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Volume 8, Number 9—September 2002

Volume 8, Number 9—September 2002   PDF Version [PDF - 12.09 MB - 138 pages]


  • A New Name for Pneumocystis from Humans and New Perspectives on the Host-Pathogen Relationship PDF Version [PDF - 267 KB - 7 pages]
    J. R. Stringer et al.
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    The disease known as Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) is a major cause of illness and death in persons with impaired immune systems. While the genus Pneumocystis has been known to science for nearly a century, understanding of its members remained rudimentary until DNA analysis showed its extensive diversity. Pneumocystis organisms from different host species have very different DNA sequences, indicating multiple species. In recognition of its genetic and functional distinctness, the organism that causes human PCP is now named Pneumocystis jiroveci Frenkel 1999. Changing the organism’s name does not preclude the use of the acronym PCP because it can be read “Pneumocystis pneumonia.” DNA varies in samples of P. jiroveci, a feature that allows reexamination of the relationships between host and pathogen. Instead of lifelong latency, transient colonization may be the rule.

  • Biofilms: Microbial Life on Surfaces PDF Version [PDF - 1000 KB - 10 pages]
    R. M. Donlan
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    Microorganisms attach to surfaces and develop biofilms. Biofilm-associated cells can be differentiated from their suspended counterparts by generation of an extracellular polymeric substance (EPS) matrix, reduced growth rates, and the up- and down- regulation of specific genes. Attachment is a complex process regulated by diverse characteristics of the growth medium, substratum, and cell surface. An established biofilm structure comprises microbial cells and EPS, has a defined architecture, and provides an optimal environment for the exchange of genetic material between cells. Cells may also communicate via quorum sensing, which may in turn affect biofilm processes such as detachment. Biofilms have great importance for public health because of their role in certain infectious diseases and importance in a variety of device-related infections. A greater understanding of biofilm processes should lead to novel, effective control strategies for biofilm control and a resulting improvement in patient management.


  • Human Metapneumovirus as a Cause of Community-Acquired Respiratory Illness PDF Version [PDF - 228 KB - 5 pages]
    J. Stockton et al.
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    Human metapneumovirus (HMPV) is a recently identified Paramyxovirus first isolated from hospitalized children with acute respiratory tract infections (ARTI). We sought evidence of HMPV infection in patients who had visited general practitioners, had influenzalike illnesses (ILI), and had negative tests for influenza and Human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV). As part of national virologic surveillance, sentinel general practices in England and Wales collected samples from patients of all ages with ILI during winter 2000–01. Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for HMPV, influenza A (H1 and H3), influenza B, and HRSV was used to screen combined nose and throat swabs. PCR products from the HMPV-positive samples were sequenced to confirm identity and construct phylogenetic trees. Of 711 swabs submitted, 408 (57.3%) were negative for influenza and HRSV; HMPV was identified in 9 (2.2%) patients. HMPV appears to be associated with community-acquired ARTI. The extent of illness and possible complications related to this new human virus need to be clarified

  • Molecular Epidemiology of Measles Viruses in the United States, 1997–2001 PDF Version [PDF - 244 KB - 7 pages]
    P. A. Rota et al.
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    From 1997 to 2001, sequence data from 55 clinical specimens were obtained from confirmed measles cases in the United States, representing 21 outbreaks and 34 sporadic cases. Sequence analysis indicated the presence of 11 of the recognized genotypes. The most common genotypes detected were genotype D6, usually identified from imported cases from Europe, and genotype D5, associated with importations from Japan. A number of viruses belonging to genotype D4 were imported from India and Pakistan. Overall, viral genotypes were determined for 13 chains of transmission with an unknown source of virus, and seven different genotypes were identified. Therefore, the diversity of Measles virus genotypes observed in the United States from 1997 to 2001 reflected multiple imported sources of virus and indicated that no strain of measles is endemic in the United States.

  • Public Health Impact of Reemergence of Rabies, New York PDF Version [PDF - 251 KB - 5 pages]
    H. H. Chang et al.
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    This report summarizes the spread of a raccoon rabies epizootic into New York in the 1990s, the species of animals affected, and human postexposure treatments (PET). A total of 57,008 specimens were submitted to the state laboratory from 1993 to 1998; 8,858 (16%) animals were confirmed rabid, with raccoons the most common species (75%). After exposure to 11,769 animals, 18,238 (45%) persons received PET, mostly because of contact with saliva or nervous tissue. We analyzed expenditure reports to estimate the cost of rabies prevention activities. An estimated $13.9 million was spent in New York State to prevent rabies from 1993 to 1998. Traditional prevention methods such as vaccinating pets, avoiding wildlife, and verifying an animal’s rabies status must be continued to reduce costly PET. To reduce rabid animals, exposures, and costs, oral vaccination of wildlife should also be considered.

