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1.  Use of Wild Bird Surveillance, Human Case Data and GIS Spatial Analysis for Predicting Spatial Distributions of West Nile Virus in Greece 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e96935.
West Nile Virus (WNV) is the causative agent of a vector-borne, zoonotic disease with a worldwide distribution. Recent expansion and introduction of WNV into new areas, including southern Europe, has been associated with severe disease in humans and equids, and has increased concerns regarding the need to prevent and control future WNV outbreaks. Since 2010, 524 confirmed human cases of the disease have been reported in Greece with greater than 10% mortality. Infected mosquitoes, wild birds, equids, and chickens have been detected and associated with human disease. The aim of our study was to establish a monitoring system with wild birds and reported human cases data using Geographical Information System (GIS). Potential distribution of WNV was modelled by combining wild bird serological surveillance data with environmental factors (e.g. elevation, slope, land use, vegetation density, temperature, precipitation indices, and population density). Local factors including areas of low altitude and proximity to water were important predictors of appearance of both human and wild bird cases (Odds Ratio = 1,001 95%CI = 0,723–1,386). Using GIS analysis, the identified risk factors were applied across Greece identifying the northern part of Greece (Macedonia, Thrace) western Greece and a number of Greek islands as being at highest risk of future outbreaks. The results of the analysis were evaluated and confirmed using the 161 reported human cases of the 2012 outbreak predicting correctly (Odds = 130/31 = 4,194 95%CI = 2,841–6,189) and more areas were identified for potential dispersion in the following years. Our approach verified that WNV risk can be modelled in a fast cost-effective way indicating high risk areas where prevention measures should be implemented in order to reduce the disease incidence.
PMCID: PMC4013071  PMID: 24806216
2.  Self-Reported Stomach Upset in Travellers on Cruise-Based and Land-Based Package Holidays 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e83425.
International travellers are at a risk of infectious diseases not seen in their home country. Stomach upsets are common in travellers, including on cruise ships. This study compares the incidence of stomach upsets on land- and cruise-based holidays.
A major British tour operator has administered a Customer Satisfaction Questionnaire (CSQ) to UK resident travellers aged 16 or more on return flights from their holiday abroad over many years. Data extracted from the CSQ was used to measure self-reported stomach upset in returning travellers.
From summer 2000 through winter 2008, 6,863,092 questionnaires were completed; 6.6% were from cruise passengers. A higher percentage of land-based holiday-makers (7.2%) reported stomach upset in comparison to 4.8% of cruise passengers (RR = 1.5, p<0.0005). Reported stomach upset on cruises declined over the study period (7.1% in 2000 to 3.1% in 2008, p<0.0005). Over 25% of travellers on land-based holidays to Egypt and the Dominican Republic reported stomach upset. In comparison, the highest proportion of stomach upset in cruise ship travellers were reported following cruises departing from Egypt (14.8%) and Turkey (8.8%).
In this large study of self-reported illness both demographic and holiday choice factors were shown to play a part in determining the likelihood of developing stomach upset while abroad. There is a lower cumulative incidence and declining rates of stomach upset in cruise passengers which suggest that the cruise industry has adopted operations (e.g. hygiene standards) that have reduced illness over recent years.
PMCID: PMC3888385  PMID: 24427271
3.  Medical Supplies Shortages and Burnout among Greek Health Care Workers during Economic Crisis: a Pilot Study 
Greece has been seriously affected by the economic crisis. In 2011 there were reports of 40% reduction to public hospital budgets. Occasional shortages of medical supplies have been reported in mass media. We attempted to pivotally investigate the frequency of medical supplies shortages in two Greek hospital units of the National Health System and to also assess their possible impact on burnout risk of health care workers. We conducted a cross-sectional study (n=303) of health care workers in two Greek hospitals who were present at the workplace during a casually selected working day (morning shift work). The Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) was used as the measure of burnout. An additional questionnaire was used about demographics, and working conditions (duration of employment, cumulative night shifts, type of hospital including medical supplies shortages and their impact on quality of healthcare. The prevalence of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and low personal accomplishment was 44.5%, 43.2% and 51.5%, respectively. Medical supply shortages were significantly associated with emotional exhaustion and depersonalization. This finding provides preliminary evidence that austerity has affected health care in Greece. Moreover, the medical supply shortages in Greek hospitals may reflect the unfolding humanitarian crisis of the country.
PMCID: PMC3970095  PMID: 24688306
medical supplies shortages; burnout; Maslach Burnout Inventory
4.  Organ Donation Knowledge and Attitudes among Health Science Students in Greece: Emerging Interprofessional Needs 
Background: The impact of presumed consent on donation rates has been widely debated. In June 2013 Greece adopted a 'soft' presumed consent law for organ and tissue donation, where relatives' approval is sought prior to organ removal.
