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Volume 9, Number 6—June 2003

Volume 9, Number 6—June 2003   PDF Version [PDF - 8.38 MB - 155 pages]


  • An Ounce of Prevention is a Ton of Work: Mass Antibiotic Prophylaxis for Anthrax, New York City, 2001 PDF Version [PDF - 199 KB - 8 pages]
    S. Blank et al.
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    Protocols for mass antibiotic prophylaxis against anthrax were under development in New York City beginning in early 1999. This groundwork allowed the city’s Department of Health to rapidly respond in 2001 to six situations in which cases were identified or anthrax spores were found. The key aspects of planning and lessons learned from each of these mass prophylaxis operations are reviewed. Antibiotic distribution was facilitated by limiting medical histories to issues relevant to prescribing prophylactic antibiotic therapy, formatting medical records to facilitate rapid decision making, and separating each component activity into discrete work stations. Successful implementation of mass prophylaxis operations was characterized by clarity of mission and eligibility criteria, well-defined lines of authority and responsibilities, effective communication, collaboration among city agencies (including law enforcement), and coordination of staffing and supplies. This model can be adapted for future planning needs including possible attacks with other bioterrorism agents, such as smallpox.


  • Inactivation of Bacillus anthracis Spores PDF Version [PDF - 173 KB - 5 pages]
    E. A. Whitney et al.
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    After the intentional release of Bacillus anthracis through the U.S. Postal Service in the fall of 2001, many environments were contaminated with B. anthracis spores, and frequent inquiries were made regarding the science of destroying these spores. We conducted a survey of the literature that had potential application to the inactivation of B. anthracis spores. This article provides a tabular summary of the results.


  • Children with Respiratory Disease Associated with Metapneumovirus in Hong Kong PDF Version [PDF - 211 KB - 6 pages]
    J. M. Peiris et al.
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    Human metapneumovirus (HMPV) is a newly discovered pathogen thought to be associated with respiratory disease. We report the results of a study of 587 children hospitalized with respiratory infection over a 13-month period. HMPV was detected in the nasopharyngeal aspirates from 32 (5.5%) children by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. HMPV infection was associated with clinical diagnoses of pneumonia (36%), asthma exacerbation (23%), or acute bronchiolitis (10%). When compared to those with respiratory syncytial virus infection, children with HMPV infection were older, and wheezing was more likely to represent asthma exacerbation rather than acute bronchiolitis. HMPV viral activity peaked during the spring-summer period in Hong Kong. Phylogenetically, all HMPV virus strains from Hong Kong belonged to one of the two genetic lineages previously described. HMPV contributed to 441.6 hospital admissions per 100,000 population <6 years of age.

  • Human Metapneumovirus Infections in Hospitalized Children PDF Version [PDF - 401 KB - 7 pages]
    G. Boivin et al.
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    We evaluated the percentage of hospitalizations for acute respiratory tract infections in children <3 years of age attributable to human metapneumovirus (HMPV) and other respiratory viruses in a prospective study during winter and spring 2002. We used real-time polymerase chain assays and other conventional diagnostic methods to detect HMPV, human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV), and influenza viruses in nasopharyngeal aspirates of children. HMPV was detected in 12 (6%) of the 208 children hospitalized for acute respiratory tract infections, HRSV in 118 (57%), and influenza A in 49 (24%). Bronchiolitis was diagnosed in 8 (68%) and pneumonitis in 2 (17%) of HMPV-infected children; of those with HRSV infection, pneumonitis was diagnosed in 99 (84%) and bronchiolitis in 30 (25%). None of the HMPV-infected children was admitted to an intensive-care unit, whereas 15% of those with HRSV or influenza A infections were admitted. HMPV is an important cause of illness in young children with a similar, although less severe, clinical presentation to that of HRSV.

  • Dead Bird Clusters as an Early Warning System for West Nile Virus Activity PDF Version [PDF - 299 KB - 6 pages]
    F. Mostashari et al.
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    An early warning system for West Nile virus (WNV) outbreaks could provide a basis for targeted public education and surveillance activities as well as more timely larval and adult mosquito control. We adapted the spatial scan statistic for prospective detection of infectious disease outbreaks, applied the results to data on dead birds reported from New York City in 2000, and reviewed its utility in providing an early warning of WNV activity in 2001. Prospective geographic cluster analysis of dead bird reports may provide early warning of increasing viral activity in birds and mosquitoes, allowing jurisdictions to triage limited mosquito-collection and laboratory resources and more effectively prevent human disease caused by the virus. This adaptation of the scan statistic could also be useful in other infectious disease surveillance systems, including that for bioterrorism.

  • Gnathostomiasis: An Emerging Imported Disease PDF Version [PDF - 243 KB - 4 pages]
    D. A. Moore et al.
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    As the scope of international travel expands, an increasing number of travelers are coming into contact with helminthic parasites rarely seen outside the tropics. As a result, the occurrence of Gnathostoma spinigerum infection leading to the clinical syndrome gnathostomiasis is increasing. In areas where Gnathostoma is not endemic, few clinicians are familiar with this disease. To highlight this underdiagnosed parasitic infection, we describe a case series of patients with gnathostomiasis who were treated during a 12-month period at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, London.

