Nodding Syndrome (NS), an unexplained illness characterized by spells of head bobbing, has been reported in Sudan and Tanzania, perhaps as early as 1962. Hypothesized causes include sorghum consumption, measles, and onchocerciasis infection. In 2009, a couple thousand cases were reportedly in Northern Uganda.
In December 2009, we identified cases in Kitgum District. The case definition included persons who were previously developmentally normal who had nodding. Cases, further defined as 5- to 15-years-old with an additional neurological deficit, were matched to village controls to assess risk factors and test biological specimens. Logistic regression models were used to evaluate associations.
Surveillance identified 224 cases; most (95%) were 5–15-years-old (range = 2–27). Cases were reported in Uganda since 1997. The overall prevalence was 12 cases per 1,000 (range by parish = 0·6–46). The case-control investigation (n = 49 case/village control pairs) showed no association between NS and previously reported measles; sorghum was consumed by most subjects. Positive onchocerciasis serology [age-adjusted odds ratio (AOR1) = 14·4 (2·7, 78·3)], exposure to munitions [AOR1 = 13·9 (1·4, 135·3)], and consumption of crushed roots [AOR1 = 5·4 (1·3, 22·1)] were more likely in cases. Vitamin B6 deficiency was present in the majority of cases (84%) and controls (75%).
NS appears to be increasing in Uganda since 2000 with 2009 parish prevalence as high as 46 cases per 1,000 5- to 15-year old children. Our results found no supporting evidence for many proposed NS risk factors, revealed association with onchocerciasis, which for the first time was examined with serologic testing, and raised nutritional deficiencies and toxic exposures as possible etiologies.
The most common infectious cause of eosinophilic meningitis is Angiostrongylus cantonensis, which is transmitted largely by consumption of snails/slugs. We previously identified cases of angiostrongyliasis that occurred in Hawaii from 2001 to 2005; the highest incidence was on the island of Hawaii. We now report symptoms, laboratory parameters, and exposures. Eighteen patients were evaluated; 94% had headache, and 65% had sensory symptoms (paresthesia, hyperesthesia, and/or numbness). These symptoms lasted a median of 17 and 55 days, respectively. Three persons recalled finding a slug in their food/drink. Case-patients on the island of Hawaii were more likely than case-patients on other islands to consume raw homegrown produce in a typical week (89% versus 0%, P < 0.001) and to see snails/slugs on produce (56% versus 0%, P = 0.03). Residents and travelers should be aware of the potential risks of eating uncooked produce in Hawaii, especially if it is from the island of Hawaii and locally grown.
West Nile virus (WNV) causes an acute infection that is usually cleared by an effective immune response after several days of viremia. However, a recent study detected WNV RNA in the urine of 5 of 25 persons (20%) tested several years after their initial acute WNV disease. We evaluated an established cohort of 40 persons >6 years after initial infection with WNV. Urine collected from all participants tested negative for WNV RNA by reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction and transcription-mediated amplification. Prospective studies are needed to determine if and for how long WNV persists in urine following WNV disease.
Post-mortem needle biopsies have been used in resource-poor settings to determine cause of death and there is interest in using them in Bangladesh. However, we did not know how families and communities would perceive this procedure or how they would decide whether or not to consent to a post-mortem needle biopsy. The goal of this study was to better understand family and community concerns and decision-making about post-mortem needle biopsies in this low-income, predominantly Muslim country in order to design an informed consent process.
We conducted 16 group discussions with family members of persons who died during an outbreak of Nipah virus illness during 2004-2008 and 11 key informant interviews with their community and religious leaders. Qualitative researchers first described the post-mortem needle biopsy procedure and asked participants whether they would have agreed to this procedure during the outbreak. Researchers probed participants about the circumstances under which the procedure would be acceptable, if any, their concerns about the procedure, and how they would decide whether or not to consent to the procedure.
Overall, most participants agreed that post-mortem needle biopsies would be acceptable in some situations, particularly if they benefitted society. This procedure was deemed more acceptable than full autopsy because it would not require major delays in burial or remove organs, and did not require cutting or stitching of the body. It could be performed before the ritual bathing of the body in either the community or hospital setting. However, before consent would be granted for such a procedure, the research team must gain the trust of the family and community which could be difficult. Although consent may only be provided by the guardians of the body, decisions about consent for the procedure would involve extended family and community and religious leaders.
