To examine the type, duration and outcome of the symptoms and health problems Scotland's nurse-led telephone advice service (NHS 24) is contacted about and explore whether these vary by time of contact and patient characteristics.
Analysis of routinely collected NHS 24 data.
Users of NHS 24 during 2011.
Main outcome measures
Proportion of the type, duration and outcome of the symptoms and health problems NHS 24 is contacted about.
82.6% of the calls were made out-of-hours and 17.4% in-hours. Abdominal problems accounted for the largest proportion of calls (12.2%) followed by dental (6.8%) and rash/skin problems (6.0%). There were differences in the type of problems presented in-hours and out-of-hours. Most problems (62.9%) had lasted <24 h before people contacted NHS 24. Out-of-hours calls tended to be for problems of shorter duration. Problems reported out-of-hours most commonly resulted in advice to visit an out-of-hours centre and in-hours advice to contact a general practitioner. Most of the service users were female and from more affluent areas. Use of the service declined with age in those over 35 years. The characteristics of users varied according to when NHS 24 was contacted. The number of calls made by an individual in the year ranged from 1 to 866, although most users (69.2%) made only one call. The type of problem presented varied by age and deprivation, but was broadly similar by gender, rural/urban status and geographic area. Call outcomes also varied by user characteristics.
This is the first study to examine how the public uses NHS 24. It has identified the patterns of problems which the service must be equipped to deal with. It has also provided important information about who uses the service and when. This information will help future planning and development of the service.
PRIMARY CARE; PUBLIC HEALTH
Symptoms are important drivers for the use of primary care services. Strategies aimed at shifting the focus away from the GP have broadened the range of primary healthcare available.
To explore preferences for managing symptoms and investigate trade-offs that the public are willing to make when deciding between different primary care services.
Design and setting
UK-wide postal questionnaire survey of 1370 adults.
A discrete choice experiment examined management preferences for three symptoms of differing seriousness (diarrhoea, dizziness, and chest pain). Willingness-to-pay estimates compared preferences between symptoms, and by sex, age, and income.
Preferences differed significantly between symptoms. ‘Self-care’ was the preferred action for diarrhoea and ‘consulting a GP’ for dizziness and chest pain. ‘Waiting time’ and ‘chance of a satisfactory outcome’ were important factors for all three symptoms, although their relative importance differed. Broadly, people were more prepared to wait longer and less prepared to trade a good chance of a satisfactory outcome for symptoms rated as more serious. Generally, preferences within subgroups followed similar patterns as for the whole sample, although there were differences in the relative strength of preferences.
Despite increased choices in primary care, ‘traditional’ actions of ‘self-care’ for minor symptoms and ‘GP consultation’ for more serious symptoms were preferred. The present findings suggest, however, that people may be willing to trade between different health services, particularly for less serious symptoms. Understanding the relative importance of different factors may help inform interventions aimed at changing management behaviour or improving services.
discrete choice experiment; health services research; primary health care; signs and symptoms; symptom management
The low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) plays a pivotal role in clearing atherogenic circulating low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Here we show that the COMMD/CCDC22/CCDC93 (CCC) and the Wiskott–Aldrich syndrome protein and SCAR homologue (WASH) complexes are both crucial for endosomal sorting of LDLR and for its function. We find that patients with X-linked intellectual disability caused by mutations in CCDC22 are hypercholesterolaemic, and that COMMD1-deficient dogs and liver-specific Commd1 knockout mice have elevated plasma LDL cholesterol levels. Furthermore, Commd1 depletion results in mislocalization of LDLR, accompanied by decreased LDL uptake. Increased total plasma cholesterol levels are also seen in hepatic COMMD9-deficient mice. Inactivation of the CCC-associated WASH complex causes LDLR mislocalization, increased lysosomal degradation of LDLR and impaired LDL uptake. Furthermore, a mutation in the WASH component KIAA0196 (strumpellin) is associated with hypercholesterolaemia in humans. Altogether, this study provides valuable insights into the mechanisms regulating cholesterol homeostasis and LDLR trafficking.
Low density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) is crucial for cholesterol homeostasis. Here, the authors show that components of the CCC-protein complex, CCDC22 and COMMD1, facilitate the endosomal sorting of LDLR and that mutations in these genes cause hypercholesterolemia in dogs and mice, providing new insights into regulation of cholesterol homeostasis.
It has been suggested that Schistosoma mansoni, which is endemic in African fishing communities, might increase susceptibility to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) acquisition. If confirmed, this would be of great public health importance in these high HIV‐risk communities. This study was undertaken to determine whether S. mansoni infection is a risk factor for HIV infection among the fishing communities of Lake Victoria, Uganda. We conducted a matched case–control study, nested within a prospective HIV incidence cohort, including 50 HIV seroconverters (cases) and 150 controls during 2009‐2011.
