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1.  Ribavirin for Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever: systematic review and meta-analysis 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2010;10:207.
Background
Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever epidemics often occur in areas where health services are limited, and result in high case fatality rates. Besides intensive care, ribavirin is often recommended. A solid evidence base for the use of this drug will help justify assuring access to the drug in areas where epidemics are common.
Methods
We carried out a systematic review of observational and experimental studies of people with suspected or confirmed Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever that included comparisons between patients given ribavirin and those not. We extracted data on mortality, hospital stay, and adverse events. Risk of bias was assessed using a standard checklist, and data were presented in meta-analytical graphs, stratified by study design, and GRADE tables presented. The risk of bias was summarised using the GRADE method.
Results
21 unique studies, including one randomised controlled trial of ribavirin, were included. Quality of the evidence was very low, with a Down and Black median score of 4 (maximum possible 33). Ribavirin treatment was not shown to be superior to no ribavirin treatment for mortality rate in a single RCT (RR: 1.13, 95%CI: 0.29 to 4.32, 136 participants, GRADE=low quality evidence); but ribavirin was associated with reduced mortality by 44% when compared to no ribavirin treatment in the pooled observational studies (RR: 0.56, 95%CI: 0.35 to 0.90, 955 participants; GRADE=very low quality evidence). Adverse events were more common with the ribavirin patients, but no severe adverse events were reported. No difference in length of hospital stay was reported.
Conclusions
No clear message of benefit is available from the current data on ribavirin as observational data are heavily confounded, and the one trial carried out has limited power. However, ribavirin could potentially have benefits in this condition and these results clearly indicate a pragmatic, randomised controlled trial in the context of good quality supportive care, is urgently needed and ethically justified.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-207
PMCID: PMC2912908  PMID: 20626907
2.  Occupational injury history and universal precautions awareness: a survey in Kabul hospital staff 
Background
Health staff in Afghanistan may be at high risk of needle stick injury and occupational infection with blood borne pathogens, but we have not found any published or unpublished data.
Methods
Our aim was to measure the percentage of healthcare staff reporting sharps injuries in the preceding 12 months, and to explore what they knew about universal precautions. In five randomly selected government hospitals in Kabul a total of 950 staff participated in the study. Data were analyzed with Epi Info 3.
Results
Seventy three percent of staff (72.6%, 491/676) reported sharps injury in the preceding 12 months, with remarkably similar levels between hospitals and staff cadres in the 676 (71.1%) people responding. Most at risk were gynaecologist/obstetricians (96.1%) followed by surgeons (91.1%), nurses (80.2%), dentists (75.4%), midwives (62.0%), technicians (50.0%), and internist/paediatricians (47.5%). Of the injuries reported, the commonest were from hollow-bore needles (46.3%, n = 361/780), usually during recapping. Almost a quarter (27.9%) of respondents had not been vaccinated against hepatitis B. Basic knowledge about universal precautions were found insufficient across all hospitals and cadres.
Conclusion
Occupational health policies for universal precautions need to be implemented in Afghani hospitals. Staff vaccination against hepatitis B is recommended.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-19
PMCID: PMC2835705  PMID: 20113517
3.  Pathogens associated with persistent diarrhoea in children in low and middle income countries: systematic review 
Background
Persistent diarrhoea in children is a common problem in low and middle income countries. To help target appropriate treatment for specific pathogens in the absence of diagnostic tests, we systematically reviewed pathogens most commonly associated with persistent diarrhoea in children.
Methods
We sought all descriptive studies of pathogens in the stool of children with diarrhoea of over 14 days duration in low and middle income countries with a comprehensive search of the MEDLINE, EMBASE, LILACS and WEB OF SCIENCE databases. We described the study designs and populations, assessed the quality of the laboratory tests, and extracted and summarised data on pathogens. For Escherichia coli, we calculated high and low prevalence estimates of all enteropathic types combined. Results across studies were compared for geographical patterns.
