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The ongoing pandemic disaster of coronavirus erupted with the first confirmed cases in Wuhan, China in December 2019, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus, the disease referred to as “COVID-19.” The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed the outbreak and determined it a global pandemic. The current pandemic has infected nearly 100 million people and killed over 2 million. The current COVID-19 pandemic is smashing every public health barrier, guardrail and safety measure in underdeveloped and the most developed countries alike with peaks and troughs across time. Greatly impacted are those regions experiencing conflict and war. Morbidity and mortality increase logarithmically for those communities at risk and that lack the ability to promote basic preventative measures. As states around the globe struggle to unify responses, make gains on preparedness levels, identify and symptomatically treat positive cases and labs across the globe frantically rollout various vaccines and effective surveillance and therapeutic mechanisms. The incidence and prevalence of COVID-19 may continue to increase globally as no unified disaster response is manifested and disinformation spreads. During this failure in response, virus variants are erupting at a dizzying pace. Ungoverned spaces where non-state actors predominate and active war zones may become the next epicenter for COVID-19 fatality rates.
As the incidence rates continue to rise, hospitals in North America and Europe exceed surge capacity and immunity post infection struggles to be adequately described. The global threat in previously high-quality, robust infrastructure healthcare systems in the most developed economies are failing the challenge posed by COVID-19; how will less developed economies and those healthcare infrastructures that are destroyed by war and conflict until adequate vaccines penetrance in these communities or adequate treatment are established? Ukraine and other states in the Black Sea Region are under threat and are exposed to armed Russian aggression against territorial sovereignty daily. Ukraine, where Russia has been waging war since 2014, faces this specific dual threat: disaster response to violence and a deadly infectious disease. In order to best serve biosurveillance, aid in pandemic disaster response and bolster health security in Europe, across the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO) and Black Sea regions, increased NATO integration, across Ukraine’s disaster response structures within the Ministries of Health, Defense and Interior must be reenforced and expanded in order to mitigate the COVID-19 disaster.
Paramedics Providing Palliative Care at Home was launched in two provinces, including a new clinical practice guideline, database, and paramedic training. The aim of this study was to evaluate patient/family satisfaction and paramedic comfort and confidence.
In Part A, we gathered perspectives of patients/families via surveys mailed at enrolment and telephone interviews after an encounter. Responses were reported descriptively and by thematic analysis. In Part B, we surveyed paramedics online pre- and 18 months post-launch. Comfort and confidence were scored on a 4-point Likert scale, and attitudes on a 7-point Likert scale, reported as the median (interquartile range [IQR]); analysis with Wilcoxon ranked sum/thematic analysis of free text.
In Part A, 67/255 (30%) enrolment surveys were returned. Three themes emerged: fulfilling wishes, peace of mind, and feeling prepared for emergencies. In 18 post-encounter interviews, four themes emerged: 24/7 availability, paramedic professionalism and compassion, symptom relief, and a plea for program continuation. Thematic saturation was reached with little divergence. In Part B, 235/1255 (18.9%) pre- and 267 (21.3%) post-surveys were completed. Comfort with providing palliative care without transport improved post launch (p = < 0.001) as did confidence in palliative care without transport (p = < 0.001). Respondents strongly agreed that all paramedics should be able to provide basic palliative care.
After implementation of the multifaceted Paramedics Providing Palliative Care at Home Program, paramedics describe palliative care as important and rewarding. The program resulted in high patient/family satisfaction; simply registering provides peace of mind. After an encounter, families particularly noted the compassion and professionalism of the paramedics.
Depression and obesity are highly prevalent, and major impacts on public health frequently co-occur. Recently, we reported that having depression moderates the effect of the FTO gene, suggesting its implication in the association between depression and obesity.
To confirm these findings by investigating the FTO polymorphism rs9939609 in new cohorts, and subsequently in a meta-analysis.
The sample consists of 6902 individuals with depression and 6799 controls from three replication cohorts and two original discovery cohorts. Linear regression models were performed to test for association between rs9939609 and body mass index (BMI), and for the interaction between rs9939609 and depression status for an effect on BMI. Fixed and random effects meta-analyses were performed using METASOFT.
