Infectious Diseases - Research Publications

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    Blood transcriptomics identifies immune signatures indicative of infectious complications in childhood cancer patients with febrile neutropenia
    Haeusler, GM ; Garnham, AL ; Li-Wai-Suen, CS ; Clark, JE ; Babl, FE ; Allaway, Z ; Slavin, MA ; Mechinaud, F ; Smyth, GK ; Phillips, B ; Thursky, KA ; Pellegrini, M ; Doerflinger, M (WILEY, 2022-01-01)
    Objectives: Febrile neutropenia (FN) is a major cause of treatment disruption and unplanned hospitalization in childhood cancer patients. This study investigated the transcriptome of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) in children with cancer and FN to identify potential predictors of serious infection. Methods: Whole-genome transcriptional profiling was conducted on PBMCs collected during episodes of FN in children with cancer at presentation to the hospital (Day 1; n = 73) and within 8-24 h (Day 2; n = 28) after admission. Differentially expressed genes as well as gene pathways that correlated with clinical outcomes were defined for different infectious outcomes. Results: Global differences in gene expression associated with specific immune responses in children with FN and documented infection, compared to episodes without documented infection, were identified at admission. These differences resolved over the subsequent 8-24 h. Distinct gene signatures specific for bacteraemia were identified both at admission and on Day 2. Differences in gene signatures between episodes with bacteraemia and episodes with bacterial infection, viral infection and clinically defined infection were also observed. Only subtle differences in gene expression profiles between non-bloodstream bacterial and viral infections were identified. Conclusion: Blood transcriptome immune profiling analysis during FN episodes may inform monitoring and aid in defining adequate treatment for different infectious aetiologies in children with cancer.
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    The feasibility and generalizability of assessing the appropriateness of antimicrobial prescribing in hospitals: a review of the Australian National Antimicrobial Prescribing Survey
    James, R ; Nakamachi, Y ; Morris, A ; So, M ; Ponnampalavanar, SSLS ; Chuki, P ; Loong, LS ; Lai, PSM ; Chen, C ; Ingram, R ; Rajkhowa, A ; Buising, K ; Thursky, K (OXFORD UNIV PRESS, 2021-12-22)
    The National Antimicrobial Prescribing Survey (NAPS) is a web-based qualitative auditing platform that provides a standardized and validated tool to assist hospitals in assessing the appropriateness of antimicrobial prescribing practices. Since its release in 2013, the NAPS has been adopted by all hospital types within Australia, including public and private facilities, and supports them in meeting the national standards for accreditation. Hospitals can generate real-time reports to assist with local antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) activities and interventions. De-identified aggregate data from the NAPS are also submitted to the Antimicrobial Use and Resistance in Australia surveillance system, for national reporting purposes, and to strengthen national AMS strategies. With the successful implementation of the programme within Australia, the NAPS has now been adopted by countries with both well-resourced and resource-limited healthcare systems. We provide here a narrative review describing the experience of users utilizing the NAPS programme in Canada, Malaysia and Bhutan. We highlight the key barriers and facilitators to implementation and demonstrate that the NAPS methodology is feasible, generalizable and translatable to various settings and able to assist in initiatives to optimize the use of antimicrobials.
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    The clinical utility of fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography for investigation of fever in immunocompromised children
    Wang, SS ; Mechinaud, F ; Thursky, K ; Cain, T ; Lau, E ; Haeusler, GM (WILEY, 2018-05-01)
    AIM: Fever in immunocompromised children presents significant challenges. We aimed to determine the clinical impact of fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) in combination with computed tomography (CT) in children with malignancy or following haematopoietic stem cell transplantation with prolonged or recurrent fever. METHODS: Immunocompromised children who underwent FDG-PET/CT for investigation of prolonged or recurrent fever were identified from hospital databases. The clinical impact of the FDG-PET/CT was considered 'high' if it contributed to any of the following: diagnosis of a new site infection/inflammation, change to antimicrobials or chemotherapy, or additional investigations or specialist consult contributing to final diagnosis. RESULTS: Fourteen patients underwent an FDG-PET/CT for prolonged or recurrent fever. Median age was 11 years and 46% had diagnosis of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. The median absolute neutrophil count on the day of FDG-PET/CT was 0.47 cells/μL. The clinical impact of FDG-PET/CT was 'high' in 11 (79%) patients, contributing to rationalisation of antimicrobials in three, and cessation of antimicrobials in five. Compared to conventional imaging, FDG PET/CT identified seven additional sites of clinically significant infection/inflammation in seven patients. Of the 10 patients who had a cause of fever identified, FDG-PET/CT contributed to the final diagnosis in six (60%). CONCLUSION: This study has identified potential utility for FDG-PET/CT in immunocompromised children with prolonged or recurrent fever. Further prospective studies are needed to compare FDG-PET/CT versus conventional imaging, to identify the optimal timing of FDG-PET/CT and to study the role of subsequent scans to monitor response to therapy.