S. mansoni infection prior to HIV seroconversion was determined by measuring serum circulating anodic antigen (CAA) in stored serum. HIV testing was carried out using the Determine rapid test and infection confirmed by enzyme‐linked immunosorbent assays.
About 49% of cases and 52% of controls had S. mansoni infection prior to HIV seroconversion (or at the time of a similar study visit, for controls): odds ratio, adjusting for ethnicity, religion, marital status, education, occupation, frequency of alcohol consumption in previous 3 months, number of sexual partners while drunk, duration of stay in the community, and history of schistosomiasis treatment in the past 2 years was 1.23 (95% CI 0.3–5.7) P = 0.79. S. mansoni infections were chronic (with little change in status between enrolment and HIV seroconversion), and there was no difference in median CAA concentration between cases and controls.
These results do not support the hypothesis that S. mansoni infection promotes HIV acquisition.
Schistosoma mansoni; circulating anodic antigen; HIV; susceptibility; fishing communities; Uganda; Schistosoma mansoni; antigène anodique circulant; VIH; sensibilité; communautés de pêcheurs; Ouganda
Africa is a continent with a large burden of both infectious and non‐communicable diseases. If we are to move forward as a continent, we need to equip our growing cadre of exceptional young scientists with the skills needed to tackle the diseases endemic to this continent. For this, immunology is among the key disciplines. Africans should be empowered to study and understand the diseases that affect them, and to perform their cutting‐edge research in their country of origin. This requires a multifaceted approach, with buy‐in from funders, overseas partners and perhaps, most important of all, African governments themselves.
To examine 10-year mortality and hospital use among individuals categorised as resilient and vulnerable to the impact of chronic pain.
A cohort record linkage study.
5858 individuals from the Grampian Pain Cohort, established in 1996, were linked, by probability matching, with national routinely collected datasets.
Main outcome measures
HRs for subsequent 10-year mortality and ORs/incidence rate ratios for subsequent 10-year hospital use, each with adjustment for potential confounding variables.
36.5% of those with high pain intensity reported a low pain-related disability (categorised resilient) and 7.1% of those reporting low pain intensity reported a high pain-related disability (categorised vulnerable). Sex, age, housing, employment and long-term limiting illness were independently associated with being vulnerable or resilient. After adjustment for these variables, individuals in the resilient group were 25% less likely to die within 10 years of the survey compared with non-resilient individuals: HR 0.75, 95% CI 0.62 to 0.91 and vulnerable individuals were 45% more likely to die than non-vulnerable individuals: HR 1.45, 95% CI 1.01 to 2.11. Resilient individuals were less likely to have had an outpatient or day-case visit for anaesthetics: OR 0.46, 95% CI 0.27 to 0.79, but no other clinical specialities. Vulnerable individuals were significantly less likely to have had any outpatient or day-case visit (OR 0.43, 0.25 to 0.75); but more likely to have had a psychiatric visit (OR 1.96, 1.06 to 3.61). No significant differences in likelihood of any inpatient visits were found.
Resilient individuals have a better 10-year survival than non-resilient individuals indicating that resilience is a phenomenon worth researching. Further research is needed to explore who is likely to become resilient, why and how, as well as to tease out the internal and external factors that influence resilience.
EPIDEMIOLOGY; PAIN MANAGEMENT; PRIMARY CARE
In the absence of a gold standard for the diagnosis of latent tuberculosis (TB) infection (LTBI), the current tests available for the diagnosis of LTBI are limited by their inability to differentiate between LTBI and active TB disease. We investigated IP-10 as a potential biomarker for LTBI among household contacts exposed to sputum positive active TB cases.
Active TB cases and contacts were recruited into a cohort with six months’ follow-up. Contacts were tested for LTBI using QuantiFERON®-TB Gold In-Tube (QFN) assay and the tuberculin skin test (TST). Baseline supernatants from the QFN assay of 237 contacts and 102 active TB cases were analysed for Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) specific and mitogen specific IP-10 responses.
Contacts with LTBI (QFN+TST+) had the highest MTB specific IP-10 responses at baseline, compared to uninfected contacts (QFN-TST-) p<0.0001; and active cases, p = 0.01. Using a cut-off of 8,239 pg/ml, MTB specific IP-10 was able to diagnose LTBI with a sensitivity of 87.1% (95% CI, 76.2–94.3) and specificity of 90.9% (95% CI, 81.3–96.6). MTB specific to mitogen specific IP-10 ratio was higher in HIV negative active TB cases, compared to HIV negative latently infected contacts, p = 0.0004. Concentrations of MTB specific IP-10 were higher in contacts with TST conversion (negative at baseline, positive at 6-months) than in those that were persistently TST negative, p = 0.001.
