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1.  Severe influenza cases in paediatric intensive care units in Germany during the pre-pandemic seasons 2005 to 2008 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:233.
Background
Data on complications in children with seasonal influenza virus infection are limited. We initiated a nation-wide three-year surveillance of children who were admitted to a paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) with severe seasonal influenza.
Methods
From October 2005 to July 2008, active surveillance was performed using an established reporting system for rare diseases (ESPED) including all paediatric hospitals in Germany. Cases to be reported were hospitalized children < 17 years of age with laboratory-confirmed influenza treated in a PICU or dying in hospital.
Results
Twenty severe influenza-associated cases were reported from 14 PICUs during three pre-pandemic influenza seasons (2005-2008). The median age of the patients (12 males/8 females) was 7.5 years (range 0.1-15 years). None had received vaccination against influenza. In 14 (70%) patients, the infection had been caused by influenza A and in five (25%) by influenza B; in one child (5%) the influenza type was not reported. Patients spent a median of 19 (IQR 12-38) days in the hospital and a median of 11 days (IQR 6-18 days) in the PICU; 10 (50%) needed mechanical ventilation. Most frequent diagnoses were influenza-associated pneumonia (60%), bronchitis/bronchiolitis (30%), encephalitis/encephalopathy (25%), secondary bacterial pneumonia (25%), and ARDS (25%). Eleven (55%) children had chronic underlying medical conditions, including 8 (40%) with chronic pulmonary diseases. Two influenza A- associated deaths were reported: i) an 8-year old boy with pneumococcal encephalopathy following influenza infection died from cerebral edema, ii) a 14-year-old boy with asthma bronchiale, cardiac malformation and Addison's disease died from cardiac and respiratory failure. For nine (45%) patients, possibly permanent sequelae were reported (3 neurological, 3 pulmonary, 3 other sequelae).
Conclusions
Influenza-associated pneumonia and secondary bacterial infections are relevant complications of seasonal influenza in Germany. The incidence of severe influenza cases in PICUs was relatively low. This may be either due to the weak to moderate seasonal influenza activity during the years 2005 to 2008 or due to under-diagnosis of influenza by physicians. Fifty% of the observed severe cases might have been prevented by following the recommendations for vaccination of risk groups in Germany.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-233
PMCID: PMC3175218  PMID: 21880125
2.  Ebola haemorrhagic fever outbreak in Masindi District, Uganda: outbreak description and lessons learned 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:357.
Background
Ebola haemorrhagic fever (EHF) is infamous for its high case-fatality proportion (CFP) and the ease with which it spreads among contacts of the diseased. We describe the course of the EHF outbreak in Masindi, Uganda, in the year 2000, and report on response activities.
Methods
We analysed surveillance records, hospital statistics, and our own observations during response activities. We used Fisher's exact tests for differences in proportions, t-tests for differences in means, and logistic regression for multivariable analysis.
Results
The response to the outbreak consisted of surveillance, case management, logistics and public mobilisation. Twenty-six EHF cases (24 laboratory confirmed, two probable) occurred between October 21st and December 22nd, 2000. CFP was 69% (18/26). Nosocomial transmission to the index case occurred in Lacor hospital in Gulu, outside the Ebola ward. After returning home to Masindi district the index case became the origin of a transmission chain within her own extended family (18 further cases), from index family members to health care workers (HCWs, 6 cases), and from HCWs to their household contacts (1 case). Five out of six occupational cases of EHF in HCWs occurred after the introduction of barrier nursing, probably due to breaches of barrier nursing principles. CFP was initially very high (76%) but decreased (20%) due to better case management after reinforcing the response team. The mobilisation of the community for the response efforts was challenging at the beginning, when fear, panic and mistrust had to be countered by the response team.
Conclusions
Large scale transmission in the community beyond the index family was prevented by early case identification and isolation as well as quarantine imposed by the community. The high number of occupational EHF after implementing barrier nursing points at the need to strengthen training and supervision of local HCWs. The difference in CFP before and after reinforcing the response team together with observations on the ward suggest a critical role for intensive supportive treatment. Collecting high quality clinical data is a priority for future outbreaks in order to identify the best possible FHF treatment regime under field conditions.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-357
PMCID: PMC3276451  PMID: 22204600
3.  Reducing malaria misdiagnosis: the importance of correctly interpreting Paracheck Pf® "faint test bands" in a low transmission area of Tanzania 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:308.
Background
Although malaria rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) have been extensively evaluated since their introduction in the early 1990's, sensitivity and specificity vary widely limiting successful integration into clinical practice. This paper reviews specific issues surrounding RDT use in field settings and presents results of research investigating how to interpret "faint test bands" on ParaCheck Pf® in areas of low transmission in order to reduce malaria misdiagnosis.
Methods
A multi-phase cross-sectional study was conducted at a remote hospital in the northern Tanzanian highlands. Capillary blood samples were taken from consenting participants (n = 319) for blood smear and ParaCheck Pf® testing. Primary outcome variables were sensitivity, specificity and proportion misdiagnosed by ParaCheck Pf® and local microscopy. ParaCheck Pf® "faint bands" were classified as both true positives or true negatives during evaluation to determine appropriate clinical interpretation. Multivariate logistic regression adjusted for age and gender was conducted to determine odds of misdiagnosis for local microscopy and ParaCheck Pf®.
