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Volume 10, Number 5—May 2004

Volume 10, Number 5—May 2004   PDF Version [PDF - 20.96 MB - 211 pages]


  • Hospital Preparedness and SARS PDF Version [PDF - 145 KB - 6 pages]
    M. R. Loutfy et al.
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    On May 23, 2003, Toronto experienced the second phase of a severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak. Ninety cases were confirmed, and >620 potential cases were managed. More than 9,000 persons had contact with confirmed or potential case-patients; many required quarantine. The main hospital involved during the second outbreak was North York General Hospital. We review this hospital’s response to, and management of, this outbreak, including such factors as building preparation and engineering, personnel, departmental workload, policies and documentation, infection control, personal protective equipment, training and education, public health, management and administration, follow-up of SARS patients, and psychological and psychosocial management and research. We also make recommendations for other institutions to prepare for future outbreaks, regardless of their origin.

  • SARS in Healthcare Facilities, Toronto and Taiwan PDF Version [PDF - 146 KB - 5 pages]
    L. C. McDonald et al.
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    The healthcare setting was important in the early spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in both Toronto and Taiwan. Healthcare workers, patients, and visitors were at increased risk for infection. Nonetheless, the ability of individual SARS patients to transmit disease was quite variable. Unrecognized SARS case-patients were a primary source of transmission and early detection and intervention were important to limit spread. Strict adherence to infection control precautions was essential in containing outbreaks. In addition, grouping patients into cohorts and limiting access to SARS patients minimized exposure opportunities. Given the difficulty in implementing several of these measures, controls were frequently adapted to the acuity of SARS care and level of transmission within facilities. Although these conclusions are based only on a retrospective analysis of events, applying the experiences of Toronto and Taiwan to SARS preparedness planning efforts will likely minimize future transmission within healthcare facilities.


  • SARS in Hospital Emergency Room PDF Version [PDF - 276 KB - 7 pages]
    Y. Chen et al.
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    Thirty-one cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) occurred after exposure in the emergency room at the National Taiwan University Hospital. The index patient was linked to an outbreak at a nearby municipal hospital. Three clusters were identified over a 3-week period. The first cluster (5 patients) and the second cluster (14 patients) occurred among patients, family members, and nursing aids. The third cluster (12 patients) occurred exclusively among healthcare workers. Six healthcare workers had close contact with SARS patients. Six others, with different working patterns, indicated that they did not have contact with a SARS patient. Environmental surveys found 9 of 119 samples of inanimate objects to be positive for SARS coronavirus RNA. These observations indicate that although transmission by direct contact with known SARS patients was responsible for most cases, environmental contamination with the SARS coronavirus may have lead to infection among healthcare workers without documented contact with known hospitalized SARS patients.

  • Genetic Variation of SARS Coronavirus in Beijing Hospital PDF Version [PDF - 330 KB - 6 pages]
    D. Xu et al.
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    To characterize genetic variation of severe acute respiratory syndrome–associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV) transmitted in the Beijing area during the epidemic outbreak of 2003, we sequenced 29 full-length S genes of SARS-CoV from 20 hospitalized SARS patients on our unit, the Beijing 302 Hospital. Viral RNA templates for the S-gene amplification were directly extracted from raw clinical samples, including plasma, throat swab, sputum, and stool, during the course of the epidemic in the Beijing area. We used a TA-cloning assay with direct analysis of nested reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction products in sequence. One hundred thirteen sequence variations with nine recurrent variant sites were identified in analyzed S-gene sequences compared with the BJ01 strain of SARS-CoV. Among them, eight variant sites were, we think, the first documented. Our findings demonstrate the coexistence of S-gene sequences with and without substitutions (referred to BJ01) in samples analyzed from some patients.

  • Multidrug-resistant Strains of Salmonella enterica Typhimurium, United States, 1997–1998 PDF Version [PDF - 302 KB - 7 pages]
    T. Rabatsky-Ehr et al.
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    To evaluate multidrug-resistant strains of Salmonella enterica Typhimurium, including definitive type 104 (DT104) in the United States, we reviewed data from the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS). In 1997–1998, 25% (703) of 2,767 serotyped Salmonella isolates received at NARMS were S. Typhimurium; antimicrobial susceptibility testing and phage typing were completed for 697. Fifty-eight percent (402) were resistant to >1 antimicrobial agent. Three multidrug-resistant (>5 drugs) strains accounted for 74% (296) of all resistant isolates. Ceftriaxone resistance was present in 3% (8), and nalidixic acid resistance in 1% (4), of these multidrug-resistant strains. By phage typing, 37% (259) of S. Typhimurium isolates were DT104, 30% (209) were of undefined type and 15% (103) were untypable. Fifty percent (202) of resistant (>1 drug) isolates were DT104. Multidrug-resistant S. Typhimurium isolates, particularly DT104, account for a substantial proportion of S. Typhimurium isolates; ceftriaxone resistance is exhibited by some of these strains.

