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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    Access, knowledge and experience with fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography/computed tomography in infection management: a survey of Australia and New Zealand infectious diseases physicians and microbiologists
    Douglas, AP ; Thursky, KA ; Worth, LJ ; Harrison, SJ ; Hicks, RJ ; Slavin, MA (WILEY, 2019-05-01)
    BACKGROUND: Despite fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography/computed tomography (FDG-PET/CT) being funded only for staging and restaging of some malignancies in Australia, there is evidence of benefit of FDG-PET/CT for infection indications such as pyrexia of unknown origin (PUO), prolonged neutropenic fever (NF) and prosthetic device infection. AIM: To evaluate the current knowledge, utilisation of and gaps in access to FDG-PET/CT for infectious indications by Australasian infectious diseases (ID) physicians and microbiologists. METHODS: An online survey was administered to ID and microbiology doctors practising in adult medicine in Australia and New Zealand through two established email networks. Using targeted questions and case-based examples, multiple themes were explored, including access to FDG-PET/CT, use and perceived benefit of FDG-PET/CT in diagnosis and monitoring of non-malignant conditions such as NF and PUO, and barriers to clinical use of FDG-PET/CT. RESULTS: A response was received from 120 participants across all states and territories. Onsite and offsite FDG-PET/CT access was 63% and 31% respectively. Eighty-six percent reported using FDG-PET/CT for one or more infection indications and all had found it clinically useful, with common indications being PUO, prosthetic device infections and use in the immunocompromised host for prolonged NF and invasive fungal infection. Thirty-eight percent reported barriers in accessing FDG-PET/CT for infection indications and 76% would utilise FDG-PET/CT more frequently if funding existed for infection indications. CONCLUSION: Access to FDG-PET/CT in Australia and New Zealand is modest and is limited by lack of reimbursement for infection indications. There is discrepancy between recognised ID indications for FDG-PET/CT and funded indications.
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    Impact of a hospital-wide sepsis pathway on improved quality of care and clinical outcomes in surgical patients at a comprehensive cancer centre
    Hiong, A ; Thursky, KA ; Venn, G ; Teh, BW ; Haeusler, GM ; Crane, M ; Slavin, MA ; Worth, LJ (WILEY, 2019-05-01)
    PURPOSE: Sepsis is a significant complication following cancer surgery. Although standardised care bundles improve sepsis outcomes in other populations, the benefits in cancer patients are unclear. The objectives of this study were to describe the epidemiology of sepsis in cancer patients post-surgery, and to evaluate the impact of a clinical sepsis pathway on management and clinical outcomes. METHODS: A standardised hospital-wide sepsis pathway was developed in 2013, and all cases of sepsis at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in 2014 were retrospectively evaluated. Inclusion criteria were sepsis onset during the 100-day period following a surgical procedure for cancer diagnosis. Patients were identified using ICD-10-AM sepsis discharge codes, audit documentation and the hospital's antimicrobial approval system. Sepsis episodes were classified as managed on- or off-pathway. RESULTS: A total of 119 sepsis episodes were identified. Of these, 71 (59.7%) were managed on the sepsis pathway. Episodes managed on-pathway resulted more frequently in administration of appropriate antibiotics compared to those off-pathway (94.4% vs. 66.7%, p < 0.001), and had shorter time to first-dose antibiotics (median 85 vs. 315 min, p < 0.001). Pathway utilisation was associated with significant reductions in need for inotropes (7% vs. 13%, p = 0.023), ventilation (3% vs. 10%, p = 0.006) and length of hospitalisation (median 15 vs. 30 days, p = 0.008). The most frequent source of infection was organ-space surgical site infection (24.4% of instances). CONCLUSIONS: A dedicated hospital-wide sepsis pathway had significant impact on the quality of care and clinical outcomes of sepsis in cancer surgery patients. Cost-benefit analysis of sepsis pathways for cancer patients is required.
