2020 Charles River Microbial Solutions Calendar

We are dedicated to educating our customers on the dangers some microorganisms pose to patient safety, both in and out of the laboratory. Brighten your office with our 2020 wall calendar, which features a different microorganism each month. As a bonus, get a digital download of Bosea psychrotolerans today.

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Come back every month, beginning January 2020, for additional information about each organism featured in the calendar.

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Alternaria alternata

aspergillus fumigatus fungus


What is Alternaria alternata?

A. alternata is one of the more common species of the Alternaria genus. It is known to cause respiratory allergies and asthma, sick building syndrome, and is the rare causative agent of onychomycosis. Alternaria alternata is an outdoor fungus that is typically found in warm, moist environments, but it has been known to infiltrate homes.


What are the methods of identification for A. alternata?

Alternaria alternata is often confused with Alternaria infectoria when identified morphologically. Until recently, the identification of Alternaria isolates was performed exclusively on the basis of morphological criteria, with the most significant characteristics being the morphology of the conidia and the formation (or absence) of conidial chains. More than 14% of Alternaria species are misidentified, therefore for adequate identification, ITS sequencing is recommended.


Relavent Articles

Alternaria infections: laboratory diagnosis and relevant clinical features
Amplification of the ITS region with pan-fungal primers, included in the multicopy rRNA operon, followed by downstream sequencing, has been shown to be a useful method for identification of Alternaria spp.

First report of Alternaria alternata causing discoloration on Amaranthus seeds in Argentina
Alternaria alternata is a latent fungus that is commonly found in fruits and vegetables, cereal plants, seeds, and other plant organs. This fungus is recorded as the cause of seed discoloration of amaranth (Amarantus caudatus ssp. mantegazzianus), an ancestral crop native to Bolivia and Argentina that works as a natural antioxidant and antitumoral.


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Scedosporium prolificans

Scedosporium prolificans

What is Scedosporium prolificans?

Scedosporium prolificans, also known as Lomentospora prolificans, is an opportunistic fungal pathogen commonly found in soil, sewage, potted plants, and manure. It causes infections in immunocompetent and immunosuppressed people and animals. S. prolificans is resistant to most antifungal drugs, making treatment difficult.


What is the common misidentification of S. prolificans?

Misidentification of Scedosporium prolificans was common before reclassification, which arose from changes in the International Code of Nomenclature and was based on phylogenetic profiling. S. prolificans can be distinguished from the other Scedosporium species by morphological and clinical features.


What are the methods of identification for Scedosporium prolificans?

Morphological identification of this species has become increasingly unreliable, and molecular methods are recommended for accurate identification. S. prolificans is best identified using comparative sequencing of the ITS region or using MALDI-TOF.


Relevant Article

Isolation and clinical significance of Pseudallescheria and Scedosporium species

Until 2005, two Scedosporium species were known to cause opportunistic infections in humans, Scedosporium apiospermum (teleomorph: Pseudallescheria boydii) and S. prolificans (teleomorph: unknown). Recently, the S. apiospermum/P. boydiicomplex has been reclassified as the result of new molecular data. At present, this complex includes five different species: S. apiospermum, P. boydii, Scedosporium aurantiacum, Pseudallescheria minutispora and Scedosporium dehoogii.

Clinical manifestations are widely diverse, ranging from subcutaneous to disseminated diseases. As early as 1968, it was suggested that P. boydii may be more frequently present in clinical specimens than recognized by existing diagnostic methods. Misidentification as Aspergillus infections seems to be one problem whenever the etiologic agent could not be recovered from clinical specimens. Due to multi-drug resistance, especially in S. prolificans, therapeutic options are often insufficient.


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Mycobacterium bovis

What is Mycobacterium bovis?

Mycobacterium bovis

M. bovis is a gram-positive, aerobic bacterium capable of jumping the species barrier. Morphologically, Mycobacterium bovis are curved or straight rods that sometimes form fragmented filaments. Infections caused by Mycobacterium bovis are not common, and in humans is known as tuberculosis (TB). Less than 2% of the total number of cases of TB, approximately 230 cases per year in the U.S, are caused by M. bovis.


Why is accurate identification of M. bovis important in certain populations?

M. bovis and M. tuberculosis, while similar, have different significant relevance to patient management. M. bovis, for example, is naturally resistant to pyrazinamide. Thus, accurate identification is important to patient safety.


What are the methods of identification for Mycobacterium bovis?

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and automated liquid culture systems combined with molecular tests are proven and accurate methods for identification and isolation of Mycobacterium bovis.


Relevant Articles

Importance of identifying Mycobacterium bovis as a causative agent of human tuberculosis

Explore the distinctions and relations of Mycobacterium bovis, the causative agent of bovine tuberculosis and Mycobacterium tuberculosis.


