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Shortages of personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the extended use or re-use of single-use respirators and surgical masks by frontline healthcare workers. The evidence base underpinning such practices warrants examination.
To synthesise current guidance and systematic review evidence on extended use, re-use, or reprocessing of single-use surgical masks or filtering facepiece respirators.
World Health Organization, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Public Health England websites to identify guidance. Medline, Pubmed, Epistemonikos, Cochrane Database and preprint servers for systematic reviews.
Two reviewers conducted screening and data extraction. Quality of included systematic reviews was appraised using AMSTAR-2. Findings were narratively synthesised.
Six guidance documents were identified. Levels of detail and consistency across documents varied. Four high-quality systematic reviews were included: three focused on reprocessing (decontamination) of N95 respirators, one on reprocessing of surgical masks. Vaporised hydrogen peroxide and ultraviolet germicidal irradiation were highlighted as the most promising reprocessing methods, but evidence on the relative efficacy and safety of different methods was limited. We found no well-established methods for reprocessing respirators at scale.
There is limited evidence on the impact of extended use and re-use of surgical masks and respirators and gaps and inconsistencies exist in current guidance. Where extended use or re-use is being practiced, healthcare organisations should ensure that policies and systems are in place to ensure these practices are carried out safely and in line with available guidance.
Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) is a well-established cause of traveller's diarrhoea and occasional domestic foodborne illness outbreaks in the USA. Although ETEC are not detected by conventional stool culture methods used in clinical laboratories, syndromic culture-independent diagnostic tests (CIDTs) capable of detecting ETEC have become increasingly prevalent in the last decade. This study describes the epidemiology of ETEC infections reported to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) during 2016–2017. ETEC-positive stool specimens were submitted to MDH to confirm the presence of ETEC DNA by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Cases were interviewed to ascertain illness and exposures. Contemporaneous Salmonella cases were used as a comparison group in a case-case comparison analysis of risk factors. Of 222 ETEC-positive specimens received by MDH, 108 (49%) were concordant by PCR. ETEC was the sixth most frequently reported bacterial enteric pathogen among a subset of CIDT-positive specimens. Sixty-nine (64%) laboratory-confirmed cases had an additional pathogen codetected with ETEC, including enteroaggregative E. coli (n = 40) and enteropathogenic E. coli (n = 39). Although travel is a risk factor for ETEC infection, only 43% of cases travelled internationally, providing evidence for ETEC as an underestimated source of domestically acquired enteric illness in the USA.
We implemented universal severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) testing of patients undergoing surgical procedures as a means to conserve personal protective equipment (PPE). The rate of asymptomatic coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was <0.5%, which suggests that early local public health interventions were successful. Although our protocol was resource intensive, it prevented exposures to healthcare team members.
A subcommittee of the Hawaii Governor's Joint Task Force on Rat Lungworm Disease developed preliminary guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of neuroangiostrongyliasis (NAS) in 2018 (Guidelines, 2018). This paper reviews the main points of those guidelines and provides updates in areas where our understanding of the disease has increased. The diagnosis of NAS is described, including confirmation of infection by real-time polymerase chain reaction (RTi-PCR) to detect parasite DNA in the central nervous system (CNS). The treatment literature is reviewed with recommendations for the use of corticosteroids and the anthelminthic drug albendazole. Long-term sequelae of NAS are discussed and recommendations for future research are proposed.
Diet has a major influence on the composition and metabolic output of the gut microbiome. Higher-protein diets are often recommended for older consumers; however, the effect of high-protein diets on the gut microbiota and faecal volatile organic compounds (VOC) of elderly participants is unknown. The purpose of the study was to establish if the faecal microbiota composition and VOC in older men are different after a diet containing the recommended dietary intake (RDA) of protein compared with a diet containing twice the RDA (2RDA). Healthy males (74⋅2 (sd 3⋅6) years; n 28) were randomised to consume the RDA of protein (0⋅8 g protein/kg body weight per d) or 2RDA, for 10 weeks. Dietary protein was provided via whole foods rather than supplementation or fortification. The diets were matched for dietary fibre from fruit and vegetables. Faecal samples were collected pre- and post-intervention for microbiota profiling by 16S ribosomal RNA amplicon sequencing and VOC analysis by head space/solid-phase microextraction/GC-MS. After correcting for multiple comparisons, no significant differences in the abundance of faecal microbiota or VOC associated with protein fermentation were evident between the RDA and 2RDA diets. Therefore, in the present study, a twofold difference in dietary protein intake did not alter gut microbiota or VOC indicative of altered protein fermentation.