  • Seasonal Forecast of St. Louis Encephalitis Virus Transmission, Florida PDF Version [PDF - 641 KB - 8 pages]
    J. Shaman et al.
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    Disease transmission forecasts can help minimize human and domestic animal health risks by indicating where disease control and prevention efforts should be focused. For disease systems in which weather-related variables affect pathogen proliferation, dispersal, or transmission, the potential for disease forecasting exists. We present a seasonal forecast of St. Louis encephalitis virus transmission in Indian River County, Florida. We derive an empirical relationship between modeled land surface wetness and levels of SLEV transmission in humans. We then use these data to forecast SLEV transmission with a seasonal lead. Forecast skill is demonstrated, and a real-time seasonal forecast of epidemic SLEV transmission is presented. This study demonstrates how weather and climate forecast skill verification analyses may be applied to test the predictability of an empirical disease forecast model.

  • Acute Tick-borne Rickettsiosis Caused by Rickettsia heilongjiangensis in the Russian Far East PDF Version [PDF - 170 KB - 8 pages]
    O. Y. Mediannikov et al.
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    An acute tick-borne rickettsiosis caused by Rickettsia heilongjiangensis was diagnosed in 13 patients from the Russian Far East in 2002. We amplified and sequenced four portions of three rickettsial genes from the patients' skin biopsy results and blood samples and showed that the amplified rickettsial genes belong to R. heilongjiangensis, which was recently isolated from Dermacentor sylvarum ticks in nearby regions of China. This rickettsia, belonging to subgroup of R. japonica, was previously suggested to be pathogenic for humans on the basis of serologic findings. We tested serum samples with different rickettsial antigens from 11 patients and confirmed increasing titers of immunoglobulin (Ig) G and IgM to spotted fever group rickettsiae, including R. heilongjiangensis. Clinical and epidemiologic data on these patients show that this disease is similar to other tick-borne rickettsioses.

  • Clinical Manifestations, Laboratory Findings, and Treatment Outcomes of SARS Patients PDF Version [PDF - 65 KB - 7 pages]
    J. Wang et al.
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    Clinical and laboratory data on severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), particularly on the temporal progression of abnormal laboratory findings, are limited. We conducted a prospective study on the clinical, radiologic, and hematologic findings of SARS patients with pneumonia, who were admitted to National Taiwan University Hospital from March 8 to June 15, 2003. Fever was the most frequent initial symptom, followed by cough, myalgia, dyspnea, and diarrhea. Twenty-four patients had various underlying diseases. Most patients had elevated C-reactive protein (CRP) levels and lymphopenia. Other common abnormal laboratory findings included leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, and elevated levels of aminotransferase, lactate dehydrogenase, and creatine kinase. These clinical and laboratory findings were exacerbated in most patients during the second week of disease. The overall case-fatality rate was 19.7%. By multivariate analysis, underlying disease and initial CRP level were predictive of death.

  • Laboratory Diagnosis of SARS PDF Version [PDF - 129 KB - 7 pages]
    P. K. Chan et al.
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    The virologic test results of 415 patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) were examined. The peak detection rate for SARS-associated coronavirus occurred at week 2 after illness onset for respiratory specimens, at weeks 2 to 3 for stool or rectal swab specimens, and at week 4 for urine specimens. The latest stool sample that was positive by reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) was collected on day 75 while the patient was receiving intensive care. Tracheal aspirate and stool samples had a higher diagnostic yield (RT-PCR average positive rate for first 2 weeks: 66.7% and 56.5%, respectively). Pooled throat and nasal swabs, rectal swab, nasal swab, throat swab, and nasopharyngeal aspirate specimens provided a moderate yield (29.7%–40.0%), whereas throat washing and urine specimens showed a lower yield (17.3% and 4.5%). The collection procedures for stool and pooled nasal and throat swab specimens were the least likely to transmit infection, and the combination gave the highest yield for coronavirus detection by RT-PCR. Positive virologic test results in patient groups were associated with mechanical ventilation or death (p < 0.001), suggesting a correlation between viral load and disease severity.

