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This SHEA white paper identifies knowledge gaps and challenges in healthcare epidemiology research related to COVID-19 with a focus on core principles of healthcare epidemiology. These gaps, revealed during the worst phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, are described in 10 sections: epidemiology, outbreak investigation, surveillance, isolation precaution practices, personal protective equipment (PPE), environmental contamination and disinfection, drug and supply shortages, antimicrobial stewardship, healthcare personnel (HCP) occupational safety, and return to work policies. Each section highlights three critical healthcare epidemiology research questions with detailed description provided in supplemental materials. This research agenda calls for translational studies from laboratory-based basic science research to well-designed, large-scale studies and health outcomes research. Research gaps and challenges related to nursing homes and social disparities are included. Collaborations across various disciplines, expertise and across diverse geographic locations will be critical.
Radiocarbon (14C) ages cannot provide absolutely dated chronologies for archaeological or paleoenvironmental studies directly but must be converted to calendar age equivalents using a calibration curve compensating for fluctuations in atmospheric 14C concentration. Although calibration curves are constructed from independently dated archives, they invariably require revision as new data become available and our understanding of the Earth system improves. In this volume the international 14C calibration curves for both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, as well as for the ocean surface layer, have been updated to include a wealth of new data and extended to 55,000 cal BP. Based on tree rings, IntCal20 now extends as a fully atmospheric record to ca. 13,900 cal BP. For the older part of the timescale, IntCal20 comprises statistically integrated evidence from floating tree-ring chronologies, lacustrine and marine sediments, speleothems, and corals. We utilized improved evaluation of the timescales and location variable 14C offsets from the atmosphere (reservoir age, dead carbon fraction) for each dataset. New statistical methods have refined the structure of the calibration curves while maintaining a robust treatment of uncertainties in the 14C ages, the calendar ages and other corrections. The inclusion of modeled marine reservoir ages derived from a three-dimensional ocean circulation model has allowed us to apply more appropriate reservoir corrections to the marine 14C data rather than the previous use of constant regional offsets from the atmosphere. Here we provide an overview of the new and revised datasets and the associated methods used for the construction of the IntCal20 curve and explore potential regional offsets for tree-ring data. We discuss the main differences with respect to the previous calibration curve, IntCal13, and some of the implications for archaeology and geosciences ranging from the recent past to the time of the extinction of the Neanderthals.
Recent studies indicate that early postnatal period is a critical window for gut microbiota manipulation to optimise the immunity and body growth. This study investigated the effects of maternal faecal microbiota orally administered to neonatal piglets after birth on growth performance, selected microbial populations, intestinal permeability and the development of intestinal mucosal immune system. In total, 12 litters of crossbred newborn piglets were selected in this study. Litter size was standardised to 10 piglets. On day 1, 10 piglets in each litter were randomly allotted to the faecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) and control groups. Piglets in the FMT group were orally administrated with 2ml faecal suspension of their nursing sow per day from the age of 1 to 3 days; piglets in the control group were treated with the same dose of a placebo (0.1M potassium phosphate buffer containing 10% glycerol (vol/vol)) inoculant. The experiment lasted 21 days. On days 7, 14 and 21, plasma and faecal samples were collected for the analysis of growth-related hormones and cytokines in plasma and lipocalin-2, secretory immunoglobulin A (sIgA), selected microbiota and short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) in faeces. Faecal microbiota transplantation increased the average daily gain of piglets during week 3 and the whole experiment period. Compared with the control group, the FMT group had increased concentrations of plasma growth hormone and IGF-1 on days 14 and 21. Faecal microbiota transplantation also reduced the incidence of diarrhoea during weeks 1 and 3 and plasma concentrations of zonulin, endotoxin and diamine oxidase activities in piglets on days 7 and 14. The populations of Lactobacillus spp. and Faecalibacterium prausnitzii and the concentrations of faecal and plasma acetate, butyrate and total SCFAs in FMT group were higher than those in the control group on day 21. Moreover, the FMT piglets have higher concentrations of plasma transforming growth factor-β and immunoglobulin G, and faecal sIgA than the control piglets on day 21. These findings indicate that early intervention with maternal faecal microbiota improves growth performance, decreases intestinal permeability, stimulates sIgA secretion, and modulates gut microbiota composition and metabolism in suckling piglets.
