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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    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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    Procalcitonin and Interleukin-10 May Assist in Early Prediction of Bacteraemia in Children With Cancer and Febrile Neutropenia
    Doerflinger, M ; Haeusler, GM ; Li-Wai-Suen, CSN ; Clark, JE ; Slavin, M ; Babl, FE ; Allaway, Z ; Mechinaud, F ; Smyth, GK ; De Abreu Lourenco, R ; Phillips, B ; Pellegrini, M ; Thursky, KA (FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2021-05-20)
    Objectives: Febrile neutropenia (FN) causes treatment disruption and unplanned hospitalization in children with cancer. Serum biomarkers are infrequently used to stratify these patients into high or low risk for serious infection. This study investigated plasma abundance of cytokines in children with FN and their ability to predict bacteraemia. Methods: Thirty-three plasma cytokines, C-reactive protein (CRP) and procalcitonin (PCT) were measured using ELISA assays in samples taken at FN presentation (n = 79) and within 8-24 h (Day 2; n = 31). Optimal thresholds for prediction of bacteraemia were identified and the predictive ability of biomarkers in addition to routinely available clinical variables was assessed. Results: The median age of included FN episodes was 6.0 years and eight (10%) had a bacteraemia. On presentation, elevated PCT, IL-10 and Mip1-beta were significantly associated with bacteraemia, while CRP, IL-6 and IL-8 were not. The combination of PCT (≥0.425 ng/ml) and IL-10 (≥4.37 pg/ml) had a sensitivity of 100% (95% CI 68.8-100%) and specificity of 89% (95% CI 80.0-95.0%) for prediction of bacteraemia, correctly identifying all eight bacteraemia episodes and classifying 16 FN episodes as high-risk. There was limited additive benefit of incorporating clinical variables to this model. On Day 2, there was an 11-fold increase in PCT in episodes with a bacteraemia which was significantly higher than that observed in the non-bacteraemia episodes. Conclusion: Elevated PCT and IL-10 accurately identified all bacteraemia episodes in our FN cohort and may enhance the early risk stratification process in this population. Prospective validation and implementation is required to determine the impact on health service utilisation.
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    The role of 18F-Fluorodeoxyglucose Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography (FDG PET/CT) in assessment of complex invasive fungal disease and opportunistic co-infections in patients with acute leukemia prior to allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplant.
    Longhitano, A ; Alipour, R ; Khot, A ; Bajel, A ; Antippa, P ; Slavin, M ; Thursky, K (Wiley, 2021-06)
    INTRODUCTION: Individuals diagnosed with acute lymphoid and myeloid malignancies are at significant risk of invasive fungal and bacterial infections secondary to their marked immunocompromised states with a significant high risk of mortality. The role of metabolic imaging with 18F-Fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography (PET/CT) has been increasingly recognized in optimizing the diagnosis of invasive infection, monitoring the response to therapy and guiding the duration of antimicrobial therapy or need to escalate to surgical intervention. METHODS: Two distinct cases of pulmonary co-infection of rare fungal and bacterial pathogens are explored in severely immunocompromised individuals where FDG PET/CT aided both patients to make a full recovery and transition to HCT. The first case explores mixed Scedosporium apiospermum and Rhizomucor pulmonary infection on a background of T cell/myeloid mixed phenotype acute leukemia ultimately warranting long-term antifungal therapy and lobectomy prior to HCT. The second case explores Fusarium and Nocardia pulmonary infection on a background of relapsed AML also warranting surgical resection with lobectomy and long-term antimicrobials prior to transition to HCT. DISCUSSION: The cases highlight the utility of FDG PET/CT to support the diagnosis of infections, including the presence or absence of disseminated infection, and to provide highly sensitive monitoring of the infection over time. FDG PET/CT played a key role in directing therapy duration decisions and prompted the necessity for surgical intervention. Ultimately, the use of FDG PET/CT allowed for a successful transition to HCT highlighting its value in this clinical setting. CONCLUSION: FDG PET/CT has an emerging role in the diagnostic and monitoring pathway for complex infections in high-risk immunocompromised patients.
