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Volume 14, Number 1—January 2008

Volume 14, Number 1—January 2008   PDF Version [PDF - 9.37 MB - 199 pages]

THEME ISSUE
International Polar Year

Commentary

Perspective

  • Sexual Health and Sexually Transmitted Infections in the North American Arctic PDF Version [PDF - 74 KB - 6 pages]
    D. G. Law et al.
       View Abstract

    Our objective was to describe the basic epidemiology of sexually transmitted infections for Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of North America. We summarized published and unpublished rates of chlamydial infection and gonorrhea reported from 2003 through 2006 for Alaska, Canada, and Greenland. In 2006, Alaska reported high rates of chlamydial infection (715 cases/100,000 population) compared with the United States as a whole; northern Canada reported high rates of chlamydial infection (1,693 cases/100,000) and gonorrhea (247 cases/100,000) compared with southern Canada; and Greenland consistently reported the highest rates of chlamydial infection (5,543 cases/100,000) and gonorrhea (1,738 cases/100,000) in the Arctic. Rates were high for both men and women, although the highest incidence of infection was predominantly reported for young women in their early twenties. We propose that community-based participatory research is an appropriate approach to improve sexual health in Arctic communities.

  • Integrated Approaches and Empirical Models for Investigation of Parasitic Diseases in Northern Wildlife PDF Version [PDF - 196 KB - 8 pages]
    E. P. Hoberg et al.
       View Abstract

    The North is a frontier for exploration of emerging infectious diseases and the large-scale drivers influencing distribution, host associations, and evolution of pathogens among persons, domestic animals, and wildlife. Leading into the International Polar Year 2007–2008, we outline approaches, protocols, and empirical models derived from a decade of integrated research on northern host–parasite systems. Investigations of emerging infectious diseases associated with parasites in northern wildlife involved a network of multidisciplinary collaborators and incorporated geographic surveys, archival collections, historical foundations for diversity, and laboratory and field studies exploring the interface for hosts, parasites, and the environment. In this system, emergence of parasitic disease was linked to geographic expansion, host switching, resurgence due to climate change, and newly recognized parasite species. Such integrative approaches serve as cornerstones for detection, prediction, and potential mitigation of emerging infectious diseases in wildlife and persons in the North and elsewhere under a changing global climate.

  • International Circumpolar Surveillance, An Arctic Network for the Surveillance of Infectious Diseases PDF Version [PDF - 261 KB - 7 pages]
    A. J. Parkinson et al.
       View Abstract

    Peoples of the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions live in social and physical environments that differ substantially from those of their more southern-dwelling counterparts. The cold northern climate keeps people indoors, amplifying the effects of household crowding, smoking, and inadequate ventilation on person-to-person spread of infectious disease. The emergence of antimicrobial drug resistance among bacterial pathogens, the reemergence of tuberculosis, the entrance of HIV into Arctic communities, and the specter of pandemic influenza or the sudden emergence and introduction of new viral pathogens such as severe acute respiratory syndrome are of increasing concern to residents, governments, and public health authorities. The International Circumpolar Surveillance system is a network of hospital, public health agencies, and reference laboratories throughout the Arctic linked together to collect, compare, and share uniform laboratory and epidemiologic data on infectious diseases and assist in the formulation of prevention and control strategies.

Research

  • International Circumpolar Surveillance System for Invasive Pneumococcal Disease, 1999–2005 PDF Version [PDF - 145 KB - 9 pages]
    M. G. Bruce et al.
       View Abstract

    The International Circumpolar Surveillance System is a population-based surveillance network for invasive bacterial disease in the Arctic. The 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7) was introduced for routine infant vaccination in Alaska (2001), northern Canada (2002–2006), and Norway (2006). Data for invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) were analyzed to identify clinical findings, disease rates, serotype distribution, and antimicrobial drug susceptibility; 11,244 IPD cases were reported. Pneumonia and bacteremia were common clinical findings. Rates of IPD among indigenous persons in Alaska and northern Canada were 43 and 38 cases per 100,000 population, respectively. Rates in children <2 years of age ranged from 21 to 153 cases per 100,000 population. In Alaska and northern Canada, IPD rates in children <2 years of age caused by PCV7 serotypes decreased by >80% after routine vaccination. IPD rates are high among indigenous persons and children in Arctic countries. After vaccine introduction, IPD caused by non-PCV7 serotypes increased in Alaska.

