We investigated the proportions of mono vs. mixed infections for human metapneumovirus (hMPV) as compared to adenovirus (ADV), four types of coronavirus (CRV), parainfluenza virus (PIV), RSV, and enterovirus/rhinovirus (ERV) in Alberta, Canada. Using the Data Integration for Alberta Laboratories (DIAL) platform, 26,226 respiratory specimens at ProvLab between 1 July 2009 and 30 June 2012 were selected and included in the study. Using the Respiratory Virus Panel these specimens tested positive for one or more respiratory virus and negative for influenza A and B. From our subset hMPV was the fourth most common virus (n=2,561) with 373 (15%) identified as mixed infection using DIAL. Mixed infection with hMPV was most commonly found in infants less than 6 months old and ERV was most commonly found in mixed infection with hMPV (230/373, 56%) across all age groups. The proportion of mixed-infection vs. mono-infection was highest for ADV (46%), followed by CRV 229E (32%), CRV HKU1 (31%), CRV NL63 (28%), CRV OC43 (23%), PIV (20%), RSV (17%), hMPV (15%) and ERV (13%). hMPV was significantly more likely to be identified in mono infection as compared with ADV, CRV, PIV, and RSV with the exception of ERV [p<0.05].
hMPV; co-infection; testing; epidemiology; respiratory
Pneumonia patients with wheezing due to influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 were frequently treated with systemic corticosteroids in Japan although systemic corticosteroid for critically ill patients with pneumonia caused by influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 has been controversial. Applicability of systemic corticosteroid treatment needs to be evaluated.
We retrospectively reviewed 89 subjects who were diagnosed with influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 and admitted to a national hospital, Tokyo during the pandemic period. The median age of subjects (45 males) was 8 years (range, 0–71). All subjects were treated with antiviral agents and the median time from symptom onset to initiation of antiviral agents was 2 days (range, 0–7). Subjects were classified into four groups: upper respiratory tract infection, wheezing illness, pneumonia with wheezing, and pneumonia without wheezing. The characteristics of each group was evaluated. A history of asthma was found more frequently in the wheezing illness (55.6%) and pneumonia with wheezing (43.3%) groups than in the other two groups (p = 0.017). Corticosteroid treatment was assessed among subjects with pneumonia. Oxygen saturation was lower in subjects receiving corticosteroids (steroid group) than in subjects not receiving corticosteroids (no-steroid group) (p<0.001). The steroid group required greater oxygen supply than the no-steroid group (p<0.001). No significant difference was found by the Kaplan-Meier method between the steroid and the no-steroid groups in hours to fever alleviation from the initiation of antiviral agents and hospitalization days. In logistic regression analysis, wheezing, pneumonia and oxygen saturation were independent factors associated with using systemic corticosteroids.
Patients with wheezing and a history of asthma were frequently found in the study subjects. Systemic corticosteroids together with early administration of antiviral agents to pneumonia with wheezing and possibly without wheezing did not result in negative clinical outcomes and may prevent progression to severe pneumonia in this study population.
Nucleic acid tests are sensitive and specific and provide a rapid diagnosis, making them invaluable for patient and outbreak management. Multiplex PCR assays have additional advantages in providing an economical and comprehensive panel for many common respiratory viruses. Previous reports have shown the utility of the xTAG respiratory viral panel (RVP) assay manufactured by Luminex Molecular Diagnostics for this purpose. A newer generation of this kit, released in Canada in early 2010, is designed to simplify the procedure and reduce the turnaround time by about 24 h. The assay methodology and targets included in this version of the kit are different; consequently, the objective of this study was to compare the detection of a panel of respiratory viral targets using the older Luminex xTAG RVP (RVP Classic) assay with that using the newer xTAG RVP Fast assay. This study included 334 respiratory specimens that had been characterized for a variety of respiratory viral targets; all samples were tested by both versions of the RVP assay in parallel. Overall, the RVP Classic assay was more sensitive than the RVP Fast assay (88.6% and 77.5% sensitivities, respectively) for all the viral targets combined. Targets not detected by the RVP Fast assay included primarily influenza B virus, parainfluenza virus type 2, and human coronavirus 229E. A small number of samples positive for influenza A virus, respiratory syncytial virus B, human metapneumovirus, and parainfluenza virus type 1 were not detected by the RVP Classic assay and in general had low viral loads.
