Participatory systems for surveillance of acute respiratory infection give real-time information about infections circulating in the community, yet to-date are limited to self-reported syndromic information only and lacking methods of linking symptom reports to infection types. We developed the GoViral platform to evaluate whether a cohort of lay volunteers could, and would find it useful to, contribute self-reported symptoms online and to compare specimen types for self-collected diagnostic information of sufficient quality for respiratory infection surveillance. Volunteers were recruited, given a kit (collection materials and customized instructions), instructed to report their symptoms weekly, and when sick with cold or flu-like symptoms, requested to collect specimens (saliva and nasal swab). We compared specimen types for respiratory virus detection sensitivity (via polymerase-chain-reaction) and ease of collection. Participants were surveyed to determine receptivity to participating when sick, to receiving information on the type of pathogen causing their infection and types circulating near them. Between December 1 2013 and March 1 2014, 295 participants enrolled in the study and received a kit. Of those who reported symptoms, half (71) collected and sent specimens for analysis. Participants submitted kits on average 2.30 days (95 CI: 1.65 to 2.96) after symptoms began. We found good concordance between nasal and saliva specimens for multiple pathogens, with few discrepancies. Individuals report that saliva collection is easiest and report that receiving information about what pathogen they, and those near them, have is valued and can shape public health behaviors. Community-submitted specimens can be used for the detection of acute respiratory infection with individuals showing receptivity for participating and interest in a real-time picture of respiratory pathogens near them.
Influenza A viruses in swine cause considerable economic losses and raise concerns about their zoonotic potential. The current paucity of thorough empirical assessments of influenza A virus infection levels in swine herds under different control interventions hinders our understanding of their effectiveness. Between 2012 and 2013, recurrent outbreaks of respiratory disease caused by a reassortant pandemic 2009 H1N1 (H1N1pdm) virus were registered in a swine breeding farm in North-East Italy, providing the opportunity to assess an outbreak response plan based on vaccination and enhanced farm management. All sows/gilts were vaccinated with a H1N1pdm-specific vaccine, biosecurity was enhanced, weaning cycles were lengthened, and cross-fostering of piglets was banned. All tested piglets had maternally-derived antibodies at 30 days of age and were detectable in 5.3% of ~90 day-old piglets. There was a significant reduction in H1N1pdm RT-PCR detections after the intervention. Although our study could not fully determine the extent to which the observed trends in seropositivity or RT-PCR positivity among piglets were due to the intervention or to the natural course of the disease in the herd, we provided suggestive evidence that the applied measures were useful in controlling the outbreak, even without an all-in/all-out system, while keeping farm productivity at full.
BACKGROUND: Improving influenza and tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine coverage among pregnant women is needed.
PURPOSE: To assess factors associated with intention to receive influenza and/or Tdap vaccinations during pregnancy with a focus on perceptions of influenza and pertussis disease severity and influenza vaccine safety.
METHODS: Participants were 325 pregnant women in Georgia recruited from December 2012 – April 2013 who had not yet received a 2012/2013 influenza vaccine or a Tdap vaccine while pregnant. Women completed a survey assessing influenza vaccination history, likelihood of receiving antenatal influenza and/or Tdap vaccines, and knowledge, attitudes and beliefs about influenza, pertussis, and their associated vaccines.
RESULTS: Seventy-three percent and 81% of women believed influenza and pertussis, respectively, would be serious during pregnancy while 87% and 92% believed influenza and pertussis, respectively, would be serious to their infants. Perception of pertussis severity for their infant was strongly associated with an intention to receive a Tdap vaccine before delivery (p=0.004). Despite perceptions of disease severity for themselves and their infants, only 34% and 44% intended to receive antenatal influenza and Tdap vaccines, respectively. Forty-six percent had low perceptions of safety regarding the influenza vaccine during pregnancy, and compared to women who perceived the influenza vaccine as safe, women who perceived the vaccine as unsafe were less likely to intend to receive antenatal influenza (48% vs. 20%; p < 0.001) or Tdap (53% vs. 33%; p < 0.001) vaccinations.
CONCLUSIONS: Results from this baseline survey suggest that while pregnant women who remain unvaccinated against influenza within the first three months of the putative influenza season may be aware of the risks influenza and pertussis pose to themselves and their infants, many remain reluctant to receive influenza and Tdap vaccines antenatally. To improve vaccine uptake in the obstetric setting, our findings support development of evidence-based vaccine promotion interventions which emphasize vaccine safety during pregnancy and mention disease severity in infancy.
Background. A seroprevalence survey carried out in four counties in the Tampa Bay area of Florida provided an estimate of cumulative incidence of infection due to the 2009 influenza A (H1N1) as of the end of that year’s pandemic in the four counties from which seroprevalence data were obtained
Methods. Excess emergency department (ED) visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) during the pandemic period (compared to four non-pandemic years) were estimated using the ESSENCE-FL syndromic surveillance system for the four-county area.
