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1.  The Burden of Influenza in Young Children, 2004–2009 
Pediatrics  2013;131(2):207-216.
To characterize the health care burden of influenza from 2004 through 2009, years when influenza vaccine recommendations were expanded to all children aged ≥6 months.
Population-based surveillance for laboratory-confirmed influenza was performed among children aged <5 years presenting with fever and/or acute respiratory illness to inpatient and outpatient settings during 5 influenza seasons in 3 US counties. Enrolled children had nasal/throat swabs tested for influenza by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction and their medical records reviewed. Rates of influenza hospitalizations per 1000 population and proportions of outpatients (emergency department and clinic) with influenza were computed.
The study population comprised 2970, 2698, and 2920 children from inpatient, emergency department, and clinic settings, respectively. The single-season influenza hospitalization rates were 0.4 to 1.0 per 1000 children aged <5 years and highest for infants <6 months. The proportion of outpatient children with influenza ranged from 10% to 25% annually. Among children hospitalized with influenza, 58% had physician-ordered influenza testing, 35% had discharge diagnoses of influenza, and 2% received antiviral medication. Among outpatients with influenza, 7% were tested for influenza, 7% were diagnosed with influenza, and <1% had antiviral treatment. Throughout the 5 study seasons, <45% of influenza-negative children ≥6 months were fully vaccinated against influenza.
Despite expanded vaccination recommendations, many children are insufficiently vaccinated, and substantial influenza burden remains. Antiviral use was low. Future studies need to evaluate trends in use of vaccine and antiviral agents and their impact on disease burden and identify strategies to prevent influenza in young infants.
PMCID: PMC3557405  PMID: 23296444
influenza; epidemiology; influenza vaccine; hospitalization; ambulatory care
2.  Photoprotective Bioactivity Present in a Unique Marine Bacteria Collection from Portuguese Deep Sea Hydrothermal Vents 
Marine Drugs  2013;11(5):1506-1523.
Interesting biological activities have been found for numerous marine compounds. In fact, screening of phylogenetically diverse marine microorganisms from extreme environments revealed to be a rational approach for the discovery of novel molecules with relevant bioactivities for industries such as pharmaceutical and cosmeceutical. Nevertheless, marine sources deliverables are still far from the expectations and new extreme sources of microbes should be explored. In this work, a marine prokaryotic collection from four Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR) deep sea hydrothermal vents near the Azores Islands, Portugal, was created, characterized and tested for its photoprotective capacity. Within 246 isolates, a polyphasic approach, using chemotaxonomic and molecular typing methods, identified 23-related clusters of phenetically similar isolates with high indexes of diversity. Interestingly, 16S rRNA gene sequencing suggested the presence of 43% new prokaryotic species. A sub-set of 139 isolates of the prokaryotic collection was selected for biotechnological exploitation with 484 bacterial extracts prepared in a sustainable upscalling manner. 22% of the extracts showed an industrially relevant photoprotective activity, with two extracts, belonging to new strains of the species Shewanella algae and Vibrio fluvialis, uniquely showing UV-A, UV-B and UV-C protective capacity. This clearly demonstrates the high potential of the bacteria MAR vents collection in natural product synthesis with market applications.
PMCID: PMC3707158  PMID: 23665957
deep sea; marine bacteria; natural products; MAR hydrothermal vents; photoprotection
3.  Diversity and Impact of Prokaryotic Toxins on Aquatic Environments: A Review 
Toxins  2010;2(10):2359-2410.
Microorganisms are ubiquitous in all habitats and are recognized by their metabolic versatility and ability to produce many bioactive compounds, including toxins. Some of the most common toxins present in water are produced by several cyanobacterial species. As a result, their blooms create major threats to animal and human health, tourism, recreation and aquaculture. Quite a few cyanobacterial toxins have been described, including hepatotoxins, neurotoxins, cytotoxins and dermatotoxins. These toxins are secondary metabolites, presenting a vast diversity of structures and variants. Most of cyanobacterial secondary metabolites are peptides or have peptidic substructures and are assumed to be synthesized by non-ribosomal peptide synthesis (NRPS), involving peptide synthetases, or NRPS/PKS, involving peptide synthetases and polyketide synthases hybrid pathways. Besides cyanobacteria, other bacteria associated with aquatic environments are recognized as significant toxin producers, representing important issues in food safety, public health, and human and animal well being. Vibrio species are one of the most representative groups of aquatic toxin producers, commonly associated with seafood-born infections. Some enterotoxins and hemolysins have been identified as fundamental for V. cholerae and V. vulnificus pathogenesis, but there is evidence for the existence of other potential toxins. Campylobacter spp. and Escherichia coli are also water contaminants and are able to produce important toxins after infecting their hosts. Other bacteria associated with aquatic environments are emerging as toxin producers, namely Legionella pneumophila and Aeromonas hydrophila, described as responsible for the synthesis of several exotoxins, enterotoxins and cytotoxins. Furthermore, several Clostridium species can produce potent neurotoxins. Although not considered aquatic microorganisms, they are ubiquitous in the environment and can easily contaminate drinking and irrigation water. Clostridium members are also spore-forming bacteria and can persist in hostile environmental conditions for long periods of time, contributing to their hazard grade. Similarly, Pseudomonas species are widespread in the environment. Since P. aeruginosa is an emergent opportunistic pathogen, its toxins may represent new hazards for humans and animals. This review presents an overview of the diversity of toxins produced by prokaryotic microorganisms associated with aquatic habitats and their impact on environment, life and health of humans and other animals. Moreover, important issues like the availability of these toxins in the environment, contamination sources and pathways, genes involved in their biosynthesis and molecular mechanisms of some representative toxins are also discussed.
PMCID: PMC3153167  PMID: 22069558
diversity of toxins; impact of toxins; prokaryotes; aquatic; molecular mechanisms
4.  Chickenpox Exposure and Herpes Zoster Disease Incidence in Older Adults in the U.S. 
Public Health Reports  2007;122(2):155-159.
Exposure to varicella zoster virus through close contact with people with chickenpox was suggested to boost specific immunity, reducing the risk of herpes zoster (HZ). Since the introduction of the varicella immunization program in the U.S. in 1995, varicella morbidity has decreased substantially. This article examines incidence and risk factors associated with self-reported HZ disease and whether exposure to chickenpox within the previous decade reduces the risk of shingles in this age group.
In 2004, a national random-digit dial telephone survey was used to obtain information on self-reported HZ disease, demographic characteristics, and exposure to children with chickenpox in the past decade. National estimates of the incidence of shingles disease were calculated.
Incidence rate of self-reported HZ was 19 per 1,000 population per year. White individuals were 3.5 times more likely to report shingles than Hispanic individuals (p<0.01). Previous exposure to chickenpox did not protect against HZ disease in this population. Seven percent of adults ≥65 years of age reported exposure to children with chickenpox in the past decade.
Incidence of HZ among individuals ≥65 years of age in the U.S. may be higher than previously described in the literature, with whites being at higher risk for the disease. Currently, the potential contribution of exposure to chickenpox as a mechanism for maintaining cell-mediated immunity against HZ may be limited to a small percentage of the population. Vaccination against HZ may represent the best means of decreasing this disease burden.
PMCID: PMC1820439  PMID: 17357357
5.  Norovirus and Foodborne Disease, United States, 1991–2000 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2005;11(1):95-102.
Analysis of foodborne outbreaks shows how advances in viral diagnostics are clarifying the causes of foodborne outbreaks and determining the high impact of norovirus infections.
Efforts to prevent foodborne illness target bacterial pathogens, yet noroviruses (NoV) are suspected to be the most common cause of gastroenteritis. New molecular assays allow for better estimation of the role of NoV in foodborne illness. We analyzed 8,271 foodborne outbreaks reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 1991 to 2000 and additional data from 6 states. The proportion of NoV-confirmed outbreaks increased from 1% in 1991 to 12% in 2000. However, from 1998 to 2000, 76% of NoV outbreaks were reported by only 11 states. In 2000, an estimated 50% of foodborne outbreaks in 6 states were attributable to NoV. NoV outbreaks were larger than bacterial outbreaks (median persons affected: 25 versus 15), and 10% of affected persons sought medical care; 1% were hospitalized. More widespread use of molecular assays will permit better estimates of the role of NoV illness and help direct efforts to control foodborne illness.
