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1.  Environmental Sampling for Spores of Bacillus anthracis 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2002;8(10):1083-1087.
On November 11, 2001, following the bioterrorism-related anthrax attacks, the U.S. Postal Service collected samples at the Southern Connecticut Processing and Distribution Center; all samples were negative for Bacillus anthracis. After a patient in Connecticut died from inhalational anthrax on November 19, the center was sampled again on November 21 and 25 by using dry and wet swabs. All samples were again negative for B. anthracis. On November 28, guided by information from epidemiologic investigation, we sampled the site extensively with wet wipes and surface vacuum sock samples (using HEPA vacuum). Of 212 samples, 6 (3%) were positive, including one from a highly contaminated sorter. Subsequently B. anthracis was also detected in mail-sorting bins used for the patient’s carrier route. These results suggest cross-contaminated mail as a possible source of anthrax for the inhalational anthrax patient in Connecticut. In future such investigations, extensive sampling guided by epidemiologic data is imperative.
PMCID: PMC2730287  PMID: 12396920
Bacillus anthracis; anthrax; environmental sampling; postal facility; surface sampling; HEPA vacuum sock; swabs; wipes
2.  Comparison of techniques to reduce residential lead dust on carpet and upholstery: the new jersey assessment of cleaning techniques trial. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2002;110(12):1233-1237.
High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtered vacuum cleaners are recommended by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for cleaning lead-contaminated house dust. We performed a randomized field study to determine whether a conventional (non-HEPA) vacuum cleaner could achieve cleaning results comparable with those of a HEPA vacuum cleaner. We compared the lead loading reductions of these two vacuum cleaners in a total of 127 New Jersey homes of lead-exposed children. We used wet towelettes and a vacuum sampler to collect lead dust from carpets and upholstery before and after vacuum cleaning. The vacuum sampling data showed that the HEPA and non-HEPA vacuum cleaners resulted in 54.7% (p = 0.006) and 36.4% (p = 0.020) reductions in lead loading, respectively, when used on soiled carpets, although the overall difference in lead loading reduction between the two vacuum cleaners was not statistically significant (p = 0.293). The wipe sampling data did not show any significant lead loading reduction for either of the vacuum cleaners, suggesting that both vacuum cleaners fail to clean the surfaces of carpet effectively, considering that wipe sampling media simulate surface contact. On upholstery, the wipe sampling data showed a significant reduction in lead loading for the non-HEPA vacuum cleaner (22.2%, p = 0.047). Even with the significant reduction, the postcleaning lead loadings on upholstery were similar to those on carpets. The similar lead loading results for carpets and upholstery indicate that soiled upholstery may be as important a source of childhood lead exposure as carpets.
PMCID: PMC1241111  PMID: 12460803
3.  Air Cleaning Technologies 
Executive Summary
This health technology policy assessment will answer the following questions:
When should in-room air cleaners be used?
How effective are in-room air cleaners?
Are in-room air cleaners that use combined HEPA and UVGI air cleaning technology more effective than those that use HEPA filtration alone?
What is the Plasmacluster ion air purifier in the pandemic influenza preparation plan?
The experience of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) locally, nationally, and internationally underscored the importance of administrative, environmental, and personal protective infection control measures in health care facilities. In the aftermath of the SARS crisis, there was a need for a clearer understanding of Ontario’s capacity to manage suspected or confirmed cases of airborne infectious diseases. In so doing, the Walker Commission thought that more attention should be paid to the potential use of new technologies such as in-room air cleaning units. It recommended that the Medical Advisory Secretariat of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care evaluate the appropriate use and effectiveness of such new technologies.
Accordingly, the Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee asked the Medical Advisory Secretariat to review the literature on the effectiveness and utility of in-room air cleaners that use high-efficiency particle air (HEPA) filters and ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) air cleaning technology.
Additionally, the Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee prioritized a request from the ministry’s Emergency Management Unit to investigate the possible role of the Plasmacluster ion air purifier manufactured by Sharp Electronics Corporation, in the pandemic influenza preparation plan.
Clinical Need
Airborne transmission of infectious diseases depends in part on the concentration of breathable infectious pathogens (germs) in room air. Infection control is achieved by a combination of administrative, engineering, and personal protection methods. Engineering methods that are usually carried out by the building’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system function to prevent the spread of airborne infectious pathogens by diluting (dilution ventilation) and removing (exhaust ventilation) contaminated air from a room, controlling the direction of airflow and the air flow patterns in a building. However, general wear and tear over time may compromise the HVAC system’s effectiveness to maintain adequate indoor air quality. Likewise, economic issues may curtail the completion of necessary renovations to increase its effectiveness. Therefore, when exposure to airborne infectious pathogens is a risk, the use of an in-room air cleaner to reduce the concentration of airborne pathogens and prevent the spread of airborne infectious diseases has been proposed as an alternative to renovating a HVAC system.
Airborne transmission is the spread of infectious pathogens over large distances through the air. Infectious pathogens, which may include fungi, bacteria, and viruses, vary in size and can be dispersed into the air in drops of moisture after coughing or sneezing. Small drops of moisture carrying infectious pathogens are called droplet nuclei. Droplet nuclei are about 1 to 5μm in diameter. This small size in part allows them to remain suspended in the air for several hours and be carried by air currents over considerable distances. Large drops of moisture carrying infectious pathogens are called droplets. Droplets being larger than droplet nuclei, travel shorter distances (about 1 metre) before rapidly falling out of the air to the ground. Because droplet nuclei remain airborne for longer periods than do droplets, they are more amenable to engineering infection control methods than are droplets.
