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2.  Adverse Respiratory Symptoms and Environmental Exposures Among Children and Adolescents Following Hurricane Katrina 
Public Health Reports  2011;126(6):853-860.
Children and adolescents are especially vulnerable to environmental exposures and their respiratory effects. Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, residents experienced multiple adverse environmental exposures. We characterized the association between upper respiratory symptoms (URS) and lower respiratory symptoms (LRS) and environmental exposures among children and adolescents affected by Hurricane Katrina.
We conducted a cross-sectional study following the return of the population to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina (October 2005 and February 2006) among a convenience sample of children and adolescents attending New Orleans health facilities. We used uni-, bi-, and multivariable analyses to describe participants, exposures, and associations with URS/LRS.
Of 1,243 participants, 47% were Caucasian, 50% were male, and 72% were younger than 11 years of age. Multiple environmental exposures were identified during and after the storm and at current residences: roof/glass/storm damage (50%), outside mold (22%), dust (18%), and flood damage (15%). Self-reported URS and LRS (76% and 36%, respectively) were higher after the hurricane than before the hurricane (22% and 9%, respectively, p<0.0001). Roof/glass/storm damage at home was associated with URS (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.59, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.15, 2.21) and LRS (AOR=1.35, 95% CI 1.01, 1.80), while mold growth at home was associated with LRS (AOR=1.47, 95% CI 1.02, 2.12).
Children and adolescents affected by Hurricane Katrina experienced environmental exposures associated with increased prevalence of reported URS and LRS. Additional research is needed to investigate the long-term health impacts of Hurricane Katrina.
PMCID: PMC3185321  PMID: 22043101
3.  Geostatistical Model-Based Estimates of Schistosomiasis Prevalence among Individuals Aged ≤20 Years in West Africa 
Schistosomiasis is a water-based disease that is believed to affect over 200 million people with an estimated 97% of the infections concentrated in Africa. However, these statistics are largely based on population re-adjusted data originally published by Utroska and colleagues more than 20 years ago. Hence, these estimates are outdated due to large-scale preventive chemotherapy programs, improved sanitation, water resources development and management, among other reasons. For planning, coordination, and evaluation of control activities, it is essential to possess reliable schistosomiasis prevalence maps.
We analyzed survey data compiled on a newly established open-access global neglected tropical diseases database (i) to create smooth empirical prevalence maps for Schistosoma mansoni and S. haematobium for individuals aged ≤20 years in West Africa, including Cameroon, and (ii) to derive country-specific prevalence estimates. We used Bayesian geostatistical models based on environmental predictors to take into account potential clustering due to common spatially structured exposures. Prediction at unobserved locations was facilitated by joint kriging.
Principal Findings
Our models revealed that 50.8 million individuals aged ≤20 years in West Africa are infected with either S. mansoni, or S. haematobium, or both species concurrently. The country prevalence estimates ranged between 0.5% (The Gambia) and 37.1% (Liberia) for S. mansoni, and between 17.6% (The Gambia) and 51.6% (Sierra Leone) for S. haematobium. We observed that the combined prevalence for both schistosome species is two-fold lower in Gambia than previously reported, while we found an almost two-fold higher estimate for Liberia (58.3%) than reported before (30.0%). Our predictions are likely to overestimate overall country prevalence, since modeling was based on children and adolescents up to the age of 20 years who are at highest risk of infection.
We present the first empirical estimates for S. mansoni and S. haematobium prevalence at high spatial resolution throughout West Africa. Our prediction maps allow prioritizing of interventions in a spatially explicit manner, and will be useful for monitoring and evaluation of schistosomiasis control programs.