Aims: To report on the knowledge, attitudes and concerns of undergraduate students, enrolled in three health science disciplines, in regards to organ donation and presumed consent.
Methods: Undergraduate junior and senior health science students [medical (MS), nursing (NS) and medical laboratory students (MLS)] were recruited from higher education settings in Thessaly, Greece. Dichotomous questions, previously used, were adopted to assess knowledge, attitudes and concerns towards organ donation, together with questions regarding the recent presumed consent legislation.
Results: Three hundred seventy-one out of 510 students participated in the study (response rate: 72.7%). Only 3.6% of NS, 8.7% of MS and 3.2% of MLS carried a donor card. Although over 78% in all groups knew that it was possible to leave kidneys for transplant after death, only 10% to 39% considered themselves well-informed. NS were more likely to consider opting-out (21.5%), followed by MLS (17.9%) and MS (10.9%). Respondents were more likely to refuse organ removal upon death when expressing one of the following views: a) opposing a system making it lawful to take kidneys from an adult who has just died, unless forbidden while alive [Odds ratio (OR) 95% Confidence Interval (CI): 2.96 (1.48-5.93), p=0.002], b) worrying about their kidneys being removed after death [OR, 95% CI: 3.37 (1.75-6.49), p=<0.001] and c) believing that an intact body was needed after death [OR, 95% CI: 4.23 (2.15-8.31), p<0.001].
Conclusion: Health science students, soon to become healthcare professionals, demonstrated limited awareness in regards to the newly reformed organ donation system. Identified knowledge deficits and concerns could have far-reaching implications in terms of conveying a clear message and shaping the public's stand. The feasibility and effectiveness of a joint inter-professional curriculum on organ and tissue donation issues across all three health science disciplines, addressing common themes and concerns deserves further study.
PMCID: PMC4003550  PMID: 24782654
organ donation; knowledge; attitudes; interprofessional; Greece
5.  Genotyping Plasmodium vivax isolates from the 2011 outbreak in Greece 
Malaria Journal  2013;12:463.
Plasmodium vivax malaria was common in Greece until the 1950s with epidemics involving thousands of cases every year. Greece was declared free of malaria by the World Health Organization in 1974. From 1974 to 2010, an average of 39 cases per year were reported, which were mainly imported. However, in 2009 and 2010 six and one autochthonous cases were reported culminating with a total of 40 autochthonous cases reported in 2011, of which 34 originated from a single region: Laconia of Southern Peloponnese. In this study the genotypic complexity of the P. vivax infections from the outbreak in Greece during 2011 is described, to elucidate the possible origin and spread of the disease.
Three polymorphic markers of P. vivax were used; Pvmsp-3α and the microsatellites m1501 and m3502 on P. vivax isolates sampled from individuals diagnosed in Greece. Thirty-nine isolates were available for this study (20 autochthonous and 19 imported), mostly from Evrotas municipality in Laconia region, in southern Greece, (n = 29), with the remaining representing sporadic cases originating from other areas of Greece.
Genotyping the Evrotas samples revealed seven different haplotypes where the majority of the P. vivax infections expressed two particular Pvmsp-3α-m1501-m3502 haplotypes, A10-128-151 (n = 14) and A10-121-142 (n = 7). These haplotypes appeared throughout the period in autochthonous and imported cases, indicating continuous transmission. In contrast, the P. vivax autochthonous cases from other parts of Greece were largely comprised of unique haplotypes, indicating limited transmission in these other areas.
The results indicate that several P. vivax strains were imported into various areas of Greece in 2011, thereby increasing the risk of re-introduction of malaria. In the region of Evrotas ongoing transmission occurred exemplifying that further control measures are urgently needed in this region of southern Europe. In circumstances where medical or travel history is scarce, methods of molecular epidemiology may prove highly useful for the correct classification of the cases.
PMCID: PMC3877964  PMID: 24373457
Outbreak; Greece; Plasmodium vivax; Genotyping; Merozoite surface protein-3α; Microsatellites
6.  West Nile Virus State of the Art Report of MALWEST Project 
During the last three years Greece is experiencing the emergence of West Nile virus (WNV) epidemics. Within this framework, an integrated surveillance and control programme (MALWEST project) with thirteen associate partners was launched aiming to investigate the disease and suggest appropriate interventions. One out of seven work packages of the project is dedicated to the State of the Art report for WNV. Three expert working groups on humans, animals and mosquitoes were established. Medical databases (PubMed, Scopus) were searched together with websites: e.g., WHO, CDC, ECDC. In total, 1,092 relevant articles were initially identified and 258 of them were finally included as references regarding the current knowledge about WNV, along with 36 additional sources (conference papers, reports, book chapters). The review is divided in three sections according to the fields of interest: (1) WNV in humans (epidemiology, molecular characteristics, transmission, diagnosis, treatment, prevention, surveillance); (2) WNV in animals (epidemiological and transmission characteristics concerning birds, horses, reptiles and other animal species) and (3) WNV in mosquitoes (control, surveillance). Finally, some examples of integrated surveillance programmes are presented. The introduction and establishment of the disease in Greece and other European countries further emphasizes the need for thorough research and broadening of our knowledge on this viral pathogen.