IP-10 performed well in differentiating contacts with either latent or active TB from those who were uninfected but was not able to differentiate LTBI from active disease except when MTB specific to mitogen specific ratios were used in HIV negative adults. In addition, IP-10 had the potential to diagnose ‘recent TB infection’ in persons classified as having LTBI using the TST. Such individuals with strong IP-10 responses would likely benefit from chemoprophylaxis.
In 1994 and 2002, respectively, the World Health Organisation proposed that treatment for hookworm and schistosomiasis could be provided during pregnancy. It was hoped that this might have benefits for maternal anaemia, fetal growth and perinatal mortality; a beneficial effect on the infant response to immunisation was also hypothesised. Three trials have now been conducted. Two have examined the effects of benzimidazoles; one (the Entebbe Mother and Baby Study) the effects of albendazole and praziquantel. All three were conducted in settings of high prevalence but low intensity helminth infection. Results suggest that, in such settings and given adequate provision of haematinics, the benefit of routine anthelminthics during pregnancy for maternal anaemia may be small; none of the other expected benefits has yet been demonstrated. The Entebbe Mother and Baby Study found a significant adverse effect of albendazole on the incidence of infantile eczema in the whole study population, and of praziquantel on the incidence of eczema among infants of mothers with Schistosoma mansoni. Further studies are required in settings that differ in helminth species and infection intensities. Further research is required to determine whether increased rates of infantile eczema translate to long-term susceptibility to allergy, and to explore the underlying mechanisms of these effects. The risks and benefits of routine anthelminthic treatment in antenatal clinics may need to be reconsidered.
Anthelminthic; pregnancy; albendazole; praziquantel; hookworm; Schistosoma mansoni; atopic eczema; anaemia
With the renewed emphasis to implement isoniazid preventive therapy (IPT) in Sub-Saharan Africa, we investigated the effect of IPT on immunological profiles among household contacts with latent tuberculosis.
Household contacts of confirmed tuberculosis patients were tested for latent tuberculosis using the QuantiFERON®-TB Gold In-Tube (QFN) assay and tuberculin skin test (TST). HIV negative contacts aged above 5 years, positive to both QFN and TST, were randomly assigned to IPT and monthly visits or monthly visits only. QFN culture supernatants from enrolment and six months’ follow-up were analysed for M.tb-specific Th1, Th2, Th17, and regulatory cytokines by Luminex assay, and for M.tb-specific IgG antibody concentrations by ELISA. Effects of IPT were assessed as the net cytokine and antibody production at the end of six months.
Sixteen percent of contacts investigated (47/291) were randomised to IPT (n = 24) or no IPT (n = 23). After adjusting for baseline cytokine or antibody responses, and for presence of a BCG scar, IPT (compared to no IPT) resulted in a relative decline in M.tb-specific production of IFN gamma (adjusted mean difference at the end of six months (bootstrap 95 % confidence interval (CI), p-value) -1488.6 pg/ml ((−2682.5, −294.8), p = 0.01), and IL- 2 (−213.1 pg/ml (−419.2, −7.0), p = 0.04). A similar decline was found in anti-CFP-10 antibody levels (adjusted geometric mean ratio (bootstrap 95 % CI), p-value) 0.58 ((0.35, 0.98), p = 0.04). We found no effect on M.tb-specific Th2 or regulatory or Th17 cytokine responses, or on antibody concentrations to PPD and ESAT-6.
IPT led to a decrease in Th1 cytokine production, and also in the anti CFP-10 antibody concentration. This could be secondary to a reduction in mycobacterial burden or as a possible direct effect of isoniazid induced T cell apoptosis, and may have implications for protective immunity following IPT in tuberculosis-endemic countries.
ISRCTN registry, ISRCTN15705625. Registered on 30th September 2015.
Latent tuberculosis infection; Household contacts; Randomised design; Cytokines; Antibodies; Isoniazid preventive therapy
HIV-associated Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) is a public health challenge in sub-Saharan Africa since both the causative agent, Kaposi's sarcoma associated-herpesvirus (KSHV), and the major risk factor, HIV, are prevalent. In a nested case-control study within a long-standing clinical cohort in rural Uganda, we used stored sera to examine the evolution of antibody titres against the KSHV antigens K8.1 and latency-associated nuclear antigen (LANA) among 30 HIV-infected subjects who subsequently developed HIV-related KS (cases) and among 108 matched HIV/KSHV coinfected controls who did not develop KS. Throughout the 6 years prior to diagnosis, antibody titres to K8.1 and LANA were significantly higher among cases than controls (p < 0.0001), and titres increased prior to diagnosis in the cases. K8.1 titres differed more between KS cases and controls, compared to LANA titres. These differences in titre between cases and controls suggest a role for lytic viral replication in the pathogenesis of HIV-related KS in this setting.
