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Here, we assessed the extraction efficiency of a deployable bench-top nucleic acid extractor EZ1 in comparison to the column-based approach with complex sample matrices.A total of 48 EDTA blood samples and 81 stool samples were extracted by EZ1 automated extraction and the column-based QIAamp DNA Mini Kit. Blood sample extractions were assessed by two real-time malaria PCRs, while stool samples were analyzed by six multiplex real-time PCR assays targeting bacterial, viral, and parasitic stool pathogens. Inhibition control PCR testing was performed as well.In total, 147 concordant and 13 discordant pathogen-specific PCR results were obtained. The latter comprised 11 positive results after column-based extraction only and two positive results after EZ1 extraction only. EZ1 extraction showed a higher frequency of inhibition. This phenomenon was, however, inconsistent for the different PCR schemes. In case of concordant PCR results, relevant differences of cycle threshold numbers for the compared extraction schemes were not observed.Switches from well-established column-based extraction to extraction with the automated EZ1 system do not lead to a relevantly reduced yield of target DNA when complex sample matrices are used. If sample inhibition is observed, column-based extraction from another sample aliquot may be considered.

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We compared the performance of an in-house and a commercial malaria polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay using freeze–thawed hemolytic blood samples.

A total of 116 freeze–thawed ethylenediamine tetraacetic acid (EDTA) blood samples of patients with suspicion of malaria were analyzed by an in-house as well as by a commercially available real-time PCR.

Concordant malaria negative PCR results were reported for 39 samples and malaria-positive PCR results for 67 samples. The inhouse assay further detected one case of Plasmodium falciparum infection, which was negative in the commercial assay as well as five cases of P. falciparum malaria and three cases of Plasmodium vivax malaria, which showed sample inhibition in the commercial assay. The commercial malaria assay was positive in spite of a negative in-house PCR result in one case. In all concordant results, cycle threshold values of P. falciparum-positive samples were lower in the commercial PCR than in the in-house assay.

Although Ct values of the commercial PCR kit suggest higher sensitivity in case of concordant results, it is prone to inhibition if it is applied to hemolytic freeze–thawed blood samples. The number of misidentifications was, however, identical for both real-time PCR assays.

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Haemophilus influenzae is a key pathogen of upper respiratory tract infections. Its reliable discrimination from nonpathogenic Haemophilus spp. is necessary because merely colonizing bacteria are frequent at primarily unsterile sites. Due to close phylogenetic relationship, it is not easy to discriminate H. influenzae from the colonizer Haemophilus haemolyticus. The frequency of H. haemolyticus isolations depends on factors like sampling site, patient condition, and geographic region.Biochemical discrimination has been shown to be nonreliable. Multiplex PCR including marker genes like sodC, fucK, and hpd or sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene, the P6 gene, or multilocus-sequence-typing is more promising. For the diagnostic routine, such techniques are too expensive and laborious. If available, matrix-assisted laser-desorption-ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry is a routine-compatible option and should be used in the first line. However, the used database should contain well-defined reference spectra, and the spectral difference between H. influenzae and H. haemolyticus is small. Fluorescence in-situ hybridization is an option for less well-equipped laboratories, but the available protocol will not lead to conclusive results in all instances. It can be used as a second line approach. Occasional ambiguous results have to be resolved by alternative molecular methods like 16S rRNA gene sequencing.

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European Journal of Microbiology and Immunology
Authors: Andreas Hahn, Rebecca Hinz, Thomas Meyer, Ulrike Loderstädt, Ottmar Herchenröder, Christian G. Meyer, Norbert Georg Schwarz, and Hagen Frickmann

Introduction: German sex workers have illegally established a prevention strategy, which consists of testing potential sexual partners with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-specific rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) prior to engaging in unprotected sexual intercourse eventually performed in case of a negative test result. Based on a recently established modeling approach, the effectiveness of this strategy regarding the risk of HIV exposure was compared with protection provided by condom use.

Methods: Based on a literature search, the following assumptions were used for the calculations: an averaged 80% exposure risk reduction with a condom used during sexual intercourse, usage of a well-characterized 4th-generation HIV RDT, and a 10 day post-infection period without any measurable viral load in peripheral blood followed by a seroconversion period of about 3 weeks with 12.3% test sensitivity (antigen-specific) and only afterwards 97.3% (antibody-specific) test sensitivity.

Results: In most constellations, the HIV exposure risk in case of RDT-based prevention was lower than with condom use.

Conclusions: The RDT-based HIV exposure prevention as established by sex workers is effective in most situations. A notable weakness of the strategy is the RDTs' poor sensitivity in spite of a high transmission risk during the seroconversion stage.