Introduction: Survival from cardiac arrest has been linked to the quality of resuscitation care. Unfortunately, healthcare providers frequently underperform in these critical scenarios, with a well-documented deterioration in skills weeks to months following advanced life support courses. Improving initial training and preventing decay in knowledge and skills are a priority in resuscitation education. The spacing effect has repeatedly been shown to have an impact on learning and retention. Despite its potential advantages, the spacing effect has seldom been applied to organized education training or complex motor skill learning where it has the potential to make a significant impact. The purpose of this study was to determine if a resuscitation course taught in a spaced format compared to the usual massed instruction results in improved retention of procedural skills. Methods: EMS providers (Paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT)) were block randomized to receive a Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) course in either a spaced format (four 210-minute weekly sessions) or a massed format (two sequential 7-hour days). Blinded observers used expert-developed 4-point global rating scales to assess video recordings of each learner performing various resuscitation skills before, after and 3-months following course completion. Primary outcomes were performance on infant bag-valve-mask ventilation (BVMV), intraosseous (IO) insertion, infant intubation, infant and adult chest compressions. Results: Forty-eight of 50 participants completed the study protocol (26 spaced and 22 massed). There was no significant difference between the two groups on testing before and immediately after the course. 3-months following course completion participants in the spaced cohort scored higher overall for BVMV (2.2 ± 0.13 versus 1.8 ± 0.14, p=0.012) without statistically significant difference in scores for IO insertion (3.0 ± 0.13 versus 2.7± 0.13, p= 0.052), intubation (2.7± 0.13 versus 2.5 ± 0.14, p=0.249), infant compressions (2.5± 0.28 versus 2.5± 0.31, p=0.831) and adult compressions (2.3± 0.24 versus 2.2± 0.26, p=0.728) Conclusion: Procedural skills taught in a spaced format result in at least as good learning as the traditional massed format; more complex skills taught in a spaced format may result in better long term retention when compared to traditional massed training as there was a clear difference in BVMV and trend toward a difference in IO insertion.
Introduction: The purpose of this study is to determine if the introduction of a pre-arrival and pre-departure Trauma Checklist as a cognitive aid, coupled with an educational session, will improve clinical performance in a simulated environment. The Trauma Checklist was developed in response to a quality assurance review of high-acuity trauma activations. It focuses on pre-arrival preparation and a pre-departure review prior to patient transfer to diagnostic imaging or the operating room. We conducted a pilot, randomized control trial assessing the impact of the Trauma Checklist on time to critical interventions on a simulated pediatric patient by multidisciplinary teams. Methods: Emergency department teams composed of 2 physicians, 2 nurses and 2 confederate actors were enrolled in our study. In the intervention arm, participants watched a 10-minute educational video modelling the use of the trauma checklist prior to their simulation scenario and were provided a copy of the checklist. Teams participated in a standardized simulation scenario caring for a severely injured adolescent patient with hemorrhagic shock, respiratory failure and increased intracranial pressure. Our primary outcome of interest was time measurement to initiation of key clinical interventions, including intubation, first blood product administration, massive transfusion protocol activation, initiation of hyperosmolar therapy and others. Secondary outcome measures included a Trauma Task Performance score and checklist completion scores. Results: We enrolled 14 multidisciplinary teams (n=56 participants) into our study. There was a statistically significant decrease in median time to initiation of hyperosmolar therapy by teams in the intervention arm compared to the control arm (581 seconds, [509-680] vs. 884 seconds, [588-1144], p=0.03). Time to initiation of other clinical interventions was not statistically significant. There was a trend to higher Trauma Task Performance scores in the intervention group however this did not reach statistical significant (p=0.09). Pre-arrival and pre-departure checklist scores were higher in the intervention group (9.0 [9.0-10.0] vs. 7.0 [6.0-8.0], p=0.17 and 12.0 [11.5-12.0] vs. 7.5 [6.0-8.5], p=0.01). Conclusion: Teams using the Trauma Checklist did not have decreased time to initiation of key clinical interventions except in initiating hyperosmolar therapy. Teams in the intervention arm had statistically significantly higher pre-arrival and pre-departure scores, with a trend to higher Trauma Task Performance scores. Our study was a pilot and recruitment did not achieve the anticipated sample size, thus underpowered. The impact of this checklist should be studied outside tertiary trauma centres, particularly in trainees and community emergency providers, to assess for benefit and further generalizability.
