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Background: SARS-CoV-2 infection of healthcare workers (HCWs) occasionally occurs via acquisition from their colleagues. Data regarding the infection rates of HCWs with close contact and non–close contacts of HCWs are limited. In addition, the protective effect of COVID-19 vaccination against transmission between HCWs is unknown. We evaluated the infection rates of HCWs with close contact and non–close contact of infected HCWs and the effect of COVID-19 vaccination on transmission among HCWs in a tertiary-care hospital in South Korea. Methods: This study was performed in a tertiary-care hospital in Korea. We analyzed the COVID-19 cases and contacts among HCWs from January to December 2021. We reviewed the vaccination status of confirmed and exposed HCWs, the type of vaccination, and the infection rate according to the contact. We performed subgroup analyses in individuals who had been diagnosed since July 2021 when the δ (delta) variant became the dominant strain in South Korea. Transmission was defined based on their spatiotemporal epidemiologic association. Results: During the study period, 173 HCWs had COVID-19, and 2,693 HCWs were exposed to them. Among them, 18 (1.52%) of 1,186 close contacts and 13 (0.86%) of 1,507 non–close contacts had a positive SARS-CoV-2 test (P = .11). When the index cases had been fully vaccinated, the infection rate of close contacts was 0.85% (7 of 820), whereas the infection rate of close contacts was 3.01% (11 of 366) when the index had not been fully vaccinated (P = .005). However, the infection rate of non–close contacts was not different according to the vaccination status of index (0.83% vs 0.89%; P = .90). During the period of δ (delta) variant being dominant, the infection rate of close contacts was significantly lower when the index case had been fully vaccinated index than in cases with a non–fully vaccinated index case (0.85% vs 5.88%; P < .001). Conclusions: Transmission to colleagues was significantly lower from vaccinated HCWs than from nonvaccinated HCWs, and this finding was more significant in the era of the δ (delta) variant. Our findings support the importance of vaccination in HCWs.
Nosocomial transmission of COVID-19 among immunocompromised hosts can have a serious impact on COVID-19 severity, underlying disease progression and SARS-CoV-2 transmission to other patients and healthcare workers within hospitals. We experienced a nosocomial outbreak of COVID-19 in the setting of a daycare unit for paediatric and young adult cancer patients. Between 9 and 18 November 2020, 473 individuals (181 patients, 247 caregivers/siblings and 45 staff members) were exposed to the index case, who was a nursing staff. Among them, three patients and four caregivers were infected. Two 5-year-old cancer patients with COVID-19 were not severely ill, but a 25-year-old cancer patient showed prolonged shedding of SARS-CoV-2 RNA for at least 12 weeks, which probably infected his mother at home approximately 7–8 weeks after the initial diagnosis. Except for this case, no secondary transmission was observed from the confirmed cases in either the hospital or the community. To conclude, in the day care setting of immunocompromised children and young adults, the rate of in-hospital transmission of SARS-CoV-2 was 1.6% when applying the stringent policy of infection prevention and control, including universal mask application and rapid and extensive contact investigation. Severely immunocompromised children/young adults with COVID-19 would have to be carefully managed after the mandatory isolation period while keeping the possibility of prolonged shedding of live virus in mind.
Background: Mumps, a contagious disease, is transmissible by respiratory droplet particles and is preventable by vaccination. In South Korea, mandatory vaccination against mumps has markedly reduced its incidence. However, both the incidence and the number of reported cases of mumps have persistently increased in South Korea since 2007. Despite high vaccination rates, mumps outbreaks continue to occur, and many studies have been conducted on mumps seroprevalence in children and adolescents. In comparison, few reports have been published regarding mumps seroprevalence in healthcare workers (HCWs) in South Korea. Objective: We investigated the seroprevalence of HCWs in South Korea. Methods: This study was conducted at Asan Medical Center, a 2,705-bed tertiary-care hospital in Seoul, South Korea, with 8,329 HCWs. In 2018, we performed mumps antibody testing for HCWs. We administered MMR vaccination to all HCWs whose antibody test yielded equivocal or negative results. However, we did not repeat mumps antibody testing after MMR vaccination. Results: In total, 6,055 HCWs (73%) underwent mumps antibody testing. The overall mumps seropositivity rate was 87% (95% CI, 86%–87%). Seropositivity rates of all birth cohorts ranged from 72% to 92%. Mumps seropositivity rates were 88% in HCWs born before 1970, 87% in those born between 1970 and 1989, and 88% in those born between 1990 and 1995 (P = .59). Mumps seropositivity rates for both women and men HCWs were 87% (3,770 of 4,311 women and 1,517 of 1,744 men); the difference was not statistically significant (P = .62). The overall mumps seropositivity rate was 87%, which was above the herd immunity threshold of 75%–86%. Conclusions: Our results revealed that the overall mumps seropositivity rate in South Korean HCWs was above the herd immunity threshold. On the basis of this finding, we recommend that MMR vaccination after serologic testing may be a more reasonable approach than universal MMR vaccination alone in Korea.
