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1.  Diarrhea in young children from low-income countries leads to large-scale alterations in intestinal microbiota composition 
Genome Biology  2014;15(6):R76.
Diarrheal diseases continue to contribute significantly to morbidity and mortality in infants and young children in developing countries. There is an urgent need to better understand the contributions of novel, potentially uncultured, diarrheal pathogens to severe diarrheal disease, as well as distortions in normal gut microbiota composition that might facilitate severe disease.
We use high throughput 16S rRNA gene sequencing to compare fecal microbiota composition in children under five years of age who have been diagnosed with moderate to severe diarrhea (MSD) with the microbiota from diarrhea-free controls. Our study includes 992 children from four low-income countries in West and East Africa, and Southeast Asia. Known pathogens, as well as bacteria currently not considered as important diarrhea-causing pathogens, are positively associated with MSD, and these include Escherichia/Shigella, and Granulicatella species, and Streptococcus mitis/pneumoniae groups. In both cases and controls, there tend to be distinct negative correlations between facultative anaerobic lineages and obligate anaerobic lineages. Overall genus-level microbiota composition exhibit a shift in controls from low to high levels of Prevotella and in MSD cases from high to low levels of Escherichia/Shigella in younger versus older children; however, there was significant variation among many genera by both site and age.
Our findings expand the current understanding of microbiota-associated diarrhea pathogenicity in young children from developing countries. Our findings are necessarily based on correlative analyses and must be further validated through epidemiological and molecular techniques.
PMCID: PMC4072981  PMID: 24995464
2.  Results From the First Six Years of National Sentinel Surveillance for Influenza in Kenya, July 2007–June 2013 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e98615.
Recent studies have shown that influenza is associated with significant disease burden in many countries in the tropics, but until recently national surveillance for influenza was not conducted in most countries in Africa.
In 2007, the Kenyan Ministry of Health with technical support from the CDC-Kenya established a national sentinel surveillance system for influenza. At 11 hospitals, for every hospitalized patient with severe acute respiratory illness (SARI), and for the first three outpatients with influenza-like illness (ILI) per day, we collected both nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swabs. Beginning in 2008, we conducted in-hospital follow-up for SARI patients to determine outcome. Specimens were tested by real time RT-PCR for influenza A and B. Influenza A-positive specimens were subtyped for H1, H3, H5, and (beginning in May 2009) A(H1N1)pdm09.
From July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2013, we collected specimens from 24,762 SARI and 14,013 ILI patients. For SARI and ILI case-patients, the median ages were 12 months and 16 months, respectively, and 44% and 47% were female. In all, 2,378 (9.6%) SARI cases and 2,041 (14.6%) ILI cases were positive for influenza viruses. Most influenza-associated SARI cases (58.6%) were in children <2 years old. Of all influenza-positive specimens, 78% were influenza A, 21% were influenza B, and 1% were influenza A/B coinfections. Influenza circulated in every month. In four of the six years influenza activity peaked during July–November. Of 9,419 SARI patients, 2.7% died; the median length of hospitalization was 4 days.
During six years of surveillance in Kenya, influenza was associated with nearly 10 percent of hospitalized SARI cases and one-sixth of outpatient ILI cases. Most influenza-associated SARI and ILI cases were in children <2 years old; interventions to reduce the burden of influenza, such as vaccine, could consider young children as a priority group.
PMCID: PMC4067481  PMID: 24955962
3.  Village-Randomized Clinical Trial of Home Distribution of Zinc for Treatment of Childhood Diarrhea in Rural Western Kenya 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e94436.
Zinc treatment shortens diarrhea episodes and can prevent future episodes. In rural Africa, most children with diarrhea are not brought to health facilities. In a village-randomized trial in rural Kenya, we assessed if zinc treatment might have a community-level preventive effect on diarrhea incidence if available at home versus only at health facilities.
We randomized 16 Kenyan villages (1,903 eligible children) to receive a 10-day course of zinc and two oral rehydration solution (ORS) sachets every two months at home and 17 villages (2,241 eligible children) to receive ORS at home, but zinc at the health–facility only. Children’s caretakers were educated in zinc/ORS use by village workers, both unblinded to intervention arm. We evaluated whether incidence of diarrhea and acute lower respiratory illness (ALRI) reported at biweekly home visits and presenting to clinic were lower in zinc villages, using poisson regression adjusting for baseline disease rates, distance to clinic, and children’s age.
