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1.  Assessing the Risk of Laboratory-Acquired Meningococcal Disease 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2005;43(9):4811-4814.
Neisseria meningitidis is infrequently reported as a laboratory-acquired infection. Prompted by two cases in the United States in 2000, we assessed this risk among laboratorians. We identified cases of meningococcal disease that were possibly acquired or suspected of being acquired in a laboratory by placing an information request on e-mail discussion groups of infectious disease, microbiology, and infection control professional organizations. A probable case of laboratory-acquired meningococcal disease was defined as illness meeting the case definition for meningococcal disease in a laboratorian who had occupational exposure to an N. meningitidis isolate of the same serogroup within 14 days of illness onset. Sixteen cases of probable laboratory-acquired meningococcal disease occurring worldwide between 1985 and 2001 were identified, including six U.S. cases between 1996 and 2000. Nine cases (56%) were serogroup B; seven (44%) were serogroup C. Eight cases (50%) were fatal. All cases occurred among clinical microbiologists. In 15 cases (94%), isolate manipulation was performed without respiratory protection. We estimated that an average of three microbiologists are exposed to the 3,000 meningococcal isolates seen in U.S. laboratories yearly and calculated an attack rate of 13/100,000 microbiologists between 1996 and 2001, compared to 0.2/100,000 among U.S. adults in general. The rate and case/fatality ratio of meningococcal disease among microbiologists are higher than those in the general U.S. population. Specific risk factors for laboratory-acquired infection are likely associated with exposure to droplets or aerosols containing N. meningitidis. Prevention should focus on the implementation of class II biological safety cabinets or additional respiratory protection during manipulation of suspected meningococcal isolates.
doi:10.1128/JCM.43.9.4811-4814.2005
PMCID: PMC1234112  PMID: 16145146
2.  Serogroup W-135 Meningococcal Disease during the Hajj, 2000 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2003;9(6):665-671.
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.
doi:10.3201/eid0906.020565
PMCID: PMC3000138  PMID: 12781005
Meningococcal infections; meningitis; meningococcal; Neisseria meningitides; epidemiology; disease outbreaks; Saudi Arabia; Africa; research
3.  Leptospirosis in “Eco-Challenge” Athletes, Malaysian Borneo, 2000 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2003;9(6):702-707.
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.
doi:10.3201/eid0906.020751
PMCID: PMC3000150  PMID: 12781010
leptospirosis; febrile illness; adventure travel immunoassay; doxycycline; research
4.  Planning against Biological Terrorism: Lessons from Outbreak Investigations 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2003;9(5):515-519.
We examined outbreak investigations conducted around the world from 1988 to 1999 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Epidemic Intelligence Service. In 44 (4.0%) of 1,099 investigations, identified causative agents had bioterrorism potential. In six investigations, intentional use of infectious agents was considered. Healthcare providers reported 270 (24.6%) outbreaks and infection control practitioners reported 129 (11.7%); together they reported 399 (36.3%) of the outbreaks. Health departments reported 335 (30.5%) outbreaks. For six outbreaks in which bioterrorism or intentional contamination was possible, reporting was delayed for up to 26 days. We confirmed that the most critical component for bioterrorism outbreak detection and reporting is the frontline healthcare profession and the local health departments. Bioterrorism preparedness should emphasize education and support of this frontline as well as methods to shorten the time between outbreak and reporting.
doi:10.3201/eid0905.020388
PMCID: PMC2972753  PMID: 12737732
Bioterrorism; Preparedness; Outbreak; Anthrax; perspective
5.  Evaluation of Four Commercially Available Rapid Serologic Tests for Diagnosis of Leptospirosis 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2003;41(2):803-809.