In the replication cohorts, we observed a significant interaction between FTO, BMI and depression with fixed effects meta-analysis (β=0.12, P = 2.7 × 10−4) and with the Han/Eskin random effects method (P = 1.4 × 10−7) but not with traditional random effects (β = 0.1, P = 0.35). When combined with the discovery cohorts, random effects meta-analysis also supports the interaction (β = 0.12, P = 0.027) being highly significant based on the Han/Eskin model (P = 6.9 × 10−8). On average, carriers of the risk allele who have depression have a 2.2% higher BMI for each risk allele, over and above the main effect of FTO.
This meta-analysis provides additional support for a significant interaction between FTO, depression and BMI, indicating that depression increases the effect of FTO on BMI. The findings provide a useful starting point in understanding the biological mechanism involved in the association between obesity and depression.
We assess the runoff and surface mass balance (SMB) of the Greenland ice sheet in the Nuuk region (southwest) using output of two regional climate models (RCMs) evaluated by observations. The region encompasses six glaciers that drain into Godthåbsfjord. RCM data (1960–2012) are resampled to a high spatial resolution to include the narrow (relative to the native grid spacing) glacier trunks in the ice mask. Comparing RCM gridded results with automatic weather station (AWS) point measurements reveals that locally models can underestimate ablation and overestimate accumulation by up to tens of per cent. However, comparison with lake discharge indicates that modelled regional runoff totals are more accurate. Model results show that melt and runoff in the Nuuk region have doubled over the past two decades. Regional SMB attained negative values in recent high-melt years. Taking into account frontal ablation of the marine-terminating glaciers, the region lost 10–20 km3 w.e. a–1 in 2010–12. If 2010 melting prevails during the remainder of this century, a low-end estimate of sea-level rise of 5 mm is expected by 2100 from this relatively small section (2.6%) of the ice sheet alone.
Acute hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections have been reported in long-term care facilities (LTCFs), primarily associated with infection control breaks during assisted blood glucose monitoring. We investigated HBV outbreaks that occurred in separate skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) to determine factors associated with transmission.
Outbreak investigation with case-control studies.
Two SNFs (facilities A and B) in Durham, North Carolina, during 2009–2010.
Residents with acute HBV infection and controls randomly selected from HBV-susceptible residents during the outbreak period.
After initial cases were identified, screening was offered to all residents, with repeat testing 3 months later for HBV-susceptible residents. Molecular testing was performed to assess viral relatedness. Infection control practices were observed. Case-control studies were conducted to evaluate associations between exposures and acute HBV infection in each facility.
Six acute HBV cases were identified in each SNF. Viral phylogenetic analysis revealed a high degree of HBV relatedness within, but not between, facilities. No evaluated exposures were significantly associated with acute HBV infection in facility A; those associated with infection in facility B (all odds ratios >20) included injections, hospital or emergency room visits, and daily blood glucose monitoring. Observations revealed absence of trained infection control staff at facility A and suboptimal hand hygiene practices during blood glucose monitoring and insulin injections at facility B.
These outbreaks underscore the vulnerability of LTCF residents to acute HBV infection, the importance of surveillance and prompt investigation of incident cases, and the need for improved infection control education to prevent transmission.
To examine the use of vitamin D supplements during infancy among the participants in an international infant feeding trial.
Information about vitamin D supplementation was collected through a validated FFQ at the age of 2 weeks and monthly between the ages of 1 month and 6 months.
Infants (n 2159) with a biological family member affected by type 1 diabetes and with increased human leucocyte antigen-conferred susceptibility to type 1 diabetes from twelve European countries, the USA, Canada and Australia.
Daily use of vitamin D supplements was common during the first 6 months of life in Northern and Central Europe (>80 % of the infants), with somewhat lower rates observed in Southern Europe (>60 %). In Canada, vitamin D supplementation was more common among exclusively breast-fed than other infants (e.g. 71 % v. 44 % at 6 months of age). Less than 2 % of infants in the USA and Australia received any vitamin D supplementation. Higher gestational age, older maternal age and longer maternal education were study-wide associated with greater use of vitamin D supplements.