There were no differences between village groups in diarrhea incidence either reported at the home or presenting to clinic. In zinc villages (1,440 children analyzed), 61.2% of diarrheal episodes were treated with zinc, compared to 5.4% in comparison villages (1,584 children analyzed, p<0.0001). There were no differences in ORS use between zinc (59.6%) and comparison villages (58.8%). Among children with fever or cough without diarrhea, zinc use was low (<0.5%). There was a lower incidence of reported ALRI in zinc villages (adjusted RR 0.68, 95% CI 0.46–0.99), but not presenting at clinic.
In this study, home zinc use to treat diarrhea did not decrease disease rates in the community. However, with proper training, availability of zinc at home could lead to more episodes of pediatric diarrhea being treated with zinc in parts of rural Africa where healthcare utilization is low.
Trial Registration NCT00530829
PMCID: PMC4023937  PMID: 24835009
4.  Health care utilization for acute illnesses in an urban setting with a refugee population in Nairobi, Kenya: a cross-sectional survey 
Estimates place the number of refugees in Nairobi over 100,000. The constant movement of refugees between countries of origin, refugee camps, and Nairobi poses risk of introduction and transmission of communicable diseases into Kenya. We assessed the care-seeking behavior of residents of Eastleigh, a neighborhood in Nairobi with urban refugees.
During July and August 2010, we conducted a Health Utilization Survey in Section II of Eastleigh. We used a multistage random cluster sampling design to identify households for interview. A standard questionnaire on the household demographics, water and sanitation was administered to household caretakers. Separate questionnaires were administered to household members who had one or more of the illnesses of interest.
Of 785 households targeted for interview, data were obtained from 673 (85.7%) households with 3,005 residents. Of the surveyed respondents, 290 (9.7%) individuals reported acute respiratory illness (ARI) in the previous 12 months, 222 (7.4%) reported fever in the preceding 2 weeks, and 54 (1.8%) reported having diarrhea in the 30 days prior to the survey. Children <5 years old had the highest frequency of all the illnesses surveyed: 17.1% (95% CI 12.2-21.9) reported ARI, 10.0% (95% CI 6.2-13.8) reported fever, and 6.9% (3.8-10.0) reported diarrhea during the time periods specified for each syndrome. Twenty-nine [7.5% (95% CI 4.3-10.7)] hospitalizations were reported among all age groups of those who sought care. Among participants who reported ≥1 illness, 330 (77.0%) sought some form of health care; most (174 [59.8%]) sought health care services from private health care providers. Fifty-five (18.9%) participants seeking healthcare services visited a pharmacy. Few residents of Eastleigh (38 [13.1%]) sought care at government-run facilities, and 24 (8.2%) sought care from a relative, a religious leader, or a health volunteer. Of those who did not seek any health care services (99 [23.0%]), the primary reason was cost (44.8%), followed by belief that the person was not sick enough (34.6%).
Health care utilization in Eastleigh is high; however, a large proportion of residents opt to seek care at private clinics or pharmacies, despite the availability of accessible government-provided health care services in this area.
PMCID: PMC4021024  PMID: 24885336
Health care utilization; Urban refugees; Eastleigh; Kenya
5.  Survey of Culture, GoldenGate Assay, Universal Biosensor Assay, and 16S rRNA Gene Sequencing as Alternative Methods of Bacterial Pathogen Detection 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2013;51(10):3263-3269.
Cultivation-based assays combined with PCR or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)-based methods for finding virulence factors are standard methods for detecting bacterial pathogens in stools; however, with emerging molecular technologies, new methods have become available. The aim of this study was to compare four distinct detection technologies for the identification of pathogens in stools from children under 5 years of age in The Gambia, Mali, Kenya, and Bangladesh. The children were identified, using currently accepted clinical protocols, as either controls or cases with moderate to severe diarrhea. A total of 3,610 stool samples were tested by established clinical culture techniques: 3,179 DNA samples by the Universal Biosensor assay (Ibis Biosciences, Inc.), 1,466 DNA samples by the GoldenGate assay (Illumina), and 1,006 DNA samples by sequencing of 16S rRNA genes. Each method detected different proportions of samples testing positive for each of seven enteric pathogens, enteroaggregative Escherichia coli (EAEC), enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC), enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC), Shigella spp., Campylobacter jejuni, Salmonella enterica, and Aeromonas spp. The comparisons among detection methods included the frequency of positive stool samples and kappa values for making pairwise comparisons. Overall, the standard culture methods detected Shigella spp., EPEC, ETEC, and EAEC in smaller proportions of the samples than either of the methods based on detection of the virulence genes from DNA in whole stools. The GoldenGate method revealed the greatest agreement with the other methods. The agreement among methods was higher in cases than in controls. The new molecular technologies have a high potential for highly sensitive identification of bacterial diarrheal pathogens.
