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Tremendous advancements in syndromic surveillance strategies over the last two decades, and specifically from prior mass gatherings, have been incorporated into day-to-day healthcare analysis worldwide and have left a lasting indirect impact since their inception. Mass gatherings are a daily occurrence worldwide and provide a scenario ripe for public health aims and objectives utilising syndromic surveillance. Europe is less than a decade away from hosting a colossal worldwide gathering (2024 Summer Olympics) in likely a time when the global agreement is in flux. A call to arms is needed for additional surveillance strategies incorporating mobile application symptom checker data, telemedicine, social media and social data sensing. There remains a need for an optimal combination of real-time data sensing that captures the whole population, but to reach that goal we must incorporate new advancements into baseline epidemiologic data monitoring, otherwise we will be tracking real-time mass gathering events on top of inaccurate baseline epidemiologic data.
The 2017 plague outbreak in Madagascar was unprecedented in the African region, resulting in 2417 cases (498 confirmed, 793 probable and 1126 suspected) and 209 deaths by the end of the acute urban pneumonic phase of the outbreak. The Health Emergencies Programme of the WHO Regional Office for Africa together with the WHO Country Office and WHO Headquarters assisted the Ministry of Public Health of Madagascar in the rapid implementation of plague prevention and control measures while collecting and analysing quantitative and qualitative data to inform immediate interventions. We document the key findings of the evidence available to date and actions taken as a result. Based on the four goals of operational research – effective dissemination of results, peer-reviewed publication, changes to policy and practice and improvements in programme performance and health – we evaluate the use of evidence to inform response to the outbreak and describe lessons learned for future outbreak responses in the WHO African region. This article may not be reprinted or reused in any way in order to promote any commercial products or services.
Streptococcus pyogenes (or Group A Streptococcus, GAS) is a Gram-positive human pathogen responsible for a diverse array of superficial, invasive and immune-related diseases. GAS infections have historically been diseases of poverty and overcrowding, and remain a significant problem in the developing world and in disadvantaged populations within developed countries. With improved living conditions and access to antibiotics, the rates of GAS diseases in developed societies have gradually declined during the 20th century. However, genetic changes in circulating GAS strains and/or changes in host susceptibility to infection can lead to dramatic increases in the rates of specific diseases. No situations exemplify this more than the global upsurge of invasive GAS disease that originated in the 1980s and the regional increases in scarlet fever in north-east Asia and the UK. In each case, increased disease rates have been associated with the emergence of new GAS strains with increased disease-causing capability. Global surveillance for new GAS strains with increased virulence is important and determining why certain populations suddenly become susceptible to circulating strains remains a research priority. Here, we overview the changing epidemiology of GAS infections and the genetic alterations that accompany the emergence of GAS strains with increased capacity to cause disease.
Leptospirosis is a worldwide zoonotic disease determined by pathogenic spirochetes of the genus Leptospira. The control of bovine leptospirosis involves several measures including antibiotic treatment of carriers. Despite its importance, few studies regarding antimicrobial susceptibility of strains from bovine origin have been conducted. The aim of this study was to determine the in vitro susceptibility of Leptospira strains obtained from cattle in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, against the main antibiotics used in bovine veterinary practice. A total of 23 Leptospira spp. strains were investigated for minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) and minimum bactericidal concentrations (MBCs) using broth macrodilution. At the species level, there were not differences in MIC susceptibility except for tetracycline (P < 0.05). Nevertheless, at the serogroup level, differences in MIC were observed among Sejroe strains, mainly for ceftiofur, doxycycline and in MBC for streptomycin (P < 0.05). One strain presented MBC values above maximum plasmatic concentration described for streptomycin and was classified as presenting reduced susceptibility. Efficacy of antimicrobial therapy on bovine leptospirosis could be compromised due to occurrence of infection by Leptospira strains presenting reduced susceptibility.
In Belgium, it is mandatory to report Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) infections to the health inspection authorities. To facilitate the decision making regarding infection control measures, information about the risk factors for the development of the haemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) can be helpful. We performed statistical analyses on a dataset of 411 Belgian STEC strains. Demographic and clinical patient characteristics as well as phenotypical and genotypical STEC strain characteristics were taken into account. Multivariate logistic regression models indicated that age categories ⩽5, 6–12 and ⩾75; the stx2 gene; and the eae gene were significant HUS development risk determinants. The stx2a subtype had the highest risk (OR 29.6, 95% CI 7.0–125.1), while all stx1 subtypes encompassed a significant lower risk (OR 0.3, 95% CI 0.1–0.5). Presence of the stx1 gene without stx2 encompassed a lower risk than the combined presence of stx1 and stx2, or stx2 solely. Based on these results, we propose a new virulence typing algorithm that will enable the National Reference Centre to provide the physicians and health inspection authorities with a risk classification for the development of HUS. We believe this will contribute to a more efficient STEC infection control management in Belgium.
Due to the European measles epidemic and the increased number of imported cases, it can be theorised that the risk of exposure among Hungarian healthcare workers (HCWs) has increased. In 2017, the increased measles circulation in the region led to the emergence of smaller local and hospital epidemics. Therefore, our objective was to determine the herd immunity in the high-risk group of HCWs. A hospital-based study of detecting anti-measles IgG activity was performed in 2017 and included 2167 employees of the Military Medical Centre (Hungary). The screening of HCWs presented a good general seropositivity (90.6%). The highest seroprevalence value (99.1%) was found in the age group of 60 years or older. The lowest number of seropositive individuals was seen in the 41–45 years (86.2%) age group, indicating a significant herd immunity gap between groups. Regarding the Hungarian data, there might be gaps in the seroprevalence of the analysed HCWs, implying that susceptible HCWs may generate healthcare-associated infections. This study suggests that despite the extensive vaccination and high vaccine coverage, it is still important to monitor the level of protective antibodies in HCWs, or in a representative group of the whole population of Hungary, and possibly in other countries as well.
Febrile seizure (FS) in children is a common complication of infections with respiratory viruses and hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD). We conducted a retrospective ecological time-series analysis to determine the temporal relationship between hospital attendances for FS and HFMD or respiratory virus infections. Epilepsy attendance was used as a control. Data from 2004 to 2012 FS and epilepsy hospital attendance, HFMD notifications to the Ministry of Health and from laboratory-confirmed viral respiratory infections among KK Women's and Children's Hospital inpatients were used. A multivariate linear regression analysis was conducted to evaluate the relationship between FS and the virus time series. Relative risks of FS by age were calculated using Bayesian statistical methods. Paediatric accident and emergency (A&E) attendances for FS were found to be associated with influenza A (extra 0.47 FS per influenza A case), B (extra 0.32 per influenza B case) and parainfluenza 3 (extra 0.35 per parainfluenza type 3 case). However, other viruses were not significantly associated with FS. None of the viruses were associated with epileptic seizure attendance. Influenza A, B and parainfluenza 3 viruses contributed to the burden of FS resulting in A&E attendance. Children at risk of FS should be advised to receive seasonal influenza vaccination.
Bovine brucellosis is a worldwide zoonotic disease that still burdens several countries in the Mediterranean, Asia, Africa and Latin America. Although the disease is present in Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands seem to be free from the disease based on a survey conducted in 1997 where all tested animals showed negative results. This study aimed at estimating the probability of freedom from brucellosis in this Ecuadorian province in 2014. A survey was implemented on the three main cattle-producing islands of the province: Santa Cruz, Isabela and San Cristóbal. Thirty-three cattle farms and 410 cattle were tested for brucellosis using the Rose Bengal test and indirect ELISA. All animals showed negative results for both tests. Probability of freedom was estimated at 98%, 91% and 88% for Santa Cruz, Isabela and San Cristóbal, respectively, considering a herd-level design seroprevalence of 20% and animal-level design seroprevalence of 15%, and assuming a perfect specificity of the survey. The negative results found in 1997 and present surveys suggest that the Galapagos Islands are free from bovine brucellosis.