Four rapid tests for the serologic diagnosis of leptospirosis were evaluated, and the performance of each was compared with that of the current standard, the microscopic agglutination test (MAT). The four rapid tests were a microplate immunoglobulin M (IgM)-enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), an indirect hemagglutination assay (IHA), an IgM dipstick assay (LDS), and an IgM dot-ELISA dipstick test (DST). A panel of 276 sera from 133 cases of leptospirosis from four different geographic locations was tested as well as 642 sera from normal individuals or individuals with other infectious or autoimmune diseases. Acute-phase sera from cases (n = 148) were collected ≤14 days (median = 6.0) after the onset of symptoms, and convalescent-phase sera (n = 128) were collected ≥15 days after onset (median = 29.1). By a traditional method (two-by-two contingency table), the sensitivities for detection of leptospirosis cases were 93.2% by LDS, 92.5% by DST, 86.5% by ELISA, and 79.0% by IHA. Specificity was 98.8% by DST, 97% by ELISA and MAT, 95.8% by IHA, and 89.6% by LDS. With a latent class analysis (LCA) model that included all the rapid tests and the clinical case definition, sensitivity was 95.5% by DST, 94.5% by LDS, 89.9% by ELISA, and 81.1% by IHA. The sensitivity and specificity estimated by the traditional methods were quite close to the LCA estimates. However, LCA allowed estimation of the sensitivity of the MAT (98.2%), which traditional methods do not allow. For acute-phase sera, sensitivity was 52.7% by LDS, 50.0% by DST, 48.7% by MAT and ELISA, and 38.5% by IHA. The sensitivity for convalescent-phase sera was 93.8% by MAT, 84.4% by DST, 83.6% by LDS, 75.0% by ELISA, and 67.2% by IHA. A good overall correlation with the MAT was obtained for each of the assays, with the highest concordance being with the DST (kappa value, 0.85; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.8 to 0.90). The best correlation was between ELISA and DST (kappa value, 0.86; 95% CI, 0.81 to 0.91). False-positive LDS results were frequent (≥20%) in sera from individuals with Epstein-Barr virus, human immunodeficiency virus, and periodontal disease and from healthy volunteers. The ease of use and significantly high sensitivity and specificity of DST and ELISA make these good choices for diagnostic testing.
doi:10.1128/JCM.41.2.803-809.2003
PMCID: PMC149700  PMID: 12574287
6.  Polio eradication initiative in Africa: influence on other infectious disease surveillance development 
BMC Public Health  2002;2:27.
Background
The World Health Organization (WHO) and partners are collaborating to eradicate poliomyelitis. To monitor progress, countries perform surveillance for acute flaccid paralysis (AFP). The WHO African Regional Office (WHO-AFRO) and the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are also involved in strengthening infectious disease surveillance and response in Africa. We assessed whether polio-eradication initiative resources are used in the surveillance for and response to other infectious diseases in Africa.
Methods
During October 1999-March 2000, we developed and administered a survey questionnaire to at least one key informant from the 38 countries that regularly report on polio activities to WHO. The key informants included WHO-AFRO staff assigned to the countries and Ministry of Health personnel.
Results
We obtained responses from 32 (84%) of the 38 countries. Thirty-one (97%) of the 32 countries had designated surveillance officers for AFP surveillance, and 25 (78%) used the AFP resources for the surveillance and response to other infectious diseases. In 28 (87%) countries, AFP program staff combined detection for AFP and other infectious diseases. Fourteen countries (44%) had used the AFP laboratory specimen transportation system to transport specimens to confirm other infectious disease outbreaks. The majority of the countries that performed AFP surveillance adequately (i.e., non polio AFP rate = 1/100,000 children aged <15 years) in 1999 had added 1–5 diseases to their AFP surveillance program.
Conclusions
Despite concerns regarding the targeted nature of AFP surveillance, it is partially integrated into existing surveillance and response systems in multiple African countries. Resources provided for polio eradication should be used to improve surveillance for and response to other priority infectious diseases in Africa.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-2-27
PMCID: PMC140011  PMID: 12502431
Poliomyelitis; Public Health Surveillance; Information Systems
8.  First Case of Bioterrorism-Related Inhalational Anthrax in the United States, Palm Beach County, Florida, 2001 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2002;8(10):1029-1034.