  • Impact of El Niño/Southern Oscillation on Visceral Leishmaniasis, Brazil PDF Version [PDF - 231 KB - 4 pages]
    C. R. Franke et al.
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    We used time-series analysis and linear regression to investigate the relationship between the annual Niño-3 index from 1980 to 1998 and the annual incidence of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) in the State of Bahia, Brazil, during 1985–1999. An increase in VL incidence was observed in the post-El Niño years 1989 (+38.7%) and 1995 (+33.5%). The regression model demonstrates that the previous year’s mean Niño-3 index and the temporal trend account for approximately 50% of the variance in the annual incidence of VL in Bahia. The model shows a robust agreement with the real data, as only the influence of El Niño on the cycle of VL was analyzed. The results suggest that this relationship could be used to predict high-risk years for VL and thus help reduce health impact in susceptible regions in Brazil.

  • Characterization of Flagella Produced by Clinical Strains of Stenotrophomonas maltophilia PDF Version [PDF - 1.06 MB - 6 pages]
    D. de Oliveira-Garcia et al.
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    Stenotrophomonas maltophilia is an emerging nosocomial pathogen associated with opportunistic infections in patients with cystic fibrosis, cancer, and HIV. Adherence of this organism to abiotic surfaces such as medical implants and catheters represents a major risk for hospitalized patients. The adhesive surface factors involved in adherence of these bacteria are largely unknown, and their flagella have not yet been characterized biochemically and antigenically. We purified and characterized the flagella produced by S. maltophilia clinical strains. The flagella filaments are composed of a 38-kDa subunit, SMFliC, and analysis of its N-terminal amino acid sequence showed considerable sequence identity to the flagellins of Serratia marcescens (78.6%), Escherichia coli, Proteus mirabilis, Shigella sonnei (71.4%), and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (57.2%). Ultrastructural analysis by scanning electron microscopy of bacteria adhering to plastic showed flagellalike structures within the bacterial clusters, suggesting that flagella are produced as the bacteria spread on the abiotic surface.

  • Demographic Factors Associated with Hantavirus Infection in Bank Voles (Clethrionomys glareolus) PDF Version [PDF - 358 KB - 6 pages]
    G. E. Olsson et al.
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    The bank vole (Clethrionomys glareolus) is the natural reservoir of Puumala virus (PUUV), a species in the genus Hantavirus. PUUV is the etiologic agent of nephropathia epidemica, a mild form of hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome. Factors that influence hantavirus transmission within host populations are not well understood. We evaluated a number of factors influencing on the association of increased PUUV infection in bank voles captured in a region in northern Sweden endemic for the virus. Logistic regression showed four factors that together correctly predicted 80% of the model outcome: age, body mass index, population phase during sampling (increase, peak, or decline/low), and gender. This analysis highlights the importance of population demography in the successful circulation of hantavirus. The chance of infection was greatest during the peak of the population cycle, implying that the likelihood of exposure to hantavirus increases with increasing population density.

  • Behavioral, Physiologic, and Habitat Influences on the Dynamics of Puumala virus Infection in Bank Voles (Clethrionomys glareolus) PDF Version [PDF - 343 KB - 7 pages]
    S. Escutenaire et al.
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    Populations of bank voles (Clethrionomys glareolus) were monitored during a 4-year study in southern Belgium to assess the influence of agonistic behavior, reproductive status, mobility, and distribution of the rodents on the dynamics of Puumala virus (abbreviation: PUUV; genus: Hantavirus) infection. Concordance was high between data from serologic testing and results of viral RNA detection. Wounds resulting from biting or scratching were observed mainly in adult rodents. Hantavirus infection in adults was associated with wounds in the fall, i.e., at the end of the breeding season, but not in spring. In addition, sexually active animals were significantly more often wounded and positive for infection. Hantavirus infection was associated with higher mobility in juvenile and subadult males. Seroconversions observed 6 months apart also occurred more frequently in animals that had moved longer distances from their original capture point. During nonepidemic years, the distribution of infection was patchy, and positive foci were mainly located in dense ground vegetation.

  • A Case-Case Comparison of Campylobacter coli and Campylobacter jejuni Infection: A Tool for Generating Hypotheses PDF Version [PDF - 298 KB - 6 pages]
    I. Gillespie et al.
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    Preventing campylobacteriosis depends on a thorough understanding of its epidemiology. We used case-case analysis to compare cases of Campylobacter coli infection with cases of C. jejuni infection, to generate hypotheses for infection from standardized, population-based sentinel surveillance information in England and Wales. Persons with C. coli infection were more likely to have drunk bottled water than were those with C. jejuni infection and, in general, were more likely to have eaten pâté. Important differences in exposures were identified for these two Campylobacter species. Exposures that are a risk for infection for both comparison groups might not be identified or might be underestimated by case-case analysis. Similarly, the magnitude or direction of population risk cannot be assessed accurately. Nevertheless, our findings suggest that case-control studies should be conducted at the species level.

  • Spatial Analysis of Human Granulocytic Ehrlichiosis near Lyme, Connecticut PDF Version [PDF - 352 KB - 7 pages]
    E. K. Chaput et al.
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    Geographic information systems combined with methods of spatial analysis provide powerful new tools for understanding the epidemiology of diseases and for improving disease prevention and control. In this study, the spatial distribution of a newly recognized tick-borne disease, human granulocytic ehrlichiosis (HGE), was investigated for nonrandom patterns and clusters in an area known to be endemic for tick-borne diseases. Analysis of confirmed cases of HGE identified in 1997–2000 in a 12-town area around Lyme, Connecticut, showed that HGE infections are not distributed randomly. Smoothed HGE incidence was higher around the mouth of the Connecticut River and lower to the north and west. Cluster analysis identified one area of increased HGE risk (relative risk=1.8, p=0.001). This study demonstrates the utility of geographic information systems and spatial analysis to clarify the epidemiology of HGE.

