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Volume 9, Number 2—February 2003

Volume 9, Number 2—February 2003   PDF Version [PDF - 15.49 MB - 139 pages]


  • Preparing for a Bioterrorist Attack: Legal and Administrative Strategies PDF Version [PDF - 175 KB - 5 pages]
    R. E. Hoffman
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    This article proposes and discusses legal and administrative preparations for a bioterrorist attack. To perform the duties expected of public health agencies during a disease outbreak caused by bioterrorism, an agency must have a sufficient number of employees and providers at work and a good communications system between staff in the central offices of the public health agency and those in outlying or neighboring agencies and hospitals. The article proposes strategies for achieving these objectives as well as for removing legal barriers that discourage agencies, institutions, and persons from working together for the overall good of the community. Issues related to disease surveillance and special considerations regarding public health restrictive orders are discussed.


  • B-Virus (Cercopithecine herpesvirus 1) Infection in Humans and Macaques: Potential for Zoonotic Disease PDF Version [PDF - 172 KB - 5 pages]
    J. L. Huff and P. A. Barry
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    Nonhuman primates are widely used in biomedical research because of their genetic, anatomic, and physiologic similarities to humans. In this setting, human contact directly with macaques or with their tissues and fluids sometimes occurs. Cercopithecine herpesvirus 1 (B virus), an alphaherpesvirus endemic in Asian macaques, is closely related to herpes simplex virus (HSV). Most macaques carry B virus without overt signs of disease. However, zoonotic infection with B virus in humans usually results in fatal encephalomyelitis or severe neurologic impairment. Although the incidence of human infection with B virus is low, a death rate of >70% before the availability of antiviral therapy makes this virus a serious zoonotic threat. Knowledge of the clinical signs and risk factors for human B-virus disease allows early initiation of antiviral therapy and prevents severe disease or death.


  • Emerging Pattern of Rabies Deaths and Increased Viral Infectivity PDF Version [PDF - 314 KB - 4 pages]
    S. L. Messenger et al.
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    Most human rabies deaths in the United States can be attributed to unrecognized exposures to rabies viruses associated with bats, particularly those associated with two infrequently encountered bat species (Lasionycteris noctivagans and Pipistrellus subflavus). These human rabies cases tend to cluster in the southeastern and northwestern United States. In these regions, most rabies deaths associated with bats in nonhuman terrestrial mammals are also associated with virus variants specific to these two bat species rather than more common bat species; outside of these regions, more common bat rabies viruses contribute to most transmissions. The preponderance of rabies deaths connected with the two uncommon L. noctivagans and P. subflavus bat rabies viruses is best explained by their evolution of increased viral infectivity.

  • Araçatuba Virus: A Vaccinialike Virus Associated with Infection in Humans and Cattle PDF Version [PDF - 1.32 MB - 6 pages]
    G. Trindade et al.
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    We describe a vaccinialike virus, Araçatuba virus, associated with a cowpoxlike outbreak in a dairy herd and a related case of human infection. Diagnosis was based on virus growth characteristics, electron microscopy, and molecular biology techniques. Molecular characterization of the virus was done by using polymerase chain reaction amplification, cloning, and DNA sequencing of conserved orthopoxvirus genes such as the vaccinia growth factor (VGF), thymidine kinase (TK), and hemagglutinin. We used VGF-homologous and TK gene nucleotide sequences to construct a phylogenetic tree for comparison with other poxviruses. Gene sequences showed 99% homology with vaccinia virus genes and were clustered together with the isolated virus in the phylogenetic tree. Araçatuba virus is very similar to Cantagalo virus, showing the same signature deletion in the gene. Araçatuba virus could be a novel vaccinialike virus or could represent the spread of Cantagalo virus.