On October 4, 2001, we confirmed the first bioterrorism-related anthrax case identified in the United States in a resident of Palm Beach County, Florida. Epidemiologic investigation indicated that exposure occurred at the workplace through intentionally contaminated mail. One additional case of inhalational anthrax was identified from the index patient’s workplace. Among 1,076 nasal cultures performed to assess exposure, Bacillus anthracis was isolated from a co-worker later confirmed as being infected, as well as from an asymptomatic mail-handler in the same workplace. Environmental cultures for B. anthracis showed contamination at the workplace and six county postal facilities. Environmental and nasal swab cultures were useful epidemiologic tools that helped direct the investigation towards the infection source and transmission vehicle. We identified 1,114 persons at risk and offered antimicrobial prophylaxis.
doi:10.3201/eid0810.020354
PMCID: PMC2730309  PMID: 12396910
Anthrax; Bacillus anthracis; bioterrorism; nasal swab cultures; environmental cultures
9.  Specific, Sensitive, and Quantitative Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay for Human Immunoglobulin G Antibodies to Anthrax Toxin Protective Antigen 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2002;8(10):1103-1110.
The bioterrorism-associated human anthrax epidemic in the fall of 2001 highlighted the need for a sensitive, reproducible, and specific laboratory test for the confirmatory diagnosis of human anthrax. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed, optimized, and rapidly qualified an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies to Bacillus anthracis protective antigen (PA) in human serum. The qualified ELISA had a minimum detection limit of 0.06 µg/mL, a reliable lower limit of detection of 0.09 µg/mL, and a lower limit of quantification in undiluted serum specimens of 3.0 µg/mL anti-PA IgG. The diagnostic sensitivity of the assay was 97.8%, and the diagnostic specificity was 94.2%. A competitive inhibition anti-PA IgG ELISA was also developed to enhance diagnostic specificity to 100%. The anti-PA ELISAs proved valuable for the confirmation of cases of cutaneous and inhalational anthrax and evaluation of patients in whom the diagnosis of anthrax was being considered.
doi:10.3201/eid0810.020380
PMCID: PMC2730307  PMID: 12396924
Bacillus anthracis; anthrax; antibody; assay; toxin; bioterrorism; ELISA; serology
10.  Public Health in the Time of Bioterrorism 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2002;8(10):1015-1018.
doi:10.3201/eid0810.020444
PMCID: PMC2730302  PMID: 12396908
11.  Investigation of Bioterrorism-Related Anthrax, United States, 2001: Epidemiologic Findings 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2002;8(10):1019-1028.
In October 2001, the first inhalational anthrax case in the United States since 1976 was identified in a media company worker in Florida. A national investigation was initiated to identify additional cases and determine possible exposures to Bacillus anthracis. Surveillance was enhanced through health-care facilities, laboratories, and other means to identify cases, which were defined as clinically compatible illness with laboratory-confirmed B. anthracis infection. From October 4 to November 20, 2001, 22 cases of anthrax (11 inhalational, 11 cutaneous) were identified; 5 of the inhalational cases were fatal. Twenty (91%) case-patients were either mail handlers or were exposed to worksites where contaminated mail was processed or received. B. anthracis isolates from four powder-containing envelopes, 17 specimens from patients, and 106 environmental samples were indistinguishable by molecular subtyping. Illness and death occurred not only at targeted worksites, but also along the path of mail and in other settings. Continued vigilance for cases is needed among health-care providers and members of the public health and law enforcement communities.
doi:10.3201/eid0810.020353
PMCID: PMC2730292  PMID: 12396909
12.  Bioterrorism-Related Bacillus anthracis Public Health Research Priorities 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2002;8(10):1183.
doi:10.3201/eid0810.020407
PMCID: PMC2730290
anthrax; Bacillus anthracis; public health; research; priority-setting
13.  Surveillance for Unexplained Deaths and Critical Illnesses 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2002;8(2):145-153.
Population-based surveillance for unexplained death and critical illness possibly due to infectious causes (UNEX) was conducted in four U.S. Emerging Infections Program sites (population 7.7 million) from May 1, 1995, to December 31, 1998, to define the incidence, epidemiologic features, and etiology of this syndrome. A case was defined as death or critical illness in a hospitalized, previously healthy person, 1 to 49 years of age, with infection hallmarks but no cause identified after routine testing. A total of 137 cases were identified (incidence rate 0.5 per 100,000 per year). Patients’ median age was 20 years, 72 (53%) were female, 112 (82%) were white, and 41 (30%) died. The most common clinical presentations were neurologic (29%), respiratory (27%), and cardiac (21%). Infectious causes were identified for 34 cases (28% of the 122 cases with clinical specimens); 23 (68%) were diagnosed by reference serologic tests, and 11 (32%) by polymerase chain reaction-based methods. The UNEX network model would improve U.S. diagnostic capacities and preparedness for emerging infections.