PMCID: PMC3811648  PMID: 23884998
6.  Examining strain diversity and phylogeography in relation to an unusual epidemic pattern of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in a long-term refugee camp in Kenya 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2014;14:178.
A recent longitudinal study in the Dadaab refugee camp near the Kenya-Somalia border identified unusual biannual respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) epidemics. We characterized the genetic variability of the associated RSV strains to determine if viral diversity contributed to this unusual epidemic pattern.
For 336 RSV positive specimens identified from 2007 through 2011 through facility-based surveillance of respiratory illnesses in the camp, 324 (96.4%) were sub-typed by PCR methods, into 201 (62.0%) group A, 118 (36.4%) group B and 5 (1.5%) group A-B co-infections. Partial sequencing of the G gene (coding for the attachment protein) was completed for 290 (89.5%) specimens. These specimens were phylogenetically analyzed together with 1154 contemporaneous strains from 22 countries.
Of the 6 epidemic peaks recorded in the camp over the period, the first and last were predominantly made up of group B strains, while the 4 in between were largely composed of group A strains in a consecutive series of minor followed by major epidemics. The Dadaab group A strains belonged to either genotype GA2 (180, 98.9%) or GA5 (2, < 1%) while all group B strains (108, 100%) belonged to BA genotype. In sequential epidemics, strains within these genotypes appeared to be of two types: those continuing from the preceding epidemics and those newly introduced. Genotype diversity was similar in minor and major epidemics.
RSV strain diversity in Dadaab was similar to contemporaneous diversity worldwide, suggested both between-epidemic persistence and new introductions, and was unrelated to the unusual epidemic pattern.
PMCID: PMC4021307  PMID: 24690157
Attachment (G) protein; Displaced population; Epidemics; Genetic diversity; Genotype; Refugee; RSV
7.  Video Surveillance Captures Student Hand Hygiene Behavior, Reactivity to Observation, and Peer Influence in Kenyan Primary Schools 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92571.
In-person structured observation is considered the best approach for measuring hand hygiene behavior, yet is expensive, time consuming, and may alter behavior. Video surveillance could be a useful tool for objectively monitoring hand hygiene behavior if validated against current methods.
Student hand cleaning behavior was monitored with video surveillance and in-person structured observation, both simultaneously and separately, at four primary schools in urban Kenya over a study period of 8 weeks.
Video surveillance and in-person observation captured similar rates of hand cleaning (absolute difference <5%, p = 0.74). Video surveillance documented higher hand cleaning rates (71%) when at least one other person was present at the hand cleaning station, compared to when a student was alone (48%; rate ratio  = 1.14 [95% CI 1.01–1.28]). Students increased hand cleaning rates during simultaneous video and in-person monitoring as compared to single-method monitoring, suggesting reactivity to each method of monitoring. This trend was documented at schools receiving a handwashing with soap intervention, but not at schools receiving a sanitizer intervention.
Video surveillance of hand hygiene behavior yields results comparable to in-person observation among schools in a resource-constrained setting. Video surveillance also has certain advantages over in-person observation, including rapid data processing and the capability to capture new behavioral insights. Peer influence can significantly improve student hand cleaning behavior and, when possible, should be exploited in the design and implementation of school hand hygiene programs.
PMCID: PMC3968003  PMID: 24676389
8.  Predicting Mortality among Hospitalized Children with Respiratory Illness in Western Kenya, 2009–2012 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92968.
Pediatric respiratory disease is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the developing world. We evaluated a modified respiratory index of severity in children (mRISC) scoring system as a standard tool to identify children at greater risk of death from respiratory illness in Kenya.
Materials and Methods
We analyzed data from children <5 years old who were hospitalized with respiratory illness at Siaya District Hospital from 2009–2012. We used a multivariable logistic regression model to identify patient characteristics predictive for in-hospital mortality. Model discrimination was evaluated using the concordance statistic. Using bootstrap samples, we re-estimated the coefficients and the optimism of the model. The mRISC score for each child was developed by adding up the points assigned to each factor associated with mortality based on the coefficients in the multivariable model.
We analyzed data from 3,581 children hospitalized with respiratory illness; including 218 (6%) who died. Low weight-for-age [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 2.1; 95% CI 1.3–3.2], very low weight-for-age (aOR = 3.8; 95% CI 2.7–5.4), caretaker-reported history of unconsciousness (aOR = 2.3; 95% CI 1.6–3.4), inability to drink or breastfeed (aOR = 1.8; 95% CI 1.2–2.8), chest wall in-drawing (aOR = 2.2; 95% CI 1.5–3.1), and being not fully conscious on physical exam (aOR = 8.0; 95% CI 5.1–12.6) were independently associated with mortality. The positive predictive value for mortality increased with increasing mRISC scores.