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Vibrio cholerae

What is Vibrio cholerae?

Vibrio cholerae bacteria

Vibrio cholerae is a gram-negative, highly motile bacteria which is commonly found in brackish or saltwater where they attach themselves to the chitin-containing shells of shellfish.


How does V. cholerae present in humans?

V. cholerae is the causative agent of Cholera in humans. The disease is rare in the United States and other industrialized nations, with approximated 5–10% of those infected requiring medical treatment. Cholera can be life-threatening. When left untreated, it has a 25–50% fatality rate. But the infection is easily treated with rehydration therapy and antibiotics, and it can be prevented with access to safe water and adequate sanitation.


How is V. cholerae identified?

With recent advances in molecular technologies, microbiologists have moved away from phenotypic identification of V. cholerae to identification by DNA sequencing and MALDI-TOF.


Relevent Resource

Sources of Infection & Risk Factors
Explore the causes and effects of Vibrio cholerae, its prevalence, and the global challenges it poses.


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Neisseria meningitidis

What is Neisseria meningitidis (Meningococcus)?

Neisseria meningitidis

Neisseria meningitidis, or meningococcus, is a virulent gram-negative causative agent of meningitis or meningococcal diseases that also causes significant morbidity in children and young adults. Although Neisseria meningitidis is present in the human body, it can cause inflammation of the brain and spinal cord when prevalence increases.


Is Neisseria meningitidis common?

Approximated 1,000 people contract meningococcal disease annually. This includes meningitis and septicemic blood infection. One in five people that contract meningococcal meningitis have serious complications, and the 15% who survive can be left with disabilities such as deafness, brain damage, or neurological problems.


Which molecular identification methods can be used?

MLST (multilocus sequence typing) is the gold standard for Neisseria meningitidis characterization as it uses polymorphic traits to identify the separate strains through sequence typing. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), multilocus enzyme electrophoresis (MLEE), and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) are effective identification assays, but MLST offers the most accurate identification.


Relevent Article

Bacterial meningitis (including Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), Neisseria meningitidis, and Streptococcus pneumoniae)

Bacterial meningitis is an incredibly infectious disease that has had lasting effects on entire populations until the development of vaccines. Explore how this infectious disease was diagnosed with microbiological tests that were subsequently used to formulate responses to stop its spread.


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Helicobacter pylori

What is Helicobacter pylori and how does it affect the body?

Nocardia asteroide

Helicobacter pylori is a common bacteria that is adapted to harsh acidic environments, and can change its environment by reducing its own acidity to ensure survival. It lives in the digestive tract and after many years can cause ulcers or even stomach cancer.


How common is Helicobacter pylori?

Helicobacter pylori is extremely common and typically doesn’t cause problems. Approximately two-thirds of the world’s population is infected, but most remain asymptomatic.


What are the prevention methods?

Although there is no known prevention method, risk of an H. pylori infection can be reduced by handwashing before eating and after using the restroom and by not ingesting contaminated food or water. H. pylori has been found in human saliva, so sharing drinks and utensils with known infected persons should be avoided.


How is Helicobacter pylori identified?

DNA-based identification using PCR (polymerase chain reaction) is the most widely used diagnostic method for H. pylori infections as well as for diversity and resistance analysis and environmental investigations.


Relevant Article

Contaminated water as a source of Helicobacter pylori infection: A review

Although there is no definitive known mode of transmission of Helicobacter pylori to humans, scientists and researchers suspect that this pathogen infects humans through water.


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N. asteroides

What is N. asteroides and how is it related to Nocardosis?

Nocardia asteroide

Nocardia asteroides is a branching, beaded, filamentous gram-positive bacilli that is found in soil or standing water and Nocardosis is the disease associated with a N. asteroides infection. The bacterium can be carried up into the air and inhaled subsequently affecting lungs, or more rarely the skin or gastrointestinal tract.


How can N. asteroides be identified?

DNA sequencing has been shown to be the best method to receive accurate identification of N. asteroides and Nocardia species, especially when checked against a relevant library. However, MALDI-TOF MS has also been successfully used for identification.


Why is it difficult to identify?

Due to the large amount of Nocardia species known to humans and the high level of sequence similarity among species, it is hard to identify N. asteroides or other specific species. Each species has different region-based prevalences, pathogenic traits, and antimicrobial susceptibilities, and thus requires identification to the species level to provide proper patient care. Furthermore, compared to the number of possible species and the inconsistent biochemical test results reported as typical for the different species, biochemical methods are insufficient to identify N. asteroides.


Who is affected the most?

People who are taking immunosuppressive drugs or who have compromised immune systems tend to be the most affected. Older adults also tend to be the more frequently affected, and males more so than females with about 500 to 1,000 new cases in the USA yearly.