PMCID: PMC3881129  PMID: 24317379
West Nile virus; Greece; surveillance; control; epidemiology; diagnosis; mosquito; bird; risk assessment; GIS
7.  Vaccination against human papillomavirus among 865 female students from the health professions in central Greece: a questionnaire-based cross-sectional study 
There are still sparse data on vaccination coverage against human papillomavirus (HPV) among students in the health professions. The aim of this study was to investigate HPV vaccination coverage in female students from the health professions in Greece.
A self-administered, anonymous questionnaire was distributed to second-year and third-year female students pursuing degrees in medicine, nursing, and paramedical health disciplines in central Greece.
Overall vaccination coverage was 44.3%. The major reason for lack of vaccination was fear about safety of the vaccine. Participants who had received information about safety of the vaccine from the mass media and paramedical students had lower vaccination coverage in comparison with students who had received information about vaccine safety from alternative sources.
Further quantitative and qualitative research is needed to design educational activities targeting female students in the health professions in order to create a positive domino effect and improve HPV vaccination coverage levels in Greece.
PMCID: PMC3855014  PMID: 24324338
human papillomavirus; vaccination; coverage; students; health professions; mass media; Greece
8.  Activin A and Follistatin as Biomarkers for Ectopic Pregnancy and Missed Abortion 
Disease markers  2013;35(5):497-503.
Activin A as a predictor of pregnancy failure has been the focus of heated debate, but the value of a combined activin A and follistatin (FS) measurement in serum to predict pregnancy failure has not been reported yet. We assessed whether a single serum measurement of the two physiological antagonists at 6–8 weeks gestation could differentiate ectopic pregnancies (EP) or missed abortions (MA) from healthy intrauterine pregnancies (IUP). activin A concentrations were significantly lower in women with EP (n = 30, median value of 264 pg/mL) and women with MA (n = 30, median value of 350 pg/mL) compared to IUP (n = 33, median value of 788 pg/mL); P < 0.001. At a threshold value of 505 pg/mL, activin A had 87.9% sensitivity and 100% specificity and negative predictive value of 0.974 for discriminating an ectopic pregnancy from viable pregnancies. FS was able to discriminate IUP from EP (ROC curve P < 0.001) as was their ratio (ROC curve P = 0.008), but was unable to discriminate a MA from an EP. In EP, activin A did not correlate with beta HCG levels. The present findings support the thesis that activin A or FS could be considered promising biomarkers for the discrimination between an IUP and a failed pregnancy (MA or EP).
PMCID: PMC3814079  PMID: 24222717
9.  Evaluation of underreporting of salmonellosis and shigellosis hospitalised cases in Greece, 2011: results of a capture-recapture study and a hospital registry review 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:875.
Salmonellosis and shigellosis are mandatorily notifiable diseases in Greece. Underreporting of both diseases has been postulated but there has not been any national study to quantify it. The objective of this study was to: a) estimate underreporting of hospitalised cases at public Greek hospitals in 2011 with a capture-recapture (C-RC) study, b) evaluate the accuracy of this estimation, c) investigate the possible impact of specific factors on notification rates, and d) estimate community incidence of both diseases.
The mandatory notification system database and the database of the National Reference Laboratory for Salmonella and Shigella (NRLSS) were used in the C-RC study. The estimated total number of cases was compared with the actual number found by using the hospital records of the microbiological laboratories. Underreporting was also estimated by patients’ age-group, sex, type of hospital, region and month of notification. Assessment of the community incidence was based on the extrapolation of the hospitalisation rate of the diseases in Europe.
The estimated underreporting of salmonellosis and shigellosis cases through the C-RC study was 47.7% and 52.0%, respectively. The reporting rate of salmonellosis significantly varied between the thirteen regions of the country from 8.3% to 95.6% (median: 28.4%). Age and sex were not related to the probability of reporting. The notification rate did not significantly differ between urban and rural areas, however, large university hospitals had a higher underreporting rate than district hospitals (p-value < 0.001). The actual underreporting, based on the hospital records review, was close to the estimated via the C-RC study; 52.8% for salmonellosis and 58.4% for shigellosis. The predicted community incidence of salmonellosis ranged from 312 to 936 and of shigellosis from 35 to 104 cases per 100,000 population.