Results
Overall, 23.71% of all ParaCheck Pf® tests resulted in a "faint band" and 94.20% corresponded with true negatives. When ParaCheck Pf® "faint bands" were classified as positive, specificity was 75.5% (95% CI = 70.3% - 80.6%) as compared to 98.9% (95% CI = 97.0% - 99.8%) when classified as negative. The odds of misdiagnosis by local microscopy for those > 5 years as compared to those ≤ 5 years are 0.370 (95% CI = 0.1733 - 0.7915, p = 0.010). In contrast, even when ParaCheck Pf® faint bands are considered positive, the odds of misdiagnosis by ParaCheck Pf® for those > 5 years as compared to those ≤ 5 years are 0.837 (95% CI = 0.459 - 1.547, p = 0.5383).
Conclusions
We provide compelling evidence that in areas of low transmission, "faint bands" should be considered a negative test when used to inform clinical decision-making. Correct interpretation of RDT test bands in a clinical setting plays a central role in successful malaria surveillance, appropriate patient management and most importantly reducing misdiagnosis.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-308
PMCID: PMC3266231  PMID: 22054069
4.  What is the potential for bisexual men in China to act as a bridge of HIV transmission to the female population? Behavioural evidence from a systematic review and meta-analysis 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:242.
Background
HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men (MSM) in China has rapidly increased in recent years. It is suggested that MSM could be a potential bridge of HIV transmission to the general female population. We investigated the bisexual behaviour of MSM in China through systematic review and meta-analysis.
Methods
We conducted a systematic review and meta-analyses on published peer-reviewed Chinese and English literature during 2001-2010 according to the PRISMA guidelines. Marital status and sexual behavioural indicators of MSM were presented graphically using forest plots. The pooled effect rates with 95% confidence intervals were also calculated. Meta-regression analyses were performed to examine the factors associated with high heterogeneities across the studies.
Results
Forty-three eligible articles (11 in English and 32 in Chinese) were identified. Our results showed that 17.0% (95% CI: 15.1-19.1%) of MSM in China are currently married to a woman and 26.3% (95% CI: 23.6-29.1%) of MSM had female sexual partners in the last six months. The pooled estimates for condom use rate between MSM and female sex partners was 41.4% (95% CI: 35.5-47.5%) at the last sex act; and 25.6% (95% CI: 23.0-28.4%) in the last six months. The consistent condom use rates with regular, non-commercial, casual and commercial female sex partners in the last six months were 23.3% (95% CI: 11.25-42.1%), 39.0% (95% CI: 28.8-50.3%) and 55.8% (95% CI: 41.4-69.4%), respectively.
Conclusions
A substantial proportion of Chinese MSM is currently married or had sexual relations with a female in the past six months. In addition, low condom usage was common between married MSM and their wives, hence posing a higher risk of transmitting HIV. Harm-reduction programs targeting married MSM and their female partners are necessary to curb the further spread of HIV infection to the general female population.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-242
PMCID: PMC3180676  PMID: 21920042
Men who have sex with men (MSM); meta-analysis; bisexual behaviour; condom use
5.  Intracardiac left atrial tuberculoma in an eleven-month-old infant: case report 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:359.
Background
Cardiac tuberculosis is rare and usually manifests as tuberculous pericarditis. Involvement of other part of the heart is unusual and descriptions in the pediatric literature are confined to few case reports regarding mainly myocardial tuberculosis.
Case presentation
We describe a case of pulmonary miliary tuberculosis associated with intracardiac left atrial tuberculoma in an immunocompetent eleven-month-old infant successfully treated with surgery and antituberculous therapy.
Conclusion
Although unusual, involvement of endocardium in disseminated tuberculosis should be kept in mind.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-359
PMCID: PMC3268750  PMID: 22208878
6.  Influenza A/H1N1 septic shock in a patient with systemic lupus erythematosus. A case report 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:358.
Background
Immunocompromised patients, such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) sufferers have an increased risk of mortality, following influenza infection. In the recent pandemic, influenza A H1NI virus caused 18449 deaths, mainly because of adult respiratory distress syndrome or bacterial co-infections.
Case Presentation
In this case report, an SLE patient with viral-induced septic shock, without overt pulmonary involvement, is discussed. The patient was administered oseltamivir and supportive treatment, including wide-spectrum antibiotics, vasopressors and steroids, according to the guidelines proposed for bacterial sepsis and septic shock. She finally survived and experienced a lupus flare soon after intensive care unit (ICU) discharge.
Conclusions
To our knowledge, this is the first case to report severe septic shock from influenza A/H1N1 virus, without overt pulmonary involvement.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-358
PMCID: PMC3265447  PMID: 22206235
Influenza A/H1N1; systemic lupus erythematosus; septic shock
7.  The definition of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders: are we overestimating the real prevalence? 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:356.
Background
A substantial prevalence of mild neurocognitive disorders has been reported in HIV, also in patients treated with combination antiretroviral therapy (cART). This includes a new disorder that has been termed asymptomatic neurocognitive impairment (ANI).