HIV-associated Kaposi's sarcoma; sub-Saharan Africa; Kaposi's sarcoma associated-herpesvirus; HIV; AIDS
Bacille Calmette–Guérin (BCG) immunization provides variable protection against tuberculosis. Prenatal antigen exposure may have lifelong effects on responses to related antigens and pathogens. We therefore hypothesized that maternal latent Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection (LTBI) influences infant responses to BCG immunization at birth. We measured antibody (n = 53) and cellular (n = 31) responses to M. tuberculosis purified protein derivative (PPD) in infants of mothers with and without LTBI, in cord blood and at one and six weeks after BCG. The concentrations of PPD-specific antibodies declined between birth (median [interquartile range (IQR)]) 5600 ng ml−1 [3300–11 050] in cord blood) and six weeks (0.00 ng ml−1 [0–288]). Frequencies of PPD-specific IFN-γ-expressing CD4+T cells increased at one week and declined between one and six weeks (p = 0.031). Frequencies of IL-2- and TNF-α-expressing PPD-specific CD4+T cells increased between one and six weeks (p = 0.019, p = 0.009, respectively). At one week, the frequency of PPD-specific CD4+T cells expressing any of the three cytokines, combined, was lower among infants of mothers with LTBI, in crude analyses (p = 0.002) and after adjusting for confounders (mean difference, 95% CI −0.041% (−0.082, −0.001)). In conclusion, maternal LTBI was associated with lower infant anti-mycobacterial T-cell responses immediately following BCG immunization. These findings are being explored further in a larger study.
maternal infection; mycobacteria; bacille Calmette–Guérin; purified protein derivative; tuberculosis; immunization
The Hygiene Hypothesis proposes that infection exposure protects against inflammatory conditions. Helminths possess allergen-like molecules and may specifically modulate allergy-related immunological pathways to inhibit responses which protect against them. Mass drug administration is recommended for helminth-endemic communities to control helminth-induced pathology, but may also result in increased rates of inflammation-mediated diseases in resource-poor settings. Immunological studies integrated with implementation of helminth control measures may elucidate how helminth elimination contributes to ongoing epidemics of inflammatory diseases. We present the design of the Lake Victoria Island Intervention Study on Worms and Allergy-related diseases (LaVIISWA), a cluster-randomised trial evaluating the risks and benefits of intensive versus standard anthelminthic treatment for allergy-related diseases and other health outcomes.
The setting is comprised of island fishing communities in Mukono district, Uganda. Twenty-six communities have been randomised in a 1:1 ratio to receive standard or intensive anthelminthic intervention for a three-year period. Baseline characteristics were collected immediately prior to intervention rollout, commenced in February 2013. Primary outcomes are reported wheeze in the past 12 months and atopy (skin prick test response and allergen-specific immunoglobulin (asIg) E concentration). Secondary outcomes are visible flexural dermatitis, helminth infections, haemoglobin, growth parameters, hepatosplenomegaly, and responses to vaccine antigens. The trial provides a platform for in-depth analysis of clinical and immunological consequences of the contrasting interventions.
The baseline survey has been completed successfully in a challenging environment. Baseline characteristics were balanced between trial arms. Prevalence of Schistosoma mansoni, hookworm, Strongyloides stercoralis and Trichuris trichiura was 52%, 23%, 13%, and 12%, respectively; 31% of Schistosoma mansoni infections were heavy (>400 eggs/gram). The prevalence of reported wheeze and positive skin prick test to any allergen was 5% and 20%, respectively. Respectively, 77% and 87% of participants had Dermatophagoides- and German cockroach-specific IgE above 0.35 kUA/L. These characteristics suggest that the LaVIISWA study will provide an excellent framework for investigating beneficial and detrimental effects of worms and their treatment, and the mechanisms of such effects.
This trial was registered with Current Controlled Trials (identifier: ISRCTN47196031) on 7 September 2012.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13063-015-0702-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Helminths; Anthelminthic treatment; Allergy; Atopy; Wheeze; Cluster-randomised trial
The potential for Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination to protect infants against non-mycobacterial disease has been suggested by a randomised controlled trial conducted in low birth-weight infants in West Africa. Trials to confirm these findings in healthy term infants, and in a non-West African setting, have not yet been carried out. In addition, a biological mechanism to explain such heterologous effects of BCG in the neonatal period has not been confirmed. This trial aims to address these issues by evaluating whether BCG non-specifically enhances the innate immune system in term Ugandan neonates, leading to increased protection from a variety of infectious diseases.
This trial will be an investigator-blinded, randomised controlled trial of 560 Ugandan neonates, comparing those receiving BCG at birth with those receiving BCG at 6 weeks of age. This design allows comparison of outcomes between BCG-vaccinated and -naïve infants until 6 weeks of age, and between early and delayed BCG-vaccinated infants from 6 weeks of age onwards. The primary outcomes of the study will be a panel of innate immune parameters. Secondary outcomes will include clinical illness measures.
