The Zika virus has been the primary suspect in the large increase in incidence of microcephaly in 2015-6 in Brazil. While evidence for Zika being the cause of some of the cases is strong, its role as the primary cause of the large number of cases in Brazil has not been confirmed. Recently, the disparity between the incidences in different geographic locations has led to questions about the virus’s role. Here we consider the alternative possibility that the use of the insecticide pyriproxyfen for control of mosquito populations in Brazilian drinking water is the primary cause. Pyriproxifen is a juvenile hormone analog which has been shown to correspond in mammals to a number of fat soluble regulatory molecules including retinoic acid, a metabolite of vitamin A, with which it has cross-reactivity and whose application during development has been shown to cause microcephaly. Methoprene, another juvenile hormone analog that was approved as an insecticide based upon tests performed in the 1970s, has metabolites that bind to the mammalian retinoid X receptor, and has been shown to cause developmental disorders in mammals. Isotretinoin is another example of a retinoid causing microcephaly in human babies via maternal exposure and activation of the retinoid X receptor in developing fetuses. Moreover, tests of pyriproxyfen by the manufacturer, Sumitomo, widely quoted as giving no evidence for developmental toxicity, actually found some evidence for such an effect, including low brain mass and arhinencephaly—incomplete formation of the anterior cerebral hemispheres—in exposed rat pups. Finally, the pyriproxyfen use in Brazil is unprecedented—it has never before been applied to a water supply on such a scale. Claims that it is not being used in Recife, the epicenter of microcephaly cases, do not distinguish the metropolitan area of Recife, where it is widely used, and the municipality, and have not been adequately confirmed. Given this combination of information about molecular mechanisms and toxicological evidence, we strongly recommend that the use of pyriproxyfen in Brazil be suspended until the potential causal link to microcephaly is investigated further.
Introduction: The 2015-2017 Zika virus (ZIKV) epidemic in the Americas has driven efforts to strengthen surveillance systems and to develop interventions, testing, and travel recommendations. In the continental U.S. and Hawaii, where limited transmission has been observed, detecting local transmission is a key public health objective. We assessed the effectiveness of three general surveillance strategies for this situation: testing all pregnant women twice during pregnancy, testing blood donations, and testing symptomatic people who seek medical care in an emergency department (ED).
Methods: We developed a simulation model for each surveillance strategy and simulated different transmission scenarios with varying population sizes and infection rates. We then calculated the probability of detecting transmission, the number of tests needed, and the number of false positive test results.
Results: The probability of detecting ZIKV transmission was highest for testing ED patients with Zika symptoms, followed by pregnant women and blood donors, in that order. The magnitude of the difference in probability of detection between strategies depended on the incidence of infection. Testing ED patients required fewer tests and resulted in fewer false positives than surveillance among pregnant women. The optimal strategy identified was to test ED patients with at least two Zika virus disease symptoms. This case definition resulted in a high probability of detection with relatively few tests and false positives.
Discussion: In the continental U.S. and Hawaii, where local ZIKV transmission is rare, optimizing the probability of detecting infections while minimizing resource usage is particularly important. Local surveillance strategies will be influenced by existing public health system infrastructure, but should also consider the effectiveness of different approaches. This analysis demonstrated differences across strategies and indicated that testing symptomatic ED patients is generally a more efficient strategy for detecting transmission than routine testing of pregnant women or blood donors.
Introduction: Chikungunya is an emerging arbovirus that reached the Western Hemisphere at the end of 2013. Studies in the Indian Ocean and India suggest that passive surveillance systems cannot recognize many of deaths associated with chikungunya, which can be inferred by an increase in the overall mortality observed during chikungunya epidemics.
Objective: We assess the mortality associated with chikungunya epidemics in the most affected states in Brazil, from 2015 and 2016.
Methods: We studied the monthly mortality by age group, comparing a period without epidemics to a chikungunya epidemic period, which we defined arbitrarily as consecutive months with incidences of more than 50 cases/100,000 persons.