Discussion
ANI is identified by performance on formal neuropsychological testing that is at least 1 SD below the mean of normative scores in at least two cognitive domains out of at least five examined in patients without associated symptoms or evident functional impairment in daily living. While two tests are recommended to assess each domain, only one is required to fulfill this diagnostic criterion. Unfortunately, this definition necessitates that about 20% of the cognitively normal HIV-infected population is classified as suffering ANI. This liberal definition raises important ethical concerns and has as well diagnostic and therapeutic implications. Since neither its biological substrate, prognostic significance nor therapeutic implications are clearly established, we recommend that this diagnosis be modified or applied cautiously.
Summary
The diagnoses of less severe forms of neurocognitive disorders in HIV relies on the outcomes of neuropsychological testing, and a high proportion of HIV-infected patients with effective cART may be classified as neurocognitively abnormal using the current criteria. The definition of ANI is not stringent, and results in approximately 20% of the population being classified as abnormal. To us this seems an unacceptable false-positive rate.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-356
PMCID: PMC3260107  PMID: 22204557
8.  Timeliness of contact tracing among flight passengers for influenza A/H1N1 2009 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:355.
Background
During the initial containment phase of influenza A/H1N1 2009, close contacts of cases were traced to provide antiviral prophylaxis within 48 h after exposure and to alert them on signs of disease for early diagnosis and treatment. Passengers seated on the same row, two rows in front or behind a patient infectious for influenza, during a flight of ≥ 4 h were considered close contacts. This study evaluates the timeliness of flight-contact tracing (CT) as performed following national and international CT requests addressed to the Center of Infectious Disease Control (CIb/RIVM), and implemented by the Municipal Health Services of Schiphol Airport.
Methods
Elapsed days between date of flight arrival and the date passenger lists became available (contact details identified - CI) was used as proxy for timeliness of CT. In a retrospective study, dates of flight arrival, onset of illness, laboratory diagnosis, CT request and identification of contacts details through passenger lists, following CT requests to the RIVM for flights landed at Schiphol Airport were collected and analyzed.
Results
24 requests for CT were identified. Three of these were declined as over 4 days had elapsed since flight arrival. In 17 out of 21 requests, contact details were obtained within 7 days after arrival (81%). The average delay between arrival and CI was 3,9 days (range 2-7), mainly caused by delay in diagnosis of the index patient after arrival (2,6 days). In four flights (19%), contacts were not identified or only after > 7 days. CI involving Dutch airlines was faster than non-Dutch airlines (P < 0,05). Passenger locator cards did not improve timeliness of CI. In only three flights contact details were identified within 2 days after arrival.
Conclusion
CT for influenza A/H1N1 2009 among flight passengers was not successful for timely provision of prophylaxis. CT had little additional value for alerting passengers for disease symptoms, as this information already was provided during and after the flight. Public health authorities should take into account patient delays in seeking medical advise and laboratory confirmation in relation to maximum time to provide postexposure prophylaxis when deciding to install contact tracing measures. International standardization of CT guidelines is recommended.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-355
PMCID: PMC3265549  PMID: 22204494
9.  Stability and infectivity of novel pandemic influenza A (H1N1) virus in blood-derived matrices under different storage conditions 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:354.
Background
Influenza A virus has been detected in the blood of some infected individuals, and may pose a safety concern for collection, handling and transport of specimens for epidemiological and public health investigations if infectious virus is present in samples. Furthermore the effect of storage on virus stability and infectivity has not been well studied.
Methods
We examined the stability of novel pandemic influenza A (H1N1) virus RNA when the virus was stored in phosphate buffered saline (PBS), plasma, or buffy coated blood at either room temperature or 4°C using a sensitive Taqman RT-PCR assay. We also investigated virus infectivity using the EID50 assay when virus was stored in PBS, plasma, or buffy coats isolated from blood at 4°C.
Results
Viral RNA stability was affected by the matrix used for storage. The recovery of viral RNA was highest when virus was stored in PBS with lower amounts being recovered from plasma and buffy coats at either room temperature or 4°C. Incubation time did not appear to be a major factor for viral RNA stability, although there was gradual decline after longer periods post-incubation. Both sample matrix and incubation time affected virus infectivity. The decay in virus infectivity was greatest in PBS followed by buffy coats and plasma. Virus infectivity was abolished in buffy coats at day 20 post-incubation when virus concentrations were low.
Conclusion
These data indicate that encapsidated viral RNA was stable overall in all three liquid matrices at room temperature or 4°C although it was most stable in PBS; virus infectivity in buffy coats at 4°C decayed in a time dependent manner while it remained unchanged in plasma. These findings have implications for storage, handling and transport of blood derived samples from influenza patients for epidemiological and laboratory investigations. It should be noted that there is little known about influenza viremia, and whether influenza viruses can be transmitted by blood or blood derived samples.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-354
PMCID: PMC3260324  PMID: 22192363
10.  Multi-centre evaluation of the speed-oligo Mycobacteria assay for differentiation of Mycobacterium spp. in clinical isolates 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:353.
Background
A new DNA line probe assay (Speed-oligo Mycobacteria, Vircell) has been launched for rapid differentiation of Mycobacterium spp. from cultures. Compared to other line-probe assays, Speed-oligo Mycobacteria covers a relatively limited spectrum of species but uses a simpler and faster dip-stick technique. The present multi-centre, multi-country study aimed at evaluating the utility and usability of Speed-oligo Mycobacteria in routine mycobacteriology diagnostics. Results from Speed-oligo Myobacteria were compared to those from Genotype CM (HAIN lifescience, Nehren, Germany), another line-probe assay.