Pertussis continues to challenge medical professionals; recently described increases in incidence may be due to age-cohort effects, vaccine effectiveness, or changes in testing patterns. Toronto, Canada has recently experienced increases in pertussis incidence, and provides an ideal jurisdiction for evaluating pertussis epidemiology due to centralized testing. We evaluated pertussis trends in Toronto using all available specimen data, which allowed us to control for changing testing patterns and practices.
Data included all pertussis culture and PCR test records for Greater Toronto from 1993 to 2007. We estimated incidence trends using Poisson regression models; complex relationships between disease incidence and test submission were explored with vector autoregressive models.
From 1993 to 2007, 26988 specimens were submitted for testing; 2545 (9.4%) were positive. Pertussis incidence was 2 per 100,000 from 1993 to 2004 and increased to 10 per 100,000 from 2005-2007, with a concomitant 6-fold surge in test specimen submissions after the introduction of a new, more sensitive PCR assay. The relative change in incidence was less marked after adjustment for testing volumes. Bidirectional feedbacks between test positivity and test submissions were identified.
Toronto's recent surge in pertussis reflects a true increase in local disease activity; the apparent size of the outbreak has likely been magnified by increasing use of pertussis testing by clinicians, and by improved test sensitivity since 2005. These findings may be applicable to changes in pertussis epidemiology that have been noted elsewhere in North America.
There is a paucity of data about the clinical characteristics that help identify patients at high risk of influenza infection upon ICU admission. We aimed to identify predictors of influenza infection in patients admitted to ICUs during the 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 influenza seasons and the second wave of the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic as well as to identify populations with increased likelihood of seasonal and pandemic 2009 influenza (pH1N1) infection.
Six Toronto acute care hospitals participated in active surveillance for laboratory-confirmed influenza requiring ICU admission during periods of influenza activity from 2007 to 2009. Nasopharyngeal swabs were obtained from patients who presented to our hospitals with acute respiratory or cardiac illness or febrile illness without a clear nonrespiratory aetiology. Predictors of influenza were assessed by multivariable logistic regression analysis and the likelihood of influenza in different populations was calculated.
In 5,482 patients, 126 (2.3%) were found to have influenza. Admission temperature ≥38°C (odds ratio (OR) 4.7 for pH1N1, 2.3 for seasonal influenza) and admission diagnosis of pneumonia or respiratory infection (OR 7.3 for pH1N1, 4.2 for seasonal influenza) were independent predictors for influenza. During the peak weeks of influenza seasons, 17% of afebrile patients and 27% of febrile patients with pneumonia or respiratory infection had influenza. During the second wave of the 2009 pandemic, 26% of afebrile patients and 70% of febrile patients with pneumonia or respiratory infection had influenza.
The findings of our study may assist clinicians in decision making regarding optimal management of adult patients admitted to ICUs during future influenza seasons. Influenza testing, empiric antiviral therapy and empiric infection control precautions should be considered in those patients who are admitted during influenza season with a diagnosis of pneumonia or respiratory infection and are either febrile or admitted during weeks of peak influenza activity.
The gold standard for respiratory virus testing is a nasopharyngeal (NP) swab, which is collected by a healthcare worker. Midturbinate (MT) swabs are an alternative due to their ease of collection and possible self-collection by patients. The objective of this study was to compare the respiratory virus isolation of flocked MT swabs compared to flocked NP swabs.
Beginning in October 2008, healthy adults aged 18 to 69 years were recruited into a cohort and followed up for symptoms of influenza. They were asked to have NP and MT swabs taken as soon as possible after the onset of a fever or two or more respiratory symptoms with an acute onset. The swabs were tested for viral respiratory infections using Seeplex® RV12 multiplex PCR detection kit. Seventy six pairs of simultaneous NP and MT swabs were collected from 38 symptomatic subjects. Twenty nine (38%) of these pairs were positive by either NP or MT swabs or both. Sixty nine (91%) of the pair results were concordant. Two samples (3%) for hCV OC43/HKU1 and 1 sample (1%) for rhinovirus A/B were positive by NP but negative by MT. One sample each for hCV 229E/NL63, hCV OC43/HKU1, respiratory syncytial virus A, and influenza B were positive by MT but negative by NP.
