Introduction: Although many studies have investigated the probability of Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreaks while other studies have simulated the size and speed of EVD outbreaks, few have investigated the environmental and population-level predictors of Ebola transmission once an outbreak is underway. Identifying strong predictors of transmission could help guide and target limited public health resources during an EVD outbreak. We examined several environmental and population-level demographic predictors of EVD risk from the West African epidemic. Methods: We obtained district-level estimates from the World Health Organization EVD case data, demographic indicators obtained from the Demographic and Health surveys, and satellite-derived temperature, rainfall, and land cover estimates. A Bayesian hierarchical Poisson model was used to estimate EVD risk and to evaluate the spatial variability explained by the selected predictors. Results: We found that districts had greater risk of EVD with increasing proportion of households not possessing a radio (RR 2.79, 0.90-8.78; RR 4.23, 1.16-15.93), increasing rainfall (RR 2.18; 0.66-7.20; 5.34, 1.20-23.90), and urban land cover (RR 4.87, 1.56-15.40; RR 5.74, 1.68-19.67). Discussion: The finding of radio ownership and reduced EVD transmission risk suggests that the use of radio messaging for control and prevention purposes may have been crucial in reducing the EVD transmission risk in certain districts, although this association requires further study. Future research should examine the etiologic relationships between the identified risk factors and human-to-human transmission of EVD with a focus on factors related to population mobility and healthcare accessibility, which are critical features of epidemic propagation and control.
Introduction: This paper reports the findings of a national online survey to parents of children aged 5 and younger. The objectives of the study were to assess parental understanding of childhood immunizations, identify sources of information that they trust for vaccine-related content, assess where parents with young children stand on the key issues in the public debate about vaccination, and identify which risk communication messages are most effective for influencing the behaviours of vaccine hesitant parents.
Methods: A total of 1,000 surveys (closed and open-ended questions) were administered in November 2015 using the Angus Reid Forum Panel, a key consumer panel consisting of approximately 150,000 Canadian adults aged 18 and older, spread across all geographic regions of Canada.
Results: Approximately 92% of the Canadian parents surveyed consider vaccines safe and effective, and trust doctors and public health officials to provide timely and credible vaccine-related information. However, a concerning number of them either believe or are uncertain whether there is a link between vaccines and autism (28%), worry that vaccines might seriously harm their children (27%), or believe the pharmaceutical industry is behind the push for mandatory immunization (33%). Moreover, despite the common assumption that social media are becoming the go-to source of health news and information, most parents still rely on traditional media and official government websites for timely and credible information about vaccines and vaccine preventable diseases, particularly during community-based disease outbreaks. Finally, parents reported high levels of support for pro-vaccine messaging that has been demonstrated in previous research to have little to no positive impact on behaviour change, and may even be counterproductive.
Discussion: The study’s results are highly relevant in a context where public health officials are expending significant resources to increase rates of childhood immunization and combat vaccine hesitancy. The data offer insight into where parents stand on the political and public debate about mandatory vaccination, what aspects of vaccine science remain uncertain to them, which media and institutional sources they use and trust to navigate the health information environment, how they look for information and whom they trust during periods of health emergency or crisis, and which communication strategies are considered most effective in persuading vaccine hesitant parents to immunize their children.
Introduction: Zika virus has been documented since 1952, but been associated with mild, self-limiting disease. Zika virus is classified as an arbovirus from a family of Flaviviridae and primarily spread by Aedes Aegypti mosquitos. However, in a large outbreak in Brazil in 2015, Zika virus has been associated with microcephaly.
Methods: In this review we applied the Bradford-Hill viewpoints to investigate the association between Zika virus and microcephaly. We examined historical studies, available data and also compared historical rates of microcephaly prior to the Zika virus outbreak. The available evidence was reviewed against the Bradford Hill viewpoints.
Results: All the nine criteria were met to varying degrees: strength of association, consistency of the association, specificity, temporality, plausibility, coherence, experimental evidence, biological gradient and analogy.
Conclusion: Using the Bradford Hill Viewpoints as an evaluation framework for causation is highly suggestive that the association between Zika virus and microcephaly is causal. Further studies using animal models on the viewpoints which were not as strongly fulfilled would be helpful.