Methods
Speed-oligo Mycobacteria assay was performed in three main steps: 1) DNA extraction from cultured material 2) PCR amplification of the target gene and an internal control and 3) hybridization of the PCR products to specific probes by means of a dip-stick.
Results
Two hundred forty-two clinical isolates were recovered from consecutive positive mycobacterial cultures at two German (IML Gauting, Bioscientia Ingelheim), one Czech (KLINLAB Prague), and at a Sudanese (Khartoum) laboratory. All Mycobacterium species covered by the assay were reliably recognized. The rate of false positive results was 1.2% and concerned only the species M. marinum and M. peregrinum. The identification rate, i.e. the proportion of isolates which was correctly differentiated to the level of species or complex by the assay, differed significantly among laboratories being 94.9%, 90.7%, and 75.0% at the study sites IML Gauting, KLINLAB Prague and Bioscientia Ingelheim, respectively. This difference was caused by different spectra of NTM species encountered by the laboratory centres in daily routine diagnostics.
Conclusions
Speed-oligo Mycobacteria assay was proved a rapid and easy-to-perform alternative to conventional line-probe assays. The assay showed excellent sensitivity with regard to identification of genus Mycobacterium and species/complexes covered by the test. However, due to its relatively limited spectrum of taxa, a varying proportion of NTM may not be identified by the assay in daily diagnostics demanding further analyses. The only significant shortcoming in terms of specificity was the misidentification of the clinically relevant species M. marinum.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-353
PMCID: PMC3292494  PMID: 22182531
11.  Epidemiological characteristics of varicella from 2000 to 2008 and the impact of nationwide immunization in Taiwan 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:352.
Background
Varicella has an important impact on public health. Starting in 2004 in Taiwan, nationwide free varicella vaccinations were given to 1-year-old children.
Methods
Our study investigated the epidemiological characteristics of varicella from 2000 to 2008, and assessed the change of varicella epidemiology after the mass varicella immunization. ICD-9-CM codes related to varicella or chickenpox (052, 052.1, 052.2, 052.7, 052.8, 052.9) were analyzed for all young people under 20 years of age through the National Health Insurance database of Taiwan from 2000 to 2008.
Results
Case numbers of varicella or chickenpox significantly declined after the nationwide immunization in 2004. Winter, particularly January, was the epidemic season of varicella. We found a significant post-vaccination decrease in incidence among preschool children, especially 3 to 6 year-old children-- the peak incidence was 66 per thousand for 4 and 5 year-old children before the nationwide immunization (2000 to 2003), and the peak incidence was 23 per thousand for 6 year-old children in 2008 (p < 0.001). Varicella-related hospitalization also significantly decreased in children younger than 6 years after the nationwide immunization.
Conclusion
The varicella annual incidence and varicella-related hospitalization markedly declined in preschool children after nationwide varicella immunization in 2004.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-352
PMCID: PMC3265566  PMID: 22176638
varicella; chickenpox; epidemiology; incidence; vaccine; prevention
12.  Excess mortality related to seasonal influenza and extreme temperatures in Denmark, 1994-2010 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:350.
Background
In temperate zones, all-cause mortality exhibits a marked seasonality, and one of the main causes of winter excess mortality is influenza. There is a tradition of using statistical models based on mortality from respiratory illnesses (Pneumonia and Influenza: PI) or all-cause mortality for estimating the number of deaths related to influenza. Different authors have applied different estimation methodologies. We estimated mortality related to influenza and periods with extreme temperatures in Denmark over the seasons 1994/95 to 2009/10.
Methods
We applied a multivariable time-series model with all-cause mortality as outcome, activity of influenza-like illness (ILI) and excess temperatures as explanatory variables, controlling for trend, season, age, and gender. Two estimates of excess mortality related to influenza were obtained: (1) ILI-attributable mortality modelled directly on ILI-activity, and (2) influenza-associated mortality based on an influenza-index, designed to mimic the influenza transmission.
Results
The median ILI-attributable mortality per 100,000 population was 35 (range 6 to 100) per season which corresponds to findings from comparable countries. Overall, 88% of these deaths occurred among persons ≥ 65 years of age. The median influenza-associated mortality per 100,000 population was 26 (range 0 to 73), slightly higher than estimates based on pneumonia and influenza cause-specific mortality as estimated from other countries. Further, there was a tendency of declining mortality over the years. The influenza A(H3N2) seasons of 1995/96 and 1998/99 stood out with a high mortality, whereas the A(H3N2) 2005/6 season and the 2009 A(H1N1) influenza pandemic had none or only modest impact on mortality. Variations in mortality were also related to extreme temperatures: cold winters periods and hot summers periods were associated with excess mortality.
Conclusion
It is doable to model influenza-related mortality based on data on all-cause mortality and ILI, data that are easily obtainable in many countries and less subject to bias and subjective interpretation than cause-of-death data. Further work is needed to understand the variations in mortality observed across seasons and in particular the impact of vaccination against influenza.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-350
PMCID: PMC3264536  PMID: 22176601
influenza; mortality; temperature; seasonality
13.  Risk factors for default from tuberculosis treatment in HIV-infected individuals in the state of Pernambuco, Brazil: a prospective cohort study 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:351.