Flocked MT swabs are sensitive for the diagnosis of multiple respiratory viruses. Given the ease of MT collection and similar results between the two swabs, it is likely that MT swabs should be the preferred method of respiratory cell collection for outpatient studies. In light of this data, larger studies should be performed to ensure that this still holds true and data should also be collected on the patient preference of collection methods.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a serious disease that is transmitted primarily by the airborne route. Effective disease control and outbreak management requires the timely diagnosis, isolation and treatment of infected individuals with active disease; contact tracing to identify secondary cases likely to benefit from treatment of latent infection; and laboratory identification or confirmation of epidemiologically linked cases. TB genotyping enables the comparison of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC) strains and the identification of cases that may or may not be linked. The increased availability of molecular methods for genotyping has allowed for greater discrimination of MTBC strains and greatly enhanced understanding of TB transmission patterns.
To improve TB surveillance and control in Ontario, the Public Health Laboratories of the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion has introduced the Ontario Universal Typing of Tuberculosis (OUT-TB) Surveillance Program.
The first isolate from every new TB case will be genotyped with two rapid molecular methods: spoligotyping and mycobacterial interspersed repetitive unit-variable-number tandem repeat typing. MTBC isolates with nonunique genotypes and, thus, potentially linked to other TB cases, will also be genotyped by IS6110 restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis.
By providing TB control programs using these new genotyping tools, and using traditional and new case investigation methods (eg, social network analysis), this new program will provide a clearer picture of TB in Ontario, and permit more effective use of public health resources and improve disease control.
Genotyping; Public health; Tuberculosis
Between 2002 and 2007, travel related cases of Shigella sonnei and S. flexneri in Alberta, Canada were acquired from Central America, the Indian subcontinent and North America. Of this group, resistance to ciprofloxacin and nalidixic acid was identified in isolates from patients who had travelled to the Indian subcontinent. This study provides a Canadian perspective to a growing body of literature linking ciprofloxacin and nalidixic acid resistance to travel to the Indian subcontinent.
Shigella is a common cause of diarrheal illness in North America with a rate of 2.0 per 100,000 in Canada  and a rate of 3.2 per 100,000 in the United States [2,3]. Imported cases of Shigella infections have been reported in developed countries following travel to a foreign or developing country [4,5] and may be impacted by factors including socio-economic factors , food distribution networks  and microbiologic factors . Across multiple geographic regions, high rates of antimicrobial resistance to multiple agents (e.g. sulfonamides, tetracycline, chloramphenicol, ampicillin, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole) have limited the choices for empiric antimicrobial therapy required to manage Shigella infections and reduce fecal excretion of the bacteria [8-10] with descriptions of shifting species dominance and changes in antimicrobial susceptibility [10,11]. Generally, Shigella flexneri and Shigella sonnei are the dominant species and are heavily impacted by changes in antimicrobial susceptibility [12,13].
This study identifies the global regions associated with travel-related cases of S. flexneri and S. sonnei in Alberta, Canada and compares antibiotic resistance patterns of these isolates for 2002 to 2007 inclusive.
Specimens collected 2002-2007 (inclusive) from S. flexneri and S. sonnei infections in Alberta, Canada were included for study. Data collected at time of specimen submission included: date of specimen collection, outbreak association if present, travel history and antibiogram (data source-ProvLab Information Systems; Communicable Disease Report at Alberta Health and Wellness). Outbreaks were defined by public health officials as ≥ 2 epidemiologically related cases. Each outbreak was assigned a unique incident number. Repeat isolates received within six months of original case infections were excluded. Only one representative case for each outbreak was included, unless the isolates had different antibiotic susceptibility patterns. Based on travel history the origin of an isolate was grouped into corresponding regions and continents. Regions included in the study represented major travel destinations for individuals living in Canada. Domestic exposures were defined as "travel within North America."