Droplet nuclei are responsible for the airborne transmission of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, chicken pox (varicella), measles (rubeola), and dessiminated herpes zoster, whereas close contact is required for the direct transmission of infectious diseases transmitted by droplets, such as influenza (the flu) and SARS.
The Technology
In-room air cleaners are supplied as portable or fixed devices. Fixed devices can be attached to either a wall or ceiling and are preferred over portable units because they have a greater degree of reliability (if installed properly) for achieving adequate room air mixing and airflow patterns, which are important for optimal effectiveness.
Through a method of air recirculation, an in-room air cleaner can be used to increase room ventilation rates and if used to exhaust air out of the room it can create a negative-pressure room for airborne infection isolation (AII) when the building’s HVAC system cannot do so. A negative-pressure room is one where clean air flows into the room but contaminated air does not flow out of it. Contaminated room air is pulled into the in-room air cleaner and cleaned by passing through a series of filters, which remove the airborne infectious pathogens. The cleaned air is either recirculated into the room or exhausted outside the building. By filtering contaminated room air and then recirculating the cleaned air into the room, an in-room air cleaner can improve the room’s ventilation. By exhausting the filtered air to the outside the unit can create a negative-pressure room. There are many types of in-room air cleaners. They vary widely in the airflow rates through the unit, the type of air cleaning technology used, and the technical design.
Crucial to maximizing the efficiency of any in-room air cleaner is its strategic placement and set-up within a room, which should be done in consultation with ventilation engineers, infection control experts, and/or industrial hygienists. A poorly positioned air cleaner may disrupt airflow patterns within the room and through the air cleaner, thereby compromising its air cleaning efficiency.
The effectiveness of an in-room air cleaner to remove airborne pathogens from room air depends on several factors, including the airflow rate through the unit’s filter and the airflow patterns in the room. Tested under a variety of conditions, in-room air cleaners, including portable or ceiling mounted units with either a HEPA or a non-HEPA filter, portable units with UVGI lights only, or ceiling mounted units with combined HEPA filtration and UVGI lights, have been estimated to be between 30% and 90%, 99% and 12% and 80% effective, respectively. However, and although their effectiveness is variable, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has acknowledged in-room air cleaners as alternative technology for increasing room ventilation when this cannot be achieved by the building’s HVAC system with preference given to fixed recirculating systems over portable ones.
Importantly, the use of an in-room air cleaner does not preclude either the need for health care workers and visitors to use personal protective equipment (N95 mask or equivalent) when entering AII rooms or health care facilities from meeting current regulatory requirements for airflow rates (ventilation rates) in buildings and airflow differentials for effective negative-pressure rooms.
The Plasmacluster ion technology, developed in 2000, is an air purification technology. Its manufacturer, Sharp Electronics Corporation, says that it can disable airborne microorganisms through the generation of both positive and negative ions. (1) The functional unit is the hydroxyl, which is a molecule comprised of one oxygen molecule and one hydrogen atom.
Plasmacluster ion air purifier uses a multilayer filter system composed of a prefilter, a carbon filter, an antibacterial filter, and a HEPA filter, combined with an ion generator to purify the air. The ion generator uses an alternating plasma discharge to split water molecules into positively and negatively charged ions. When these ions are emitted into the air, they are surrounded by water molecules and form cluster ions which are attracted to airborne particles. The cluster ion surrounds the airborne particle, and the positive and negative ions react to form hydroxyls. These hydroxyls steal the airborne particle’s hydrogen atom, which creates a hole in the particle’s outer protein membrane, thereby rendering it inactive.
Because influenza is primarily acquired by large droplets and direct and indirect contact with an infectious person, any in-room air cleaner will have little benefit in controlling and preventing its spread. Therefore, there is no role for the Plasmacluster ion air purifier or any other in-room air cleaner in the control of the spread of influenza. Accordingly, for purposes of this review, the Medical Advisory Secretariat presents no further analysis of the Plasmacluster.
Review Strategy
The objective of the systematic review was to determine the effectiveness of in-room air cleaners with built in UVGI lights and HEPA filtration compared with those using HEPA filtration only.
The Medical Advisory Secretariat searched the databases of MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, INAHATA (International Network of Agencies for Health Technology Assessment), Biosis Previews, Bacteriology Abstracts, Web of Science, Dissertation Abstracts, and NIOSHTIC 2.
A meta-analysis was conducted if adequate data was available from 2 or more studies and where statistical and clinical heterogeneity among studies was not an issue. Otherwise, a qualitative review was completed. The GRADE system was used to summarize the quality of the body of evidence comprised of 1 or more studies.
Summary of Findings
There were no existing health technology assessments on air cleaning technology located during the literature review. The literature search yielded 59 citations of which none were retained. One study was retrieved from a reference list of a guidance document from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which evaluated an in-room air cleaner with combined UVGI lights and HEPA filtration under 2 conditions: UVGI lights on and UVGI lights off. Experiments were performed using different ventilation rates and using an aerosolized pathogen comprised of Mycobaterium parafortuitum, a surrogate for the bacterium that causes tuberculosis. Effectiveness was measured as equivalent air changes per hour (eACH). This single study formed the body of evidence for our systematic review research question.
Experimental Results
The eACH rate for the HEPA-UVGI in-room air cleaner was statistically significantly greater when the UV lights were on compared with when the UV lights were off. (P < .05). However, subsequent experiments could not attribute this to the UVGI. Consequently, the results are inconclusive and an estimate of effect (benefit) is uncertain.