Underreporting was higher than that reported by other countries and factors associated with underreporting should be further explored. C-RC analysis seems to be a useful tool for the assessment of the underreporting of hospitalised cases. National data on underreporting and under-ascertainment rate are needed for assessing the accuracy of the estimation of the community burden of the diseases.
PMCID: PMC3848891  PMID: 24060206
Completeness; Evaluation; Underreporting; Surveillance; Capture recapture; Salmonella; Shigella
10.  Interleukin-15 (IL-15) and Anti-C1q Antibodies as Serum Biomarkers for Ectopic Pregnancy and Missed Abortion 
Given the present lack of clinically useful tests for the accurate diagnosis of ectopic pregnancy (EP), there is a need to select out those immunological factors measured in the maternal serum, as potential biomarkers. Our assumption was that C1q/anti-C1q antibody complexes and serum levels of interleukin-15 (IL-15) may play a role in differentiating abortions (MAs) and EPs and normal pregnancies. We assessed whether their measurement could set the diagnosis in a case control study at 6–8 weeks consisting of 60 women with failed early pregnancy (30 EPs, 30 MAs) and 33 women with intrauterine pregnancies. Normal pregnancies contain anti-C1q antibodies more frequently compared to women with failed pregnancies, the lowest levels being found in EPs, but this lacked statistical significance and anti-C1q could not serve as a marker. However EP pregnancies had elevated IL-15 levels that could statistically significantly differentiate them from MAs and IUPs. Furthermore, when assessing IL-15 for the clinically important differentiation between IUP and EP, we found at a cut-off of 16 pg/mL a negative predictive value of 99 with a sensitivity for diagnosing an EP of 92%. According to these results, serum IL-15 is a promising marker differentiating an MA from an EP.
PMCID: PMC3562602  PMID: 23401701
11.  Time Trends in Pediatric Hospitalizations for Varicella Infection Are Associated with Climatic Changes: A 22-Year Retrospective Study in a Tertiary Greek Referral Center 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e52016.
The transmission rate of air-borne infectious diseases may vary secondary to climate conditions. The study assessed time trends in the seasonality of hospitalized varicella cases in a temperate region in relation to climatic parameters prior to the implementation of universal varicella immunization.
A retrospective descriptive study was conducted among all pediatric and adolescent varicella patients (n = 2366) hospitalized at the “Aghia Sophia” Children's Hospital during 1982–2003 in Athens, Greece. Date of infection was computed based on hospital admission date. Seasonal and monthly trends in the epidemiology of varicella infection were assessed with time series analysis (ARIMA modeling procedure). The correlation between the frequency of varicella patients and the meteorological parameters was examined by the application of Generalized Linear Models with Gamma distribution.
During 1982–2003, the occurrence of hospitalized varicella cases increased during summer (p = 0.025) and decreased during autumn (p = 0.021), and particularly in September (p = 0.003). The frequency of hospitalized varicella cases was inversely associated with air temperature (p<0.001). In contrast, the occurrence of hospitalized varicella cases was positively associated with wind speed (p = 0.009).
Pediatric hospitalizations for varicella infection rates have increased during summer and decreased during autumn in the examined temperate region. Time trends in hospitalized varicella cases are associated with climatic variables.
PMCID: PMC3532345  PMID: 23284855
12.  Hepatitis A Virus Infection and the Waste Handling Industry: A Seroprevalence Study 
Waste collectors have a theoretical risk of Hepatitis A virus infection. The aim of the study was to assess the prevalence and risk factors of hepatitis A virus infection (HAV) among municipal solid waste workers (MSWWs) in a municipality of central Greece. A seroprevalence study of HAV was conducted among 208 employees (100 waste collectors and 108 municipal gardeners) of a municipality in central Greece. Total antibodies against HAV were measured and information regarding potential risk factors was collected through a face to face interview. The prevalence of HAV infection among the municipal waste collectors was 61% vs. 27% among municipal gardeners. Logistic regression analysis showed that exposure to waste (OR = 2.87; 95% CI = 1.24–6.62) and age (OR = 22.57; 95% CI = 7.29–69.88) were independently associated with the anti-HAV positivity. Moreover, waste collectors who reported smoking/drinking/eating during waste collection were at higher risk of HAV infection (RR = 2.84; 95% CI = 1.73–4.63). Stratified analysis among municipal waste collectors indicated an independent association between eating/smoking/drinking during waste collection and anti-HAV (+) (OR = 3.85; 95% CI = 1.34–11.06). Occupational exposure to waste is a potential risk factor for HAV infection. Smoking/eating/drinking during waste collection could be the mode of hepatitis A virus transmission among municipal waste collectors.