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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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    Risks and burden of viral respiratory tract infections in patients with multiple myeloma in the era of immunomodulatory drugs and bortezomib: experience at an Australian Cancer Hospital
    Teh, BW ; Worth, LJ ; Harrison, SJ ; Thursky, KA ; Slavin, MA (SPRINGER, 2015-07-01)
    INTRODUCTION: Infections are a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in patients with multiple myeloma. The epidemiology, risk factors and outcomes of viral respiratory tract infections (vRTI) are not well described in patients with multiple myeloma managed with novel agents, the current standard of care. METHODS: Patients with myeloma from 2009 to 2012 who tested positive on respiratory virus multiplex polymerase chain reaction had clinical, radiological and microbiological records reviewed. The Fourth European Conference on Infections in Leukaemia (ECIL-4) definitions of RTI were applied. Univariate and multivariate regression analysis of risk factors was performed using vRTI as the evaluable outcome. RESULTS: Of 330 patients, 75 (22.7%) tested positive for a total of 100 vRTI episodes. All patients received thalidomide, lenalidomide or bortezomib in combination with myeloma therapies (median of three treatment regimens). vRTI occurred most commonly in patients with progressive disease, and receipt of more than three lines of myeloma therapy was associated with an increased risk of vRTI (p < 0.01). Amongst key respiratory pathogens, influenza was associated with the highest hospital admission rate (66.7%), ICU admission rate (41.6%) and mortality (33.3%) whilst RSV was associated with prolonged hospital stay. CONCLUSION: Patients with multiple myeloma and advanced disease managed with multiple lines of therapy are at risk for vRTI, and targeted interventions for prevention/treatment are required.
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    Infection with Scedosporium apiospermum and S-prolificans, Australia
    Cooley, L ; Spelman, D ; Thursky, K ; Slavin, M (CENTERS DISEASE CONTROL & PREVENTION, 2007-08-01)
    Scedosporium apiospermum and S. prolificans are fungi of increasing clinical importance, particularly in persons with underlying diseases. We reviewed the records of 59 patients in Australia from whom Scedosporium spp. were isolated from June 30, 1997, through December 31, 2003. S. apiospermum was isolated predominantly from the respiratory tracts of 28 of 31 patients with underlying lung diseases and resulted in 2 infections and 1 death. The annual number of S. apiospermum isolates remained constant. S. prolificans was isolated from 28 patients only after November 1999. Eight patients with acute myeloid leukemia or hematopoietic stem cell transplants had invasive infection; 4 had fungemia and 6 died from infection. S. prolificans caused locally invasive infection in 2 immunocompetent patients and was found in the respiratory tract of 18 patients with underlying respiratory disease but did not cause fungemia or deaths in these patients. Scedosporium spp. showed distinct clinical and epidemiologic features.
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    Oseltamivir Resistance in Adult Oncology and Hematology Patients Infected with Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 Virus, Australia
    Tramontana, AR ; George, B ; Hurt, AC ; Doyle, JS ; Langan, K ; Reid, AB ; Harper, JM ; Thursky, K ; Worth, LJ ; Dwyer, DE ; Morrissey, CO ; Johnson, PDR ; Buising, KL ; Harrison, SJ ; Seymour, JF ; Ferguson, PE ; Wang, B ; Denholm, JT ; Cheng, AC ; Slavin, M (CENTERS DISEASE CONTROL, 2010-07-01)
    We describe laboratory-confirmed influenza A pandemic (H1N1) 2009 in 17 hospitalized recipients of a hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) (8 allogeneic) and in 15 patients with malignancy treated at 6 Australian tertiary centers during winter 2009. Ten (31.3%) patients were admitted to intensive care, and 9 of them were HSCT recipients. All recipients of allogeneic HSCT with infection <100 days posttransplantation or severe graft-versus-host disease were admitted to an intensive care unit. In-hospital mortality rate was 21.9% (7/32). The H275Y neuraminidase mutation, which confers oseltamivir resistance developed in 4 of 7 patients with PCR positive for influenza after > or = 4 days of oseltamivir therapy. Three of these 4 patients were critically ill. Oseltamivir resistance in 4 (13.3%) of 30 patients who were administered oseltamivir highlights the need for ongoing surveillance of such resistance and further research on optimal antiviral therapy in the immunocompromised.