Tag Archives: #infectious disease

Everything You Need To Know About the New ATS/IDSA Community-Acquired Pneumonia Guidelines

The ATS and IDSA recently released the much-anticipated update to the community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) guidelines. The previous version was published back in 2007 and the new guidelines have included some major changes. Here is a rundown of all those changes that you need to know. 

1. Health care associated pneumonia (HCAP) no longer exists

HCAP was an entity created with the 2007 CAP guidelines. It encompassed non-hospital acquired pneumonia in patients who had recent contact with the healthcare system. The recommendation was to treat HCAP with empiric broad-spectrum antibiotic therapy against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PsA). With this strategy however, we were over-treating a lot of people. This study found that while 30% of all patients hospitalized for CAP received empiric anti-MRSA treatment, only 0.7% of all patients had MRSA pneumonia.

In the new guidelines, HCAP no longer exists. Instead, the guidelines emphasize assessment of risk factors for pathogens such as MRSA and PsA.

2. Treatment is now based on severity of the pneumonia rather than the location of the admitted patient

Prior guidelines differentiated antibiotic recommendations based on patient triage to the floor or the intensive care unit. In the new guidelines, treatment recommendations are based on the severity of the pneumonia, based on a list of criteria:

3. Only obtain blood cultures in severe CAP or if risk factors for MRSA and/or PsA are present

The new guidelines focus on cost-effective use of diagnostic tests.
Outpatient setting: recommend against any diagnostic testing (except for a chest X-ray)
Inpatient non-severe pneumonia: recommend blood cultures and sputum gram stain/culture ONLY if risk factors for MRSA and/or PsA are present
Inpatient severe pneumonia: recommend blood cultures, sputum gram stain/culture, Streptococcus pneumoniae urine antigen, and Legionella urine antigen and PCR/culture
*Legionella diagnostic tests are also recommended in times of an outbreak 

These recommendations are based on literature demonstrating that:

  • Overall prevalence of true positive blood cultures is 1-9% in patients with CAP3-6
  • The majority of true positive blood cultures occur in patients with severe CAP6,7
  • Blood culture results change clinical management in <2% of patients with CAP3,4,6
  • The rate of blood culture contaminants is similar to the rate of true blood culture positives, resulting in unnecessary antibiotics and extended lengths of stay in the hospital3,4,6

4. Procalcitonin should NOT be used in the diagnosis of CAP

Procalcitonin is not a reliable marker for diagnosis of bacterial infections; it has roughly 65-75% sensitivity for detecting bacterial pneumonia8. Consequently, the risk of not treating bacterial CAP due to a low procalcitonin level can lead to poor outcomes. Although there is data to support use of procalcitonin in determining the duration of antibiotics in CAP9,10, the guidelines recommend use only in situations where duration exceeds the recommended 5-7 days.

5. The guidelines recommend use of the Pneumonia Severity Index (PSI) over the CURB-65 for determining need for admission

The argument from the guideline authors is that there is more literature in support for PSI in accurately predicting mortality rather than the CURB-65 score11-14. However, PSI incorporates data that may not be available in all circumstances, and certainly will not be available to the outpatient clinician who is trying to decide whether to admit a patient or not (such as pH, which can only be obtained from an arterial blood gas). So, although PSI may be recommended for use in the emergency department, the CURB-65 will likely remain in use, especially due to its efficiency in the outpatient setting.

6. Algorithm for CAP antibiotic treatment
The meat of the guidelines is the treatment regimens – and there are quite a few changes.

  • 1) Macrolides are no longer recommended as first line therapy in uncomplicated outpatient CAP unless the local streptococcal resistance to azithromycin is <25% (this study shows that most parts of the U.S. have resistance rates >25%).
  • 2) Amoxicillin and doxycycline take the place of macrolides as first line treatment in uncomplicated outpatient CAP.

You may be thinking – “wait, amoxicillin doesn’t even cover atypical pathogens (i.e.  Mycoplasma pneumoniae and Legionella pneumophila)!” This is true. But studies have shown that in otherwise-healthy patients, there was no difference in outcomes among those who received amoxicillin vs. an antibiotic that treats atypical organisms16. Exactly why that is remains unclear, but could be because healthy individuals clear the infection on their own or because the majority of these pneumonias are actually due to a virus, so they would improve with or without any antibiotics 5.

  • 3) In hospitalized patients:
    • Non-severe CAP – only treat empirically for MRSA and/or PsA if the organism has been isolated from the patient’s respiratory tract in the past
    • Severe CAP – treat empirically for MRSA and/or PsA if the patient has any risk factors for MRSA and/or PsA respiratory infection

7. Treat anaerobes only in cases with suspected or proven lung abscess and/or empyema

Empiric treatment of anaerobes in aspiration pneumonia remains controversial, but the new guidelines recommend only treating anaerobes if there is suspicion for or a proven lung abscess and/or empyema.

8. Continue antibiotics for at least 48 hours in patients who are diagnosed with influenza pneumonia

This recommendation is based off the data that influenza infection predisposes to subsequent bacterial superinfections17 and a patient could have both a viral and a bacterial pneumonia at the same time. The guidelines state that if there is significant clinical improvement in 48 hours and no evidence to suggest a superimposed bacterial pneumonia, antibiotics can be discontinued at that time.

9. Duration of antibiotics is based on clinical improvement (but should be a minimum of 5 days)

Gone are the days of prespecified number of days for antibiotic duration. Instead, monitor the patient for signs of clinical improvement.

  • If cultures are not growing MRSA and/or PsA, can stop empiric treatment for MRSA and/or PsA.
  • If clinically improving, stop antibiotics following 48 hours of clinical improvement after a minimum of 5 days. Clinical improvement is determined by resolution of vital sign abnormalities, ability to eat/improved appetite, and normal mentation.

10. Do not use corticosteroids as adjunctive treatment and do not obtain routine follow up chest X-rays

These were not necessarily strategies that I employed prior to the publication of these guidelines, and corticosteroid use in CAP is controversial, but at this time, there is no strong data to support either of these adjunctive management strategies in patients with CAP.

References:

1. Metlay JP, Waterer GW, Long AC, et al. Diagnosis and Treatment of Adults with Community-acquired Pneumonia. An Official Clinical Practice Guideline of the American Thoracic Society and Infectious Diseases Society of America. Am J Resp Crit Care Med. 2019; 200(7):e45-e67.
2. Self WH, Wunderink RG, Williams DJ, et al. Staphylococcus aureus Community-acquired Pneumonia: Prevalence, Clinical Characteristics, and Outcomes. Clin Infect Dis. 2016; 63(3):300-309.
3. Chalasani NP, Valdecanas MA, Gopal AK, McGowan JE Jr, and Jurado RL. Clinical utility of blood cultures in adult patients with community-acquired pneumonia without defined underlying risks. Chest. 1995; 108(4):932-936.
4. Corbo J, Friedman B, Bijur P, and Gallagher EJ. Limited usefulness of initial blood cultures in community acquired pneumonia. Emerg Med J. 2004; 21(4):446-448.
5. Jain S, Self WH, Wunderink RG, et al. Community-Acquired Pneumonia Requiring Hospitalization among U.S. Adults. New Eng J Med. 2015. 373:415-427.
6. Lee JH and Kim YH. Predictive factors of true bacteremia and the clinical utility of blood cultures as a prognostic tool in patients with community-onset pneumonia. Medicine (Baltimore). 2016; 95(41):e5058.
7. Waterer GW and Wunderink RG. The influence of the severity of community-acquired pneumonia on the usefulness of blood cultures. Respir Med. 2001; 95(1):78-82.
8. Self WH, Balk RA, Grijalva CG, et al. Procalcitonin as a Marker of Etiology in Adults Hospitalized With Community-Acquired Pneumonia. Clin Infect Dis. 2017;65(2):183-190.
9. Schuetz P, Wirz Y, Sager R, et al. Procalcitonin to initiate or discontinue antibiotics in acute respiratory tract infections. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017; 10:CD007498.
10. Schuetz P, Wirz Y, Sager R, et al. Effect of procalcitonin-guided antibiotic treatment on mortality in acute respiratory infections: a patient level meta-analysis. Lancet Infect Dis. 2018;18(1):95-107.
11. Aujesky D, Auble TE, Yealy DM, et al. Prospective comparison of three validated prediction rules for prognosis in community-acquired pneumonia. Am J Med. 2005; 118(4):384-392.
12. Marrie TJ, Lau CY, Wheeler SL, Wong CJ, Vandervoort MK, and Feagan BG. A controlled trial of a critical pathway for treatment of community-acquired pneumonia. CAPITAL  Study Investigators. Community-Acquired Pneumonia Intervention Trial Assessing Levofloxacin. JAMA. 2000; 283(6):749-755.
13. Carratala J, Fernandez-Sabe N, Ortega L, et al. Outpatient care compared with hospitalization for community-acquired pneumonia: a randomized trial in low-risk patients. Ann Intern Med. 2005;142(3):165-172.
14. Renaud B, Coma E, Labarere J, et al. Routine use of the Pneumonia Severity Index for guiding the site-of-treatment decision of patients with pneumonia in the emergency department: a multicenter, prospective, observational, controlled cohort study. Clin Infect Dis. 2007;441(1):41-49.
15. Blondeau JM and Theriault N. Application of the Formula for Rational Antimicrobial Therapy (FRAT) to Community-Acquired Pneumonia. J Infect Dis Ther. 2017;5:313.
16. Postma DW, van Werkhoven CH, van Elden LJR, et al. Antibiotic Treatment Strategies for Community-acquired Pneumonia in Adults. New Eng J Med. 2015;372:1312-1323.
17. Metersky ML, Masterton RG, Lode H, File TM Jr, and Babinchak T. Epidemiology, microbiology, and treatment considerations for bacterial pneumonia complicating influenza. Int J Infect Dis. 2012;16(5):e321-331.