The study was reviewed by a scientific expert and rated moderate for quality. Further analysis determined that there was some uncertainty in the directness of the outcome measure (eACH); thus, the GRADE level for the quality of the evidence was low indicating that an estimate of effect is very uncertain.
There is uncertainty in the benefits of using in-room air cleaners with combined UVGI lights and HEPA filtration over systems that use HEPA filtration alone. However, there are no known risks to using systems with combined UVGI and HEPA technology compared with those with HEPA alone. There is an increase in the burden of cost including capital costs (cost of the device), operating costs (electricity usage), and maintenance costs (cleaning and replacement of UVGI lights) to using an in-room air cleaner with combined UVGI and HEPA technology compared with those with HEPA alone. Given the uncertainty of the estimate of benefits, an in-room air cleaner with HEPA technology only may be an equally reasonable alternative to using one with combined UVGI and HEPA technology
In-room air cleaners may be used to protect health care staff from air borne infectious pathogens such as tuberculosis, chicken pox, measles, and dessiminated herpes zoster. In addition, and although in-room air cleaners are not effective at protecting staff and preventing the spread of droplet-transmitted diseases such as influenza and SARS, they may be deployed in situations with a novel/emerging infectious agent whose epidemiology is not yet defined and where airborne transmission is suspected.
It is preferable that in-room air cleaners be used with a fixed and permanent room placement when ventilation requirements must be improved and the HVAC system cannot be used. However, for acute (temporary) situations where a novel/emerging infectious agent presents whose epidemiology is not yet defined and where airborne transmission is suspected it may be prudent to use the in room air cleaner as a portable device until mode of transmission is confirmed. To maximize effectiveness, consultation with an environmental engineer and infection control expert should be undertaken before using an in-room air cleaner and protocols for maintenance and monitoring of these devices should be in place.
If properly installed and maintained, in room air cleaners with HEPA or combined HEPA and UVGI air cleaning technology are effective in removing airborne pathogens. However, there is only weak evidence available at this time regarding the benefit of using an in-room air cleaner with combined HEPA and UVGI air cleaner technology instead of those with HEPA filter technology only.
PMCID: PMC3382390  PMID: 23074468
4.  Surface Sampling Methods for Bacillus anthracis Spore Contamination 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2002;8(10):1145-1151.
During an investigation conducted December 17–20, 2001, we collected environmental samples from a U.S. postal facility in Washington, D.C., known to be extensively contaminated with Bacillus anthracis spores. Because methods for collecting and analyzing B. anthracis spores have not yet been validated, our objective was to compare the relative effectiveness of sampling methods used for collecting spores from contaminated surfaces. Comparison of wipe, wet and dry swab, and HEPA vacuum sock samples on nonporous surfaces indicated good agreement between results with HEPA vacuum and wipe samples. However, results from HEPA vacuum sock and wipe samples agreed poorly with the swab samples. Dry swabs failed to detect spores >75% of the time they were detected by wipe and HEPA vacuum samples. Wipe samples collected after HEPA vacuum samples and HEPA vacuum samples after wipe samples indicated that neither method completely removed spores from the sampled surfaces.
PMCID: PMC2730285  PMID: 12396930
Bacillus anthracis; anthrax; bacterial spores; surface sampling; HEPA vacuum sock; swabs; wipes; postal facility; bioterrorism
5.  Cost-Effectiveness Comparison of Response Strategies to a Large-Scale Anthrax Attack on the Chicago Metropolitan Area: Impact of Timing and Surge Capacity 
Rapid public health response to a large-scale anthrax attack would reduce overall morbidity and mortality. However, there is uncertainty about the optimal cost-effective response strategy based on timing of intervention, public health resources, and critical care facilities. We conducted a decision analytic study to compare response strategies to a theoretical large-scale anthrax attack on the Chicago metropolitan area beginning either Day 2 or Day 5 after the attack. These strategies correspond to the policy options set forth by the Anthrax Modeling Working Group for population-wide responses to a large-scale anthrax attack: (1) postattack antibiotic prophylaxis, (2) postattack antibiotic prophylaxis and vaccination, (3) preattack vaccination with postattack antibiotic prophylaxis, and (4) preattack vaccination with postattack antibiotic prophylaxis and vaccination. Outcomes were measured in costs, lives saved, quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs), and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs). We estimated that postattack antibiotic prophylaxis of all 1,390,000 anthrax-exposed people beginning on Day 2 after attack would result in 205,835 infected victims, 35,049 fulminant victims, and 28,612 deaths. Only 6,437 (18.5%) of the fulminant victims could be saved with the existing critical care facilities in the Chicago metropolitan area. Mortality would increase to 69,136 if the response strategy began on Day 5. Including postattack vaccination with antibiotic prophylaxis of all exposed people reduces mortality and is cost-effective for both Day 2 (ICER=$182/QALY) and Day 5 (ICER=$1,088/QALY) response strategies. Increasing ICU bed availability significantly reduces mortality for all response strategies. We conclude that postattack antibiotic prophylaxis and vaccination of all exposed people is the optimal cost-effective response strategy for a large-scale anthrax attack. Our findings support the US government's plan to provide antibiotic prophylaxis and vaccination for all exposed people within 48 hours of the recognition of a large-scale anthrax attack. Future policies should consider expanding critical care capacity to allow for the rescue of more victims.
Rapid public health response to a large-scale anthrax attack would reduce overall morbidity and mortality, but what is the optimal cost-effective response strategy for timing of intervention, public health resources, and critical care facilities? Using a hypothetical large-scale anthrax attack on the Chicago metropolitan area, this study compared response strategies that would begin either 2 days or 5 days after the attack and would consist of administering prophylaxis and vaccine in various combinations. The findings support the government's plan to provide antibiotic prophylaxis and vaccination for all exposed people within 48 hours of the recognition of a large-scale anthrax attack.