Neisseria meningitidis has been relatively slow to acquire resistance to penicillin. We previously reported an increase in the incidence of invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) strains with decreased susceptibility to penicillin (DSP) in Ontario. Our objectives were to evaluate trends in IMD with DSP, to identify case-level predictors of IMD with DSP, and to evaluate the relationship among DSP, bacterial phenotype, and the likelihood of a fatal outcome. All IMD isolates received in Ontario between 2000 and 2006 were submitted to the Public Health Laboratories, Toronto, for confirmation of the species, serogroup determination, and susceptibility testing. Isolates were considered to be IMD strains with DSP if the penicillin MIC was ≥0.125 μg/ml. Temporal trends were evaluated using multivariable Poisson regression models. Correlates of diminished susceptibility and fatal outcome were evaluated with multivariable logistic regression models. The overall rate of IMD caused by strains with DSP in Ontario was approximately 1.20 cases per million population annually (95% confidence interval [95% CI], 0.99 to 1.46). Seventy-nine strains (21.7%) were IMD strains with DSP. There was no year-to-year trend in the incidence of IMD with DSP. IMD with DSP was strongly associated with strains of serogroups Y (odds ratio [OR], 6.3; 95% CI, 3.6 to 11.1) and W-135 (OR, 8.2; 95% CI, 4.0 to 16.7). Infection with serogroup B or C strains was associated with a marked increase in the risk of mortality (OR, 3.07; 95% CI, 1.39 to 6.75); however, no association between IMD with DSP and mortality was observed. In contrast to trends of the 1990s, the incidence of IMD with DSP was stable in Ontario between 2000 and 2006. In Ontario, the serogroup rather than the penicillin MIC is the microbiological parameter most predictive of mortality.
Point source norovirus outbreaks can be difficult to track due to high background levels of the virus in the environment and the limited strain variation in some genotyping regions. However, rapid and accurate source identification can limit the spread of a foodborne outbreak and reduce the number of cases. Harmonization of genotyping assays is critical for enabling the rapid exchange of sequence data nationally and internationally. Several regions of the genome have been proposed for this purpose, but no consensus has been reached. In the present study, two standardized genotyping protocols (region C and region D) were evaluated by nine laboratories in Canada and the United States, using a coded panel of 96 fecal specimens representing 22 different norovirus genotypes. Overall, region C typing had a success rate of 78% compared to 52% for region D; however, region D provides greater nucleotide sequence diversity for identifying new GII.4 variant strains. Significant differences in the genotyping success rate were observed among the nine participating laboratories (10% to 100%) and among the different genotypes (6% to 100%). For several genogroup II strains, reduced region D amplification correlated directly with mismatches between primer sequences and the template. Based on overall performance, we recommend the region C protocol for routine genotyping of noroviruses, while the region D protocol may be useful for identifying new GII.4 variants. Standardized genotyping protocols will enable rapid exchange of outbreak and sequence data through electronic norovirus surveillance networks.
A collection of 1,308 clinical Mycobacterium tuberculosis isolates from Ontario, Canada, was genotyped by IS6110 restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) and mycobacterial interspersed repetitive-unit-variable-number tandem-repeat (MIRU-VNTR) analysis. RFLP or >12 MIRU-VNTR loci were necessary for resolution of Indo-Oceanic strains. The low clustering rate and high strain diversity indicate that, in Ontario, most tuberculosis results from reactivation of latent infections.
The present study describes a vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) outbreak investigation and a case-control study to identify risk factors for VRE acquisition in a tertiary care pediatric hospital.
To report an outbreak investigation and a case-control study to identify risk factors for VRE colonization or infection in hospitalized children.
Screening for VRE cases was performed by culture or polymerase chain reaction. A case-control study of VRE-colonized patients was undertaken. Environmental screening was performed using standard culture and susceptibility methods, with pulsed-field gel electrophoresis to determine relationships between VRE isolates. Statistical analysis was performed using SAS version 9.0 (SAS Institute Inc, USA).
Thirty-four VRE-positive cases were identified on 10 wards between February 28, 2005, and May 27, 2005. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis analysis confirmed a single outbreak strain that was also isolated from a video game found on one affected ward. Multivariate analysis identified cephalosporin use as the major risk factor for VRE colonization.
In the present study outbreak, VRE colonization was significantly associated with cephalosporin use. Because shared recreational items and environmental surfaces may be colonized by VRE, they warrant particular attention in housekeeping protocols, particularly in pediatric institutions.
Cephalosporins; Outbreak; Pediatrics; Risk factor; VRE
Non-hormonal contraception methods have been widely used, but their effects on colonization by vaginal lactobacilli remain unclear.