PMCID: PMC3546774  PMID: 23222205
hepatitis A infection; municipal solid waste workers; occupational exposure
13.  A dedicated surveillance network for congenital toxoplasmosis in Greece, 2006-2009: assessment of the results 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:1019.
Toxoplasmosis is caused by infection with the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii. Acute infections in pregnant women may be transmitted to the fetus and cause severe illness. The purpose of this study was to establish a dedicated surveillance network (DSN) for congenital toxoplasmosis (CT) in Greece, in order to assess the birth prevalence of CT.
A DSN of thirty clinicians was established for reporting CT cases from hospitals throughout Greece. The clinicians were selected on the basis that there was a high possibility the suspected cases would be referred to them from district hospitals or private clinics. Suspected cases of CT were reported on a monthly basis with a zero reporting card during a surveillance period from April 2006 to December 2009. A questionnaire was sent for any suspected case to record information including demographic parameters, clinical signs and symptoms and laboratory results. Serological and molecular confirmation of cases was performed by the Pasteur Hellenic Institute. All newborns suspected of CT received treatment and were serologically and clinically followed up for one year.
The monthly response rate reached 100%, although only after reminders sent to 65% of the participant physicians. Sixty-three suspected CT cases were recorded by the DSN during the study period including fourteen confirmed and seven probable cases. Ten cases (47.6%) presented with symptoms at birth. Chorioretinitis was the most prominent manifestation, occurring in five symptomatic CT cases (50%). No other symptoms appeared by the end of the one year clinical follow up. No case was recorded by the existing surveillance system of the Hellenic Center of Disease Control and Prevention (HCDCP) during the same time period. Birth prevalence was estimated at 0.45, 0.51 and 0.51 per 10,000 births for 2007, 2008 and 2009 respectively. The incidence rate of symptomatic CT at birth was estimated at 0.10 cases per 10,000 births per year in Greece (for the period 2007–2009).
The DSN for CT proved to be more sensitive than the classical notification system, easy in application and very efficient in reporting rare diseases such as CT. Similar DSNs could be used to provide useful information on other rare diseases.
PMCID: PMC3533839  PMID: 23173875
Congenital Toxoplasmosis; Surveillance Network; Greece
14.  Risk Factors of Antibiotic Misuse for Upper Respiratory Tract Infections in Children: Results from a Cross-Sectional Knowledge-Attitude-Practice Study in Greece 
ISRN Pediatrics  2012;2012:685302.
Background. Upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) are common in children. The cause of URTIs is usually viral, but parents' attitudes often contribute to inappropriate prescription of antibiotics, promoting antibiotic resistance. The objective of this study was to identify possible risk factors associated with antibiotic misuse in Greece, a country with high levels of antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance. Methods. A knowledge-attitude-practice (KAP) questionnaire was developed and distributed to Greek parents caring for children who were 5-6 years old, between January and July of the same school year. Results. The sample of the study contained 5312 parents from all geographic areas of Greece. The risk factors of being a father, having low education, having immigrant status, being a single parent, having low income, having <2 or >3 children, living in the islands, and being without experience in recurrent URTIs were significantly associated to inadequate knowledge, inappropriate attitudes, and wrong practices. Conclusions. This study has identified the main groups of parents that should be targeted in future intervention programs.
PMCID: PMC3503327  PMID: 23209933
15.  Pertussis Epidemiology in Greece and Emerging Risk Groups during the Vaccination Era (1980–2008) 
To study the epidemiology of pertussis in Greece and epidemiologic changes throughout a period of twenty-nine years, we conducted a retrospective analysis of available data of pertussis cases for the past twenty-nine years (1980–2008) and a prospective analysis of hospitalized pertussis cases from a children's hospital in Athens for eight years (2001–2008). From 1980 through 2008, the incidence of pertussis in Greece declined from 11.2 to 0.05 cases per 100,000. Epidemic cycles occurring every 3 to 5 years were observed. Since pertussis circulation cannot be fully controlled by present immunization programs, efforts should be made to vaccinate infants at the recommended age, early diagnose, treatment as well as contact tracing of pertussis cases. Control of pertussis in social susceptible populations is necessary. A national program with adolescent and adult booster could decrease the circulation of B. pertussis. Despite an overall decrease for pertussis cases, pertussis is still a present and future challenge of public health service in Greece.
PMCID: PMC3457588  PMID: 23019527
17.  Cumulative keyboard strokes: a possible risk factor for carpal tunnel syndrome 
Contradictory reports have been published regarding the association of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) and the use of computer keyboard. Previous studies did not take into account the cumulative exposure to keyboard strokes among computer workers. The aim of the present study was to investigate the association between cumulative keyboard use (keyboard strokes) and CTS.