PMCID: PMC3440066  PMID: 22845046
6.  Anthrax vaccination strategies 
Molecular aspects of medicine  2009;30(6):490-502.
The biological attack conducted through the U.S. postal system in 2001 broadened the threat posed by anthrax from one pertinent mainly to soldiers on the battlefield to one understood to exist throughout our society. The expansion of the threatened population placed greater emphasis on the reexamination of how we vaccinate against Bacillus anthracis. The currently-licensed Anthrax Vaccine, Adsorbed (AVA) and Anthrax Vaccine, Precipitated (AVP) are capable of generating a protective immune response but are hampered by shortcomings that make their widespread use undesirable or infeasible. Efforts to gain U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for licensure of a second generation recombinant protective antigen (rPA)-based anthrax vaccine are ongoing. However, this vaccine's reliance on the generation of a humoral immune response against a single virulence factor has led a number of scientists to conclude that the vaccine is likely not the final solution to optimal anthrax vaccine design. Other vaccine approaches, which seek a more comprehensive immune response targeted at multiple components of the B. anthracis organism, are under active investigation. This review seeks to summarize work that has been done to build on the current PA-based vaccine methodology and to evaluate the search for future anthrax prophylaxis strategies.
PMCID: PMC2783700  PMID: 19729034
Bacillus anthracis; anthrax; vaccine
Shock (Augusta, Ga.)  2008;29(1):104-111.
Bacillus anthracis (anthrax) can trigger an acute inflammatory response that results in multisystem organ failure and death. Previously, we developed a mathematical model of acute inflammation after gram-negative infection that had been matched qualitatively to literature data. We modified the properties of the invading bacteria in that model to those specific to B. anthracis and simulated the host response to anthrax infection. We simulated treatment strategies against anthrax in a genetically diverse population including the following: (1) antibiotic treatment initiated at various time points, (2) antiprotective antigen vaccine, and (3) a combination of antibiotics and vaccine. In agreement with studies in mice, our simulations showed that antibiotics only improve survival if administered early in the course of anthrax infection. Vaccination that leads to the formation of antibodies to protective antigen is anti-inflammatory and beneficial in averting shock and improving survival. However, antibodies to protective antigen alone are predicted not to be universally protective against anthrax infection. Rather, our simulations suggest that an optimal strategy would require both vaccination and antibiotic administration.
PMCID: PMC3654800  PMID: 18157069
Anthrax; vaccine; biowarfare; mathematical model; simulation; sepsis
8.  A small animal peripheral challenge model of yellow fever using interferon-receptor deficient mice and the 17D-204 vaccine strain 
Vaccine  2012;30(21):3180-3187.
Yellow fever virus (YFV), a member of the genus Flavivirus, is a mosquito-borne pathogen that requires wild-type (wt), virulent strains be handled at biosafety level (BSL) 3, with HEPA-filtration of room air exhaust (BSL3+). YFV is found in tropical regions of Africa and South America and causes severe hepatic disease and death in humans. Despite the availability of effective vaccines (17D-204 or 17DD), YFV is still responsible for an estimated 200,000 cases of illness and 30,000 deaths annually. Besides vaccination, there are no other prophylactic or therapeutic strategies approved for use in human YF. Current small animal models of YF require either intra-cranial inoculation of YF vaccine to establish infection, or use of wt strains (e.g., Asibi) in order to achieve pathology. We have developed and characterized a BSL2, adult mouse peripheral challenge model for YFV infection in mice lacking receptors for interferons α, β, and γ (strain AG129). Intraperitoneal challenge of AG129 mice with 17D-204 is a uniformly lethal in a dose-dependent manner, and 17D-204-infected AG129 mice exhibit high viral titers in both brain and liver suggesting this infection is both neurotropic and viscerotropic. Furthermore the use of a mouse model permitted the construction of a 59-biomarker Multi-Analyte Profile (MAP) using samples of brain, liver, and serum taken at multiple time points over the course of infection. This MAP serves as a baseline for evaluating novel therapeutics and their effect on disease progression. Changes (4-fold or greater) in serum and tissue levels of pro- and anti-inflammatory mediators as well as other factors associated with tissue damage were noted in AG129 mice infected with 17D-204 as compared to mock-infected control animals.
PMCID: PMC3323739  PMID: 22425792
yellow fever; AG129 mice; animal models
9.  The Anthrax Vaccine and Research: Reactions from Postal Workers and Public Health Professionals 
During the 2001 anthrax attacks, public health agencies faced operational and communication decisions about the use of antibiotic prophylaxis and the anthrax vaccine with affected groups, including postal workers. This communication occurred within an evolving situation with incomplete and uncertain data. Guidelines for prophylactic antibiotics changed several times, contributing to confusion and mistrust. At the end of 60 days of taking antibiotics, people were offered an additional 40 days' supply of antibiotics, with or without the anthrax vaccine, the former constituting an investigational new drug protocol. Using data from interviews and focus groups with 65 postal workers in 3 sites and structured interviews with 16 public health professionals, this article examines the challenges for public health professionals who were responsible for communication with postal workers about the vaccine. Multiple factors affected the response, including a lack of trust, risk perception, disagreement about the recommendation, and the controversy over the military's use of the vaccine. Some postal workers reacted with suspicion to the vaccine offer, believing that they were the subjects of research, and some African American workers specifically drew an analogy to the Tuskegee syphilis study. The consent forms required for the protocol heightened mistrust. Postal workers also had complex and ambivalent responses to additional research on their health. The anthrax attacks present us with an opportunity to understand the challenges of communication in the context of uncertain science and suggest key strategies that may improve communications about vaccines and other drugs authorized for experimental use in future public health emergencies.