A modified RISC scoring system based on a set of easily measurable clinical features at admission was able to identify children at greater risk of death from respiratory illness in Kenya.
PMCID: PMC3965502  PMID: 24667695
9.  Mortality Trends Observed in Population-Based Surveillance of an Urban Slum Settlement, Kibera, Kenya, 2007–2010 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85913.
We used population based infectious disease surveillance to characterize mortality rates in residents of an urban slum in Kenya.
We analyzed biweekly household visit data collected two weeks before death for 749 cases who died during January 1, 2007 to December 31, 2010. We also selected controls matched by age, gender and having a biweekly household visit within two weeks before death of the corresponding case and compared the symptoms reported.
The overall mortality rate was 6.3 per 1,000 person years of observation (PYO) (females: 5.7; males: 6.8). Infant mortality rate was 50.2 per 1000 PYOs, and it was 15.1 per 1,000 PYOs for children <5 years old. Poisson regression indicates a significant decrease over time in overall mortality from (6.0 in 2007 to 4.0 in 2010 per 1000 PYOs; p<0.05) in persons ≥5 years old. This decrease was predominant in females (7.8 to 5.7 per 1000 PYOs; p<0.05). Two weeks before death, significantly higher prevalence for cough (OR = 4.7 [95% CI: 3.7–5.9]), fever (OR = 8.1 [95% CI: 6.1–10.7]), and diarrhea (OR = 9.1 [95% CI: 6.4–13.2]) were reported among participants who died (cases) when compared to participants who did not die (controls). Diarrhea followed by fever were independently associated with deaths (OR = 14.4 [95% CI: 7.1–29.2]), and (OR = 11.4 [95% CI: 6.7–19.4]) respectively.
Despite accessible health care, mortality rates are high among people living in this urban slum; infectious disease syndromes appear to be linked to a substantial proportion of deaths. Rapid urbanization poses an increasing challenge in national efforts to improve health outcomes, including reducing childhood mortality rates. Targeting impoverished people in urban slums with effective interventions such as water and sanitation interventions are needed to achieve national objectives for health.
PMCID: PMC3904840  PMID: 24489678
10.  Preface 
PMCID: PMC3748495  PMID: 23629933
11.  Health Care-Seeking Behavior During Childhood Diarrheal Illness: Results of Health Care Utilization and Attitudes Surveys of Caretakers in Western Kenya, 2007–2010 
We interviewed caretakers of 1,043 children < 5 years old in a baseline cross-sectional survey (April to May 2007) and > 20,000 children on five separate subsequent occasions (May of 2009 to December 31, 2010) to assess healthcare seeking patterns for diarrhea. Diarrhea prevalence during the preceding 2 weeks ranged from 26% at baseline to 4–11% during 2009–2010. Caretakers were less likely to seek healthcare outside the home for infants (versus older children) with diarrhea (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 0.33, confidence interval [CI] = 0.12–0.87). Caretakers of children with reduced food intake (aOR = 3.42, CI = 1.37–8.53) and sunken eyes during their diarrheal episode were more likely to seek care outside home (aOR = 4.76, CI = 1.13–8.89). Caretakers with formal education were more likely to provide oral rehydration solution (aOR = 3.01, CI = 1.41–6.42) and visit a healthcare facility (aOR = 3.32, CI = 1.56–7.07). Studies calculating diarrheal incidence and healthcare seeking should account for seasonal trends. Improving caretakers' knowledge of home management could prevent severe diarrhea.
PMCID: PMC3748498  PMID: 23629929
12.  Urban Leptospirosis in Africa: A Cross-Sectional Survey of Leptospira Infection in Rodents in the Kibera Urban Settlement, Nairobi, Kenya 
Leptospirosis is a widespread but under-reported cause of morbidity and mortality. Global re-emergence of leptospirosis has been associated with the growth of informal urban settlements in which rodents are thought to be important reservoir hosts. Understanding the multi-host epidemiology of leptospirosis is essential to control and prevent disease. A cross-sectional survey of rodents in the Kibera settlement in Nairobi, Kenya was conducted in September–October 2008 to demonstrate the presence of pathogenic leptospires. A real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction showed that 41 (18.3%) of 224 rodents carried pathogenic leptospires in their kidneys, and sequence data identified Leptospira interrogans and L. kirschneri in this population. Rodents of the genus Mus (37 of 185) were significantly more likely to be positive than those of the genus Rattus (4 of 39; odds ratio = 15.03). Questionnaire data showed frequent contact between humans and rodents in Kibera. This study emphasizes the need to quantify the public health impacts of this neglected disease at this and other urban sites in Africa.