Results. There were an estimated 44 infections for every ILI ED visit. Age-specific ratios rose from 19.7 to 1 for children aged 64 years.
Conclusions. These ratios provide a way to estimate cumulative incidence. These estimated ratios can be used in real time for planning and forecasting, when carrying out timely seroprevalence surveys is not practical. Syndromic surveillance data allow age and geographic breakdowns, including for children.
BACKGROUND: A recrudescent wave of pandemic influenza A/H1N1 is underway in Mexico in winter 2013-14, following a mild 2012-13 A/H3N2 influenza season. Mexico previously experienced several waves of pandemic A/H1N1 activity in spring, summer and fall 2009 and winter 2011-2012, with a gradual shift of influenza-related hospitalizations and deaths towards older ages. Here we describe changes in the epidemiology of the 2013-14 A/H1N1 influenza outbreak, relative to previous seasons dominated by the A/H1N1 pandemic virus. The analysis is intended to guide public health intervention strategies in near real time.
METHODS: We analyzed demographic and geographic data on hospitalizations with severe acute respiratory infection (SARI), laboratory-confirmed A/H1N1 influenza hospitalizations, and inpatient deaths, from a large prospective surveillance system maintained by the Mexican Social Security medical system during 01-October 2013 to 31-Jan 2014. We characterized the age and regional patterns of influenza activity relative to the preceding 2011-2012 A/H1N1 influenza epidemic. We also estimated the reproduction number (R) based on the growth rate of daily case incidence by date of symptoms onset.
RESULTS: A total of 7,886 SARI hospitalizations and 529 inpatient-deaths (3.2%) were reported between 01-October 2013 and 31-January 2014 (resulting in 3.2 laboratory-confirmed A/H1N1 hospitalizations per 100,00 and 0.52 laboratory-confirmed A/H1N1-positive deaths per 100,000). The progression of daily SARI hospitalizations in 2013-14 exceeded that observed during the 2011-2012 A/H1N1 epidemic. The mean age of laboratory-confirmed A/H1N1 patients in 2013-14 was 41.1 y (SD=20.3) for hospitalizations and 49.2 y (SD=16.7) for deaths. Rates of laboratory-confirmed A/H1N1 hospitalizations and deaths were significantly higher among individuals aged 30-59 y and lower among younger age groups for the ongoing 2013-2014 epidemic, compared to the 2011-12 A/H1N1 epidemic (Chi-square test, P<0.001). The reproduction number of the winter 2013-14 wave in central Mexico was estimated at 1.3-1.4 which is slightly higher than that reported for the 2011-2012 A/H1N1 epidemic.
CONCLUSIONS: We have documented a substantial and ongoing increase in the number of A/H1N1-related hospitalizations and deaths during the period October 2013-January 2014 and a proportionate shift of severe disease to middle aged adults, relative to the preceding A/H1N1 2011-2012 epidemic in Mexico. In the absence of clear antigenic drift in globally circulating A/H1N1 viruses in the post-pandemic period, the gradual change in the age distribution of A/H1N1 infections observed in Mexico suggests a slow build-up of immunity among younger populations, reminiscent of the age profile of past pandemics.
Pathogens such as MERS-CoV, influenza A/H5N1 and influenza A/H7N9 are currently generating sporadic clusters of spillover human cases from animal reservoirs. The lack of a clear human epidemic suggests that the basic reproductive number R0 is below or very close to one for all three infections. However, robust cluster-based estimates for low R0 values are still desirable so as to help prioritise scarce resources between different emerging infections and to detect significant changes between clusters and over time. We developed an inferential transmission model capable of distinguishing the signal of human-to-human transmission from the background noise of direct spillover transmission (e.g. from markets or farms). By simulation, we showed that our approach could obtain unbiased estimates of R0, even when the temporal trend in spillover exposure was not fully known, so long as the serial interval of the infection and the timing of a sudden drop in spillover exposure were known (e.g. day of market closure). Applying our method to data from the three largest outbreaks of influenza A/H7N9 outbreak in China in 2013, we found evidence that human-to-human transmission accounted for 13% (95% credible interval 1%–32%) of cases overall. We estimated R0 for the three clusters to be: 0.19 in Shanghai (0.01-0.49), 0.29 in Jiangsu (0.03-0.73); and 0.03 in Zhejiang (0.00-0.22). If a reliable temporal trend for the spillover hazard could be estimated, for example by implementing widespread routine sampling in sentinel markets, it should be possible to estimate sub-critical values of R0 even more accurately. Should a similar strain emerge with R0>1, these methods could give a real-time indication that sustained transmission is occurring with well-characterised uncertainty.