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    Antimicrobials used for surgical prophylaxis by equine veterinary practitioners in Australia
    Hardefeldt, LY ; Browning, GF ; Thursky, K ; Gilkerson, JR ; Billman-Jacobe, H ; Stevenson, MA ; Bailey, KE (WILEY, 2018-01-01)
    BACKGROUND: Antimicrobials are widely used in Australian veterinary practices, but no investigation into the classes of antimicrobials used, or the appropriateness of use in horses, has been conducted. OBJECTIVES: The aim of the study was to describe antimicrobial use for surgical prophylaxis in equine practice in Australia. STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional questionnaire survey. METHODS: An online questionnaire was used to document antimicrobial usage patterns. Information solicited in the questionnaire included demographic details of the respondents, the frequency with which antimicrobials were used for specific surgical conditions (including the dose, timing and duration of therapy) and practice antimicrobial use policies and sources of information about antimicrobials and their uses. RESULTS: A total of 337 members of the Australian veterinary profession completed the survey. Generally, the choice of antimicrobial was appropriate for the specified equine surgical condition, but the dose and duration of therapy varied greatly. While there was poor optimal compliance with British Equine Veterinary Association guidelines in all scenarios (range 1-15%), except removal of a nonulcerated dermal mass (42%), suboptimal compliance (compliant antimicrobial drug selection but inappropriate timing, dose or duration of therapy) was moderate for all scenarios (range 48-68%), except for an uninfected contaminated wound over the thorax, where both optimal and suboptimal compliance was very poor (1%). Veterinarians practicing at a university hospital had higher odds of compliance than general practice veterinarians (Odds ratio 3.2, 95% CI, 1.1-8.9, P = 0.03). MAIN LIMITATIONS: Many survey responses were collected at conferences which may introduce selection bias, as veterinarians attending conferences may be more likely to have been exposed to contemporary antimicrobial prescribing recommendations. CONCLUSIONS: Antimicrobial use guidelines need to be developed and promoted to improve the responsible use of antimicrobials in equine practice in Australia. An emphasis should be placed on antimicrobial therapy for wounds and appropriate dosing for procaine penicillin.
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    Antimicrobial stewardship in Australia: the role of qualitative research in programme development
    Thursky, KA ; Hardefeldt, LY ; Rajkhowa, A ; Ierano, C ; Bishop, J ; Hawes, L ; Biezen, R ; Saha, SK ; Dowson, L ; Bailey, KE ; Scarborough, R ; Little, SB ; Gotterson, F ; Hur, B ; Khanina, A ; Urbancic, K ; Crabb, HK ; Richards, S ; Sri, A ; James, R ; Kong, DCM ; Marshall, C ; Mazza, D ; Peel, T ; Stuart, RL ; Manski-Nankervis, J-A ; Friedman, ND ; Bennett, N ; Schulz, T ; Billman-Jacobe, H ; Buono, E ; Worth, L ; Bull, A ; Richards, M ; Ayton, D ; Gilkerson, JR ; Browning, GF ; Buising, KL (OXFORD UNIV PRESS, 2021-11-18)
    Antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) in Australia is supported by a number of factors, including enabling national policies, sectoral clinical governance frameworks and surveillance programmes, clinician-led educational initiatives and health services research. A One Health research programme undertaken by the National Centre for Antimicrobial Stewardship (NCAS) in Australia has combined antimicrobial prescribing surveillance with qualitative research focused on developing antimicrobial use-related situational analyses and scoping AMS implementation options across healthcare settings, including metropolitan hospitals, regional and rural hospitals, aged care homes, general practice clinics and companion animal and agricultural veterinary practices. Qualitative research involving clinicians across these diverse settings in Australia has contributed to improved understanding of contextual factors that influence antimicrobial prescribing, and barriers and facilitators of AMS implementation. This body of research has been underpinned by a commitment to supplementing 'big data' on antimicrobial prescribing practices, where available, with knowledge of the sociocultural, technical, environmental and other factors that shape prescribing behaviours. NCAS provided a unique opportunity for exchange and cross-pollination across the human and animal health programme domains. It has facilitated synergistic approaches to AMS research and education, and implementation of resources and stewardship activities. The NCAS programme aimed to synergistically combine quantitative and qualitative approaches to AMS research. In this article, we describe the qualitative findings of the first 5 years.
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    What are the similarities and differences in antimicrobial prescribing between Australian public and private hospitals?