PMCID: PMC3854886  PMID: 24080637
13.  Caretakers’ Perception towards Using Zinc to Treat Childhood Diarrhoea in Rural Western Kenya 
Zinc treatment for diarrhoea can shorten the course and prevent future episodes among children worldwide. However, knowledge and acceptability of zinc among African mothers is unknown. We identified children aged 3 to 59 months, who had diarrhoea within the last three months and participated in a home-based zinc treatment study in rural Kenya. Caretakers of these children were enrolled in two groups; zinc-users and non-users. A structured questionnaire was administered to all caretakers, inquiring about knowledge and appropriate use of zinc. Questions on how much the caretakers were willing to pay for zinc were asked. Proportions were compared using Mantel-Haenszel test, and medians were compared using Wilcoxon Rank Sum test. Among 109 enrolled caretakers, 73 (67%) used zinc, and 36 (33%) did not. Sixty-four (88%) caretakers in zinc-user group reported satisfaction with zinc treatment. Caretakers in the zinc-user group more often correctly identified appropriate zinc treatment (98%-100%) than did those in the non-user group (64−72%, p<0.001). Caretakers in the zinc-user group answered more questions about zinc correctly or favourably (median 10 of 11) compared to those in the non-user group (median 6.3 of 11, p<0.001). Caretakers in the zinc-user group were willing to pay more for a course of zinc in the future than those in the non-user group (median US$ 0.26, p<0.001). Caretakers of children given zinc recently had favourable impressions on the therapy and were willing to pay for it in the future. Active promotion of zinc treatment in clinics and communities in Africa could lead to greater knowledge, acceptance, and demand for zinc.
PMCID: PMC3805881  PMID: 24288945
Acceptability; Community treatment; Diarrhoeal disease; Zinc; Kenya
14.  IgA and Neutralizing Antibodies to Influenza A Virus in Human Milk: A Randomized Trial of Antenatal Influenza Immunization 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e70867.
Antenatal immunization of mothers with influenza vaccine increases serum antibodies and reduces the rates of influenza illness in mothers and their infants. We report the effect of antenatal immunization on the levels of specific anti-influenza IgA levels in human breast milk. ( identifier NCT00142389;
Methods and Findings
The Mother's Gift study was a prospective, blinded, randomized controlled trial that assigned 340 pregnant Bangladeshi mothers to receive either trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine, or 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine during the third trimester. We evaluated breast milk at birth, 6 weeks, 6 months, and 12 months, and serum at 10 weeks and 12 months. Milk and serum specimens from 57 subjects were assayed for specific IgA antibody to influenza A/New Caledonia (H1N1) using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and a virus neutralization assay, and for total IgA using ELISA. Influenza-specific IgA levels in breast milk were significantly higher in influenza vaccinees than in pneumococcal controls for at least 6 months postpartum (p = 0.04). Geometric mean concentrations ranged from 8.0 to 91.1 ELISA units/ml in vaccinees, versus 2.3 to 13.7 ELISA units/mL in controls. Virus neutralization titers in milk were 1.2 to 3 fold greater in vaccinees, and correlated with influenza-specific IgA levels (r = 0.86). Greater exclusivity of breastfeeding in the first 6 months of life significantly decreased the expected number of respiratory illness with fever episodes in infants of influenza-vaccinated mothers (p = 0.0042) but not in infants of pneumococcal-vaccinated mothers (p = 0.4154).
The sustained high levels of actively produced anti-influenza IgA in breast milk and the decreased infant episodes of respiratory illness with fever suggest that breastfeeding may provide local mucosal protection for the infant for at least 6 months. Studies are needed to determine the cellular and immunologic mechanisms of breast milk-mediated protection after antepartum immunization.