Relevant Article

Bacteria That Masquerade as Fungi Actinomycosis/Nocardia

Commercial identification systems may provide species identification as well as susceptibilities for these unique organisms. However, definitive identification may require molecular techniques for both Actinomyces and Nocardia.


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Lichtheimia corymbifera

lichtheimia corymbifera

What is Lichtheimia corymbifera and is it harmful?

L. corymbifera is an opportunistic fungi that is typically found in soil, dead plant material, or decayed foods and can cause infections in persons with impaired immune systems, such as those that have underwent organ transplants. Lichtheimia corymbifera is one of the most common causes of mucormycosis, also known as zygomycosis.

This is a rare fungal infection that mainly infects the sinuses or lungs after inhaling the spores, the skin through cuts, burns, or other injuries, and consequently the bloodstream, which then affects major organs.


What are the methods of identification for L. corymbifera?

L. corymbifera can be identified using molecular identification with ITS-based sequencing and using MALDI-TOF.


Why is Lichtheimia corymbifera important to patient safety?

Mucormycosis caused by L. corymbifera is rare, making the number of incidences hard to calculate; there are an estimated 500 cases reported annually. L. corymbifera is a direct cause of mucormycosis, which has a mortality rate of 50–85% as reported by the CDC, although early detection can lead to better outcomes.


Relevant Article

An Outbreak of Absidia corymbifera Infection Associated with Bandage Contamination in a Burns Unit

A. corymbifera is a fairly common laboratory contaminant, and Absidia as a whole is fairly ubiquitous in the environment. Explore how this widespread bacteria caused an outbreak in the burn ward of a hospital through contaminated bandages.


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Propionibacterium (cutibacterium) Acnes

Propionibacterium acnes

What is Propionibacterium (cutibacterium) Acnes?

Propionibacterium acnes is a skin-dwelling bacteria involved in causing acne. It grows best in anerobic (low oxygen) conditions. Although P. acnes is not life-threatening, it can persist for years and is known to have psychosocial affects such as low self-esteem and depression.
 

Why was Propionibacterium (cutibacterium) acnes reclassified?

P. acnes was originally known as Bacillus acnes, but was reclassified in 2016 after intensive biochemical and genomic studies due to its ability to create propionic acid.
 

Where are these bacteria found?

P. acnes is typically found on the skin and in hair follicles, and feeds on the fatty substance produced in glands to keep the skin waterproof. It has been linked to prosthesis and implant infections and is often present in the spinal column of those with slipped disks.
 

Harmful or helpful?

Although the presence of P. acnes does cause spots, research has shown that it is rather helpful. P. acnes helps fight against other harmful bacteria as the hair follicles and pores are already occupied and the harmful bacteria cannot get a foothold.
 

Relevant Article

Propionibacterium acnes:  from Commensal to Opportunistic Biofilm-Associated Implant Pathogen

Although Propionibacterium acnes is a known primarily as a part of your natural skin flora, this bacteria can present as an opportunistic pathogen and can cause chronic implant-associated infections. This article explores how P. acnes transitions from a harmless skin commensal to an invasive biofilm-associated pathogen.


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Aspergillus fumigatus

aspergillus fumigatus fungus

What is Aspergillus fumigatus?

Aspergillus fumigatus is a highly pathogenic fungus whose hydrophobicity allows its spores, conidia, to travel easily via air. A. fumigatus primarily affects the lungs and other portions of the respiratory tract, but has the opportunity to hematogenously disseminate beyond the lungs, especially in immunocompromised patients.


Where is it found?

Aspergillus fumigatus is unavoidable. It is naturally found in decaying organic material, which grows well due to its thermotolerance during the composting process, soil, and even household dust. The opportunistic A. fumigatus is commonly found in moisture damaged environments and at construction sites.


How can it be identified?

There are two main identification methods: molecular and MALDI-TOF. Identification of A. fumigatus to the species level is important because each species has different susceptibilities to antifungal drugs.


Contamination Prevention

Aspergillus fumigatus is a very prevalent fungus, and it is impossible to avoid exposure. If a patient has recently undergone chemotherapy or has had a transplant, it is best to avoid places where mold can be encountered. It would also be beneficial to wear a face mask to avoid Aspergillus exposure as well as other airborne infectious agents.


Relevant Articles

Contamination of Hospital Water with Aspergillus fumigatus and Other Molds

A. fumigatus is still very relevant to today’s patient safety. There has been an increase in data that support hospital water as a potential source of filamentous fungi and, in particular, Aspergillus fumigatus, as well as preliminary data that support the possibility of waterborne transmission of these molds.

Aspergillus fumigatus Contamination of Lymphokine-activated Killer Cells Infused into Cancer Patients

There is supporting evidence of A. fumigatus found in Lymphocyte-activated Killer (LAK) cells. Growth of this fungi in humified incubators during preparation of LAK cell cultures can result in patient infections.


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