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1.  Clinical investigation of an outbreak of alveolitis and asthma in a car engine manufacturing plant 
Thorax  2007;62(11):981-990.
Exposure to metal working fluid (MWF) has been associated with outbreaks of extrinsic allergic alveolitis (EAA) in the USA, with bacterial contamination of MWF being a possible cause, but is uncommon in the UK. Twelve workers developed EAA in a car engine manufacturing plant in the UK, presenting clinically between December 2003 and May 2004. This paper reports the subsequent epidemiological investigation of the whole workforce. The study had three aims: (1) to measure the extent of the outbreak by identifying other workers who may have developed EAA or other work‐related respiratory diseases; (2) to provide case detection so that those affected could be treated; and (3) to provide epidemiological data to identify the cause of the outbreak.
The outbreak was investigated in a three‐phase cross‐sectional survey of the workforce. In phase I a respiratory screening questionnaire was completed by 808/836 workers (96.7%) in May 2004. In phase II 481 employees with at least one respiratory symptom on screening and 50 asymptomatic controls were invited for investigation at the factory in June 2004. This included a questionnaire, spirometry and clinical opinion. 454/481 (94.4%) responded and 48/50 (96%) controls. Workers were identified who needed further investigation and serial measurements of peak expiratory flow (PEF). In phase III 162 employees were seen at the Birmingham Occupational Lung Disease clinic. 198 employees returned PEF records, including 141 of the 162 who attended for clinical investigation. Case definitions for diagnoses were agreed.
87 workers (10.4% of the workforce) met case definitions for occupational lung disease, comprising EAA (n = 19), occupational asthma (n = 74) and humidifier fever (n = 7). 12 workers had more than one diagnosis. The peak onset of work‐related breathlessness was Spring 2003. The proportion of workers affected was higher for those using MWF from a large sump (27.3%) than for those working all over the manufacturing area (7.9%) (OR = 4.39, p<0.001). Two workers had positive specific provocation tests to the used but not the unused MWF solution.
Extensive investigation of the outbreak of EAA detected a large number of affected workers, not only with EAA but also occupational asthma. This is the largest reported outbreak in Europe. Mist from used MWF is the likely cause. In workplaces using MWF there is a need to carry out risk assessments, to monitor and maintain fluid quality, to control mist and to carry out respiratory health surveillance.
PMCID: PMC2117138  PMID: 17504818
2.  Preeclampsia and maternal breast cancer risk by offspring gender: do elevated androgen concentrations play a role? 
British Journal of Cancer  2007;97(5):688-690.
Among older mothers, preeclampsia in the first pregnancy was associated with a reduction in maternal breast cancer risk that was significantly more pronounced in women bearing male than female infants. Androgen concentrations in male, preeclamptic pregnancies were consistent with the hypothesis that elevated pregnancy androgens might mediate this apparent modifying effect of fetal gender.
PMCID: PMC2360362  PMID: 17687337
preeclampsia; androgens; hormones; breast cancer; maternal; offspring gender
3.  Risk of Gastrointestinal Disease Associated with Exposure to Pathogens in the Sediments of the Lower Passaic River▿  
High levels of pathogenic microorganisms have been documented previously in waters of the Lower Passaic River in northern New Jersey. The purpose of this study was to characterize the microbial contamination of river sediments near combined sewer overflows (CSOs), a known source of pathogens. Concentrations of fecal coliform, total coliform, fecal Streptococcus, fecal Enterococcus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, Giardia lamblia, and Cryptosporidium parvum organisms were measured in 16 samples from three mudflat locations along the Lower Passaic River, as well as from an upstream location. Selected samples were also analyzed for antibiotic resistance. All of the samples contained high concentrations of total coliform, fecal coliform, fecal Streptococcus, and fecal Enterococcus organisms. Analysis of isolates of Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Escherichia coli from several samples indicated that each strain was resistant to at least one antibiotic typically used in clinical settings. Eight of 16 samples contained Giardia, and one sample contained Cryptosporidium. With these sampling data, a quantitative microbial risk assessment was conducted to evaluate the probability of infection or illness resulting from incidental ingestion of contaminated sediments over a 1-year period. Three potential exposure scenarios were considered: visitor, recreator, and homeless person. Single-event risk was first evaluated for the three individual exposure scenarios; overall risk was then determined over a 1-year period using Monte Carlo techniques to characterize uncertainty. For fecal Streptococcus and Enterococcus, annualized risk estimates for gastrointestinal illness ranged from approximately 0.42 to 0.53 for recreators, 0.07 to 0.10 for visitors, and 0.62 to 0.72 for homeless individuals across the three sampling locations. Annualized risk of Giardia infection ranged from 0.14 to 0.64 for recreators, 0.01 to 0.1 for visitors, and 0.30 to 0.87 for homeless individuals, across all locations where detected. Cryptosporidium was detected at one location, and the corresponding annualized risk of infection was 0.32, 0.05, and 0.51 for recreators, visitors, and homeless individuals, respectively. This risk assessment suggests that pathogen-contaminated sediments near areas of CSO discharge in the Lower Passaic River could pose a health risk to individuals coming into contact with sediments in the mudflat areas.