Background: Measles is a highly contagious disease that is transmissible by airborne particles but is preventable by vaccination. South Korea has maintained a highly immunized adult population; however, small local outbreaks of measles continued to occur, and there have been some reports of pockets of underimmunity among the young adult population. It is important to know the seroepidemiology of healthcare workers (HCWs) for policy-making process, but data on the seroprevalence of measles in HCWs in South Korea are limited. Methods: We investigated the seroprevalence of HCWs at Asan Medical Center, a 2,705-bed tertiary-care hospital in Seoul, South Korea, with 8,329 HCWs. In 2014, after an outbreak of measles occurred in a university in Seoul, Asan Medical Center required measles IgG tests for all HCWs born in and after 1967 for point-prevalence surveillance. In addition, we have routinely performed measles antibody test for new HCWs since 2014. In 2018, antibody tests were administered to HCWs who were born before 1967 or who had taken a leave of absence in 2014. We provided MMR vaccination to all HCWs whose antibody tests yielded negative results. Results: In total, 7,411 HCWs (89%) underwent measles antibody tests from 2014 to 2018. The overall seropositivity was 73% (95% CI, 72%–74%); seroprevalence was 73% in HCWs born in of after 1967, whereas the seroprevalence in HCWs born before 1967 was 98%. The seroprevalence sharply decreased from 85% in the 1986 birth cohort to 42% in the 1995 birth cohort. Conclusions: In conclusion, the proportion of measles-susceptible individuals was substantially high in HCWs, especially in young adults. Because the impact of measles outbreak in healthcare facilities would be critical, a policy regarding routine serologic screening followed by measles vaccination or routine measles vaccination in healthcare facilities should be considered, especially for young Korean HCWs.
Early replacement of a new central venous catheter (CVC) may pose a risk of persistent or recurrent infection in patients with a catheter-related bloodstream infection (CRBSI). We evaluated the clinical impact of early CVC reinsertion after catheter removal in patients with CRBSIs.
We conducted a retrospective chart review of adult patients with confirmed CRBSIs in 2 tertiary-care hospitals over a 7-year period.
To treat their infections, 316 patients with CRBSIs underwent CVC removal. Among them, 130 (41.1%) underwent early CVC reinsertion (≤3 days after CVC removal), 39 (12.4%) underwent delayed reinsertion (>3 days), and 147 (46.5%) did not undergo CVC reinsertion. There were no differences in baseline characteristics among the 3 groups, except for nontunneled CVC, presence of septic shock, and reason for CVC reinsertion. The rate of persistent CRBSI in the early CVC reinsertion group (22.3%) was higher than that in the no CVC reinsertion group (7.5%; P = .002) but was similar to that in the delayed CVC reinsertion group (17.9%; P > .99). The other clinical outcomes did not differ among the 3 groups, including rates of 30-day mortality, complicated infection, and recurrence. After controlling for several confounding factors, early CVC reinsertion was not significantly associated with persistent CRBSI (OR, 1.59; P = .35) or 30-day mortality compared with delayed CVC reinsertion (OR, 0.81; P = .68).
Early CVC reinsertion in the setting of CRBSI may be safe. Replacement of a new CVC should not be delayed in patients who still require a CVC for ongoing management.