Background
Concomitant treatment of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection and tuberculosis (TB) presents a series of challenges for treatment compliance for both providers and patients. We carried out this study to identify risk factors for default from TB treatment in people living with HIV.
Methods
We conducted a cohort study to monitor HIV/TB co-infected subjects in Pernambuco, Brazil, on a monthly basis, until completion or default of treatment for TB. Logistic regression was used to calculate crude and adjusted odds ratios, 95% confidence intervals and P-values.
Results
From a cohort of 2310 HIV subjects, 390 individuals (16.9%) who had started treatment after a diagnosis of TB were selected, and data on 273 individuals who completed or defaulted on treatment for TB were analyzed. The default rate was 21.7% and the following risk factors were identified: male gender, smoking and CD4 T-cell count less than 200 cells/mm3. Age over 29 years, complete or incomplete secondary or university education and the use of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) were identified as protective factors for the outcome.
Conclusion
The results point to the need for more specific actions, aiming to reduce the default from TB treatment in males, younger adults with low education, smokers and people with CD4 T-cell counts < 200 cells/mm3. Default was less likely to occur in patients under HAART, reinforcing the strategy of early initiation of HAART in individuals with TB.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-351
PMCID: PMC3297544  PMID: 22176628
14.  Latent tuberculosis infection, tuberculin skin test and vitamin D status in contacts of tuberculosis patients: a cross-sectional and case-control study 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:349.
Background
Deficient serum vitamin D levels have been associated with incidence of tuberculosis (TB), and latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI). However, to our knowledge, no studies on vitamin D status and tuberculin skin test (TST) conversion have been published to date. The aim of this study was to estimate the associations of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25[OH]D) status with LTBI prevalence and TST conversion in contacts of active TB in Castellon (Spain).
Methods
The study was designed in two phases: cross-sectional and case-control. From November 2009 to October 2010, contacts of 42 TB patients (36 pulmonary, and 6 extra-pulmonary) were studied in order to screen for TB. LTBI and TST conversion cases were defined following TST, clinical, analytic and radiographic examinations. Serum 25(OH)D levels were measured by electrochemiluminescence immunoassay (ECLIA) on a COBAS® 410 ROCHE® analyzer. Logistic regression models were used in the statistical analysis.
Results
The study comprised 202 people with a participation rate of 60.1%. Only 20.3% of the participants had a sufficient serum 25(OH)D (≥ 30 ng/ml) level. In the cross-sectional phase, 50 participants had LTBI and no association between LTBI status and serum 25(OH)D was found. After 2 months, 11 out of 93 negative LTBI participants, without primary prophylaxis, presented TST conversion with initial serum 25(OH)D levels: a:19.4% (7/36): < 20 ng/ml, b:12.5% (4/32):20-29 ng/ml, and c:0%(0/25) ≥ 30 ng/ml. A sufficient serum 25(OH)D level was a protector against TST conversion a: Odds Ratio (OR) = 1.00; b: OR = 0.49 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.07-2.66); and c: OR = 0.10 (95% CI 0.00-0.76), trends p = 0.019, adjusted for high exposure and sputum acid-fast bacilli positive index cases. The mean of serum level 25(OH)D in TST conversion cases was lower than controls,17.5 ± 5.6 ng/ml versus 25.9 ± 13.7 ng/ml (p = 0.041).
Conclusions
The results suggest that sufficient serum 25(OH)D levels protect against TST conversion.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-349
PMCID: PMC3292546  PMID: 22171844
Tuberculosis; Vitamin D; Latent tuberculosis infection; Tuberculin skin test conversion; Case-control study
15.  Successful management of cryptococcosis of the bilateral adrenal glands and liver by unilateral adrenalectomy with antifungal agents: a case report 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:340.
Background
Cryptococcus species usually affect the central nervous system and lungs in immunocompromised hosts. Although the adrenal glands can be involved in disseminated cryptococcosis, primary adrenal insufficiency caused by the fungal infection is uncommon.
Case presentation
We present a case of primary adrenal insufficiency with bilateral adrenal masses and liver invasion in a 43-year-old man with mild type 2 diabetes mellitus. Cryptococcosis was diagnosed by fine-needle aspiration biopsy of the liver mass. The serum cryptococcal antigen titer was elevated to 1:256. After 6 months of antifungal therapy with fluconazole and amphotericin B, the size of the liver mass was decreased, but no significant changes were observed in the bilateral adrenal masses and the serum cryptococcal antigen titer remained elevated at 1:128. To control the cryptococcosis, a laparoscopic left adrenalectomy was performed, followed by antifungal therapy. After the unilateral adrenalectomy, the size of the remaining right adrenal mass was reduced and the serum cryptococcal antigen titer declined to 1:4.
Conclusions
This is the first report describing adrenal cryptococcosis with adrenal insufficiency and liver invasion without central nervous system involvement. Adrenal cryptococcosis should be considered in the differential diagnosis for patients with bilateral adrenal masses with primary adrenal deficiency. Unilateral adrenalectomy was quite effective in controlling the cryptococcosis in this case. Even in patients with bilateral adrenal cryptococcosis, unilateral adrenalectomy should be an option for treatment of disseminated cryptococcosis.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-340
PMCID: PMC3254187  PMID: 22166121
16.  Enhanced upper genital tract pathologies by blocking Tim-3 and PD-L1 signaling pathways in mice intravaginally infected with Chlamydia muridarum 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:347.
