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The 9th meeting of the African Society of Human Genetics, in partnership with the Senegalese Cancer Research and Study Group and the Human Heredity and Health in Africa (H3Africa) Consortium, was held in Dakar, Senegal. The theme was Strengthening Human Genetics Research in Africa. The 210 delegates came from 21 African countries and from France, Switzerland, UK, UAE, Canada and the USA. The goal was to highlight genetic and genomic science across the African continent with the ultimate goal of improving the health of Africans and those across the globe, and to promote the careers of young African scientists in the field. A session on the sustainability of genomic research in Africa brought to light innovative and practical approaches to supporting research in resource-limited settings and the importance of promoting genetics in academic, research funding, governmental and private sectors. This meeting led to the formation of the Senegalese Society for Human Genetics.
Public Health England conducts enhanced national surveillance of tetanus, a potentially life-threatening vaccine-preventable disease. A standardized questionnaire was used to ascertain clinical and demographic details of individuals reported with clinically suspected tetanus. The 96 cases identified between 2001 and 2014 were analysed. The average annual incidence was 0·13/million (95% confidence interval 0·10–0·16) of which 50·0% were male. Where reported, 70·3% of injuries occurred in the home/garden (45/64). Overall, 40·3% (31/77) cases were in people who inject drugs (PWID), including a cluster of 22 cases during 2003–2004. Where known (n = 68), only 8·8% were age-appropriately immunized. The overall case-fatality rate was 11·0% (9/82). All tetanus-associated deaths occurred in adults aged >45 years, none of whom were fully immunized. Due to the success of the childhood immunization programme, tetanus remains a rare disease in England with the majority of cases occurring in older unimmunized or partially immunized adults. Minor injuries in the home/garden were the most commonly reported likely sources of infection, although cases in PWID increased during this period. It is essential that high routine vaccine coverage is maintained and that susceptible individuals, particularly older adults, are protected through vaccination and are offered timely post-exposure management following a tetanus-prone wound.
Africa is experiencing a rapid increase in adult obesity and associated cardiometabolic diseases (CMDs). The H3Africa AWI-Gen Collaborative Centre was established to examine genomic and environmental factors that influence body composition, body fat distribution and CMD risk, with the aim to provide insights towards effective treatment and intervention strategies. It provides a research platform of over 10 500 participants, 40–60 years old, from Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa. Following a process that involved community engagement, training of project staff and participant informed consent, participants were administered detailed questionnaires, anthropometric measurements were taken and biospecimens collected. This generated a wealth of demographic, health history, environmental, behavioural and biomarker data. The H3Africa SNP array will be used for genome-wide association studies. AWI-Gen is building capacity to perform large epidemiological, genomic and epigenomic studies across several African counties and strives to become a valuable resource for research collaborations in Africa.
We present the characteristics of a high temperature CMOS integrated circuit process based on 4H silicon carbide designed to operate at temperatures beyond 300°C. N-channel and P-channel transistor characteristics at room and elevated temperatures are presented. Both channel types show the expected low values of field effect mobility well known in SiC MOSFETS. However the performance achieved is easily capable of exploitation in CMOS digital logic circuits and certain analogue circuits, over a wide temperature range.
Data is also presented for the performance of digital logic demonstrator circuits, in particular a 4 to 1 analogue multiplexer and a configurable timer operating over a wide temperature range. Devices are packaged in high temperature ceramic dual in line (DIL) packages, which are capable of greater than 300°C operation. A high temperature “micro-oven” system has been designed and built to enable testing and stressing of units assembled in these package types. This system heats a group of devices together to temperatures of up to 300°C while keeping the electrical connections at much lower temperatures. In addition, long term reliability data for some structures such as contact chains to n-type and p-type SiC and simple logic circuits is summarized.
The aim of this study was to estimate the amount of childhood hepatitis B virus transmission in children born in the UK, a very low-prevalence country, that is preventable only by universal hepatitis B immunization of infants. Oral fluid specimens were collected from schoolchildren aged 7–11 years in four inner city multi-ethnic areas and tested for the presence of antibody to hepatitis B core antigen (anti-HBc). Those found positive or indeterminate were followed up with testing on serum to confirm their hepatitis B status. The overall prevalence of anti-HBc in children was low [0·26%, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0·14–0·44]. The estimated average annual incidence of hepatitis B was estimated to be 29·26/100 000 children (95% CI 16·00–49·08). The total incidence that is preventable only by a universal infant immunization programme in the UK was estimated to be between 5·00 and 12·49/100 000. The study demonstrates that the extent of horizontal childhood hepatitis B virus transmission is low in children born in the UK and suggests that schools in the UK are an uncommon setting for the transmission of the virus. Targeted hepatitis B testing and immunization of migrants from intermediate- and high-prevalence countries is likely to be a more effective measure to reduce childhood transmission than a universal infant immunization programme.
In a cohort of 272 treatment-naive individuals with chronic hepatitis C infection acquired on a known date who were enrolled in the UK HCV National Register, a progressive improvement in response to treatment was found with the evolution of antiviral therapies from 20% (25/122) for interferon monotherapy to 63% (55/88) for pegylated interferon+ribavirin therapy. Multivariable analysis results showed increasing age to be associated with poorer response to therapy [odds ratio (OR) 0·84, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0·72–0·99, P=0·03] whereas time since infection was not associated with response (OR 0·93, 95% CI 0·44–1·98, P=0·85). Other factors significantly associated with a positive response were non-type 1 genotype (P<0·0001) and combination therapies (P<0·0001). During the first two decades of chronic HCV infection, treatment at a younger age was found to be more influential in achieving a sustained viral response than treating earlier in the course of infection.
