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Determining infectious cross-transmission events in healthcare settings involves manual surveillance of case clusters by infection control personnel, followed by strain typing of clinical/environmental isolates suspected in said clusters. Recent advances in genomic sequencing and cloud computing now allow for the rapid molecular typing of infecting isolates.
To facilitate rapid recognition of transmission clusters, we aimed to assess infection control surveillance using whole-genome sequencing (WGS) of microbial pathogens to identify cross-transmission events for epidemiologic review.
Clinical isolates of Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus faecium, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Klebsiella pneumoniae were obtained prospectively at an academic medical center, from September 1, 2016, to September 30, 2017. Isolate genomes were sequenced, followed by single-nucleotide variant analysis; a cloud-computing platform was used for whole-genome sequence analysis and cluster identification.
Most strains of the 4 studied pathogens were unrelated, and 34 potential transmission clusters were present. The characteristics of the potential clusters were complex and likely not identifiable by traditional surveillance alone. Notably, only 1 cluster had been suspected by routine manual surveillance.
Our work supports the assertion that integration of genomic and clinical epidemiologic data can augment infection control surveillance for both the identification of cross-transmission events and the inclusion of missed and exclusion of misidentified outbreaks (ie, false alarms). The integration of clinical data is essential to prioritize suspect clusters for investigation, and for existing infections, a timely review of both the clinical and WGS results can hold promise to reduce HAIs. A richer understanding of cross-transmission events within healthcare settings will require the expansion of current surveillance approaches.
Breakthrough Listen is a 10-yr initiative to search for signatures of technologies created by extraterrestrial civilisations at radio and optical wavelengths. Here, we detail the digital data recording system deployed for Breakthrough Listen observations at the 64-m aperture CSIRO Parkes Telescope in New South Wales, Australia. The recording system currently implements two modes: a dual-polarisation, 1.125-GHz bandwidth mode for single-beam observations, and a 26-input, 308-MHz bandwidth mode for the 21-cm multibeam receiver. The system is also designed to support a 3-GHz single-beam mode for the forthcoming Parkes ultra-wideband feed. In this paper, we present details of the system architecture, provide an overview of hardware and software, and present initial performance results.
We observed pediatric S. aureus hospitalizations decreased 36% from 26.3 to 16.8 infections per 1,000 admissions from 2009 to 2016, with methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) decreasing by 52% and methicillin-susceptible S. aureus decreasing by 17%, among 39 pediatric hospitals. Similar decreases were observed for days of therapy of anti-MRSA antibiotics.
The role that vitamin D plays in pulmonary function remains uncertain. Epidemiological studies reported mixed findings for serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D)–pulmonary function association. We conducted the largest cross-sectional meta-analysis of the 25(OH)D–pulmonary function association to date, based on nine European ancestry (EA) cohorts (n 22 838) and five African ancestry (AA) cohorts (n 4290) in the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology Consortium. Data were analysed using linear models by cohort and ancestry. Effect modification by smoking status (current/former/never) was tested. Results were combined using fixed-effects meta-analysis. Mean serum 25(OH)D was 68 (sd 29) nmol/l for EA and 49 (sd 21) nmol/l for AA. For each 1 nmol/l higher 25(OH)D, forced expiratory volume in the 1st second (FEV1) was higher by 1·1 ml in EA (95 % CI 0·9, 1·3; P<0·0001) and 1·8 ml (95 % CI 1·1, 2·5; P<0·0001) in AA (Prace difference=0·06), and forced vital capacity (FVC) was higher by 1·3 ml in EA (95 % CI 1·0, 1·6; P<0·0001) and 1·5 ml (95 % CI 0·8, 2·3; P=0·0001) in AA (Prace difference=0·56). Among EA, the 25(OH)D–FVC association was stronger in smokers: per 1 nmol/l higher 25(OH)D, FVC was higher by 1·7 ml (95 % CI 1·1, 2·3) for current smokers and 1·7 ml (95 % CI 1·2, 2·1) for former smokers, compared with 0·8 ml (95 % CI 0·4, 1·2) for never smokers. In summary, the 25(OH)D associations with FEV1 and FVC were positive in both ancestries. In EA, a stronger association was observed for smokers compared with never smokers, which supports the importance of vitamin D in vulnerable populations.