Background
Although Tim-3 & PD-L1 signaling pathways play important roles in negatively regulating immune responses, their roles in chlamydial infection have not been evaluated.
Methods
Neutralization antibodies targeting Tim-3 and PD-L1 were used to treat mice. Following an intravaginal infection with C. muridarum organisms, mice with or without the dual antibody treatment were compared for live chlamydial organism shedding from the lower genital tract and inflammatory pathology in the upper genital tract.
Results
Mice treated with anti-Tim-3 and anti-PD-L1 antibodies displayed a time course of live organism shedding similar to that of mice treated with equivalent amounts of isotype-matched IgG molecules. The combined antibody blocking failed to alter either the lower genital tract cytokine or systemic humoral and cellular adaptive responses to C. muridarum infection. However, the antibody blocking significantly enhanced C. muridarum-induced pathologies in the upper genital tract, including more significant hydrosalpinx and inflammatory infiltration in uterine horn and oviduct tissues.
Conclusions
The Tim-3 and PD-L1-mediated signaling can significantly reduce pathologies in the upper genital tract without suppressing immunity against chlamydial infection, suggesting that Tim-3 and PD-L1-mediated negative regulation may be manipulated to attenuate tubal pathologies in women persistently infected with C. trachomatis organisms.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-347
PMCID: PMC3259114  PMID: 22168579
Chlamydia muridarum; Oviduct pathology; Tim-3 &; PD-L1 signaling pathways
17.  Effect modification of environmental factors on influenza-associated mortality: a time-series study in two Chinese cities 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:342.
Background
Environmental factors have been associated with transmission and survival of influenza viruses but no studies have ever explored the role of environmental factors on severity of influenza infection.
Methods
We applied a Poisson regression model to the mortality data of two Chinese metropolitan cities located within the subtropical zone, to calculate the influenza associated excess mortality risks during the periods with different levels of temperature and humidity.
Results
The results showed that high absolute humidity (measured by vapor pressure) was significantly (p < 0.05) associated with increased risks of all-cause and cardiorespiratory deaths, but not with increased risks of pneumonia and influenza deaths. The association between absolute humidity and mortality risks was found consistent among the two cities. An increasing pattern of influenza associated mortality risks was also found across the strata of low to high relative humidity, but the results were less consistent for temperature.
Conclusions
These findings highlight the need for people with chronic cardiovascular and respiratory diseases to take extra caution against influenza during hot and humid days in the subtropics and tropics.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-342
PMCID: PMC3265445  PMID: 22168284
18.  Detection of human bocavirus from children and adults with acute respiratory tract illness in Guangzhou, southern China 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:345.
Background
Human bocavirus (HBoV) is a newly discovered parvovirus associated with acute respiratory tract illness (ARTI) and gastrointestinal illness. Our study is the first to analyze the characteristics of HBoV-positive samples from ARTI patients with a wide age distribution from Guangzhou, southern China.
Methods
Throat swabs (n=2811) were collected and analyzed from children and adults with ARTI over a 13-month period. The HBoV complete genome from a 60 year-old female patient isolate was also determined.
Results
HBoV DNA was detected in 65/2811 (2.3%) samples, of which 61/1797 were from children (<18 years old) and 4/1014 from adults (≥18 years old). Seasonal peaks of 4.8% and 7.7% were detected in May and June, respectively. 28 of 65 (43.1%) HBoV-positive samples were co-detected with 11/16 other potential pathogens. Mycoplasma pneumoniae had the highest frequency of 16.9% (11/65). Upper and lower respiratory tract illness were common symptoms, with 19/65 (29.2%) patients diagnosed with pneumonia by chest radiography. All four adult patients had systemic influenza-like symptoms. Phylogenetic analysis of the complete genome revealed a close relationship with other HBoVs, and a more distant relationship with HBoV2 and HBoV3.
Conclusions
HBoV was detected from children and adults with ARTI from Guangzhou, southern China. Elderly people were also susceptive to HBoV. A single lineage of HBoV was detected among a wide age distribution of patients with ARTI.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-345
PMCID: PMC3267697  PMID: 22168387
19.  Incidence of maternal Toxoplasma infections in pregnancy in Upper Austria, 2000-2007 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:348.
Background
Despite three decades of prenatal screening program for toxoplasmosis in Austria, population-based estimates for the incidence of maternal infections with Toxoplasma gondii during pregnancy are lacking. We studied the incidence of primary maternal infections during pregnancy in the Federal State of Upper Austria.
Methods
Screening tests for 63,416 women and over 90,000 pregnancies (more than 84.5% of pregnancies in the studied region) in the time period between 01.01.2000 and 31.12.2007 were analysed. The incidence of toxoplasmosis was estimated indirectly by binomial and directly by interval censored regression.
