1. Synergistic effects of essential oils and antibiotics
on overcoming antibiotic resistance in Staphylococcus
Antibiotic resistant Staphylococcus aureus, such as methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), are a major public health problem
throughout the United States. Previous studies in the
laboratory examined the colonization rate of S. aureus in
medical students at LECOM utilizing molecular, epidemiological, and microbiological
experiments. Ongoing studies, including Masters Thesis
projects, are determining if essential plant oils, such as cinnamon cassia oil, can overcome
antibiotic resistance in S. aureus isolates. Previous projects have examined the synergistic effect of
cinnamon cassia oil and erythromycin on erythromycin-resistant S. aureus, and current projects are examining the
synergistic effect of various oils, including oregano oil and red thyme oil, and oxacillin on
inhibiting growth of MRSA. Current studies are being conducted in collaboration with Youngstown
State University to examine the effect of antibiotic use in acne patients on the antibiotic
resistance profiles of S. aureus isolates.
2. Frequency and Distribution of
tick-borne diseases in Ixodes scapularis and
Dermacentor variabilis ticks found in Erie County, Pennsylvania
The major focus of this project is to determine the prevalence of Borrelia burgdorferi and Babesia microti infection in Ixodes scapularis (black-legged) ticks, formerly known as Ixodes dammini (deer) ticks, and Dermacentor
variabilis (dog) ticks and the risk of infection in human populations. Ixodes scapularis
transmits both the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, and the parasite, B. microti, which causes human babesiosis. Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in the
United States, and our recent studies show that greater than 50% of ticks collected throughout Erie
County carry B. burgdorferi. The initial symptoms of Lyme disease include flu-like symptoms
and a bulls-eye rash, and chronic symptoms can involve the joints, heart, and brain. Babesiosis manifests as fever and chills with accompanying
fatigue and muscle pain. Because the parasite infects red
blood cells, anemia is often a complication of infection.
While babesiosis is not often associated with severe complications in specific populations,
such as the elderly and immunocompromised individuals, the infection can be serious and even fatal.
Completed and current studies are being conducted on Presque
Isle State Park to ascertain the prevalence of B.
burgdorferi- and B. microti-infected ticks with
follow-up studies conducted in all of Erie County that will include screening for the presence of
B. burgdorferi and B. microti, and other
co-infections such as Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Rickettsia
rickettsii. These studies involve collaborations between
the Laboratories of Human Pathogens and the Erie County Department of Health.
3. Public Health
Public Health projects in the
laboratory have examined primary care physician awareness and perception of Lyme disease in Erie
County and, separately, risk groups for contracting sexually transmitted infections. In addition, a Paul Ambrose Scholar-sponsored project in the
laboratory involves determining the impact of oral health care on academic performance in
Microbiology Virtual Laboratory
This project focuses on acquisition of
high-definition digital photographs for use with clinical case scenarios. As part of the project,
students culture microorganisms on various media and prepare microscope slides for digital
photography. Clinical case scenarios are then written based on these photographs.