Results: We obtained official data from the National System of Reported Diseases (SINAN) and the Mortality Information System (SIM), both maintained by the Ministry of Health. We identified a significant increase in the all-cause mortality rate during chikungunya epidemics, while there was no similar mortality in the previous years, even during dengue epidemics. We estimated an excess of 4,505 deaths in Pernambuco during the chikungunya epidemics (47.9 per 100,000 persons).The most affected age groups were the elderly and those under 1 year of age, and the same pattern occurred in all the states.
Discussion: Further studies at other sites are needed to confirm the association between increased mortality and chikungunya epidemics indifferent age groups. If these findings are confirmed, it will be necessary to revise the guidelines to recognize the actual mortality associated with chikungunya and to improve therapeutic approaches and protective measures in the most vulnerable groups.
Introduction: During the flare-ups of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Liberia, Sinoe County reactivated the multi-sectorial EVD control strategy in order to be ready to respond to the eventual reintroduction of cases. This paper describes the impacts of the interventions implemented in Sinoe County during the last flare-up in Monrovia, from April 1 to June 9, 2016, using the resources provided during the original outbreak that ended a year ago.
Methods: We conducted a descriptive study to describe the key interventions implemented in Sinoe County, the capacity available, the implications for the reactivation of the multi-sectoral EVD control strategy, and the results of the same. We also conducted a cross-sectional study to analyze the impact of the interventions on the surveillance and on infection prevention and control (IPC).
Results: The attrition of the staff trained during the original outbreak was low, and most of the supplies, equipment, and infrastructure from the original outbreak remained available. With an additional USD 1755, improvements were observed in the IPC indicators of triage, which increased from a mean of 60% at the first assessment to 77% (P=0.002). Additionally, personnel/staff training improved from 78% to 89% (P=0.04). The percentage of EVD death alerts per expected deaths investigated increased from 26% to 63% (P<0.0001).
Discussion: The low attrition of the trained staff and the availability of most supplies, equipment, and infrastructure made the reactivation of the multi-sectoral EVD control strategy fast and affordable. The improvement of the EVD surveillance was possibly affected by the community engagement activities, awareness and mentoring of the health workers, and improved availability of clinicians in the facilities during the flare-up. The community engagement may contribute to the report of community-based events, specifically community deaths. The mentoring of the staff during the supportive supervisions also contributed to improve the IPC indicators.
Outbreaks linked to cosmetic piercing are rare, but can cause significant illness. We report the investigation and management of a point-source outbreak that occurred during a Black Friday promotional event in North West England.
Outbreak investigation was led by Public Health England, and included active case finding among individuals pierced at a piercing premises between 25/11/2016 (Black Friday) and 7/12/2016. Detailed epidemiological, environmental (including inspection and sampling), and microbiological investigation was undertaken.
During the Black Friday event (25/11/2016), 45 people were pierced (13 by a newly-appointed practitioner). Eleven cases were identified (7 microbiologically-confirmed, 2 probable, and 2 possible). All cases had clinical signs of infection around piercing sites, and five required surgical intervention, with varying degrees of post-operative disfigurement. All confirmed and probable cases had a scaffold piercing placed with a guide bar by the newly-appointed practitioner. Pseudomonas aeruginosa, indistinguishable at nine-locus variable-number tandem repeat loci, was isolated from four of the confirmed cases, and from pre- and post-flush samples from five separate water taps (three sinks) in the premises. Water samples taken after remedial plumbing work confirmed elimination of Pseudomonas contamination.
Although high levels of Pseudomonas water contamination and some poor infection control procedures were identified, infection appeared to require additional exposure to an inexperienced practitioner, and the more invasive scaffold piercing. A proactive collaborative approach between piercers and health and environmental officials is required to reduce outbreak risk, particularly when unusually large events are planned
Introduction: Although cases were reported only in 2010 and 2011, cholera is probably endemic in Yemen. In the context of a civil war, a cholera outbreak was declared in different parts of the country October 6th, 2016. This paper describes the ACF outbreak response in Hodeidah city from October 28th, 2016 to February 28th, 2017 in order to add knowledge to this large outbreak.
Methods: The ACF outbreak response in Hodeidah city included a case management component and prevention measures in the community. In partnership with the Ministry of Public Health and Population of Yemen (MoPHP), the case management component included a Cholera Treatment Center (CTC) implemented in the Al Thoraw hospital, 11 Oral Rehydration Therapy Corners (ORTCs) and an active case finding system. In partnership with other stakeholders, prevention measures in the community, including access to safe water and hygiene promotion, were implemented in the most affected communities of the city.