Thoroughbred mares (Equus caballus) are usually first teased 6 days post foaling and during this brief (often 3-6 minutes) process the mare's foal will be left alone in its stable. This will be repeated daily until the mare goes out of season. During this part of her cycle she may later be sent for covering by the resident stallion. On some farms the foal is alone in its stable during covering and this period can last for anything from 20 minutes to an hour, during which the foal typically exhibits signs of considerable distress. Though the foal can be heard whinnying for the mare, it has not previously been noted what behaviours the distressed foal exhibits during this separation. Though a recent study by Houpt (2002) looked at responses of 10 pony mares and their foals to brief weekly periods of separation at up to nine weeks of age, most research on separation distress in foals has previously been done with respect to the artificial weaning process, an event that most Thoroughbred foals experience by 6-7 months of age.
The in situ dry matter disappearance technique (Ørskov and McDonald, 1979) evaluates forages for their rate and extent of degradation in the rumen. However, this method does not allow the evaluation of a large number of samples at one and the same time and therefore which limits screening of treatments applied to forages. The in vitro gas production method is faster and allows handling of many samples per batch; therefore, gas production could be an alternative to the use of nylon bags if the response to treatments between the two methods is similar among treated forages. The objective of this experiment was to compare results obtained with both the gas production and the nylon bag techniques for forages treated with four levels of maceration and conserved as hay or silage.
The mid-infrared range contains many spectral features associated with large molecules and dust grains such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and silicates. These are usually very strong compared to fine-structure gas lines, and thus valuable in studying the spectral properties of faint distant galaxies. In this paper, we evaluate the capability of low-resolution mid-infrared spectroscopic surveys of galaxies that could be performed by SPICA. The surveys are designed to address the question how star formation and black hole accretion activities evolved over cosmic time through spectral diagnostics of the physical conditions of the interstellar/circumnuclear media in galaxies. On the basis of results obtained with Herschel far-infrared photometric surveys of distant galaxies and Spitzer and AKARI near- to mid-infrared spectroscopic observations of nearby galaxies, we estimate the numbers of the galaxies at redshift z > 0.5, which are expected to be detected in the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon features or dust continuum by a wide (10 deg2) or deep (1 deg2) blind survey, both for a given observation time of 600 h. As by-products of the wide blind survey, we also expect to detect debris disks, through the mid-infrared excess above the photospheric emission of nearby main-sequence stars, and we estimate their number. We demonstrate that the SPICA mid-infrared surveys will efficiently provide us with unprecedentedly large spectral samples, which can be studied further in the far-infrared with SPICA.
Vitamin E and selenium have been reported to improve immune function across a range of species. Ewes lambing on poor-quality dry pasture in autumn in Western Australia are at risk of being deficient in vitamin E and selenium at lambing thus predisposing their lambs to deficiencies and increasing the risk of infection and disease. This study tested the hypotheses that (i) supplementation of autumn-lambing ewes with vitamin E plus selenium in late gestation will increase the concentrations of vitamin E and selenium in plasma in the ewe and lamb and (ii) that the increased concentrations of vitamin E and selenium in plasma in the lambs will improve their innate and adaptive immune responses and thus survival. Pregnant Merino ewes were divided into a control group (n=58) which received no supplementation or a group supplemented with vitamin E plus selenium (n=55). On days 111, 125 and 140 of pregnancy ewes in the vitamin E plus selenium group were given 4 g all-rac-α-tocopherol acetate orally. On day 111 the ewes were also given 60 mg of selenium as barium selenate by subcutaneous injection. The concentrations of α-tocopherol and selenium were measured in ewes and/or lambs from day 111 of pregnancy to 14 weeks of age±10 days (weaning). Immune function of the lamb was assessed by analysing the numbers and phagocytic capacities of monocytes and polymorphonuclear leucocytes and plasma IgG and anti-tetanus toxoid antibody concentrations between birth and 14 weeks of age±10 days. Maternal supplementation with vitamin E plus selenium increased the concentration of α-tocopherol in plasma (1.13 v. 0.67 mg/l; P<0.001) and selenium in whole blood (0.12 v. 0.07 mg/l; P<0.01) of the ewes at lambing compared with controls. Supplementation also increased the concentration of α-tocopherol (0.14 v. 0.08 mg/l; P<0.001) and selenium (0.08 v. 0.05 mg/l; P<0.01) in lambs at birth compared with controls. There was no significant effect of supplementation on immune function or survival in the lambs.