A Rash of Beta-Lactam Allergies, Part 3: The Solution

This post is the last in a three-part series covering the management of beta-lactam allergies. Part 1 explained the enormous impact that penicillin allergies have on patient outcomes, while Part 2 discussed the different types of allergic reactions and the potential (or lack thereof) for beta-lactam allergy cross reactivity. This last post will cover the methods used to assess beta-lactam allergies. Let’s jump right in!

There are a variety of strategies that can be used to assess a patient’s beta-lactam allergy, each having their own place in the allergy assessment algorithm. The following will be detailed in this post:

Detailed Patient Interview

Far and away the most important step in assessing a patient’s beta-lactam allergy is a detailed patient interview. An allergy evaluation is recommended by many of the top health organizations in the country, including the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Quality Forum, Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM), and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).1 Just a minute or two of questioning the patient can yield an entirely different story than the allergy history in the medical chart. Some common questions I bring up with patients include:

  • How many years ago did the reaction occur?
  • What type of reaction did you have?
  • Do you remember the details of the reaction? Did you have to go to the emergency room?
  • How long after starting the medication did the reaction occur?
  • How was the reaction managed?
  • What happened when the medication was stopped?
  • Have you tolerated other forms of penicillin since the reaction? Have you had Keflex (cephalexin), Augmentin (amoxicillin/clavulanate), or amoxicillin?
    • Using brand names to question patients in this situation is important, as many patients wouldn’t recognize the jumble of letters that is amoxicillin/clavulanate

You can develop your own arsenal of questions to ask patients, but the important part is to talk to them. No further strategies are needed if you can rule out the documented allergy just from a 90-second conversation.

Medication History

The other piece that is absolutely necessary before proceeding is looking through the patient’s medication history yourself. If a patient with a documented penicillin allergy received ceftriaxone without issue on an admission last year, you can go ahead and give full-dose ceftriaxone during this admission if needed. The patient interview and medication history review can rule out >50% of documented allergies in my experience. In these situations, you can skip directly to the last section of this post: allergy re-labelling.

Direct Challenge

In patients with a very low probability of allergic reaction, a beta-lactam antibiotic can usually be given without pause. Situations where you can rule out an allergy based on patient interview or medication history can be “challenged” directly. This means giving the full dose of the preferred antibiotic and monitoring for any adverse effects. Some institutions also give a direct oral amoxicillin challenge with 250-500 mg of amoxicillin once prior to the intended beta-lactam initiation. If the patient can tolerate amoxicillin, any penicillin antibiotic can be given in the future without fear of experiencing an IgE-mediated reaction.

Graded Challenge

When you are not able to completely rule out an allergic reaction, a graded challenge is often the next logical step in hospitalized patients. Graded challenges are used when there is a low probability of an allergic reaction, but there is still a degree of discomfort giving the entire dose up front. In general, 10% of the full dose is given, the patient is monitored closely for 30 minutes, and then the full dose is given if no issues arise. If the patient tolerates these doses, you can rule out immediate hypersensitivity reactions and document the tolerance in the medical record, which will be discussed at the end of this post.

Snippet of graded challenge guideline table from Brigham & Women’s Hospital

Desensitization

In patients who have confirmed or a high probability of severe IgE-mediated reactions to beta-lactams, but a beta-lactam is necessary for treatment, desensitization can be used. The desensitization procedure usually involves at least 12 doses of escalating concentrations of the required medication. This procedure requires incredibly close monitoring, which at most hospitals requires admission to the intensive care unit for administration. If a patient is able to tolerate desensitization, the patient must then begin regularly scheduled doses of the beta-lactam immediately upon the protocol completion. If doses are missed, the patient must be desensitized again. Desensitization does not rule out the allergy. The patient is still considered allergic to that agent, but can tolerate the medication for the course required in that instance.

Penicillin Skin Testing

Penicillin (PCN) skin testing has increased in popularity recently due to its relative ease of use and efficacy at ruling out IgE-mediated allergic reactions. In addition to rescue medications that should be handy just in case (diphenhydramine, methylprednisolone, and epinephrine) the skin test consists of 4 elements:

Initially, a percutaneous puncture test is done on the patient’s forearm with each of the elements and if tolerated, an intradermal test of each is also performed. The entire process generally takes around 45-60 minutes to complete and offers a negative predictive value for penicillin allergies of ~99%.2 Debate has surrounded the cost (both time and materials for the procedure), but multiple studies have now shown penicillin skin testing to be a cost-saving venture.2-5

Penicillin skin testing seems like a no-brainer, carrying the lowest risk of the procedures discussed thus far and its low overall cost for the health system. But in many institutions, it’s unclear who will perform the testing when allergy consultation is not available. In a 2015 survey of 736 infectious diseases providers, 57% responded saying that they do not have local options for skin testing.6 Does your institution?

The people of Twitter have spoken and it resulted in similar responses, with 62% of respondents not having penicillin skin testing available at their institution. Previous studies have reported on the successes of penicillin skin testing performed by allergists,7-9 & many more antimicrobial stewardship programs,10 infectious diseases fellows/physicians,11 nurses,12 and pharmacists.13,14 If you’ve read this far into the post, you likely are interested in allergy skin testing, so I’d implore you to own the process if your institution doesn’t already have skin testing available! ALK provides some excellent instructional videos on their website to guide you through the testing process. Pharmacists aren’t licensed to perform skin testing in all 50 states, but they are in many of them, which this 2019 article did an admirable job exploring.15

Allergy re-labelling

The last fundamental step in navigating beta-lactam allergies is updating the patient’s allergy label. With all of the previous interventions, the allergy documentation can be further described in the medical record, with desensitization being the only intervention that does not rule out IgE-mediated reactions altogether.

Green denotes interventions that can lead to allergy de-labelling. Red denotes the only intervention that should not lead to de-labelling

In an ideal world, inaccurate allergy labels should be removed from the medical record. Unfortunately, this practice often leads to redocumentation of the allergy at a later admission however.16 Many hospitals have integrated innovative ways to improve this repetitive cycle, as seen via providers’ personal experiences here, here, and here. For those without the tech support for any of this functionality though, the best thing to do is to document, document, document.

Summary

The majority of penicillin allergy labels do not belong to patients with true allergies and these unnecessary labels lead to worse patient outcomes. We should all strive for more accurate and detailed allergy documentation in our patients, which all starts with a patient interview. All of the interventions discussed above can be used to remove/relabel a beta-lactam allergy, with the exception of desensitization.

For those looking to learn more, I highly recommend a recent review published in JAMA that goes into further detail on penicillin allergies.17 Make sure to check out the supplementary material too, it has some super helpful resources, including a full allergy toolkit for penicillin skin testing and oral amoxicillin challenges!

Previous posts in this series:

A Rash of Beta-Lactam Allergies, Part 1: The Problem

A Rash of Beta-Lactam Allergies, Part 2: The Education

References

  1. Blumenthal KG, Shenoy ES, Wolfson AR, et al. Addressing inpatient beta-lactam allergies: a multihospital implementation. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2017;5:616-625
  2. Jones BM, Bland CM. Penicillin skin testing as an antimicrobial stewardship initiative. Am J Health-Syst Pharm. 2017;74:232-7
  3. Mattingly TJ, Meninger S, Heil EL. Penicillin skin testing in methicillin-sensitive staphylococcus aureus bacteremia: A cost-effectiveness analysis. PLoS One. 2019; 14(1):e0210271. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0210271
  4. Jones BM, Avramovski N, Concepcion AM, Crosby J, Bland CM. Clinical and Economic Outcomes of Penicillin Skin Testing as an Antimicrobial Stewardship Initiative in a Community Health System. Open Forum Infect Dis. 2019;6(4): ofz109. doi: 10.1093/ofid/ofz109
  5. Rimawi RH, Cook PP, Gooch M, et al. The impact of penicillin skin testing on clinical practice and antimicrobial stewardship. J Hosp Med. 2013;8(6):341-345
  6. Trubiano JA, Beekmann SE, Worth LJ, et al. Improving antimicrobial stewardship by antibiotic allergy delabeling: evaluation of knowledge, attitude, and practices throughout the Emerging Infections Network. Open Forum Infect Dis. 2016; 3(3):ofw153
  7. Blumenthal KG, Wickner PG, Hurwitz S, et al. Tackling inpatient penicillin allergies: Assessing tools for antimicrobial stewardship. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2017;140:154-161
  8. Macy E, Shu YH. The Effect of Penicillin Allergy Testing on Future Health Care Utilization: A Matched Cohort Study. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2017;5(3):705-710
  9. Park M, Markus P, Matesic D, Li JT. Safety and effectiveness of a preoperative allergy clinic in decreasing vancomycin use in patients with a history of penicillin allergy. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2006;97(5):681-687
  10. Leis JA, Palmay L, Ho G, et al. Point-of-Care β-Lactam Allergy Skin Testing by Antimicrobial Stewardship Programs: A Pragmatic Multicenter Prospective Evaluation. Clin Infect Dis. 2017;65(7):1059-1065
  11. Heil EL, Bork JT, Schmalzle SA, et al. Implementation of an Infectious Disease Fellow-Managed Penicillin Allergy Skin Testing Service. Open Forum Infect Dis. 2016;3(3):ofw155
  12. Macy E, Roppe LB, Schatz M. Routine Penicillin Skin Testing in Hospitalized Patients with a History of Penicillin Allergy. Perm J. 2004;8(3):20-24
  13. Chen JR, Tarver SA, Alvarez KS, Tran T, Khan DA. A Proactive Approach to Penicillin Allergy Testing in Hospitalized Patients. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2017;5(3):686-693
  14. Wall GC, Peters L, Leaders CB, Wille JA. Pharmacist-managed service providing penicillin allergy skin tests. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2004;61(12):1271-1275
  15. Bland CM, Bookstaver PB, Griffith NC, et al. A practical guide for pharmacists to successfully implement penicillin allergy skin testing. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2019;76(3):136-147
  16. Rimawi RH, Shah KB, Cook PP. Risk of redocumenting penicillin allergy in a cohort of patients with negative penicillin skin tests. J Hosp Med. 2013;8(11):615-618
  17. Shenoy ES, Macy E, Rowe T, Blumenthal KG. Evaluation and management of penicillin allergy: a review. JAMA. 2019;321(2):188-199

A Rash of Beta-Lactam Allergies, Part 2: The Education

This post is the second in a three-part series covering the management of beta-lactam allergies, all to be released on FOAMid over the last few months of 2019. Part 1 explained the enormous impact that penicillin allergies have on patient outcomes. Today we’ll discuss the different types of allergic reactions and the potential for beta-lactam allergy cross reactivity. Let’s jump right in!

Types of Allergic Reactions

The most common way of grouping immune-mediated hypersensitivity reactions is through the Gell & Coombs classification method.2 Using this scheme, there are four types of allergic reaction:

Type I reactions are IgE-mediated reactions and commonly referred to as immediate-type hypersensitivity reactions, since they occur minutes to hours post-exposure to an allergen. Type I reactions include anaphylaxis, angioedema, hypotension, flushing, wheezing, hives, and urticaria.

Both types II and III reactions are IgG-mediated.
Type II reactions, or cytotoxic reactions, include hemolytic anemia, thrombocytopenia, and neutropenia.
Type III reactions are immune complex reactions, and include serum sickness, glomerulonephritis, and arthritis.

Last, but certainly not least, are type IV reactions, which are T-cell mediated.
Type IV reactions are commonly referred to as delayed hypersensitivity reactions, despite Types II, III, and IV all technically being delayed in nature by days to weeks post-exposure to an allergen. A maculopapular rash, interstitial nephritis, Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS), toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), and drug reaction with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS) syndrome are all considered type IV reactions.

Cross-Reactivity Risk

As discussed in the first post, many recorded antibiotic allergies are not true allergies. But when a patient does actually have a true penicillin allergy, what are the chances that the patient will have a similar reaction to other beta-lactams?

While we would generally avoid penicillins in this situation, other beta-lactams like cephalosporins and carbapenems could potentially be used. Previous studies of 10-25% cross-reactivity between cephalosporins and penicillins were primarily reported prior to 1982, when cephalosporin manufacturing processes were often contaminated with penicillin.12 Since then, the documented rate of cross-reactivity has dropped dramatically, shown in the table below.12

*not all cephalosporins are created equal (see comments below)

Cephalosporins

  • Cephalosporins that do not share a side chain with penicillin have a cross-reactivity risk of <2%
  • Cephalosporins that do share a similar side chain to penicillins (ex. cefoxitin and penicillin) have a cross-reactivity risk that is much higher

Side chain similarities don’t guarantee cross-reactivity, but they do increase the risk above the previously stated 2% threshold

But hold on, I thought the cause of beta-lactam allergies was the core beta-lactam ring that everyone remembers from their undergraduate years?

Penicillin molecule with the highlighted beta-lactam ring

Not so fast. While this plays a part, more recent literature has shown that the R1 and R2 side chains also play a role in the allergy potential of cephalosporins. I have adopted and updated a table from an excellent 2008 review paper by Daryl DePestel and colleagues below.3

In this table, the 3s, 6s, and 7s stand for similar R1 or R2 side chains, as described in the cephalosporin skeleton molecule, also seen below.

  • The R1 side chain is at the 7-position on the cephalosporin molecule and the 6-position on the penicillin molecule.
  • The R2 side chain is at the 3-position, which only differs among cephalosporins and not penicillins.

There are a couple of important clinical points to note from this table. Probably most important for clinical practice is that cefazolin does not share side chains with any other beta-lactam agents. This can have huge consequences on the use of cefazolin in practice, especially when it comes to surgical site prophylaxis and the treatment of methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus infections, both situations that could use cefazolin as first line therapy.

And while aztreonam is known as a beta-lactam with limited cross-reactivity due to dissimilar side chains, it does actually share a side chain with ceftazidime and the more recently approved ceftolozane (marketed in combination with tazobactam).

Aztreonam & Carbapenems

Speaking of aztreonam, we’ve spent the majority of this post discussing cephalosporin cross-reactivity risk. Now let’s spend a bit of time reviewing the other agents defined in the initial table in this post: carbapenems and aztreonam. Cross-reactivity between these agents and penicillins is minimal, as seen by a number of studies published by an Italian group headed by Antonino Romano and Francesco Gaeta.4,7,9

In their 2013 analysis, they found no patients had an allergic reaction to carbapenems, despite all 204 patients having a well-demonstrated T-cell-mediated hypersensitivity reaction to other beta-lactams (mostly penicillin).7

They went on to look at IgE-mediated hypersensitivity in their 2015 study, which found yet again no cases of hypersensitivity with either carbapenems OR aztreonam this time in a cohort of 212 patients with proven penicillin allergies.4

Then in 2016, they went back to T-cell-mediated hypersensitivity, examining 214 patients with proven reactions to penicillins and testing them against aztreonam. Once again, zero patients reacted to the aztreonam test doses or full dose.9

At this point, you may be questioning if the Italian group ever saw any reactions in their trial outcomes. The last study presented above that showed no reactions with aztreonam though tested more than just aztreonam. They also looked at cephalosporins and saw an 18.7% chance of positive skin testing with aminocephalosporins (cephalexin, cefadroxil, cefaclor).9 If you refer back to the previous cross-reactivity table, you can see that these three agents share a side chain with ampicillin and amoxicillin.

So while side chains play a key role in determining cross-reactivity among cephalosporins, we can be fairly confident that carbapenems and aztreonam are safe to administer in the majority of situations, especially when a non-severe penicillin allergy is documented. This will be covered in more detail in the next (and final) installment of “A Rash of Beta-Lactam Allergies,” coming to you soon!

Other posts in this series:

A Rash of Beta-Lactam Allergies, Part 1: The Problem

A Rash of Beta-Lactam Allergies, Part 3: The Solution

References

  1. Blumenthal KG, Peter JG, Trubiano JA, Phillips EJ. Antibiotic Allergy. Lancet. 2019; 393(10167):183-198
  2. Coombs P, Gell PG. Classification of allergic reactions responsible for clinical hypersensitivity and disease. In: G RR, P.G.H Gell, eds. Clinical aspects of immunology. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1968; 575-596
  3. Frumin J, Gallagher JC. Allergic cross-sensitivity between penicillin, carbapenem, and monobactam antibiotics: what are the chances? Ann Pharmacother. 2009; 43:304-315
  4. Gaeta F, Valluzzi RL, Alonzi C, Maggioletti M, Caruso C, Romano A. Tolerability of aztreonam and carbapenems in patients with IgE-mediated hypersensitivity to penicillins. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2015; 135:972-976
  5. Joint Task Force on Practice Parameters; American Academy, American College, & Joint Council of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Drug allergy: an updated practice parameter. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2010; 105:259-273
  6. Legendre DP, Muzny CA, Marshall GD, Swiatlo E. Antibiotic hypersensitivity reactions and approaches to desensitization. Clin Infect Dis. 2014; 58(8):1140-1148
  7. Romano A, Gaeta F, Valluzzi RL, et al. Absence of cross-reactivity to carbapenems in patients with delayed hypersensitivity to penicillins. Allergy. 2013; 68:1618-1621
  8. Romano A, Gaeta F, Arribas Poves MF, Valluzzi RL. Cross-reactivity among beta-lactams. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2016; 16:24
  9. Romano A, Gaeta F, Valluzzi RL, Maggioletti M, Caruso C, Quaratino D. Cross-reactivity and tolerability of aztreonam and cephalosporins in subjects with a T cell-mediated hypersensitivity to penicillins. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2016; 138:179-186
  10. Romano A, Valluzzi RL, Caruso C, Maggioletti M, Quaratino D, Gaeta F. Cross-reactivity and tolerability of cephalosporins in patients with IgE-mediated hypersensitivity to penicillins. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2018; 6(5):1662-1672
  11. Shenoy ES, Macy E, Rowe T, Blumenthal KG. Evaluation and management of penicillin allergy: a review. JAMA. 2019; 321(2):188-199
  12. Trubiano JA, Stone CA, Grayson ML, et al. The 3 Cs of antibiotic allergy-classification, cross-reactivity, and collaboration. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2017; 5(6):1532-1542

A Rash of Beta-Lactam Allergies, Part 1: The Problem

This post marks part 1 of a 3-part series covering the management of beta-lactam allergies, all to be released on FOAMid over the next couple of months.