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    Candida auris in an Australian health care facility: importance of screening high risk patients
    Worth, LJ ; Harrison, SJ ; Dickinson, M ; van Diemen, A ; Breen, J ; Harper, S ; Marshall, C ; Williamson, DA ; Thursky, KA ; Slavin, MA (WILEY, 2020-05-24)
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    Managing low-risk febrile neutropenia in children in the time of COVID-19: What matters to parents and clinicians
    Haeusler, GM ; De Abreu Lourenco, R ; Bakos, C ; O'Brien, T ; Slavin, MA ; Clark, JE ; McMullan, B ; Borland, ML ; Babl, FE ; Krishnasamy, M ; Vanevski, M ; Thursky, KA ; Hall, L (WILEY, 2021-02-03)
    AIM: The Australian 'There is no place like home' project is implementing a paediatric low-risk febrile neutropenia (FN) programme across eight paediatric hospitals. We sought to identify the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on programme implementation. METHODS: Paediatric oncology, infectious diseases and emergency medicine health-care workers and parent/carers were surveyed to explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on home-based FN care. Online surveys were distributed nationally to health-care workers involved in care of children with FN and to parents or carers of children with cancer. RESULTS: Surveys were completed by 78 health-care workers and 32 parents/carers. Overall, 95% of health-care workers had confidence in the safety of home-based FN care, with 35% reporting changes at their own hospitals in response to the pandemic that made them more comfortable with this model. Compared to pre-pandemic, >50% of parent/carers were now more worried about attending the hospital with their child and >80% were interested in receiving home-based FN care. Among both groups, increased telehealth access and acceptance of home-based care, improved patient quality of life and reduced risk of nosocomial infection were identified as programme enablers, while re-direction of resources due to COVID-19 and challenges in implementing change during a crisis were potential barriers. CONCLUSION: There is strong clinician and parent/carer support for home-based management of low-risk FN across Australia. Changes made to the delivery of cancer care in response to the pandemic have generally increased acceptance for home-based treatments and opportunities exist to leverage these to refine the low-risk FN programme.
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    Managing haematology and oncology patients during the COVID-19 pandemic: interim consensus guidance
    Weinkove, R ; McQuilten, ZK ; Adler, J ; Agar, MR ; Blyth, E ; Cheng, AC ; Conyers, R ; Haeusler, GM ; Hardie, C ; Jackson, C ; Lane, SW ; Middlemiss, T ; Mollee, P ; Mulligan, SP ; Ritchie, D ; Ruka, M ; Solomon, B ; Szer, J ; Thursky, KA ; Wood, EM ; Worth, LJ ; Yong, MK ; Slavin, MA ; Teh, BW (WILEY, 2020-05-13)
    INTRODUCTION: A pandemic coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, causes COVID-19, a potentially life-threatening respiratory disease. Patients with cancer may have compromised immunity due to their malignancy and/or treatment, and may be at elevated risk of severe COVID-19. Community transmission of COVID-19 could overwhelm health care services, compromising delivery of cancer care. This interim consensus guidance provides advice for clinicians managing patients with cancer during the pandemic. MAIN RECOMMENDATIONS: During the COVID-19 pandemic: In patients with cancer with fever and/or respiratory symptoms, consider causes in addition to COVID-19, including other infections and therapy-related pneumonitis. For suspected or confirmed COVID-19, discuss temporary cessation of cancer therapy with a relevant specialist. Provide information on COVID-19 for patients and carers. Adopt measures within cancer centres to reduce risk of nosocomial SARS-CoV-2 acquisition; support population-wide social distancing; reduce demand on acute services; ensure adequate staffing; and provide culturally safe care. Measures should be equitable, transparent and proportionate to the COVID-19 threat. Consider the risks and benefits of modifying cancer therapies due to COVID-19. Communicate treatment modifications, and review once health service capacity allows. Consider potential impacts of COVID-19 on the blood supply and availability of stem cell donors. Discuss and document goals of care, and involve palliative care services in contingency planning. CHANGES IN MANAGEMENT AS A RESULT OF THIS STATEMENT: This interim consensus guidance provides a framework for clinicians managing patients with cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic. In view of the rapidly changing situation, clinicians must also monitor national, state, local and institutional policies, which will take precedence. ENDORSED BY: Australasian Leukaemia and Lymphoma Group; Australasian Lung Cancer Trials Group; Australian and New Zealand Children's Haematology/Oncology Group; Australia and New Zealand Society of Palliative Medicine; Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases; Bone Marrow Transplantation Society of Australia and New Zealand; Cancer Council Australia; Cancer Nurses Society of Australia; Cancer Society of New Zealand; Clinical Oncology Society of Australia; Haematology Society of Australia and New Zealand; National Centre for Infections in Cancer; New Zealand Cancer Control Agency; New Zealand Society for Oncology; and Palliative Care Australia.