  • Equine Amplification and Virulence of Subtype IE Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis Viruses Isolated during the 1993 and 1996 Mexican Epizootics PDF Version [PDF - 1.40 MB - 7 pages]
    D. Gonzalez et al.
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    To assess the role of horses as amplification hosts during the 1993 and 1996 Mexican Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE) epizootics, we subcutaneously infected 10 horses by using four different equine isolates. Most horses showed little or no disease and low or nonexistent viremia. Neurologic disease developed in only 1 horse, and brain histopathologic examination showed meningeal lymphocytic infiltration, perivascular cuffing, and focalencephalitis. Three animals showed mild meningoencephalitis without clinical disease. Viral RNA was detected in the brain of several animals 12-14 days after infection. These data suggest that the duration and scope of the recent Mexican epizootics were limited by lack of equine amplification characteristic of previous, more extensive VEE outbreaks. The Mexican epizootics may have resulted from the circulation of a more equine-neurotropic, subtype IE virus strain or from increased transmission to horses due to amplification by other vertebrate hosts or transmission by more competent mosquito vectors.

  • Elimination of Epidemic Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus from a University Hospital and District Institutions, Finland PDF Version [PDF - 325 KB - 7 pages]
    P. Kotilainen et al.
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    From August 1991 to October 1992, two successive outbreaks of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) occurred at a hospital in Finland. During and after these outbreaks, MRSA was diagnosed in 202 persons in our medical district; >100 cases involved epidemic MRSA. When control policies failed to stop the epidemic, more aggressive measures were taken, including continuous staff education, contact isolation for MRSA-positive patients, systematic screening for persons exposed to MRSA, cohort nursing of MRSA-positive and MRSA-exposed patients in epidemic situations, and perception of the 30 medical institutions in that district as one epidemiologic entity brought under surveillance and control of the infection control team of Turku University Hospital. Two major epidemic strains, as well as eight additional strains, were eliminated; we were also able to prevent nosocomial spread of other MRSA strains. Our data show that controlling MRSA is possible if strict measures are taken before the organism becomes endemic. Similar control policies may be successful for dealing with new strains of multiresistant bacteria, such as vancomycin-resistant strains of S. aureus.

  • Annual Mycobacterium tuberculosis Infection Risk and Interpretation of Clustering Statistics PDF Version [PDF - 376 KB - 8 pages]
    E. Vynnycky et al.
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    Several recent studies have used proportions of tuberculosis cases sharing identical DNA fingerprint patterns (i.e., isolate clustering) to estimate the extent of disease attributable to recent transmission. Using a model of introduction and transmission of strains with different DNA fingerprint patterns, we show that the properties and interpretation of clustering statistics may differ substantially between settings. For some unindustrialized countries, where the annual risk for infection has changed little over time, 70% to 80% of all age groups may be clustered during a 3-year period, which underestimates the proportion of disease attributable to recent transmission. In contrast, for a typical industrialized setting (the Netherlands), clustering declines with increasing age (from 75% to 15% among young and old patients, respectively) and underestimates the extent of recent transmission only for young patients. We conclude that, in some settings, clustering is an unreliable indicator of the extent of recent transmission.

  • Endemic Babesiosis in Another Eastern State: New Jersey PDF Version [PDF - 1.19 MB - 5 pages]
    B. L. Herwaldt et al.
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    In the United States, most reported cases of babesiosis have been caused by Babesia microti and acquired in the northeast. Although three cases of babesiosis acquired in New Jersey were recently described by others, babesiosis has not been widely known to be endemic in New Jersey. We describe a case of babesiosis acquired in New Jersey in 1999 in an otherwise healthy 53-year-old woman who developed life-threatening disease. We also provide composite data on 40 cases of babesiosis acquired from 1993 through 2001 in New Jersey. The 40 cases include the one we describe, the three cases previously described, and 36 other cases reported to public health agencies. The 40 cases were acquired in eight (38.1%) of the 21 counties in the state. Babesiosis, a potentially serious zoonosis, is endemic in New Jersey and should be considered in the differential diagnosis of patients with fever and hemolytic anemia, particularly in the spring, summer, and early fall.