Employees (461) from a Governmental data entry & processing unit agreed to participate (response rate: 84.1 %) in a cross-sectional study. Α questionnaire was distributed to the participants to obtain information on socio-demographics and risk factors for CTS. The participants were examined for signs and symptoms related to CTS and were asked if they had previous history or surgery for CTS. The cumulative amount of the keyboard strokes per worker per year was calculated by the use of payroll’s registry. Two case definitions for CTS were used. The first included subjects with personal history/surgery for CTS while the second included subjects that belonged to the first case definition plus those participants were identified through clinical examination.
Multivariate analysis used for both case definitions, indicated that those employees with high cumulative exposure to keyboard strokes were at increased risk of CTS (case definition A: OR = 2.23;95 % CI = 1.09-4.52 and case definition B: OR = 2.41; 95%CI = 1.36-4.25). A dose response pattern between cumulative exposure to keyboard strokes and CTS has been revealed (p < 0.001).
The present study indicated a possible association between cumulative exposure to keyboard strokes and development of CTS. Cumulative exposure to key-board strokes would be taken into account as an exposure indicator regarding exposure assessment of computer workers. Further research is needed in order to test the results of the current study and assess causality between cumulative keyboard strokes and development of CT.
PMCID: PMC3480831  PMID: 22856674
18.  Respiratory tract mortality in cement workers: a proportionate mortality study 
The evidence regarding the association between lung cancer and occupational exposure to cement is controversial. This study investigated causes of deaths from cancer of respiratory tract among cement workers.
The deaths of the Greek Cement Workers Compensation Scheme were analyzed covering the period 1969-1998. All respiratory, lung, laryngeal and urinary bladder cancer proportionate mortality were calculated for cement production, maintenance, and office workers in the cement industry. Mortality from urinary bladder cancer was used as an indirect indicator of the confounding effect of smoking.
Mortality from all respiratory cancer was significantly increased in cement production workers (PMR = 1.91; 95% CI 1.54 to 2.33). The proportionate mortality from lung cancer was significantly elevated (PMR = 2.05; 95% CI 1.65 to 2.52). A statistically significant increase in proportionate mortality due to respiratory (PMR = 1.7; 95% CI 1.2 to 2.34). and lung cancer (PMR = 1.67;95% CI = 1.15-2.34) among maintenance workers has been observed. The PMR among the three groups of workers (production, maintenance, office) did differ significantly for lung cancer (p = 0.001), while the PMR for urinary bladder cancer found to be similar among the three groups of cement workers.
Cement production, and maintenance workers presented increased lung and respiratory cancer proportionate mortality, and this finding probably cannot be explained by the confounding effect of smoking alone. Further research including use of prospective cohort studies is needed in order to establish a causal association between occupational exposure to cement and risk of lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC3425084  PMID: 22738120
19.  Seroprevalence of IgG Antibodies against Echinococcus granulosus in the Population of the Region of Thessaly, Central Greece 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e37112.
Echinococcosis notification rate in Greece, based on the most recent data, is below 0.25 per 100,000 population. To further investigate the epidemiology of echinococcosis in Greece a study was designed to determine the seroprevalence of Echinococcus granulosus antibodies in the population of Thessaly, Central Greece. Five hundred and forty two left over blood samples in Thessaly laboratories, were collected using a stratified convenient sampling procedure. Samples were analyzed with enzyme linked immunosorbent assay. The seropositivity found was 1.1%(95% C.I., 0.5–2.5), with 5 out of 6 seropositive results to be in the age group of over 65 (OR = 17.95, 95%CI 2.04–157.11, p value 0.009). Rural residence was also found as a risk factor to seropositivity (RR = 7.60, 95% CI 0.89–64.64, p value 0.039). Surveillance data and our study results converge that echinococcosis is being reduced in Greece, with older population to be affected mostly. These might be due to the disease transmission restriction, by the control measures being implemented. Efforts should be continued, in both animals and humans side, by increasing training campaigns and public awareness.