  1.  This post, “The Problem,” provides background and the impact of a reported beta-lactam allergy
  2. “The Education” will delve into the types of allergic reactions, as well as cross reactivity potential among beta-lactam antibiotics
  3. “The Solution” will then explore how to best assess a patient’s documented allergy

With that, let’s jump right in!

Overview

A whopping 10% of the general population has a reported penicillin (PCN) allergy. But only 1-10% of these people have a true allergy when tested. This leaves us with about 0.1-1% of the general population with a true penicillin allergy.

Why is there such a discrepancy between reported allergies and true allergies? A lot of it comes from inaccurate allergy histories, like the patient with GI upset as a child, but the allergy listed as an “unknown reaction.” Or better yet, the patient whose mother had an allergy and thus everyone in the family has been given that scarlet letter in their medical record.

Another important and lesser known reason for the allergy discrepancy is that 78% of patients with immediate hypersensitivity to penicillin see their penicillin allergy fade after 10 years (from this 1981 study). So those adult patients with childhood reactions? The odds are that they aren’t still allergic decades later.

Why should we care?

When it comes to infectious diseases, beta-lactam antibiotics are often our first- and second-line options for treatment. A documented penicillin allergy can essentially knock a practitioner down to third-line treatment in some situations. In just highlighting a few common infections and organisms, look at how often beta-lactams are brought up:

When a patient has a documented penicillin allergy, studies have proven that beta-lactam usage decreases while non-beta-lactam usage increases (Lee 2000, as well as half of the citations provided at the end of this post). And when beta-lactams are avoided, patients tend to do worse.

Impact on Patient Outcomes

The impact of a penicillin allergy is real and detrimental to our patients. Rather than bore you with paragraphs upon paragraphs detailing the many studies looking into this fact, here are some take-home points hyperlinked to the primary literature supporting the claims:

Penicillin allergy patients:

There is clear evidence that reported beta-lactam allergies pose a problem on the path to prescribing optimal treatment in infectious diseases. We can combat the issue however through education and assessment techniques.

More to come in parts 2 and 3 of “A Rash of Beta-Lactam Allergies”!

Other posts in this series:

A Rash of Beta-Lactam Allergies, Part 2: The Education

A Rash of Beta-Lactam Allergies, Part 3: The Solution

References

  1. Al-Hasan MN, Acker EC, Kohn JE, Bookstaver PB, Justo JA. Impact of penicillin allergy on empirical carbapenem use in gram-negative bloodstream infections: an antimicrobial stewardship opportunity. Pharmacotherapy. 2017; 38(1):42-50
  2. Baddour LM, Wilson WR, Bayer AS, et al. Infective endocarditis in adults: diagnosis, antimicrobial therapy, and management of complications: a scientific statement for healthcare professionals from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2015; 132:1435-1486
  3. Blumenthal KG, Lu N, Zhang Y, Li Y, Walensky RP, Choi HK. Risk of meticillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Clostridium difficile in patients with a documented penicillin allergy: population based matched cohort study. BMJ. 2018; 361:k2400
  4. Blumenthal KG, Ryan EE, Li Y, Lee H, Kuhlen JL, Shenoy ES. The impact of a reported penicillin allergy on surgical site infection risk. Clin Infect Dis. 2018; 66(3):329-336
  5. Borch JE, Andersen KE, Bindslev-Jensen C. The prevalence of suspected and challenge-verified penicillin allergy in a university hospital population. Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2006; 98:357-362
  6. Bratzler DW, Dellinger EP, Olsen KM, et al. Clinical practice guidelines for antimicrobial prophylaxis in surgery. Surg Infect. 2013;14(1):73-156
  7. Charneski L, Deshpande G, Smith SW. Impact of an antimicrobial allergy label in the medical record on clinical outcomes in hospitalized patients. Pharmacotherapy. 2011; 31(8):742-747
  8. Conway EL, Lin K, Sellick JA, et al. Impact of penicillin allergy on time to first dose of antimicrobial therapy and clinical outcomes. Clin Ther. 2017; 39(11):2276-2283
  9. Huang KHG, Cluzet V, Hamilton K, Fadugba O. The impact of reported beta-lactam allergy in hospitalized patients with hematologic malignancies requiring antibiotics. Clin Infect Dis. 2018; 67(1):27-33
  10. Jeffres MN, Narayanan PP, Shuster JE, Schramm GE. Consequences of avoiding β-lactams in patients with β-lactam allergies. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2016; 137(4):1148-1153
  11. Kalil AC, Metersky ML, Klompas M, et al. Management of adults with hospital-acquired and ventilator-associated pneumonia: 2016 clinical practice guidelines by the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the American Thoracic Society. Clin Infect Dis. 2016; 63(5):e61-e111
  12. Lee CE, Zembower TR, Fotis MA, et al. The incidence of antimicrobial allergies in hospitalized patients: implications regarding prescribing patterns and emerging bacterial resistance. Arch Intern Med. 2000;160(18):2819-2822
  13. Macy E, Ngor EW. Safely diagnosing clinically significant penicillin allergy using only penicilloyl-poly-lysine, penicillin, and oral amoxicillin. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2013; 1:258-263
  14. Macy E, Contreras R. Health care use and serious infection prevalence associated with penicillin “allergy” in hospitalized patients: A cohort study. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2014; 133(3):790-796
  15. Solensky R. The time for penicillin skin testing is here. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2013; 1(3):264-265
  16. Stevens DL, Bisno AL, Chambers HF et al. Practice guidelines for the diagnosis and management of skin and soft tissue infections: 2014 update by the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Clin Infect Dis. 2014; 59(2):e10-e52
  17. Sullivan TJ, Wedner HJ, Shatz GS, Yecies LD, Parker CW. Skin testing to detect penicillin allergy. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1981; 66(3):171-180
  18. Trubiano JA, Chen C, Cheng AC, et al. Antimicrobial allergy ‘labels’ drive inappropriate antimicrobial prescribing: lessons for stewardship. J Antimicrob Chemother. 2016; 71:1715-1722
  19. Tunkel AR, Hartman BJ, Kaplan SL, et al. Practice guidelines for the management of bacterial meningitis. Clin Infect Dis. 2004; 39:1267-1284
  20. van Dijk SM, Gardarsdottir H, Wassenberg MW, Oosterheert JJ, de Groot MC, Rockmann H. The high impact of penicillin allergy registration in hospitalized patients. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2016; 4:926-931

Zoonotic infections

When I was an aspiring Infectious Disease fellow, I marveled at how the ID doctors would come up with diseases that no one else had thought of. How did they do that?

They obtain a detailed patient history. (It’s the ID doctors equivalent of a procedure!)

Contact or exposure to certain animals are associated with certain diseases.

These are examples of some of the questions to ask to ascertain whether your patient has been in contact with specific animals:
– Do you have any pets? Do you have frequent contact with anyone else’s pets?
– Do you have contact with any farm or wild animals?
– What do you do for work (farmer, veterinarian, kennel worker, biologists, etc)?
– What do you do for fun (hunting, fishing, cave explorer, raising chickens, etc)?

I’ve created an easy graphic to give you an idea of some diseases that are associated with different animals your patients might encounter. This is to help you quickly look up which infections you should consider in your differential if your patient reports an exposure to one of these animals.

*This list does not include ALL pathogens. This is just a list of the most common plus others to think about in certain situations. In places outside of North America, this list may look
different.
**This is not intended to take the place of a formal infectious disease consult.
***Use this chart in the context of the clinical presentation. It does not mean you should test for all these infections in every patient, but rather gives you a quick reminder to consider them in your differential.

Was this helpful? Did I miss something? Tell me what you’re thinking with a comment!

