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1.  Efficacy of human rotavirus vaccine against severe gastroenteritis in Malawian children in the first two years of life: a randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled trial 
Vaccine  2012;30(0 1):A36-A43.
Rotavirus gastroenteritis is a major cause of morbidity and mortality among African infants and young children. A phase III, placebo-controlled, multi-centre clinical trial of a live, oral G1P[8] human rotavirus vaccine (RIX4414) undertaken in Malawi and South Africa significantly reduced the incidence of severe rotavirus gastroenteritis in the first year of life. We now report on vaccine efficacy in the Malawi cohort of children who were followed into the second year of life. A total of 1,773 healthy infants were enrolled in Blantyre, Malawi into three groups. Two groups received three doses of RIX4414 or placebo at age 6, 10, and 14 weeks and the third group received placebo at 6 weeks and RIX4414 at age 10 and 14 weeks. Subjects were followed by weekly home visits for episodes of gastroenteritis until 1 year of age, and were then re-consented for further follow-up to 18-24 months of age. Severity of gastroenteritis episodes was graded according to the Vesikari scoring system. Seroconversion for anti-rotavirus IgA was determined on a subset of children by using ELISA on pre- and post-vaccine blood samples. Rotavirus VP7 (G) and VP4 (P) genotypes were determined by RT-PCR. A total of 70/1030 (6.8%, 95% CI 5.3 - 8.5) subjects in the pooled (2 dose plus 3 dose) RIX4414 group compared with 53/483 (11.0%, 8.3 – 14.1) subjects in the placebo group developed severe rotavirus gastroenteritis in the entire follow-up period (Vaccine Efficacy 38.1% (9.8 – 57.3). The point estimate of efficacy in the second year of life (17.6%; −59.2 – 56.0) was lower than in the first year of life (49.4%; 19.2 – 68.3). There were non-significant trends towards a higher efficacy in the second year of life among children who received the three-dose schedule compared with the two-dose schedule, and a higher anti-rotavirus IgA seroresponse rate in the three-dose RIX4414 group. Rotavirus strains detected included genotype G12 (31%); G9 (23%); and G8 (18%); only 18% of strains belonged to the G1P[8] genotype. While the optimal dosing schedule of RIX4414 in African infants requires further investigation, vaccination with RIX4414 significantly reduced the incidence of severe gastroenteritis caused by diverse rotavirus strains in an impoverished African population with high rotavirus disease burden in the first two years of life.
PMCID: PMC3982044  PMID: 22520135
Gastroenteritis; Rotavirus; Vaccine; Genotypes
2.  Molecular characterization of rotavirus strains detected during a clinical trial of a human rotavirus vaccine in Blantyre, Malawi 
Vaccine  2012;30(0 1):A140-A151.
The human, G1P[8] rotavirus vaccine (Rotarix) significantly reduced severe rotavirus gastroenteritis episodes in a clinical trial in South Africa and Malawi, but vaccine efficacy was lower in Malawi (49.5%) than reported in South Africa (76.9%) and elsewhere. The aim of this study was to examine the molecular relationships of circulating wild-type rotaviruses detected during the clinical trial in Malawi to RIX4414 (the strain contained in Rotarix) and to common human rotavirus strains. Of 88 rotavirus-positive, diarrhoeal stool specimens, 43 rotaviruses exhibited identifiable RNA migration patterns when examined by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. The genes encoding VP7, VP4, VP6 and NSP4 of 5 representative strains possessing genotypes G12P[6], G1P[8], G9P[8], and G8P[4] were sequenced. While their VP7 (G) and VP4 (P) genotype designations were confirmed, the VP6 (I) and NSP4 (E) genotypes were either I1E1 or I2E2, indicating that they were of human rotavirus origin. RNA-RNA hybridization using 21 culture-adapted strains showed that Malawian rotaviruses had a genomic RNA constellation common to either the Wa-like or DS-1 like human rotaviruses. Overall, the Malawi strains appear similar in their genetic make-up to rotaviruses described in countries where vaccine efficacy is greater, suggesting that the lower efficacy in Malawi is unlikely to be explained by the diversity of circulating strains.
PMCID: PMC3982048  PMID: 22520123
Rotavirus; vaccine; genotype; strain diversity; genogroup
3.  Human rotavirus vaccine Rotarix™ provides protection against diverse circulating rotavirus strains in African infants: a randomized controlled trial 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2012;12:213.
Rotaviruses are the most important cause of severe acute gastroenteritis worldwide in children <5 years of age. The human, G1P[8] rotavirus vaccine Rotarix™ significantly reduced severe rotavirus gastroenteritis episodes in a Phase III clinical trial conducted in infants in South Africa and Malawi. This paper examines rotavirus vaccine efficacy in preventing severe rotavirus gastroenteritis, during infancy, caused by the various G and P rotavirus types encountered during the first rotavirus-season.
Healthy infants aged 5–10 weeks were enrolled and randomized into three groups to receive either two (10 and 14 weeks) or three doses of Rotarix™ (together forming the pooled Rotarix™ group) or three doses of placebo at a 6,10,14-week schedule. Weekly home visits were conducted to identify gastroenteritis episodes. Rotaviruses were detected by ELISA and genotyped by RT-PCR and nucleotide sequencing. The percentage of infants with severe rotavirus gastroenteritis caused by the circulating G and P types from 2 weeks post-last dose until one year of age and the corresponding vaccine efficacy was calculated with 95% CI.