  • Molecular Typing of IberoAmerican Cryptococcus neoformans Isolates PDF Version [PDF - 618 KB - 7 pages]
    W. Meyer et al.
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    A network was established to acquire basic knowledge of Cryptococcus neoformans in IberoAmerican countries. To this effect, 340 clinical, veterinary, and environmental isolates from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, Guatemala, and Spain were typed by using M13 polymerase chain reaction-fingerprinting and orotidine monophosphate pyrophosphorylase (URA5) gene restriction fragment length polymorphsm analysis with HhaI and Sau96I in a double digest. Both techniques grouped all isolates into eight previously established molecular types. The majority of the isolates, 68.2% (n=232), were VNI (var. grubii, serotype A), which accords with the fact that this variety causes most human cryptococcal infections worldwide. A smaller proportion, 5.6% (n=19), were VNII (var. grubii, serotype A); 4.1% (n=14), VNIII (AD hybrid), with 9 isolates having a polymorphism in the URA5 gene; 1.8% (n=6), VNIV (var. neoformans, serotype D); 3.5% (n=12), VGI; 6.2% (n=21), VGII; 9.1% (n=31), VGIII, and 1.5% (n=5) VGIV, with all four VG types containing var. gattii serotypes B and C isolates.

  • Health and Economic Impact of Surgical Site Infections Diagnosed after Hospital Discharge PDF Version [PDF - 855 KB - 8 pages]
    E. N. Perencevich et al.
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    Although surgical site infections (SSIs) are known to cause substantial illness and costs during the index hospitalization, little information exists about the impact of infections diagnosed after discharge, which constitute the majority of SSIs. In this study, using patient questionnaire and administrative databases, we assessed the clinical outcomes and resource utilization in the 8-week postoperative period associated with SSIs recognized after discharge. SSI recognized after discharge was confirmed in 89 (1.9%) of 4,571 procedures from May 1997 to October 1998. Patients with SSI, but not controls, had a significant decline in SF-12 (Medical Outcomes Study 12-Item Short-Form Health Survey) mental health component scores after surgery (p=0.004). Patients required significantly more outpatient visits, emergency room visits, radiology services, readmissions, and home health aide services than did controls. Average total costs during the 8 weeks after discharge were US$5,155 for patients with SSI and $1,773 for controls (p<0.001).

  • Applying Network Theory to Epidemics: Control Measures for Mycoplasma pneumoniae Outbreaks PDF Version [PDF - 445 KB - 7 pages]
    L. Meyers et al.
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    We introduce a novel mathematical approach to investigating the spread and control of communicable infections in closed communities. Mycoplasma pneumoniae is a major cause of bacterial pneumonia in the United States. Outbreaks of illness attributable to mycoplasma commonly occur in closed or semi-closed communities. These outbreaks are difficult to contain because of delays in outbreak detection, the long incubation period of the bacterium, and an incomplete understanding of the effectiveness of infection control strategies. Our model explicitly captures the patterns of interactions among patients and caregivers in an institution with multiple wards. Analysis of this contact network predicts that, despite the relatively low prevalence of mycoplasma pneumonia found among caregivers, the patterns of caregiver activity and the extent to which they are protected against infection may be fundamental to the control and prevention of mycoplasma outbreaks. In particular, the most effective interventions are those that reduce the diversity of interactions between caregivers and patients.

  • Using Hospital Antibiogram Data To Assess Regional Pneumococcal Resistance to Antibiotics PDF Version [PDF - 284 KB - 6 pages]
    C. R. Stein et al.
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    Antimicrobial resistance to penicillin and macrolides in Streptococcus pneumoniae has increased in the United States over the past decade. Considerable geographic variation in susceptibility necessitates regional resistance tracking. Traditional active surveillance is labor intensive and costly. We collected antibiogram reports from North Carolina hospitals and assessed pneumococcal susceptibility to multiple agents from 1996 through 2000. Susceptibility in North Carolina was consistently lower than the national average. Aggregating antibiogram data is a feasible and timely method of monitoring regional susceptibility patterns and may also prove beneficial in measuring the effects of interventions to decrease antimicrobial resistance.