  • Ring Vaccination and Smallpox Control PDF Version [PDF - 278 KB - 10 pages]
    M. Kretzschmar et al.
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    We present a stochastic model for the spread of smallpox after a small number of index cases are introduced into a susceptible population. The model describes a branching process for the spread of the infection and the effects of intervention measures. We discuss scenarios in which ring vaccination of direct contacts of infected persons is sufficient to contain an epidemic. Ring vaccination can be successful if infectious cases are rapidly diagnosed. However, because of the inherent stochastic nature of epidemic outbreaks, both the size and duration of contained outbreaks are highly variable. Intervention requirements depend on the basic reproduction number R0, for which different estimates exist. When faced with the decision of whether to rely on ring vaccination, the public health community should be aware that an epidemic might take time to subside even for an eventually successful intervention strategy.

  • Virulence Factors for Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, Denmark PDF Version [PDF - 57 KB - 6 pages]
    S. Ethelberg et al.
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    We present an analysis of strain and patient factors associated with the development of bloody diarrhea and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) among Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) patients registered in Denmark in a 6-year period. Of 343 STEC patients, bloody diarrhea developed in 36.4% and HUS in 6.1%. In a multivariate logistic regression model, risk factors for bloody diarrhea were the eae and stx2 genes, O groups O157 and O103, and increasing age. Risk factors for HUS were presence of the stx2 (odds ratio [OR] 18.9) and eae (OR undefined) genes, being a child, and having bloody diarrhea. O group O157, although associated with HUS in a univariate analysis (OR 4.0), was not associated in the multivariate analysis (OR 1.1). This finding indicates that, rather than O group, the combined presence of the eae and stx2 genes is an important predictor of HUS.

  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay and Serologic Responses to Pneumocystis jiroveci PDF Version [PDF - 190 KB - 7 pages]
    K. R. Daly et al.
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    Seroepidemiologic studies of Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) in humans have been limited by inadequate reagents. We have developed an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) using three overlapping recombinant fragments of the human Pneumocystis major surface glycoprotein (MsgA, MsgB, and MsgC) for analysis of antibody responses in HIV-positive patients and healthy blood donors. HIV-positive patients had significantly higher antibody levels to all Msg fragments. Furthermore, HIV-positive patients who experienced a previous episode of PCP (PCP-positive) had higher level of antibodies to MsgC than patients who never had PCP. A significant association was found between ELISA antibody level and reactivity by Western blot in HIV-positive patients, especially those who were PCP-positive. Thus, this ELISA will be useful in studying serum antibody responses to Pneumocystis in different human populations.

  • Vancomycin Susceptibility within Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus Lineages PDF Version [PDF - 47 KB - 3 pages]
    R. A. Howe et al.
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    Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) with reduced vancomycin susceptibility (VISA, vancomycin-intermediate S. aureus) has been reported from many countries. Whether resistance is evolving regularly in different genetic backgrounds or in a single clone with a genetic predisposition, as early results suggest, is unclear. We have studied 101 MRSA with reduced vancomycin susceptibility from nine countries by multilocus sequence typing (MLST) and characterization of SCCmec (staphylococcal chromosomal cassette mec) and agr (accessory gene regulator). We found nine genotypes by MLST, with isolates within all five major hospital MRSA lineages. Most isolates (88/101) belonged to two of the earliest MRSA clones that have global prevalence. Our results show that reduced susceptibility to vancomycin has emerged in many successful epidemic lineages with no clear clonal disposition. Increasing antimicrobial resistance in genetically distinct pandemic clones may lead to MRSA infections that will become increasingly difficult to treat.

  • Syndromic Surveillance in Public Health Practice, New York City PDF Version [PDF - 175 KB - 7 pages]
    R. Heffernan et al.
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    The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has established a syndromic surveillance system that monitors emergency department visits to detect disease outbreaks early. Routinely collected chief complaint information is transmitted electronically to the health department daily and analyzed for temporal and spatial aberrations. Respiratory, fever, diarrhea, and vomiting are the key syndromes analyzed. Statistically significant aberrations or “signals” are investigated to determine their public health importance. In the first year of operation (November 15, 2001, to November 14, 2002), 2.5 million visits were reported from 39 participating emergency departments, covering an estimated 75% of annual visits. Most signals for the respiratory and fever syndromes (64% and 95%, respectively) occurred during periods of peak influenza A and B activity. Eighty-three percent of the signals for diarrhea and 88% of the signals for vomiting occurred during periods of suspected norovirus and rotavirus transmission.

