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We studied the spread of influenza in the community between 1993 and 2009 using primary-care surveillance data to investigate if the onset of influenza was age-related. Virus detections [A(H3N2), B, A(H1N1)] and clinical incidence of influenza-like illness (ILI) in 12·3 million person-years in the long-running Royal College of General Practitioners-linked clinical-virological surveillance programme in England & Wales were examined. The number of days between symptom onset and the all-age peak ILI incidence were compared by age group for each influenza type/subtype. We found that virus detection and ILI incidence increase, peak and decrease were in unison. The mean interval between symptom onset to peak ILI incidence in virus detections (all ages) was: A(H3N2) 20·5 [95% confidence interval (CI) 19·7–21·6] days; B, 18·8 (95% CI 15·8·0–21·7) days; and A(H1N1) 17·0 (95% CI 15·6–18·4) days. Differences by age group were examined using the Kruskal–Wallis test. For A(H3N2) and A(H1N1) viruses the interval was similar in each age group. For influenza B there were highly significant differences by age group (P = 0·0001). Clinical incidence rates of ILI reported in the 8 weeks preceding the period of influenza virus activity were used to estimate a baseline incidence and threshold value (upper 95% CI of estimate) which was used as a marker of epidemic progress. Differences between the age groups in the week in which the threshold was reached were small and not localized to any age group. In conclusion we found no evidence to suggest that influenza A(H3N2) and A(H1N1) occurs in the community in one age group before another. For influenza B, virus detection was earlier in children aged 5–14 years than in persons aged ⩾25 years.
Influenza is rarely laboratory-confirmed and the outpatient influenza burden is rarely studied due to a lack of suitable data. We used the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) and surveillance data from Public Health England in a linear regression model to assess the number of persons consulting UK general practitioners (GP episodes) for respiratory illness, otitis media and antibiotic prescriptions attributable to influenza during 14 seasons, 1995–2009. In CPRD we ascertained influenza vaccination status in each season and risk status (conditions associated with severe influenza outcomes). Seasonal mean estimates of influenza-attributable GP episodes in the UK were 857 996 for respiratory disease including 68 777 for otitis media, with wide inter-seasonal variability. In an average season, 2·4%/0·5% of children aged <5 years and 1·3%/0·1% of seniors aged ⩾75 years had a GP episode for respiratory illness attributed to influenza A/B. Two-thirds of influenza-attributable GP episodes were estimated to result in prescription of antibiotics. These estimates are substantially greater than those derived from clinically reported influenza-like illness in surveillance programmes. Because health service costs of influenza are largely borne in general practice, these are important findings for cost-benefit assessment of influenza vaccination programmes.
To investigate the extent to which enteric methane (CH4) emissions from growing lambs are explained by simple body weight and diet characteristics, a 2 × 2 Latin square changeover design experiment was carried out using two sheep breeds and two fresh pasture types. Weaned lambs of two contrasting breed types were used: Welsh Mountain (WM, a small, hardy hill breed) and Welsh Mule × Texel (TexX, prime lamb) (n = 8 per breed). The lambs were zero-grazed on material cut from recently reseeded perennial ryegrass and extensively managed permanent pasture. In each experimental period, individual ad libitum dry matter intake (DMI) was determined indoors following an adaptation period of 2 weeks, and CH4 emissions were measured individually in open-circuit respiration chambers over a period of 3 days. Although total daily CH4 emissions were lower for the WM lambs than for the TexX lambs (13·3 v. 15·7 g/day, respectively) when offered fresh forage, the yield of CH4 per unit DMI was similar for the two breed types (16·4 v. 17·7 g CH4/kg DMI). Total output of CH4 per day was higher when lambs were offered ryegrass compared with permanent pasture (16·1 v. 12·9 g/day, respectively), which was probably driven by differences in DMI (986 v. 732 g/day). Methane emissions per unit DMI (16·4 v. 17·7 g CH4/kg DMI) and proportion of gross energy intake excreted as CH4 (0·052 v. 0·056 MJ/MJ) were both higher on the permanent pasture. No forage × breed type interactions were identified. The results indicate that forage type had a greater impact than breed type on CH4 emissions from growing weaned lambs. It can be concluded that when calculating CH4 emissions for inventory purposes, it is more important to know what forages growing lambs are consuming than to know what breeds they are.