Results
Nineteen studies were included. Some used episodes of diarrhoea as the unit of analysis, others used children. The quality of reporting of laboratory procedures varied, and pathogens (particularly E. coli types) were classified in different ways. As there were no apparent regional differences in pathogen prevalence, we aggregated data between studies to give a guide to overall prevalence. Enteropathic E. coli types were commonly found in children with persistent diarrhoea (up to 63%). Various other organisms, including viruses, bacteria and parasites, were detected but across all studies their prevalence was under 10%. However, these pathogens were also found in similar frequencies in children without diarrhoea.
Conclusion
A number of pathogens are commonly associated with persistent diarrhoea in children, but in children without diarrhoea the pathogens are found with similar frequencies. New research with carefully selected controls and standardised laboratory investigations across countries will help map causes and help explore effective options for presumptive treatment.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-9-88
PMCID: PMC2709113  PMID: 19515227
4.  Antimicrobial drugs for persistent diarrhoea of unknown or non-specific cause in children under six in low and middle income countries: systematic review of randomized controlled trials 
Background
A high proportion of children with persistent diarrhoea in middle and low income countries die. The best treatment is not clear. We conducted a systematic review to evaluate the effectiveness of antimicrobial drug treatment for persistent diarrhoea of unknown or non-specific cause.
Methods
We included randomized comparisons of antimicrobial drugs for the treatment of persistent diarrhoea of unknown or non-specific cause in children under the age of six years in low and middle income countries. We searched the electronic databases MEDLINE, EMBASE, LILACS, WEB OF SCIENCE, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) to May 2008 for relevant randomized or quasi randomized controlled trials. We summarised the characteristics of the eligible trials, assessed their quality using standard criteria, and extracted relevant outcomes data. Where appropriate, we combined the results of different trials.
Results
Three trials from South East Asia and one from Guatemala were included, all were small, and three had adequate allocation concealment. Two were in patients with diarrhoea of unknown cause, and two were in patients in whom known bacterial or parasitological causes of diarrhoea had been excluded. No difference was demonstrated for oral gentamicin compared with placebo (presence of diarrhoea at 6 or 7 days; 2 trials, n = 151); and for metronidazole compared with placebo (presence of diarrhoea at 3, 5 and 7 days; 1 trial, n = 99). In one small trial, sulphamethoxazole-trimethoprim appeared better than placebo in relation to diarrhoea at seven days and total stool volume (n = 55).
Conclusion
There is little evidence as to whether or not antimicrobials help treat persistent diarrhoea in young children in low and middle income countries.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-9-24
PMCID: PMC2653038  PMID: 19257885
5.  Preventing infection from reusable medical equipment: a systematic review 
Background
In 2000, the World Health Organization (WHO) had eight sets of conflicting recommendations for decontaminating medical equipment. We conducted a systematic review of observational studies to assist WHO in reconciling the various guidelines. This paper summarises the methods developed and illustrates the results for three procedures – alcohol, bleach and povidone iodine.
Methods
We developed a Medline search strategy and applied inclusion criteria specifying the decontamination procedures of interest and an outcome of microbial destruction for a set of marker organisms. We developed protocols to assess the quality of studies and categorised them according to the reliability of the methods used. Through an iterative process we identified best practice for the decontamination methods and key additional factors required to ensure their effectiveness. We identified 88 published papers for inclusion, describing 135 separate studies of decontamination.
Results
For disinfection with alcohol, best practice was identified from 23 studies as an exposure to 70–80% ethanol or isopropanol for at least 5 minutes. Bleach was effective for sterilization at a concentration of 5000 ppm for 5 minutes and for disinfection at 1000 ppm for 10 minutes (33 studies). Povidone iodine was only partially effective for disinfection at a concentration of 1% for 15 minutes (15 studies).
Conclusions
Our findings provide an evidence base for WHO guidelines on decontaminating medical equipment. The results support the recommended use of bleach and show that alcohol could be used more widely than current guidelines suggest, provided best practice is followed. The effectiveness of povidone iodine is uncertain.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-2-4
PMCID: PMC102320  PMID: 11916458

Results 1-5 (5)