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Volume 4, Number 1—March 1998

Volume 4, Number 1—March 1998   PDF Version [PDF - 1.82 MB - 136 pages]

Perspective

  • Risk for Transfusion-Transmitted Infectious Diseases in Central and South America PDF Version [PDF - 35 KB - 7 pages]
    G. A. Schmunis et al.
        View Abstract

    We report the potential risk for an infectious disease through tainted transfusion in 10 countries of South and Central America in 1993 and in two countries of South America in 1994, as well as the cost of reagents as partial estimation of screening costs. Of the 12 countries included in the study, nine screened all donors for HIV; three screened all donors for hepatitis B virus (HBV); two screened all donors for Trypanosoma cruzi; none screened all donors for hepatitis C virus (HCV); and six screened some donors for syphilis. Estimates of the risk of acquiring HIV through blood transfusion were much lower than for acquiring HBV, HCV, or T. cruzi because of significantly higher screening and lower prevalence rates for HIV. An index of infectious disease spread through blood transfusion was calculated for each country. The highest value was obtained for Bolivia (233 infections per 10,000 transfusions); in five other countries, it was 68 to 103 infections per 10,000. The risks were lower in Honduras (nine per 10,000), Ecuador (16 per 10,000), and Paraguay (19 per 10,000). While the real number of potentially infected units or infected persons is probably lower than our estimates because of false positives and already infected recipients, the data reinforce the need for an information system to assess the level of screening for infectious diseases in the blood supply. Since this information was collected, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Venezuela have made HCV screening mandatory; serologic testing for HCV has increased in those countries, as well as in El Salvador and Honduras. T. cruzi screening is now mandatory in Colombia, and the percentage of screened donors increased not only in Colombia, but also in Ecuador, El Salvador, and Paraguay. Laws to regulate blood transfusion practices have been enacted in Bolivia, Guatemala, and Peru. However, donor screening still needs to improve for one or more diseases in most countries.

  • Calicivirus Emergence from Ocean Reservoirs: Zoonotic and Interspecies Movements PDF Version [PDF - 117 KB - 8 pages]
    A. W. Smith et al.
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    Caliciviral infections in humans, among the most common causes of viral-induced vomiting and diarrhea, are caused by the Norwalk group of small round structured viruses, the Sapporo caliciviruses, and the hepatitis E agent. Human caliciviruses have been resistant to in vitro cultivation, and direct study of their origins and reservoirs outside infected humans or water and foods (such as shellfish contaminated with human sewage) has been difficult. Modes of transmission, other than direct fecal-oral routes, are not well understood. In contrast, animal viruses found in ocean reservoirs, which make up a second calicivirus group, can be cultivated in vitro. These viruses can emerge and infect terrestrial hosts, including humans. This article reviews the history of animal caliciviruses, their eventual recognition as zoonotic agents, and their potential usefulness as a predictive model for noncultivatable human and other animal caliciviruses (e.g., those seen in association with rabbit hemorrhagic disease).

  • Outbreak Investigations—A Perspective PDF Version [PDF - 32 KB - 7 pages]
    A. L. Reingold
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    Outbreak investigations, an important and challenging component of epidemiology and public health, can help identify the source of ongoing outbreaks and prevent additional cases. Even when an outbreak is over, a thorough epidemiologic and environmental investigation often can increase our knowledge of a given disease and prevent future outbreaks. Finally, outbreak investigations provide epidemiologic training and foster cooperation between the clinical and public health communities.

  • International Editors Update: Emerging Infectious Diseases—Brazil PDF Version [PDF - 53 KB - 3 pages]
    H. Momen
        View Abstract

    In this new section, we welcome commentary and updates from our newly formed Board of International Editors. (See inside front cover for a list of names.)

Synopses

  • Genetic Diversity of Wild-Type Measles Viruses: Implications for Global Measles Elimination Programs PDF Version [PDF - 82 KB - 6 pages]
    W. J. Bellini and P. A. Rota
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    Wild-type measles viruses have been divided into distinct genetic groups according to the nucleotide sequences of their hemagglutinin and nucleoprotein genes. Most genetic groups have worldwide distribution; however, at least two of the groups appear to have a more limited circulation. To monitor the transmission pathways of measles virus, we observed the geographic distribution of genetic groups, as well as changes in them in a particular region over time. We found evidence of interruption of indigenous transmission of measles in the United States after 1993 and identified the sources of imported virus associated with cases and outbreaks after 1993. The pattern of measles genetic groups provided a means to describe measles outbreaks and assess the extent of virus circulation in a given area. We expect that molecular epidemiologic studies will become a powerful tool for evaluating strategies to control, eliminate, and eventually eradicate measles.