Diarrhoeagenic Escherichia coli (DEC) is a leading cause of infectious diarrhoea worldwide. In recent years, Escherichia albertii has also been implicated as a cause of human enteric diseases. This study describes the occurrence of E. coli pathotypes and serotypes associated with enteric illness and haemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) isolated in Brazil from 2011 to 2016. Pathotypes isolated included enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC), enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC), enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC), enteroinvasive E. coli (EIEC) and Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC). PCR of stool enrichments for DEC pathotypes was employed, and E. albertii was also sought. O:H serotyping was performed on all DEC isolates. A total of 683 DEC and 10 E. albertii strains were isolated from 5047 clinical samples. The frequencies of DEC pathotypes were 52.6% (359/683) for EPEC, 32.5% for EAEC, 6.3% for ETEC, 4.4% for EIEC and 4.2% for STEC. DEC strains occurred in patients from 3 months to 96 years old, but EPEC, EAEC and STEC were most prevalent among children. Both typical and atypical isolates of EPEC and EAEC were recovered and presented great serotype heterogeneity. HUS cases were only associated with STEC serotype O157:H7. Two E. albertii isolates belonged to serogroup O113 and one had the stx2f gene. The higher prevalence of atypical EPEC in relation to EAEC in community-acquired diarrhoea in Brazil suggests a shift in the trend of DEC pathotypes circulation as previously EAEC predominated. This is the first report of E. albertii isolation from active surveillance. These results highlight the need of continuing DEC and E. albertii surveillance, as a mean to detect changes in the pattern of pathotypes and serotypes circulation and provide useful information for intervention and control strategies.
Typhoid fever is an illness caused by Salmonella enterica serotype Typhi. In developing regions, it affects an estimated 20 million people annually, causing 200 000 deaths. Although uncommon, cases occur in the USA each year, predominantly due to international travel. During February 2015, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) detected an outbreak of typhoid fever among residents of northwestern Oklahoma. OSDH conducted case-patient interviews to identify the source and symptomatic contacts. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) was performed to characterise the genetic relatedness of isolates among the four outbreak-associated pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) patterns. We identified 38 cases, 25 confirmed and 13 probable, in two states. WGS revealed a 0–10 single-nucleotide polymorphism variation between isolates. Although we were unable to determine the source, almost all case-patients were members of the Marshallese community that attended a common event in Oklahoma, or were contacts to a confirmed case. This is the largest outbreak of typhoid fever in the USA since 1989, and first to apply WGS to complement interpretation of PFGE results during a typhoid fever outbreak investigation. This investigation illustrates the potential risk of outbreaks among communities comprised of international populations from regions where typhoid fever remains endemic.
The epidemiology of infectious diseases depends on many characteristics of disease progression, as well as the consistency of these processes across hosts. Longitudinal studies of infection can thus inform disease monitoring and management, but can be challenging in wildlife, particularly for long-lived hosts and persistent infections. Numerous tortoise species of conservation concern can be infected by pathogenic mycoplasmas that cause a chronic upper respiratory tract disease (URTD). Yet, a lack of detailed data describing tortoise responses to mycoplasma infections obscures our understanding of URTDs role in host ecology. We therefore monitored Mycoplasma agassizii infections in 14 captive desert tortoises and characterised clinical signs of disease, infection intensity, pathogen shedding and antibody production for nearly 4 years after initial exposure to donor hosts. Persistent infections established in all exposed tortoises within 10 weeks, but hosts appeared to vary in resistance, which affected the patterns of pathogen shedding and apparent disease. Delays in host immune response and changes to clinical signs and infection intensity over time resulted in inconsistencies between diagnostic tools and changes in diagnostic accuracy throughout the study. We discuss the implications these results have for URTD epidemiology and past and future research assessing disease prevalence and dynamics in tortoise populations.
The pathophysiological mechanisms underlying the seasonal dynamic and epidemic occurrence of bacterial meningitis in the African meningitis belt remain unknown. Regular seasonality (seasonal hyperendemicity) is observed for both meningococcal and pneumococcal meningitis and understanding this is critical for better prevention and modelling. The two principal hypotheses for hyperendemicity during the dry season imply (1) an increased risk of invasive disease given asymptomatic carriage of meningococci and pneumococci; or (2) an increased transmission of these bacteria from carriers and ill individuals. In this study, we formulated three compartmental deterministic models of seasonal hyperendemicity, featuring one (model1-‘inv’ or model2-‘transm’), or a combination (model3-‘inv-transm’) of the two hypotheses. We parameterised the models based on current knowledge on meningococcal and pneumococcal biology and pathophysiology. We compared the three models' performance in reproducing weekly incidences of suspected cases of acute bacterial meningitis reported by health centres in Burkina Faso during 2004–2010, through the meningitis surveillance system. The three models performed well (coefficient of determination R2, 0.72, 0.86 and 0.87, respectively). Model2-‘transm’ and model3-‘inv-transm’ better captured the amplitude of the seasonal incidence. However, model2-‘transm’ required a higher constant invasion rate for a similar average baseline transmission rate. The results suggest that a combination of seasonal changes of the risk of invasive disease and carriage transmission is involved in the hyperendemic seasonality of bacterial meningitis in the African meningitis belt. Consequently, both interventions reducing the risk of nasopharyngeal invasion and the bacteria transmission, especially during the dry season are believed to be needed to limit the recurrent seasonality of bacterial meningitis in the meningitis belt.
Giardiasis is one of the most important non-viral causes of human diarrhoea. Yet, little is known about the epidemiology of giardiasis in the context of developed countries such as Australia and there is a limited information about local sources of exposure to inform prevention strategies in New South Wales. This study aimed to (1) describe the epidemiology of giardiasis and (2) identify potential modifiable risk factors associated with giardiasis that are unique to south-western Sydney, Australia. A 1:2 matched case-control study of 190 confirmed giardiasis cases notified to the South-Western Local Health District Public Health Unit from January to December 2016 was employed to investigate the risk factors for giardiasis. Two groups of controls were selected to increase response rate; Pertussis cases and neighbourhood (NBH) controls. A matched analysis was carried out for both control groups separately. Variables with a significant odds ratio (OR) in the univariate analysis were placed into a multivariable regression for each matched group, respectively. In the regression model with the NBH controls, age and sex were controlled as potential confounders. Identified risk factors included being under 5 years of age (aOR = 7.08; 95% confidence intervals (CI) 1.02–49.36), having a household member diagnosed with a gastrointestinal illness (aOR = 15.89; 95% CI 1.53–164.60) and having contact with farm animals, domestic animals or wildlife (aOR = 3.03; 95% CI 1.08–8.54). Cases that travelled overseas were at increased risk of infection (aOR = 19.89; 95% CI 2.00–197.37) when compared with Pertussis cases. This study provides an update on the epidemiology and associated risk factors of a neglected tropical disease, which can inform enhanced surveillance and prevention strategies in the developed metropolitan areas.
When assessing hepatitis B virus (HBV) status in clinical settings, it is unclear whether self-reports on vaccination history and previous HBV-test results have any diagnostic capacity. Of 3997 participants in a multi-centre HBV-screening study in Paris, France, 1090 were asked questions on their last HBV-test result and vaccination history. Discordance between self-reported history compared with infection status (determined by serology) was calculated for participants claiming ‘negative’, ‘effective vaccine’, ‘past infection’, or ‘chronic infection’ HBV-status. Serological testing revealed that 320 (29.4%) were non-immunised, 576 (52.8%) were vaccinated, 173 (15.9%) had resolved the infection and 21 (1.9%) were hepatitis B surface antigen positive. In total 208/426 (48.8%) participants with a self-reported history of ‘negative’ infection had a discordant serological result, in whom 128 (61.5%) were vaccinated and 74 (35.6%) had resolved infections. A total of 153/599 (25.5%) participants self-reporting ‘effective vaccine’ had a discordant serological result, in whom 100 (65.4%) were non-immunised and 50 (32.7%) were resolved infections. Discordance for declaring ‘past’ or ‘chronic infection’ occurred in 9/55 (16.4%) and 3/10 (30.0%) individuals, respectively. In conclusion, self-reported HBV-status based on participant history is partially inadequate for determining serological HBV-status, especially between negative/vaccinated individuals. More adapted patient education about HBV-status might be helpful for certain key populations.
Austerity might have affected the capacity of public hospitals in Greece to diagnose salmonellosis (laboratory capacity) over the period 2010–2016, as well as the performance of the existing surveillance systems. The scope of this paper is to present data on laboratory capacity over these years, as well as the results of a two-source capture-recapture study (data from Mandatory Notification System and National Reference Laboratory System for Salmonella). The main findings were that: (a) laboratory capacity was high and steady besides the financial crisis, (b) the estimated number of laboratory-confirmed cases (n = 6017, 95% CI 5892–6142) resulted in an incidence rate (7.9 cases/100 000 population) almost twice than that reported by the two systems Mandatory Notification System (MNS); 4.1 and National Reference Laboratory System (NRLS); 4.5 cases/100 000 population, (c) underreporting was high for both systems (MNS; 47.5% and NRLS; 42.8%) and (d) differences by geographical region, size and type of hospital were identified. We suggest that (a) specific interventions are needed to increase completeness of the systems by type of hospital and geographical region, (b) record linkage can help in estimating the disease burden in a more valid way than each system separately and (c) a common electronic database in order to feed one system to the other could significantly increase completeness of both systems.
Chlamydia trachomatis (CT) infections remain highly prevalent. CT reinfection occurs frequently within months after treatment, likely contributing to sustaining the high CT infection prevalence. Sparse studies have suggested CT reinfection is associated with a lower organism load, but it is unclear whether CT load at the time of treatment influences CT reinfection risk. In this study, women presenting for treatment of a positive CT screening test were enrolled, treated and returned for 3- and 6-month follow-up visits. CT organism loads were quantified at each visit. We evaluated for an association of CT bacterial load at initial infection with reinfection risk and investigated factors influencing the CT load at baseline and follow-up in those with CT reinfection. We found no association of initial CT load with reinfection risk. We found a significant decrease in the median log10 CT load from baseline to follow-up in those with reinfection (5.6 CT/ml vs. 4.5 CT/ml; P = 0.015). Upon stratification of reinfected subjects based upon presence or absence of a history of CT infections prior to their infection at the baseline visit, we found a significant decline in the CT load from baseline to follow-up (5.7 CT/ml vs. 4.3 CT/ml; P = 0.021) exclusively in patients with a history of CT infections prior to our study. Our findings suggest repeated CT infections may lead to possible development of partial immunity against CT.
Mycobacterium ulcerans is recognised as the third most common mycobacterial infection worldwide. It causes necrotising infections of skin and soft tissue and is classified as a neglected tropical disease by the World Health Organization (WHO). However, despite extensive research, the environmental reservoir of the organism and mode of transmission of the infection to humans remain unknown. This limits the ability to design and implement public health interventions to effectively and consistently prevent the spread and reduce the incidence of this disease. In recent years, the epidemiology of the disease has changed. In most endemic regions of the world, the number of cases reported to the WHO are reducing, with a 64% reduction in cases reported worldwide in the last 9 years. Conversely, in a smaller number of countries including Australia and Nigeria, reported cases are increasing at a rapid rate, new endemic areas continue to appear, and in Australia cases are becoming more severe. The reasons for this changing epidemiology are unknown. We review the epidemiology of M. ulcerans disease worldwide, and document recent changes. We also outline and discuss the current state of knowledge on the ecology of M. ulcerans, possible transmission mechanisms to humans and what may be enabling the spread of M. ulcerans into new endemic areas.
A cluster of Salmonella Paratyphi B variant L(+) tartrate(+) infections with indistinguishable pulsed-field gel electrophoresis patterns was detected in October 2015. Interviews initially identified nut butters, kale, kombucha, chia seeds and nutrition bars as common exposures. Epidemiologic, environmental and traceback investigations were conducted. Thirteen ill people infected with the outbreak strain were identified in 10 states with illness onset during 18 July–22 November 2015. Eight of 10 (80%) ill people reported eating Brand A raw sprouted nut butters. Brand A conducted a voluntary recall. Raw sprouted nut butters are a novel outbreak vehicle, though contaminated raw nuts, nut butters and sprouted seeds have all caused outbreaks previously. Firms producing raw sprouted products, including nut butters, should consider a kill step to reduce the risk of contamination. People at greater risk for foodborne illness may wish to consider avoiding raw products containing raw sprouted ingredients.