Our understanding of ice algal responses to the recent changes in Arctic sea ice is impeded by limited field observations. In the present study, environmental characteristics of the landfast sea-ice zone as well as primary production and macromolecular composition of ice algae and phytoplankton were studied in the Kitikmeot Sea near Cambridge Bay in spring 2017. Averaged total chlorophyll-a (Chl-a) concentration was within the lower range reported previously for the same region, while daily carbon uptake rates of bottom-ice algae were significantly lower in this study than previously reported for the Arctic. Based on various indicators, the region's low nutrient concentrations appear to limit carbon uptake rates and associated accumulation of bottom-ice algal biomass. Furthermore, the lipids-dominant biochemical composition of bottom-ice algae suggests strong nutrient limitation relative to the distinctly different carbohydrates-dominant composition of phytoplankton. Together, the results confirm strong nitrate limitation of the local marine system.
Connexin 43 (CX43) is a component of gap junctions. The lack of functional CX43 induces oxidative stress, autophagy, and apoptosis in somatic cells. However, the role of CX43 in the early development of porcine embryos is still unknown. Thus, the aim of this study was to investigate the role of CX43, and its underlying molecular mechanisms, on the developmental competence of early porcine embryos. We performed CX43 knockdown by microinjecting dsRNA into parthenogenetically activated porcine parthenotes. The blastocyst development rate and the total number of cells in the blastocysts were significantly reduced by CX43 knockdown. Results from FITC-dextran assays showed that CX43 knockdown significantly increased membrane permeability. ZO-1 protein was obliterated in CX43 knockdown blastocysts. Mitochondrial membrane potential and ATP production were significantly reduced following CX43 knockdown. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels were significantly increased in the CX43 knockdown group compared to those in control embryos. Moreover, CX43 knockdown induced autophagy and apoptosis. Our findings indicate that CX43 is essential for the development and preimplantation of porcine embryos and maintains mitochondrial function, cell junction structure, and cell homeostasis by regulating membrane permeability, ROS generation, autophagy, and apoptosis in early embryos.
The National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke-Canadian Stroke Network (NINDS-CSN) 5-minute neuropsychology protocol consists of only verbal tasks, and is proposed as a brief screening method for vascular cognitive impairment. We evaluated its feasibility within two weeks after stroke and ability to predict the development of post-stroke dementia (PSD) at 3 months after stroke.
We prospectively enrolled subjects with ischemic stroke within seven days of symptom onset who were consecutively admitted to 12 university hospitals. Neuropsychological assessments using the NINDS-CSN 5-minute and 60-minute neuropsychology protocols were administered within two weeks and at 3 months after stroke onset, respectively. PSD was diagnosed with reference to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association statement, requiring deficits in at least two cognitive domains.
Of 620 patients, 512 (82.6%) were feasible for the NINDS-CSN 5-minute protocol within two weeks after stroke. The incidence of PSD was 16.2% in 308 subjects who had completed follow-up at 3 months after stroke onset. The total score of the NINDS-CSN 5-minute protocol differed significantly between those with and without PSD (4.0 ± 2.7, 7.4 ± 2.7, respectively; p < 0.01). A cut-off value of 6/7 showed reasonable discriminative power (sensitivity 0.82, specificity 0.67, AUC 0.74). The NINDS-CSN 5-minute protocol score was a significant predictor for PSD (adjusted odds ratio 6.32, 95% CI 2.65–15.05).
The NINDS-CSN 5-minute protocol is feasible to evaluate cognitive functions in patients with acute ischemic stroke. It might be a useful screening method for early identification of high-risk groups for PSD.
Personality may predispose family caregivers to experience caregiving differently in similar situations and influence the outcomes of caregiving. A limited body of research has examined the role of some personality traits for health-related quality of life (HRQoL) among family caregivers of persons with dementia (PWD) in relation to burden and depression.
Data from a large clinic-based national study in South Korea, the Caregivers of Alzheimer's Disease Research (CARE), were analyzed (N = 476). Path analysis was performed to explore the association between family caregivers’ personality traits and HRQoL. With depression and burden as mediating factors, direct and indirect associations between five personality traits and HRQoL of family caregivers were examined.