Background: Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is an arbovirus that causes an acute febrile syndrome with a severe and debilitating arthralgia. In Brazil, the Asian and East-Central South African (ECSA) genotypes are circulating in the north and northeast of the country, respectively. In 2015, the first autochthonous cases in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil were reported but until now the circulating strains have not been characterized. Therefore, we aimed here to perform the molecular characterization and phylogenetic analysis of CHIKV strains circulating in the 2016 outbreak occurred in the municipality of Rio de Janeiro.
Methods: The cases analyzed in this study were collected at a private Hospital, from April 2016 to May 2016, during the chikungunya outbreak in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. All cases were submitted to the Real Time RT-PCR for CHIKV genome detection and to anti-CHIKV IgM ELISA. Chikungunya infection was laboratorially confirmed by at least one diagnostic method and, randomly selected positive cases (n=10), were partially sequenced (CHIKV E1 gene) and analyzed.
Results: The results showed that all the samples grouped in ECSA genotype branch and the molecular characterization of the fragment did not reveal the A226V mutation in the Rio de Janeiro strains analyzed, but a K211T amino acid substitution was observed for the first time in all samples and a V156A substitution in two of ten samples.
Conclusions: Phylogenetic analysis and molecular characterization reveals the circulation of the ECSA genotype of CHIKV in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and two amino acids substitutions (K211T and V156A) exclusive to the CHIKV strains obtained during the 2016 epidemic, were reported.
Introduction: A second botulism outbreak due to Clostridium baratii occurred in France in August 2015 and included three patients who had their meal in a restaurant the same day. We report the characterization of C. baratii isolates including whole genome sequencing (WGS).
Methods: Four C. baratii isolates collected in August 2015 from the outbreak 2 were analysed for toxin production and typing as well as for genetic characterization. WGS was done using using the NEBNext Ultra DNA Library Prep kit for Illumina (New England Biolabs) and sequenced on MiSeq machine (Illumina) in paired-end reads of 250 bases. The phylogenetic tree was generated based on the UPGMA method with genetic distances computed by using the Kimura two-parameter model. Evolutionary analyses were conducted in Bionumerics (V.6.6 Applied Maths).
Results: Three C. baratii isolates for patient’s stools and one isolate from meat produced botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT) type F and retained a bont/F7 gene in OrfX cluster. All isolates were identical according to the WGS. However, phylogeny of the core genome showed that the four C. baratii strains were distantly related to that of the previous C. baratii outbreak in France in 2014 and from the other C. baratii strains reported in databanks.
Discussion: The fact that the strains isolated from the patients and meat samples were genetically identical supports that the meat used for the Bolognese sauce was responsible for this second botulism outbreak in France. These isolates were unrelated to that from the first C. baratii outbreak in France in 2014 indicating a distinct source of contamination. WGS provided robust determination of genetic relatedness and information regarding BoNT typing and toxin gene locus genomic localization.
Introduction: In the context of the ongoing, unprecedented Zika virus outbreak in the Americas, the World Health Organization has expressed its support for developing and up-scaling three novel approaches to controlling the Aedes aegypti mosquito: the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT), the Release of Insects carrying Dominant Lethal genes (RIDL) and the release of Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes. Whereas the former two approaches are temporary insect population suppression strategies, Wolbachia infection is a self-sustaining, invasive strategy that uses inherited endosymbiotic bacteria to render natural mosquito populations arbovirus resistant.
Methods: A mathematical model is parameterised with new, Brazilian field data informing the mating competitiveness of mass-reared, released insects; and simulations compare and contrast projections of vector control achieved with the alternative approaches.
Results: Important disadvantages of Wolbachia and SIT are identified: both strategies result in mosquitoes ovipositing non-viable eggs and, by alleviating intense larval competition, can cause an overall increase in survival to the adult stage. However, it is demonstrated that strategically combining the suppression methods with Wolbachia can generate a sustained control while mitigating the risks of inadvertent exacerbation of the wild mosquito population.
Discussion: This initial analysis demonstrates potential for good synergy when combining novel mosquito approaches in a modernized, integrated vector control programme.
Background: Currently the detection of Zika virus (ZIKV) in patient samples is done by real-time RT-PCR. Samples collected from rural area are sent to highly equipped laboratories for screening. A rapid point-of-care test is needed to detect the virus, especially at low resource settings.