doi:10.3201/eid0802.010165
PMCID: PMC2732455  PMID: 11897065
emerging infectious diseases; unexplained infectious diseases; 16S polymerase chain reaction
14.  Evaluation of Pulsed-Field Gel Electrophoresis in Epidemiological Investigations of Meningococcal Disease Outbreaks Caused by Neisseria meningitidis Serogroup C 
Since 1990, the frequency of Neisseria meningitidis serogroup C (NMSC) outbreaks in the United States has increased. Based on multilocus enzyme electrophoresis (MEE), the current molecular subtyping standard, most of the NMSC outbreaks have been caused by isolates of several closely related electrophoretic types (ETs) within the ET-37 complex. We chose 66 isolates from four well-described NMSC outbreaks that occurred in the United States from 1993 to 1995 to evaluate the potential of pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) to identify outbreak-related isolates specific for each of the four outbreaks and to differentiate between them and 50 sporadic isolates collected during the outbreak investigations or through active laboratory-based surveillance from 1989 to 1996. We tested all isolates collected during the outbreak investigations by four other molecular subtyping methods: MEE, ribotyping (ClaI), random amplified polymorphic DNA assay (two primers), and serotyping and serosubtyping. Among the 116 isolates, we observed 11 clusters of 39 NheI PFGE patterns. Excellent correlation between the PFGE and the epidemiological data was observed, with an overall sensitivity of 85% and specificity of 71% at the 95% pattern relatedness breakpoint using either 1.5 or 1.0% tolerance. For all four analyzed outbreaks, PFGE would have given public health officials additional support in declaring an outbreak and making appropriate public health decisions.
doi:10.1128/JCM.39.1.75-85.2001
PMCID: PMC87683  PMID: 11136752
15.  Distribution of Neisseria meningitidis Serogroup B Serosubtypes and Serotypes Circulating in the United States 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2000;38(9):3323-3328.
Because the Neisseria meningitidis serogroup B (NMSB) capsule is poorly immunogenic in humans, immunization strategies have focused on noncapsular antigens. Both PorA and to a lesser extent PorB are noncapsular protein antigens capable of inducing protective bactericidal antibodies, and vaccines based on the outer membrane protein (OMP) components of serogroup B meningococci have been shown to be effective in clinical trials. Multiple PorA antigens seem to be needed to prevent endemic meningococcal disease around the world, and a hexavalent PorA-based meningococcal vaccine has recently been developed in The Netherlands. To evaluate the distribution of NMSB PorA and PorB antigens in the United States, serosubtyping and serotyping were done on 444 NMSB strains isolated in the active surveillance areas of the United States (total population, 32 million) during the period 1992 to 1998. A total of 244 strains were isolated from sporadic cases of meningococcal disease, and 200 strains were isolated from an epidemic in Oregon. A panel of 16 mouse monoclonal antibodies reactive with PorA and 15 monoclonal antibodies reactive with PorB were used. Among the NMSB isolates obtained from sporadic cases, the most prevalent serosubtypes were P1.7,16 (14.3%), P1.19,15 (9.8%), P1.7,1 (8.6%), P1.5,2 (7.8%), P1.22a, 14 (7.8%), and P1.14 (5.3%) and the most prevalent serotypes were 4,7 (27.5%), 15 (16%), 14 (8.6%), 10 (6.1%), 1 (4.9%), and 2a (3.7%). A multivalent PorA-based OMP vaccine aimed at the six most prevalent serosubtypes could have targeted about half of the sporadic cases of NMSB disease that occurred between 1992 and 1998 in the surveillance areas. Twenty serosubtypes would have had to be included in a multivalent vaccine to achieve 80% coverage of strains causing sporadic disease. The relatively large number of isolates that did not react with murine monoclonal antibodies indicates that DNA sequence-based variable region typing of NMSB will be necessary to provide precise information on the distribution and diversity of PorA antigens and correlation with nonserosubtypeable isolates. The high degree of variability observed in the PorA and PorB proteins of NMSB in the United States suggests that vaccine strategies not based on OMPs should be further investigated.
PMCID: PMC87381  PMID: 10970378

Results 1-15 (15)