Results demonstrated the mediating role of caregiver burden and depression in linking two personality traits (neuroticism and extraversion) and HRQoL. Neuroticism and extraversion directly and indirectly influenced the mental HRQoL of caregivers. Neuroticism and extraversion only indirectly influenced their physical HRQoL. Neuroticism increased the caregiver's depression, whereas extraversion decreased it. Neuroticism only was mediated by burden to influence depression and mental and physical HRQoL.
Personality traits can influence caregiving outcomes and be viewed as an individual resource of the caregiver. A family caregiver's personality characteristics need to be assessed for tailoring support programs to get the optimal benefits from caregiver interventions.
To date, many studies surveying the bacterial communities in lichen thalli from diverse geographical areas have shown that Alphaproteobacteria is the predominant bacterial class in most lichens. In this study, bacterial communities in several Antarctic lichens with different growth form and substrates were analysed. The bacterial community composition in fruticose and foliose lichens, Cladonia, Umbilicaria and Usnea, and crustose lichens, Buelia granulosa, Amandinea coniops and Ochrolechia parella, from King George Island was analysed by pyrosequencing of bacterial 16S rRNA genes. Results showed that Proteobacteria, Acidobacteria, Actinobacteria and Bacteroidetes were predominant phyla. The predominant bacterial class in most of the samples was Alphaproteobacteria. Acetobacteriaceae of the order Rhodospiralles in Alphaproteobacteria was the most abundant bacterial family in Antarctic lichens. The LAR1 lineage of the order Rhizobiales, a putative N-fixer which has been frequently observed in lichens from temperate areas, was detected only from a few samples at low frequency. It is expected that other bacterial taxa are working as N-fixers in Antarctic lichens. From the PCoA analysis of the Fast UniFrac distance matrix, it was proposed that the microbial community structures in Antarctic lichens were affected by host species, growth form and substrates.
Background: Dysphagia is a common symptom and an important prognostic factor in Parkinson’s disease (PD). Although cognitive and motor dysfunctions may contribute to dysphagia in patients with PD, any specific association between such problems and swallowing functions is unclear. Here, we examined the potential relationship between cognitive/motor components and swallowing functions in PD. We evaluated the contributions of cognition and motor function to the components of swallowing via video fluoroscopic swallowing (VFS) experiments. Methods: We prospectively enrolled 56 patients without dementia having PD. Parkinson’s disease severity was assessed by the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS). All participants received neuropsychological tests covering general mental status, visuospatial function, attention, language, learning and memory, and frontal executive function. The well-validated “modified barium swallow impairment profile” scoring system was applied during VFS studies to quantify swallowing impairments. Finally, correlations between neuropsychological or motor functions and impairment in swallowing components were calculated. Results: The most significant correlations were found between the frontal/executive or learning/memory domains and the oral phase of swallowing, though a minor component of the pharyngeal phase correlated with frontal function as well. Bradykinesia and the UPDRS total score were associated with both the pharyngeal and oral phases. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that cognitive dysfunctions are associated with the oral phase of swallowing in patients with early stage PD while the severity of motor symptoms may be associated with overall swallowing function.
During the past decade, carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae (CPE) has emerged and spread across the world.1 The major carbapenemase enzymes currently being reported are KPC, NDM-1, VIM, IMP, and OXA.2 Because carbapenemase can be effectively transmitted via mobile genetic elements, and current therapeutic options for CPE infections are extremely limited, CPE may be one of the most serious contemporary threats to public health. However, very little is known about the characteristics of CPE carriage during hospitalization. The aims of this study were to investigate the clearance rate of CPE carriage and determine the number of consecutive negative cultures required to confirm CPE clearance. We also examined CPE transmission among hospitalized patients.
