Microbiology Time

Here are the three papers we selected as the best ones in the last month:

  • Getting infected by Tuberculosis is a concrete risk for healthcare professionals working with TB patients, collecting and handling sputum samples for TB diagnosis. This study evaluates the risk perceptions of an alternative, less dangerous method to diagnose TB, tongue swabbing, implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eighteen South African Healthcare professionals with experience using tongue swabbing at the South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative were interviewed and assessed by their attitude toward provider-collected and supervised self-collected tongue swabbing. Facilitators and barriers to the use of tongue swabbing were also evaluated. Perception, barriers, and motivators of the use of tongue swabbing varied by use case, highlighting specific educational resources to enhance the safety of and adherence to the self-collection method.
  • HPV -DNA testing with self-collected samples showed extreme diagnostic accuracy and reliability. Nevertheless, to implement self-sampling in cervical screening programs, the standardization of the pre-analytical phase and the understanding of the acceptability of women are necessary in every country. In this second study, Illari Sechi and colleagues assessed the stability of self-collected vaginal samples, and the acceptability of self-collection in almost 200 women. Most of the women found it easy to use self-collection devices, and approximately half of the enrolled women declared preferring self-sampling to clinician-collected methods. This, paired with the high reliability and accuracy of HPV-DNA tests on self-collected samples, supports the adoption of self-collection in screening programs, even though HPV tests on self-samples must be standardized and optimized, and educational campaigns are needed to adequately inform and increase responsiveness in a target population.
  • Covid-19 is mainly a respiratory syndrome that can affect multiple organ systems with various symptoms. Deficits in smell and taste are some of the most common COVID-19 symptoms, which may last for months after the infection and which mechanisms are not fully elucidated. To identify the determinants of olfactory symptom persistence, the Italian research group obtained olfactory mucosa from 21 subjects and grouped them by the severity/persistence of olfactory symptoms. By analyzing cells with transcriptome analyses, Lupi and colleagues discovered that the overall gene expression and micro-RNA expression profile are altered for a long time after infection. Patients with persistent olfactory deficits displayed increased expression levels of genes related to inflammation and zinc homeostasis, suggesting an association of this metal with the olfactory deficit.

Read the full studies: