Uncovering Mysteries: Identifying Rare and Emerging Microbes Quickly

John McQuiston, PhD


June 06, 2016

Editorial Collaboration

Medscape &

A Better Tool for Testing and Diagnosis

In your clinic or laboratory, you probably see many of the same common illnesses or pathogens over and over. But where does your lab turn when faced with an unidentifiable microbe, something that they have never seen before? Check out MicrobeNet, an innovative online tool with vital information about more than 2400 rare and emerging bacteria and fungi. MicrobeNet provides laboratory scientists and microbiologists with unprecedented, real-time access to CDC's virtual pathogen library to detect and identify pathogens faster, which means a quicker and more effective response to public health threats.

MicrobeNet cuts the time for test result confirmation from a week or longer to days or even hours, reducing the time and cost of shipping samples to CDC or another reference lab for assistance and then waiting. Instead, MicrobeNet provides real-time information and answers in minutes. MicrobeNet is designed for clinical, hospital, and public health labs in the United States and worldwide. By working with a lab that uses MicrobeNet, clinicians can get the information they need to quickly diagnose and select the right treatment for the patient.

The recent multistate outbreak of Elizabethkingia in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan underscores the need for a tool like MicrobeNet in diagnostic laboratories. Hospitals and health departments using MicrobeNet can identify rare bacteria like Elizabethkingia quicker and know that they are comparing their results with the most comprehensive and accurate disease database available.

Through a partnership with Bruker Corporation, CDC added a new module that allows labs to search the protein signatures of the bacteria using MALDI-ToF technology and compare them with the rare pathogens in CDC's MicrobeNet library using Bruker's MALDI Biotyper instruments. MicrobeNet's expanded curated pathogen MALDI spectra library is now available to labs, in addition to the Bruker system library. MicrobeNet has also developed a system for DNA sequence analysis with ThermoFisher, known as MicroBridge, and is partnering with other leading industry partners to expand our capabilities.

What MicrobeNet Can Offer Labs

To your local lab professionals, MicrobeNet offers:

  • In-depth information about the bacteria or fungi, growth conditions or special growth media, references, standard operating procedures, microscopic images of Gram stains and more to assist in identification;

  • Free online access;

  • CDC curation means confidence in the information you receive;

  • Direct access to CDC disease expert contacts who specialize in each microbe;

  • Search by DNA sequence, biochemical and phenotypic characteristics, MALDI TOF fingerprints;

  • Constantly updated information—CDC is adding information on as many as 100 new species each month;

  • Cost savings to your lab by not needing to build or maintain your own reference library; and

  • Historical information on antibiotic resistance profiles for many bacterial species.

One of MicrobeNet's greatest advantages is connecting laboratories and clinicians to CDC experts and allowing them to analyze the data for trends of infections in their area. State public health labs will be able to see in real time what pathogens the labs in their state are searching, and can determine whether labs or clinicians in more than one area are testing for the same type of bacteria or fungi, which may indicate a disease outbreak. It also provides public health agencies with a valuable snapshot of nationwide disease trends and will help CDC identify multistate outbreaks and provide information to public health partners in the affected states.

Currently, 550 lab professionals are registered for MicrobeNet. CDC hopes that greater awareness of MicrobeNet will increase use in the United States and beyond. Due to the popularity of MALDI-ToF diagnostic instruments, CDC expects the number of labs using MicrobeNet to dramatically increase with the addition of the Bruker MALDI Biotyper module.

Join today to harness the power of MicrobeNet, test faster, and help get the information needed to protect patients' health, select the right treatment, and save lives. Request an account today through the MicrobeNet secure portal at, or by emailing

For more information, visit the MicrobeNet website:

Web Resources

MicrobeNet website

MicrobeNet secure portal for users

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