Methodology/Principal Findings: In this report, we describe the development of a reverse transcription isothermal recombinase polymerase amplification (RT-RPA) assay for the identification of ZIKV. RT-RPA assay was portable, sensitive (21 RNA molecules), and rapid (3-15 minutes). No cross-reactivity was detected to other flaviviruses, alphaviruses and arboviruses. Compared to real-time RT-PCR, the diagnostic sensitivity was 92%, while the specificity was 100%.
Conclusions/Significance: The developed assay is a promising platform for rapid point of need detection of ZIKV in low resource settings and elsewhere (e.g. during mass gathering).
Background: The evolution of antiviral drug resistance during influenza pandemics has created widespread concern. Use of antiviral drugs is a main contributor to the evolution of drug-resistant strains. Moreover, there are recent examples of influenza viruses acquiring drug resistance seemingly without incurring a fitness penalty that reduces their transmission rate. This creates the possibility of strategic (game theoretical) interaction between jurisdictions making decisions about use of antiviral drug stockpiles.
Methods: We developed and analyzed a 2-player 2-strategy game theoretical model. Each ‘player’ (an authority in a health jurisdiction) can choose to treat with antiviral drugs at a low rate or a high rate. High treatment rates are more likely to cause emergence of a drug-resistant strain, and once a drug-resistant strain has evolved, it can spread between the two jurisdictions. We determine the Nash equilibria of the game.
Results: We show that there is a coordination game between the jurisdictions, where both players choosing a low treatment rate, or both choosing a high treatment rate, are the only stable outcomes. The socially optimal outcome occurs if both players cooperate by choosing a low treatment rate, thereby avoiding generating drug-resistant mutants. However, such cooperation may fail to materialize if the jurisdictions are closely connected through travel; if the drug-resistant mutant is tolerated (not seen as undesirable); or if the antiviral drug has partial efficacy against transmission of the drug-resistant strain.
Conclusions: Inter-jurisdictional cooperation could be essential during a severe influenza pandemic, but we know little about how jurisdictions will interact in a scenario where highly pathogenic, drug-resistant mutant strains are able to transmit as effectively as non-resistant strains. Therefore, strategic multi-population interactions during influenza pandemics should be further studied.
Vaccine delay and refusal present very real threats to public health. Since even a slight reduction in vaccination rates could produce major consequences as herd immunity is eroded, it is imperative to understand the factors that contribute to decision-making about vaccines. Recent scholarship on the concept of “vaccine hesitancy” emphasizes that vaccine behaviors and beliefs tend to fall along a continuum from refusal to acceptance. Most research on hesitancy has focused on parental decision-making about childhood vaccines, but could be extended to explore decision-making related to adult immunization against seasonal influenza. In particular, vaccine hesitancy could be a useful approach to understand the persistence of racial/ethnic disparities between African American and White adults. This study relied on a thematic content analysis of qualitative data, including 12 semi-structured interviews, 9 focus groups (N=90), and 16 in-depth interviews, for a total sample of 118 (N=118) African American and White adults. All data were transcribed and analyzed with Atlas.ti. A coding scheme combining both inductive and deductive codes was utilized to identify themes related to vaccine hesitancy. The study found a continuum of vaccine behavior from never-takers, sometimes-takers, and always-takers, with significant differences between African Americans and Whites. We compared our findings to the Three Cs: Complacency, Convenience, and Confidence framework. Complacency contributed to low vaccine acceptance with both races. Among sometimes-takers and always-takers, convenience was often cited as a reason for their behavior, while never-takers of both races were more likely to describe other reasons for non-vaccination, with convenience only a secondary explanation. However, for African Americans, cost was a barrier. There were racial differences in trust and confidence that impacted the decision-making process. The framework, though not a natural fit for the data, does provide some insight into the differential sources of hesitancy between these two populations. Complacency and confidence clearly impact vaccine behavior, often more profoundly than convenience, which can contribute either negatively or positively to vaccine acceptance. The Three Cs framework is a useful, but limited tool to understanding racial disparities. Understanding the distinctions in those cultural factors that drive lower vaccine confidence and greater hesitancy among African Americans could lead to more effective communication strategies as well as changes in the delivery of vaccines to increase convenience and passive acceptance.
Introduction: Zika virus could be transmitted in the state of Queensland, Australia, in parts of the state where the mosquito vectors are established.
Methods: We assessed the epidemic potential of Zika in Queensland from January 2015 to August 2016, and estimate the epidemic potential from September to December 2016, by calculating the temperature-dependent relative vectorial capacity (rVc), based on empirical and estimated parameters.