PMCID: PMC2963592  PMID: 19117431
10.  Comparison of home lead dust reduction techniques on hard surfaces: the New Jersey assessment of cleaning techniques trial. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2002;110(9):889-893.
High efficiency particulate air filter (HEPA) vacuums, which collect particles > 0.3 micro m, and trisodium phosphate (TSP), a detergent claimed to selectively remove lead, have been included in the HUD Guidelines for the Evaluation and Control of Lead Based Paint Hazards in Housing without systematic validation of their effectiveness. At the time the study was initiated, both HEPA vacuums and TSP were relatively expensive, they were not readily found in urban retail centers, and there were environmental concerns about the use and disposal of high-phosphate detergents. A randomized, controlled trial was conducted in urban high-risk homes in northern New Jersey to determine whether a more readily available and less expensive low-phosphate, non-TSP detergent and non-HEPA vacuum could perform as well as TSP and a HEPA vacuum in a cleaning protocol. Homes were randomized to one of three cleaning methods: TSP/HEPA vacuum, TSP/non-HEPA vacuum, or non-TSP/non-HEPA vacuum. Change in log-transformed lead loading was used in mixed models to compare the efficacy of the three cleaning techniques separately for uncarpeted floors, window sills, and window troughs. After we adjusted for baseline lead loading, the non-HEPA vacuum produced larger reductions on hard floors [19%; 95% confidence interval (CI), 3-38%], but the HEPA vacuum produced larger reductions on window sills (22%; 95% CI, 11-32%) and larger reductions on window troughs (16%; 95% CI, -4 to 33%). The non-TSP produced larger reductions on window troughs (21%; 95% CI, -2 to 50%), but TSP produced larger reductions on hard floors (5%; 95% CI, -12 to 19%) and window sills (8%; 95% CI, -5 to 20%). TSP/HEPA produced larger reductions on window sills (28%; 95% CI, 18-37%) and larger reductions on window troughs (2%; 95% CI, -24 to 23%), whereas the non-TSP/non-HEPA method produced larger reductions on hard floors (13%; 95% CI, -5 to 34%). Because neither vacuum nor detergent produced consistent results across surface types, the use of low-phosphate detergents and non-HEPA vacuums in a temporary control measure is supported.
PMCID: PMC1240988  PMID: 12204823
11.  Determination of serum IgG antibodies to Bacillus anthracis protective antigen in environmental sampling workers using a fluorescent covalent microsphere immunoassay 
Aims: To evaluate potential exposure to Bacillis anthracis (Ba) spores in sampling/decontamination workers in the aftermath of an anthrax terror attack.
Methods: Fifty six serum samples were obtained from workers involved in environmental sampling for Ba spores at the American Media, Inc. (AMI) building in Boca Raton, FL after the anthrax attack there in October 2001. Nineteen sera were drawn from individuals both pre-entry and several weeks after entrance into the building. Nine sera each were drawn from unique individuals at the pre-entry and follow up blood draws. Thirteen donor control sera were also evaluated. Individuals were surveyed for Ba exposure by measurement of serum Ba anti-protective antigen (PA) specific IgG antibodies using a newly developed fluorescent covalent microsphere immunoassay (FCMIA).
Results: Four sera gave positive anti-PA IgG results (defined as anti-PA IgG concentrations ⩾ the mean µg/ml anti-PA IgG from donor control sera (n = 13 plus 2 SD which were also inhibited ⩾ 85% when the serum was pre-adsorbed with PA). The positive sera were the pre-entry and follow up samples of two workers who had received their last dose of anthrax vaccine in 2000.
Conclusion: It appears that the sampling/decontamination workers of the present study either had insufficient exposure to Ba spores to cause the production of anti-PA IgG antibodies or they were exposed to anthrax spores without producing antibody. The FCMIA appears to be a fast, sensitive, accurate, and precise method for the measurement of anti-PA IgG antibodies.
PMCID: PMC1740834  PMID: 15258278
12.  Environmental Remediation in the Treatment of Allergy and Asthma: Latest Updates 
In the modern era, the prevalence of asthma and allergies are increasing. It has been speculated that environmental exposures are contributing to this rise. Several studies demonstrate that common indoor allergen exposures exacerbate asthma. Minimizing exposure to allergens and remediating the environment play a critical role in the treatment of asthma and allergies. The most effective environmental control measures are tailored multifaceted interventions which include education, thorough cleaning, using high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, integrated pest management, and maintenance of these practices.
PMCID: PMC3966021  PMID: 24488258
Asthma; Allergen; House dust mite; Cat; Dog; Mold; Endotoxin; Cockroach; Rodents; Environmental tobacco smoke; Air pollution; Home remediation; Integrated pest management
13.  The green vaccine: A global strategy to combat infectious and autoimmune diseases 
Human vaccines  2009;5(7):488-493.