Trial Registration NCT00142389
PMCID: PMC3743877  PMID: 23967126
15.  Health care seeking for Childhood Diarrhea in Developing Countries: Evidence from Seven Sites in Africa and Asia 
We performed serial Health Care Utilization and Attitudes Surveys (HUASs) among caretakers of children ages 0–59 months randomly selected from demographically defined populations participating in the Global Enteric Multicenter Study (GEMS), a case-control study of moderate-to-severe diarrhea (MSD) in seven developing countries. The surveys aimed to estimate the proportion of children with MSD who would present to sentinel health centers (SHCs) where GEMS case recruitment would occur and provide a basis for adjusting disease incidence rates to include cases not seen at the SHCs. The proportion of children at each site reported to have had an incident episode of MSD during the 7 days preceding the survey ranged from 0.7% to 4.4% for infants (0–11 months of age), from 0.4% to 4.7% for toddlers (12–23 months of age), and from 0.3% to 2.4% for preschoolers (24–59 months of age). The proportion of MSD episodes at each site taken to an SHC within 7 days of diarrhea onset was 15–56%, 17–64%, and 7–33% in the three age strata, respectively. High cost of care and insufficient knowledge about danger signs were associated with lack of any care-seeking outside the home. Most children were not offered recommended fluids and continuing feeds at home. We have shown the utility of serial HUASs as a tool for optimizing operational and methodological issues related to the performance of a large case-control study and deriving population-based incidence rates of MSD. Moreover, the surveys suggest key targets for educational interventions that might improve the outcome of diarrheal diseases in low-resource settings.
PMCID: PMC3748499  PMID: 23629939
16.  Additional Diagnostic Yield of Adding Serology to PCR in Diagnosing Viral Acute Respiratory Infections in Kenyan Patients 5 Years of Age and Older 
The role of serology in the setting of PCR-based diagnosis of acute respiratory infections (ARIs) is unclear. We found that acute- and convalescent-phase paired-sample serologic testing increased the diagnostic yield of naso/oropharyngeal swabs for influenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), human metapneumovirus, adenovirus, and parainfluenza viruses beyond PCR by 0.4% to 10.7%. Although still limited for clinical use, serology, along with PCR, can maximize etiologic diagnosis in epidemiologic studies.
PMCID: PMC3535781  PMID: 23114699
17.  Non-pneumococcal mitis-group streptococci confound detection of pneumococcal capsular serotype-specific loci in upper respiratory tract 
PeerJ  2013;1:e97.
We performed culture-based and PCR-based tests for pneumococcal identification and serotyping from carriage specimens collected in rural and urban Kenya. Nasopharyngeal specimens from 237 healthy children <5 years old (C-NPs) and combined nasopharyngeal/oropharyngeal specimens from 158 adults (A-NP/OPs, 118 HIV-positive) were assessed using pneumococcal isolation (following broth culture enrichment) with Quellung-based serotyping, real-time lytA-PCR, and conventional multiplexed PCR-serotyping (cmPCR). Culture-based testing from C-NPs, HIV-positive A-NP/OPs, and HIV-negative A-NP/OPs revealed 85.2%, 40.7%, and 12.5% pneumococcal carriage, respectively. In contrast, cmPCR serotypes were found in 93.2%, 98.3%, and 95.0% of these sets, respectively. Two of 16 lytA-negative C-NPs and 26 of 28 lytA-negative A-NP/OPs were cmPCR-positive for 1–10 serotypes (sts) or serogroups (sgs). A-NP/OPs averaged 5.5 cmPCR serotypes/serogroups (5.2 in HIV-positive, 7.1 in HIV-negative) and C-NPs averaged 1.5 cmPCR serotypes/serogroups. cmPCR serotypes/serogroups from lytA-negative A-NP/OPs included st2, st4, sg7F/7A, sg9N/9L, st10A, sg10F/10C/33C, st13, st17F, sg18C/18A/18B/18F, sg22F/22A, and st39. Nine strains of three non-pneumococcal species (S. oralis, S. mitis, and S. parasanguinis) (7 from A-OP, 1 from both A-NP and A-OP, and 1 from C-NP) were each cmPCR-positive for one of 7 serotypes/serogroups (st5, st13, sg15A/15F, sg10F/10C/33C, sg33F/33A/37, sg18C/18A/18B/18F, sg12F/12A/12B/ 44/46) with amplicons revealing 83.6–99.7% sequence identity to pneumococcal references. In total, 150 cmPCR amplicons from carriage specimens were sequenced, including 25 from lytA-negative specimens. Amplicon sequences derived from specimens yielding a pneumococcal isolate with the corresponding serotype were identical or highly conserved (>98.7%) with the reference cmPCR amplicon for the st, while cmPCR amplicons from lytA-negative specimens were generally more divergent. Separate testing of 56 A-OPs and 56 A-NPs revealed that ∼94% of the positive cmPCR results from A-NP/OPs were from OP microbiota. In contrast, A-NPs yielded >2-fold more pneumococcal isolates than A-OPs. Verified and suspected non-pneumococcal cmPCR serotypes/serogroups appeared to be relatively rare in C-NPs and A-NPs compared to A-OPs. Our findings indicate that non-pneumococcal species can confound serotype-specific PCR and other sequence-based assays due to evolutionarily conserved genes most likely involved in biosynthesis of surface polysaccharide structures.
