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1.  “Research participants want to feel they are better off than they were before research was introduced to them”: engaging cameroonian rural plantation populations in HIV research 
Background
During a period of evolving international consensus on how to engage communities in research, facilitators and barriers to participation in HIV prevention research were explored in a rural plantation community in the coastal region of Cameroon.
Methods
A formative rapid assessment using structured observations, focus group discussions (FGD), and key informant interviews (KIIs) was conducted with a purposive non-probabilistic sample of plantation workers and their household members. Eligibility criteria included living or working >1 year within the plantation community and age >18 years. Both rapid and in-depth techniques were used to complete thematic analysis.
Results
Sixty-five persons participated in the study (6 FGDs and 12 KIIs). Participants viewed malaria and gastrointestinal conditions as more common health concerns than HIV. They identified three factors as contributing to HIV risk: concurrent sexual relationships, sex work, and infrequent condom use. Interviewees perceived that the community would participate in HIV research if it is designed to: (1) improve community welfare, (2) provide comprehensive health services and treatment for illnesses, (3) protect the personal information of participants, especially those who test positive for HIV, (4) provide participant incentives, (5) incorporate community input, and (6) minimize disruptions to “everyday life”. Barriers to participation included: (1) fear of HIV testing, (2) mistrust of researchers given possible disrespect or intolerance of plantation community life and lack of concern for communication, (3) time commitment demands, (3) medical care and treatment that would be difficult or costly to access, and (4) life disruptions along with potential requirements for changes in behaviour (i.e., engage in or abstain from alcohol use and sex activities).
Conclusions
Consistent with UNAIDS guidelines for good participatory practice in HIV prevention research, study participants placed a high premium on researchers’ politeness, trust, respect, communication, tolerance and empathy towards their community. Plantation community members viewed provision of comprehensive health services as an important community benefit likely to enhance HIV research participation.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-12-8
PMCID: PMC3460749  PMID: 22726937
2.  Immunoglobulin M Antibody Responses to Mycobacterium ulcerans Allow Discrimination between Cases of Active Buruli Ulcer Disease and Matched Family Controls in Areas Where the Disease Is Endemic 
Buruli ulcer disease (BUD) is an emerging disease caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans. In the present study we have characterized the serological reactivities of sera from volunteer case patients with laboratory-confirmed BUD and controls living in three different regions of Ghana where the disease is endemic to determine if serology may be useful for disease confirmation. Our results showed highly reactive immunoglobulin G (IgG) responses among patients with laboratory-confirmed disease, healthy control family members of the case patients, and sera from patients with tuberculosis from areas where BUD is not endemic. These responses were represented by reactivities to multiple protein bands found in the M. ulcerans culture filtrate (CF). In contrast, patient IgM antibody responses to the M. ulcerans CF (MUCF) proteins were more distinct than those of healthy family members living in the same village. A total of 84.8% (56 of 66) of the BUD patients exhibited strong IgM antibody responses against MUCF proteins (30, 43 and 70 to 80 kDa), whereas only 4.5% (3 of 66) of the family controls exhibited such responses. The sensitivity of the total IgM response for the patients was 84.8% (95% confidence interval [CI], 74.3 to 91.6%), and the specificity determined with sera from family controls was 95.5% (95% CI, 87.5 to 98.4%). These studies suggest that the IgM responses of patients with BUD will be helpful in the identification and production of the M. ulcerans recombinant antigens required for the development of a sensitive and specific serological assay for the confirmation of active BUD.
doi:10.1128/CDLI.11.2.387-391.2004
PMCID: PMC371217  PMID: 15013992
3.  Analysis of an IS2404-Based Nested PCR for Diagnosis of Buruli Ulcer Disease in Regions of Ghana Where the Disease Is Endemic 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2003;41(2):794-797.
Mycobacterium ulcerans causes Buruli ulcer disease (BUD), an ulcerative skin disease emerging mainly in West Africa. Laboratory confirmation of BUD is complicated as no “gold standard” for diagnosis exists. A nested primer PCR based on IS2404 has shown promise as a diagnostic assay. We evaluated the IS2404-based PCR to detect M. ulcerans DNA in tissue specimens from 143 BUD patients diagnosed according to the World Health Organization BUD clinical case definition in Ghana. Comparisons were made with culture and histopathology results. Variables influencing detection rate tested in this PCR protocol included the amount of tissue used and the stage of disease. The nested PCR was repeated on DNA extracted from a different part of the same biopsy specimen of 21 culture-positive samples. Of all 143 specimens, 107 (74.8%; 95% confidence interval, 68 to 82%) showed the presence of M. ulcerans DNA by PCR. Of the 78 histology-confirmed BUD patient samples, 64 (83%) were PCR positive. Detection rates were influenced neither by the amount of tissue processed for PCR nor by the stage of disease (preulcerative or ulcerative). Taken together, the two nested PCR tests on the subset of 21 culture-positive samples were able to detect M. ulcerans DNA in all 21 culture-confirmed patients. For future studies, small tissue samples, e.g., punch biopsy samples, might be sufficient for case confirmation.