Most of the infants received vitamin D supplements during the first 6 months of life in the European countries, whereas in Canada only half and in the USA and Australia very few were given supplementation.
The purpose of this chapter is to show how double dividends could be obtained from using market instruments to tax water use in a developing country. The double dividends are namely environmental (water conservation) on the one hand, and poverty reduction dividends on the other. We apply a water tax on selected industries in South Africa to reduce demand for water, and then transfer the revenue from this tax to the poor to achieve reduction in absolute levels of poverty.
South Africa is classified as a semi-arid country. Precipitation has been fluctuating over the years with an average of 500 mm per annum, well below the world average of about 860 mm (DWAF 2002). The total flow of all the rivers in the country combined amounts to approximately 49 200 million m³ per year, while the National Water Resource Strategy estimated the total water requirement for the year 2000 at 13 280 million m3 per year, excluding environmental requirements. In addition, South Africa is poorly endowed in groundwater as most of the country is underlain by hard rock formations that do not contain any major groundwater aquifers (DWAF 2002).
While currently only about 24% of rural people have access to water on site, additional sources of water supply are environmentally, financially and politically hard to develop. At the same time, unemployment in rural areas of South Africa is extremely high, which results in severe poverty conditions in these areas.
The Netherlands Twin Register (NTR) began in 1987 with data collection in twins and their families, including families with newborn twins and triplets. Twenty-five years later, the NTR has collected at least one survey for 70,784 children, born after 1985. For the majority of twins, longitudinal data collection has been done by age-specific surveys. Shortly after giving birth, mothers receive a first survey with items on pregnancy and birth. At age 2, a survey on growth and achievement of milestones is sent. At ages 3, 7, 9/10, and 12 parents and teachers receive a series of surveys that are targeted at the development of emotional and behavior problems. From age 14 years onward, adolescent twins and their siblings report on their behavior problems, health, and lifestyle. When the twins are 18 years and older, parents are also invited to take part in survey studies. In sub-groups of different ages, in-depth phenotyping was done for IQ, electroencephalography , MRI, growth, hormones, neuropsychological assessments, and cardiovascular measures. DNA and biological samples have also been collected and large numbers of twin pairs and parents have been genotyped for zygosity by either micro-satellites or sets of short nucleotide polymorphisms and repeat polymorphisms in candidate genes. Subject recruitment and data collection is still ongoing and the longitudinal database is growing. Data collection by record linkage in the Netherlands is beginning and we expect these combined longitudinal data to provide increased insights into the genetic etiology of development of mental and physical health in children and adolescents.
With the desire to assess genetic variation across the lifespan in large-scale collaborative projects, one question is whether inference of copy number (CN) is sensitive to the source of material for deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) analysis (e.g., blood and buccal) and another question is whether CN is stable as individuals age. Here, we address these questions by applying Affymetrix 6.0 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) micro-arrays to 1,472 DNA samples from 710 individuals from the Netherlands Twin Register, including twin and non-twin individuals (372 with buccal and blood derived DNA and 388 with longitudinal data). Similar concordance for CN and genotype inference between samples from the same individual [or from the monozygotic (MZ) co-twins] was found for blood and buccal tissues. There was a small but statistically significant decrease in across-tissue concordance compared with concordance of samples from the same tissue type. No temporal effect was seen on CN variation from the 388 individuals sampled at two time points ranging from 1 to 12 years apart. The majority of our individuals were sampled at age younger than 20 years. Genotype concordance was very high (R2 > 99%) between co-twins from 43 MZ pairs. For 75 dizygotic (DZ) pairs, R2 was ≈65%. CN estimates were highly consistent between co-twins from MZ pairs for both deletions (R2 ≈ 90%) and duplications (R2 ≈ 86%). For DZ, these were similar for within-individual comparisons, but naturally lower between co-twins (R2 ≈ 50–60%). These results suggest that DNA from buccal samples perform as well as DNA from blood samples on the current generation of micro-array technologies.