Infect. Control Hosp. Epidemiol. 2015;36(11):1361–1362
We report on the formation of highly flexible and transparent TiO2/Ag/ITO multilayer films deposited on polyethylene terephthalate substrates. The optical and electrical properties of the multilayer films were investigated as a function of oxide thickness. The transmission window gradually shifted toward lower energies with increasing oxide thickness. The TiO2 (40 nm)/Ag (18 nm)/ITO (40 nm) films gave the transmittance of 93.1% at 560 nm. The relationship between transmittance and oxide thickness was simulated using the scattering matrix method to understand high transmittance. As the oxide thickness increased from 20 to 50 nm, the carrier concentration gradually decreased from 1.08 × 1022 to 6.66 × 1021 cm−3, while the sheet resistance varied from 5.8 to 6.1 Ω/sq. Haacke's figure of merit reached a maximum at 40 nm and then decreased with increasing oxide thickness. The change in resistance for the 60 nm-thick ITO single film rapidly increased with increasing bending cycles, while that of the TiO2/Ag/ITO (40 nm/18 nm/40 nm) film remained virtually unchanged during the bending test.
Caregiver burden is a complex and multidimensional construct. Although previous studies have explored numerous factors associated with caregiver burden, these factors have not been identified with a large population-based sample in a theory-based multidimensional way. This study explores multidimensional determinants associated with family caregiver burden to determine the main contributors of caregiver burden in Alzheimer's disease (AD) using a large community dataset.
A retrospective secondary data analysis was conducted on 1,133 patients with AD and 1,133 primary caregivers who were registered in a metropolitan city dementia center in South Korea. The patient data included socio-demographic and disease profiles. The caregiver data consisted of socio-demographic and caregiving profiles.
The study results identified that dementia-related factors were the most significant factors, representing 25.6% of caregiver burden and were followed by caregiving-related factors explaining caregiver burden significantly. Behavioral problems and instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) dependency of the patient, spousal relationship, hours of caregiving, and the number of diseases associated with the caregiver were found to be significant individual variables.
It is vital to develop a service and support program with a greater emphasis on the behavioral problems and IADL deficiency of patients with AD as well as on improving the competence ability of caregivers to deal with such difficulties.
Symptomatic intracranial atherosclerosis (ICAS) is a dynamic disease that frequently progresses. Statins have been shown to have anti-atherosclerotic activity. We therefore investigated whether statins could prevent progression of ICAS.
This retrospective cohort study assessed 55 patients with acute ischemic stroke and symptomatic ICAS in the middle cerebral or basilar arteries as shown on magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), with follow-up MRA performed more than 1 year after the index stroke. Change in ICAS was classified as progressive, regressive, or stable. Baseline clinical characteristics and risk factor control during follow-up were assessed, and laboratory tests were performed at the time of follow-up MRA. The statin group was defined as patients regularly treated with statins for more than 75% of the follow-up period; the remaining patients were defined as the non-statin group.
At a median follow-up time of 21.8 months (range, 11.8-66.1 months), the statin group consisted of 26 (47.3%) patients and the non-statin group of 29 (52.7%). During follow-up, 6 (10.9%) patients progressed, 14 (25.5%) regressed, and 35 (63.6%) remained stable. Statin treatment was significantly associated with non-progression of ICAS (p=0.024). Two patients in the non-statin group had recurrent strokes. Border-zone infarcts were associated with progression of ICAS (3/6, 50%; p=0.007), whereas risk factors and inflammatory biomarkers were not related to progression.
Treatment with statins may prevent progression of symptomatic ICAS. Prospective randomized controlled trials are required to confirm that statins protect against such progression.
Visual hallucination (VH) is a common psychotic symptom in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) and may be a significant predictor of cognitive impairment (CI) in such patients.
This study aimed to investigate the pattern of glucose metabolism of VH and the relationship between VH and CI in PD.
We studied 28 PD patients, including 15 with VH (PD-VH) and 13 without VH (PD-NVH). Of the 15 PD-VH patients, 8 patients had cognitive impairment (PD-VHCI) whereas 7 did not (PD-VHNCI). All patients underwent [18F] fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography ([18F] FDG PET) followed by statistical parametric mapping (SPM) analyses.
Compared to the patients with PDNVH, PD-VHNCI patients showed glucose hypometabolism in the inferior and middle temporal cortices, fusiform gyri, and frontal areas, suggesting the involvement of the ventral visual pathway. Compared to the patients with PDNVH, PD-VHCI patients showed glucose hypometabolism in the temporoparietal association cortices with scattered frontal areas.