PMCID: PMC3294339  PMID: 15705329
research; food; norovirus; disease outbreaks; burden of illness
6.  Automated, Laboratory-based System Using the Internet for Disease Outbreak Detection, the Netherlands 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2003;9(9):1046-1052.
Rapid detection of outbreaks is recognized as crucial for effective control measures and has particular relevance with the recently increased concern about bioterrorism. Automated analysis of electronically collected laboratory data can result in rapid detection of widespread outbreaks or outbreaks of pathogens with common signs and symptoms. In the Netherlands, an automated outbreak detection system for all types of pathogens has been developed within an existing electronic laboratory-based surveillance system called ISIS. Features include the use of a flexible algorithm for daily analysis of data and presentation of signals on the Internet for interpretation by health professionals. By 2006, the outbreak detection system will analyze laboratory-reported data on all pathogens and will cover 35% of the Dutch population.
PMCID: PMC3016793  PMID: 14519238
Disease outbreaks; algorithms; Internet; laboratories; data collection
7.  Epidemiology of Urban Canine Rabies, Santa Cruz, Bolivia, 1972–1997 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2002;8(5):458-461.
We analyzed laboratory data from 1972 to 1997 from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, to determine risk factors for laboratory canine samples’ testing positive for Rabies virus (RABV). Of 9,803 samples, 50.7% tested positive for RABV; the number of cases and the percentage positive has dropped significantly since 1978. A 5- to 6-year cycle in rabies incidence was clearly apparent, though no seasonality was noted. Male dogs had significantly increased odds of testing positive for RABV (odds ratio [OR]=1.14), as did 1- to 2-year-old dogs (OR=1.73); younger and older dogs were at lower risk. Samples submitted from the poorer suburbs of the city were more likely to test positive for RABV (OR=1.71). We estimated the distribution of endemic canine rabies in an urban environment to facilitate control measures in a resource-poor environment.
PMCID: PMC2732486  PMID: 11996678
Epidemiology; rabies; Bolivia; urban health; risk factors; canine
8.  Assessment of Metronidazole Susceptibility in Helicobacter pylori: Statistical Validation and Error Rate Analysis of Breakpoints Determined by the Disk Diffusion Test 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1999;37(5):1628-1631.
Metronidazole susceptibility of 100 Helicobacter pylori strains was assessed by determining the inhibition zone diameters by disk diffusion test and the MICs by agar dilution and PDM Epsilometer test (E test). Linear regression analysis was performed, allowing the definition of significant linear relations, and revealed correlations of disk diffusion results with both E-test and agar dilution results (r2 = 0.88 and 0.81, respectively). No significant differences (P = 0.84) were found between MICs defined by E test and those defined by agar dilution, taken as a standard. Reproducibility comparison between E-test and disk diffusion tests showed that they are equivalent and with good precision. Two interpretative susceptibility schemes (with or without an intermediate class) were compared by an interpretative error rate analysis method. The susceptibility classification scheme that included the intermediate category was retained, and breakpoints were assessed for diffusion assay with 5-μg metronidazole disks. Strains with inhibition zone diameters less than 16 mm were defined as resistant (MIC > 8 μg/ml), those with zone diameters equal to or greater than 16 mm but less than 21 mm were considered intermediate (4 μg/ml < MIC ≤ 8 μg/ml), and those with zone diameters of 21 mm or greater were regarded as susceptible (MIC ≤ 4 μg/ml). Error rate analysis applied to this classification scheme showed occurrence frequencies of 1% for major errors and 7% for minor errors, when the results were compared to those obtained by agar dilution. No very major errors were detected, suggesting that disk diffusion might be a good alternative for determining the metronidazole sensitivity of H. pylori strains.
PMCID: PMC84858  PMID: 10203543

Results 1-8 (8)