Raw milk cheeses are commonly consumed in France and are also a common source of foodborne outbreaks (FBOs). Both an FBO surveillance system and a laboratory-based surveillance system aim to detect Salmonella outbreaks. In early August 2018, five familial FBOs due to Salmonella spp. were reported to a regional health authority. Investigation identified common exposure to a raw goats' milk cheese, from which Salmonella spp. were also isolated, leading to an international product recall. Three weeks later, on 22 August, a national increase in Salmonella Newport ST118 was detected through laboratory surveillance. Concomitantly isolates from the earlier familial clusters were confirmed as S. Newport ST118. Interviews with a selection of the laboratory-identified cases revealed exposure to the same cheese, including exposure to batches not included in the previous recall, leading to an expansion of the recall. The outbreak affected 153 cases, including six cases in Scotland. S. Newport was detected in the cheese and in the milk of one of the producer's goats. The difference in the two alerts generated by this outbreak highlight the timeliness of the FBO system and the precision of the laboratory-based surveillance system. It is also a reminder of the risks associated with raw milk cheeses.
Psychological stress is associated with accelerated cellular aging and increased risk for aging-related diseases, but the underlying molecular mechanisms are unclear.
We examined the effect of stress on a DNA methylation age predictor that was shown to correlate strongly with chronological age across human tissues (Horvath 2013). Genome-wide DNA methylation was measured in peripheral blood using the 450K Illumina array in three independent cohorts: the Grady Trauma Project/GTP (N=366); a panic disorder case/control sample recruited at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry/MPI-P (N=318); and the Conte Center for the Psychobiology of Early-Life Trauma/Conte (N=42). Age acceleration was calculated by subtracting chronological age from age predicted by DNA methylation. Psychiatric symptomatology and stressors were assessed using standard questionnaires.
DNA methylation age strongly correlated with chronological age in all samples (r=0.9, p=2.5x10<sup>-133</sup>). Cumulative lifetime stress but not childhood or current stress predicted age acceleration in GTP (p=0.012) and MPI-P (p=0.021). Moreover, epigenetic age acceleration predicted depression (GTP: p=0.002; Conte: p=0.014) and panic disorder (p=0.007). In secondary analyses, we examined the effect of lifetime stress on individual CpGs of the DNA methylation age predictor. After correcting for multiple comparisons, we identified in both GTP and MPI-P a stress-regulated CpG near MCAM, a gene implicated in aging-related diseases, including cardiovascular disease and cancers.
Cumulative lifetime stress, but not childhood or current stress, and psychiatric phenotypes are associated with accelerated epigenetic aging. Our findings may explain the accelerated cellular aging and increased disease risk associated with chronic stress and psychiatric disorders.
Against a backdrop of poor mental health education in UK schools a group of students from Norwich Medical School have formed a student society called ‘Headucate’ in order to create, deliver and evaluate an educational intervention for adolescents, initially to be delivered in Norfolk schools.
To create an educational intervention that:
Is the length of a standard lesson
Is age appropriate and acceptable
Contains appropriate signposting
Contains content that challenges common myths and replaces them with knowledge
Contains content that encourages empathy and understanding towards those with mental illnesses
Is easily delivered in the same way each time so that its effectiveness can be evaluated
To create an intervention effective at tackling stigma and empowering adolescents to recognise signs of poor mental health and access services appropriately.
Lesson plan created after consultation with psychiatrists, a psychologist, a GP, a university outreach professional, a teacher and secondary school age children, then trialled and revised.
Interactive workshop produced with 5 sections.