General Practitioner consultation rates for influenza-like illness (ILI) are monitored through several geographically distinct schemes in the UK, providing early warning to government and health services of community circulation and intensity of activity each winter. Following on from the 2009 pandemic, there has been a harmonization initiative to allow comparison across the distinct existing surveillance schemes each season. The moving epidemic method (MEM), proposed by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control for standardizing reporting of ILI rates, was piloted in 2011/12 and 2012/13 along with the previously proposed UK method of empirical percentiles. The MEM resulted in thresholds that were lower than traditional thresholds but more appropriate as indicators of the start of influenza virus circulation. The intensity of the influenza season assessed with the MEM was similar to that reported through the percentile approach. The MEM pre-epidemic threshold has now been adopted for reporting by each country of the UK. Further work will continue to assess intensity of activity and apply standardized methods to other influenza-related data sources.
Rapid mental health surveillance during the acute phase of a disaster response can inform the allocation of limited clinical resources and provide essential household-level risk estimates for recovery planning.
To describe the use of the PsySTART Rapid Mental Health Triage and Incident Management System for individual-level clinical triage and traumatic exposure assessment in the aftermath of a large-scale disaster.
We conducted a cross-sectional, comparative review of mental health triage data collected with the PsySTART system from survivors of the September 2009 earthquake-tsunami in American Samoa. Data were obtained from two sources—secondary triage of patients and a standardized community assessment survey—and analyzed descriptively. The main outcome measures were survivor-reported traumatic experiences and exposures—called triage factors—associated with risk for developing severe distress and new mental health disorders following disasters.
The most common triage factors reported by survivors referred for mental health services were “felt extreme panic/fear” (93%) and “felt direct threat to life” (93%). The most common factor reported by persons in tsunami-affected communities was “felt extreme panic or fear” (75%). Proportions of severe triage factors reported by persons living in the community were consistently lower than those reported by patients referred for mental health services.
The combination of evidence-based mental health triage and community assessment gave hospital-based providers, local public health officials, and federal response teams a strategy to match limited clinical resources with survivors at greatest risk. Also, it produced a common operating picture of acute and chronic mental health needs among disaster systems of care operating in American Samoa.(Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2013;7:327-331)
An analysis was undertaken to measure age-specific vaccine effectiveness (VE) of 2010/11 trivalent seasonal influenza vaccine (TIV) and monovalent 2009 pandemic influenza vaccine (PIV) administered in 2009/2010. The test-negative case-control study design was employed based on patients consulting primary care. Overall TIV effectiveness, adjusted for age and month, against confirmed influenza A(H1N1)pdm 2009 infection was 56% (95% CI 42–66); age-specific adjusted VE was 87% (95% CI 45–97) in <5-year-olds and 84% (95% CI 27–97) in 5- to 14-year-olds. Adjusted VE for PIV was only 28% (95% CI −6 to 51) overall and 72% (95% CI 15–91) in <5-year-olds. For confirmed influenza B infection, TIV effectiveness was 57% (95% CI 42–68) and in 5- to 14-year-olds 75% (95% CI 32–91). TIV provided moderate protection against the main circulating strains in 2010/2011, with higher protection in children. PIV administered during the previous season provided residual protection after 1 year, particularly in the <5 years age group.
Statins reduce cardiovascular mortality and related risks associated with pneumonia suggesting potentially beneficial use in influenza pandemics. We investigated the effect of current statin use on acute respiratory infections in primary care. Data from anonymized electronic medical records of persons aged ⩾45 years were examined for statin use, chronic morbidity, respiratory diagnoses, vaccination procedures, and immune suppression. Logistic regression models were used to calculate odds ratios (ORs) for statin users vs. non-users in respiratory infection outcomes. A total of 329 881 person-year observations included 18% statin users and 46% influenza vaccinees. Adjusted ORs for statin users vs. non-users were: influenza-like illness, 1·05 (95% CI 0·92–1·20); acute bronchitis, 1·08 (95% CI 1·01–1·15); pneumonia, 0·91 (95% CI 0·73–1·13); all acute respiratory infections, 1·03 (95% CI 0·98–1·07); and urinary tract infections, 0·91 (95% CI 0·85–0·98). We found no benefit in respiratory infection outcomes attributable to statin use, although uniformly higher ORs in non-vaccinated statin users might suggest synergism between statins and influenza vaccination.