  • Influence of Role Models and Hospital Design on the Hand Hygiene of Health-Care Workers PDF Version [PDF - 896 KB - 7 pages]
    M. G. Lankford et al.
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    We assessed the effect of medical staff role models and the number of health-care worker sinks on hand-hygiene compliance before and after construction of a new hospital designed for increased access to handwashing sinks. We observed health-care worker hand hygiene in four nursing units that provided similar patient care in both the old and new hospitals: medical and surgical intensive care, hematology/oncology, and solid organ transplant units. Of 721 hand-hygiene opportunities, 304 (42%) were observed in the old hospital and 417 (58%) in the new hospital. Hand-hygiene compliance was significantly better in the old hospital (161/304; 53%) compared to the new hospital (97/417; 23.3%) (p<0.001). Health-care workers in a room with a senior (e.g., higher ranking) medical staff person or peer who did not wash hands were significantly less likely to wash their own hands (odds ratio 0.2; confidence interval 0.1 to 0.5); p<0.001). Our results suggest that health-care worker hand-hygiene compliance is influenced significantly by the behavior of other health-care workers. An increased number of hand-washing sinks, as a sole measure, did not increase hand-hygiene compliance.

  • Aeromonas Isolates from Human Diarrheic Stool and Groundwater Compared by Pulsed-Field Gel Electrophoresis PDF Version [PDF - 439 KB - 5 pages]
    M. A. Borchardt et al.
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    Gastrointestinal infections of Aeromonas species are generally considered waterborne; for this reason, Aeromonas hydrophila has been placed on the United States Environmental Protection Agency Contaminant Candidate List of emerging pathogens in drinking water. In this study, we compared pulsed-field gel electrophoresis patterns of Aeromonas isolates from stool specimens of patients with diarrhea with Aeromonas isolates from patients’ drinking water. Among 2,565 diarrheic stool specimens submitted to a Wisconsin clinical reference laboratory, 17 (0.66%) tested positive for Aeromonas. Groundwater isolates of Aeromonas were obtained from private wells throughout Wisconsin and the drinking water of Aeromonas-positive patients. The analysis showed that the stool and drinking water isolates were genetically unrelated, suggesting that in this population Aeromonas gastrointestinal infections were not linked with groundwater exposures.

  • Risk Factors for Sporadic Giardiasis: a Case-Control Study in Southwestern England PDF Version [PDF - 201 KB - 5 pages]
    J. M. Stuart et al.
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    To investigate risk factors for sporadic infection with Giardia lamblia acquired in the United Kingdom, we conducted a matched case-control study in southwest England in 1998 and 1999. Response rates to a postal questionnaire were 84% (232/276) for cases and 69% (574/828) for controls. In multivariable analysis, swallowing water while swimming (p<0.0001, odds ratio [OR] 6.2, 95% confidence intervals [CI] 2.3 to 16.6), recreational fresh water contact (p=0.001, OR 5.5, 95% CI 1.9 to 15.9), drinking treated tap water (p<0.0001, OR 1.3, 95% CI 1.1 to 1.5 for each additional glass per day), and eating lettuce (p=0.01, OR 2.2, 95% CI 1.2 to 4.3) had positive and independent associations with infection. Although case-control studies are prone to bias and the risk of Giardia infection is minimized by water treatment processes, the possibility that treated tap water is a source of sporadic giardiasis warrants further investigation.

  • Viral Encephalitis in England, 1989–1998: What Did We Miss? PDF Version [PDF - 267 KB - 7 pages]
    K. L. Davison et al.
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    We analyzed hospitalizations in England from April 1, 1989, to March 31, 1998, and identified approximately 700 cases, 46 fatal, from viral encephalitis that occurred during each year; most (60%) were of unknown etiology. Of cases with a diagnosis, the largest proportion was herpes simplex encephalitis. Using normal and Poisson regression, we identified six possible clusters of unknown etiology. Over 75% of hospitalizations are not reported through the routine laboratory and clinical notification systems, resulting in underdiagnosis of viral encephalitis in England. Current surveillance greatly underascertains incidence of the disease and existence of clusters; in general, outbreaks are undetected. Surveillance systems must be adapted to detect major changes in epidemiology so that timely control measures can be implemented.



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