(The following is brief round-up of online infectious disease resources and communities that I think would be of interest both to fellows in training and practicing ID clinicians. If you’re not interested in that, skip to the bottom of the page for links to this week’s articles)
Next week is IDWeek 2018! For the one person reading this who doesn’t know, IDWeek is the annual meeting of the Infectious Disease Society of America, and is the western hemisphere’s major conference for infectious disease clinicians, pharmacists, lab microbiologists, public health experts, and scientists. It’s like Burning Man for people who recognize the term “endemic dimorphic fungi.”
Alas, I’ll be rounding with our transplant ID service instead of attending the conference this year (fellows: this is what happens when you don’t submit an abstract for a travel grant), but I mention IDWeek because UCSF fellow Emily Abdoler made a nice series of posts on the IDSA’s Early Career message board about how to get most out of it. This got me thinking about the IDSA’s online communities, and more broadly about how the (inter)national infectious disease community interacts in 2018 and how one goes about “plugging in” to that community.
A generation ago, specialists were able to interact with local peers and perhaps correspond regularly with a few colleagues and collaborators around the world, but community-wide discussion was limited to academic conferences and the editorial sections of medical journals. Today we have several overlapping online communities of ID specialists communicating instantly. I’m still learning from the Baylor faculty on rounds, but now I’m also learning from experts at the University of Washington, Brigham and Women’s, Emory, USC, Wash-U, etcetera. There are also a number of free online educational resources, like this one, variously aiming to help readers hone their diagnostic acumen, keep abreast of the literature, and prepare for the boards. Unfortunately, most of these resources and communities aren’t well advertised; after three or four years of searching I am still finding new ones.
Because I’m not aware of a good master list of online infectious diseases resources, I’ve created one below. Please let me know if there are any important communities or resources I’ve missed!
Listservs / Message boards:
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports – Not so much a listserv as a free journal subscription, MMWR is the Center for Disease Control’s weekly update on infectious (and sometimes noninfectious) disease activity across the United States. It’s also one of the CDC’s main vehicles for publishing clinical recommendations and research. Invariably there’s something worth reading each month.
IDea Exchange – This is the IDSA’s main listserv and is restricted to IDSA members. There are usually three to six discussions going on each week; you can receive posts by email in real time or as a daily digest, or just browse the message board online. The main community currently has 11,000 members and a few hundred active posters; topics range from job and research opportunities to requests for advice about challenging clinical scenarios to discussions of national policies that affect the practice of clinical infectious diseases. There are also several sub-communities that focus on specific ID niches (e.g. the HIV exchange and the Early Career Community), though these are less active.
SHEA Open Forum – This is SHEA’s version of the IDea Exchange; it is restricted to SHEA members and looks and behaves just like the IDea Exchange. It currently has 2,000 members and a few dozen active posters carrying on 1-2 discussion a month, which mainly consist of polls about specific policies and practices regarding stewardship, infection control, and unusual situations that crop up therein.
Emerging Infection Network – EIN has become primarily an online case conference in which ID clinicians poll the group for help with their most challenging cases. On average, two to five cases are discussed each week; respondents are a mix of academic and private ID specialists, and a couple dozen members provide input with regularity. I highly recommend the EIN network for fellows – it’s a great opportunity to think about how you would approach “beyond the guidelines” scenarios and compare your answers to those of specialists around the country.
Persiflagers Infectious Disease Puscast – Required listening for ID fellows. Mark Crislip, a Portland ID doc, provides a biweekly review of the ID literature with curmudgeonly color commentary. I am not sure how he chooses his papers, but he does a great job, and he provides an educational (or at least interesting) context for each.
Gobbet O’ Pus – Also by Dr. Crislip, this podcast offers short clinical vignettes followed by brief case discussions based a reference from the medical literature. Much of this material is reproduced in his Medscape blog, Rubor, Dolor, Calor, Tumor, which is why I don’t also mention that blog below.
The OFID Podcast – Medical journals podcasts are mostly boring and terrible, centering on too-long discussions of their articles. OFID’s podcast is an exception to this rule in that it has original content. Dr. Sax reaches out to important figures in the ID world, interviews them about the work they do, and sometimes gets them to do goofy stuff like pick their favorite expired antibiotic brand names (mine is Timentin!).
USF Health’s ID Podcast – The University of South Florida has recorded 10 years’ worth of its fellowship’s weekly lectures, including the slide sets being presented. Recent lectures can be downloaded using your podcast player of choice, and the full archive is available on YouTube.
Websites and Blogs:
Partners Infectious Disease Images – A collection of ID teaching cases centered on wonderful clinical and laboratory images. Each has a brief case synopsis with the associated image, a multiple-choice question, and a discussion of the case and diagnosis. You need an account but signing up is free. This is a FANTASTIC resource for studying for the board exams; I can’t recommend it enough.
Gorgas Case of the Week – The University of Alabama at Birmingham collaborates with the Tropical Medicine Institute in Lima, Peru to organize the Gorgas Courses in Clinical Tropical Medicine. Each year the Gorgas course publishes a series of tropical medicine cases, complete with clinical images and case discussions. Prior years’ questions are still hosted on the UAB website and are accessible via Google.