Supernova (SN) 1987A has provided a unique opportunity to study how SN ejecta evolve in 30 years time scale. We report our ALMA spectral observations of SN 1987A, taken in 2014, 2015 and 2016, with detections of CO, 28SiO, HCO+ and SO, with weaker lines of 29SiO.
We find a dip in the SiO line profiles, suggesting that the ejecta morphology is likely elongated. The difference of the CO and SiO line profiles is consistent with hydrodynamic simulations, which show that Rayleigh-Taylor instabilities causes mixing of gas, with heavier elements much more disturbed, making more elongated structure.
Using 28SiO and its isotopologues, Si isotope ratios were estimated for the first time in SN 1987A. The estimated ratios appear to be consistent with theoretical predictions of inefficient formation of neutron rich atoms at lower metallicity, such as observed in the Large Magellanic Cloud (about half a solar metallicity).
The deduced large HCO+ mass and small SiS mass, which are inconsistent to the predictions of chemical model, might be explained by some mixing of elements immediately after the explosion. The mixing might have made some hydrogen from the envelope to sink into carbon and oxygen-rich zone during early days after the explosion, enabling the formation of a substantial mass of HCO+. Oxygen atoms may penetrate into silicon and sulphur zone, suppressing formation of SiS.
Our ALMA observations open up a new window to investigate chemistry, dynamics and explosive-nucleosynthesis in supernovae.
The Dark Energy Survey is undertaking an observational programme imaging 1/4 of the southern hemisphere sky with unprecedented photometric accuracy. In the process of observing millions of faint stars and galaxies to constrain the parameters of the dark energy equation of state, the Dark Energy Survey will obtain pre-discovery images of the regions surrounding an estimated 100 gamma-ray bursts over 5 yr. Once gamma-ray bursts are detected by, e.g., the Swift satellite, the DES data will be extremely useful for follow-up observations by the transient astronomy community. We describe a recently-commissioned suite of software that listens continuously for automated notices of gamma-ray burst activity, collates information from archival DES data, and disseminates relevant data products back to the community in near-real-time. Of particular importance are the opportunities that non-public DES data provide for relative photometry of the optical counterparts of gamma-ray bursts, as well as for identifying key characteristics (e.g., photometric redshifts) of potential gamma-ray burst host galaxies. We provide the functional details of the DESAlert software, and its data products, and we show sample results from the application of DESAlert to numerous previously detected gamma-ray bursts, including the possible identification of several heretofore unknown gamma-ray burst hosts.
We present ground-based data of the BL Lac object PKS 2155-305 obtained during a large international campaign spanning the electro–magnetic spectrum from the radio waves to X-rays in November 1991. For the complete description of the observations and data analysis we refer to the paper by Courvoisier et al. 1993, and references therein. The ground-based data include radio, infrared JHKL and UBVRI fluxes as well as optical and near IR polarimetry.
The broad-band optical and near IR data from U to I exhibit the same behaviour in all bands: the flux nearly doubled over the well-covered period of 23 days. The cross-correlation function does not reveal any significant changes in the light-curves. Though significant variations in 24 hours have been recorded, the cumulated Fourier power spectrum drops to the noise level for periods shorter than 2.5 days. The spectral index remained constant.
The polarised flux varied by a larger factor than the total flux and did not follow the same pattern. The degree of polarisation and polarisation angle are nearly independent of the wavelength and are strongly correlated in all filters.
In the radio domain the spectral index increased from −0.1 on November 5 to +0.02 on 25-th.
The absence of the lag between the optical and infrared bands and the polarisation variations are consistent with a model in which the variability is caused by micro-lensing of the source (Stickel, Fried and Kühr 1988). One would, however, expect in this model that the variation in the polarisation and the total flux are tightly correlated contrary to what is observed.
The constant shape of the continuum spectral energy suggests that only the number of electrons whose emission is beamed towards the observer changes, rather than the arrival of fresh electrons that are being accelerated.
The variability of the polarisation may be explained by changes in the geometry of the magnetic field (dominant direction). This is consistent with the observed variations of the polarisation angle.
A major international effort to observe and compile the results of observations from many transit circle programs into a single catalog of positions referred to the FK4 system came to a conclusion with the completion and distribution of the Southern Reference Star (SRS) catalog of 20,488 stars. Previous discussions focussed on the adjustments to the observational material to refer it to the FK4 system and on the random errors as estimated from residual differences. In the present discussion, we give the results of internal comparisons which have been made between the individual contributing catalogs and the final combined SRS catalog. Also, results of a comparison between the SRS catalog and the AGK3R catalog are given where they overlap in the declination zone from +5 to −5 degrees. The possibility of magnitude equation and color error in the SRS catalog is discussed.
The reduction procedure used to transform the version of the SRS catalog based on the FK4/B1950.0 system to the version based on the FK5/J2000.0 system is given.
We describe the first results from two observational projects aimed at measuring the amount and spatial distribution of dark matter in distant early-type galaxies (E/S0s) and clusters of galaxies. At the galaxy scale, the Lenses Structure and Dynamics (LSD) Survey is gathering kinematic data for distant (up to z ⋐ 1) E/S0s that are gravitational lenses. A joint lensing and dynamical analysis constrains the fraction of dark matter within the Einstein radius, the mass-to-light ratio of the stellar component, and the total slope of the mass density profile. These properties and their evolution with redshift are briefly discussed in terms of the formation and evolution of E/S0 galaxies and measurement of the Hubble Constant from gravitational time delay systems. At the cluster scale – after careful removal of the stellar component with a joint lensing and dynamical analysis – systems with giant radial arcs can be used to measure precisely the inner slope of the dark matter halo. An HST search for radial arcs and the analysis of a first sample are briefly discussed in terms of the universal dark matter halos predicted by CDM simulations.
Since the discovery of fading X-rays from Gamma-Ray Bursts (GRBs) with BeppoSAX (Piro et al. 1997, Costa et al. 1997), world-wide follow-up observations in optical band have achieved the fruitful results. The case of GRB 970228, there was an optical transient, coincides with the BeppoSAX position and faded (Paradijs et al. 1997, Sahu et al. 1997). These optical observations also confirmed the extended component, which was associated with the optical transient. The new transient are fading with a power-law function in time and the later observation of HST confirmed the extended emission is stable (Fruchter et al. 1997). This extended object seems to be a distant galaxy and strongly suggests to be the host.
While a number of site testing campaigns are in progress throughout the world, the dominant efforts seem to be associated with plans for very large telescopes. These plans, improved telescope technology, and the realization that astronomical observations from space will put increasing demands on ground-based observing facilities have given new impetus to site identification and to the optimum utilization of existing sites. A most excellent review of the factors involved in site identification is now available in the Proceedings of the ESO Workshop on Site Testing for Future Large Telescopes, edited by A. Ardeberg and L. Woltjer 1981. These Proceedings and Woolf’s review (1982, Ann. Rev. Astron. Astrophys. 20 367) provide a solid background of current site evaluation factors.
Our knowledge of the universe comes from recording the photon and particle fluxes incident on the Earth from space. We thus require sensitive measurement across the entire energy spectrum, using large telescopes with efficient instrumentation located on superb sites. Technological advances and engineering constraints are nearing the point where we are recording as many photons arriving at a site as is possible. Major advances in the future will come from improving the quality of the site. The ultimate site is, of course, beyond the Earth’s atmosphere, such as on the Moon, but economic limitations prevent our exploiting this avenue to the degree that the scientific community desires. Here we describe an alternative, which offers many of the advantages of space for a fraction of the cost: the Antarctic Plateau.
We present the first results from multi-site observations of the δ Scuti star XX Pyx (CD–24°7599). The observations were carried out as the 17th run of the Delta Scuti Network. We collected 583 hr of B, V time-series photometry, resulting in a detection level (4σ) in the amplitude spectrum of 0.5 mmag. We detect 6 new pulsation frequencies, bringing the total number of frequencies known in this star up 19.