  • Multidrug-resistant Tuberculosis in Central Asia PDF Version [PDF - 294 KB - 8 pages]
    H. S. Cox et al.
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    Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) has emerged as a major threat to TB control, particularly in the former Soviet Union. To determine levels of drug resistance within a directly observed treatment strategy (DOTS) program supported by Médecins Sans Frontières in two regions in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, Central Asia, we conducted a cross-sectional survey of smear-positive TB patients in selected districts of Karakalpakstan (Uzbekistan) and Dashoguz (Turkmenistan). High levels of MDR-TB were found in both regions. In Karakalpakstan, 14 (13%) of 106 new patients were infected with MDR-TB; 43 (40%) of 107 previously treated patients were similarly infected. The proportions for Dashoguz were 4% (4/105 patients) and 18% (18/98 patients), respectively. Overall, 27% of patients with positive smear results whose infections were treated through the DOTS program in Karakalpakstan and 11% of similar patients in Dashoguz were infected with multidrug-resistant strains of TB on admission. These results show the need for concerted action by the international community to contain transmission and reduce the effects of MDR-TB.

  • Antimicrobial Resistance in Commensal Flora of Pig Farmers PDF Version [PDF - 67 KB - 7 pages]
    H. Aubry-Damon et al.
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    We assessed the quantitative contribution of pig farming to antimicrobial resistance in the commensal flora of pig farmers by comparing 113 healthy pig farmers from the major French porcine production areas to 113 nonfarmers, each matched for sex, age, and county of residence. All reported that they had not taken antiimicrobial agents within the previous month. Throat, nasal, and fecal swabs were screened for resistant microorganisms on agar containing selected antimicrobial agents. Nasopharyngeal carriage of Staphylococcus aureus was significantly more frequent in pig farmers, as was macrolide resistance of S. aureus from carriers. Nongroupable streptococci from the throat were more resistant to the penicillins in pig farmers. The intestinal isolation of enterococci resistant to erythromycin or vancomycin was not significantly higher in pig farmers in contrast to that of enterobacteria resistant to nalidixic acid, chloramphenicol, tetracycline, and streptomycin. Prevalence of resistance in predominant fecal enterobacteria was also significantly higher in pig farmers for cotrimoxazole, tetracycline, streptomycin, and nalidixic acid. We determined a significant association between pig farming and isolation of resistant commensal bacteria.

  • Endemic Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis in Northern Peru PDF Version [PDF - 480 KB - 9 pages]
    P. V. Aguilar et al.
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    Since Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) was isolated in Peru in 1942, >70 isolates have been obtained from mosquitoes, humans, and sylvatic mammals primarily in the Amazon region. To investigate genetic relationships among the Peru VEEV isolates and between the Peru isolates and other VEEV strains, a fragment of the PE2 gene was amplified and analyzed by single-stranded conformation polymorphism. Representatives of seven genotypes underwent sequencing and phylogenetic analysis. The results identified four VEE complex lineages that cocirculate in the Amazon region: subtypes ID (Panama and Colombia/Venezuela genotypes), IIIC, and a new, proposed subtype IIID, which was isolated from a febrile human, mosquitoes, and spiny rats. Both ID lineages and the IIID subtype are associated with febrile human illness. Most of the subtype ID isolates belonged to the Panama genotype, but the Colombia/Venezuela genotype, which is phylogenetically related to epizootic strains, also continues to circulate in the Amazon basin.

  • Causative Agent of Pogosta Disease Isolated from Blood and Skin Lesions PDF Version [PDF - 301 KB - 6 pages]
    S. Kurkela et al.
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    Pogosta disease is a mosquito-borne viral disease in Finland, which is clinically manifested by rash and arthritis; larger outbreaks occur in 7-year intervals. The causative agent of the disease has been suspected of being closely related to Sindbis virus (SINV). We isolated SINV from five patients with acute Pogosta disease during an outbreak in fall 2002 in Finland. One virus strain was recovered from a whole blood sample and four other strains from skin lesions. The etiology of Pogosta disease was confirmed by these first Finnish SINV strains, which also represent the first human SINV isolates from Europe. Phylogenetic analysis indicates that the Finnish SINV strains are closely related to the viral agents isolated from mosquitoes and that cause clinically similar diseases in nearby geographic areas.


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