Plant derived oral green vaccines eliminate expenses associated with fermenters, purification, cold storage/transportation and sterile delivery. Green vaccines are expressed via the plant nuclear or chloroplast genomes. Chloroplast expression has advantages of hyper-expression of therapeutic proteins (10,000 copies of trans-gene per cell), efficient oral delivery and transgene containment via maternal inheritance. To date, 23 vaccine antigens against 16 different bacterial, viral or protozoan pathogens have been expressed in chloroplasts. Mice subcutaneously immunized with the chloroplast derived anthrax protective antigen conferred 100% protection against lethal doses of the anthrax toxin. Oral immunization (ORV) of F1-V antigens without adjuvant conferred greater protection (88%) against 50-fold lethal dose of aerosolized plague (Yersinia pestis) than subcutaneous (SQV) immunization (33%). Oral immunization of malarial vaccine antigens fused to the cholera antigen (CTB-AMA1/CTB-Msp1) conferred prolonged immunity (50% life span), 100% protection against cholera toxin challenge and inhibited proliferation of the malarial parasite. Protection was correlated with antigen-specific titers of intestinal, serum IgA & IgG1 in ORV and only IgG1 in SQV mice, but no other immunoglobulin. High level expression in edible plant chloroplasts ideal for oral delivery and long-term immunity observed should facilitate development of low cost human vaccines for large populations, at times of outbreak.
PMCID: PMC2764717  PMID: 19430198
chloroplast genetic engineering; plant vaccine; infectious diseases; autoimmune; cholera; malaria; anthrax; plague; diabetes; HIV
14.  Selection and characterization of human antibodies neutralizing Bacillus anthracis toxin 
Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry  2007;16(4):1903-1913.
A less than adequate therapeutic plan for the treatment of anthrax in the 2001 bioterrorism attacks has highlighted the importance of developing alternative or complementary therapeutic approaches for biothreat agents. In these regards passive immunization possesses several important advantages over active vaccination and the use of antibiotics, as it can provide immediate protection against Bacillus anthracis. Herein, we report the selection and characterization of several human monoclonal neutralizing antibodies against the toxin of B. anthracis from a phage displayed human scFv library. In total fifteen clones were selected with distinct sequences and high specificity to protective antigen and thus were the subject of a series of both biophysical and cell-based cytotoxicity assays. From this panel of antibodies a set of neutralizing antibodies were identified, of which clone A8 recognizes the lethal (and/or edema) factor binding domain, and clone F1, G11 and G12 recognize the cellular receptor binding domain within protective antigen. It was noted that all clones distinguish a conformational epitope existing on the protective antigen; this steric relationship was uncovered using a sequential epitope mapping approach. For each neutralizing antibody, the kinetic constants were determined by surface plasmon resonance, while the potency of protection was established using a two-tier macrophage cytotoxicity assay. Among the neutralizing antibodies identified, clone F1 possessed the highest affinity to protective antigen, and provided superior protection from lethal toxin in the cell cytotoxicity assay. The data presented provides to the ever-growing arsenal of immunological and functional analysis of monoclonal antibodies to the exotoxins of anthrax. In addition it grants new candidates for the prophylaxis and therapeutic treatment against this toxin.
PMCID: PMC2268906  PMID: 18023190
Bacillus anthracis; protective antigen; human monoclonal antibodies; neutralizing antibodies; phage antibody library
15.  Decontamination Efficacy of Three Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) Sporicidal Disinfectants on Medium-Sized Panels Contaminated with Surrogate Spores of Bacillus anthracis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e99827.
In the event of a wide area release and contamination of a biological agent in an outdoor environment and to building exteriors, decontamination is likely to consume the Nation’s remediation capacity, requiring years to cleanup, and leading to incalculable economic losses. This is in part due to scant body of efficacy data on surface areas larger than those studied in a typical laboratory (5×10-cm), resulting in low confidence for operational considerations in sampling and quantitative measurements of prospective technologies recruited in effective cleanup and restoration response. In addition to well-documented fumigation-based cleanup efforts, agencies responsible for mitigation of contaminated sites are exploring alternative methods for decontamination including combinations of disposal of contaminated items, source reduction by vacuuming, mechanical scrubbing, and low-technology alternatives such as pH-adjusted bleach pressure wash. If proven effective, a pressure wash-based removal of Bacillus anthracis spores from building surfaces with readily available equipment will significantly increase the readiness of Federal agencies to meet the daunting challenge of restoration and cleanup effort following a wide-area biological release. In this inter-agency study, the efficacy of commercial-of-the-shelf sporicidal disinfectants applied using backpack sprayers was evaluated in decontamination of spores on the surfaces of medium-sized (∼1.2 m2) panels of steel, pressure-treated (PT) lumber, and brick veneer. Of the three disinfectants, pH-amended bleach, Peridox, and CASCAD evaluated; CASCAD was found to be the most effective in decontamination of spores from all three panel surface types.
PMCID: PMC4062434  PMID: 24940605
16.  Initiating informatics and GIS support for a field investigation of Bioterrorism: The New Jersey anthrax experience 
The investigation of potential exposure to anthrax spores in a Trenton, New Jersey, mail-processing facility required rapid assessment of informatics needs and adaptation of existing informatics tools to new physical and information-processing environments. Because the affected building and its computers were closed down, data to list potentially exposed persons and map building floor plans were unavailable from the primary source.
Controlling the effects of anthrax contamination required identification and follow-up of potentially exposed persons. Risk of exposure had to be estimated from the geographic relationship between work history and environmental sample sites within the contaminated facility. To assist in establishing geographic relationships, floor plan maps of the postal facility were constructed in ArcView Geographic Information System (GIS) software and linked to a database of personnel and visitors using Epi Info and Epi Map 2000. A repository for maintaining the latest versions of various documents was set up using Web page hyperlinks.
During public health emergencies, such as bioterrorist attacks and disease epidemics, computerized information systems for data management, analysis, and communication may be needed within hours of beginning the investigation. Available sources of data and output requirements of the system may be changed frequently during the course of the investigation. Integrating data from a variety of sources may require entering or importing data from a variety of digital and paper formats. Spatial representation of data is particularly valuable for assessing environmental exposure. Written documents, guidelines, and memos important to the epidemic were frequently revised. In this investigation, a database was operational on the second day and the GIS component during the second week of the investigation.