Results: Through 2015, we estimated a rVc of 0.119, 0.152, 0.170, and 0.175, respectively in the major cities of Brisbane, Rockhampton, Cairns, and Townsville. From January to August 2016, the epidemic potential trend was similar to 2015, however the highest epidemic potential was in Cairns. During September to November 2016, the epidemic potential is consistently the highest in Cairns, followed by Townsville, Rockhampton and Brisbane. Then, from November to December 2016, Townsville has the highest estimated epidemic potential.
Discussion: We demonstrate using a vectorial capacity model that ZIKV could have been locally transmitted in Queensland, Australia during 2015 and 2016. ZIKV remains a threat to Australia for the upcoming summer, during the Brazilian Carnival season, when the abundance of vectors is relatively high. Understanding the epidemic potential of local ZIKV transmission will allow better management of threats to blood safety and assessment of public health risk.
Introduction: Data from social media have been shown to have utility in augmenting traditional approaches to public health surveillance. Quantifying the representativeness of these data is needed for making accurate public health inferences.
Methods: We applied machine-learning methods to explore spatial and temporal dengue event reporting trends on Twitter relative to confirmed cases, and quantified associations with sociodemographic factors across three Brazilian states (São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Minas Gerais) at the municipality level.
Results: Education and income were positive predictors of dengue reporting on Twitter. In contrast, municipalities with a higher percentage of older adults, and males were less likely to report suspected dengue disease on Twitter. Overall, municipalities with dengue disease tweets had higher mean per capita income and lower proportion of individuals with no primary school education.
Conclusions: These observations highlight the need to understand population representation across locations, age, and racial/ethnic backgrounds in studies using social media data for public health research. Additional data is needed to assess and compare data representativeness across regions in Brazil.
INTRODUCTION: There are few documented examples of community networks that have used unstructured information to support surveillance during a health emergency. In January 2015, the Ebola Response Consortium rapidly implemented community event-based surveillance for Ebola virus disease at a national scale in Sierra Leone.
METHODS: Community event based surveillance uses community health monitors in each community to provide an early warning system of events that are suggestive of Ebola virus disease transmission. The Ebola Response Consortium, a consortium of 15 nongovernmental organizations, applied a standardized procedure to implement community event-based surveillance across nine of the 14 districts. To evaluate system performance during the first six months of operation (March to August 2015), we conducted a process evaluation. We analyzed the production of alerts, conducted interviews with surveillance stakeholders and performed rapid evaluations of community health monitors to assess their knowledge and reported challenges.
RESULTS: The training and procurement of supplies was expected to begin in January 2015 and attain full scale by March 2015. We found several logistical challenges that delayed full implementation until June 2015 when the epidemic was past its peak. Community health monitors reported 9,131 alerts during this period. On average, 82% of community health monitors reported to their supervisor at least once per week. Most alerts (87%) reported by community health monitors were deaths unrelated to Ebola. During the rapid evaluations, the mean recall by community health monitors was three of the six trigger events. Implementation of the national system achieved scale, but three months later than anticipated.
DISCUSSION: Community event based surveillance generated consistent surveillance information during periods of no- to low-levels of transmission across districts. We interpret this to mean that community health monitors are an effective tool for generating useful, unstructured information at the village level. However, to maximize validity, the triggers require more training, may be too many in number, and need increased relevance to the context of the tail end of the epidemic.
Introduction: Recently, Salmonella enterica serovar Poona caused a multistate outbreak, with 245 out of 907 cases occurring in California. We report a comparison of pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) results with whole genome sequencing (WGS) for genotyping of Salmonella Poona isolates.
Methods: CA Salmonella Poona isolates, collected from July to August 2015, were genotyped by PFGE using XbaI restriction enzyme. WGS was done using Nextera XT library kit with 2×300 bp or 2×250 bp sequencing chemistry on the Illumina MiSeq Sequencer. Reads were mapped to the de novo assembled serovar Poona draft genome (48 contigs, N50= 223,917) from the outbreak using CLCbio GW 8.0.2. The phylogenetic tree was generated based on hqSNPs calling. Genomes were annotated with CGE and PHAST online tools. In silico MLST was performed using the CGE online tool.
