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Vaccination can be a useful tool for the control of avian influenza (AI) outbreaks, but its use is prohibited in most of the countries worldwide because of its interference with AI surveillance tests and its negative impact on poultry trade. AI vaccines currently in use in the field increase host resistance to the disease but have a limited impact on the virus transmission. To control or eradicate the disease, a carefully conceived vaccination strategy must be accompanied by strict biosecurity measures. Some countries have authorized vaccination under special circumstances with contradictory results, from control and disease eradication (Italy) to endemicity and antigenic drift of the viral strain (Mexico). Extensive vaccination programmes are ongoing in South East Asia to control the H5N1 epidemic. This review provides practical information on the available AI vaccines and associated diagnostic tests, the vaccination strategies applied in Asia and their impact on the disease epidemiology.
The public health significance of giardiasis and cryptosporidiosis in sheep is currently unclear. Some research suggests that they are probably not an important zoonotic reservoir, whilst other research indicates this potential exists, and some outbreaks have also been associated with infections in sheep. Actions to limit water supply contamination by sheep have sometimes been severe, occasionally creating problems between farming and public health communities. Here our knowledge on these parasites in both sheep and goats is reviewed; although direct evidence of transmission to humans via water supply contamination is limited, the data accrued indicate that this is a real possibility. As cryptosporidiosis in sheep is generally more prevalent than giardiasis, and species/genotypes of Cryptosporidium infections in sheep are likely to be infectious to humans, this parasite may be considered the greater threat. Nevertheless, geographical variation in prevalence and genotypic distribution is extensive and as measures to limit sheep grazing can have a highly negative impact, it is important that cases are judged individually. If water contamination from a particular population of sheep/goats is suspected, then suitable investigations should be instigated, investigating both prevalence and species/genotype, before precautionary measures are imposed.
Unidentified open-air factors (OAFs) found to be adverse to the survival of microorganisms suspended on microthreads were investigated for their effect on realistic aerosols of Francisella tularensis in an open-air environment. This organism was chosen because it is probably the most infectious organism known to be capable of infecting both animals and man via the respiratory route, hence its potential use as a bioterrorist agent. A direct correlation was found between an open-air adverse effect on viability and virulence of airborne particles of <3 μm via the respiratory route in guinea pigs. One viable organism was sufficient to initiate an infection that resulted in a fatal tularaemia infection. The lethal effect of OAFs on F. tularensis was found to vary from day to day and was related to the source of the air in the UK. The adverse effect on viability was associated with an inverse effect according to the size of the airborne particle.
Surveillance has been recognized as a fundamental component in the control of antimicrobial- resistant infections. Although surveillance data have been widely published and utilized by researchers and decision makers, little attention has been paid to assessment of their validity. We conducted this review in order to identify and explore potential types and magnitude of bias that may influence the validity or interpretation of surveillance data. Six main potential areas were assessed. These included bias related to use of inadequate or inappropriate (1) denominator data, (2) case definitions, and (3) case ascertainment; (4) sampling bias; (5) failure to deal with multiple occurrences, and (6) those related to laboratory practice and procedures. The magnitude of these biases varied considerably for the above areas within different study populations. There are a number of potential biases that should be considered in the methodological design and interpretation of antimicrobial-resistant organism surveillance.
Emerging infections pose a constant threat to society and can require a substantial response, thus systems to assess the threat level and inform prioritization of resources are essential. A systematic approach to assessing the risk from emerging infections to public health in the UK has been developed. This qualitative assessment of risk is performed using algorithms to consider the probability of an infection entering the UK population, and its potential impact, and to identify knowledge gaps. The risk assessments are carried out by a multidisciplinary, cross-governmental group of experts working in human and animal health. This approach has been piloted on a range of infectious threats identified by horizon scanning activities. A formal risk assessment of this nature should be considered for any new or emerging infection in humans or animals, unless there is good evidence that the infection is neither a recognized human disease nor a potential zoonosis.
A catalogue of dates and places of major outbreaks of epidemic diseases, that occurred in the Chinese Empire between 243 b.c.e. and 1911 c.e., combined with corresponding demographic data, provides a unique opportunity to explore how the pressure of epidemics grew in an agrarian society over 2000 years. This quantitative analysis reveals that: (1) the frequency of outbreaks increased slowly before the 12th century and rapidly thereafter, until 1872; (2) in the first millennium of our era, the people of China lived for decades free of major epidemics; in the second millennium, major outbreaks occurred every couple of years, but were localized; (3) in the more recent centuries, these outbreaks were as common, but disseminated to more places. This evolution, closely matching the demographic growth, was similar in the north and south of China, and therefore may have been similar in other regions of the world.