Results
During the studied period, 66 acute infections (risk of 0.07% per pregnancy) were detected, but only 29.8% of seronegative women were tested at least three times during their pregnancies. The seroprevalence of Toxoplasma antibodies among all tested women was 31%. Indirectly estimated incidence (from differences in prevalence by age) was 0.5% per pregnancy, while directly estimated incidence (interval censored regression) was 0.17% per pregnancy (95% confidence interval: 0.13-0.21%).
Conclusions
Calculating incidence from observed infections results in severe underreporting due to many missed tests and potential diagnostic problems. Using statistical modelling, we estimated primary toxoplasmosis to occur in 0.17% (0.13-0.21%) of all pregnancies in Upper Austria.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-348
PMCID: PMC3274486  PMID: 22168604
20.  Encephalitis temporally associated with live attenuated Japanese encephalitis vaccine: four case reports 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:344.
Background
Japanese encephalitis (JE) vaccination is the most effective measure for preventing JE disease. The live attenuated JE vaccine, which has shown good efficacy and safety, has been widely used in China.
Case presentations
We report four laboratory-confirmed JE cases detected in JE-endemic areas during the JE virus (JEV) transmission season, who all received a first dose of live attenuated JE vaccine within 2 weeks prior to the onset of illness. All cases presented with acute encephalitis and rapidly reduced consciousness. All cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples from the patients were positive for JEV-specific immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibodies, but viral isolation and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) detection of JEV were both negative.
Conclusions
It is difficult to identify a causal link between the disease and the vaccination, as the source of positive CSF JEV IgM antibodies might be natural JEV infection or possibly due to a traumatic lumbar puncture. Our observations highlight the need for public health officers and doctors to consider reasonable vaccination policies during the JE season. In addition, continued surveillance as well as thorough investigation of any events that occur after JE vaccination is necessary.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-344
PMCID: PMC3282669  PMID: 22168358
21.  Disseminated rhodococcus equi infection in HIV infection despite highly active antiretroviral therapy 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:343.
Background
Rhodococcus equi (R.equi) is an acid fast, GRAM + coccobacillus, which is widespread in the soil and causes pulmonary and extrapulmonary infections in immunocompromised people. In the context of HIV infection, R.equi infection (rhodococcosis) is regarded as an opportunistic disease, and its outcome is influenced by highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).
Case presentation
We report two cases of HIV-related rhodococcosis that disseminated despite suppressive HAART and anti-rhodococcal treatment; in both cases there was no immunological recovery, with CD4+ cells count below 200/μL. In the first case, pulmonary rhodococcosis presented 6 months after initiation of HAART, and was followed by an extracerebral intracranial and a cerebral rhodococcal abscess 1 and 8 months, respectively, after onset of pulmonary infection. The second case was characterized by a protracted course with spread of infection to various organs, including subcutaneous tissue, skin, colon and other intra-abdominal tissues, and central nervous system; the spread started 4 years after clinical resolution of a first pulmonary manifestation and progressed over a period of 2 years.
Conclusions
Our report highlights the importance of an effective immune recovery, despite fully suppressive HAART, along with anti-rhodococcal therapy, in order to clear rhodococcal infection.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-343
PMCID: PMC3295727  PMID: 22168333
22.  An outbreak of coxsackievirus A6 hand, foot, and mouth disease associated with onychomadesis in Taiwan, 2010 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:346.
Background
In 2010, an outbreak of coxsackievirus A6 (CA6) hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) occurred in Taiwan and some patients presented with onychomadesis and desquamation following HFMD. Therefore, we performed an epidemiological and molecular investigation to elucidate the characteristics of this outbreak.
Methods
Patients who had HFMD with positive enterovirus isolation results were enrolled. We performed a telephone interview with enrolled patients or their caregivers to collect information concerning symptoms, treatments, the presence of desquamation, and the presence of nail abnormalities. The serotypes of the enterovirus isolates were determined using indirect immunofluorescence assays. The VP1 gene was sequenced and the phylogenetic tree for the current CA6 strains in 2010, 52 previous CA6 strains isolated in Taiwan from 1998 through 2009, along with 8 reference sequences from other countries was constructed using the neighbor-joining command in MEGA software.
Results
Of the 130 patients with laboratory-confirmed CA6 infection, some patients with CA6 infection also had eruptions around the perioral area (28, 22%), the trunk and/or the neck (39, 30%) and generalized skin eruptions (6, 5%) in addition to the typical presentation of skin eruptions on the hands, feet, and mouths. Sixty-six (51%) CA6 patients experienced desquamation of palms and soles after the infection episode and 48 (37%) CA6 patients developed onychomadesis, which only occurred in 7 (5%) of 145 cases with non-CA6 enterovirus infection (p < 0.001). The sequences of viral protein 1 of CA6 in 2010 differ from those found in Taiwan before 2010, but are similar to those found in patients in Finland in 2008.
Conclusions
HFMD patients with CA6 infection experienced symptoms targeting a broader spectrum of skin sites and more profound tissue destruction, i.e., desquamation and nail abnormalities.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-346
PMCID: PMC3297538  PMID: 22168544
Coxsackievirus A6; Hand; foot; and mouth disease; Onychomadesis
23.  Rate and determinants of treatment response to different antiretroviral combination strategies in subjects presenting at HIV-1 diagnosis with advanced disease 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:341.
Background
The optimal therapeutic strategies for patients presenting with advanced disease at HIV-1 diagnosis are as yet incompletely defined.