    Cotta, MO ; Chen, C ; Tacey, M ; James, RS ; Buising, KL ; Marshall, C ; Thursky, KA (WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2016-10-01)
    BACKGROUND: Identifying themes associated with inappropriate prescribing in Australian public and private hospitals will help target future antimicrobial stewardship initiatives. AIMS: To describe current antimicrobial prescribing practices, identify similarities and differences between hospital sectors and provide target areas for improvement specific to each hospital sector. METHODS: All hospitals included in the study were part of the 2014 national antimicrobial prescribing survey and conducted one of the following: a whole hospital point prevalence survey, serial point prevalence surveys or a sample of randomly selected patients. Data on the types of antibiotics used, their indications for use and the quality of prescription based on compliance with national and local prescribing guidelines were collected. RESULTS: Two hundred and two hospitals (166 public and 36 private) comprising 10 882 patients and 15 967 antimicrobial prescriptions were included. Public hospitals had higher proportions of prescriptions for treatment (81.5% vs 48.4%) and medical prophylaxis (8.8% and 4.6%), whilst private hospitals had significantly higher surgical prophylaxis use (9.6% vs 46.9%) (P < 0.001). In public hospitals, the main reasons for non-compliance of treatment prescriptions were spectrum being too broad (30.5%) while in private it was incorrect dosing. Prolonged duration was the main reason for non-compliance among surgical prophylaxis prescriptions in both types of hospitals. CONCLUSIONS: Australian hospitals need to target specific areas to improve antimicrobial use. Specifically, unnecessary broad-spectrum therapy should be a priority area in public hospitals, whilst emphasis on curtailing antimicrobial overuse in surgical prophylaxis needs to be urgently addressed across in the private hospital sector.
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    Examining health-related quality of life in pediatric cancer patients with febrile neutropenia: Factors predicting poor recovery in children and their parents
    Crothers, A ; Haeusler, GM ; Slavin, MA ; Babl, FE ; Mechinaud, F ; Phillips, R ; Tapp, H ; Padhye, B ; Zeigler, D ; Clark, J ; Walwyn, T ; Super, L ; Alvaro, F ; Thursky, K ; Lourenco, RDA (ELSEVIER, 2021-10-25)
    BACKGROUND: The impact febrile neutropenia (FN) has on the health-related quality of life (HRQoL) of children with cancer and their families is poorly understood. We sought to characterize the course of child and parent HRQoL during and following FN episodes. METHOD: Data on HRQoL were collected in the multisite Australian Predicting Infectious ComplicatioNs in Children with Cancer (PICNICC) study. Participants were enrolled between November 2016 to January 2018. The Child Health Utility (CHU9D) was used to assess HRQoL in children (N = 167 FN events) and the Assessment of Quality of Life (AQoL-8D) was used to assess HRQoL parents (N = 218 FN events) at three time points: 0-3 days, 7-days and 30-days following the onset of FN. Group-based trajectory modeling (GBTM) was used to characterize the course of HRQoL. FINDINGS: For children, three distinct groups were identified: persistently low HRQoL over the 30-day course of follow-up (chronic: N = 78/167; 47%), increasing HRQoL after the onset of FN to 30 days follow-up (recovering: N = 36/167; 22%), and persistently high HRQoL at all three timepoints (resilient: N = 53/167; 32%). Applying these definitions, parents were classified into two distinct groups: chronic (N = 107/218, 49%) and resilient (N = 111/218, 51%). The child being male, having solid cancer, the presence of financial stress, and relationship difficulties between the parent and child were significant predictors of chronic group membership for both parents and children. Children classified as high-risk FN were significantly more likely to belong to the recovery group. Being female, having blood cancers and the absence of financial or relationship difficulties were predictive of both parents and children being in the resilient group. INTERPRETATION: Approximately half the children and parents had chronically low HRQoL scores, which did not improve following resolution of the FN episode. The child's sex, cancer type, and presence of financial and relationship stress were predictive of chronic group membership for both parents and children. These families may benefit from increased financial and psychosocial support during anti-cancer treatment. FUNDING: National Health and Medical Research Council Grant (APP1104527).