Results: Human (14) and cucumber (2) Salmonella Poona isolates exhibited 3 possibly related PFGE patterns (JL6X01.0018 [predominant], JL6X01.0375, JL6X01.0778). All isolates that were related by PFGE also clustered together according to the WGS. One isolate with a divergent PFGE pattern (JL6X01.0776) served as an outlier in the phylogenetic analysis and substantially differed from the outbreak clade by WGS. All outbreak isolates were assigned to MLST sequence type 447. The majority of the outbreak-related isolates possessed the same set of Salmonella Pathogenicity Islands with few variations. One outbreak isolate was sequenced and analyzed independently by CDC and CDPH laboratories; there was 0 SNP difference in results. Additional two isolates were sequenced by CDC and the raw data was processed through CDPH and CDC analysis pipelines. Both data analysis pipelines also generated concordant results.
Discussion: PFGE and WGS results for the recent CA Salmonella enterica serovar Poona outbreak provided concordant assignment of the isolates to the outbreak cluster. WGS allowed more robust determination of genetic relatedness, provided information regarding MLST-type, pathogenicity genes, and bacteriophage content. WGS data obtained independently at two laboratories showed complete agreement.
Introduction: The current outbreak of Zika virus has resulted in a massive effort to accelerate the development of ZIKV-specific diagnostics and vaccines. These efforts would benefit greatly from the definition of the specific epitope targets of immune responses in ZIKV, but given the relatively recent emergence of ZIKV as a pandemic threat, few such data are available.
Methods: We used a large body of epitope data for other Flaviviruses that was available from the IEDB for a comparative analysis against the ZIKV proteome in order to project targets of immune responses in ZIKV.
Results: We found a significant level of overlap between known antigenic sites from other Flavivirus proteins with residues on the ZIKV polyprotein. The E and NS1 proteins shared functional antibody epitope sites, whereas regions of T cell reactivity were conserved within NS3 and NS5 for ZIKV.
Discussion: Our epitope based analysis provides guidance for which regions of the ZIKV polyprotein are most likely unique targets of ZIKV-specific antibodies, and which targets in ZIKV are most likely to be cross-reactive with other Flavivirus species. These data may therefore provide insights for the development of antibody- and T cell-based ZIKV-specific diagnostics, therapeutics and prophylaxis.
Background: The interaction of several sociocultural and environmental factors during an epidemic crisis leads to behavioral responses that consequently make the crisis control a complex problem.
Methods: The system dynamics approach has been adopted to study the relationships between spread of disease, public attention, situational awareness, and community’s response to the Ebola epidemic.
Results: In developing different simulation models to capture the trend of death and incidence data from the World Health Organization for the Ebola outbreak, the final model has the best fit to the historical trends. Results demonstrate that the increase of quarantining rate over time due to increase in situational awareness and performing safe burials had a significant impact on the control of epidemic. However, public attention did not play a significant role.
Conclusion: The best fit to historical data are achieved when behavioral factors specific to West Africa like studying the Situational Awareness and Public Attention are included in the model. However, by ignoring the sociocultural factors, the model is not able to represent the reality; therefore, in the case of any epidemics, it is necessary that all the parties and community members find the most significant behavioral factors that can curb the epidemic.
Introduction: In early April 2016, an unusual high number of point-source outbreaks of gastrointestinal disease were reported to occur in Denmark.
Methods: Outbreaks were individually investigated. Two analytical studies were performed. Patient stool samples collected and analysed; positive stool samples were sequenced over the polymerase and/or capsid gene areas. Implicated lettuce heads were collected and analysed for the presence of norovirus. Foods were traced-back and traced-forward and international alert systems applied.
Results: A total of 23 linked point-source outbreaks occurred over the course of one week. Fresh green coral lettuce (Lollo Bionda lettuce) had been consumed in all settings. In a cohort study including 234 participants a dish containing green lettuce was associated with illness. Norovirus of Genogroup I (GI) was detected in samples from 28 patients comprising eight of the outbreaks. Sequencing showed GI.P2-GI.2. GI norovirus was detected in one of 20 examined lettuce heads. All lettuce consumed was supplied by the same packer who in turn had bought the lettuce from a wholesaler in France. The two lots of lettuce came from two different growers in different parts of France.
Discussion: Green coral lettuce produced in France was found to have caused a large series of linked norovirus outbreaks in Denmark as established by a number of lines of evidence. A similar incidence occurred in 2010. Fresh lettuce increasingly appear to be a risk food for norovirus infections.