PMCID: PMC293473  PMID: 14617376
17.  Expression of Bacillus anthracis protective antigen in transgenic chloroplasts of tobacco, a non-food/feed crop 
Vaccine  2004;22(31-32):4374-4384.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) lists Bacillus anthracis as a category A agent and estimates the cost of an anthrax attack to exceed US$ 26 billion per 100,000 exposed individuals. Concerns regarding anthrax vaccine purity, a requirement for multiple injections, and a limited supply of the protective antigen (PA), underscore the urgent need for an improved vaccine. Therefore, the 83 kDa immunogenic Bacillus anthracis protective antigen was expressed in transgenic tobacco chloroplasts. The PA gene (pag) was cloned into a chloroplast vector along with the psbA regulatory signals to enhance translation. Chloroplast integration of the transgenes was confirmed by PCR and Southern blot analyses. Crude plant extracts contained up to 2.5 mg full length PA/g of fresh leaf tissue and this showed exceptional stability for several months in stored leaves or crude extracts. Maximum levels of expression were observed in mature leaves under continuous illumination. Co-expression of the ORF2 chaperonin from Bacillus thuringiensis did not increase PA accumulation or induce folding into cuboidal crystals in transgenic chloroplasts. Trypsin, chymotrypsin and furin proteolytic cleavage sites present in PA were protected in transgenic chloroplasts because only full length PA 83 was observed without any degradation products. Both CHAPS and SDS detergents extracted PA with equal efficiency and PA was observed in the soluble fraction. Chloroplast-derived PA was functionally active in lysing mouse macrophages when combined with lethal factor (LF). Crude leaf extracts contained up to 25 μg functional PA/ml. With an average yield of 172 mg of PA per plant using an experimental transgenic cultivar grown in a greenhouse, 400 million doses of vaccine (free of contaminants) could be produced per acre, a yield that could be further enhanced 18-fold using a commercial cultivar in the field.
PMCID: PMC3481842  PMID: 15474731
Bioterrorism; GM crops; Anthrax vaccine
18.  Systemic but not mucosal immunity induced by AVA prevents inhalational anthrax 
Microbes and infection / Institut Pasteur  2007;9(12-13):1478-1483.
Improved vaccines and adjuvants are being developed to reduce the threat posed by a terrorist attack involving aerosolized anthrax spores. Nevertheless, uncertainty persists concerning the relative benefits of inducing mucosal vs systemic immunity to host survival following inhalational exposure to anthrax spores. This work examines the effect of delivering the licensed human vaccine (Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed, AVA) combined with a CpG oligodeoxynucleotide (ODN) adjuvant intraperitoneally or intranasally to A/J mice. Results indicate that protection from inhalational anthrax correlates with the induction of a strong systemic rather than mucosal immune response, and demonstrate that protection is significantly improved and accelerated by the addition of CpG ODN.
PMCID: PMC2117355  PMID: 17913545
Anthrax; vaccine; protection
19.  Anthrax Outbreaks in Bangladesh, 2009–2010 
During August 2009–October 2010, a multidisciplinary team investigated 14 outbreaks of animal and human anthrax in Bangladesh to identify the etiology, pathway of transmission, and social, behavioral, and cultural factors that led to these outbreaks. The team identified 140 animal cases of anthrax and 273 human cases of cutaneous anthrax. Ninety one percent of persons in whom cutaneous anthrax developed had history of butchering sick animals, handling raw meat, contact with animal skin, or were present at slaughtering sites. Each year, Bacillus anthracis of identical genotypes were isolated from animal and human cases. Inadequate livestock vaccination coverage, lack of awareness of the risk of anthrax transmission from animal to humans, social norms and poverty contributed to these outbreaks. Addressing these challenges and adopting a joint animal and human health approach could contribute to detecting and preventing such outbreaks in the future.
PMCID: PMC3403762  PMID: 22492157
20.  Bacillus anthracis 
Journal of Clinical Pathology  2003;56(3):182-187.
The events of 11 September 2001 and the subsequent anthrax outbreaks have shown that the West needs to be prepared for an increasing number of terrorist attacks, which may include the use of biological warfare. Bacillus anthracis has long been considered a potential biological warfare agent, and this review will discuss the history of its use as such. It will also cover the biology of this organism and the clinical features of the three disease forms that it can produce: cutaneous, gastrointestinal, and inhalation anthrax. In addition, treatment and vaccination strategies will be reviewed.
PMCID: PMC1769905  PMID: 12610093
Bacillus anthracis; biological warfare
21.  Anthrax vaccine design: strategies to achieve comprehensive protection against spore, bacillus, and toxin 
Medical Immunology  2005;4:4.
The successful use of Bacillus anthracis as a lethal biological weapon has prompted renewed research interest in the development of more effective vaccines against anthrax. The disease consists of three critical components: spore, bacillus, and toxin, elimination of any of which confers at least partial protection against anthrax. Current remedies rely on postexposure antibiotics to eliminate bacilli and pre- and postexposure vaccination to target primarily toxins. Vaccines effective against toxin have been licensed for human use, but need improvement. Vaccines against bacilli have recently been developed by us and others. Whether effective vaccines will be developed against spores is still an open question. An ideal vaccine would confer simultaneous protection against spores, bacilli, and toxins. One step towards this goal is our dually active vaccine, designed to destroy both bacilli and toxin. Existing and potential strategies towards potent and effective anthrax vaccines are discussed in this review.