Animal proteins are naturally 15N enriched relative to the diet and the extent of this difference (Δ15Nanimal-diet or N isotopic fractionation) has been correlated to N use efficiency (NUE; N gain or milk N yield/N intake) in some recent ruminant studies. The present study used meta-analysis to investigate whether Δ15Nanimal-diet can be used as a predictor of NUE across a range of dietary conditions, particularly at the level of between-animal variation. An additional objective was to identify variables related to N partitioning explaining the link between NUE and Δ15Nanimal-diet. Individual values from eight publications reporting both NUE and Δ15Nanimal-diet for domestic ruminants were used to create a database comprising 11 experimental studies, 41 treatments and individual animal values for NUE (n=226) and Δ15Nanimal-diet (n=291). Data were analyzed by mixed-effect regression analysis taking into account experimental factors as random effects on both the intercept and slope of the model. Diets were characterized according to the INRA feeding system in terms of N utilization at the rumen, digestive and metabolic levels. These variables were used in a partial least squares regression analysis to predict separately NUE and Δ15Nanimal-diet variation, with the objective of identifying common variables linking NUE and Δ15Nanimal-diet. For individuals reared under similar conditions (within-study) and at the same time (within-period), the variance of NUE and Δ15Nanimal-diet not explained by dietary treatments (i.e. between-animal variation plus experimental error) was 35% and 55%, respectively. Mixed-effect regression analysis conducted with treatment means showed that Δ15Nanimal-diet was significantly and negatively correlated to NUE variation across diets (NUE=0.415 −0.055×Δ15Nanimal-diet). When using individual values and taking into account the random effects of study, period and diet, the relationship was also significant (NUE=0.358 −0.035×Δ15Nanimal-diet). However, there may be a biased prediction for animals close to zero, or in negative, N balance. When using a novel statistical approach, attempting to regress between-animal variation in NUE on between-animal variation in Δ15Nanimal-diet (without the influence of experimental factors), the negative relationship was still significant, highlighting the ability of Δ15Nanimal-diet to capture individual variability. Among the studied variables related to N utilization, those concerning N efficiency use at the metabolic level contributed most to predict both Δ15Nanimal-diet and NUE variation, with rumen fermentation and digestion contributing to a lesser extent. This study confirmed that on average Δ15Nanimal-diet can predict NUE variation across diets and across individuals reared under similar conditions.
This paper investigates the rupture problem of a thin micropolar liquid film under a magnetic field on a horizontal plate, using long-wave perturbation to resolve nonlinear evolution equations with a free film interface. The governing equation is resolved using a finite difference method as part of an initial value problem for spatial periodic boundary conditions. The effect of a micropolar liquid under a magnetic field on the nonlinear rupture mechanism is studied in terms of the micropolar parameter, R, the Hartmann constant, m and the initial disturbance amplitude, H0. Modeling results indicate that the R, m and H0 parameters strongly affect the film flow. Enhancing the micropolar and magnetic effects is found to delay the rupture time. In addition, the results show that the film rupture time increases as the values of initial disturbance magnitude decrease. The micropolar and magnetic parameters indeed play a significant role in the film flow on a horizontal plate. Moreover, the optimum conditions can be found to alter stability of the film flow by controlling the applied magnetic field.
Overwhelming post-splenectomy infection (OPSI) is a serious complication of asplenia and is associated with encapsulated organisms, most commonly Streptococcus pneumoniae, but also Haemophilus influenzae and Neisseria meningitidis. We aimed to estimate the risk of infection in this patient group. We reviewed data collected by the Victorian Spleen Registry in Australia. On registration, all patients are asked about significant infections requiring admission to hospital for intravenous antibiotics; those requiring admission to ICU were defined as OPSI. In the 3274 asplenic patients registered 492 patients reported at least one episode of infection. There were 47 episodes of OPSI requiring intensive care (incidence rate 1·11/1000 patient-years). The risk of OPSI was highest in older patients, and there were no statistically significant differences in incidence by reason for splenectomy except for a higher rate in patients with medical hyposplenia. This study reinforces that post-splenectomy infection is a clinically significant but uncommon complication, and that fulminant infection requiring intensive care is a minority of all infections.
We describe the performance of the Boolardy Engineering Test Array, the prototype for the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder telescope. Boolardy Engineering Test Array is the first aperture synthesis radio telescope to use phased array feed technology, giving it the ability to electronically form up to nine dual-polarisation beams. We report the methods developed for forming and measuring the beams, and the adaptations that have been made to the traditional calibration and imaging procedures in order to allow BETA to function as a multi-beam aperture synthesis telescope. We describe the commissioning of the instrument and present details of Boolardy Engineering Test Array’s performance: sensitivity, beam characteristics, polarimetric properties, and image quality. We summarise the astronomical science that it has produced and draw lessons from operating Boolardy Engineering Test Array that will be relevant to the commissioning and operation of the final Australian Square Kilometre Array Path telescope.
The genetic influences in human brain structure and function and impaired functional connectivities are the hallmarks of the schizophrenic brain. To explore how common genetic variants affect the connectivities in schizophrenia, we applied genome-wide association studies assaying the abnormal neural connectivities in schizophrenia as quantitative traits.
We recruited 161 first-onset and treatment-naive patients with schizophrenia and 150 healthy controls. All the participants underwent scanning with a 3 T-magnetic resonance imaging scanner to acquire structural and functional imaging data and genotyping using the HumanOmniZhongHua-8 BeadChip. The brain-wide association study approach was employed to account for the inherent modular nature of brain connectivities.