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    Cost-effectiveness of home-based care of febrile neutropenia in children with cancer
    Tew, M ; Lourenco, RDA ; Gordon, JR ; Thursky, KA ; Slavin, MA ; Babl, FA ; Orme, L ; Bryant, PA ; Teh, BW ; Dalziel, K ; Haeusler, GM (WILEY, 2021-12-02)
    INTRODUCTION: Home-based treatment of febrile neutropenia (FN) in children with cancer with oral or intravenous antibiotics is safe and effective. There are limited data on the economic impact of this model of care. We evaluated the cost-effectiveness of implementing an FN programme, incorporating home-based intravenous antibiotics for carefully selected patients, in a tertiary paediatric hospital. METHODS: A decision analytic model was constructed to compare costs and outcomes of the home-based FN programme, with usual in-hospital treatment with intravenous antibiotics. The programme included a clinical decision rule to stratify patients by risk for severe infection and home-based eligibility criteria using disease, chemotherapy and patient-level factors. Health outcomes (quality of life) and probabilities of FN risk classification and home-based eligibility were based on prospectively collected data between 2017 and 2019. Patient-level costs were extracted from hospital administrative records. Cost-effectiveness was expressed as the incremental cost per quality-adjusted life year (QALY). FINDINGS: The mean health care cost of home-based FN treatment in low-risk patients was Australian dollars (A$) 7765 per patient compared to A$20,396 for in-hospital treatment (mean difference A$12,632 [95% CI: 12,496-12,767]). Overall, the home-based FN programme was the dominant strategy, being more effective (0.0011 QALY [95% CI: 0.0011-0.0012]) and less costly. Results of the model were most sensitive to proportion of children eligible for home-based care programme. CONCLUSION: Compared to in-hospital FN care, the home-based FN programme is cost-effective, with savings arising from cheaper cost of caring for children at home. These savings could increase as more patients eligible for home-based care are included in the programme.
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    Consensus guidelines for antifungal prophylaxis in haematological malignancy and haemopoietic stem cell transplantation, 2021
    Teh, BW ; Yeoh, DK ; Haeusler, GM ; Yannakou, CK ; Fleming, S ; Lindsay, J ; Slavin, MA (WILEY, 2021-11-01)
    Antifungal prophylaxis can reduce morbidity and mortality from invasive fungal disease (IFD). However, its use needs to be optimised and appropriately targeted to patients at highest risk to derive the most benefit. In addition to established risks for IFD, considerable recent progress in the treatment of malignancies has resulted in the development of new 'at-risk' groups. The changing epidemiology of IFD and emergence of drug resistance continue to impact choice of prophylaxis, highlighting the importance of active surveillance and knowledge of local epidemiology. These guidelines aim to highlight emerging risk groups and review the evidence and limitations around new formulations of established agents and new antifungal drugs. It provides recommendations around use and choice of antifungal prophylaxis, discusses the potential impact of the changing epidemiology of IFD and emergence of drug resistance, and future directions for risk stratification to assist optimal management of highly vulnerable patients.
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    Consensus guidelines for optimising antifungal drug delivery and monitoring to avoid toxicity and improve outcomes in patients with haematological malignancy and haemopoietic stem cell transplant recipients, 2021
    Chau, MM ; Daveson, K ; Alffenaar, J-WC ; Gwee, A ; Ho, SA ; Marriott, DJE ; Trubiano, JA ; Zhao, J ; Roberts, JA (WILEY, 2021-11-01)
    Antifungal agents can have complex dosing and the potential for drug interaction, both of which can lead to subtherapeutic antifungal drug concentrations and poorer clinical outcomes for patients with haematological malignancy and haemopoietic stem cell transplant recipients. Antifungal agents can also be associated with significant toxicities when drug concentrations are too high. Suboptimal dosing can be minimised by clinical assessment, laboratory monitoring, avoidance of interacting drugs, and dose modification. Therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM) plays an increasingly important role in antifungal therapy, particularly for antifungal agents that have an established exposure-response relationship with either a narrow therapeutic window, large dose-exposure variability, cytochrome P450 gene polymorphism affecting drug metabolism, the presence of antifungal drug interactions or unexpected toxicity, and/or concerns for non-compliance or inadequate absorption of oral antifungals. These guidelines provide recommendations on antifungal drug monitoring and TDM-guided dosing adjustment for selected antifungal agents, and include suggested resources for identifying and analysing antifungal drug interactions. Recommended competencies for optimal interpretation of antifungal TDM and dose recommendations are also provided.