1) Myth vs Fact activity that dispels prevalent myths
2) Scenario based activity to demonstrate that mental health is a spectrum
3) An interactive presentation covering the most common mental illnesses and their symptoms
4) An activity focusing on talking to those with mental illnesses, furthering the scenario from the previous activity
5) A question and answer session. Every student leaves with a leaflet containing appropriate signposting.
We have created an educational intervention ready to be delivered and evaluated.
The increased prevalence of metabolic syndrome in people with severe mental illness (SMI) is well documented. The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) criteria for metabolic syndrome are three or more of the following: waist circumference ( 80 cm (females), (94 cm (males) OR BMI (30, triglycerides >1.7 mmol/l or on treatment, raised blood pressure (systolic >130 mg Hg or diastolic >85 mm Hg, OR on treatment for hypertension), raised fasting blood glucose (.5.6 mmol/l) OR diagnosed type II diabetes) and reduced HDL cholesterol (< 1.03 mmol/l) OR on treatment.
The IMPACT RCT is a Department of Health funded trial of a health promotion intervention (HPI) delivered by care co-ordinators to people with SMI across South London, Kent and Sussex. The intervention is focussed on improving health by addressing modifiable lifestyle factors such as diet, physical activity, obesity, cigarette smoking, alcohol and substance use.
We investigated the prevalence of metabolic syndrome in a sample of 212 patients for whom we had relevant baseline measures.
Data (weight, BMI, waist circumference, blood pressure, fasting HDL cholesterol, triglycerides and glucose levels) were analysed on 212 patients.
45% of the sample met IDF criteria for metabolic syndrome. Mean BMI was 30.6, glucose 6.4 mmol/L, triglycerides 2.0 mmol/L, HDL 1.2 (mmol/L), waist circumference 105.8 cm, and BP 122/82 mm Hg.
Metabolic syndrome was highly prevalent in this sample, significantly increasing the risk of physical morbidity and potentially lowering life expectancy. There is an unmet need for health promotion interventions in order to lower morbidity and mortality risk in these populations.
Mental health education is not compulsory in the UK therefore adolescents have very varied experiences despite half of people with mental health illnesses reporting having experienced symptoms by 14 years old. University students are ideal for delivering a relaxed, educational intervention aimed at this age group, providing an opportunity to for them to learn necessary tools for recognising signs of poor mental health and tackle associated stigma.
To expand Headucate's membership, including other disciplines within the University of East Anglia (UEA) and provide core training enabling members to deliver a school-based educational intervention
Recruitment of members has been a multifaceted approach utilising social media sites such as Facebook and the Headucate website, and oncampus events and ‘awareness campaigns’ including several successful evening talks and lectures.
Three training sessions, which include ‘Introduction to Mental Health’, ‘Workshop run-through’ and ‘Child Protection’, have been developed for all members wishing to partake in the delivery of workshops.
We have recruited approximately 300 members since summer 2012; 70 fully paid members in 2012/13 academic year and currently 45 paid members for 2013/14.
A total of 18 members are fully trained and ready to deliver workshops within schools and 17 other members have just one training session remaining.
We are looking forward to delivering our first workshops in October and building on a successful first year. We are confident we can provide workshops for approximately 600 children per year.
Why patients with psychosis use cannabis remains debated. The self-medication hypothesis has received some support but other evidence points towards an alleviation of dysphoria model. This study investigated the reasons for cannabis use in first-episode psychosis (FEP) and whether strength in their endorsement changed over time.
FEP inpatients and outpatients at the South London and Maudsley, Oxleas and Sussex NHS Trusts UK, who used cannabis, rated their motives at baseline (n = 69), 3 months (n = 29) and 12 months (n = 36). A random intercept model was used to test the change in strength of endorsement over the 12 months. Paired-sample t-tests assessed the differences in mean scores between the five subscales on the Reasons for Use Scale (enhancement, social motive, coping with unpleasant affect, conformity and acceptance and relief of positive symptoms and side effects), at each time-point.