  • Invasive Bacterial Diseases in Northern Canada PDF Version [PDF - 161 KB - 7 pages]
    N. Degani et al.
       View Abstract

    International Circumpolar Surveillance (ICS) is a population-based invasive bacterial disease surveillance network. Participating Canadian regions include Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and northern regions of Québec and Labrador (total population 132,956, 59% aboriginal). Clinical and demographic information were collected by using standardized surveillance forms. Bacterial isolates were forwarded to reference laboratories for confirmation and serotyping. After pneumococcal conjugate vaccine introduction, crude annual incidence rates of invasive Streptococcus pneumoniae decreased from 34.0/100,000 population (1999–2002) to 23.6/100,000 population (2003–2005); substantial reductions were shown among aboriginals. However, incidence rates of S. pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, and group A streptococci were higher in aboriginal populations than in non-aboriginal populations. H. influenzae type b was rare; 52% of all H. influenzae cases were caused by type a. Data collected by ICS contribute to the understanding of the epidemiology of invasive bacterial diseases among northern populations, which assists in formulation of prevention and control strategies, including immunization recommendations.

  • Sindbis Virus Infection in Resident Birds, Migratory Birds, and Humans, Finland PDF Version [PDF - 225 KB - 7 pages]
    S. Kurkela et al.
       View Abstract

    Sindbis virus (SINV), a mosquito-borne virus that causes rash and arthritis, has been causing outbreaks in humans every seventh year in northern Europe. To gain a better understanding of SINV epidemiology in Finland, we searched for SINV antibodies in 621 resident grouse, whose population declines have coincided with human SINV outbreaks, and in 836 migratory birds. We used hemagglutination-inhibition and neutralization tests for the bird samples and enzyme immunoassays and hemagglutination-inhibition for the human samples. SINV antibodies were first found in 3 birds (red-backed shrike, robin, song thrush) during their spring migration to northern Europe. Of the grouse, 27.4% were seropositive in 2003 (1 year after a human outbreak), but only 1.4% were seropositive in 2004. Among 2,529 persons, the age-standardized seroprevalence (1999–2003) was 5.2%; seroprevalence and incidence (1995–2003) were highest in North Karelia (eastern Finland). Grouse may contribute to the epidemiology of SINV in humans.

  • Epidemiology of Haemophilus influenzae Serotype a, North American Arctic, 2000–2005 PDF Version [PDF - 388 KB - 8 pages]
    M. G. Bruce et al.
       View Abstract

    Before the introduction of Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) conjugate vaccines, rates of invasive H. influenzae disease among indigenous people of the North American Arctic were among the highest in the world. Routine vaccination reduced rates to low levels; however, serotype replacement with non–type b strains may result in a reemergence of invasive disease in children. We reviewed population-based data on invasive H. influenzae in Alaska and northern Canada from 2000–2005; 138 cases were reported. Among 88 typeable isolates, 42 (48%) were H. influenzae type a (Hia); 35 (83%) occurred in indigenous peoples. Among Hia patients, median age was 1.1 years; 62% were male; 1 adult died. Common clinical manifestations included meningitis, pneumonia, and septic arthritis. Overall annual incidence was 0.9 cases per 100,000 population. Incidence among indigenous children <2 years of age in Alaska and northern Canada was 21 and 102, respectively. Serotype a is now the most common H. influenzae serotype in the North American Arctic; the highest rates are among indigenous children.

Dispatches

Another Dimension

Volume 14, Number 1—January 2008 - Continued

Perspective

  • Influenza Virus Samples, International Law, and Global Health Diplomacy PDF Version [PDF - 184 KB - 7 pages]
    D. P. Fidler
       View Abstract

    Indonesia’s decision to withhold samples of avian influenza virus A (H5N1) from the World Health Organization for much of 2007 caused a crisis in global health. The World Health Assembly produced a resolution to try to address the crisis at its May 2007 meeting. I examine how the parties to this controversy used international law in framing and negotiating the dispute. Specifically, I analyze Indonesia’s use of the international legal principle of sovereignty and its appeal to rules on the protection of biological and genetic resources found in the Convention on Biological Diversity. In addition, I consider how the International Health Regulations 2005 applied to the controversy. The incident involving Indonesia’s actions with virus samples illustrates both the importance and the limitations of international law in global health diplomacy.