The possible acceptability of this procedure during outbreaks represents an important opportunity to better characterize cause of death in Bangladesh which could lead to improved public health interventions to prevent these deaths. Obstacles for research teams will include engaging all major stakeholders in decision-making and quickly building a trusting relationship with the family and community, which will be difficult given the short window of time prior to the ritual bathing of the body.
post-mortem; Bangladesh; needle biopsy; outbreak; diagnosis; informed consent
We report 1-year follow-up data from a longitudinal prospective cohort study of patients with West Nile virus–associated paralysis. As in the 4-month follow-up, a variety of recovery patterns were observed, but persistent weakness was frequent. Respiratory involvement was associated with considerable illness and death.
West Nile virus; paralysis; poliomyelitis; outcome; dispatch
Historically, poliovirus infection has been an important cause of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) worldwide; however, successful elimination of wild-type poliovirus in much of the world has highlighted the importance of other causes of AFP. Despite the evolving etiology, AFP surveillance in most developing countries still focuses on poliovirus detection and fails to detect many AFP cases, particularly among adults. We assessed 41 subjects self-reporting symptoms suggestive of AFP during a population-based health survey in the Department of Santa Rosa, Guatemala. Thirty-five (85%) of the suspected cases were not hospitalized. Most subjects (37) did not have features consistent with AFP or had other diagnoses explaining weakness. We identified two adults who had not received medical attention for a clinical illness consistent with Guillain-Barré syndrome, the most important cause of non-poliovirus AFP. Usual surveillance methods for AFP, particularly in developing countries, may underestimate the true burden of non-poliovirus AFP.
Acute weakness associated with West Nile virus (WNV) infection has previously been attributed to a peripheral demyelinating process (Guillain-Barré syndrome); however, the exact etiology of this acute flaccid paralysis has not been systematically assessed. To thoroughly describe the clinical, laboratory, and electrodiagnostic features of this paralysis syndrome, we evaluated acute flaccid paralysis that developed in seven patients in the setting of acute WNV infection, consecutively identified in four hospitals in St. Tammany Parish and New Orleans, Louisiana, and Jackson, Mississippi. All patients had acute onset of asymmetric weakness and areflexia but no sensory abnormalities. Clinical and electrodiagnostic data suggested the involvement of spinal anterior horn cells, resulting in a poliomyelitis-like syndrome. In areas in which transmission is occurring, WNV infection should be considered in patients with acute flaccid paralysis. Recognition that such weakness may be of spinal origin may prevent inappropriate treatment and diagnostic testing.
West Nile virus; poliomyelitis; spinal cord; electromyography; muscle; weakness; Guillain-Barré syndrome; research
In October 2007, a cluster of patients experiencing a novel polyradiculoneuropathy was identified at a pork abattoir (Plant A). Patients worked in the primary carcass processing area (warm room); the majority processed severed heads (head-table). An investigation was initiated to determine risk factors for illness.
Methods and Results
Symptoms of the reported patients were unlike previously described occupational associated illnesses. A case-control study was conducted at Plant A. A case was defined as evidence of symptoms of peripheral neuropathy and compatible electrodiagnostic testing in a pork abattoir worker. Two control groups were used - randomly selected non-ill warm-room workers (n = 49), and all non-ill head-table workers (n = 56). Consenting cases and controls were interviewed and blood and throat swabs were collected. The 26 largest U.S. pork abattoirs were surveyed to identify additional cases. Fifteen cases were identified at Plant A; illness onsets occurred during May 2004–November 2007. Median age was 32 years (range, 21–55 years). Cases were more likely than warm-room controls to have ever worked at the head-table (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 6.6; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.6–26.7), removed brains or removed muscle from the backs of heads (AOR, 10.3; 95% CI, 1.5–68.5), and worked within 0–10 feet of the brain removal operation (AOR, 9.9; 95% CI, 1.2–80.0). Associations remained when comparing head-table cases and head-table controls. Workers removed brains by using compressed air that liquefied brain and generated aerosolized droplets, exposing themselves and nearby workers. Eight additional cases were identified in the only two other abattoirs using this technique. The three abattoirs that used this technique have stopped brain removal, and no new cases have been reported after 24 months of follow up. Cases compared to controls had higher median interferon-gamma (IFNγ) levels (21.7 pg/ml; vs 14.8 pg/ml, P<0.001).