AETC National HIV Curriculum – Edited by Dr. David Spach and University of Washington faculty, this website has a slew of self-study modules, concise summaries of key topics, and an extensive bibliography focusing on the management of HIV infection and its complications. My favorite part is the very-high-quality question bank, which really digs into the finer points of HIV care and is considerably harder than HIV questions that show up on the in-training exams.
George Washington ID Board Review weekly questions – GW organizes one of the largest ID board review courses in the US and sells online access to their question bank for a couple hundred bucks; however, they also post a series of free weekly board questions each summer. You have to check the website each week from May to August, though, as questions are removed two weeks after posting.
ID and HIV Observations – Required reading for fellows, Paul Sax’s blog is always funny, engaging, well-researched and full of clinical pearls. Topics are mostly clinically oriented and focus on general infectious diseases, HIV medicine, and ID medical education.
Reflections on Infection Prevention and Control – This blog is a joint effort of four infection preventionists from the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands. Most posts explore the findings of a recent publication or review a subject in light of a publication; topics range from infection prevention to antimicrobial stewardship to more general critiques of how the sausage of academic publishing is made.
Controversies in Hospital Infection Prevention – Another joint effort blog focusing on infection control, this one authored by preventionists from across the American Midwest. While this group also sometimes editorializes on recent publications, they are more focused on ‘think pieces’ in which the bloggers opine and debate various aspects of their work, pulling in multiple references as needed.
IDStewardship – This website is primarily aimed at pharmacy students and pharmacy residents specializing in infectious diseases, but its comprehensive review of antibiotic minutiae will be valuable for ID physicians and fellows as well.
Washington University ID Questions – Yes, it’s a twitter account, but I’m listing it separately because this is a fantastic new teaching resource. Managed by Geroma Escota at Washing University in St. Louis, @WUID_qx posts daily ID questions that are board exam-worthy. Some of these are really tough! The answer with an explanation is posted after the poll closes, and the best part is that these questions not infrequently spark a discussion from subject experts, which also makes for good learning.
Idjournal.club – I’m a fan of recursion.
ID Twitter: ID twitter is great. You’ll learn about new papers within hours of their publication and new drugs within hours of their approval, and you’ll develop an appreciation for how our specialty’s practice varies across the nation and world. The downside is that ID twitter isn’t a single listserv to sign up for so much as several hundred people talking at one another; “joining” involves following users who tweet content relevant to you, then using their tweets and follower/followed lists to find other users who post similar content, etcetera. If you’re new to ID twitter, here are some recommended follows:
(note: this is a small and unordered sample of ID specialists grabbed from my twitter feed, not a curated list. There are many wonderful and important people not listed below, many of whom I follow, so please don’t write me any angry emails.)
@JHKwonDO @SAIRABT @BradCutrellMD @mfkuepp @Guru_JoshD @BradSpellberg @TorontoIDDoc @CarlosdelRio7 @BSchwartzinSF @DocWoc71 @PaulSaxMD @GAggreyMD @Payal_Patel @ASPphysician @FungalDoc @ShohamTxID @PergamIC @CAGomezMD @AlobaidiMD @FranciscoMarty @GermHunterMD @DrJRMarcelin @drmt @PeterHotez @TimLaheyMD @DrJeanneM @kinnathakarar
Other ID specialists: fellows in training, scientists, laboratory microbiologists, etc
Onto the medical literature. Here is what I have for you:
Antimicrobial Agents research this month includes the MERINO trial, OPAT in injection drug users, a new class of antiviral for influenza, and the perils of gentamicin pearls.
ID Diagnostics research this month includes new methods for anaerobic antimicrobial susceptibility testing, nonspecialist misuse of the B-D-glucan assay, and new test combinations to improve the diagnosis of invasive aspergillosis
General ID topics this month include duration of IV therapy in vertebral osteo, chloroquine dosing and malaria recurrence, antibiotic prophylaxis for COPD, neurological sequelae of Dengue in pregnancy, and risk of mumps outbreaks among college-aged adults in the US.
HIV and STD research includes seasonal variation in N. gonorrheae resistance to macrolides, PrEP’s engagement in care problem, potential benefits of bariatric surgery in morbidly obese patients with HIV, and the disparity between HIV viral suppression in serum versus rectal tissue.
Onc and Transplant ID publications this month include influenza vaccine selection in solid organ transplant recipients, inhaled versus oral ribavirin for RSV, antibiotic lock therapy for long-term catheter infections, vancomycin prophylaxis for CDI in stem cell transplant patients, and the terrible terrible prognosis of fungal endocarditis.
Antimicrobial Stewardship and Infection Control research includes the “resistance-ogenicity” of quinolones versus nitrofurantoin for UTI, the benefits and costs of continuous antibiotic prophylaxis for UTI in patients who self-catheterize, the safety of using clinical assessment to distinguish C. difficile colonization versus infection in patients with equivocal test results, and the use of EMR nudges to avoid needless PICC placement for IV antibiotics.