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We described the epidemiology of bat intrusions into a hospital and subsequent management of exposures during 2018–2020. Most intrusions occurred in older buildings during the summer and fall months. Hospitals need bat intrusion surveillance systems and protocols for bat handling, exposure management, and intrusion mitigation.
Background: COVID-19 in hospitalized patients may be the result of community acquisition or in-hospital transmission. Molecular epidemiology can help confirm hospital COVID-19 transmission and outbreaks. We describe large COVID-19 clusters identified in our hospital and apply molecular epidemiology to confirm outbreaks. Methods: The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics is an 811-bed academic medical center. We identified large clusters involving patients with hospital onset COVID-19 detected during March–October 2020. Large clusters included ≥10 individuals (patients, visitors, or HCWs) with a laboratory confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis (RT-PCR) and an epidemiologic link. Epidemiologic links were defined as hospitalization, work, or visiting in the same unit during the incubation or infectious period for the index case. Hospital onset was defined as a COVID-19 diagnosis ≥14 days from admission date. Admission screening has been conducted since May 2020 and serial testing (every 5 days) since July 2020. Nasopharyngeal swab specimens were retrieved for viral whole-genome sequencing (WGS). Cluster patients with a pairwise difference in ≤5 mutations were considered part of an outbreak. WGS was performed using Oxford Nanopore Technology and protocols from the ARTIC network. Results: We identified 2 large clusters involving patients with hospital-onset COVID-19. Cluster 1: 2 hospital-onset cases were identified in a medical-surgical unit in June 2020. Source and contact tracing revealed 4 additional patients, 1 visitor, and 13 employees with COVID-19. Median age for patients was 62 (range, 38–79), and all were male. In total, 17 samples (6 patients, 1 visitor, and 10 HCWs) were available for WGS. Cluster 2: A hospital-onset case was identified via serial testing in a non–COVID-19 intensive care unit in September 2020. Source investigation, contact tracing, and serial testing revealed 3 additional patients, and 8 HCWs. One HCW also had a community exposure. Patient median age was 60 years (range, 48–68) and all were male. In total, 11 samples (4 patients and 7 HCWs) were sequenced. Using WGS, cluster 1 was confirmed to be an outbreak: WGS showed 0–5 mutations in between samples. Cluster 2 was also an outbreak: WGS showed less diversity (0–3 mutations) and ruled out the HCW with a community exposure (20 mutations of difference). Conclusion: Whole-genome sequencing confirmed the outbreaks identified using classic epidemiologic methods. Serial testing allowed for early outbreak detection. Early outbreak detection and implementation of control measures may decrease outbreak size and genetic diversity.
Background: Bats are recognized as important vectors in disease transmission. Frequently, bats intrude into homes and buildings, increasing the risk to human health. We describe bat intrusions and exposure incidents in our hospital over a 3-year period. Methods: The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC) is an 811-bed academic medical center in Iowa City, Iowa. Established in 1928, UIHC currently covers 209,031.84 m2 (~2,250,000 ft2) and contains 6 pavilions built between 1928 and 2017. We retrospectively obtained bat intrusion calls from the infection prevention and control program call database at UIHC during 2018–2020. We have also described the event management for intrusions potentially associated with patient exposures. Results: In total, 67 bat intrusions occurred during 2018–2020. The most frequent locations were hallways or lounges 28 (42%), nonclinical office spaces 19 (14%), and stairwells 8 (12%). Most bat intrusions (65%) occurred during the summer and fall (June–November). The number of events were 15 in 2018, 28 in 2019, and 24 in 2020. We observed that the number of intrusions increased with the age of each pavilion (Figure 1). Of 67 intrusions, 2 incidents (3%) were associated with potential exposure to patients. In the first incident, reported in 2019, the bat was captured in a patient care area and released before an investigation of exposures was completed and no rabies testing was available. Also, 10 patients were identified as having had potential exposure to the bat. Among them, 9 patients (90%) received rabies postexposure prophylaxis. In response to this serious event, we provided facility-wide education on our bat control policy, which includes the capture and safe handling of the bat, assessment of potential exposures, and potential need for rabies testing. We also implemented a bat exclusion project focused on the exterior of the oldest hospital buildings. The second event, 1 patient was identified to have potential exposure to the bat. The bat was captured, tested negative for rabies, no further action was needed. Conclusions: Bat intrusions can be an infection prevention and control challenge in facilities with older buildings. Hospitals may need animal intrusion surveillance systems, management protocols, and remediation efforts.