Results: From October 28th, 2016 until February 28th, 2017, ACF provided care to 8,270 Acute Watery Diarrhea (AWD) cases, of which 5,210 (63%) were suspected cholera cases, in the CTC and the 11 ORTCs implemented in Hodeidah city. The attack rate was higher among people living in Al Hali district, with a peak in November 2016. At the CTC, 8% of children under 5 years-old also presented with Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM). The Case-Fatality Rate (CFR) was low (0.07%) but 15% of admitted cases defaulted for cultural and security reasons. Environmental management lacked the information to appropriately target affected areas. Financial resources did not allow complete coverage of the city.
Conclusion: Response to the first wave of a large cholera outbreak in Hodeidah city was successful in maintaining a CFR <1% in the CTC. However, considering the actual context of Yemen and its water infrastructure, much more efforts are needed to control the current outbreak resurgence.
Introduction: Although more than one billion people live at risk of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in areas of Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America, the degree to which they burden countries like the U.S. is unclear. Even though many NTDs such as dengue, leishmaniasis, and Chagas disease are typically not endemic to the U.S., the possibility of their emergence is noteworthy, especially in states like Texas with high levels of poverty, large immigrant populations, geographic proximity to endemic areas, and a climate amenable to the vectors for these diseases. Despite the health threat that emerging NTDs may pose, little is known about the prevalence of risk factors for NTDs in the U.S.
Methods: We tested the Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER) method to assess the prevalence of risk factors for NTDs in Brazos County, Texas.
Results: We found relatively low prevalence of risk factors related to travel (5.2% of respondents visited an endemic area in the previous 3 months); however, few respondents reported adherence to mosquito prevention, such as wearing long sleeves and long pants (14.1%, 95% CI: 13.9,14.4) and repellant containing DEET (13.5%, 95% CI: 13.2,13.7). Between 5.4% and 35.8% of respondents had a visible container (e.g., pet water dishes, flower pots, bird baths) that could support mosquito breeding.
Discussion: CASPER findings present public health authorities with potential avenues for implementing health education and other interventions aimed at reducing exposure to risk factors for NTDs among Texas residents.
As of 13 July 2016, 13 countries have reported fetal Zika virus (ZIKV) infection. Here we report a case of fetal ZIKV infection that resulted from an infection originating in Vietnam.
Introduction: Uganda has reported eight outbreaks caused by filoviruses between 2000 to 2016, more than any other country in the world. We used species distribution modeling to predict where filovirus outbreaks are likely to occur in Uganda to help in epidemic preparedness and surveillance.
Methods: The MaxEnt software, a machine learning modeling approach that uses presence-only data was used to establish filovirus – environmental relationships. Presence-only data for filovirus outbreaks were collected from the field and online sources. Environmental covariates from Africlim that have been downscaled to a nominal resolution of 1km x 1km were used. The final model gave the relative probability of the presence of filoviruses in the study area obtained from an average of 100 bootstrap runs. Model evaluation was carried out using Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) plots. Maps were created using ArcGIS 10.3 mapping software.
Results: We showed that bats as potential reservoirs of filoviruses are distributed all over Uganda. Potential outbreak areas for Ebola and Marburg virus disease were predicted in West, Southwest and Central parts of Uganda, which corresponds to bat distribution and previous filovirus outbreaks areas. Additionally, the models predicted the Eastern Uganda region and other areas that have not reported outbreaks before to be potential outbreak hotspots. Rainfall variables were the most important in influencing model prediction compared to temperature variables.
Conclusions: Despite the limitations in the prediction model due to lack of adequate sample records for outbreaks, especially for the Marburg cases, the models provided risk maps to the Uganda surveillance system on filovirus outbreaks. The risk maps will aid in identifying areas to focus the filovirus surveillance for early detection and responses hence curtailing a pandemic. The results from this study also confirm previous findings that suggest that filoviruses are mainly limited by the amount of rainfall received in an area.