We found differences in four abnormal functional connectivities [left rectus to left thalamus (REC.L–THA.L), left rectus to right thalamus (REC.L–THA.R), left superior orbital cortex to left thalamus (ORBsup.L–THA.L) and left superior orbital cortex to right thalamus (ORBsup.L–THA.R)] between the two groups. Univariate single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)-based association revealed that the SNP rs6800381, located nearest to the CHRM3 (cholinergic receptor, muscarinic 3) gene, reached genomic significance (p = 1.768 × 10−8) using REC.L–THA.R as the phenotype. Multivariate gene-based association revealed that the FAM12A (family with sequence similarity 12, member A) gene nearly reached genomic significance (nominal p = 2.22 × 10–6, corrected p = 0.05).
Overall, we identified the first evidence that the CHRM3 gene plays a role in abnormal thalamo-orbital frontal cortex functional connectivity in first-episode treatment-naive patients with schizophrenia. Identification of these genetic variants using neuroimaging genetics provides insights into the causes of variability in human brain development, and may help us determine the mechanisms of dysfunction in schizophrenia.
We determined the prevalence and seasonality of infections by Fasciola of goats and bovine species (cattle and water buffalo) in Hubei and Anhui provinces of China. Faecal samples were collected at 2- to 3-month intervals from 200 goats in Hubei province and from 152 bovine species in Anhui province. All faecal samples were examined for the presence of parasites. We determined the nucleotide sequences of the first and second internal transcribed spacers (ITS-1 and ITS-2) of the nuclear ribosomal DNA (rDNA) of 39 Fasciola worms from Anhui province. The prevalence of Fasciola infection in goats ranged between 3.5 and 37.0%, with mean eggs per gram (EPG) ranging between 29.0 and 166.0. Prevalence and EPG exhibited downward trends over time with significant differences. The prevalence of Fasciola infection in cattle ranged between 13.3 and 46.2% (mean EPG, 36.4–100.0), and that of water buffalo ranged between 10.3 and 35.4% (mean EPG, 25.0–89.6), with a higher prevalence of infection and EPG from June to October compared with December to March. Analysis of ITS-1 and ITS-2 sequences revealed that F. hepatica and F. gigantica were present in all bovine species of Anhui province and that F. gigantica mainly infected water buffalo. This is the first demonstration of Fasciola infection in Hubei province and detection of F. hepatica and F. gigantica in Anhui province. The present study of Hubei province shows that mass treatment of livestock with closantel sodium injections in April and August/September controlled Fasciola infection effectively.
A tuberculosis (TB) case was reported May 2008 in Kelowna, British Columbia, leading to a multi-year outbreak in homeless persons. The epidemiological characteristics and social networks of cases are described. Outbreak-related cases were identified from epidemiological information in medical records and from genotyping of TB isolates. Social network information from case interviews were used to identify potential locations of TB transmission, where symptom screening and tuberculin skin testing was conducted. Fifty-two cases that were predominantly male (47/52), Canadian-born (44/50), and were homeless or associated with homeless individuals (42/52) were reported from May 2008 to May 2014. Many isolates (40/49) had partial resistance to isoniazid. Transmission primarily occurred at two homeless shelters, with potential further transmission at sites visited by the general population. TB outbreaks in homeless populations can occur in small, low-incidence cities. Social network information helped prioritize sites for TB screening, thereby improving detection of persons with TB disease or latent infection for treatment.
Co-infections of cystic echinococcosis (CE) and HIV/AIDS is rare. We report four CE cases that were HIV positive. Three out of the four patients underwent a surgical operation to remove the hydatid cysts in their livers. The operation confirmed that in two of the cases their cysts had ruptured. These patients were given 3 months of albendazole after the operation. Follow-up showed they were remarkably improved in term of their health, although they were still HIV antibody positive 6 months after surgical treatment. Interestingly, the treatment remarkably increased their CD4+ cell population. We showed that surgery is suitable for treating hepatic cystic echinococcosis with HIV/AIDS co-infection.
This paper describes the system architecture of a newly constructed radio telescope – the Boolardy engineering test array, which is a prototype of the Australian square kilometre array pathfinder telescope. Phased array feed technology is used to form multiple simultaneous beams per antenna, providing astronomers with unprecedented survey speed. The test array described here is a six-antenna interferometer, fitted with prototype signal processing hardware capable of forming at least nine dual-polarisation beams simultaneously, allowing several square degrees to be imaged in a single pointed observation. The main purpose of the test array is to develop beamforming and wide-field calibration methods for use with the full telescope, but it will also be capable of limited early science demonstrations.