Investigation of the possible broadly protective effects of neonatal BCG immunisation, and the optimal vaccination timing to produce these effects, could have profound implications for public healthcare policy. Evidence of protection against heterologous pathogens would underscore the importance of prioritising BCG administration in a timely manner for all infants, provide advocacy against the termination of BCG’s use and support novel anti-tuberculous vaccine strategies that would safeguard such beneficial effects.
ISRCTN59683017: registration date: 15 January 2014
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13063-015-0682-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Bacillus Calmette-Guérin; Heterologous effects; Innate immunity; Neonate; Invasive infectious disease
Schistosomiasis is one of the neglected tropical diseases targeted for elimination in Uganda through the Mass Drug Administration (MDA) programme. Praziquantel has been distributed using community resource persons in fixed sites and house-to-house visits; however the uptake is still below target coverage. In 2011/2012 MDA exercise, uptake stood at 50% yet WHO target coverage is 75% at community level. We assessed the uptake of MDA and the associated factors in Koome Islands, Central Uganda.
In March 2013, we conducted a mixed methods cross sectional study in 15 randomly selected villages. We interviewed a total of 615 respondents aged 18 years and above using semi structured questionnaires and five key informants were also purposively selected. Univariate and multivariate analysis was done. MDA uptake was defined as self reported swallowing of praziquantel during the last (2012) MDA campaign. We conducted key informant interviews with Ministry of Health, district health personnel and community health workers.
Self reported uptake of praziquantel was 44.7% (275/615), 95% confidence interval (CI) 40.8–48.7%. Of the 275 community members who said they had swallowed praziquantel, 142 (51.6%) reported that they had developed side effects. Uptake of MDA was more likely if the respondent was knowledgeable about schistosomiasis transmission and prevention (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 1.85, 95% CI 1.22–2.81) and reported to have received health education from the health personnel (AOR 5.95, 95% CI 3.67–9.65). Service delivery challenges such as drug shortages and community health worker attrition also influenced MDA in Koome Islands.
Uptake of MDA for schistosomiasis control in Koome was sub optimal. Lack of knowledge about schistosomiasis transmission and prevention, inadequate health education and drug shortages are some of the major factors associated with low uptake. These could be addressed through routine health education and systematic drug supply for the successful elimination of schistosomiasis on the islands.
To explore differences in mean costs (from a UK National Health Service perspective) and effects of pharmacist-led management of chronic pain in primary care evaluated in a pilot randomised controlled trial (RCT), and to estimate optimal sample size for a definitive RCT.
Regression analysis of costs and effects, using intention-to-treat and expected value of sample information analysis (EVSI).
Six general practices: Grampian (3); East Anglia (3).
125 patients with complete resource use and short form-six-dimension questionnaire (SF-6D) data at baseline, 3 months and 6 months.
Patients were randomised to either pharmacist medication review with face-to-face pharmacist prescribing or pharmacist medication review with feedback to general practitioner or treatment as usual (TAU).
Main outcome measures
Differences in mean total costs and effects measured as quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) at 6 months and EVSI for sample size calculation.
Unadjusted total mean costs per patient were £452 for prescribing (SD: £466), £570 for review (SD: £527) and £668 for TAU (SD: £1333). After controlling for baseline costs, the adjusted mean cost differences per patient relative to TAU were £77 for prescribing (95% CI −82 to 237) and £54 for review (95% CI −103 to 212). Unadjusted mean QALYs were 0.3213 for prescribing (SD: 0.0659), 0.3161 for review (SD: 0.0684) and 0.3079 for TAU (SD: 0.0606). Relative to TAU, the adjusted mean differences were 0.0069 for prescribing (95% CI −0.0091 to 0.0229) and 0.0097 for review (95% CI −0.0054 to 0.0248). The EVSI suggested the optimal future trial size was between 460 and 690, and between 540 and 780 patients per arm using a threshold of £30 000 and £20 000 per QALY gained, respectively.
Compared with TAU, pharmacist-led interventions for chronic pain appear more costly and provide similar QALYs. However, these estimates are imprecise due to the small size of the pilot trial. The EVSI indicates that a larger trial is necessary to obtain more precise estimates of differences in mean effects and costs between treatment groups.
Trial registration number
HEALTH ECONOMICS; PAIN MANAGEMENT; PRIMARY CARE
Relatively little is known about the clinical importance of symptoms not presented to healthcare services. Using data from a community survey we examined the health status among those with chronic pain who reported using or not using healthcare services. Individuals with chronic pain who had used healthcare services in the previous year had poorer health than symptomatic responders who had not used services, irrespective of the severity of chronic pain. The findings suggest that there is little point in trying to detect and treat individuals not currently presenting to healthcare services with their pain.
health services; health services research; health status indicators; pain; signs and symptoms
•Urban residence and history of TB contact/disease were associated with increased risk of latent TB infection at age five years.•BCG vaccine strain, LTBI, HIV and malaria infections, and anthropometry predict anti-mycobacterial immune responses.•Helminth infections do not influence response to BCG vaccination.•Cytokine responses at one year were not associated with LTBI at age five years.