Overall, 4939 infants were vaccinated and 4417 (pooled Rotarix™ = 2974; placebo = 1443) were included in the per protocol efficacy cohort. G1 wild-type was detected in 23 (1.6%) severe rotavirus gastroenteritis episodes from the placebo group. This was followed in order of detection by G12 (15 [1%] in placebo) and G8 types (15 [1%] in placebo). Vaccine efficacy against G1 wild-type, G12 and G8 types were 64.1% (95% CI: 29.9%; 82%), 51.5% (95% CI:-6.5%; 77.9%) and 64.4% (95% CI: 17.1%; 85.2%), respectively. Genotype P[8] was the predominant circulating P type and was detected in 38 (2.6%) severe rotavirus gastroenteritis cases in placebo group. The remaining circulating P types comprised of P[4] (20 [1.4%] in placebo) and P[6] (13 [0.9%] in placebo). Vaccine efficacy against P[8] was 59.1% (95% CI: 32.8%; 75.3%), P[4] was 70.9% (95% CI: 37.5%; 87.0%) and P[6] was 55.2% (95% CI: -6.5%; 81.3%)
Rotarix™ vaccine demonstrated efficacy against severe gastroenteritis caused by diverse circulating rotavirus types. These data add to a growing body of evidence supporting heterotypic protection provided by Rotarix™.
Trial registration number
PMCID: PMC3462149  PMID: 22974466
4.  Outpatient Upper Respiratory Tract Viral Infections in Children with Malaria Symptoms in Western Kenya 
A cross-sectional study was performed in children 5 through 10 years of age presenting to outpatient clinics in Nyanza Province, Kenya, in which nasal swab and blood specimens were collected during the high malaria transmission season. Patients presenting with malaria-like symptoms within 4 days of fever onset were enrolled in the study. Plasmodium parasitemia was determined by blood smear microscopy. Nasal swabs were screened for a panel of respiratory viruses by polymerase chain reaction. Influenza A, rhinoviruses, and other respiratory viruses were detected in 18%, 26%, and 12% of 197 specimens, respectively. Four of 36 patients with influenza A had a positive malaria blood slide, compared with 20 of 52 patients with rhinovirus. A significant burden of disease caused by influenza A in febrile children during the study period was observed, highlighting the need for further research into the burden of influenza disease in regions where malaria is holoendemic.
PMCID: PMC2963960  PMID: 21036828
5.  Influenza Vaccination Rates of Children in Households with High-Risk Adults 
Public Health Reports  2010;125(2):192-198.
Household contacts of people at high risk for influenza complications should receive yearly influenza vaccination to reduce potential viral transmission. We evaluated influenza vaccine coverage among children to determine whether or not living with a high-risk adult predicts the likelihood of being vaccinated.
Using the 2006 National Health Interview Survey, we examined influenza vaccination rates among children (aged 1–17 years) who did and did not reside in a household with an adult at high risk for influenza-related complications.
Among 24,195 sampled families, there were 8,976 high-risk adults, 18.9% of whom reported living with a person 17 years of age of younger. Influenza vaccination rates by age group among children living with high-risk adults were 41.7% (1 year), 30.3% (2–4 years), and 20.0% (5–17 years). Unadjusted influenza vaccination rates were significantly higher for school-aged children who lived with a high-risk adult compared with those who did not (20.0% vs. 15.0%, p<0.001). Among children younger than 5 years of age, for whom vaccination was universally recommended at the time of the survey, the rates did not differ. After adjusting for the child's age, gender, race, insurance coverage, medical visits, and chronic conditions, children who lived with a high-risk adult were not statistically more likely than those who did not live with a high-risk adult to receive influenza vaccination (odds ratio = 1.16, 95% confidence interval 0.99, 1.36).
Children had low rates of influenza vaccination, and those who lived with high-risk adults were not significantly more likely to be vaccinated. Clinicians caring for high-risk adults should remind eligible household contacts to receive influenza vaccine.
PMCID: PMC2821846  PMID: 20297745
6.  Monitoring Influenza Activity in the United States: A Comparison of Traditional Surveillance Systems with Google Flu Trends 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e18687.
Google Flu Trends was developed to estimate US influenza-like illness (ILI) rates from internet searches; however ILI does not necessarily correlate with actual influenza virus infections.
Methods and Findings
Influenza activity data from 2003–04 through 2007–08 were obtained from three US surveillance systems: Google Flu Trends, CDC Outpatient ILI Surveillance Network (CDC ILI Surveillance), and US Influenza Virologic Surveillance System (CDC Virus Surveillance). Pearson's correlation coefficients with 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were calculated to compare surveillance data. An analysis was performed to investigate outlier observations and determine the extent to which they affected the correlations between surveillance data. Pearson's correlation coefficient describing Google Flu Trends and CDC Virus Surveillance over the study period was 0.72 (95% CI: 0.64, 0.79). The correlation between CDC ILI Surveillance and CDC Virus Surveillance over the same period was 0.85 (95% CI: 0.81, 0.89). Most of the outlier observations in both comparisons were from the 2003–04 influenza season. Exclusion of the outlier observations did not substantially improve the correlation between Google Flu Trends and CDC Virus Surveillance (0.82; 95% CI: 0.76, 0.87) or CDC ILI Surveillance and CDC Virus Surveillance (0.86; 95%CI: 0.82, 0.90).
This analysis demonstrates that while Google Flu Trends is highly correlated with rates of ILI, it has a lower correlation with surveillance for laboratory-confirmed influenza. Most of the outlier observations occurred during the 2003–04 influenza season that was characterized by early and intense influenza activity, which potentially altered health care seeking behavior, physician testing practices, and internet search behavior.
PMCID: PMC3083406  PMID: 21556151

Results 1-6 (6)