References:

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Healthy Pets Healthy People. http://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/pets/cats.html (Accessed on Feb 23, 2019).
2. Day MJ. Pet-Related Infections. Am Fam Physician. 2016; 94(10):794-802.
3. Goldstein EJC and Abrahamian FM. Diseases Transmitted by Cats. Microbiol Spectr. 2015; 3(5).
4. Chomel BB. Emerging and Re-emerging Zoonoses of Dogs and Cats. Animals (Basel). 2014; 4(3):434-445.
5. Dyer JL, Yager P, Orciari L et al. Rabies surveillance in the United States during 2013. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2014; 245(10):1111-1123.
6. Boseret G, Losson B, Mainil JG, et al. Zoonoses in pet birds: review and perspectives. Vet Res. 2013; 44(1): 36.
7. Kwon-Chung KJ, Fraser JA, Doering TL, et al. Cryptococcus neoformans and Cryptococcus gattii, the Etiologic Agents of Cryptococcosis. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med. 2014; 4(7):a019760.
8. National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians, Inc. (NASPHV), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Compendium of measures to prevent disease associated with animals in public settings, 2011: National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians, Inc. MMWR Recomm Rep 2011; 60:1.
9. Kotton CN. Zoonoses from pets other than dogs and cats. UpToDate. Published Jan 2019. Accessed on Feb 23, 2019.

Non-infectious causes of fever

This post is co-written with the guest writer Ahmed Abdul Azim, MD.

Not all fevers are caused by infections.

It is important that every patient presenting with fever is evaluated for an infection….. but what do you do when no infection is found?

thermometer2.png

Why are non-infectious causes of fever important to know?

If a patient is treated for a presumed infectious fever when they don’t have an infection:

  • there is a delay in identifying the correct diagnosis
  • they are exposed to prolonged courses of unnecessary antibiotics

 

Definition of fever

Fever = 38.3°C (101°F) or above1

Pyrogenic agents = substances that can induce a fever.
a) Exogenous pyrogens – external substances that activate our immune system to induce a fever (ex. microbial toxins)
b) Endogenous pyrogens – cytokines that induce fever in our body
(ex. IL-1, IL-6, tumor necrosis factor, IFN-α, ciliary neutrotrophic factor, and likely others)

 

Non-infectious causes of fever:

1. Rheumatologic/autoimmune – activation of immune system that stimulates the production of pyrogenic cytokines
– the cause of ~30% of fevers of unknown origin

a) Adult-onset Still’s disease – younger patients, daily fevers >39°C, rash, arthritis
b) Giant cell arteritis – older patients, vision changes, jaw claudication
c) Others – polyarteritis nodosa, Takayasu’s arteritis, granulomatosis with polyangiitis, etc.

2. Malignancy – tumor cells release pyrogenic cytokines

a) Lymphomas and leukemias – most common; seen in high burden of disease
b) Myelodysplastic syndromes
c) Renal cell carcinoma – ~20% of cases present with fevers
d) Hepatocellular carcinoma or liver metastases
e) Atrial myxomas

3. Drug-induced fever – 3-5% of drug-related adverse reaction in hospitalized patients include fevers6
– typically occurs 7-10 days after drug initiation, but can be as soon as 24 hours and as far away as a few years from drug initiation7
– patients typically appear “inappropriately” well
– eosinophilia (>500/mm3) occurs in 20-25% of patients with drug-induced fevers10
PATHOPHYSIOLOGY:

a) Hypersensitivity reaction – due to activation of T cell immune response by drug, its metabolite, or the formation of an immune complex
– typically occurs ~3-10 days after drug exposure
– typically resolves 72-96 hours after discontinuation of drug (but can be more delayed)
– symptoms will recur immediately upon rechallenge

1) Antimicrobials – most common cause of drug fever
– minocycline, beta-lactams (penicillin-based > cephalosporins10), sulfonamides, nitrofurantoin
2) Anticonvulsants – carbamazepine, phenytoin, phenobarbital
3) Allopurinol
4) Others

DRESS syndrome – a severe type of drug hypersensitivity reaction
(typically occurs 2-6 weeks after drug exposure)

b) Administration-related – typically last <48 hours

1) Vaccines – stimulation of the immune system → release of pyrogenic cytokines
2) Amphotericin B – exogenous pyrogenic agents

c) Pharmacologic action of the drug – transient fever; self-resolving

1) Anti-neoplastic agents – cause severe and rapid tumor cell lysis → release of endogenous pyrogenic agents → inflammatory response (fever)
2) Antimicrobials – cause rapid death of microbes → microbial cell lysis → release of exogenous pyrogenic substances → inflammatory response (fever)
–  ex. Jarisch-Herxeimer reaction in syphilis treatment with penicillin

d) Altered thermoregulation – disturbance of the central hypothalamic thermoregulation function and/or increased heat production

1) Exogenous thyroid hormone
2) Anticholinergic drugs
3) Sympathomimetic agents

cold winter tablet hot

e) Idiosyncratic drug reactions

1) Serotonin syndromes – linezolid, SSRIs
2) Neuroleptic malignant syndrome
– anti-psychotics, dopamine antagonists
3) Malignant hyperthermia syndrome
– inhaled anaesthetics, paralytic agents
4) G-6-PD deficiency – dapsone, primaquine, nitrofurantoin, etc.

4. Other causes

1) Transfusion of blood cells – RBCs, platelets, WBCs
2) Central fevers – fevers due to central thermodysregulation due to CNS damage
– more common with CNS hemorrhage and brain tumors11
– fever onset within 72 hours of sustaining CNS hemorrhage
3) Thromboembolism – typically <102°F
4) Endocrine – thyroid storm; adrenal insufficiency
5) Pulmonary – ARDS, aspiration pneumonitis, cryptogenic organizing pneumonia
6) Intra-abdominal – acute pancreatitis, cholecystitis, mesenteric ischemia

*Non-infectious causes of fevers are diagnoses of exclusion. A patient MUST have an appropriate workup for infectious causes prior to considering any of the non-infectious causes of fever.

*A lot of these diagnoses need to be made based on clinical symptoms and signs and requires a high degree of suspicion.

*Fever is a sign of an underlying inflammatory process.
DO NOT TREAT THE FEVER — TREAT THE UNDERLYING CAUSE.

 

References:

  1. O’Grady NP, Barie PS, Bartlett JG, et al. Guidelines for evaluation of new fever in critically ill adult patients: 2008 update from the American College of Critical Care Medicine and the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Crit Care Med. 2008; 36(4):1330-1349.
  2. Dekker AR, Verheij TJ, and van der Velden AW. Inappropriate Antibiotic Prescription for Respiratory Tract Indications: Most Prominent in Adult Patients. Family Practice. 2015; 32(4):401-407.
  3. Mackowiak PA, Wasserman SS, and Levine MM. A Critical Appraisal of 98.6°F, the Upper Limit of the Normal Body Temperature, and Other Legacies of Carl Reinhold August Wunderlich. JAMA. 1992; 268(12):1578-1580.
  4. Obermeyer Z, Samra JK, and Mullainathan S. Individual Differences in Normal Body Temperature: Longitudinal Big Data Analysis of Patient Records. BMJ. 2017; 359:j5468.
  5. Westbrook A, Pettila V, Nichol A, et al. Transfusion Practice and Guidelines in Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Units. Intensive Care Med. 2010; 36(7):1138-1146.
  6. Lipsky, BA and Hirschmann JV. Drug Fever. JAMA. 1981; 245(8):851-854.
  7. Mackowiak, PA. Southwestern Internal Medicine Conference: Drug Fever: Mechanisms, Maxims and Misconceptions. Am J Med Sci. 1987; 294(4):275-286.
  8. Patel, RA and Gallagher JC. Drug fever. Pharmacotherapy. 2010; 30(1):57-69.
  9. Johnson DH and Cunha BA. Drug fever. Infect Dis Clin North Am. 1996; 10(1):85-91.
  10. Oizumi K, Onuma K, Watanabe A, et al. Clinical Study of Drug Fever Induced by Parenteral Administration of Antibiotics. Tohoku J Exp Med. 1989; 159(1): 45-56.
  11. Hocker SE, Tian L, Li G, et al. Indicators of Central Fever in the Neurologic Intensive Care Unit. JAMA Neurology. 2013; 70(12):1499-1504.
  12. Porat R and Dinarello CA. Pathophysiology and treatment of fever in adults. In Baron EL, ed. UpToDate. Waltham, Mass.: UpToDate, 2018. [https://www.uptodate.com/contents/pathophysiology-and-treatment-of-fever-in-adults]. Accessed Dec 26, 2018.

IDWeek 2018 Review

Dolores Park SF
Mission Dolores Park in San Francisco – photo courtesy of Ahmed Abdul Azim @triplea87

 

During the first week of October, the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) hosted its’ annual Infectious Diseases conference (IDWeek) in San Francisco, California.

There are a variety of reviews of the conference on the internet (the most famous being the Mini Really Rapid Review by Dr. Paul Sax) but I want to highlight the studies that are pertinent to physicians in other specialties outside of ID.

 

  • Two major studies highlighted the ongoing pressures and scope for over-prescription of antibiotics and need for antimicrobial stewardship
    In one study, 66.1% of patients were prescribed antibiotics for respiratory tract infections and antibiotic prescribing was associated with higher patient satisfaction. Given that most respiratory tract infections are viral, 66% is a lot!
    Another study showed that 20% of antibiotics are prescribed without an in-person visit. Of all the 509,534 antibiotic prescriptions, 46% were not associated with an infection-related diagnosis. This highlights the need for better provider and patient education in antibiotic stewardship.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • IV drug use may be an independent risk factor for candidemia.
    This study showed an increasing incidence of candidemia and higher numbers of patients with candidemia who are persons who inject drugs without other risk factors. Something to keep in mind when you see patients who inject drugs in your hospital.

