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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.
Optical tracking systems typically trade off between astrometric precision and field of view. In this work, we showcase a networked approach to optical tracking using very wide field-of-view imagers that have relatively low astrometric precision on the scheduled OSIRIS-REx slingshot manoeuvre around Earth on 22 Sep 2017. As part of a trajectory designed to get OSIRIS-REx to NEO 101955 Bennu, this flyby event was viewed from 13 remote sensors spread across Australia and New Zealand to promote triangulatable observations. Each observatory in this portable network was constructed to be as lightweight and portable as possible, with hardware based off the successful design of the Desert Fireball Network. Over a 4-h collection window, we gathered 15 439 images of the night sky in the predicted direction of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. Using a specially developed streak detection and orbit determination data pipeline, we detected 2 090 line-of-sight observations. Our fitted orbit was determined to be within about 10 km of orbital telemetry along the observed 109 262 km length of OSIRIS-REx trajectory, and thus demonstrating the impressive capability of a networked approach to Space Surveillance and Tracking.
The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) is an open access telescope dedicated to studying the low-frequency (80–300 MHz) southern sky. Since beginning operations in mid-2013, the MWA has opened a new observational window in the southern hemisphere enabling many science areas. The driving science objectives of the original design were to observe 21 cm radiation from the Epoch of Reionisation (EoR), explore the radio time domain, perform Galactic and extragalactic surveys, and monitor solar, heliospheric, and ionospheric phenomena. All together
programs recorded 20 000 h producing 146 papers to date. In 2016, the telescope underwent a major upgrade resulting in alternating compact and extended configurations. Other upgrades, including digital back-ends and a rapid-response triggering system, have been developed since the original array was commissioned. In this paper, we review the major results from the prior operation of the MWA and then discuss the new science paths enabled by the improved capabilities. We group these science opportunities by the four original science themes but also include ideas for directions outside these categories.
The spread of the Zika virus (ZIKV) in the Americas led to large outbreaks across the region and most of the Southern hemisphere. Of greatest concern were complications following acute infection during pregnancy. At the beginning of the outbreak, the risk to unborn babies and their clinical presentation was unclear. This report describes the methods and results of the UK surveillance response to assess the risk of ZIKV to children born to returning travellers. Established surveillance systems operating within the UK – the paediatric and obstetric surveillance units for rare diseases, and national laboratory monitoring – enabled rapid assessment of this emerging public health threat. A combined total of 11 women experiencing adverse pregnancy outcomes after possible ZIKV exposure were reported by the three surveillance systems; five miscarriages, two intrauterine deaths and four children with clinical presentations potentially associated with ZIKV infection. Sixteen women were diagnosed with ZIKV during pregnancy in the UK. Amongst the offspring of these women, there was unequivocal laboratory evidence of infection in only one child. In the UK, the number and risk of congenital ZIKV infection for travellers returning from ZIKV-affected countries is very small.
Refugees are confronted with the task of adapting to the long-term erosion of psychosocial systems and institutions that in stable societies support psychological well-being and mental health. We provide an overview of the theoretical principles and practical steps taken to develop a novel psychotherapeutic approach, Integrative Adapt Therapy (IAT), which aims to assist refugees to adapt to these changes. This paper offers the background informing ongoing trials of IAT amongst refugees from Myanmar.
A systematic process was followed in formulating the therapy and devising a treatment manual consistent with the principles of the Adaptation and Development After Persecution and Trauma (ADAPT) model. The process of development and refinement was based on qualitative research amongst 70 refugees (ten from West Papua and 60 Rohingya from Myanmar). The therapeutic process was then piloted by trained interventionists amongst a purposively selected sample of 20 Rohingya refugees in Malaysia.
The final formulation of IAT represented an integration of the principles of the ADAPT model and evidence-based techniques of modern therapies in the field, including a transdiagnostic approach and the selective use of cognitive behavioural treatment elements such as problem-solving and emotional regulation techniques. The steps outlined in refining the manual are outlined in relation to work amongst West Papuan refugees, and the process of cultural and contextual modifications described during early piloting with Rohingya refugees in Malaysia.