To determine the association between non-hormonal contraception methods and vaginal lactobacilli on women’s reproductive health.
The cross-sectional study included 164 healthy women between 18–45 years of age. The subjects were divided into different groups on the basis of the different non-hormonal contraception methods used by them. At the postmenstrual visit (day 21 or 22 of the menstrual cycle), vaginal swabs were collected for determination of Nugent score, quantitative culture and real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) of vaginal lactobacilli. The prevalence, colony counts and 16S rRNA gene expression of the Lactobacillus strains were compared between the different groups by Chi-square and ANOVA statistical analysis methods.
A Nugent score of 0–3 was more common in the condom group (93.1%) than in the group that used an interuterine device(IUD) (75.4%), (p = 0.005). The prevalence of H2O2-producing Lactobacillus was significantly higher in the condom group (82.3%) than in the IUD group (68.2%), (p = 0.016). There was a significant difference in colony count (mean ± standard error (SE), log10colony forming unit (CFU)/ml) of H2O2-producing Lactobacillus between condom users (7.81±0.14) and IUD users (6.54±0.14), (p = 0.000). The 16S rRNA gene expression (mean ± SE, log10copies/ml) of Lactobacillus crispatus was significantly higher in the condom group (8.09±0.16) than in the IUD group (6.03±0.18), (p = 0.000).
Consistent condom use increases the colonization of Lactobacillus crispatus in the vagina and may protect against both bacterial vaginosis (BV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
The norovirus group (NVG) of caliciviruses are the etiological agents of most institutional outbreaks of gastroenteritis in North America and Europe. Identification of NVG is complicated by the non-culturable nature of this virus, and the absence of a diagnostic gold standard makes traditional evaluation of test characteristics problematic.
We evaluated 189 specimens derived from 440 acute gastroenteritis outbreaks investigated in Ontario in 2006–07. Parallel testing for NVG was performed with real-time reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT2-PCR), enzyme immunoassay (EIA) and electron microscopy (EM). Test characteristics (sensitivity and specificity) were estimated using latent class models and composite reference standard methods. The practical implications of test characteristics were evaluated using binomial probability models.
Latent class modelling estimated sensitivities of RT2-PCR, EIA, and EM as 100%, 86%, and 17% respectively; specificities were 84%, 92%, and 100%; estimates obtained using a composite reference standard were similar. If all specimens contained norovirus, RT2-PCR or EIA would be associated with > 99.9% likelihood of at least one test being positive after three specimens tested. Testing of more than 5 true negative specimens with RT2-PCR would be associated with a greater than 50% likelihood of a false positive test.
Our findings support the characterization of EM as lacking sensitivity for NVG outbreaks. The high sensitivity of RT2-PCR and EIA permit identification of NVG outbreaks with testing of limited numbers of clinical specimens. Given risks of false positive test results, it is reasonable to limit the number of specimens tested when RT2-PCR or EIA are available.
The increase in adamantine resistance in influenza A (H3N2) and the emergence of oseltamivir resistance in influenza A (H1N1) has necessitated the use of rapid methodologies to detect influenza subtype. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the CombiMatrix influenza detection system compared to the FDA approved Luminex Respiratory virus panel (RVP) assay for influenza A subtyping. Verification of the CombiMatrix influenza detection system was carried out using the Luminex RVP assay as a reference method. A limit of detection (LOD) series was performed using the Luminex and CombiMatrix systems with both influenza A H3N2 and H1N1 viruses. Seventy-five clinical specimens were used in the study. Of these, 16 were influenza A (H3N2) positive and five were influenza A (H1N1) positive. Fifty-four specimens were influenza A negative or "no call" (inconclusive) or could not be subtyped. The LOD of the Luminex RVP assay was found to be 0.3 TCID50s/mL for influenza A (H3N2) and 16 TCID50s/mL for influenza A (H1N1). The LOD of the CombiMatrix influenza detection system was 200 TCID50s/mL for influenza A (H3N2) and 16 000 TCID50s/mL for influenza A (H1N1). The sensitivity of the CombiMatrix influenza detection system was 95.2% and the specificity was 100%. The CombiMatrix influenza detection system is an effective methodology for influenza A subtype analysis, specifically in laboratories with a constrained budget or limited molecular capabilities.