Background: Hospital semiprivate rooms may lead to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patient exposures. We investigated the risk of COVID-19 patient-to-patient exposure in semiprivate rooms and the subsequent risk of acquiring COVID-19. Methods: The University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics is an 811-bed tertiary care center. Overall, 16% of patient days are spent in semiprivate rooms. Most patients do not wear masks while in semiprivate rooms. Active COVID-19 surveillance included admission and every 5 days nasopharyngeal SARS-CoV-2 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing. We identified inpatients with COVID-19 who were in semiprivate rooms during their infectious periods during July–December 2020. Testing was repeated 24 hours after the first positive test. Cycle threshold (Ct) values of the two tests (average Ct <30), SARS-CoV-2 serology results, clinical assessment, and COVID-19 history were used to determine patient infectiousness. Roommates were considered exposed if in the same semiprivate room with an infectious patient. Exposed patients were notified, quarantined (private room), and follow-up testing was arranged (median seven days). Conversion was defined as having a negative test followed by a subsequent positive within 14 days after exposure. We calculated the risk of exposure: number of infectious patients in semiprivate rooms/number of semiprivate patient-days (hospitalization days in semiprivate rooms). Results: There were 16,427 semiprivate patient days during July–December 2020. We identified 43 COVID-19 inpatients who roommates during their infectious periods. Most infectious patients (77%) were male; the median age was 67 years; and 22 (51%) were symptomatic. Most were detected during active surveillance: admission testing (51%) and serial testing (28%). There were 57 exposed roommates. The risk of exposure was 3 of 1,000 semiprivate patient days. In total, 16 roommates (28%) did not complete follow-up testing. Of 41 exposed patients with follow-up data, 8 (20%) converted following their exposure. Median time to conversion was 5 days. The risk of exposure and subsequent conversion was 0.7 of 1,000 semiprivate patient days. Median Ct value of the source patient was 20 for those who converted and 23 for those who did not convert. Median exposure time was 45 hours (range, 3–73) for those who converted and 12 hours (range, 1–75) for those who did not convert. Conclusions: The overall risk of exposure in semiprivate rooms was low. The conversion rate was comparable to that reported for household exposures. Lower Ct values and lengthier exposures may be associated with conversion. Active COVID-19 surveillance helps early detection and decreases exposure time.
Background: Hospitalized patients may unknowingly carry severe acute respiratory coronavirus virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), even if they are admitted for other reasons. Because SARS-CoV-2 may remain positive by reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) for months after infection, patients with a positive result may not necessarily be infectious. We aimed to determine the frequency of SARS-CoV-2 infections in patients admitted for reasons unrelated to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Methods: The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics is an 811-bed tertiary-care center. We use a nasopharyngeal SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR to screen admitted patients without signs or symptoms compatible with COVID-19. Patients with positive tests undergo a repeat test to assess cycle threshold (Ct) value kinetics. We reviewed records for patients with positive RT-PCR screening admitted during July–October 2020. We used a combination of history, serologies, and RT-PCR Ct values to assess and qualify likelihood of infectiousness: (1) likely infectious, if Ct values were <29, or (2) likely not infectious, if 1 or both samples had Cts <30 with or without a positive SARS-CoV-2 antinucleocapsid IgG/IgM test or history of a positive result in the past 90 days. Contact tracing was only conducted for patients likely to be infectious. We describe the isolation duration and contact tracing data. Results: In total, 6,447 patients were tested on hospital admission for any reason (persons under investigation or admitted for reasons other than COVID-19). Of these, 240 (4%) had positive results, but 65 (27%) of these were admitted for reasons other than COVID-19. In total, 55 patients had Ct values available and were included in this analysis. The median age was 56 years (range, 0–91), 28 (51%) were male, and 12 (5%) were children. The most frequent admission syndromes were neurological (36%), gastrointestinal (16%), and trauma (16%). Our assessment revealed 23 likely infections (42%; 14 definite, 9 possible) and 32 cases likely not infectious (58%). The mean Ct for patients who were likely infectious was 22; it was 34 for patients who were likely not infectious. Mean duration of in-hospital isolation was 6 days for those who were likely infectious and 2 days for those who were likely not infectious. We detected 8 individuals (1 healthcare worker and 7 patients) who were exposed to a likely infectious patient. Conclusions: SARS-CoV-2 infection in patients hospitalized for other reasons was infrequent. An assessment of the likelihood of infectiousness including history, RT-PCR Cts, and serology may help prioritize patients in need of isolation and contact investigations.
Background: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). SARS-CoV-2 RNA can be detected by real-time reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) for several weeks after infection. Discerning persistent RT-PCR positivity versus reinfection is challenging and the frequency of COVID-19 reinfections is unknown. We aimed to determine the frequency of clinically suspected reinfection in our center and confirm reinfection using viral whole-genome sequencing (WGS). Methods: The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC) is an 811-bed academic medical center. Patients with respiratory complaints undergo COVID-19 RT-PCR using nasopharyngeal swabs. The RT-PCR (TaqPath COVID-19 Combo kit) uses 3 targets (ORF1ab, S gene, and N gene). We identified patients with previous laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 who sought care for new respiratory complaints and underwent a repeated SARS-CoV-2 test at least 45 days from their first positive test. We then identified patients with median RT-PCR cycle threshold (Ct) values. Results: During the study period, 13,603 patients had a SARS-CoV-2– positive RT-PCR. Of these, 296 (2.2%) had a clinical visit for new onset of symptoms and a repeated RT-PCR assay >45 days from the first test. Moreover, 29 patients (9.8%) had a positive RT-PCR assay in the repeated testing. Ct values were available for samples from 25 patients; 7 (28%) had Ct values. Conclusions: In patients with a recent history of COVID-19 infection, repeated testing for respiratory symptoms was infrequent. Some had a SARS-CoV-2–positive RT-PCR assay on repeated testing, but only 1 in 4 had Ct values suggestive of a reinfection. We confirmed 1 case of reinfection using WGS.
Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has affected healthcare systems worldwide, but the impact on infection prevention and control (IPC) programs has not been fully evaluated. We assessed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on IPC consultation requests. Methods: The University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics comprises an 811-bed hospital that admits >36,000 patients yearly and >200 outpatient clinics. Questions about IPC can be addressed to the Program of Hospital Epidemiology via e-mail, in person, or through our phone line. We routinely record date and time, call source, reason for the call, and estimated time to resolve questions for all phone line requests. We defined calls during 2018–2019 as the pre–COVID-19 period and calls from January to December 2020 as the COVID-19 period. Results: In total, 6,564 calls were recorded from 2018 to 2020. In the pre–COVID-19 period (2018–2019), we received a median of 71 calls per month (range, 50–119). The most frequent call sources were inpatient units (n = 902; 50%), department of public health (n = 357; 20%), laboratory (n = 171; 9%), and outpatient clinics (n = 120; 7%) (Figure 1). The most common call topics were isolation and precautions (n = 606; 42%), outside institutions requests (n = 324; 22%), environmental and construction (n = 148; 10%), and infection exposures (n = 149; 10%). The most frequent infection-related calls were about tuberculosis (17%), gram-negative organisms (14%), and influenza (9%). During the COVID-19 period, the median monthly call volume increased 500% to 368 per month (range, 149–829). Most (83%) were COVID-19 related. The median monthly number of COVID-19 calls was 302 (range, 45–674). The median monthly number of non–COVID-19 calls decreased to 56 (range, 36–155). The most frequent call sources were inpatient units (57%), outpatient clinics (16%), and the department of public health (5%). Most calls concerned isolation and precautions (50%) and COVID-19 testing (20%). The mean time required to respond to each question was 10 minutes (range, 2–720). The biggest surges in calls during the COVID-19 period were at the beginning of the pandemic (March 2020) and during the hospital peak COVID-19 census (November 2020). Conclusions: In addition to supporting a proactive COVID-19 response, our IPC program experienced a 500% increase in consultation requests. Planning for future bioemergencies should include creative strategies to provide additional resources to increase response capacity within IPC programs.
It is the age of the Anthropocene. With far-reaching changes to economy and technology, society and the environment, humanity has gained the capacity to either foster or foreclose the quality of life for future generations. Through degradation of the Earth’s marine and terrestrial ecosystems and its climate, including the natural resources upon which all people depend, human civilization holds the potential to deprive billions of their rights to life, taking millions of other species as well. Particularly as social, economic and environmental transformations and impacts of the recent global COVID-19 pandemic become more apparent, a growing recognition of the risks and threats is slowly changing perceptions of humankind’s responsibility for its descendants. Since the 1972 UN Conference in Stockholm, numerous international policy declarations have reflected increasing concern for the need to promote a more sustainable development that can take into account the needs and interests of future generations, including the global adoption of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their 169 targets in 2015 by Heads of State in New York.
International law reflects the values shared by States and has helped them face the most consequential challenges of the day. After the Second World War, the most significant challenge was to preserve international peace and security, as well as to guarantee basic human rights. In the twenty-first century, States face a new challenge: climate change and its consequences, and, ultimately, the survival of all mankind. Unfortunately, the consequences of climate change are highly visible – for example, extreme weather conditions (droughts, heatwaves and devastating storms, floods in areas where people have never experienced similar events before), melting ice in the Arctic, the extinction of some native plant and animal species and the appearance of unknown invasive species in the same area.
Economic, technological, social and environmental transformations are affecting all humanity, and decisions taken today will impact the quality of life for all future generations. This volume surveys current commitments to sustainable development, analysing innovative policies, practices and procedures to promote respect for intergenerational justice. Expert contributors provide serious scholarly and practical discussions of the theoretical, institutional, and legal considerations inherent in intergenerational justice at local, national, regional and global scales. They investigate treaty commitments related to intergenerational equity, explore linkages between regimes, and offer insights from diverse experiences of national future generations' institutions. This volume should be read by lawyers, academics, policy-makers, business and civil society leaders interested in the economy, society, the environment, sustainable development, climate change, and other law, policy and practices impacting all generations.