Having been tasked with developing Standards for integrated care pathways for mental health (ICP), successfully publishing in 2007, NHS Quality Improvement Scotland (NHS QIS) now supports NHS Boards in developing and implementing these standards. Support is available via three National ICP Coordinators and local ICP facilitators.
The main objective is for Boards to achieve ICP accreditation, resulting in demonstration of a robust and responsive mental health system through implementation of their local ICPs supporting continuous cycles of quality improvement embedded in a culture that ensures delivery of person-centred care and reflective practice.
A model of and process for accreditation was developed considering: § Developing the project plan§ Reaching consensus on the goal of the accreditation initiative.§ Defining incentives for stakeholders in having ICPs accredited § Reviewing literature on existing accreditation systems in UK and internationally § Developing a range of options§ Carrying out an option appraisal§ Agreeing one preferred option § Obtaining NHS QIS and Scottish Government approval for preferred option§ Further development of support mechanisms and implementation of a longer term accreditation framework
A phased and incremental accreditation system was developed.
The first phase - “foundation level” - focuses on ensuring that appropriate infrastructures are in place to support full ICP development and implementation in NHS Board.
All 14 NHS Boards in Scotland achieved foundation level accreditation.
Reflection on this first phase are helping to inform NHS QIS on how best to structure future levels of accreditation and ongoing support over the next few years.
The effectiveness of influenza vaccination in preventing serious illness and death was determined in an elderly population during the influenza epidemic of 1989–90. A retrospective cohort study was carried out using computerized general practitioner records on nearly 10000 patients aged 55 years and over. After adjustment for potential confounding factors, recent immunization was found to have a protective effect of 75% (95% confidence intervals: 21–92%) against death. Protection did not appear to vary with either age or the presence of underlying chronic disease. As the complications of influenza are most common in those with underlying chronic disease, the study findings are consistent with the recommended policy for the use of influenza vaccine in the UK. Further work is necessary to determine the cost-effectiveness of extending immunization to other groups.
The incidence and causes of infectious intestinal disease (IID) in children aged <5 years presenting to general practitioners (GPs) were estimated. During a 12-month period, soiled nappies were collected from children presenting with symptoms suggestive of IID in a network of 65 GPs located across England. Molecular methods were used to detect a range of enteric pathogens including viruses, bacteria and parasites. Genotyping was performed on rotavirus and norovirus isolates. A total of 583 nappies were collected from 554 children; a pathogen was detected in 361 (62%) specimens. In the 43 practices 1584 new episodes of IID were recorded in a population averaging 19774; the specimen capture rate was 28%. IID incidence peaked during March and April. Norovirus (24·5%), rotavirus (19·0%) and sapovirus (12·7%) were most commonly detected, and mixed infections were detected in 11·7% of cases. Strain characterization revealed G1P (65·8%), G4P (8·1%) and G9P (8·1%) as the most common rotavirus genotypes, similar to the UK national distribution. GII-3 (42·9%) and GII-4 (39·7%) were the most common norovirus genotypes; this was significantly different (P<0·005) to the national distribution.
Patients with SMI receive long term intervention with psychotropic agents often associated with weight gain. Weight and lifestyle management programmes may prevent, reduce or reverse weight gain, however most data is short-term. Categorical data is not often reported
A group programme (Solutions for Wellness) designed to address weight and other cardiovascular risk factors commenced 2002 in Ireland. Each group provided open-ended access to referred SMI patients. Weekly group sessions consisted weighing, discussion and an 8-week rotational cycle of educational topics on aspects of weight, dietary choices and lifestyle changes. Groups were led by trained healthcare professionals.