 

And for those of you in San Francisco, watch out for these microbes:

 

It’s impossible to cover everything so if you attended IDWeek and have other studies to suggest to everyone, let us know in the comments.

Procalcitonin

What is it?

  • A peptide produced by the human body
  • A precursor to calcitonin and thus consistently produced by the thyroid gland C cells
  • An acute phase reactant (and can be used as a marker of a bacterial infection in the body)

PCT activators

  • procalcitonin levels parallel severity of the infection/systemic inflammation
  • increases are detectable ~4 hours after exposure to endotoxin and peaks at 12-48 hours

Why isn’t procalcitonin produced in response to a
viral infection?

It is hypothesized that tumor necrosis factor (TNF) is essential to the synthesis of procalcitonin. When the body is exposed to a viral infection, the virus induces production of interferons which in turn suppresses TNF expression.

Why do we need it?

Studies have shown that up to 50% of antimicrobial use in the inpatient setting is unnecessary. Part of the reason is that we don’t always know who has a bacterial infection and who does not.

A blood test that can help differentiate types of infection and help shorten the duration of unnecessary antibiotics would be extremely helpful to physicians and beneficial to patients.

How does it work?

  • Procalcitonin level is measured in the blood with a blood-draw
  • Can be run from EDTA (purple) or heparin (green) tubes but NOT citrate-containing tubes
  • Levels correlate with severity of the infection/systemic inflammation

When/how do you use it?

The data on how best to use procalcitonin and when to use it remains controversial, and each institution may have their own guidelines on how best to utilize it.

Studies demonstrate that procalcitonin can be used to determine:

  • Whether to initiate antibiotic therapy
  • Duration of antibiotic therapy
  • Prognosis

The TWO scenarios with the most literature suggesting procalcitonin use is helpful are in guiding duration of antibiotic therapy in:

  1. Lower Respiratory Tract Infections (LRTI)
  2. Sepsis

Summary of some major trials in each area

  1. Lower respiratory tract infections
    A) Schuetz et al. 2017 (Cochrane Systematic Review)
    – Cochrane systematic review of RCTs to evaluate procalcitonin in guiding initiation or discontinuation of antibiotics
    – moderate to high quality evidence; 6708 participants, 26 trials
    Primary outcomes: 1) all-cause mortality, 2) treatment failure at 30 days
    All-cause mortality:6% vs. 10% (controls); p-value = 0.037
    Treatment failure: no significant difference (23-24% in both groups)
    Secondary outcomes: 1) antibiotic use, 2) antibiotic-related side effects,
    3) Hospital Length of Stay (LoS)
    # of antibiotic days: 2.4 day reduction in antibiotic exposure (5.7 vs 8.1 days)
    Side effects of antibiotics: 16.3% vs. 22.1% (control), (p-value <0.001)
    LoS in hospital and ICU: no difference
    Summary: improved mortality and increase in antibiotic-free days between the two groups
    B) Huang et al. 2018 (ProACT study)
    – Multicenter RCT, 1656 patients enrolled
    – Procalcitonin was checked in the ED and followed during hospital course if patient was admitted
    – There was no difference in # of antibiotic exposure days over 30 days, rates of adverse events, or hospital length of stay (LoS)
    – There was no difference even when stratified by diagnosis of acute bronchitis, COPD, CAP, and other LRTI.
    Summary: no change in # of antibiotic-exposure days or adverse effects between the two groups
  2. Severe sepsis/shock
    A) DeJong et al. 2016
    – Multicenter RCT in hospitals, 1575 enrolled
    Mortality: 20% vs. 25% (control) (p=0.0122)
    Median antibiotic duration: 7.5 days vs. 9.3 days (control); p-value <0.0001
    – There was a slightly higher risk of reinfection in the procalcitonin group (5% vs. 2.9%, p=0.0492)
    – No difference between ICU and hospital LoS between groups
    Summary: Use of procalcitonin reduced mortality and # of antibiotic exposure days but not LoS
    B) Andriolo et al. 2017 (Cochrane Systematic Review)
    – 10 trials, 1215 participants, low quality evidence
    – No significant differences in mortality at 28 days, ICU discharge, or hospital stay
    – Procalcitonin group had a mean 1.28 day less of antibiotic exposure than control group
    Summary: Use of pro-calcitonin reduced # antibiotic exposure days but not mortality
    C) Wirz et al. 2018
    Meta-analysis of RCTs
    – 4482 patients overall
    Mortality: lower in the procalcitonin group (21.1% vs. 23.7%, p=0.03)
    # of antibiotic days: lower in procalcitonin group (9.3 vs. 10.4d, p<0.001)
    Summary: Use of procalcitonin reduces mortality and # of antibiotic exposure days

*It’s important to remember that all these trials have varying adherence to the protocols, various study populations, and centers with varying practice patterns that all affect the results of the studies.

**Procalcitonin should NOT typically be used for determine whether to initiate antibiotics in pneumonia or sepsis given the high risk of a poor outcome with a false negative result.

How to use it

  1. Obtain procalcitonin at time of diagnosis and repeat every 1-2days.
  2. Stop antibiotics when procalcitonin level is <0.1-0.5ng/ml or decreased by at least 50-90% from peak value

*Procalcitonin can also be used when it is unclear whether a patient has a bacterial infection or not to help guide further management.

Other potential uses of PCT

  • Presence of bacterial infection in patients with COPD exacerbations, heart failure exacerbations, or bronchitis
  • Aspiration pneumonia vs. pneumonitis
  • Post-operative infections
  • Fevers of unknown origin
  • UTI therapy duration
  • Bacterial vs. viral meningitis
  • Febrile neutropenia
  • Lower limb swelling
    (distinguishing between stasis dermatitis vs. thrombosis vs. cellulitis)
  • Antibiotic stewardship
  • And many others

Pharmacodynamics/kinetics

  • short half-life (25-30 hours)
  • dialyzed; in ESRD, levels tend to be higher prior to dialysis than after dialysis
    peak levels tend to correlate with severity of infection
  • if inflammation is resolving, levels should decrease by ~50% every 1-2 days.
    mild elevation = 0.15-2ng/mL
    a) localized bacterial infection
    b) ESRD without recent hemodialysis
    c) noninfectious systemic inflammatory response
    significant elevation > 2ng/mL
    a) bacterial sepsis or severe localized bacterial infection
    b) severe non-infectious inflammatory stimuli (major burn, severe trauma, acute multisystem organ failure, bowel ischemia, stroke, major abdominal or cardiothoracic surgery)
    c) false positive from malignancy

False positives

  • Malaria
  • Candida spp.
  • Pneumocystis jiroveci
  • Pulmonary TB and some other non-tuberculosis mycobacterial infections
  • Severe systemic stress (trauma, severe burns, surgery, cardiac arrest/shock, Addisonian crisis, pancreatitis, intracranial hemorrhage)
    *possibly due to gut translocation of LPS
  • CKD/ESRD
  • Patients receiving:
    1) T-cell antibody therapy
    2) ATG
    3) Alemtuzumab
    4) Rituximab
    5) IL-2 therapy
    6) Granulocyte transfusion
  • Mushroom poisoning
  • Immediate postnatal period
  • Neuroendocrine tumors/medullary thyroid cancer/small cell lung cancer

False negatives

  • atypical bacteria (i.e. Chlamydia and Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Legionella spp.)
  • localized bacterial infections (tonsillitis, sinusitis, cystitis, uncomplicated SSTI, empyema/abscess, osteomyelitis)
  • if drawn too early in infection (typically rises within 2-5 hours)

Practical advice

  • Procalcitonin levels are NOT impaired in immunocompromised hosts (ICH)
    ⇒however, little information is known regarding use of procalcitonin in this patient population
    ⇒these patients have a low threshold for antibiotic initiation and prolonged duration thus no recommendations can be made to use procalcitonin to guide management in ICH at this time
    ⇒not enough data exists yet to support routine clinical use.
  • Not enough data exists yet to support routine clinical use in surgical patients
    surgical patients may have a higher baseline procalcitonin level after certain surgeries
  • Procalcitonin can be thought of similarly to B-natriuretic peptide (BNP) and as a more sensitive C-reactive protein (CRP). It can be used within a broader clinical context to support a diagnosis or decision regarding antibiotics and is useful in RULING OUT bacterial causes.

 

Take-home points:

  • Use of procalcitonin and its algorithms should NOT override or replace clinical judgment.
  • Serial measurements and trends are more helpful than one isolated value.
  • A rising procalcitonin level is not, by itself, an indication to broaden antibiotic therapy.
  • In order to use procalcitonin effectively, its essential to understand which pathogens induce elevations in procalcitonin.
  • The use of procalcitonin has been most studied in LRTI and sepsis. The utility of procalcitonin in other situations remains unknown.