Dysfunction of ventral visual pathway involving the temporal lobe may play a key role in VH development in PD patients. The evolving distribution from the ventral visual pathway to more extensive posterior cortices in PD-VHCI patients suggests that VH may be a prodromal symptom occurring prior to CI in PD patients.
The RDA Genebank at the National Agrobiodiversity Center (NAAS, RDA, Republic of Korea) has conserved about 182,000 accessions in 1777 species and is working at preserving agricultural genetic resources for the conservation and sustainable utilization of genetic diversity. The detection of genetic variability in conserved resources is important for germplasm management, but the molecular evaluation tools providing genetic information are insufficient for underutilized crops, unlike those for major crops. In this regard, the Korean National Agrobiodiversity Center has been developing microsatellite markers for several underutilized crops. We designed 3640 primer pairs flanking simple sequence repeat (SSR) motifs for 6310 SSR clones in 21 crop species. Polymorphic loci were revealed in each species (7–36), and the mean ratio of polymorphic loci to all the loci tested was 12%. The average allele number was 5.1 (2.8–10.3) and the expected heterozygosity 0.51 (0.31–0.74). Some SSRs were transferable to closely related species, such as within the genera Fagopyrum and Allium. These SSR markers might be used for studying the genetic diversity of conserved underutilized crops.
Theranostics was proposed as a combined process of therapeutics and diagnostics methodology for increasing treatment efficacy and safety with simultaneous monitoring of the response to treatment. In the past two decades, nanotechnology has been the focus of developing strategies for drug delivery and imaging functions, and it has expanded to the design of multifunctional nanoparticles and the creation of “nanotheranostics” (i.e., theranostic nanomedicines). Nanotheranostics also shows potential in gene therapy; however, nanoparticle-mediated delivery of genes still faces major obstacles related to (1) the uptake by the reticuloendothelial system, (2) the ability to get across the target cell membranes through endocytosis, and (3) the ability to accumulate in organs with permeable vasculature. Here, we review the development and application of nanotheranostics, highlighting their relevance to gene therapy as well as molecular imaging.
Cataract, defined as opacity of the lens in one or both eyes, is a major cause of blindness throughout the world, and not uncommon, particularly in the elderly population. However, congenital cataracts are rare and occur with a frequency of 30 cases in 100,000 births. About one-third of the cases fall into the group inherited without systemic abnormality. Importantly, congenital cataracts produce deprivation amblyopia, refractive amblyopia, and retinal detachment, leading to lifelong visual impairment. Successful management is dependent on early diagnosis and referral for surgery when indicated. Here we present a case of hereditary bilateral cataracts in a dizygotic twin detected on prenatal ultrasound examinations and postnatally confirmed as congenital cataracts associated with posterior lenticonus.
Background: Highly educated participants with normal cognition show lower incidence of Alzheimer's disease (AD) than poorly educated participants, whereas longitudinal studies involving AD have reported that higher education is associated with more rapid cognitive decline. We aimed to evaluate whether highly educated amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) participants show more rapid cognitive decline than those with lower levels of education.
Methods: A total of 249 aMCI patients enrolled from 31 memory clinics using the standard assessment and diagnostic processes were followed with neuropsychological evaluation (duration 17.2 ± 8.8 months). According to baseline performances on memory tests, participants were divided into early-stage aMCI (−1.5 to −1.0 standard deviation (SD)) and late-stage aMCI (below −1.5 SD) groups. Risk of AD conversion and changes in neuropsychological performances according to the level of education were evaluated.
Results: Sixty-two patients converted to AD over a mean follow-up of 1.43 years. The risk of AD conversion was higher in late-stage aMCI than early-stage aMCI. Cox proportional hazard models showed that aMCI participants, and late-stage aMCI participants in particular, with higher levels of education had a higher risk of AD conversion than those with lower levels of education. Late-stage aMCI participants with higher education showed faster cognitive decline in language, memory, and Clinical Dementia Rating Sum of Boxes (CDR-SOB) scores. On the contrary, early-stage aMCI participants with higher education showed slower cognitive decline in MMSE and CDR-SOB scores.
Conclusions: Our findings suggest that the protective effects of education against cognitive decline remain in early-stage aMCI and disappear in late-stage aMCI.