Background: This qualitative study was designed to assess health care volunteers’ experiences and psychosocial impacts associated with deployment to the West Africa Ebola epidemic.
Methods: In 2015, using snowball sampling, 16 US health care volunteers who had recently returned from West Africa were recruited for this study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to collect information associated with each phase of deployment (pre, peri, and post).
Results: Participants reported that they were motivated to volunteer because of a sense of responsibility and feelings of empathy and altruism. Immediately prior to deployment, most reported fear of contagion and death, as well as doubts regarding the adequacy of their training. Family members and close friends expressed high levels of concern regarding participants’ decisions to volunteer. During the deployment, participants were fearful of exposure and reported feeling emotionally and physically exhausted. They also reported feeling frustrated by extreme resource limitations, poor management of the mission, lack of clearly defined roles and responsibilities, and inability to provide high quality care. Upon return home, participants felt a sense of isolation, depression, stigmatization, interpersonal difficulties, and extreme stress.
Conclusion: Preparedness of volunteers was suboptimal at each stage of deployment. All stakeholders, including volunteers, sponsoring organizations, government agencies, and professional organizations have a shared responsibility in ensuring that volunteers to medical missions are adequately prepared. This is especially critical for high risk deployments. Effective policies and practices need to be developed and implemented in order to protect the health and well-being of health care volunteers to the fullest extent possible.
Introduction: The globally emergent Zika virus (ZIKV) is a threat to Australia, given the number of imported cases from epidemic regions and the presence of competent mosquito vectors. We report the isolation of ZIKV from a female traveler who recently returned from Tonga to Brisbane, Queensland, Australia in 2016.
Methods: A specific TaqMan real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction assay (RT-PCR) assay was used to detect ZIKV in serum and urine samples. Conventional cell culture techniques and suckling mice were employed in an attempt to isolate ZIKV from serum and urine.
Results: A ZIKV isolate (TS17-2016) was recovered from the serum sample after one passage in suckling mouse brains and harvested 11 days post inoculation. Phylogenetic analysis of complete envelope (E) gene sequences demonstrated TS17-2016 shared 99.9% nucleotide identity with other contemporary sequences from Tonga 2016, Brazil 2015 and French Polynesia 2013 within the Asian lineage.
Discussion: This is the first known report of successful isolation of ZIKV from a human clinical sample in Australia and the first from a traveler from Tonga. This study highlights the potential difficulties in isolating ZIKV from acute clinical samples using conventional cell culture techniques, particularly in non-endemic countries like Australia where access to samples of sufficient viral load is limited. The successful isolation of TS17-2016 will be essential for continued investigations of ZIKV transmission and pathogenicity and will enable the advancement of new preventative control measures extremely relevant to the Australian and Pacific region.
Objectives. We examined the role of outbreak information sources through four domains: knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and stigma related to the 2014 Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak.
Methods. We conducted an online survey of 797 undergraduates at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) and Ohio University (OU) during the peak of the outbreak. We calculated individual scores for domains and analyzed associations to demographic variables and news sources.
Results. Knowledge of EVD was low and misinformation was prevalent. News media (34%) and social media (19%) were the most used sources of EVD information while official government websites (OGW) were among the least used (11%). Students who acquired information through OGW had higher knowledge, more positive attitudes towards those infected, a higher belief in the government, and were less likely to stigmatize Ebola victims.
Conclusions. Information sources are likely to influence students’ knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and stigma relating to EVD. This study contains crucial insight for those tasked with risk communication to college students. Emphasis should be given to developing effective strategies to achieve a comprehensive knowledge of EVD and future public health threats.
Introduction: The greatest burden for a subset of pathogens is associated with infection during pregnancy. Evidence for teratogenic effects of Zika Virus have highlighted the importance of understanding the epidemiology of such pathogens. Rubella is perhaps the most classic example, and there is much to be learned from the long history of modelling associated with this virus.
Methods: We extended an existing framework for modeling age-specific dynamics of rubella to illustrate how the body of knowledge of rubella dynamics informs the dynamics of teratogenic infections more broadly, and particularly the impact of control on such infections in different transmission settings.
Results: During invasion, the burden in women of childbearing age is expected to peak, but then fall to low levels before eventually levelling out. Importantly, as illustrated by rubella dynamics, there is potential for a paradoxical effect, where inadequate control efforts can increase the burden.