Time had a significant effect on scores when controlling for reason; average scores on each subscale were higher at baseline than at 3 months and 12 months. At each time-point, patients endorsed ‘enhancement’ followed by ‘coping with unpleasant affect’ and ‘social motive’ more highly for their cannabis use than any other reason. ‘Conformity and acceptance’ followed closely. ‘Relief of positive symptoms and side effects’ was the least endorsed motive.
Patients endorsed their reasons for use at 3 months and 12 months less strongly than at baseline. Little support for the self-medication or alleviation of dysphoria models was found. Rather, patients rated ‘enhancement’ most highly for their cannabis use.
The symptoms of many mental illnesses often begin during high school. Interventions to improve mental health awareness amongst adolescents may lead to improved outcomes. in the UK unfortunately many schools do not fulfil this need and mental health education is not a compulsory part of the curriculum.
To develop and measure the effectiveness of and educational intervention designed to raise awareness and empower adolescents to recognise signs of poor mental health and access services appropriately.
Evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention through baseline and follow up surveys.
Students at Norwich Medical School collaborated with teachers, psychiatrists and general practitioners to design an educational intervention that aims to tackle stigma and raise awareness of mental health conditions among 13-14 year olds in the hope that they can access services when needed, support those around them and look after their mental health. To evaluate effectiveness of the intervention, a knowledge, attitudes and practices survey that utilises a social distance scale that has been adapted for this age group and will be used to gather baseline and follow up data after six months.
We have developed a one-hour educational intervention delivered by medical students, that uses a variety of teaching techniques to raise awareness of mental health issues. We will start implementation in January 2013 so will have baseline effectiveness results shortly after.
Headucate has the potential to fill an important gap in effectively raising awareness of mental health issues in schools.
The Department of Health in the UK wants the National Health Service to make £20 Billion worth of efficiency savings by 2015 to reinvest.
In the UK the General Hospitals use paper records which are then scanned to create electronic records while Psychiatric Hospitals require that information to be typed on to their electronic records and these electronic records are not available to each other.
Therefore liaison psychiatry assessments require a written entry to be made in the Medical notes and a second entry typed on to the psychiatric electronic patient record which requires a full psychiatric history.
This duplication in typing information was consuming a considerable amount of this Teams time and resources which could have instead been spent with patients.
To identify how much time is spent by Staff typing information on to the psychiatric electronic patient records.
We electronically checked for the preceding three months the amount of time spent typing information on to the electronic records after every liaison psychiatry assessment.
We were then able to obtain the average for every week.
On average about 36 to 40 hours were spent every week typing information on to the electronic records.
Liaison Psychiatry should dispense with the requirement for information to be duplicated on to the electronic patient records and should instead scan the written entry made in the Medical notes.
This should lead to a saving of about £50,000, enough to employ an additional member of Staff every week.
In recent years the association between sexual dysfunction (SD) and obesity in the general population has drawn major attention. Although sexual dysfunction is common in psychosis, its relationship with weight gain and obesity remains unclear.
To investigate the association between sexual dysfunction and obesity in a cohort of patients with first episode psychosis.
Sexual function was assessed in a cohort of patients with first episode psychosis using the Sexual Function Questionnaire (SFQ). Anthropometric measures, including weight, BMI, waist, waist–hip ratio were investigated. Additionally, leptin and testosterone were investigated in male patients.
A total of 116 patients (61 males and 55 females) were included. Of these 59% of males and 67.3% of females showed sexual dysfunction (SD) according to the SFQ. In males, higher SFQ scores were significantly correlated with higher BMI (Std. β = 0.36, P = 0.01), higher leptin levels (Std. β = 0.34, P = 0.02), higher waist–hip ratio (Std. β = 0.32, P = 0.04) and lower testosterone levels (Std. β = −0.44, P = 0.002). In contrast, in females, SFQ scores were not associated with any of these factors.
While sexual dysfunction is present in both female and male patients with their first episode of psychosis, only in males is sexual dysfunction associated with increased BMI and waist–hip ratio. The association between SD, BMI, low levels of testosterone and high levels of leptin suggest that policies that lead to healthier diets and more active lifestyles can be beneficial at least, to male patients.