The prevalences of zoonotic and potentially zoonotic bacteria or bacteria resistant to antimicrobials in organic and conventional poultry, swine and beef production were compared using systematic review and meta-analysis methodology. Thirty-eight articles were included in the review. The prevalence of Campylobacter was higher in organic broiler chickens at slaughter, but no difference in prevalence was observed in retail chicken. Campylobacter isolates from conventional retail chicken were more likely to be ciprofloxacin-resistant (odds ratio 9·62, 95% confidence interval 5·67–16·35). Bacteria isolated from conventional animal production exhibited a higher prevalence of resistance to antimicrobials; however, the recovery of some resistant strains was also identified in organic animal production, where there is an apparent reduced antimicrobial selection pressure. Limited or inconsistent research was identified in studies examining the prevalence of zoonotic and potentially zoonotic bacteria in other food-animal species. There is a need for further research of sufficient quality in this area.
Outbreaks of enteric illness in long-term care facilities (LTCFs) were reviewed to identify preventative recommendations. Systematic review methodology identified outbreak reports of gastrointestinal illness in LTCFs either published or that occurred from January 1997 to June 2007. The inclusion criteria captured 75 outbreaks; 23 (31%) associated with bacterial agents and 52 (69%) with viral agents. Transmission was mainly foodborne (52%) for those of bacterial origin and person-to-person (71%) for viral outbreaks. Norovirus infection was associated with 58% of hospitalizations. Sixty deaths were reported, about half from Salmonella infections. Recommendations for foodborne outbreaks emphasized appropriate sourcing and preparation of eggs, staff training, and temperature control during food preparation. Recommendations from outbreaks transmitted person-to-person centred on controlling residents' movements, effective environmental cleaning and disinfection, cancelling social events and restricting visitors, excluding ill staff, encouraging effective hand hygiene, and preventing cross-contamination through gloving and gowning. In none of the 75 published outbreak reports were the suggested recommendations evaluated for effectiveness in controlling the outbreak. Applied research of this type could greatly help in the acceptance of prevention and control strategies.
In 2006 two rotavirus vaccines were licensed for use in young children in Europe. This study aimed to estimate the mortality and hospital admissions due to rotavirus in children aged <5 years in the WHO European region using data from routine sources and published literature. We grouped 49/52 countries in the region by their World Bank Gross National Income (GNI) per capita. We obtained for children aged <5 years: populations, hospital discharges for diarrhoeal disease, estimated mortality rates and the percentage of deaths attributable to diarrhoeal disease, from WHO data sources or published literature, and combined them to estimate country-specific diarrhoeal disease mortality. Rotavirus-attributable percentages of hospital admissions due to diarrhoeal disease were obtained through a literature search, and an income-group median applied to countries in each GNI category. In the countries we studied in the WHO European region, rotavirus infection causes an estimated 6550 deaths (range 5671–8989) and 146 287 (range 38 374–1 039 843) hospital admissions each year in children aged <5 years. Hospital admission rates were similar across income groups (medians 2·0, 2·8, 4·2 and 1·9/1000 per year in low-, lower-middle-, upper-middle- and high-income countries, respectively). Seven countries, mostly in the low- and lower-middle-income groups, accounted for 93% of estimated deaths. Disease burden varied dramatically by income level in the European region. Rotavirus vaccination in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Turkey could potentially prevent 80% of all regional rotavirus deaths. Data from low-income countries is still sparse, and improved disease burden studies are required to better inform regional vaccine policy.
Encephalitis lethargica (EL) was first reported in 1917 in central Europe. It became epidemic in the winter of 1918/1919 concurrently with the pandemic of influenza, and by then had reached Russia and North America. It spread throughout the world in epidemic form, mainly in the succeeding winters, up to 1927. By then about 65 000 cases had been reported, although the true number worldwide can only be guessed at. EL mortality was about 30% in the acute stage, and similar during recurrences. Half of the survivors had persistent or recurrent neuro-psychiatric illness, with Parkinsonism a frequent end stage. Most contemporary observers attributed EL to a virus and some believed it was specifically a post-influenzal complication. The epidemiology of EL mostly points to an infective cause, e.g. a seasonal respiratory or gastrointestinal virus with infrequent encephalitic expression but the ability to persist, flare and progressively damage the brain. However, any link with the influenza virus strain of 1918/1919 remains hypothetical. The aetiological theories that have been applied to EL are reviewed and the question is raised whether broader laboratory investigation might now reveal a continuing low endemicity of EL and identify its cause.
Contact tracing of persons with meningococcal disease who have travelled on aeroplanes or other multi-passenger transport is not consistent between countries. We searched the literature for clusters of meningococcal disease linked by transient contact on the same plane, train, bus or boat. We found reports of two clusters in children on the same school bus and one in passengers on the same plane. Cases within each of these three clusters were due to strains that were genetically indistinguishable. In the aeroplane cluster the only link between the two cases was through a single travel episode. The onset of illness (2 and 5 days after the flight) is consistent with infection from an unidentified carrier around the time of air travel. In contrast to the established risk of transmission from a case of tuberculosis, it is likely that the risk from a case of meningococcal disease to someone who is not identified as a close contact is exceedingly low. This should be considered in making international recommendations for passenger contact tracing after a case of meningococcal disease on a plane or other multi-passenger transport.
We studied the age-specific population-based incidence of bacterial enteric infections caused by Shigella, Salmonella and Campylobacter, in Jerusalem. During 1990–2008, 32 408 cases were reported (incidence rate 232·1/100 000 per annum). The patterns of Shigella (47·4% of cases), Salmonella (34·4%) and Campylobacter (18·2%) infections evolved noticeably. Campylobacter rates increased from 15·0 to 110·8/100 000 per annum. Salmonella rates increased from 74·2 to 199·6/100 000 in 1995 then decreased to 39·4/100 000. Shigella showed an endemic/epidemic pattern ranging between 19·7 and 252·8/100 000. Most patients (75%) were aged <15 years; children aged <5 years comprised 56·4% of cases, despite accounting for only 12·9% of the population. Campylobacter was the predominant organism in infants aged <1 year and Shigella in the 1–4 years group. The hospitalization rates were: Shigella, 1·8%; Campylobacter, 2·3%; Salmonella, 6·9%. Infants were 2·2 times more likely to be hospitalized than children aged 1–14 years (P=0·001). Household transmission occurred in 21·2% of Shigella cases compared with 5% in the other bacteria.
Proposed measures to contain pandemic influenza include school closure, although the effectiveness of this has not been investigated. We examined the effect of a nationwide elementary school strike in Israel in 2000 on the incidence of influenza-like illness. In this historical observational study of 1·7 million members of a preferred provider organization, we analysed diagnoses from primary-care visits during the winter months in 1998–2002. We calculated the weekly ratio of influenza-like diagnoses to non-respiratory diagnoses, and fitted regression models for school-aged children, children's household members, and all other individuals aged >12 years. For each population the steepest drop in the ratio of influenza-like diagnoses to non-respiratory diagnoses occurred in the strike year 2 weeks after the start of the strike. The changes in the weekly ratio of influenza-like diagnoses to non-respiratory diagnoses were statistically significant (P=0·0074) for school children for the strike year compared to other years. A smaller decrease was also seen for the adults with no school-aged children in 1999 (P=0·037). The Chanukah holiday had a negative impact on the ratio for school-aged children in 1998, 1999 and 2001 (P=0·008, 0·006 and 0·045, respectively) and was statistically significant for both adult groups in 1999 and for adults with no school-aged children in 2001. School closure should be considered part of the containment strategy in an influenza pandemic.
A survey of 280 attendees at a veterinary meeting in the Czech Republic in 2008 revealed a carriage rate of 0·7% for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The two strains isolated were of distinct genetic lineages, carried type IV SCCmec determinants and were negative for Panton–Valentine leukocidin genes. The MRSA positivity rates for veterinarians in the Czech Republic is considerably lower than reported elsewhere.
Noroviruses are an important cause of sporadic cases and outbreaks of acute gastroenteritis. During 2006–2007, widespread increases in acute gastroenteritis outbreaks consistent with norovirus were observed in the United States. We conducted a statewide survey to characterize norovirus outbreak activity in Florida during a 1-year period. From July 2006 to June 2007, 257 outbreaks of norovirus gastroenteritis were identified in 39 of Florida's 67 counties. About 44% of outbreaks were laboratory confirmed as norovirus and 93% of these were due to genogroup GII. About 63% of outbreaks occurred in long-term care facilities and 10% of outbreaks were classified as foodborne. The median number of ill persons per outbreak was 24, with an estimated total of 7880 ill persons. During the study period, norovirus outbreak activity in Florida was widespread, persistent, and consistent with increased activity observed in other parts of the country.
Avian influenza caused infection and spread throughout Nigeria in 2006. Carcass samples (lung, liver, spleen, heart, trachea and intestine) from the different regions of Nigeria were processed for virus isolation. Infective allantoic fluids were tested for avian influenza viruses (AIV) and Newcastle disease virus using monospecific antisera. Thirty-five isolates were generated and characterized molecularly using the haemagglutinin gene. The molecular analysis indicated that different sublineages of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 viruses spread throughout Nigeria. We compared the Nigerian isolates with others from Africa and results indicated close similarities between isolates from West Africa and Sudan. Some of the analysed viruses showed genetic drift, and the implications of these for future epidemiology and ecology of avian influenza in Africa require further evaluation. The spread of primary outbreaks was strongly linked to trade (legal and illegal), live bird markets, inappropriate disposal, and poorly implemented control measures. No strong correlation existed between wild birds and HPAI H5N1 in Nigeria.
Historical studies of influenza pandemics can provide insight into transmission and mortality patterns, and may aid in planning for a future pandemic. Here, we analyse historical vital statistics and quantify the age-specific mortality patterns associated with the 1918–1920 influenza pandemic in Japan, USA, and UK. All three countries showed highly elevated mortality risk in young adults relative to surrounding non-pandemic years. By contrast, the risk of death was low in the very young and very old. In Japan, the overall mortality impact was not limited to winter 1918–1919, and continued during winter 1919–1920. Mortality impact varied as much as threefold across the 47 Japanese prefectures, and differences in baseline mortality, population demographics, and density explained a small fraction of these variations. Our study highlights important geographical variations in timing and mortality impact of historical pandemics, in particular between the Eastern and Western hemispheres. In a future pandemic, vaccination in one region could save lives even months after the emergence of a pandemic virus in another region.
Foodborne outbreaks from contaminated fresh produce have been increasingly recognized in many parts of the world. This reflects a convergence of increasing consumption of fresh produce, changes in production and distribution, and a growing awareness of the problem on the part of public health officials. The complex biology of pathogen contamination and survival on plant materials is beginning to be explained. Adhesion of pathogens to surfaces and internalization of pathogens limits the usefulness of conventional processing and chemical sanitizing methods in preventing transmission from contaminated produce. Better methods of preventing contamination on the farm, or during packing or processing, or use of a terminal control such as irradiation could reduce the burden of disease transmission from fresh produce. Outbreak investigations represent important opportunities to evaluate contamination at the farm level and along the farm-to-fork continuum. More complete and timely environmental assessments of these events and more research into the biology and ecology of pathogen-produce interactions are needed to identify better prevention strategies.
Community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) has rapidly emerged in the USA as a cause of severe infections in previously healthy persons without traditional risk factors. We describe the epidemiology of severe CA-MRSA disease in the state of Georgia, USA and analyse the risk of death associated with three different clinical syndromes of CA-MRSA disease – pneumonia, invasive disease, and skin and soft-tissue infections (SSTIs). A total of 1670 cases of severe CA-MRSA disease were reported during 2005–2007. The case-fatality rate was 3·4%; sex and race of fatal and non-fatal cases did not differ significantly. While CA-MRSA pneumonia and invasive disease were less common than SSTIs, they were about 15 times more likely to result in death [risk ratio 16·69, 95% confidence interval (CI) 10·28–27·07 and 13·98, 95% CI 7·74–25·27, respectively]. When controlling for age and the presence of other clinical syndromes the odds of death in patients manifesting specific severe CA-MRSA syndromes was highest in those with pneumonia (odds ratio 11·34). Possible risk factors for severe CA-MRSA SSTI and pneumonia included the draining of lesions without medical assistance and an antecedent influenza-like illness.