PMCID: PMC1079933  PMID: 15790405
22.  Rabbit and Nonhuman Primate Models of Toxin-Targeting Human Anthrax Vaccines 
The intentional use of Bacillus anthracis, the etiological agent of anthrax, as a bioterrorist weapon in late 2001 made our society acutely aware of the importance of developing, testing, and stockpiling adequate countermeasures against biological attacks. Biodefense vaccines are an important component of our arsenal to be used during a biological attack. However, most of the agents considered significant threats either have been eradicated or rarely infect humans alive today. As such, vaccine efficacy cannot be determined in human clinical trials but must be extrapolated from experimental animal models. This article reviews the efficacy and immunogenicity of human anthrax vaccines in well-defined animal models and the progress toward developing a rugged immunologic correlate of protection. The ongoing evaluation of human anthrax vaccines will be dependent on animal efficacy data in the absence of human efficacy data for licensure by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
PMCID: PMC539006  PMID: 15590776
23.  Estimating the Location and Spatial Extent of a Covert Anthrax Release 
PLoS Computational Biology  2009;5(1):e1000356.
Rapidly identifying the features of a covert release of an agent such as anthrax could help to inform the planning of public health mitigation strategies. Previous studies have sought to estimate the time and size of a bioterror attack based on the symptomatic onset dates of early cases. We extend the scope of these methods by proposing a method for characterizing the time, strength, and also the location of an aerosolized pathogen release. A back-calculation method is developed allowing the characterization of the release based on the data on the first few observed cases of the subsequent outbreak, meteorological data, population densities, and data on population travel patterns. We evaluate this method on small simulated anthrax outbreaks (about 25–35 cases) and show that it could date and localize a release after a few cases have been observed, although misspecifications of the spore dispersion model, or the within-host dynamics model, on which the method relies can bias the estimates. Our method could also provide an estimate of the outbreak's geographical extent and, as a consequence, could help to identify populations at risk and, therefore, requiring prophylactic treatment. Our analysis demonstrates that while estimates based on the first ten or 15 observed cases were more accurate and less sensitive to model misspecifications than those based on five cases, overall mortality is minimized by targeting prophylactic treatment early on the basis of estimates made using data on the first five cases. The method we propose could provide early estimates of the time, strength, and location of an aerosolized anthrax release and the geographical extent of the subsequent outbreak. In addition, estimates of release features could be used to parameterize more detailed models allowing the simulation of control strategies and intervention logistics.
Author Summary
Releasing highly pathogenic organisms into an urban population is a form of bioterrorism that could result in a large number of casualties. The first indication that a covert open-air release has occurred is quite likely to be individuals reporting for medical attention. If such an attack is suspected, then public health authorities would attempt to identify those individuals who have been infected in order to provide rapid treatment with the aim of reducing the possibility of disease and potential death. Aiming treatment at too small an area might miss individuals infected further down and/or up wind, whereas issues surrounding both treatment resources and serious side effects may rule out mass treatment campaigns of large sections of the population. Our work provides scientific robustness to firstly estimate where and when an aerosolized release has occurred and secondly identify the most critically affected geographic areas. In order to use this statistical tool during an outbreak, public health workers would only need to collect the time of symptomatic onset and the home and work locations of early cases; recent weather information would also be required. Although the accuracy of the estimates is likely to improve as more cases appear, treating individuals based on early estimates might prove more beneficial since time would be of the essence.
PMCID: PMC2663800  PMID: 19360099
24.  Prophylaxis and Treatment of Pregnant Women for Emerging Infections and Bioterrorism Emergencies 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2006;12(11):1631-1637.
Infectious disease emergency preparedness planners should consider the special medical issues of pregnant women.
Emerging infectious disease outbreaks and bioterrorism attacks warrant urgent public health and medical responses. Response plans for these events may include use of medications and vaccines for which the effects on pregnant women and fetuses are unknown. Healthcare providers must be able to discuss the benefits and risks of these interventions with their pregnant patients. Recent experiences with outbreaks of severe acute respiratory syndrome, monkeypox, and anthrax, as well as response planning for bioterrorism and pandemic influenza, illustrate the challenges of making recommendations about treatment and prophylaxis for pregnant women. Understanding the physiology of pregnancy, the factors that influence the teratogenic potential of medications and vaccines, and the infection control measures that may stop an outbreak will aid planners in making recommendations for care of pregnant women during large-scale infectious disease emergencies.
PMCID: PMC3372351  PMID: 17283610
Pregnancy; bioterrorism; communicable diseases; vaccines; synopsis
25.  Airborne Infection with Bacillus anthracis—from Mills to Mail 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2004;10(6):996-1001.
The lack of identified exposures in 2 of the 11 cases of bioterrorism-related inhalation anthrax in 2001 raised uncertainty about the infectious dose and transmission of Bacillus anthracis. We used the Wells-Riley mathematical model of airborne infection to estimate 1) the exposure concentrations in postal facilities where cases of inhalation anthrax occurred and 2) the risk for infection in various hypothetical scenarios of exposure to B. anthracis aerosolized from contaminated mail in residential settings. These models suggest that a small number of cases of inhalation anthrax can be expected when large numbers of persons are exposed to low concentrations of B. anthracis. The risk for inhalation anthrax is determined not only by bacillary virulence factors but also by infectious aerosol production and removal rates and by host factors.
PMCID: PMC3323150  PMID: 15207048
Anthrax; Air microbiology; Infection; Risk; Inhalation exposure; Lethal Dose 50; Ventilation

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