doi:10.1128/JCM.41.2.794-797.2003
PMCID: PMC149660  PMID: 12574285
4.  Identification of Haemophilus influenzae Serotypes by Standard Slide Agglutination Serotyping and PCR-Based Capsule Typing 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2003;41(1):393-396.
To resolve discrepancies in slide agglutination serotyping (SAST) results from state health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we characterized 141 of 751 invasive Haemophilus influenzae isolates that were identified in the United States from January 1998 to December 1999 through an active, laboratory-based, surveillance program coordinated by the CDC. We found discrepancies between the results of SAST performed at state health departments and those of PCR capsule typing performed at the CDC for 56 (40%) of the isolates characterized: 54 isolates that were identified as a particular serotype by SAST were shown to be unencapsulated by PCR, and two isolates that were reported as serotypes b and f were found to be serotypes f and e, respectively, by PCR. The laboratory error most likely to affect the perceived efficacy of the conjugate H. influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine was the misidentification of isolates as serotype b: of 40 isolates identified as serotype b by SAST, 27 (68%) did not contain the correlating capsule type genes. The frequency of errors fell substantially when standardized reagents and routine quality control of SAST were used during a study involving three laboratories. An overall 94% agreement between SAST and PCR results showed that slide agglutination could be a valid and reliable method for serotyping H. influenzae if the test was performed correctly, in accordance with standardized and recommended procedures. An ongoing prospective analysis of all H. influenzae surveillance isolates associated with invasive disease in children less than 5 years old will provide more accurate national figures for the burden of invasive disease caused by Hib and other H. influenzae serotypes.
doi:10.1128/JCM.41.1.393-396.2003
PMCID: PMC149627  PMID: 12517878
5.  First Case of Bioterrorism-Related Inhalational Anthrax in the United States, Palm Beach County, Florida, 2001 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2002;8(10):1029-1034.
On October 4, 2001, we confirmed the first bioterrorism-related anthrax case identified in the United States in a resident of Palm Beach County, Florida. Epidemiologic investigation indicated that exposure occurred at the workplace through intentionally contaminated mail. One additional case of inhalational anthrax was identified from the index patient’s workplace. Among 1,076 nasal cultures performed to assess exposure, Bacillus anthracis was isolated from a co-worker later confirmed as being infected, as well as from an asymptomatic mail-handler in the same workplace. Environmental cultures for B. anthracis showed contamination at the workplace and six county postal facilities. Environmental and nasal swab cultures were useful epidemiologic tools that helped direct the investigation towards the infection source and transmission vehicle. We identified 1,114 persons at risk and offered antimicrobial prophylaxis.
doi:10.3201/eid0810.020354
PMCID: PMC2730309  PMID: 12396910
Anthrax; Bacillus anthracis; bioterrorism; nasal swab cultures; environmental cultures
6.  Investigation of Bioterrorism-Related Anthrax, United States, 2001: Epidemiologic Findings 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2002;8(10):1019-1028.
In October 2001, the first inhalational anthrax case in the United States since 1976 was identified in a media company worker in Florida. A national investigation was initiated to identify additional cases and determine possible exposures to Bacillus anthracis. Surveillance was enhanced through health-care facilities, laboratories, and other means to identify cases, which were defined as clinically compatible illness with laboratory-confirmed B. anthracis infection. From October 4 to November 20, 2001, 22 cases of anthrax (11 inhalational, 11 cutaneous) were identified; 5 of the inhalational cases were fatal. Twenty (91%) case-patients were either mail handlers or were exposed to worksites where contaminated mail was processed or received. B. anthracis isolates from four powder-containing envelopes, 17 specimens from patients, and 106 environmental samples were indistinguishable by molecular subtyping. Illness and death occurred not only at targeted worksites, but also along the path of mail and in other settings. Continued vigilance for cases is needed among health-care providers and members of the public health and law enforcement communities.
doi:10.3201/eid0810.020353
PMCID: PMC2730292  PMID: 12396909

Results 1-6 (6)