PMCID: PMC3698467  PMID: 23825797
Pneumococcal serotype-specific loci; Mitis group streptococci; Oropharyngeal and nasopharyngeal flora; PCR for serotype deduction
18.  Global and regional burden of hospital admissions for severe acute lower respiratory infections in young children in 2010: a systematic analysis 
Lancet  2013;381(9875):1380-1390.
The annual number of hospital admissions and in-hospital deaths due to severe acute lower respiratory infections (ALRI) in young children worldwide is unknown. We aimed to estimate the incidence of admissions and deaths for such infections in children younger than 5 years in 2010.
We estimated the incidence of admissions for severe and very severe ALRI in children younger than 5 years, stratified by age and region, with data from a systematic review of studies published between Jan 1, 1990, and March 31, 2012, and from 28 unpublished population-based studies. We applied these incidence estimates to population estimates for 2010, to calculate the global and regional burden in children admitted with severe ALRI in that year. We estimated in-hospital mortality due to severe and very severe ALRI by combining incidence estimates with case fatality ratios from hospital-based studies.
We identified 89 eligible studies and estimated that in 2010, 11·9 million (95% CI 10·3–13·9 million) episodes of severe and 3·0 million (2·1–4·2 million) episodes of very severe ALRI resulted in hospital admissions in young children worldwide. Incidence was higher in boys than in girls, the sex disparity being greatest in South Asian studies. On the basis of data from 37 hospital studies reporting case fatality ratios for severe ALRI, we estimated that roughly 265 000 (95% CI 160 000–450 000) in-hospital deaths took place in young children, with 99% of these deaths in developing countries. Therefore, the data suggest that although 62% of children with severe ALRI are treated in hospitals, 81% of deaths happen outside hospitals.
Severe ALRI is a substantial burden on health services worldwide and a major cause of hospital referral and admission in young children. Improved hospital access and reduced inequities, such as those related to sex and rural status, could substantially decrease mortality related to such infection. Community-based management of severe disease could be an important complementary strategy to reduce pneumonia mortality and health inequities.
PMCID: PMC3986472  PMID: 23369797
19.  Use of Population-based Surveillance to Define the High Incidence of Shigellosis in an Urban Slum in Nairobi, Kenya 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58437.
Worldwide, Shigella causes an estimated 160 million infections and >1 million deaths annually. However, limited incidence data are available from African urban slums. We investigated the epidemiology of shigellosis and drug susceptibility patterns within a densely populated urban settlement in Nairobi, Kenya through population-based surveillance.
Surveillance participants were interviewed in their homes every 2 weeks by community interviewers. Participants also had free access to a designated study clinic in the surveillance area where stool specimens were collected from patients with diarrhea (≥3 loose stools within 24 hours) or dysentery (≥1 stool with visible blood during previous 24 hours). We adjusted crude incidence rates for participants meeting stool collection criteria at household visits who reported visiting another clinic.
Shigella species were isolated from 224 (23%) of 976 stool specimens. The overall adjusted incidence rate was 408/100,000 person years of observation (PYO) with highest rates among adults 34–49 years old (1,575/100,000 PYO). Isolates were: Shigella flexneri (64%), S. dysenteriae (11%), S. sonnei (9%), and S. boydii (5%). Over 90% of all Shigella isolates were resistant to trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole and sulfisoxazole. Additional resistance included nalidixic acid (3%), ciprofloxacin (1%) and ceftriaxone (1%).
More than 1 of every 200 persons experience shigellosis each year in this Kenyan urban slum, yielding rates similar to those in some Asian countries. Provision of safe drinking water, improved sanitation, and hygiene in urban slums are needed to reduce disease burden, in addition to development of effective Shigella vaccines.