PMCID: PMC3355142  PMID: 22615913
20.  Elevated Bathing-Associated Disease Risks Despite Certified Water Quality: A Cohort Study 
Bacteriological water quality criteria have been recommended to ensure bathers’ health. However, this risk-assessment approach is based mainly on routine measurements of fecal pollution indicator bacteria in seawater, and may not be adequate to protect bathers effectively. The aim of this study was to assess the risks of symptoms related to infectious diseases among bathers after exposure to seawater which was of excellent quality according to EU guidelines. This study is a cohort study recruiting bathers and non-bathers. Water samples were collected for estimating bacterial indicators. Univariable and multivariable analysis was performed to compare the risks of developing symptoms/diseases between bathers and non-bathers. A total of 3805 bathers and 572 non-bathers were included in the study. Water analysis results demonstrated excellent quality of bathing water. Significantly increased risks of symptoms related to gastrointestinal infections (OR = 3.60, 95% CI 1.28–10.13), respiratory infections (OR = 1.92, 95% CI 1.00–3.67), eye infections (OR = 2.43, 95% CI 1.27–4.63) and ear infections (OR = 17.21, 95% CI 2.42–122.34) were observed among bathers compared with non-bathers. Increased rates of medical consultation and medication use were also observed among bathers. There was evidence that bathers experienced increased morbidity compared with non-bathers though the bathing waters met bacteriological water quality criteria. These results suggest that risk assessments of recreational seawaters should not only focus on bacteriological water quality criteria.
PMCID: PMC3386571  PMID: 22754456
bacterial indicators; bathers; health effects; recreational water; swimming; sea-water quality
21.  Tobacco Use, Exposure to Secondhand Smoke, and Cessation Counseling Among Health Professions Students: Greek Data from the Global Health Professions Student Survey (GHPSS). 
We conducted the GHPSS (Global Health Professions Student Survey) to obtain information regarding health profession students’ smoking habits and perceptions, exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS) as well as level of knowledge and training on tobacco use and smoking cessation counseling. GHPSS is a survey for third-year students in the following fields: health visitors, dentistry, medicine, nursing and/or pharmacy. The highest tobacco use prevalence rate and exposure to SHS were recorded among health visitor students with 46.4% and 33.3% respectively. The majority of the respondents believed that their profession serves as a role model for their patients. Formal training on cessation counseling ranged between 10.7% for health visitor students to 22.4% for nursing students. The relatively high percentage of health profession students who currently smoke and the alarmingly high percentage of those exposed to SHS indicate lack of concerted efforts for implementation and effective enforcement of the anti-tobacco policy measures. Despite its significance, formal training on cessation counseling for students is strikingly low. These results indicate the urgent need to train health professional students on tobacco cessation counseling and educate them on the dangers of tobacco use, SHS and the positively influential role they can play to affect their patients’ smoking habits.
PMCID: PMC3315079  PMID: 22470295
tobacco; smoking; prevalence; students; secondhand smoke; health profession; cessation; survey
22.  Prognostic factors related to sequelae in childhood bacterial meningitis: Data from a Greek meningitis registry 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:214.
Bacterial meningitis (BM) is a life-threatening disease, often related with serious complications and sequelae. Infants and children who survive bacterial meningitis often suffer neurological and other sequelae.
A total of 2,477 patients aged 1 month to 14 years old hospitalized in a Children's Hospital in Greece diagnosed with acute bacterial meningitis were collected through a Meningitis Registry, from 1974 to 2005. Clinical, laboratory and other parameters (sex, age, pathogen, duration of symptoms before and after admission) were evaluated through univariate and multivariate analysis with regard to sequelae. Analysis of acute complications were also studied but not included in the final model.
The rate of acute complications (arthritis and/or subdural effusion) was estimated at 6.8% (152 out of 2,251 patients, 95%CI 5.8-7.9) while the rate of sequelae (severe hearing loss, ventriculitis, hydrocephalus or seizure disorder) among survivors was estimated at 3.3% (73 out of 2,207 patients, 95%CI 2.6-4.2). Risk factors on admission associated with sequelae included seizures, absence of hemorrhagic rash, low CSF glucose, high CSF protein and the etiology of meningitis. A combination of significant prognostic factors including presence of seizures, low CSF glucose, high CSF protein, positive blood culture and absence of petechiae on admission presented an absolute risk of sequelae of 41.7% (95%CI 15.2-72.3).
A combination of prognostic factors of sequelae in childhood BM may be of value in selecting patients for more intensive therapy and in identifying possible candidates for new treatment strategies.