 

References:

  1. Jin M and Khan A. Procalcitonin: Uses in the Clinical Laboratory for the Diagnosis of Sepsis. Laboratory Medicine. 2010; 41(3):173-177.
    https://doi.org/10.1309/LMQ2GRR4QLFKHCH9
  2. Lin JLJ and Yap SL. Editor: Staros E. Medscape: Procalcitonin. Updated: Nov 24, 2015. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/2096589-overview#a4
  3. Rhee C and Mansour M. Procalcitonin use in lower respiratory tract infections. In: Ramirez JA, File TM, and Bond S. UpToDate. Waltham, Mass.: UpToDate, 2018. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/procalcitonin-use-in-lower-respiratory-tract-infections. Accessed September 8th, 2018.
  4. Andriolo BN, Andriolo RB, Salomão R, and Atallah ÁN. Effectiveness and safety of procalcitonin evaluation for reducing mortality in adults with sepsis, severe sepsis or septic shock. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017;1:CD010959.
  5. Gilbert DN. Use of Plasma Procalcitonin levels as an adjunct to clinical microbiology. J Clin Microbiol. 2010; 48(7):2325-2329. doi: 10.1128/JCM.00655-10
  6. de Jong E, van Oers JA, Beishuizen A, Vos P, Vermeijden WJ, Haas LE, et al. Efficacy and safety of procalcitonin guidance in reducing the duration of antibiotic treatment in critically ill patients: a randomised, controlled, open-label trial. Lancet Infect Dis. 2016; 16:819-827. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(16)00053-0
  7. Jensen JU, Heslet L, Jensen TH, Espersen K, Steffensen P, and Tvede M. Procalcitonin increase in early identification of critically ill patients at high risk of mortality. Crit Care Med. 2006; 34:2596-2602.
  8. Riedel S, Melendez JH, An AT, Rosenbaum JE, and Zenilman JM. Procalcitonin as a marker for the detection of bacteremia and sepsis in the emergency department. Am J Clin Pathol. 2011; 135(2):182-189. doi: 10.1309/AJCP1MFYINQLECV2.
  9. Kollef MH. Clinical presentation and diagnostic evaluation of ventilator-associated pneumonia. In: Manaker S and Finlay G, ed. UpToDate. Waltham, Mass.: UpToDate, 2018. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/clinical-presentation-and-diagnostic-evaluation-of-ventilator-associated-pneumonia. Accessed September 10, 2018.
  10. Schuetz P, Wirz Y, Sager R, Christ-Crain M, Stolz D, Tamm M, et al. Procalcitonin to initiate or discontinue antibiotics in acute respiratory tract infections. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017; 10:CD007498. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD007498.pub3
  11. Huang DT, Yealy DM, Filbin MR, Brown AM, Chang CCH, Doi Y, et al. Procalcitonin-Guided Use of Antibiotics for Lower Respiratory Tract Infection. NEJM. 2018; 379:236-49. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1802670.
  12. Wirz Y, Meier MA, Bouadma L, Luyt CE, Wolff M, Chastre J, et al. Effect of procalcitonin-guided antibiotic treatment on clinical outcomes in intensive care unit patients with infection and sepsis patients: a patient-level meta-analysis of randomized trials. Critical Care. 2018; 22:191. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13054-018-2125-7.

5 things that ID fellows wish you knew

3rdtimeisthe charm

1. Yeast in the sputum does not always need treatment.

We often see yeast pop up in sputum cultures and BAL cultures in ICU patients. However, yeast in hospitalized patients is typically Candida species, which are NOT typical pulmonary pathogens. Candida pneumonia is rare. In a recent study that looked at how often yeast isolated from sputum/BAL culture in ICU patients truly are reflective of Candida pneumonia, they found that 5/701 samples were consistent with Candida pneumonia (0.7%).  3/5 patients had severe gastric contents aspiration and 4/5 were immunocompromised.1

What does this mean? Unless the patient recently had significant aspiration or is immunocompromised, Candida spp. in the sputum is unlikely to be a true pathogen.

Other potential yeasts can include Cryptococcus spp., Histoplasma capsulatum, Blastomycosis spp., Coccidioides spp., and Paracoccidioides spp. These can represent true clinical infections. Treatment for these infections is different from Candida spp. and risk should be assessed given the patient’s clinical context.

 

2. It’s all about “source control”.

This means that if the area of infection can be physically removed or debrided, it should be done to optimize the chance of cure. This can also help increase diagnostic yield for targeted antibiotic therapy. Examples:

  • If there is an abscess, it should be drained, if possible.
  • If there is an infected foreign body, it should be removed, if possible.
  • If there is infected bone, it should be debrided/removed, if possible.

The STOP-IT trial in 2015 showed that in patients with intra-abdominal abscesses who received adequate source control (drainage of abscess or surgical resection), 3-5 days of antibiotics post-source control was non-inferior to 8-10 days of antibiotics after source control.2

There are obviously times when source control is not possible, too risky, or may cause more harm than benefit. However, anytime a patient has an infection, source control should be considered in the initial management strategy.

 

3. Do not treat asymptomatic bacteriuria and do not send urine cultures on asymptomatic patients.

  • The urogenital tract is not a sterile area and bacteria are often found that are not causing any symptoms or harm to the patient.
  • Antibiotics that are started for asymptomatic bacteriuria can cause harm.
  • If a patient has a urinary catheter, replace urinary catheter and resend a urine culture.
  • Pyuria in asymptomatic bacteriuria does not require treatment3.

 

The 2 times to treat asymptomatic bacteriuria:

  1. Pregnant patients
  2. Patients who are about to undergo a urologic procedure

 

A Cochrane review published in 2015 evaluated 9 randomized-controlled-trials (and a total of 1614 non-pregnant adults) who looked at antibiotic treatment vs. placebo for asymptomatic bacteriuria, and demonstrated that there was no difference in development of symptomatic urinary tract infections, UTI complications, or death between the two groups. The treatment group had a 3.77 increased risk of antibiotic side effects.4

 

4. Beta-D-glucan results need to be taken in the context of the patient’s clinical picture.

Not all fungal infections cause elevated beta-D-glucan and not all elevated beta-D-glucan levels indicate a fungal infection.

Initial studies that looked at beta-D-glucan test characteristics were done in immunocompromised patients. In that group, the test performed well, with sensitivity ranging 64-95% and specificity ranging from 92-95% (variation depending on prevalence and test level cutoff for positivity).5-7

However, in the non-immunocompromised population in the intensive care units, the test has not shown to have the same specificity. The sensitivity remains high in the 80%-90% range while specificity drops as low as 38% in non-neutropenic patients with known candida colonization.8-10

5. Send a GeneXpert© NAAT test with the first AFB smear and remember that there is no such thing as a “TB rule out”.

The current CDC/IDSA guidelines in evaluation of active pulmonary tuberculosis is to:

  • obtain 3 sputum AFB smears/cultures at least 8-24 hours apart.11
  • ideally obtain at least one smear as an early morning sample (highest concentration of mycobacteria at that time).11
  • send a GeneXpert© nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) on the 1st sputum specimen.11
    ⇒ This test can detect tuberculosis genes as well as detect rifampin susceptibility and usually comes back quickly.
  • A bronchial (BAL) specimen can count as one sputum sample.11
  • In the US from 2011-2013, only 46% of patients with TB had a positive AFB smear.
    ⇒ Three negative sputum AFB smears does not “rule out” TB. The patient can still have TB, but the probability of TB is lower and they are less likely to be infectious if all three smears are negative.11,12,13

 

 

References:

  1. Schnabel RM, Linssen, CF, Guion CF, van Mook WN, and Bergmans DC. Candida pneumonia in Intensive Care Unit? OFID. 2014;1(1) ofu026. doi:https://doi.org/10.1093/ofid/ofu026
  2. Sawyer RG, Claridge JA, Nathens AB, et al. Trial of Short-Course Antimicrobial Therapy for Intraabdominal Infection. NEJM. 2015; 372:1996-2005. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1411162
  3. Nicolle LE, Bradley S, Colgan R, et al. Infectious Diseases Society of America Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Asymptomatic Bacteriuria in Adults. CID. 2005; 40: 643-654.
  4. Trestioreanu, AZ, Lador A, Sauerbrun-Cutler M, and Leibovici, L. Antibiotics for asymptomatic bacteriuria. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2015. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD009534.pub2
  5. Odabasi Z, Mattiuzzi G, Estey E, et al. β- d -Glucan as a Diagnostic Adjunct for Invasive Fungal Infections: Validation, Cutoff Development, and Performance in Patients with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia and Myelodysplastic Syndrome. Clin Infect Dis. 2004; 2(15):199-205. doi:https://doi.org/10.1086/421944
  6. Ostrosky-Zeichner L, Alexander BD, Kett DH, et al. Multicenter Clinical Evaluation of the (1→3) β-D-Glucan Assay as an Aid to Diagnosis of Fungal Infections in Humans. Clin Infect Dis. 2005; 41(5): 654-659. doi:https://doi.org/10.1086/432470
  7. Obayashi T, Negishi K, Suzuki T, and Funata N. Reappraisal of the serum (1–>3)-beta-D-glucan assay for the diagnosis of invasive fungal infections–a study based on autopsy cases from 6 years. Clin Infect Dis. 2008;46(12):1864-70. doi:10.1086/588295
  8. Mohr JF, Sims C, Paetznick V, et al. Prospective survey of (1à3)-beta-D-glucan and its relationshop to invasive candidiasis in the surgical intensive care unit setting. J Clin Microbio. 2011; 49(10):58-61. doi:10.1128/JCM.01240-10
  9. Liew YX, Teo J, Ai-Ling Too I, et al. Candida Surveillance in Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU) in a Tertiary Institution. BMC Infect Dis. 2015; 15(256):1-8. doi:10.1186/s12879-015-0997-6
  10. Lo Cascio G, Koncan R, Stringari G, et al. Interference of confounding factors on the use of (1,3)-beta-D-glucan in the diagnosis of invasive candidiasis in the intensive care unit. Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2015; 34(2):357-365. doi:10.1007/s10096-014-2239-z
  11. Lewinsohn DM, Leonard MK, LoBue PA, Cohn DL, Daley CL et al. Official American Thoracic Society/Infectious Disease Society of America/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Clinical Practice Guidelines: Diagnosis of Tuberculosis in Adults and Children. 2017; 64(2):111-115. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciw778
  12. Mase S, Ramsay A, Ng N, Henry M, Hopewell PC, Cunningham J, Urbanczik R, Perkins M, Aziz MA, Pai M. Yield of serial sputum specimen examinations in the diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis: a systematic review. Int J Tuberc Lung Dis. 2007;11(5):485-95. PMID:17439669
  13. CDC. Reported Tuberculosis in the United States, 2013. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC, October 2014.