PMCID: PMC3591331  PMID: 23505506
20.  Coxiella burnetii in Humans, Domestic Ruminants, and Ticks in Rural Western Kenya 
We conducted serological surveys for Coxiella burnetii in archived sera from patients that visited a rural clinic in western Kenya from 2007 to 2008 and in cattle, sheep, and goats from the same area in 2009. We also conducted serological and polymerase chain reaction-based surveillance for the pathogen in 2009–2010, in human patients with acute lower respiratory illness, in ruminants following parturition, and in ticks collected from ruminants and domestic dogs. Antibodies against C. burnetii were detected in 30.9% (N = 246) of archived patient sera and in 28.3% (N = 463) of cattle, 32.0% (N = 378) of goats, and 18.2% (N = 159) of sheep surveyed. Four of 135 (3%) patients with acute lower respiratory illness showed seroconversion to C. burnetii. The pathogen was detected by polymerase chain reaction in specimens collected from three of six small ruminants that gave birth within the preceding 24 hours, and in five of 10 pools (50%) of Haemaphysalis leachi ticks collected from domestic dogs.
PMCID: PMC3592534  PMID: 23382156
22.  Risk Factors for Severe Rift Valley Fever Infection in Kenya, 2007 
A large Rift Valley fever (RVF) outbreak occurred in Kenya from December 2006 to March 2007. We conducted a study to define risk factors associated with infection and severe disease. A total of 861 individuals from 424 households were enrolled. Two hundred and two participants (23%) had serologic evidence of acute RVF infection. Of these, 52 (26%) had severe RVF disease characterized by hemorrhagic manifestations or death. Independent risk factors for acute RVF infection were consuming or handling products from sick animals (odds ratio [OR] = 2.53, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.78–3.61, population attributable risk percentage [PAR%] = 19%) and being a herdsperson (OR 1.77, 95% CI = 1.20–2.63, PAR% = 11%). Touching an aborted animal fetus was associated with severe RVF disease (OR = 3.83, 95% CI = 1.68–9.07, PAR% = 14%). Consuming or handling products from sick animals was associated with death (OR = 3.67, 95% CI = 1.07–12.64, PAR% = 47%). Exposures related to animal contact were associated with acute RVF infection, whereas exposures to mosquitoes were not independent risk factors.
PMCID: PMC2913492  PMID: 20682901
24.  An Investigation of a Major Outbreak of Rift Valley Fever in Kenya: 2006–2007 
An outbreak of Rift Valley fever (RVF) occurred in Kenya during November 2006 through March 2007. We characterized the magnitude of the outbreak through disease surveillance and serosurveys, and investigated contributing factors to enhance strategies for forecasting to prevent or minimize the impact of future outbreaks. Of 700 suspected cases, 392 met probable or confirmed case definitions; demographic data were available for 340 (87%), including 90 (26.4%) deaths. Male cases were more likely to die than females, Case Fatality Rate Ratio 1.8 (95% Confidence Interval [CI] 1.3–3.8). Serosurveys suggested an attack rate up to 13% of residents in heavily affected areas. Genetic sequencing showed high homology among viruses from this and earlier RVF outbreaks. Case areas were more likely than non-case areas to have soil types that retain surface moisture. The outbreak had a devastatingly high case-fatality rate for hospitalized patients. However, there were up to 180,000 infected mildly ill or asymptomatic people within highly affected areas. Soil type data may add specificity to climate-based forecasting models for RVF.
PMCID: PMC2913496  PMID: 20682900
25.  The Global Enteric Multicenter Study (GEMS) of Diarrheal Disease in Infants and Young Children in Developing Countries: Epidemiologic and Clinical Methods of the Case/Control Study 
Background. Diarrhea is a leading cause of illness and death among children aged <5 years in developing countries. This paper describes the clinical and epidemiological methods used to conduct the Global Enteric Multicenter Study (GEMS), a 3-year, prospective, age-stratified, case/control study to estimate the population-based burden, microbiologic etiology, and adverse clinical consequences of acute moderate-to-severe diarrhea (MSD) among a censused population of children aged 0–59 months seeking care at health centers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
Methods. GEMS was conducted at 7 field sites, each serving a population whose demography and healthcare utilization practices for childhood diarrhea were documented. We aimed to enroll 220 MSD cases per year from selected health centers serving each site in each of 3 age strata (0–11, 12–23, and 24–59 months), along with 1–3 matched community controls. Cases and controls supplied clinical, epidemiologic, and anthropometric data at enrollment and again approximately 60 days later, and provided enrollment stool specimens for identification and characterization of potential diarrheal pathogens. Verbal autopsy was performed if a child died. Analytic strategies will calculate the fraction of MSD attributable to each pathogen and the incidence, financial costs, nutritional consequences, and case fatality overall and by pathogen.
Conclusions. When completed, GEMS will provide estimates of the incidence, etiology, and outcomes of MSD among infants and young children in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. This information can guide development and implementation of public health interventions to diminish morbidity and mortality from diarrheal diseases.
PMCID: PMC3502307  PMID: 23169936

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