This novel polyradiculoneuropathy was associated with removing porcine brains with compressed air. An autoimmune mechanism is supported by higher levels of IFNγ in cases than in controls consistent with other immune mediated illnesses occurring in association with neural tissue exposure. Abattoirs should not use compressed air to remove brains and should avoid procedures that aerosolize CNS tissue. This outbreak highlights the potential for respiratory or mucosal exposure to cause an immune-mediated illness in an occupational setting.
Recreational activities, such as water sports and adventure travel, are emerging as an important risk factor for leptospirosis, a potentially fatal zoonosis. We report the clinical course of 2 patients who acquired leptospirosis through participation in water sports. Physicians caring for patients who participate in adventure travel involving water sports should be familiar with the risk factors for and diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of leptospirosis.
In contrast with more common dementing conditions that typically develop over years, rapidly progressive dementias can develop subacutely over months, weeks, or even days and be quickly fatal. Because many rapidly progressive dementias are treatable, it is paramount to evaluate and diagnose these patients quickly. This review summarizes recent advances in the understanding of the major categories of RPD and outlines efficient approaches to the diagnosis of the various neurodegenerative, toxic-metabolic, infectious, autoimmune, neoplastic, and other conditions that may progress rapidly.
American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) adults ≥65 years of age (older adults) have the second highest age group-specific infectious disease (ID) hospitalization rate. To assess morbidity and disparities of IDs for older AI/AN adults, this study examined the epidemiology of overall and specific infectious disease hospitalizations among older AI/AN adults.
ID hospitalization data for older AI/AN adults were analyzed by using Indian Health Service hospital discharge data for 1990 through 2002 and comparing it with published findings for the general U.S. population of older adults.
ID hospitalizations accounted for 23% of all hospitalizations among older AI/AN adults. The average annual ID hospitalization rate increased 5% for 1990–1992 to 2000–2002; however, the rate increased more than 20% in the Alaska and the Southwest regions. The rate for older AI/AN adults living in the Southwest region was greater than that for the older U.S. adult population. For 2000–2002, lower respiratory tract infections accounted for almost half of all ID hospitalizations followed by kidney, urinary tract, and bladder infections, and cellulitis.
The ID hospitalization rate increased among older AI/AN adults living in the Southwest and Alaska regions, and the rate for the older AI/AN adults living in the Southwest region was higher than that for the U.S. general population. Prevention measures should focus on ways to reduce ID hospitalizations among older AI/AN adults, particularly those living in the Southwest and Alaska regions.
Reports of secondary bloodborne transmission of vCJD add to the uncertainty about the future of the vCJD outbreak.
The only variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) patient identified in the United States died in 2004, and the diagnosis was confirmed by analysis of autopsy tissue. The patient likely acquired the disease while growing up in Great Britain before immigrating to the United States in 1992. Additional vCJD patients continue to be identified outside the United Kingdom, including 2 more patients in Ireland, and 1 patient each in Japan, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Spain, and the Netherlands. The reports of bloodborne transmission of vCJD in 2 patients, 1 of whom was heterozygous for methionine and valine at polymorphic codon 129, add to the uncertainty about the future of the vCJD outbreak.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease; variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease; prion disease; transmissible spongiform encephalopathy; epidemiology; surveillance; public health; research
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.
Virologic characteristics of WNV likely interact with host factors in the pathogenesis of fever, meningitis, encephalitis, and flaccid paralysis.
West Nile virus (WNV) causes epidemics of febrile illness, meningitis, encephalitis, and flaccid paralysis. Since it was first detected in New York City in 1999, and through 2004, 16,000 WNV disease cases have been reported in the United States. Over the past 5 years, research on WNV disease has expanded rapidly. This review highlights new information regarding the virology, clinical manifestations, and pathology of WNV disease, which will provide a new platform for further research into diagnosis, treatment, and possible prevention of WNV through vaccination.