Background: A multi-provincial outbreak of Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis was linked to newly hatched chicks and poults from a single hatchery during the spring of 2015. In total, there were 61 human cases that were epidemiologically confirmed to be linked to the chicks and poults and the outbreak was deemed to have ended in the summer of 2015.
Methods: PulseNet Canada, in coordination with the affected provinces, used genome sequencing of human and agricultural Salmonella Enteritidis isolates to aid in the epidemiological investigation, while also using traditional typing methods such as phagetyping and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE).
Results: All human outbreak cases, except one, were Phage Type (PT) 13a. Single nucleotide variant analysis (SNV) was able to provide a level of resolution commensurate with the results of the epidemiological investigation. SNV analysis was also able to separate PT13a outbreak-related isolates from isolates not linked to chicks or poults, while clustering some non-PT13a agricultural strains with the outbreak cluster.
Conclusions: Based on conventional typing methods (phagetyping or PFGE), clinical and agricultural PT13a SE isolates would have been considered as part of a related cluster. In contrast, phagetyping would have led to the exclusion of several non- PT13a strains that clustered with the outbreak isolates using the genome sequence data. This study demonstrates the improved resolution of genome sequence analysis for coordinated surveillance and source attribution of both human and agricultural SE isolates.
Introduction: Infrequent natural human inhalational anthrax cases coupled with high bioterrorism risk have brought about use of animal models to serve as the basis for approval of novel treatments. For inhalational anthrax, protective antigen (PA) drives much of the mortality, and raxibacumab, an anti-PA monoclonal antibody, has been approved for therapeutic use using the Animal Rule. Given the paucity of human inhalational anthrax clinical data including PA kinetics, the post-exposure period for effective treatment of human disease remains unknown. The objective of this investigation was to extrapolate animal PA kinetics to a conceptual human model to estimate the post-exposure period for effective treatment of human inhalational anthrax.
Methods: Human PA kinetic parameters were extrapolated from reported rabbit and monkey data. PA profiles were simulated with and without antibiotic induced PA clearance to represent antibiotic-sensitive and -resistant infections, respectively. Antitoxin levels equimolar to or greater than concurrent PA levels were considered protective.
Results: For antibiotic sensitive infections, treatment with antibiotics alone ≤4 days after spore exposure prevents toxemia. Administration of raxibacumab together with antibiotics protects ≥ 80% of subjects for 3 additional days (7 days post exposure). In the setting of antibiotic resistance, raxibacumab would be protective for at least 6 days post exposure.
Conclusions: Although the animal model of disease does not reflect the potential impact of supportive care (e.g. fluid resuscitation received by critically ill patients) on PA kinetics and raxibacumab PK, the simulations suggest that administration of antitoxin in combination with antibiotics should provide a longer postexposure window for effective treatment than for antibiotics alone. In addition, raxibacumab administration soon after exposure to an antibiotic resistant strain should provide effective treatment.
Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) is a bacterium widely distributed in nature and able to contaminate food processing environments, including those of dairy products. Lm is a primary public health issue, due to the very low infectious dose and the ability to produce severe outcomes, in particular in elderly, newborns, pregnant women and immunocompromised patients.
In the period between April and July 2015, an increased number of cases of listeriosis was observed in the area of Pavia, Northern Italy. An epidemiological investigation identified a cheesemaking small organic farm as the possible origin of the outbreak. In this work we present the results of the retrospective epidemiological study that we performed using molecular biology and genomic epidemiology methods. The strains sampled from patients and those from the target farm’s cheese were analyzed using PFGE and whole genome sequencing (WGS) based methods. The performed WGS based analyses included: a) in-silico MLST typing; b) SNPs calling and genetic distance evaluation; c) determination of the resistance and virulence genes profiles; d) SNPs based phylogenetic reconstruction.
Three of the patient strains and all the cheese strains resulted to belong to the same phylogenetic cluster, in Sequence Type 29. A further accurate SNPs analysis revealed that two of the three patient strains and all the cheese strains were highly similar (0.8 SNPs of average distance) and exhibited a higer distance from the third patient isolate (9.4 SNPs of average distance).