  • Diversity among Multidrug-Resistant Enterococci PDF Version [PDF - 66 KB - 11 pages]
    B. E. Murray
        View Abstract

    Enterococci are associated with both community- and hospital-acquired infections. Even though they do not cause severe systemic inflammatory responses, such as septic shock, enterococci present a therapeutic challenge because of their resistance to a vast array of antimicrobial drugs, including cell-wall active agents, all commercially available aminoglycosides, penicillin and ampicillin, and vancomycin. The combination of the latter two occurs disproportionately in strains resistant to many other antimicrobial drugs. The propensity of enterococci to acquire resistance may relate to their ability to participate in various forms of conjugation, which can result in the spread of genes as part of conjugative transposons, pheromone-responsive plasmids, or broad host-range plasmids. Enterococcal hardiness likely adds to resistance by facilitating survival in the environment of a multidrug-resistant clone, thus enhancing potential spread from person to person. The combination of these attributes within the genus Enterococcus suggests that these bacteria and their resistance to antimicrobial drugs will continue to pose a challenge.

  • Proteases of Malaria Parasites: New Targets for Chemotherapy PDF Version [PDF - 61 KB - 9 pages]
    P. J. Rosenthal
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    The increasing resistance of malaria parasites to antimalarial drugs is a major contributor to the reemergence of the disease as a major public health problem and its spread in new locations and populations. Among potential targets for new modes of chemotherapy are malarial proteases, which appear to mediate processes within the erythrocytic malarial life cycle, including the rupture and invasion of infected erythrocytes and the degradation of hemoglobin by trophozoites. Cysteine and aspartic protease inhibitors are now under study as potential antimalarials. Lead compounds have blocked in vitro parasite development at nanomolar concentrations and cured malaria-infected mice. This review discusses available antimalarial agents and summarizes experimental results that support development of protease inhibitors as antimalarial drugs.

  • Zoonotic Tuberculosis due to Mycobacterium bovis in Developing Countries PDF Version [PDF - 103 KB - 12 pages]
    O. Cosivi et al.
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    The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that human tuberculosis (TB) incidence and deaths for 1990 to 1999 will be 88 million and 30 million, respectively, with most cases in developing countries. Zoonotic TB (caused by Mycobacterium bovis) is present in animals in most developing countries where surveillance and control activities are often inadequate or unavailable; therefore, many epidemiologic and public health aspects of infection remain largely unknown. We review available information on zoonotic TB in developing countries, analyze risk factors that may play a role in the disease, review recent WHO activities, and recommend actions to assess the magnitude of the problem and control the disease in humans and animals.

  • What Makes Cryptococcus neoformans a Pathogen? PDF Version [PDF - 141 KB - 13 pages]
    K. L. Buchanan and J. W. Murphy
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    Life-threatening infections caused by the encapsulated fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans have been increasing steadily over the past 10 years because of the onset of AIDS and the expanded use of immunosuppressive drugs. Intricate host-organism interactions make the full understanding of pathogenicity and virulence of C. neoformans difficult. We discuss the current knowledge of the characteristics C. neoformans must possess to enter the host and establish progressive disease: basic growth requirements and virulence factors, such as the polysaccharide capsule; shed products of the organism; melanin production; mannitol secretion; superoxide dismutase; proteases; and phospholipases.

Dispatches

  • Hantavirus Infection in Children in Argentina PDF Version [PDF - 29 KB - 3 pages]
    N. C. Pini et al.
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    Clinical hantavirus infection was diagnosed in five Argentine children ages 5 to 11 years by immunoglobulin M (IgM)- capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay using Sin Nombre virus (SNV) antigens. Death in three of the children was associated with absence of detectable IgG to SNV antigens. An additional two cases in healthy children were studied: one, a breast-fed 15-month-old whose mother died of suspected hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) 8 months previously, had hantavirus IgG(> 1:6400); a second, whose mother survived HPS during month three of pregnancy, apparently had maternal antibodies no longer detectable 1 year after birth.

  • Reemergence of Dengue in Cuba: A 1997 Epidemic in Santiago de Cuba PDF Version [PDF - 22 KB - 4 pages]
    G. Kourí et al.
        View Abstract

    After 15 years of absence, dengue reemerged in the municipality of Santiago de Cuba because of increasing migration to the area by people from disease-endemic regions, a high level of vector infestation, and the breakdown of eradication measures. The 1997 epidemic was detected early through an active surveillance system. Of 2,946 laboratory-confirmed cases, 205 were dengue hemorrhagic fever, and 12 were fatal. No deaths were reported in persons under 16 years of age. Now the epidemic is fully controlled.

  • Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome in a Chilean Patient with Recent Travel in Bolivia PDF Version [PDF - 17 KB - 3 pages]
    R. Espinoza et al.
        View Abstract

    A case of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) was serologically confirmed in a critically ill patient in Santiago, Chile. The patient's clinical course had many similarities to that of other HPS patients in North and South America but was complicated by acute severe renal failure. The patient's history included self-reported urban and probable rural rodent exposure during travel in Bolivia. Comparison of a viral sequence from an acute-phase serum sample with other known hantaviruses showed that the hantavirus nucleic acid sequence from the patient was very similar to a virus recently isolated from rodents associated with HPS cases in Paraguay.

  • Prevalence of Tick-Borne Pathogens in Ixodes scapularis in a Rural New Jersey County PDF Version [PDF - 37 KB - 3 pages]
    S. Varde et al.
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    To assess the potential risk for other tick-borne diseases, we collected 100 adult Ixodes scapularis in Hunterdon County, a rapidly developing rural county in Lyme disease–endemic western New Jersey. We tested the ticks by polymerase chain reaction for Borrelia burgdorferi, Babesia microti, and the rickettsial agent of human granulocytic ehrlichiosis (HGE). Fifty-five ticks were infected with at least one of the three pathogens: 43 with B. burgdorferi, five with B. microti, and 17 with the HGE agent. Ten ticks were coinfected with two of the pathogens. The results suggest that county residents are at considerable risk for infection by a tick-borne pathogen after an I. scapularis bite.

  • Plague, a Reemerging Disease in Madagascar PDF Version [PDF - 58 KB - 4 pages]
    S. Chanteau et al.
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    Human cases of plague, which had virtually disappeared in Madagascar after the 1930s, reappeared in 1990 with more than 200 confirmed or presumptive cases reported each year since. In the port of Mahajanga, plague has been reintroduced, and epidemics occur every year. In Antananarivo, the capital, the number of new cases has increased, and many rodents are infected with Yersinia pestis. Despite surveillance for the sensitivity of Y. pestis and fleas to drugs and insecticides and control measures to prevent the spread of sporadic cases, the elimination of plague has been difficult because the host and reservoir of the bacillus, Rattus rattus, is both a domestic and a sylvatic rat.

  • Bayou Virus-Associated Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome in Eastern Texas: Identification of the Rice Rat, Oryzomys palustris, as Reservoir Host PDF Version [PDF - 276 KB - 7 pages]
    N. Torrez-Martinez et al.
        View Abstract

    We describe the third known case of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) due to Bayou virus, from Jefferson County, Texas. By using molecular epidemiologic methods, we show that rice rats (Oryzomys palustris) are frequently infected with Bayou virus and that viral RNA sequences from HPS patients are similar to those from nearby rice rats. Bayou virus is associated with O. palustris; this rodent appears to be its predominant reservoir host.

  • Laboratory Survey of Drug-Resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae in New York City, 1993—1995 PDF Version [PDF - 24 KB - 4 pages]
    R. Heffernan et al.
        View Abstract

    Wide geographic variation in the prevalence of drug-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae demonstrates the importance of tracking antimicrobial resistance locally. This survey of hospital microbiology laboratories in New York City found that penicillin resistance (MIC > 2.0 μg/ml) increased from 1.5% of S. pneumoniae isolates in 1993 to 6.3% in 1995 and that in 1995, one-third of isolates nonsusceptible to penicillin (MIC > 0.1 µg/ml) were also nonsusceptible to an extended-spectrum cephalosporin (MIC > 1 µg/ml).

  • B-virus from Pet Macaque Monkeys: An Emerging Threat in the United States? PDF Version [PDF - 24 KB - 5 pages]
    S. R. Ostrowski et al.
        View Abstract

    Of primary concern when evaluating macaque bites are bacterial and B-virus infections. B-virus infection is highly prevalent (80% to 90%) in adult macaques and may cause a potentially fatal meningoencephalitis in humans. We examined seven nonoccupational exposure incidents involving 24 persons and eight macaques. Six macaques were tested for herpes B; four (67%) were seropositive. A common observation was that children were more than three times as likely to be bitten than adults. The virus must be assumed to be a potential health hazard in macaque bite wounds; this risk makes macaques unsuitable as pets.

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