IAT integrates universal principles of the ADAPT model with the particularities of the culture, history of conflict and living context of each refugee community; this synthesis of knowledge forms the basis for participants gaining insights into their personal patterns of psychosocial adaptation to the refugee experience. Participants then apply evidence-based techniques to improve their capacity to adapt to the serial psychosocial changes they have encountered in their lives as refugees. The overarching goal of IAT is to provide refugees with a coherent framework that assists in making sense of their experiences and their emotional and interpersonal reactions to the challenges they confront within the family and community context. As such, the principles of a general model (ADAPT) are used as a springboard for making concrete, manageable and meaningful life changes at the individual level, a potentially novel approach for psychosocial interventions in the field.
We used a survey to characterize contemporary infection prevention and antibiotic stewardship program practices across 64 healthcare facilities, and we compared these findings to those of a similar 2013 survey. Notable findings include decreased frequency of active surveillance for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, frequent active surveillance for carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, and increased support for antibiotic stewardship programs.
Essential tremor (ET) is associated with psychological difficulties, including anxiety and depression. Demoralization (feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, inability to cope), another manifestation of psychological distress, has yet to be investigated in ET. Our objectives are to (1) estimate the prevalence of demoralization in ET, (2) assess its clinical correlates, and (3) determine whether demoralization correlates with tremor severity.
We administered the Kissane Demoralization Scale (KDS-II) and several psychosocial evaluations (ie, scales assessing subjective incompetence, resilience, and depression [eg, Geriatric Depression Scale]) to 60 ET subjects. Tremor was assessed with a disability score and total tremor score. KDS-II >8 indicated demoralization.
Among 60 ET subjects (mean age = 70.2 ± 6.8 years), the prevalence of demoralization was 13.3%, 95% confidence interval = 6.9–24.2%. Although there was overlap between demoralization and depression (10% of the sample meeting criteria for both), 54% of depressed subjects were not demoralized, and 25% of demoralized subjects were not depressed. Demoralization correlated with psychological factors, but demoralized subjects did not have significantly higher total tremor scores, tremor disability scores, or years with tremor.
Demoralization has a prevalence of 13.3% in ET, similar to that in other chronic or terminal illnesses (eg, cancer 13–18%, Parkinson’s disease 18.1%, coronary heart disease 20%). Demoralization was not a function of increased tremor severity, suggesting that it is a separable construct, which could dictate how a patient copes with his/her disease. These data further our understanding of the psychological and psychosocial correlates of ET.
To ascertain opinions regarding etiology and preventability of hospital-onset bacteremia and fungemia (HOB) and perspectives on HOB as a potential outcome measure reflecting quality of infection prevention and hospital care.
Hospital epidemiologists and infection preventionist members of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) Research Network.
A web-based, multiple-choice survey was administered via the SHEA Research Network to 133 hospitals.
A total of 89 surveys were completed (67% response rate). Overall, 60% of respondents defined HOB as a positive blood culture on or after hospital day 3. Central line-associated bloodstream infections and intra-abdominal infections were perceived as the most frequent etiologies. Moreover, 61% thought that most HOB events are preventable, and 54% viewed HOB as a measure reflecting a hospital’s quality of care. Also, 29% of respondents’ hospitals already collect HOB data for internal purposes. Given a choice to publicly report central-line–associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) and/or HOB, 57% favored reporting either HOB alone (22%) or in addition to CLABSI (35%) and 34% favored CLABSI alone.
Among the majority of SHEA Research Network respondents, HOB is perceived as preventable, reflective of quality of care, and potentially acceptable as a publicly reported quality metric. Further studies on HOB are needed, including validation as a quality measure, assessment of risk adjustment, and formation of evidence-based bundles and toolkits to facilitate measurement and improvement of HOB rates.
The merits of solar coronal at metric-wavelength (MW) radio have long been recognised (e.g. Pick and Vilmer, 2008). High-fidelity solar radio imaging at these frequencies has however remained challenging. On the one hand, dealing with the small spectral and temporal scales of variation in solar radio emission requires a data product capable of tracking the emission simultaneously across time, frequency and morphology. The Fourier imaging nature of interferometry, on the other hand, severely limits the instrumental ability to gather sufficient information to do this with the required fidelity and resolution. Benefiting from the enormous advances in technology the new generation of instruments, like the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA; Tingay et al. (2013), Bowman et al. (2013)), represent a quantum leap in our ability to gather data suitable for radio solar physics.
At low radio frequencies the solar corona is very dynamic in both spectral and temporal domains. To capture the fine details of this complex dynamics, imaging studies at high temporal and spectral resolution are necessary. The advent of the new instruments like the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA; Tingay et al. 2013, Bowman et al. 2013), is now making this possible.