Keywords: West Nile virus; encephalitis; prevention; zoonosis; ecology; mosquito control; blood transfusion; organ tranplantation; pediatrics; intrauterine
The causes and frequency of acute paralysis and respiratory failure with West Nile virus (WNV) infection are incompletely understood. During the summer and fall of 2003, we conducted a prospective, population-based study among residents of a 3-county area in Colorado, United States, with developing WNV-associated paralysis. Thirty-two patients with developing paralysis and acute WNV infection were identified. Causes included a poliomyelitislike syndrome in 27 (84%) patients and a Guillain-Barré–like syndrome in 4 (13%); 1 had brachial plexus involvement alone. The incidence of poliomyelitislike syndrome was 3.7/100,000. Twelve patients (38%), including 1 with Guillain-Barré–like syndrome, had acute respiratory failure that required endotracheal intubation. At 4 months, 3 patients with respiratory failure died, 2 remained intubated, 25 showed various degrees of improvement, and 2 were lost to followup. A poliomyelitislike syndrome likely involving spinal anterior horn cells is the most common mechanism of WNV-associated paralysis and is associated with significant short- and long-term illness and death.
poliomyelitis; West Nile virus; respiratory failure
West Nile virus (WNV) has quickly established itself in North America since its recognition in New York City in 1999. Historically, WNV has been associated with temporally dispersed outbreaks of mild febrile illness. In recent years, the epidemiology and clinical features of the virus appear to have changed, with more frequent outbreaks associated with more severe illness being noted. The 2002 outbreak in North America was unprecedented in terms of the number of cases and geographic spread of the virus. Historical patterns of WNV provide few indications as to the future behavior of WNV in North America.
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.
Anthrax; Bacillus anthracis; bioterrorism; nasal swab cultures; environmental cultures
West Nile virus (WNV), a category B pathogen endemic in parts of Africa, Asia and Europe, emerged in North America in 1999, and spread rapidly across the continental U.S. Outcomes of infection with WNV range from asymptomatic to severe neuroinvasive disease manifested as encephalitis, paralysis, and/or death. Neuroinvasive WNV disease occurs in less than one percent of cases, and although host genetic factors are thought to influence risk for symptomatic disease, the identity of these factors remains largely unknown. We tested 360 common haplotype tagging and/or functional SNPs in 86 genes that encode key regulators of immune function in 753 individuals infected with WNV including: 422 symptomatic WNV cases and 331 cases with asymptomatic infections. After applying a Bonferroni correction for multiple tests and controlling for population stratification, SNPs in IRF3 (OR 0.54, p = 0.035) and MX1, (OR 0.19, p = 0.014) were associated with symptomatic WNV infection and a single SNP in OAS1 (OR 9.79, p = 0.003) was associated with increased risk for West Nile encephalitis and paralysis (WNE/P). Together, these results suggest that genetic variation in the interferon response pathway is associated with both risk for symptomatic WNV infection and WNV disease progression.
Prion diseases are a family of rare, progressive, neurodegenerative disorders that affect humans and animals. The most common form of human prion disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), occurs worldwide. Variant CJD (vCJD), a recently emerged human prion disease, is a zoonotic foodborne disorder that occurs almost exclusively in countries with outbreaks of bovine spongiform encephalopathy.
This study describes the occurrence and epidemiology of CJD and vCJD in the United States.
Analysis of CJD and vCJD deaths using death certificates of US residents for 1979–2006, and those identified through other surveillance mechanisms during 1996–2008. Since CJD is invariably fatal and illness duration is usually less than one year, the CJD incidence is estimated as the death rate. During 1979 through 2006, an estimated 6,917 deaths with CJD as a cause of death were reported in the United States, an annual average of approximately 247 deaths (range 172–304 deaths). The average annual age-adjusted incidence for CJD was 0.97 per 1,000,000 persons. Most (61.8%) of the CJD deaths occurred among persons ≥65 years of age for an average annual incidence of 4.8 per 1,000,000 persons in this population. Most deaths were among whites (94.6%); the age-adjusted incidence for whites was 2.7 times higher than that for blacks (1.04 and 0.40, respectively). Three patients who died since 2004 were reported with vCJD; epidemiologic evidence indicated that their infection was acquired outside of the United States.
Surveillance continues to show an annual CJD incidence rate of about 1 case per 1,000,000 persons and marked differences in CJD rates by age and race in the United States. Ongoing surveillance remains important for monitoring the stability of the CJD incidence rates, and detecting occurrences of vCJD and possibly other novel prion diseases in the United States.