Author Summary
Schistosomiasis is a parasitic disease caused by a blood fluke that mainly occurs in Africa. Current prevalence estimates of schistosomiasis are based on historical data, and hence might be outdated due to control programs, improved sanitation, and water resources development and management (e.g., construction of large dams and irrigation systems). To help planning, coordination, and evaluation of control activities, reliable schistosomiasis prevalence estimates are needed. We analyzed compiled survey data from 1980 onwards for West Africa, including Cameroon, focusing on individuals aged ≤20 years. Bayesian geostatistical models were implemented based on environmental and climatic predictors to take into account potential spatial clustering within the data. We created the first smooth data-driven prevalence maps for Schistosoma mansoni and S. haematobium at high spatial resolution throughout West Africa. We found that an estimated 50.8 million West Africans aged ≤20 years are infected with schistosome blood flukes. Country prevalence estimates ranged between 0.5% (in The Gambia) and 37.1% (in Liberia) for S. mansoni and between 17.6% (in The Gambia) and 51.6% (in Sierra Leone) for S. haematobium. Our results allow prioritization of areas where interventions are needed, and to monitor and evaluate the impact of control activities.
PMCID: PMC3114755  PMID: 21695107
4.  Characteristics of Pesticide-Related Hospitalizations, Louisiana, 1998–2007 
Public Health Reports  2010;125(3):457-467.
Pesticides are widely used on agricultural crops and in homes, workplaces, and public spaces. Exposure to pesticides can cause acute and chronic health effects. We analyzed data from the Louisiana Hospital Inpatient Discharge Database from 1998 through 2007 to characterize hospitalizations involving pesticides.
Data for the study period consisted of 384 pesticide-related hospitalizations. We used demographic information and diagnosis codes for analysis.
Males consistently had higher hospitalization rates than females (p=0.0073). Children aged 0–4 years had the highest pesticide-related hospitalization rate of all age groups (2.69 hospitalizations per 100,000); children aged 5–9 years had the lowest rate (0.36 hospitalizations per 100,000). Compared with adults, children had a higher rate of disinfectant exposure (15% vs. 5%; odds ratio [OR] = 3.41, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.61, 7.21; p=0.0008) and rodenticide exposure (14% vs. 2%; OR=8.55, 95% CI 3.07, 23.78; p<0.0001). Rural parishes (counties) were more likely than urban parishes to have higher pesticide hospitalization rates (OR=4.72, 95% CI 2.34, 9.54; p<0.0001). Intentional poisonings accounted for 27% of cases. Only eight cases were coded as work-related.
Analyzing pesticide-related hospitalization data provides important information about some of the most severe pesticide poisoning cases. Significant findings include the elevated rate of hospitalizations among young children and men, and the large proportion of self-inflicted poisonings. Health departments and health-care providers may use these findings to target outreach and prevention activities.
PMCID: PMC2848271  PMID: 20433041
5.  West Nile Virus Economic Impact, Louisiana, 2002 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2004;10(10):1736-1744.
2002 WNV epidemic in Louisiana incurred substantial short-term economic costs
West Nile virus (WNV) is transmitted by mosquitoes and can cause illness in humans ranging from mild fever to encephalitis. In 2002, a total of 4,156 WNV cases were reported in the United States; 329 were in Louisiana. To estimate the economic impact of the 2002 WNV epidemic in Louisiana, we collected data from hospitals, a patient questionnaire, and public offices. Hospital charges were converted to economic costs by using Medicare cost-to-charge ratios. The estimated cost of the Louisiana epidemic was $20.1 million from June 2002 to February 2003, including a $10.9 million cost of illness ($4.4 million medical and $6.5 million nonmedical costs) and a $9.2 million cost of public health response. These data indicate a substantial short-term cost of the WNV disease epidemic in Louisiana.
PMCID: PMC3323281  PMID: 15504258
West Nile virus; cost of illness; hospital costs; disease outbreaks; perspective
6.  West Nile Epidemic in Louisiana in 2002 
The Ochsner Journal  2003;5(3):13-15.
In 2002, 329 cases of West Nile illness were reported in Louisiana, including 204 cases of West Nile meningoencephalitis and 125 cases of West Nile fever. Clinical presentation of meningoencephalitis or of West Nile fever was confirmed serologically. There were 24 deaths. Age group distribution showed predominance among persons aged 45 years or older. The epidemic curve, based on date of diagnosis, showed numerous foci progressing in successive waves. The first cases occurred in mid-June. A peak was reached by the first week of August, after which the epidemic progressively subsided.
PMCID: PMC3111823  PMID: 21765763

Results 1-6 (6)