material mistakenly transferred during procedures for this study was on a sealed plate but should not have been moved from the BSL-4 laboratory into the BSL‐2 laboratory. The study involved scientists placing identical oral swab samples from guinea pigs into two sets of tubes—one for live virus studies and one for studies with inactivated material.  The tubes were identical in brand and size and only differentiated by color caps and labels. Appropriate and approved inactivation procedures, consistent with recently implemented lab safety improvements, were used. Unfortunately, however, human error resulted in the swabs being placed into tubes in such a way that another technician mistakenly transported the wrong specimens to the BSL-2 lab. CDC’s investigation found that immediate steps were taken to minimize any risk to CDC lab staff.  

The report also describes two previous recommendations that had not yet been fully implemented in this lab that could potentially have reduced the likelihood of this incident:  1) installation of a camera system for secondary verification of critical safety control points; and 2) proper use of a required Material Transfer Certificate (MTC) form for materials taken out of CDC’s high containment laboratories to lower biosafety level laboratories, including internal transfers. 


Newly discovered protein has link to gestational diabetes. For at least 40 years, scientists who study how the body metabolizes sugar have accepted one point: there are four enzymes that kick-start the body’s process of getting energy from food. The discovery of these four catalysts for energy production, called hexokinases, generated more research into how the body metabolizes carbohydrates, and how interfering with those enzymes through medications could help manage metabolic disorders such as diabetes.

But this biochemical foursome may not deserve all of the credit. According to research by scientists at Duke and Northwestern Universities, the hexokinase team actually has a fifth player. The findings appear in the online journal Nature Communications.

The new protein is called HKDC1, and the researchers report that this enzyme may be a genetic predictor for whether an expectant mother will develop hyperglycemia, or excess blood sugar, during pregnancy.

Industry News

Sunquest Information Systems announces Roper Industries’ acquisition of Data Innovations from Battery Ventures. Sunquest Information Systems, Inc., has announced that its parent company, Roper Industries, Inc., has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Data Innovations, LLC, a Battery Ventures portfolio company and a provider of laboratory connectivity solutions that integrates diagnostic instrument manufacturers and health information system providers. Data Innovations will report its results through Sunquest while retaining its brand and independent position, and it will remain headquartered in Burlington, Vermont.

Sunquest develops and delivers diagnostic solutions that healthcare professionals use to treat patients fast, accurately, and efficiently. Sunquest also enables laboratory services to be provided wherever patient care is delivered—in hospitals, clinics, physician offices, and many other locations. Data Innovations deploys middleware applications that connect laboratory instruments with lab software solutions. The company also offers solutions designed to make healthcare smarter, such as early detection and notification of analytical shifts in lab instrumentation.