Conclusions: Drawing on the existing body of work on rubella dynamics highlights key knowledge gaps for understanding the risks associated with Zika Virus. The magnitude and impacts of sterilizing immunity, plus antigenic maps measuring cross-protection with other flaviviruses, and the magnitude of transmission, as well as likely impact of control efforts on transmission are likely to be key variables for robust inference into the outcome of management efforts for Zika Virus.
Introduction: During the cholera outbreak from 2010 to 2011 in Cameroon, 33,192 cases with 1,440 deaths (case fatality ratio 4.34%) were reported to the World Health Organization. Of these, the South West Region reported 3,120 clinical cases. This region is in the Equatorial Monsoon climatic subzone of Cameroon, close to the coast, raising questions as to whether cases were linked with development of environmental reservoirs.
Methods: In an investigation conducted by the Laboratory for Emerging Infectious Diseases, University of Buea, toxigenic V. cholerae O1 were isolated from diarrheal stool samples from 18 patients, with ages ranging from <3 to 70 years. Coordinates for clinical centers at which cases were identified were obtained using a handheld GPS, and were mapped using ArcGIS. Antibiotic susceptibility testing was performed using the Kirby ‘Bauer agar disc diffusion method. The full genomes of these strains were sequenced with the Illumina MiSeq platform. De novo assembly of cholera genomes and multiple sequence alignment were carried out using the bioinformatics pipeline developed in the Emerging Pathogens Institute laboratory at the University of Florida.
Results/Discussion: Genetic comparisons showed that isolates were closely related, with pairwise p-distances ranging from 2.25 to 14.52 10-5 nt substitutions per site, and no statistically significant correlation between the pairwise genetic distances and the geographic distances among sampling locations. Indeed, the phylogeny of the Cameroonian strains displays the typical star-like topology and intermixing of strains from different locations that are characteristic of an exponential outbreak localized around a relatively restricted area with occasional spillover to other parts of the country, likely mediated by direct human contact and human movement. Findings highlight the utility of whole genome sequencing and phylogenetic analysis in understanding transmission patterns at the local level.
Introduction: Restaurant guides such as the Good Food Guide Top 50 create a hierarchy focussing on taste and sophistication. Safety is not explicitly included. We used restaurant associated outbreaks to assess evidence for safety.
Methods: All foodborne disease outbreaks in England reported to the national database from 2000 to 2014 were used to compare the Top 50 restaurants (2015) to other registered food businesses using the Public Health England (PHE) outbreak database. Health Protection Teams were also contacted to identify any outbreaks not reported to the national database. Among Good Food Guide Top 50 restaurants, regression analysis estimated the association between outbreak occurrence and position on the list.
Results: Four outbreaks were reported to the PHE national outbreak database among the Top 50 giving a rate 39 times higher (95% CI 14.5–103.2) than other registered food businesses. Eight outbreaks among the 44 English restaurants in the Top 50 were identified by direct contact with local Health Protection Teams. For every ten places higher ranked, Top 50 restaurants were 66% more likely to have an outbreak (Odds Ratio 1.66, 95% CI 0.89–3.13).
Discussion: Top 50 restaurants were substantially more likely to have had reported outbreaks from 2000-2014 than other food premises, and there was a trend for higher rating position to be associated with higher probability of reported outbreaks. Our findings, that eating at some of these restaurants may pose an increased risk to health compared to other dining out, raises the question of whether food guides should consider aspects of food safety alongside the clearly important complementary focus on taste and other aspects of the dining experience.
BACKGROUND: In northwest Nigeria in 2013 and 2014, two sequential, localized outbreaks of meningitis were caused by a new strain of Neisseria meningitidis serogroup C (NmC). In 2015, an outbreak caused by the same novel NmC strain occurred over a wider geographical area, displaying different characteristics to the previous outbreaks. We describe cases treated by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in the 2015 outbreak.
METHODS: From February 10 to June 8, 2015, data on cerebrospinal meningitis (CSM) cases and deaths were recorded on standardized line-lists from case management sites supported by MSF. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples from suspected cases at the beginning of the outbreak and throughout from suspected cases from new geographical areas were tested using rapid Pastorex® latex agglutination to determine causative serogroup. A subset of CSF samples was also inoculated into Trans-Isolate medium for testing by the WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Meningococci, Oslo. Reactive vaccination campaigns with meningococcal ACWY polysaccharide vaccine targeted affected administrative wards.