  • Histopathologic Features of Mycobacterium ulcerans Infection PDF Version [PDF - 977 KB - 6 pages]
    J. Guarner et al.
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    Because of the emergence of Buruli ulcer disease, the World Health Organization launched a Global Buruli Ulcer Initiative in 1998. This indolent skin infection is caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans. During a study of risk factors for the disease in Ghana, adequate excisional skin-biopsy specimens were obtained from 124 clinically suspicious lesions. Buruli ulcer disease was diagnosed in 78 lesions since acid-fast bacilli (AFB) were found by histopathologic examination. Lesions with other diagnoses included filariasis (3 cases), zygomycosis (2 cases), ulcerative squamous cell carcinomas (2 cases), keratin cyst (1 case), and lymph node (1 case). Thirty-seven specimens that did not show AFB were considered suspected Buruli ulcer disease cases. Necrosis of subcutaneous tissues and dermal collagen were found more frequently in AFB-positive specimens compared with specimens from suspected case-patients (p<0.001). Defining histologic criteria for a diagnosis of Buruli ulcer disease is of clinical and public health importance since it would allow earlier treatment, leading to less deforming sequelae.

  • Clinical Implications of Varying Degrees of Vancomycin Susceptilibity in Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Bacteremia PDF Version [PDF - 345 KB - 8 pages]
    M. J. Schwaber et al.
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    We conducted a retrospective study of the clinical aspects of bacteremia caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) with heterogeneously reduced susceptibility to vancomycin. Bloodstream MRSA isolates were screened for reduced susceptibility by using brain-heart infusion agar, including 4 mg/L vancomycin with and without 4% NaCl. Patients whose isolates exhibited growth (case-patients) were compared with those whose isolates did not (controls) for demographics, coexisting chronic conditions, hospital events, antibiotic exposures, and outcomes. Sixty-one (41%) of 149 isolates exhibited growth. Subclones from 46 (75%) of these had a higher MIC of vancomycin than did their parent isolates. No isolates met criteria for vancomycin heteroresistance. No differences in potential predictors or in outcomes were found between case-patients and controls. These data show that patients with vancomycin-susceptible MRSA bacteremia have similar baseline clinical features and outcomes whether or not their bacterial isolates exhibit growth on screening media containing vancomycin.

  • Serogroup W-135 Meningococcal Disease during the Hajj, 2000 PDF Version [PDF - 249 KB - 7 pages]
    J. R. Lingappa et al.
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    An outbreak of serogroup W-135 meningococcal disease occurred during the 2000 Hajj in Saudi Arabia. Disease was reported worldwide in Hajj pilgrims and their close contacts; however, most cases were identified in Saudi Arabia. Trends in Saudi meningococcal disease were evaluated and the epidemiology of Saudi cases from this outbreak described. Saudi national meningococcal disease incidence data for 1990 to 2000 were reviewed; cases from January 24 to June 5, 2000 were retrospectively reviewed. The 2000 Hajj outbreak consisted of distinct serogroup A and serogroup W-135 outbreaks. Of 253 identified cases in Saudi Arabia, 161 (64%) had serogroup identification; serogroups W-135 and A caused 93 (37%) and 60 (24%) cases with attack rates of 9 and 6 cases per 100,000 population, respectively. The 2000 Hajj outbreak was the first large serogroup W-135 meningococcal disease outbreak identified worldwide. Enhanced surveillance for serogroup W-135, especially in Africa, is essential to control this emerging epidemic disease.

  • Molecular Subtyping to Detect Human Listeriosis Clusters PDF Version [PDF - 295 KB - 9 pages]
    B. D. Sauders et al.
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    We analyzed the diversity (Simpson’s Index, D) and distribution of Listeria monocytogenes in human listeriosis cases in New York State (excluding New York City) from November 1996 to June 2000 by using automated ribotyping and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). We applied a scan statistic (p<0.05) to detect listeriosis clusters caused by a specific Listeria monocytogenes subtype. Of 131 human isolates, 34 (D=0.923) ribotypes and 74 (D=0.975) PFGE types were found. Nine (31% of cases) clusters were identified by ribotype or PFGE; five (18% of cases) clusters were identified by using both methods. Two of the nine clusters (13% of cases) identified corresponded with investigated multistate listeriosis outbreaks. While most human listeriosis cases are considered sporadic, highly discriminatory molecular subtyping approaches thus indicated that 13% to 31% of cases reported in New York State may represent single-source clusters. Listeriosis control and reduction efforts should include broad-based subtyping of human isolates and consider that a large number of cases may represent outbreaks.