BCG is used widely as the sole licensed vaccine against tuberculosis, but it has variable efficacy and the reasons for this are still unclear. No reliable biomarkers to predict future protection against, or acquisition of, TB infection following immunisation have been identified. Lessons from BCG could be valuable in the development of effective tuberculosis vaccines.
Within the Entebbe Mother and Baby Study birth cohort in Uganda, infants received BCG at birth. We investigated factors associated with latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) and with cytokine response to mycobacterial antigen at age five years. We also investigated whether cytokine responses at one year were associated with LTBI at five years of age.
Blood samples from age one and five years were stimulated using crude culture filtrates of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in a six-day whole blood assay. IFN-γ, IL-5, IL-13 and IL-10 production was measured. LTBI at five years was determined using T-SPOT.TB® assay. Associations with LTBI at five years were assessed using multivariable logistic regression. Multiple linear regression with bootstrapping was used to determine factors associated with cytokine responses at age five years.
LTBI prevalence was 9% at age five years. Only urban residence and history of TB contact/disease were positively associated with LTBI. BCG vaccine strain, LTBI, HIV infection, asymptomatic malaria, growth z-scores, childhood anthelminthic treatment and maternal BCG scar were associated with cytokine responses at age five. Cytokine responses at one year were not associated with acquisition of LTBI by five years of age.
Although multiple factors influenced anti-myocbacterial immune responses at age five, factors likely to be associated with exposure to infectious cases (history of household contact, and urban residence) dominated the risk of LTBI.
Tuberculosis; HIV; Helminth; Pregnancy; Bacille Calmette–Guerin; Crude culture filtrate protein
Non-communicable diseases are an emerging concern in sub-Saharan Africa, and risks for these conditions are often based on exposures in early life, with premonitory signs developing during childhood. The prevalence of hypertension has been reported to be high in African adults, but little is known about blood pressure in African children. We studied prevalence and risk factors for high blood pressure (HBP) among school children in central Uganda.
Two urban and five rural schools were randomly selected from government schools in Wakiso district, Uganda. Questionnaires were administered and anthropometric measures taken. Blood pressure (BP) was measured three times in one sitting (on day 1) and the average compared to internationally-used normograms. Children with BP >95th percentile were re-tested at two additional sittings (day 2 and day 3) within one week, and at two further follow up visits over a period of six months. Those with sustained HBP were referred for further investigation.
Of 552 students included, 539 completed the initial assessments (days 1–3) of whom 92 (17.1%) had HBP at the initial sitting. Age (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 1.29 (95% confidence interval 1.14, 1.47), p< 0.001), body mass index (1.70 (1.25-2.31) p = 0.001) and soil-transmitted helminths (2.52 (1.04-6.11), 0.04) were associated with increased prevalence of HBP at the initial sitting. After further investigation, sustained HBP was seen in 14 children, yielding an estimated prevalence of 3.8% allowing for losses to follow up. Four children required treatment.
It is feasible to measure blood pressure accurately in the school setting. A high HBP prevalence on initial readings gave cause for concern, but follow up suggested a true HBP prevalence commensurate with international normograms. Extended follow up is important for accurate assessment of blood pressure among African children.
Blood pressure; Hypertension; Children; Uganda; Africa
Tuberculosis incidence in resource poor countries remains high. We hypothesized that immune modulating co-infections such as helminths, malaria, and HIV increase susceptibility to latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI), thereby contributing to maintaining the tuberculosis epidemic.
Adults with sputum-positive tuberculosis (index cases) and their eligible household contacts (HHCs) were recruited to a cohort study between May 2011 and January 2012. HHCs were investigated for helminths, malaria, and HIV at enrolment. HHCs were tested using the QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube (QFN) assay at enrolment and six months later. Overnight whole blood culture supernatants from baseline QFN assays were analyzed for cytokine responses using an 11-plex Luminex assay. Associations between outcomes (LTBI or cytokine responses) and exposures (co-infections and other risk factors) were examined using multivariable logistic and linear regression models.
We enrolled 101 index cases and 291 HHCs. Among HHCs, baseline prevalence of helminths was 9% (25/291), malaria 16% (47/291), HIV 6% (16/291), and LTBI 65% (179/277). Adjusting for other risk factors and household clustering, there was no association between LTBI and any co-infection at baseline or at six months: adjusted odds ratio (95% confidence interval (CI); p-value) at baseline for any helminth, 1.01 (0.39–2.66; 0.96); hookworm, 2.81 (0.56–14.14; 0.20); malaria, 1.06 (0.48–2.35; 0.87); HIV, 0.74 (0.22–2.47; 0.63). HHCs with LTBI had elevated cytokine responses to tuberculosis antigens but co-infections had little effect on cytokine responses. Exploring other risk factors, Th1 cytokines among LTBI-positive HHCs with BCG scars were greatly reduced compared to those without scars: (adjusted geometric mean ratio) IFNγ 0.20 (0.09–0.42), <0.0001; IL-2 0.34 (0.20–0.59), <0.0001; and TNFα 0.36 (0.16–0.79), 0.01.