Open access
European Journal of Microbiology and Immunology
Authors: Hans Kollenda, Ralf Matthias Hagen, Miriam Hanke, Sandra Rojak, Rebecca Hinz, Lars Wassill, Sven Poppert, Egbert Tannich, and Hagen Frickmann

Background: The objective of this study was to assess an in-house loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) platform for malaria parasite detection and identification on species level.

Methods: LAMP primers specific for the human Plasmodium spp., namely, P. falciparum, P. vivax, P. ovale, P. malariae, and P. knowlesi, as well as genus-specific primers, were tested against a composite gold standard comprising microscopy from thick and thin blood films, commercial genus-specific Meridian illumigene Malaria LAMP, in-house real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and commercial fast-track diagnostics (FTD) Malaria differentiation PCR.

Results: Of the 523 blood samples analyzed, the composite gold standard indicated 243 Plasmodium-species-DNA-containing samples (46.5%). Sensitivity and specificity of the analyzed genus- and species-specific LAMP primers were 71.0%–100.0% and 90.8%–100.0%, respectively. The influence of parasitemia was best documented for P. falciparum-specific LAMP with sensitivity values of 35.5% (22/62) for microscopically negative samples containing P. falciparum DNA, 50% (19/38) for parasitemia ≤50/μL, 84% (21/25) for parasitemia ≤500/μL, and 100% (92/92) for parasitemia >500/μL.

Conclusions: In our hands, performance characteristics of species-specific in-house LAMP for malaria lack reliability required for diagnostic laboratories. The use of the easy-to-apply technique for surveillance purposes may be considered.

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European Journal of Microbiology and Immunology
Authors: Julia Münch, Ralf Matthias Hagen, Martin Müller, Viktor Kellert, Dorothea Franziska Wiemer, Rebecca Hinz, Norbert Georg Schwarz, and Hagen Frickmann

The effectiveness of a disinfectant-based decolonization strategy for multidrug-resistant bacteria like extended spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL)-positive Gram-negative bacteria with or without additional fluoroquinolon and carbapenem resistance as well as vancomycin-resistant enterococci and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus was assessed.

Between 2011 and 2015, 25 patients from Libya, Syria, and the Ukraine with war traumata were treated at the Bundeswehr hospital Hamburg. The patients were heavily colonized and infected with multidrug-resistant bacteria, altogether comprising 371 distinct combinations of pathogens and isolation sites. Local disinfection was assessed for effectiveness regarding successful decolonization of multidrug-resistant bacteria.

Altogether, 170 cases of successful decolonization were observed, comprising 95 (55.8%) such events at sampling sites that were accessible to disinfecting procedures. The remaining 75 (44.2%) decolonization events had to be considered as spontaneous. In contrast, 95 out of 172 (55.2%) colonized isolation sites that were accessible to disinfection procedures were successfully decolonized. Patient compliance with the enforced hygiene procedures was associated with decolonization success. Systemic antibiotic therapy did not relevantly affect isolation time.

Disinfecting washing moderately supports local decolonization of multidrug-resistant pathogens in comparison with spontaneous decolonization rates if the patients’ compliance with the applied hygiene procedures is ensured.

Open access
European Journal of Microbiology and Immunology
Authors: Hagen Frickmann, Andreas Hahn, Norbert Georg Schwarz, Ralf Matthias Hagen, Denise Dekker, Rebecca Hinz, Volker Micheel, Benedikt Hogan, Jürgen May, and Raphael Rakotozandrindrainy

Direct growth on blood and screening agar for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) at a tropical surveillance site was compared with broth enrichment and subsequent growth on selective MRSA agar after international sample transport.

In Madagascar, 1548 swabs from an MRSA surveillance study were assessed for growth on Columbia blood agar enriched with 5% sheep blood and MRSA screening agar at the surveillance site with subsequent cold storage of the samples and shipment to Germany. In Germany, 1541 shipped samples were analyzed by non-selective broth enrichment with subsequent culture on MRSA selective agar.

A total of 28 MRSA isolates were detected. Of these, 20 strains were isolated from direct culture on blood and MRSA screening agars at the surveillance site, 24 MRSA strains were isolated using the broth enrichment method in Germany, and 16 MRSA strains were identified by both approaches.

In spite of the observed die-off of individual strains due to long-term storage and transport, broth enrichment with subsequent screening on MRSA selective agar after international sample shipment led to comparable sensitivity of MRSA detection like streaking on blood and MRSA agar at the tropical surveillance site.

Open access