Surveillance of acute hepatitis B in England is necessary to estimate incidence, determine routes of transmission and inform public health actions. Here we describe an automated process to extract information on testing for markers of hepatitis B infection in English sentinel laboratories between 2002 and 2008. The resulting data were used to identify individuals with acute infections, describe their characteristics and estimate the incidence of infection. Two-thirds of acute infections were in males. Heterosexual exposure and injecting drug use were the main risks reported. Annual incidence was estimated at 1·3/100 000 person-years overall (1·7 and 0·6 for males and females, respectively) and declined each year. Automated extraction of hepatitis B markers, including quantitative results where available, can help to classify HBV status more accurately for surveillance. HBV incidence in England is at its lowest level in recent years.
Oxidation of serum proteins can lead to carbonyl formation that alters their function and is often associated with stress-related diseases. As it is recommended that all pigs reared in modern production facilities be given supplemental iron at birth to prevent anemia, and metals can catalyze the carbonylation of proteins, the primary objective of this study was to determine whether standard iron dextran treatment was associated with enhanced serum protein oxidation in newborn piglets. Piglets were treated with 100 mg of iron dextran intramuscularly either on the day of birth, or on the third day after birth. Blood samples were collected from piglets 48 or 96 h after treatment and serum was harvested. For quantification, serum protein carbonyls were converted to hydrazones with dinitrophenyl hydrazine and analyzed spectrophotometrically. To identify and determine relative distribution of carbonylated proteins, serum protein carbonyls were derivatized with biotin hydrazide, separated by two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, stained with avidin-fluorescein and identified by mass spectrometry. The standard iron dextran treatment was associated with no increase in total oxidized proteins if given either on the first or third day of life. In addition, with a few noted exceptions, the overall distribution and identification of oxidized proteins were similar between control and iron dextran-treated pigs. These results indicate that while iron dextran treatment is associated with a marked increase in circulating iron, it does not appear to specifically induce the oxidation of serum proteins.
Cyclospora cayetanensis is an emerging infectious agent. The aim of this study was to describe an outbreak that occurred in 250 adults exposed to contaminated food, focusing on the duration and relapses of symptoms, complications and evidence of local transmission. This outbreak affected workers who ate in a restaurant in June 2005. Cyclospora sp. was observed in the stools of 20 cases and 122 probable cases were identified. The attack rate was estimated at 89%. Main symptoms were diarrhoea (96%), nausea (88%), fatigue (87%), abdominal cramps (85%), fever (52%) and headaches (45%). Contaminated fresh basil originating from a Mexican farm, used to prepare an uncooked appetizer, was identified as the source. In this non-endemic population of immunocompetent adults, Cyclospora infection presents with watery diarrhoea lasting from 4 to 18 days and fatigue lasting from 11 to 42 days. For a small proportion of affected persons, recovery can be delayed.
Healthcare-associated hepatitis B virus (HBV) outbreaks have been reported in the USA and from several countries in Europe. Patient-to-patient transmission of HBV in these settings has been linked to several different types of exposure but one of the most common exposures implicated is the use of ‘finger-stick’ lancet devices for blood glucose testing. This article is an account of the investigations into a series of HBV outbreaks linked to the use of lancing devices in community healthcare settings in the UK. Between February 2004 and December 2006, nine individuals with acute HBV infection were reported to five local units of the Health Protection Agency. Investigations identified a further 12 individuals with HBV infection in residents in these settings. The epidemiological and environmental evidence suggests that HBV transmission occurred mostly from a significant breakdown in infection control measures in blood glucose testing. The occurrence of these outbreaks has highlighted the confusion that exists and the need for clear recommendations regarding the use of such devices in the UK.
Improving clinicians' understanding of effects nutrition can have on maternal health and fetal and neonatal development can have considerable impact on achieving a healthy pregnancy and reducing childhood morbidity. This book defines the nutritional requirements with regard to each stage of fetal development and growth, placing scientific developments into a clinical context. Clinicians and scientists discuss: how the fetus grows and what macro- and micronutrients it requires; what happens when there is nutrient deficiency and when placental development is abnormal; aspects of infant feeding, both with breast milk and formula milk. Specific problems encountered in pregnancy that pose a nutritional challenge are also considered, including pregnancy in teenagers, multiple pregnancies and pregnancy in those who are vegetarians or vegans. All doctors, health-care workers or scientists who either care for women, their newborn and growing infants, or who are involved in research in these areas, will find this to be essential reading.
The stage of development of the gametes of both male and female honeycomb worms Sabellaria alveolata (L.) was examined, using histology, over a 14-month period. Samples came from Howes Strand and Garrettstown, County Cork in south-west Ireland. A clear cycle of both male and female gametogenesis was evident, with a distinct peak in the summer (June–September) when the majority of them were ripe. During October–January a small proportion of males contained abundant spermatozoa, but no mature oocytes were found. Over the whole sampling period the ratio of males:females was 1.4:1. Further south in Roches de la Fosse in France at the centre of its range, two spawnings and an even sex-ratio have been reported.