Data is reported up to 24 months from 55 patients (27 male; 28 female) from 6 centres. Mean age 49.4 years (range 21-74). Schizophrenia 63%, Affective disorders 26%, other 11%. Patients completing 1 year - 55% and 2 years 22%. Baseline mean weight 98.6 kg (SD 19.2) decreased to final visit weight 96.9kg (SD 18.4).Paired t –test, p = 0.0030; CI Mean 2.53 (0.9-4.159). Weight increased in 11/55, maintained 7/55 and decreased 37/55.
Weight gain in SMI patients is not inevitable and was found in only 20% of patients attending weight clinics in Ireland. Patients may benefit if similar interventions were widely available.
The influenza virus continues to pose a significant threat to public health throughout the world. Current avian influenza outbreaks in humans have heightened the need for improved surveillance and planning. Despite recent advances in the development of vaccines and antiviral drugs, seasonal epidemics of influenza continue to contribute significantly to general practitioner workloads, emergency hospital admissions, and deaths. In this paper we review data produced by the Royal College of General Practitioners Weekly Returns Service, a sentinel general practice surveillance network that has been in operation for over 40 years in England and Wales. We show a gradually decreasing trend in the incidence of respiratory illness associated with influenza virus infection (influenza-like illness; ILI) over the 40 years and speculate that there are limits to how far an existing virus can drift and yet produce substantial new epidemics. The burden of disease caused by influenza presented to general practitioners varies considerably by age in each winter. In the pandemic winter of 1969/70 persons of working age were most severely affected; in the serious influenza epidemic of 1989/90 children were particularly affected; in the millennium winter (in which the NHS was severely stretched) ILI was almost confined to adults, especially the elderly. Serious confounders from infections due to respiratory syncytial virus are discussed, especially in relation to assessing influenza vaccine effectiveness. Increasing pressure on hospitals during epidemic periods are shown and are attributed to changing patterns of health-care delivery.
We compared the burden of illness due to a spectrum of respiratory diagnostic categories among persons presenting in a sentinel general practice network in England and Wales during periods of influenza and of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) activity. During all periods of viral activity, incidence rates of influenza-like illness, bronchitis and common cold were elevated compared to those in baseline periods. Excess rates per 100 000 of acute bronchitis were greater in children aged <1 year (median difference 2702, 95% CI 929–4867) and in children aged 1–4 years (994, 95% CI 338–1747) during RSV active periods rather than influenza; estimates for the two viruses were similar in other age groups. Excess rates of influenza-like illness in all age groups were clearly associated with influenza virus activity. For common cold the estimates of median excess rates were significantly higher in RSV active periods for the age groups <1 year (3728, 95% CI 632–5867) and 5–14 years (339, 95% CI 59–768); estimates were similar in other age groups for the two viruses. The clinical burden of disease associated with RSV is as great if not greater than influenza in patients of all ages presenting to general practitioners.
We aimed to describe the incidence of new episodes of molluscum contagiosum, scabies and lichen planus presenting to general practitioners in England and Wales. We examined data collected in a sentinel practice network (the Weekly Returns Service of the Royal College of General Practitioners) in which about half a million persons were observed each year over the period 1994–2003. The incidence of molluscum contagiosum in males was 243/100000 person-years and in females 231; of scabies, males 351, females 437; of lichen planus, males 32, females 37. Incidence varied by year and age. Ninety per cent of molluscum contagiosum episodes were reported in children aged 0–14 years, where incidence in 2000 (midpoint of a 6-year period of stable incidence) was 1265/100000 (95% CI 1240–1290). Scabies affected all ages and annual incidence ranged between 233 (95% CI 220–246) in 2003 and 470 (95% CI 452–488) in 2000. Lichen planus occurred chiefly in persons aged over 45 years: incidence (all ages) ranged between 27 (95% CI 23–31) in 2003 and 43 (95% CI 37–49) in 1998. The relative risk of female to male incidence (all ages) of molluscum contagiosum was 0·95 (95% CI 0·91–0·99); of scabies 1·25 (95% CI 1·21–1·28); and of lichen planus 1·19 (95% CI 1·08–1·13).