  • Molecular Characterization of Campylobacter jejuni Clones: A Basis for Epidemiologic Investigation PDF Version [PDF - 296 KB - 7 pages]
    K. E. Dingle et al.
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    A total of 814 isolates of the foodborne pathogen Campylobacter jejuni were characterized by multilocus sequence typing (MLST) and analysis of the variation of two cell-surface components: the heat-stable (HS) serotyping antigen and the flagella protein FlaA short variable region (SVR). We identified 379 combinations of the MLST loci (sequence types) and 215 combinations of the cell-surface components among these isolates, which had been obtained from human disease, animals, food, and the environment. Despite this diversity, 748 (92%) of the isolates belonged to one of 17 clonal complexes, 6 of which contained many (318, 63%) of the human disease isolates. Several clonal complexes exhibited associations with isolation source or particular cell-surface components; however, the latter were poorly predictive of clonal complex. These data demonstrate that the clonal complex, as defined by MLST, is an epidemiologically relevant unit for both long and short-term investigations of C. jejuni epidemiology.

  • The 2000 Tularemia Outbreak: A Case-Control Study of Risk Factors in Disease-Endemic and Emergent Areas, Sweden PDF Version [PDF - 1000 KB - 5 pages]
    H. Eliasson et al.
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    A widespread outbreak of tularemia in Sweden in 2000 was investigated in a case-control study in which 270 reported cases of tularemia were compared with 438 controls. The outbreak affected parts of Sweden where tularemia had hitherto been rare, and these “emergent” areas were compared with the disease-endemic areas. Multivariate regression analysis showed mosquito bites to be the main risk factor, with an odds ratio (OR) of 8.8. Other risk factors were owning a cat (OR 2.5) and farm work (OR 3.2). Farming was a risk factor only in the disease-endemic area. Swollen lymph nodes and wound infections were more common in the emergent area, while pneumonia was more common in the disease-endemic area. Mosquito bites appear to be important in transmission of tularemia. The association between cat ownership and disease merits further investigation.

  • First Characterization of a Cluster of VanA-Type Glycopeptide-Resistant Enterococcus faecium, Colombia PDF Version [PDF - 354 KB - 5 pages]
    D. Panesso et al.
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    From August 1998 to October 1999, glycopeptide-resistant enterococci (GRE) were isolated from 23 infected patients at a teaching hospital in Medellín, Colombia. Identification at the species level and by multiplex polymerase chain reaction assay indicated that all isolates were Enterococcus faecium. The isolates were highly resistant to ampicillin, ciprofloxacin, gentamicin, penicillin, streptomycin, teicoplanin, and vancomycin; they were susceptible only to chloramphenicol, linezolid, and nitrofurantoin. Determination of glycopeptide genotype indicated the presence of the vanA gene in all isolates. Molecular typing by pulsed field gel electrophoresis showed that all isolates were closely related. This study is the first molecular characterization of GRE in Colombia.

  • Community-Acquired Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus in Institutionalized Adults with Developmental Disabilities PDF Version [PDF - 334 KB - 5 pages]
    A. Borer et al.
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    Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has recently been reported to emerge in the community setting. We describe the investigation and control of a community-acquired outbreak of MRSA skin infections in a closed community of institutionalized adults with developmental disabilities. In a 9-month period in 1997, 20 (71%) of 28 residents had 73 infectious episodes. Of the cultures, 60% and 32% obtained from residents and personnel, respectively, grew S. aureus; 96% and 27% were MRSA. All isolates were genetically related by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis and belonged to a phage type not previously described in the region. No known risk factors for MRSA acquisition were found. However, 58 antibiotic courses had been administered to 16 residents during the preceding 9 months. Infection control measures, antibiotic restriction, and appropriate therapy resulted in successful termination of this outbreak. Selective antibiotic pressure may result in the emergence, persistence, and dissemination of MRSA strains, causing prolonged disease.

Historical Review

  • Biological Warfare at the 1346 Siege of Caffa PDF Version [PDF - 487 KB - 5 pages]
    M. Wheelis
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    On the basis of a 14th-century account by the Genoese Gabriele de’ Mussi, the Black Death is widely believed to have reached Europe from the Crimea as the result of a biological warfare attack. This is not only of great historical interest but also relevant to current efforts to evaluate the threat of military or terrorist use of biological weapons. Based on published translations of the de’ Mussi manuscript, other 14th-century accounts of the Black Death, and secondary scholarly literature, I conclude that the claim that biological warfare was used at Caffa is plausible and provides the best explanation of the entry of plague into the city. This theory is consistent with the technology of the times and with contemporary notions of disease causation; however, the entry of plague into Europe from the Crimea likely occurred independent of this event.


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