We found no evidence that co-infections increase the risk of LTBI, or influence the cytokine response profile among those with LTBI. Prior BCG exposure may reduce Th1 cytokine responses in LTBI.
Accurate biomarkers of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection activity would significantly improve early diagnosis, treatment and management of M. tuberculosis infection. We hypothesised that circulating B-lymphocytes may be useful biomarkers of tuberculosis (TB) infection status in highly TB-endemic settings. Ex-vivo and in-vitro mycobacteria-specific B-cell ELISPOT assays were used to examine the plasmablast (PB) and memory B-cell (MBC) responses in the peripheral blood of adult, healthy, community controls (n = 151) and of active TB patients (n = 48) living in Uganda. Frequencies of mycobacteria-specific PBs were markedly higher in active TB patients compared to healthy controls, and, conversely, MBCs were markedly higher in the healthy controls compared to active TB patients. In addition, the community controls with evidence of latent TB infection had higher peripheral blood PB and MBC responses than those without evidence of TB infection. These data demonstrate that peripheral blood B-cell responses are differentially modulated during latent and active M. tuberculosis infection, and suggest that the PB to MBC ratio may be a useful biomarker of TB infection activity.
BACKGROUND: Data on congenital anomalies from developing countries of the sub-Saharan region are scarce. However, it is important to have comprehensive and reliable data on the description and prevalence of congenital anomalies to allow surveillance and the implementation of appropriate public health strategies for prevention and management. In this study, we describe the profile of congenital anomalies seen in a birth cohort in Entebbe, Uganda. METHODS: Congenital anomalies were defined as any structural defect present at birth. Pregnant women were recruited to the cohort between 2003 and 2005. Defects present at birth were recorded by the midwife at delivery and by physicians at the routine six-week postnatal visit and at illness-related visits until 1 year of life. The anomalies were classified by organ system according to the 10th version of the World Health Organization International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10). RESULTS: There were 180 infants with a congenital anomaly among 2365 births. The most commonly affected systems were the musculoskeletal (42.7 per 1000 births) and skin (16.1 per 1000 births). The prevalence of major anomalies was 20.3 per 1000 births; 1.7 per 1000 births for cardiac anomalies and 1.3 per 1000 births for neural system anomalies. Forty (22%) of the congenital anomalies were identified at birth, 131 (73%) at the 6-week postnatal visit, and nine (5%) at illness-related visits. CONCLUSION: Congenital anomalies are common in developing countries. Establishment of comprehensive databases for surveillance would be helpful for surveillance of effects of new exposures, for prevention, management, and health care planning. Birth Defects Research (Part A) 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
congenital anomalies; infants; epidemiology; Uganda; Africa
The ‘external validity’ of randomized controlled trials is an important measure of quality, but is often not formally assessed. Trials concerning mass drug administration for helminth control are likely to guide public health policy and careful interpretation of their context is needed. We aimed to determine how representative participants in one such trial were of their community. We explore implications for trial interpretation and resulting public health recommendations.
The trial assessed was the Entebbe Mother and Baby Study (EMaBS), a trial of anthelminthic treatment during pregnancy and early childhood. In a novel approach for assessing external validity, we conducted a two-stage cluster sample community survey within the trial catchment area and compared characteristics of potentially-eligible community children with characteristics of children participating in the trial.
A total of 173 children aged three to five-years-old were surveyed from 480 households. Of children surveyed, we estimated that mothers of 60% would have been eligible for recruitment, and of these, 31% had actually been enrolled. Children surveyed were compared to 199 trial children in the same age group reviewed at annual trial visits during the same time period. There were significant differences in ethnicity between the trial participants and the community children, and in socioeconomic status, with those in the trial having, on average, more educated parents and higher maternal employment. Trial children were less likely to have barefoot exposure and more likely to use insecticide-treated bed nets. There were no significant differences in numbers of reported illness events over the last year.
The trial had not enrolled all eligible participants, and those enrolled were of higher socioeconomic status, and had lower risk of exposure to the parasitic infections targeted by the trial interventions. It is possible the trial may have underestimated the absolute effects of anthelminthic treatment during pregnancy and early childhood, although the fact that there were no differences in reported incidence of common infectious diseases (one of the primary outcomes of EMaBS) between the two groups provides reassurance. Concurrent community surveys may be an effective way to test the external validity of trials.