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    Excess cost of care associated with sepsis in cancer patients: Results from a population-based case-control matched cohort
    Tew, M ; Dalziel, K ; Thursky, K ; Krahn, M ; Abrahamyan, L ; Morris, AM ; Clarke, P ; Hasanpoor, E (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2021-01-01)
    BACKGROUND: Cancer patients are at significant risk of developing sepsis due to underlying malignancy and necessary treatments. Little is known about the economic burden of sepsis in this high-risk population. We estimate the short- and long-term healthcare costs of care of cancer patients with and without sepsis using individual-level linked-administrative data. METHODS: We conducted a population-based matched cohort study of cancer patients aged ≥18, diagnosed between 2010 and 2017. Cases were identified if diagnosed with sepsis during the study period, and were matched 1:1 by age, sex, cancer type and other variables to controls without sepsis. Mean costs (2018 Canadian dollars) for patients with and without sepsis up to 5 years were estimated adjusted using survival probabilities at partitioned intervals. We estimated excess cost associated with sepsis presented as a cost difference between the two cohorts. Haematological and solid cancers were analysed separately. RESULTS: 77,483 cancer patients with sepsis were identified and matched. 64.3% of the cohort were aged ≥65, 46.3% female and 17.8% with haematological malignancies. Among solid tumour patients, the excess cost of care among patients who developed sepsis was $29,081 (95%CI, $28,404-$29,757) in the first year, rising to $60,714 (95%CI, $59,729-$61,698) over 5 years. This was higher for haematology patients; $46,154 (95%CI, $45,505-$46,804) in year 1, increasing to $75,931 (95%CI, $74,895-$76,968). CONCLUSIONS: Sepsis imposes substantial economic burden and can result in a doubling of cancer care costs, particularly during the first year of cancer diagnosis. These estimates are helpful in improving our understanding of burden of sepsis along the cancer pathway and to deploy targeted strategies to alleviate this burden.
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    Evaluating the Implementation of a Pilot Quality Improvement Program to Support Appropriate Antimicrobial Prescribing in General Practice
    Biezen, R ; Buising, K ; Monaghan, T ; Ball, R ; Thursky, K ; Cheah, R ; Clark, M ; Manski-Nankervis, J-A (MDPI, 2021-07-01)
    Inappropriate antimicrobial prescribing contributes to increasing antimicrobial resistance. An antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) program in the form of quality improvement activities that included audit and feedback, clinical decision support and education was developed to help optimise prescribing in general practice. The aim of this study was to evaluate the implementation of this program (Guidance GP) in three general practices in Melbourne, Australia, between November 2019 and August 2020. Thirty-one general practitioners (GPs) participated in the program, with 11 GPs and three practice managers participating in follow-up focus groups and interviews to explore the acceptability and feasibility of the program. Our findings showed that the quality improvement activities were acceptable to GPs, if they accurately fit GPs' decision-making process and workflow. It was also important that they provided clinically meaningful information in the form of audit and feedback to GPs. The time needed to coordinate the program, and costs to implement the program were some of the potential barriers identified. Facilitators of success were a "whole of practice" approach with enthusiastic GPs and practice staff, and an identified practice champion. The findings of this research will inform implementation strategies for both the Guidance GP program and AMS programs more broadly in Australian general practice, which will be critical for general practice participation and engagement.
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    Factors associated with antimicrobial choice for surgical prophylaxis in Australia
    Ierano, C ; Thursky, K ; Peel, T ; Koning, S ; James, R ; Johnson, S ; Hall, L ; Worth, LJ ; Marshall, C (OXFORD UNIV PRESS, 2020-09-01)
    BACKGROUND: Cefazolin is the most commonly recommended antimicrobial for surgical antimicrobial prophylaxis (SAP). However, the Australian Surgical National Antimicrobial Prescribing Survey revealed a wide range of antimicrobials prescribed for SAP. Inappropriate use of broad-spectrum antimicrobials is associated with increased patient harm and is a posited driver for antimicrobial resistance. OBJECTIVES: To describe patient, hospital and surgical factors that are associated with appropriateness of the top five prescribed antimicrobials/antimicrobial classes for procedural SAP. METHODS: All procedures audited from 18 April 2016 to 15 April 2019 in the Surgical National Antimicrobial Prescribing Survey were included in the analysis. Estimated marginal means analyses accounted for a range of variables and calculated a rate of adjusted appropriateness (AA). Subanalyses of the top five audited antimicrobials/antimicrobial classes identified associations between variables and appropriateness. RESULTS: A total of 12 419 surgical episodes with 14 150 prescribed initial procedural doses were included for analysis. When procedural SAP was prescribed, appropriateness was low (57.7%). Allergy status, surgical procedure group and the presence of prosthetic material were positively associated with cefazolin and aminoglycoside appropriateness (P < 0.05). There were no significant positive associations with glycopeptides and third/fourth-generation cephalosporins. The use of broad-spectrum antimicrobials was the most common reason for inappropriate choice (67.9% of metronidazole to 83.3% of third/fourth-generation cephalosporin prescriptions). CONCLUSIONS: Various factors influence appropriateness of procedural SAP choice. Identification of these factors provides targets for antimicrobial stewardship interventions, e.g. procedures where surgeons are regularly prescribing broad-spectrum SAP. These can be tailored to address local hospital prescribing practices.