  • Pandemic Influenza and Pregnant Women PDF Version [PDF - 64 KB - 6 pages]
    S. A. Rasmussen et al.
       View Abstract

    Planning for a future influenza pandemic should include considerations specific to pregnant women. First, pregnant women are at increased risk for influenza-associated illness and death. The effects on the fetus of maternal influenza infection, associated fever, and agents used for prophylaxis and treatment should be taken into account. Pregnant women might be reluctant to comply with public health recommendations during a pandemic because of concerns regarding effects of vaccines or medications on the fetus. Guidelines regarding nonpharmaceutical interventions (e.g., voluntary quarantine) also might present special challenges because of conflicting recommendations about routine prenatal care and delivery. Finally, healthcare facilities need to develop plans to minimize exposure of pregnant women to ill persons, while ensuring that women receive necessary care.

Research

  • Human Metapneumovirus Infections in Children PDF Version [PDF - 199 KB - 6 pages]
    T. Heikkinen et al.
       View Abstract

    Human metapneumovirus (hMPV) is an important cause of lower respiratory tract infections in hospitalized children, but the age-related incidence and effect of hMPV in unselected children in the community have not been evaluated. We studied a cohort of 1,338 children <13 years of age throughout 1 respiratory season in Finland during 2000–2001. We examined children and obtained a nasal swab for viral detection at any sign of respiratory infection. hMPV was detected in 47 (3.5%) of the 1,338 children. The age-related incidence of hMPV infection was highest (7.6%) in children <2 years of age, in whom hMPV accounted for 1.7% of all infections during the season. During the epidemic peak, hMPV caused 7.1% of all respiratory infections in the cohort. Acute otitis media developed in 61% of hMPV-infected children <3 years of age. Our findings demonstrate that the effect of hMPV in the community is greatest in children <2 years of age.

  • High Genetic Diversity of Measles Virus, World Health Organization European Region, 2005–2006 PDF Version [PDF - 429 KB - 8 pages]
    J. R. Kremer et al.
       View Abstract

    During 2005–2006, nine measles virus (MV) genotypes were identified throughout the World Health Organization European Region. All major epidemics were associated with genotypes D4, D6, and B3. Other genotypes (B2, D5, D8, D9, G2, and H1) were only found in limited numbers of cases after importation from other continents. The genetic diversity of endemic D6 strains was low; genotypes C2 and D7, circulating in Europe until recent years, were no longer identified. The transmission chains of several indigenous MV strains may thus have been interrupted by enhanced vaccination. However, multiple importations from Africa and Asia and virus introduction into highly mobile and unvaccinated communities caused a massive spread of D4 and B3 strains throughout much of the region. Thus, despite the reduction of endemic MV circulation, importation of MV from other continents caused prolonged circulation and large outbreaks after their introduction into unvaccinated and highly mobile communities.

  • Cryptosporidiosis and Filtration of Water from Loch Lomond, Scotland PDF Version [PDF - 355 KB - 6 pages]
    K. Pollock et al.
       View Abstract

    Previous evidence has suggested an association between consumption of unfiltered water from Loch Lomond, Scotland, and cryptosporidiosis. Before November 1999, this water had been only microstrained and disinfected with chlorine; however, since that time, physical treatment of the water (coagulation, rapid gravity filtration) has been added. To determine risk factors, including drinking water, for cryptosporidiosis, we analyzed data on laboratory-confirmed cases of cryptosporidiosis collected from 1997 through 2003. We identified an association between the incidence of cryptosporidiosis and unfiltered drinking water supplied to the home. The association supports the view that adding a filtration system to minimally treated water can substantially reduce the number of confirmed cryptosporidiosis cases.