The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), located in Western Australia, is one of the low-frequency precursors of the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project. In addition to pursuing its own ambitious science programme, it is also a testbed for wide range of future SKA activities ranging from hardware, software to data analysis. The key science programmes for the MWA and SKA require very high dynamic ranges, which challenges calibration and imaging systems. Correct calibration of the instrument and accurate measurements of source flux densities and polarisations require precise characterisation of the telescope’s primary beam. Recent results from the MWA GaLactic Extragalactic All-sky Murchison Widefield Array (GLEAM) survey show that the previously implemented Average Embedded Element (AEE) model still leaves residual polarisations errors of up to 10–20% in Stokes Q. We present a new simulation-based Full Embedded Element (FEE) model which is the most rigorous realisation yet of the MWA’s primary beam model. It enables efficient calculation of the MWA beam response in arbitrary directions without necessity of spatial interpolation. In the new model, every dipole in the MWA tile (4 × 4 bow-tie dipoles) is simulated separately, taking into account all mutual coupling, ground screen, and soil effects, and therefore accounts for the different properties of the individual dipoles within a tile. We have applied the FEE beam model to GLEAM observations at 200–231 MHz and used false Stokes parameter leakage as a metric to compare the models. We have determined that the FEE model reduced the magnitude and declination-dependent behaviour of false polarisation in Stokes Q and V while retaining low levels of false polarisation in Stokes U.
Escherichia coli O157 are zoonotic bacteria for which cattle are an important reservoir. Prevalence estimates for E. coli O157 in British cattle for human consumption are over 10 years old. A new baseline is needed to inform current human health risk. The British E. coli O157 in Cattle Study (BECS) ran between September 2014 and November 2015 on 270 farms across Scotland and England & Wales. This is the first study to be conducted contemporaneously across Great Britain, thus enabling comparison between Scotland and England & Wales. Herd-level prevalence estimates for E. coli O157 did not differ significantly for Scotland (0·236, 95% CI 0·166–0·325) and England & Wales (0·213, 95% CI 0·156–0·283) (P = 0·65). The majority of isolates were verocytotoxin positive. A higher proportion of samples from Scotland were in the super-shedder category, though there was no difference between the surveys in the likelihood of a positive farm having at least one super-shedder sample. E. coli O157 continues to be common in British beef cattle, reaffirming public health policy that contact with cattle and their environments is a potential infection source.
The current generation of experiments aiming to detect the neutral hydrogen signal from the Epoch of Reionisation (EoR) is likely to be limited by systematic effects associated with removing foreground sources from target fields. In this paper, we develop a model for the compact foreground sources in one of the target fields of the MWA’s EoR key science experiment: the ‘EoR1’ field. The model is based on both the MWA’s GLEAM survey and GMRT 150 MHz data from the TGSS survey, the latter providing higher angular resolution and better astrometric accuracy for compact sources than is available from the MWA alone. The model contains 5 049 sources, some of which have complicated morphology in MWA data, Fornax A being the most complex. The higher resolution data show that 13% of sources that appear point-like to the MWA have complicated morphology such as double and quad structure, with a typical separation of 33 arcsec. We derive an analytic expression for the error introduced into the EoR two-dimensional power spectrum due to peeling close double sources as single point sources and show that for the measured source properties, the error in the power spectrum is confined to high k⊥ modes that do not affect the overall result for the large-scale cosmological signal of interest. The brightest 10 mis-modelled sources in the field contribute 90% of the power bias in the data, suggesting that it is most critical to improve the models of the brightest sources. With this hybrid model, we reprocess data from the EoR1 field and show a maximum of 8% improved calibration accuracy and a factor of two reduction in residual power in k-space from peeling these sources. Implications for future EoR experiments including the SKA are discussed in relation to the improvements obtained.
We present low-frequency spectral energy distributions of 60 known radio pulsars observed with the Murchison Widefield Array telescope. We searched the GaLactic and Extragalactic All-sky Murchison Widefield Array survey images for 200-MHz continuum radio emission at the position of all pulsars in the Australia Telescope National Facility (ATNF) pulsar catalogue. For the 60 confirmed detections, we have measured flux densities in 20 × 8 MHz bands between 72 and 231 MHz. We compare our results to existing measurements and show that the Murchison Widefield Array flux densities are in good agreement.
We examined longitudinally the course and predictors of treatment resistance in a large cohort of first-episode psychosis (FEP) patients from initiation of antipsychotic treatment. We hypothesized that antipsychotic treatment resistance is: (a) present at illness onset; and (b) differentially associated with clinical and demographic factors.