The prevalence of many diseases in pigs displays seasonal distributions. Despite growing concerns about the impacts of climate change, we do not yet have a good understanding of the role that weather factors play in explaining such seasonal patterns. In this study, national and county-level aggregated abattoir inspection data were assessed for England and Wales during 2010–2015. Seasonally-adjusted relationships were characterised between weekly ambient maximum temperature and the prevalence of both respiratory conditions and tail biting detected at slaughter. The prevalence of respiratory conditions showed cyclical annual patterns with peaks in the summer months and troughs in the winter months each year. However, there were no obvious associations with either high or low temperatures. The prevalence of tail biting generally increased as temperatures decreased, but associations were not supported by statistical evidence: across all counties there was a relative risk of 1.028 (95% CI 0.776–1.363) for every 1 °C fall in temperature. Whilst the seasonal patterns observed in this study are similar to those reported in previous studies, the lack of statistical evidence for an explicit association with ambient temperature may possibly be explained by the lack of information on date of disease onset. There is also the possibility that other time-varying factors not investigated here may be driving some of the seasonal patterns.
Fetal growth restriction (FGR) can be defined as the failure of the fetus to meet its genetically predetermined growth potential  and is associated with significant fetal and perinatal morbidity and mortality. In addition, there is evidence to suggest a longer-term impact of FGR on childhood neurodevelopmental outcomes  and cardiovascular and metabolic diseases that manifest in adulthood . However, predicting FGR is not straightforward and methods for screening and diagnosis are imprecise. In the UK and USA, ultrasound scans in the second half of pregnancy are not performed routinely but targeted at women considered to be at risk for FGR, where high risk is identified by maternal characteristics (including anthropometry and pre-existing disease), the development of complications, or clinical suspicion based on being ‘small for dates’ on physical examination. For practical purposes, FGR may be suspected if biometric measurements are below a given threshold of the distribution in the population, typically <10th, 5th or 3rd centile for gestational age, or if there is a reduction in growth velocity (‘crossing centiles’) from previous scans . The difficulty with using biometry alone is that it does not differentiate between the growth-restricted fetus affected by placental insufficiency, and the healthy, constitutionally small fetus. Therefore, additional measures may be employed to diagnose placental dysfunction, such as Doppler studies of the fetal and uteroplacental circulation, and analysis of maternal serum biomarkers. At present, the only treatment available for FGR is to expedite delivery, but at preterm gestations this can also can cause harm. However, new genomics-based research could help us better understand the etiology of growth restriction and identify more accurate diagnostic biomarkers or potential therapeutic targets. This chapter will focus on current practice in screening for and intervention in FGR and will also consider new developments and the future of the field.
Rules of thumb (RoTs) are proposed as a means of promoting higher levels of Defined Contribution (DC) pension saving and to help stimulate debate about the high and uncertain cost of pension provision, leading to the development of solutions. The Lifetime Pension Contribution (LPC) tells young people what pension contribution is required over a full working life to achieve a decent retirement income, calculated as 23% of average UK earnings. Another RoT is that each 1% of earnings provides a pension of 1.5% of earnings. Other RoTs show how costs vary by retirement age and if the saverʼs retirement planning is on track. The current high cost of pensions is partly due to low interest rates and the inefficiencies of the DC market, with inadequate bulk purchasing power and risk sharing. RoTs might help encourage higher employer contributions, either through automatic enrolment or on a voluntary basis.
Effective management of uncertainty can lead to better, more informed decisions. However, many decision makers and their advisers do not always face up to uncertainty, in part because there is little constructive guidance or tools available to help. This paper outlines six Uncertainty Principles to manage uncertainty.
Face up to uncertainty
Deconstruct the problem
Don’t be fooled (un/intentional biases)
Models can be helpful, but also dangerous
Think about adaptability and resilience
Bring people with you
These were arrived at following extensive discussions and literature reviews over a 5-year period. While this is an important topic for actuaries, the intended audience is any decision maker or advisor in any sector (public or private).