Despite the global agreement among the results of the PFGE and WGS epidemiological studies, the latter approach agree with epidemiological data in indicating that one the patient strains could have originated from a different source. This result highlights that WGS methods can allow to better
Introduction: Predicting the timing and locations of future mosquito-borne disease outbreaks has the potential to improve the targeting of mosquito control and disease prevention efforts. Here, we present and evaluate prospective forecasts made prior to and during the 2016 West Nile virus (WNV) season in South Dakota, a hotspot for human WNV transmission in the United States.
Methods: We used a county-level logistic regression model to predict the weekly probability of human WNV case occurrence as a function of temperature, precipitation, and an index of mosquito infection status. The model was specified and fitted using historical data from 2004-2015 and was applied in 2016 to make short-term forecasts of human WNV cases in the upcoming week as well as whole-year forecasts of WNV cases throughout the entire transmission season. These predictions were evaluated at the end of the 2016 WNV season by comparing them with spatial and temporal patterns of the human cases that occurred.
Results: There was an outbreak of WNV in 2016, with a total of 167 human cases compared to only 40 in 2015. Model results were generally accurate, with an AUC of 0.856 for short-term predictions. Early-season temperature data were sufficient to predict an earlier-than-normal start to the WNV season and an above-average number of cases, but underestimated the overall case burden. Model predictions improved throughout the season as more mosquito infection data were obtained, and by the end of July the model provided a close estimate of the overall magnitude of the outbreak.
Conclusions: An integrated model that included meteorological variables as well as a mosquito infection index as predictor variables accurately predicted the resurgence of WNV in South Dakota in 2016. Key areas for future research include refining the model to improve predictive skill and developing strategies to link forecasts with specific mosquito control and disease prevention activities.
Background: Subtype H5N1 avian influenza viruses, both high pathogenicity and low pathogenicity, have been enzootic in Vietnam since 2001. The viruses are readily identified at live bird markets, but virus prevalence on smallholder poultry is typically zero or very low. If the true direction of the viral transmission chain is farm to market, it is unknown why farm prevalence should be low when market prevalence is moderate to high.
Methods: We established a cohort of 50 smallholder poultry farms in Ca Mau province in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam. From March 2016 to January 2017, we collected naso-pharyngeal and cloacal samples from 156 ducks and 96 chickens. In addition, 126 environmental samples were collected. Samples were assayed for H5 subtype influenza by real-time RT-PCR.
Results/Discussion: None of the 378 collected samples were positive for H5 influenza. This is likely to mean that circulation of subtype H5 influenza viruses was low in Ca Mau in 2016. Detection of avian influenza on smallholder poultry farms is necessary to determine the directionality and association between farm prevalence and market prevalence of avian influenza viruses. Larger farm-level studies should be planned as these will be critical for determining the presence and strength of this association.
Introduction: We report the results of a rapid assessment of Zika virus awareness among key clinical specialties in Singapore.
Methods: Between June 6 and June 19, 2016 we conducted an online survey of doctors working in obstetrics and gynaecology, neonatology and paediatrics in Singapore. The survey included 15 multiple choice questions to measure respondents’ knowledge of Zika virus in four domains covering clinical and public health.
Results: A total of 110 survey responses (15% response rate) were obtained, 82% of respondents worked in the public sector. Overall, the median respondent score was 9.4 (Max score=15), with substantial variation (range: 3.5 – 14.7). Microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome were recognised as causal complications of Zika virus infection by 99% and 50% of respondents respectively. Clinical features which could help differentiate Zika from Dengue were less well understood with 50% and 68% correctly identifying conjunctivitis and low grade fever respectively. Worryingly, 14% favoured non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as part of treatment, without first excluding dengue as a diagnosis. Also, only 36% of respondents were aware of the current recommendation for preventing sexual transmission of Zika virus. Fewer than 50% were aware of the need for ophthalmological evaluation as part of congenital Zika virus infection.
Discussion: Our assessment demonstrates that there is good awareness of the clinical manifestation of Zika virus disease among key specialty doctors, but confusion with Dengue disease remains. It also highlights knowledge gaps in the prevention of sexually-transmitted Zika virus infection and the clinical management of congenital Zika virus infection in newborns. Our study identified strategic areas to improve communication to front-line doctors during public health response to the Zika epidemic.
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.