  • Cross-subtype Immunity against Avian Influenza in Persons Recently Vaccinated for Influenza PDF Version [PDF - 306 KB - 8 pages]
    C. Gioia et al.
       View Abstract

    Avian influenza virus (H5N1) can be transmitted to humans, resulting in a severe or fatal disease. The aim of this study was to evaluate the immune cross-reactivity between human and avian influenza (H5N1) strains in healthy donors vaccinated for seasonal influenza A (H1N1)/(H3N2). A small frequency of CD4 T cells specific for subtype H5N1 was detected in several persons at baseline, and seasonal vaccine administration enhanced the frequency of such reactive CD4 T cells. We also observed that seasonal vaccination is able to raise neutralizing immunity against influenza (H5N1) in a large number of donors. No correlation between influenza-specific CD4 T cells and humoral responses was observed. N1 may possibly be a target for both cellular and humoral cross-type immunity, but additional experiments are needed to clarify this point. These findings highlight the possibility of boosting cross-type cellular and humoral immunity against highly pathogenic avian influenza A virus subtype H5N1 by seasonal influenza vaccination.

  • Telephone Survey to Assess Influenza-like Illness, United States, 2006 PDF Version [PDF - 187 KB - 7 pages]
    J. L. Malone et al.
       View Abstract

    Although current national response plans assume that most influenza-infected patients would stay home during a pandemic, surveillance systems might be overwhelmed and unable to monitor their health status. We explored the feasibility of using a nationwide telephone survey to monitor at-home patients. Of randomly selected adults surveyed during low influenza activity months (April–October 2006, surveillance weeks 17–41), 86% (7,268/8,449) agreed to answer questions about health status and influenza-like illness symptoms. Three percent (230/7,628) self-reported “flu.” A subset (0.9%, 68/230) self-reported fever. In comparison, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Sentinel Provider Network reported clinical influenza-like illness rates of 1.2%, 0.9%, and 1.2% for weeks 17, 20, and 41, respectively. The consistency between information obtained by telephone and surveillance data warrants further studies to determine whether telephone surveys can accurately monitor health status during seasonal influenza peaks and to augment current surveillance systems during a pandemic.

  • Experimental Infection of Swans and Geese with Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Virus (H5N1) of Asian Lineage PDF Version [PDF - 273 KB - 7 pages]
    J. D. Brown et al.
       View Abstract

    The role of wild birds in the epidemiology of the Asian lineage highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus subtype H5N1 epizootic and their contribution to the spread of the responsible viruses in Eurasia and Africa are unclear. To better understand the potential role of swans and geese in the epidemiology of this virus, we infected 4 species of swans and 2 species of geese with an HPAI virus of Asian lineage recovered from a whooper swan in Mongolia in 2005, A/whooper swan/Mongolia/244/2005 (H5N1). The highest mortality rates were observed in swans, and species-related differences in clinical illness and viral shedding were evident. These results suggest that the potential for HPAI (H5N1) viral shedding and the movement of infected birds may be species-dependent and can help explain observed deaths associated with HPAI (H5N1) infection in anseriforms in Eurasia.

  • Short- and Long-term Effects of Bacterial Gastrointestinal Infections PDF Version [PDF - 206 KB - 6 pages]
    A. Ternhag et al.
       View Abstract

    During 1997–2004, microbiologically confirmed gastrointestinal infections were reported for 101,855 patients in Sweden. Among patients who had Salmonella infection (n = 34,664), we found an increased risk for aortic aneurysm (standardized incidence ratio [SIR] 6.4, 95% confidence interval [CI] 3.1–11.8) within 3 months after infection and an elevated risk for ulcerative colitis (SIR 3.2, 95% CI 2.2–4.6) within 1 year after infection. We also found this elevated risk for ulcerative colitis among Campylobacter infections (n = 57,425; SIR 2.8, 95% CI 2.0–3.8). Within 1 year, we found an increased risk for reactive arthritis among patients with Yersinia enteritis (n = 5,133; SIR 47.0, 95% CI 21.5–89.2), Salmonella infection (SIR 18.2, 95% CI 12.0–26.5), and Campylobacter infection (SIR 6.3, 95% CI 3.5–10.4). Acute gastroenteritis is sometimes associated with disease manifestations from several organ systems that may require hospitalization of patients.

Dispatches

Letters

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