PMCID: PMC3166933  PMID: 21827712
23.  Descriptive Study on Parents’ Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices on Antibiotic Use and Misuse in Children with Upper Respiratory Tract Infections in Cyprus 
Upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) are common in children and represent a significant cause of antibiotic abuse which contributes to the development of antibiotic resistance. A survey was conducted in Cyprus in 2006 to assess parents’ and pediatricians’ Knowledge, Attitude and Practices (KAP) concerning the role of antibiotics in children with URTIs. A school-based stratified geographic clustering sampling was used and a pre-tested KAP questionnaire was distributed. A different questionnaire was distributed to paediatricians. Demographic factors associated with antibiotic misuse were identified by backward logistic regression analysis. The parental overall response rate was 69.3%. Parents (N = 1,462) follow pediatricians advice and rarely administer antibiotics acquired over the counter. Although a third expects an antibiotic prescription for URTI symptoms, most deny pressuring their doctors. Low parental education was the most important independent risk factor positively related to antibiotic misuse (OR = 2.88, 95%CI 2.02 to 4.12, p < 0.001). Pediatricians (N = 33) denied prescribing antibiotics after parental pressure but admit that parents ask for antibiotics and believe they expect antibiotic prescriptions even when not needed. In conclusion, Cypriotic parents trust their primary care providers. Although it appears that antibiotic misuse is not driven by parental pressure, the pediatricians’ view differs.
PMCID: PMC3166740  PMID: 21909304
antibiotics; bacterial resistance; KAP study; knowledge; attitudes; practices; antibiotic overuse; antibiotic misuse; questionnaire; parents
24.  Antibiotic use for upper respiratory tract infections in children: A cross-sectional survey of knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP) of parents in Greece 
BMC Pediatrics  2011;11:60.
Upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) are common in children. The cause of URTIs is usually viral, but parents' attitudes often contribute to inappropriate prescription of antibiotics, promoting antibiotic resistance. The objective of this study was to document and analyse parental beliefs on antibiotic use for children with URTIs in Greece, a country with high levels of antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance.
A knowledge-attitude-practice questionnaire was developed and distributed to Greek parents caring for children who were 5-6 years old, between January and July of the same school year. The sample of the study contained parents from all geographic areas of Greece.
The majority of Greek parents (80%) believed that UTRIs are mostly self-limited, although 74% of them expected to receive antibiotics when such a diagnosis was given. Earache was the most common reason for which parents expected antibiotics (45%). Greek parents rarely gave antibiotics to their children without medical advice (10%) and most (88%) believed that unnecessary antibiotic use drives antibiotic resistance and they were happy to receive symptomatic therapy if instructed by their physician. Almost 70% of parents confused antibiotics with other medicines used for symptomatic therapy for a child with URTI.
Greek parents have a trusted relationship with their paediatrician and rarely give antibiotics without medical advice, indicating that parents contribute less than expected to antibiotic misuse. Parents also appreciate the benign course of most URTIs and the fact that unnecessary antibiotic use is harmful. More time needs to be invested in educating mostly physicians on the potential benefit from reducing antibiotic prescribing for children with URTI.
PMCID: PMC3141508  PMID: 21729266
25.  Pesticide exposure and lymphohaematopoietic cancers: a case-control study in an agricultural region (Larissa, Thessaly, Greece) 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:5.
The causality of lymphohaematopoietic cancers (LHC) is multifactorial and studies investigating the association between chemical exposure and LHC have produced variable results. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationships between exposure to pesticides and LHC in an agricultural region of Greece.
A structured questionnaire was employed in a hospital-based case control study to gather information on demographics, occupation, exposure to pesticides, agricultural practices, family and medical history and smoking. To control for confounders, backward conditional and multinomial logistic regression analyses were used. To assess the dose-response relationship between exposure and disease, the chi-square test for trend was used.
Three hundred and fifty-four (354) histologically confirmed LHC cases diagnosed from 2004 to 2006 and 455 sex- and age-matched controls were included in the study. Pesticide exposure was associated with total LHC cases (OR 1.46, 95% CI 1.05-2.04), myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) (OR 1.87, 95% CI 1.00-3.51) and leukaemia (OR 2.14, 95% CI 1.09-4.20). A dose-response pattern was observed for total LHC cases (P = 0.004), MDS (P = 0.024) and leukaemia (P = 0.002). Pesticide exposure was independently associated with total LHC cases (OR 1.41, 95% CI 1.00 - 2.00) and leukaemia (OR 2.05, 95% CI 1.02-4.12) after controlling for age, smoking and family history (cancers, LHC and immunological disorders). Smoking during application of pesticides was strongly associated with total LHC cases (OR 3.29, 95% CI 1.81-5.98), MDS (OR 3.67, 95% CI 1.18-12.11), leukaemia (OR 10.15, 95% CI 2.15-65.69) and lymphoma (OR 2.72, 95% CI 1.02-8.00). This association was even stronger for total LHC cases (OR 18.18, 95% CI 2.38-381.17) when eating simultaneously with pesticide application.
Lymphohaematopoietic cancers were associated with pesticide exposure after controlling for confounders. Smoking and eating during pesticide application were identified as modifying factors increasing the risk for LHC. The poor pesticide work practices identified during this study underline the need for educational campaigns for farmers.
PMCID: PMC3022699  PMID: 21205298

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