The study sample comprised 323 FEP patients who were studied at first contact and at 10-year follow-up. We collated clinical information on severity of symptoms, antipsychotic medication and treatment adherence during the follow-up period to determine the presence, course and predictors of treatment resistance.
From the 23% of the patients, who were treatment resistant, 84% were treatment resistant from illness onset. Multivariable regression analysis revealed that diagnosis of schizophrenia, negative symptoms, younger age at onset, and longer duration of untreated psychosis predicted treatment resistance from illness onset.
The striking majority of treatment-resistant patients do not respond to first-line antipsychotic treatment even at time of FEP. Clinicians must be alert to this subgroup of patients and consider clozapine treatment as early as possible during the first presentation of psychosis.
Quality measures are increasingly reported by hospitals to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), yet there may be tradeoffs in performance between infection control (IC) and other quality measures. Hospitals that performed best on IC measures did not perform well on most CMS non–IC quality measures.
Around 70% of total seed phosphorus is represented by phytate which must be hydrolysed to be bioavailable in non-ruminant diets. The limited endogenous phytase activity in non-ruminant animals make it common practice to add an exogenous phytase source to most poultry and pig feeds. The mature grain phytase activity (MGPA) of cereal seeds provides a route for the seeds themselves to contribute to phytate digestion, but MGPA varies considerably between species and most varieties in current use make negligible contributions. Currently, all phytases used for feed supplementation and transgenic improvement of MGPA are derived from microbial enzymes belonging to the group of histidine acid phosphatases (HAP). Cereals contain HAP phytases, but the bulk of MGPA can be attributed to phytases belonging to a completely different group of phosphatases, the purple acid phosphatases (PAPhy). In recent years, increased MGPAs were achieved in cisgenic barley holding extra copies of barley PAPhy and in the wheat HIGHPHY mutant, where MGPA was increased to ~6200 FTU/kg. In the present study, the effect of replacing 33%, 66% and 100% of a standard wheat with HIGHPHY wheat was compared with a control diet with and without 500 FTU of supplemental phytase. Diets were compared by evaluating broiler performance, ileal Ca and P digestibility and tibia development, using nine replicate pens of four birds per diet over 3 weeks from hatch. There were no differences between treatments in any tibia or bird performance parameters, indicating the control diet did not contain sufficiently low levels of phosphorus to distinguish effect of phytase addition. However, in a comparison of the two wheats, the ileal Ca and P digestibility coefficients for the 100% HIGHPHY wheat diets are 22.9% and 35.6% higher, respectively, than for the control diet, indicating the wheat PAPhy is functional in the broiler digestive tract. Furthermore, 33% HIGHPHY replacement of conventional wheat, significantly improved Ca and P digestibility over the diet-supplemented exogenous phytase, probably due to the higher phytase activity in the HIGHPHY diet (1804 v. 1150 FTU). Full replacement by HIGHPHY gave 14.6% and 22.8% higher ileal digestibility coefficients for Ca and P, respectively, than for feed supplemented with exogenous HAP phytase at 500 FTU. This indicates that in planta wheat PAPhys has promising potential for improving P and mineral digestibility in animal feed.
The number of South American camelids (SACs) in England and Wales is increasing and with this comes a risk of new and emerging infections. Although classified as livestock, these animals are also treated as pets and may be in regular contact with humans. This paper reviews zoonotic diseases that have been identified in SACs in England and Wales, and which pose a potential risk to human health. We also highlight the importance of surveillance continuing to capture information on infections in SACs for the protection of both public and animal health.
Over 300 cases of acute toxoplasmosis are confirmed by reference testing in England and Wales annually. We conducted a case-control study to identify risk factors for Toxoplasma gondii infection to inform prevention strategies. Twenty-eight cases and 27 seronegative controls participated. We compared their food history and environmental exposures using logistic regression to calculate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals in a model controlling for age and sex. Univariable analysis showed that the odds of eating beef (OR 10·7, P < 0·001), poultry (OR 6·4, P = 0·01) or lamb/mutton (OR 4·9, P = 0·01) was higher for cases than controls. After adjustment for potential confounders a strong association between beef and infection remained (OR 5·6, P = 0·01). The small sample size was a significant limitation and larger studies are needed to fully investigate potential risk factors. The study findings emphasize the need to ensure food is thoroughly cooked and handled hygienically, especially for those in vulnerable groups.