The Seeplex™ TB Detection-2 assay (Rockville, MD) is a nested endpoint PCR for the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC) targets IS6110 and MPB64 that utilizes dual priming oligonucleotide technology. When used to detect the presence of MTBC DNA in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue specimens, the sensitivity and specificity of this assay is equivalent to a labor-intensive traditional endpoint PCR assay and is more sensitive than a commercial real-time PCR assay.
An updated IDI-MRSA assay version was released to address the assay's low positive predictive value (PPV). A prospective analysis of two assay versions indicated no significant improvement in the PPV. Colonization by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in 24% of patients would not have been detected if only nasal samples had been tested, as approved, by this molecular method.
The IDI-MRSA assay has a sensitivity of 96% and a specificity of 96% when used to screen patients at extranasal sites. This verification study used previously unverified swabs and was undertaken in a core medical laboratory using nonmicrobiology technologists trained in sample processing, molecular laboratory work flow, and PCR practice.
We describe a 24-h protocol for the identification of patients who are positive for vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VRE), using stool and rectal swab samples and VRE screening broth, automated DNA extraction, and real-time PCR for vanA and vanB genes. Compared to conventional screening methods, this protocol had a high sensitivity and specificity and a negative predictive value.
PknB is a member of the newly discovered eukaryotic-like protein serine/threonine kinase (PSTK) family of proteins. The pknB gene was cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli. The active recombinant protein was purified and shown to be reactive with antiphosphoserine antibodies, as well as with antibodies to the phosphorylated eukaryotic Ser/Thr kinases mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 3 and 6, P38, and Creb. In vitro kinase assays demonstrated that PknB is a functional kinase that is autophosphorylated on serine/threonine residues and is also able to phosphorylate the peptide substrate myelin basic protein. Analysis of pknB expression in Mycobacterium tuberculosis indicates the presence of pknB mRNA in (i) organisms grown in vitro in bacteriological media, (ii) a murine macrophage in vitro infection model, and (iii) in vivo alveolar macrophages from a patient with tuberculosis.
Nosocomial infection of health-care workers (HCWs) during outbreaks of respiratory infections (e.g. Influenza A H1N1 (2009)) is a significant concern for public health policy makers. World Health Organization (WHO)-defined ‘aerosol generating procedures’ (AGPs) are thought to increase the risk of aerosol transmission to HCWs, but there are presently insufficient data to quantify risk accurately or establish a hierarchy of risk-prone procedures.
This study measured the amount of H1N1 (2009) RNA in aerosols in the vicinity of H1N1 positive patients undergoing AGPs to help quantify the potential risk of transmission to HCWs. There were 99 sampling occasions (windows) producing a total of 198 May stages for analysis in the size ranges 0.86–7.3 µm. Considering stages 2 (4–7.3 µm) and 3 (0.86–4 µm) as comprising one sample, viral RNA was detected in 14 (14.1%) air samples from 10 (25.6%) patients. Twenty three air samples were collected while potential AGPs were being performed of which 6 (26.1%) contained viral RNA; in contrast, 76 May samples were collected when no WHO 2009 defined AGP was being performed of which 8 (10.5%) contained viral RNA (unadjusted OR = 2.84 (95% CI 1.11–7.24) adjusted OR = 4.31 (0.83–22.5)).
With our small sample size we found that AGPs do not significantly increase the probability of sampling an H1N1 (2009) positive aerosol (OR (95% CI) = 4.31 (0.83–22.5). Although the probability of detecting positive H1N1 (2009) positive aerosols when performing various AGPs on intensive care patients above the baseline rate (i.e. in the absence of AGPs) did not reach significance, there was a trend towards hierarchy of AGPs, placing bronchoscopy and respiratory and airway suctioning above baseline (background) values. Further, larger studies are required but these preliminary findings may be of benefit to infection control teams.