RESULTS: A total of 6394 (65 confirmed and 6329 probable) cases of CSM including 321 deaths (case fatality rate: 5.0%) were recorded. The cumulative attack rate was 282 cases per 100,000 population in the wards affected. The outbreak lasted 17 weeks, affecting 1039 villages in 21 local government areas in three states (Kebbi, Sokoto, Niger). Pastorex® tests were NmC positive for 65 (58%) of 113 CSF samples. Of 31 Trans-Isolate medium samples, 26 (84%) tested positive for NmC (14 through culture and 12 through PCR); all had the same rare PorA type P1.21-15,16 as isolates from the 2013 and 2014 outbreaks. All 14 culture-positive samples yielded isolates of the same genotype (ST-10217 PorA type P1.21-15,16 and FetA type F1-7). More than 222,000 targeted individuals were vaccinated relatively early in the outbreak (administrative coverage estimates 98% and 89% in Kebbi and Sokoto, respectively).
CONCLUSIONS: The outbreak was the largest caused by NmC documented in Nigeria. Reactive vaccination in both states may have helped curtail the epidemic. A vaccination campaign against NmC with a long-lasting conjugate vaccine should be considered in the region.
Introduction: Zika virus (ZIKV) has emerged in dengue (DENV) endemic areas, where these two related flaviviruses continue to co-circulate. DENV is a complex of four serotypes and infections can progress to severe disease. It is thought that this is mediated by antibody dependent enhancement (ADE) whereby antibodies from a primary DENV infection are incapable of neutralizing heterologous DENV infections with another serotype. ADE has been demonstrated among other members of the Flavivirus group.
Methods: We utilize an in vitro ADE assay developed for DENV to determine whether ZIKV is enhanced by a commonly available DENV serotype 2-derived monoclonal antibody (4G2).
Results: We show that ZIKV infection in vitro is enhanced in the presence of the 4G2 mAb.
Discussion: Our results demonstrate that ADE between ZIKV and DENV is possible and that the 4G2 antibody is a useful tool for the effects of pre-existing anti-DENV antibodies during ZIKV infections.
Introduction: Beginning in 2015, Zika virus rapidly spread throughout the Americas and has been linked to neurological and autoimmune diseases in adults and babies. Developing accurate tools to anticipate Zika spread is one of the first steps to mitigate further spread of the disease. When combined, air traffic data and network simulations can be used to create tools to predict where infectious disease may spread to and aid in the prevention of infectious diseases. Specific goals were to: 1) predict where travelers infected with the Zika Virus would arrive in the U.S.; and, 2) analyze and validate the open access web application’s (i.e., FLIRT) predictions using data collected after the prediction was made.
Method: FLIRT was built to predict the flow and likely destinations of infected travelers through the air travel network. FLIRT uses a database of flight schedules from over 800 airlines, and can display direct flight traffic and perform passenger simulations between selected airports. FLIRT was used to analyze flights departing from five selected airports in locations where sustained Zika Virus transmission was occurring. FLIRT’s predictions were validated against Zika cases arriving in the U.S. from selected airports during the selected time periods. Kendall’s τ and Generalized Linear Models were computed for all permutations of FLIRT and case data to test the accuracy of FLIRT’s predictions.
Results: FLIRT was found to be predictive of the final destinations of infected travelers in the U.S. from areas with ongoing transmission of Zika in the Americas from 01 February 2016 – 01 to April 2016, and 11 January 2016 to 11 March 2016 time periods. MIA-FLL, JFK-EWR-LGA, and IAH were top ranked at-risk metro areas, and Florida, Texas and New York were top ranked states at-risk for the future time period analyzed (11 March 2016 – 11 June 2016). For the 11 January 2016 to 11 March 2016 time period, the region-aggregated model indicated 7.24 (95% CI 6.85 – 7.62) imported Zika cases per 100,000 passengers, and the state-aggregated model suggested 11.33 (95% CI 10.80 – 11.90) imported Zika cases per 100,000 passengers.
Discussion: The results from 01 February 2016 to 01 April 2016 and 11 January 2016 to 11 March 2016 time periods support that modeling air travel and passenger movement can be a powerful tool in predicting where infectious diseases will spread next. As FLIRT was shown to significantly predict distribution of Zika Virus cases in the past, there should be heightened biosurveillance and educational campaigns to medical service providers and the general public in these states, especially in the large metropolitan areas.