EMaBS Trial registration
ISRCTN32849447, registered 22 July 2005
Helminths; Anthelminthics; External validity; Generalizability; Cluster sample community survey; Uganda
Maternal and associated neonatal mortality rates in sub-Saharan Africa remain unacceptably high. In Mulago Hospital (Kampala, Uganda), 2 major causes of maternal death are preeclampsia and obstructed labor and their complications, conditions occurring at the extremes of the birthweight spectrum, a situation encapsulated as the obstetric dilemma. We have questioned whether the prevalence of these disorders occurs more frequently in indigenous African women and those with African ancestry elsewhere in the world by reviewing available literature. We conclude that these women are at greater risk of preeclampsia than other racial groups. At least part of this susceptibility seems independent of socioeconomic status and likely is due to biological or genetic factors. Evidence for a genetic contribution to preeclampsia is discussed. We go on to propose that the obstetric dilemma in humans is responsible for this situation and discuss how parturition and birthweight are subject to stabilizing selection. Other data we present also suggest that there are particularly strong evolutionary selective pressures operating during pregnancy and delivery in Africans. There is much greater genetic diversity and less linkage disequilibrium in Africa, and the genes responsible for regulating birthweight and placentation may therefore be easier to define than in non-African cohorts. Inclusion of African women into research on preeclampsia is an essential component in tackling this major disparity of maternal health.
evolutionary selective pressure; great obstetric syndromes; length of gestation; obstetric dilemma
In neonatal encephalopathy (NE), infectious co-morbidity is difficult to diagnose accurately, but may increase the vulnerability of the developing brain to hypoxia-ischemia. We developed a novel panel of species-specific real-time PCR assays to identify bloodstream pathogens amongst newborns with and without NE in Uganda.
Multiplex real-time PCR assays for important neonatal bloodstream pathogens (gram positive and gram negative bacteria, cytomegalovirus (CMV), herpes simplex virus(HSV) and P. falciparum) were performed on whole blood taken from 202 encephalopathic and 101 control infants. Automated blood culture (BACTEC) was performed for all cases and unwell controls.
Prevalence of pathogenic bacterial species amongst infants with NE was 3.6%, 6.9% and 8.9%, with culture, PCR and both tests in combination, respectively. More encephalopathic infants than controls had pathogenic bacterial species detected (8.9%vs2.0%, p = 0.028) using culture and PCR in combination. PCR detected bacteremia in 11 culture negative encephalopathic infants (3 Group B Streptococcus, 1 Group A Streptococcus, 1 Staphylococcus aureus and 6 Enterobacteriacae). Coagulase negative staphylococcus, frequently detected by PCR amongst case and control infants, was considered a contaminant. Prevalence of CMV, HSV and malaria amongst cases was low (1.5%, 0.5% and 0.5%, respectively).
This real-time PCR panel detected more bacteremia than culture alone and provides a novel tool for detection of neonatal bloodstream pathogens that may be applied across a range of clinical situations and settings. Significantly more encephalopathic infants than controls had pathogenic bacterial species detected suggesting that infection may be an important risk factor for NE in this setting.
In most resource limited settings, new tuberculosis (TB) patients are usually treated as outpatients. We sought to investigate the reasons for hospitalisation and the predictors of poor treatment outcomes and mortality in a cohort of hospitalized new TB patients in Kampala, Uganda
Methods and findings
Ninety-six new TB patients hospitalised between 2003 and 2006 were enrolled and followed for two years. Thirty two were HIV-uninfected and 64 were HIV-infected. Among the HIV-uninfected, the commonest reasons for hospitalization were low Karnofsky score (47%) and need for diagnostic evaluation (25%). HIV-infected patients were commonly hospitalized due to low Karnofsky score (72%), concurrent illness (16%) and diagnostic evaluation (14%). Eleven HIV uninfected patients died (mortality rate 19.7 per 100 person-years) while 41 deaths occurred among the HIV-infected patients (mortality rate 46.9 per 100 person years). In all patients an unsuccessful treatment outcome (treatment failure, death during the treatment period or an unknown outcome) was associated with duration of TB symptoms, with the odds of an unsuccessful outcome decreasing with increasing duration. Among HIV-infected patients, an unsuccessful treatment outcome was also associated with male sex (P = 0.004) and age (P = 0.034). Low Karnofsky score (aHR = 8.93, 95% CI 1.88 – 42.40, P = 0.001) was the only factor significantly associated with mortality among the HIV-uninfected. Mortality among the HIV-infected was associated with the composite variable of CD4 and ART use, with patients with baseline CD4 below 200 cells/µL who were not on ART at a greater risk of death than those who were on ART, and low Karnofsky score (aHR = 2.02, 95% CI 1.02 – 4.01, P = 0.045).
Poor health status is a common cause of hospitalisation for new TB patients. Mortality in this study was very high and associated with advanced HIV Disease and no use of ART.