Soon after the first novel influenza A (H1N1) death was documented in Korea on August 15, 2009, prompt treatment with antiviral drugs was recommended when an infection was suspected. Free antiviral drugs were distributed to patients who met the case definition in the treatment guidelines, and patients prescribed the antiviral drugs were included in the Antiviral Drug Surveillance System (ADSS). A total of 2,825,821 patients were reported to the ADSS from September 1 to December 31, 2009. Odds ratios were calculated to compare the risks of severe diseases, as indicated by general hospital admissions or intensive care unit (ICU) admissions according to demographic characteristics, underlying medical conditions, and behavioral factors. Approximately 6% of the total population received antiviral drugs during the study period. Of these, 2,709,611 (95.9%) were outpatients, 114,840 (4.06%) were hospitalized, and 1,370 (0.05%) were admitted to the ICU. Children aged 0–9 yr accounted for 33.94% of all reported cases, whereas only 3.89% of the patients were ≥ 60 yr. The estimated incidence of novel influenza A (H1N1) during the pandemic was 5.68/100 of all reported cases. Mortality due to influenza A (H1N1) during the pandemic was 0.33/100,000, with the highest mortality of 1.31/100,000 for patients aged ≥ 60 years. Severe pandemic H1N1 influenza was associated with the presence of one or more underlying medical conditions in elderly aged ≥ 60 years and with lower economic status. Moreover, influenza A (H1N1) appeared to be age-specific in terms of mortality. Although the incidence and admission rates of influenza A (H1N1) were higher in younger age groups, fatal cases were much more likely to occur in the elderly (≥60 years). In contrast to earlier influenza A (H1N1) reports, the risks of a severe outcome were elevated among those who were underweight (body mass index < 18.5 kg/m2).
The burden of the pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza might be underestimated if detection of the virus is mandated to diagnose infection. Using an alternate approach, we propose that a much higher pandemic burden was experienced in our institution.
Consecutive patients (n = 2588) presenting to our hospital with influenza like illness (ILI) or severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) during a 1-year period (May 2009–April 2010) were prospectively recruited and tested for influenza A by real-time RT-PCR. Analysis of weekly trends showed an 11-fold increase in patients presenting with ILI/SARI during the peak pandemic period when compared with the pre-pandemic period and a significant (P<0.001) increase in SARI admissions during the pandemic period (30±15.9 admissions/week) when compared with pre-pandemic (7±2.5) and post-pandemic periods (5±3.8). However, Influenza A was detected in less than one-third of patients with ILI/SARI [699 (27.0%)]; a majority of these (557/699, 79.7%) were Pandemic (H1N1)2009 virus [A/H1N1/09]. An A/H1N1/09 positive test was correlated with shorter symptom duration prior to presentation (p = 0.03). More ILI cases tested positive for A/H1N1/09 when compared with SARI (27.4% vs. 14.6%, P = 0.037). When the entire study population was considered, A/H1N1/09 positivity was associated with lower risk of hospitalization (p<0.0001) and ICU admission (p = 0.013) suggesting mild self-limiting illness in a majority.
Analysis of weekly trends of ILI/SARI suggest a higher burden of the pandemic attributable to A/H1N1/09 than estimates assessed by a positive PCR test alone. The study highlights methodological consideration in the estimation of burden of pandemic influenza in developing countries using hospital-based data that may help assess the impact of future outbreaks of respiratory illnesses.
The traditional Serfling-type approach for influenza-like illness surveillance requires long historical time-series. We retrospectively evaluated the use of recent, short, historical time-series for recognizing the onset of community outbreaks of respiratory tract infections (RTIs).
The data used referred to the proportion of diagnoses for upper or lower RTIs to total diagnoses for house-call visits, performed by a private network of medical specialists (SOS Doctors) in the metropolitan area of Athens, Greece, between January 01, 2000 and October 12, 2008. The reference standard classification of the observations was obtained by generating epidemic thresholds after analyzing the full 9-year period. We evaluated two different alert generating methods [simple regression and cumulative sum (CUSUM), respectively], under a range of input parameters, using data for the previous running 4–6 week period. These methods were applied if the previous weeks contained non-aberrant observations.
We found that the CUSUM model with a specific set of parameters performed marginally better than simple regression for both groups. The best results (sensitivity, specificity) for simple regression and CUSUM models for upper RTIs were (1.00, 0.82) and (0.94, 0.93) respectively. Corresponding results for lower RTIs were (1.00, 0.80) and (0.93, 0.91) respectively.
Short-term data for house-call visits can be used rather reliably to identify respiratory tract outbreaks in the community using simple regression and CUSUM methods. Such surveillance models could be particularly useful when a large historical database is either unavailable or inaccurate and, thus, traditional methods are not optimal.