PMCID: PMC2258560  PMID: 18156335
4.  Neuronal Diversity in GABAergic Long-Range Projections from the Hippocampus 
The formation and recall of sensory, motor, and cognitive representations require coordinated fast communication among multiple cortical areas. Interareal projections are mainly mediated by glutamatergic pyramidal cell projections; only few long-range GABAergic connections have been reported. Using in vivo recording and labeling of single cells and retrograde axonal tracing, we demonstrate novel long-range GABAergic projection neurons in the rat hippocampus: (1) somatostatin- and predominantly mGluR1α-positive neurons in stratum oriens project to the subiculum, other cortical areas, and the medial septum; (2) neurons in stratum oriens, including somatostatin-negative ones; and (3) trilaminar cells project to the subiculum and/or other cortical areas but not the septum. These three populations strongly increase their firing during sharp wave-associated ripple oscillations, communicating this network state to the septotemporal system. Finally, a large population of somatostatin-negative GABAergic cells in stratum radiatum project to the molecular layers of the subiculum, presubiculum, retrosplenial cortex, and indusium griseum and fire rhythmically at high rates during theta oscillations but do not increase their firing during ripples. The GABAergic projection axons have a larger diameter and thicker myelin sheet than those of CA1 pyramidal cells. Therefore, rhythmic IPSCs are likely to precede the arrival of excitation in cortical areas (e.g., subiculum) that receive both glutamatergic and GABAergic projections from the CA1 area. Other areas, including the retrosplenial cortex, receive only rhythmic GABAergic CA1 input. We conclude that direct GABAergic projections from the hippocampus to other cortical areas and the septum contribute to coordinating oscillatory timing across structures.
PMCID: PMC2270609  PMID: 17699661
cerebral cortex; inhibition; interneuron; oscillation; rhythm; axon
5.  Real time curriculum map for internal medicine residency 
To manage the voluminous formal curriculum content in a limited amount of structured teaching time, we describe the development and evaluation of a curriculum map for academic half days (AHD) in a core internal medicine residency program.
We created a 3-year cyclical curriculum map (an educational tool combining the content, methodology and timetabling of structured teaching), comprising a matrix of topics under various specialties/themes and corresponding AHD hours. All topics were cross-matched against the ACP-ASIM in-training examination, and all hours were colour coded based on the categories of core competencies. Residents regularly updated the map on a real time basis.
There were 208 topics covered in 283 AHD hours. All topics represented core competencies with minimal duplication (78% covered once in 3 years). Only 42 hours (15%) involved non-didactic teaching, which increased after implementation of the map (18–19 hours/year versus baseline 5 hours/year). Most AHD hours (78%) focused on medical expert competencies. Resident satisfaction (90% response) was high throughout (range 3.64 ± 0.21, 3.84 ± 0.14 out of 4), which improved after 1 year but returned to baseline after 2 years.
We developed and implemented an internal medicine curriculum map based on real time resident input, with minimal topic duplication and high resident satisfaction. The map provided an opportunity to balance didactic versus non-didactic teaching, and teaching on medical versus non medical expert topics.
PMCID: PMC2186308  PMID: 17988402

Results 1-5 (5)