Clostridium difficile

In light of the recently published IDSA guidelines on C. difficile, I thought I would write up a summary of the guidelines as well as provide some of the background microbiology of the organism for review.

Structure

  • obligate anaerobes
  • gram-positive bacilli
    – form spores (= dormant, non-reproductive structure that the bacteria can reduce itself to in order to survive for extended periods of time in extreme conditions)
  • produce toxins (toxin A and toxin B) that cause disease

 

clostridium-difficile gram stain

Environment

  • animal and human feces
  • soil
  • sewage

 

Mechanism of pathogenicity

*Not all strains of C. difficile are pathogenic – only the ones who produce toxins can cause C. difficile disease

Pathogenesis:

Transmission occurs with ingestion of spores via the fecal-oral route ⇒ spores activate in the colon to replicating bacteria ⇒ bacteria release toxins ⇒ toxins cause breakdown of the colon cells’ cytoskeleton framework ⇒ apoptosis ⇒ breakdown of the mucosal wall ⇒ DIARRHEA!

 

Risk factors for acquiring C. difficile:

  1. ANTIBIOTIC EXPOSURE
  2. Exposure to healthcare facilities
  3. Age and immunosuppression
  4. ?Gastric acid suppression (use of proton pump inhibitors or H2 receptor blockers)
    — the evidence-based-medicine jury is still out on this one

 

Clinical features

  • symptoms can develop during antibiotic treatment or up to 6 weeks after the course of antibiotics has been finished
  • patients can also become infected even without exposure to antibiotics (both in the healthcare setting but also in the community setting)
  • carrier state = a patient who is colonized with C. difficile but is currently asymptomatic

1.Symptoms and physical exam signs:

  • Non-bloody, WATERY DIARRHEA (≥ 3 loose stools in 24 hours)
    *occasionally patients can develop ileus with severe infection which will not result in diarrhea but rather lack of bowel movements
  • Abdominal pain/cramping
  • Fever and chills
  • Abdominal distention/tenderness
  • Nausea/anorexia

2.Laboratory findings:

  • High white blood count (occasionally precedes the diarrhea by 1-2 days)
  • Elevated creatinine
  • Elevated lactate and low albumin (in fulminant cases)

 

Pseudomembranous colitis = inflammation of the colon causing elevated white and yellow-colored plaques to form and coalesce together to create a pseudomembrane on the colon wall that can be seen by colonoscopy.

 

Diagnostics

  1. When to test: when patient has new onset, ≥ 3 unformed stools that cannot be explained by another cause (i.e. laxative use)
  2. Options for testing:

* C. difficile can be grown in culture, but anaerobes take a while to grow and it would not provide an answer as to whether the strain is toxigenic (i.e. produces toxin) or not, so it is not commonly used for clinical diagnostic purposes.

What it is Advantages Disadvantages
Toxin EIA assay Antibody assay that detect toxins High specificity (>84%) Low sensitivity (31-99%)
GDH assay Detects GDH (an enzyme produced by C. difficile) High NPV (>99%)

Quick turn-around

Cannot distinguish toxigenic vs. non-toxigenic C. difficile strains
NAAT/PCR PCR method that detects toxin production gene High NPV (>99%)

Quick turn-around

Poor specificity and PPV

*Changes depending on whom specimens are collected on (low suspicion vs. high suspicion)

EIA, enzyme immunoassay; GDH, glutamate dehydrogenase; NPV, negative predictive value; PPV, positive predictive value; NAAT, nucleic acid amplification test; PCR, polymerase chain reaction.

Many healthcare facilities are currently doing only PCR testing. It’s highly sensitive and the results return quickly (usually within 24 hours).

The problem: this practice is yielding a lot of false positives (patients who are carriers but do not truly have an active infection) which ⇒ over-treatment ⇒ patient discomfort, potential side effects, infection control consequences for the hospital, and extra costs.

Why: This is thought to be due to the fact that a lot of tests are sent inappropriately (on patients that have diarrhea but no other evidence of infection such as leukocytosis, AKI, abdominal pain, fever, etc.)

Solution (as proposed by IDSA guidelines):

  1. A multiple step algorithm:
  • GDH assay + EIA assay
  • GDH assay + EIA assay with NAAT as a tiebreaker
  • NAAT + EIA assay

                  OR

  1. We can agree to be more mindful of when we send the test (when the pre-test probability is high) and continue to use the NAAT/PCR method alone.

Bottom line: Many hospitals are switching over to the two-step testing method for multiple reasons:

  • behavior change is difficult to implement and sustain
  • provides more accurate incidence of nosocomial-acquired infections in the hospital

WHEN YOU THINK OF SENDING A C. DIFFICILE TEST, ask yourself:

  1. Does this patient have an unexplained fever, leukocytosis, or new abdominal pain/distention, in addition to the diarrhea (or in presence of ileus)?
    if yes ⇒ send the test
  1. If not, is there another explanation for the diarrhea?
    (i.e. laxatives, new medications (especially antibiotics), part of already known illness, etc.)
    if yes ⇒ consider removing the potential cause (if possible) and re-evaluate or monitor for worsening symptoms
    if not ⇒ send the test

 

Treatment

The IDSA has a really great table to reference when choosing treatment options for your C. difficile infected patient.

***PO Metronidazole is no longer the 1st-line agent for C. diff infection treatment***

C.diff treatment chart

                                                                                                            McDonald et al. CID 2018

 

Recurrence

Recurrence of C. difficile infection = reappearance of symptoms within 2-8 weeks after completion of therapy

  • up to 25% of patients will experience a recurrence
  • once patient had one recurrence, they are at higher risk for future recurrences

 

TAKE-HOME POINTS:

  • The MAJOR risk factor for C. difficile infection is ANTIBIOTIC EXPOSURE
    ⇒ DO NOT give antibiotics to those who do not truly need them
  • Symptoms/signs include watery diarrhea, abdominal cramping/pain, and elevated WBC and creatinine
  • C. difficile infection CAN cause ileus (i.e. no diarrhea)
  • Only send test when you have a high pre-test probability to avoid false positives
  • Metronidazole is NO LONGER recommended for treatment of C. difficile

 

Got questions? Disagree? Leave your comments below!

 

References

  1. McDonald LC, Gerding DN, Johnson S, et al. Clinical Practice Guidelines for Clostridium difficile Infection in Adults and Children: 2017 Update by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA). Clin Infect Dis. 2018. 66(7):1-48. [PMID: 29562266]
  2. Jorgensen JH, Pfaller MA, Carroll KC, et al. Manual of Clinical Microbiology, Eleventh Edition.
  3. Lamont JT. (2018). Clostridium difficile infection in adults: Epidemiology, microbiology, and pathophysiology. In Baron EL, ed. UpToDate. Waltham, Mass.: UpToDate, 2018. [https://www.uptodate.com/contents/clostridium-difficile-infection-in-adults-epidemiology-microbiology-and-pathophysiology]. Accessed May 25, 2018.
  4. Lamont JT, Kelly CP, and Bakken JS. Clostridium difficile infection in adults: Clinical manifestations and diagnosis. In Baron EL, ed. UpToDate. Waltham, Mass.: UpToDate, 2018. [https://www.uptodate.com/contents/clostridium-difficile-infection-in-adults-clinical-manifestations-and-diagnosis]. Accessed May 25, 2018.
  5. Kelly CP, Lamont JT, and Bakken JS. Clostridium difficile infection in adults: Treatment and prevention. In Baron EL, ed. UpToDate. Waltham, Mass.: UpToDate, 2018. [https://www.uptodate.com/contents/clostridium-difficile-infection-in-adults-treatment-and-prevention]. Accessed May 25, 2018.