  • Bioterrorism-related Inhalational Anthrax in an Elderly Woman, Connecticut, 2001 PDF Version [PDF - 369 KB - 8 pages]
    K. S. Griffith et al.
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    On November 20, 2001, inhalational anthrax was confirmed in an elderly woman from rural Connecticut. To determine her exposure source, we conducted an extensive epidemiologic, environmental, and laboratory investigation. Molecular subtyping showed that her isolate was indistinguishable from isolates associated with intentionally contaminated letters. No samples from her home or community yielded Bacillus anthracis, and she received no first-class letters from facilities known to have processed intentionally contaminated letters. Environmental sampling in the regional Connecticut postal facility yielded B. anthracis spores from 4 (31%) of 13 sorting machines. One extensively contaminated machine primarily processes bulk mail. A second machine that does final sorting of bulk mail for her zip code yielded B. anthracis on the column of bins for her carrier route. The evidence suggests she was exposed through a cross-contaminated bulk mail letter. Such cross-contamination of letters and postal facilities has implications for managing the response to future B. anthracis–contaminated mailings.

  • Isolated Case of Bioterrorism-related Inhalational Anthrax, New York City, 2001 PDF Version [PDF - 398 KB - 8 pages]
    T. H. Holtz et al.
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    On October 31, 2001, in New York City, a 61-year-old female hospital employee who had acquired inhalational anthrax died after a 6-day illness. To determine sources of exposure and identify additional persons at risk, the New York City Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and law enforcement authorities conducted an extensive investigation, which included interviewing contacts, examining personal effects, summarizing patient’s use of mass transit, conducting active case finding and surveillance near her residence and at her workplace, and collecting samples from co-workers and the environment. We cultured all specimens for Bacillus anthracis. We found no additional cases of cutaneous or inhalational anthrax. The route of exposure remains unknown. All environmental samples were negative for B. anthracis. This first case of inhalational anthrax during the 2001 outbreak with no apparent direct link to contaminated mail emphasizes the need for close coordination between public health and law enforcement agencies during bioterrorism-related investigations.

  • Relapsing Fever–Like Spirochetes Infecting European Vector Tick of Lyme Disease Agent PDF Version [PDF - 180 KB - 5 pages]
    D. Richter et al.
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    To determine whether relapsing fever–like spirochetes associated with hard ticks may infect Ixodes ricinus ticks in central Europe, we screened questing ticks for 16S rDNA similar to that of Asian and American relapsing fever–like spirochetes. We compared the prevalence of these spirochetes to that of Lyme disease spirochetes transmitted by the same vector. Relapsing fever-like spirochetes infect 3.5% of questing vector ticks in our three central European sites near the Rhein Valley. These spirochetes differ genetically from their American and Asian analogs while being relatively homogeneous in the region we sampled. The Lyme disease genospecies most commonly detected in central Europe are distributed broadly, whereas those that are less frequently found appear to be place-specific. The absence of co-infected ticks suggests that relapsing fever–like and Lyme disease spirochetes may not share hosts. Exposure risk for relapsing fever–like spirochetes is similar to that of certain Lyme disease genospecies. Although many persons may be bitten by ticks infected by relapsing fever–like spirochetes, health implications remain unknown.

  • Leptospirosis in “Eco-Challenge” Athletes, Malaysian Borneo, 2000 PDF Version [PDF - 200 KB - 6 pages]
    J. J. Sejvar et al.
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    Adventure travel is becoming more popular, increasing the likelihood of contact with unusual pathogens. We investigated an outbreak of leptospirosis in “Eco-Challenge” multisport race athletes to determine illness etiology and implement public health measures. Of 304 athletes, we contacted 189 (62%) from the United States and 26 other countries. Eighty (42%) athletes met our case definition. Twenty-nine (36%) case-patients were hospitalized; none died. Logistic regression showed swimming in the Segama River (relative risk [RR]=2.0; 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.3 to 3.1) to be an independent risk factor. Twenty-six (68%) of 38 case-patients tested positive for leptospiral antibodies. Taking doxycycline before or during the race was protective (RR=0.4, 95% CI=0.2 to 1.2) for the 20 athletes who reported using it. Increased adventure travel may lead to more frequent exposure to leptospires, and preexposure chemoprophylaxis for leptospirosis (200 mg oral doxycycline/week) may decrease illness risk. Efforts are needed to inform adventure travel participants of unique infections such as leptospirosis.

  • Community Reaction to Bioterrorism: Prospective Study of Simulated Outbreak PDF Version [PDF - 232 KB - 5 pages]
    C. DiGiovanni et al.
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    To assess community needs for public information during a bioterrorism-related crisis, we simulated an intentional Rift Valley fever outbreak in a community in the southern part of the United States. We videotaped a series of simulated print and television “news reports” over a fictional 9-day crisis period and invited various groups (e.g., first-responders and their spouses or partners, journalists) within the selected community to view the videotape and respond to questions about their reactions. All responses were given anonymously. First-responders and their spouses or partners varied in their reactions about how the crisis affected family harmony and job performance. Local journalists exhibited considerable personal fear and confusion. All groups demanded, and put more trust in, information from local sources. These findings may have implications for risk communication during bioterrorism-related outbreaks.



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