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1.  Considerations on the Current Universal Vaccination Policy against Hepatitis A in Greece after Recent Outbreaks 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(1):e0116939.
Greece is the only European Union member state that in 2008 included hepatitis A (HAV) vaccine in the routine national childhood immunization program (NCIP). Given that the resources allocated to public health have dramatically decreased since 2008 and that Greece is a low endemicity country for the disease, the benefit from universal vaccination has been questioned. The aim of this paper is to summarize the available epidemiological data of the disease for 1982-2013, and discuss the effects of universal vaccination on disease morbidity. Descriptive analysis, ARIMA modeling and time series intervention analysis were conducted using surveillance data of acute HAV. A decreasing trend of HAV notification rate over the years was identified (p<0.001). However, universal vaccination (~ 80% vaccine coverage of children) had no significant effect on the annual number of reported cases (p = 0.261) and has resulted to a progressive increase of the average age of infection in the general population. The mean age of cases before the inclusion of the vaccine to NCIP (24.1 years, SD = 1.5) was significantly lower than the mean age of cases after 2008 (31.7 years, SD = 2.1) (p<0.001). In the last decade, one third of all reported cases were Roma (a population accounting for 1.5% of the country’s total population) and in 2013 three outbreaks with 16, 9 and 25 Roma cases respectively, were recorded, indicating the decreased effectiveness of the current immunization strategy in this group. Data suggest that universal vaccination may need to be re-considered. Probably a more cost effective approach would be to implement a program that will include: a) vaccination of high risk groups, b) universal vaccination of Roma children and improving conditions at Roma camps, c) education of the population and travel advice, and d) enhancement of the control measures to increase safety of shellfish and other foods.
PMCID: PMC4295885  PMID: 25590132
2.  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
3.  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

Results 1-3 (3)