Methods
All patients presenting at two outpatient clinics in 2000-2009 with an AIDS-defining clinical condition or a CD4+ T cell count < 200/μL at HIV-1 diagnosis were analyzed for the presence of combined immunovirological response, defined by the concomitant presence of an absolute number of CD4+ T cells > 200 cells/μL and a plasma HIV-1 RNA copy number < 50/mL after 12 months of HAART.
Results
Among 102 evaluable patients, first-line regimens were protease inhibitors [PI]-based in 78 cases (77%) and efavirenz-based in 24 cases (23%). The overall response rate was 65% (95% CI: 55-74), with no differences by gender, age, nationality, route of transmission, hepatitis virus coinfections, presence of AIDS-defining clinical events, baseline HIV-1 viral load, or type of regimen (response rates with PI-based and efavirenz-based therapy: 63% and 71%, respectively, p = 0.474). Response rate was significantly better with higher baseline CD4+ T cell counts (78% with CD4+ ≥ 100/μL, compared to 50% with CD4+ < 100/μL; odds ratio: 3.5; 95% CI: 1.49-8.23, p = 0.003). Median time on first-line antiretroviral therapy was 24 months (interquartile range: 12-48). Switch to a second line treatment occurred in 57% of patients, mainly for simplification (57%), and was significantly more common with PI-based regimens [adjusted hazard ratios (AHR) with respect to efavirenz-based regimens: 3.88 for unboosted PIs (95% CI: 1.40-10.7, p = 0.009) and 4.21 for ritonavir-boosted PI (95%CI 1.7-10.4, p = 0.002)] and in older subjects (≥ 50 years) (AHR: 1.83; 95% CI: 1.02-3.31, p = 0.044). Overall mortality was low (3% after a median follow up of 48 months).
Conclusions
Our data indicate that a favorable immunovirological response is possible in the majority of naive patients presenting at HIV-1 diagnosis with AIDS or low CD4+ T cell counts, and confirm that starting HAART with a more compromised immune system may be associated with a delayed and sometimes partial immune recovery. Simpler regimens may be preferable in this particular population.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-341
PMCID: PMC3297656  PMID: 22166160
24.  Circulating levels of insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) correlate with disease status in leprosy 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:339.
Background
Caused by Mycobacterium leprae (ML), leprosy presents a strong immune-inflammatory component, whose status dictates both the clinical form of the disease and the occurrence of reactional episodes. Evidence has shown that, during the immune-inflammatory response to infection, the growth hormone/insulin-like growth factor-I (GH/IGF-I) plays a prominent regulatory role. However, in leprosy, little, if anything, is known about the interaction between the immune and neuroendocrine systems.
Methods
In the present retrospective study, we measured the serum levels of IGF-I and IGBP-3, its major binding protein. These measurements were taken at diagnosis in nonreactional borderline tuberculoid (NR BT), borderline lepromatous (NR BL), and lepromatous (NR LL) leprosy patients in addition to healthy controls (HC). LL and BL patients who developed reaction during the course of the disease were also included in the study. The serum levels of IGF-I, IGFBP-3 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) were evaluated at diagnosis and during development of reversal (RR) or erythema nodosum leprosum (ENL) reaction by the solid phase, enzyme-labeled, chemiluminescent-immunometric method.
Results
The circulating IGF-I/IGFBP-3 levels showed significant differences according to disease status and occurrence of reactional episodes. At the time of leprosy diagnosis, significantly lower levels of circulating IGF-I/IGFBP-3 were found in NR BL and NR LL patients in contrast to NR BT patients and HCs. However, after treatment, serum IGF-I levels in BL/LL patients returned to normal. Notably, the levels of circulating IGF-I at diagnosis were low in 75% of patients who did not undergo ENL during treatment (NR LL patients) in opposition to the normal levels observed in those who suffered ENL during treatment (R LL patients). Nonetheless, during ENL episodes, the levels observed in RLL sera tended to decrease, attaining similar levels to those found in NR LL patients. Interestingly, IGF-I behaved contrary to what was observed during RR episodes in R BL patients.
Conclusions
Our data revealed important alterations in the IGF system in relation to the status of the host immune-inflammatory response to ML while at the same time pointing to the circulating IGF-I/IGFBP-3 levels as possible predictive biomarkers for ENL in LL patients at diagnosis.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-339
PMCID: PMC3266221  PMID: 22166091
Leprosy; IGF-I; IGFBP-3; Leprosy reactions; Mycobacterium leprae; Biomarker; Neuroendocrine system; Immune-inflammatory response
25.  Molecular detection and speciation of pathogenic Leptospira spp. in blood from patients with culture-negative leptospirosis 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:338.
Background
Pathogenic Leptospira spp. present in the blood of patients with leptospirosis during the first week of symptoms can be detected using culture or PCR. A proportion of patients who are positive by PCR are negative by culture. Leptospira spp. are fastidious bacteria, and we hypothesized that a false-negative culture result may represent infection with a distinct bacterial subset that fail to grow in standard culture medium.
Methods
We evaluated our hypothesis during a prospective study of 418 consecutive patients presenting to a hospital in northeast Thailand with an acute febrile illness. Admission blood samples were taken for Leptospira culture and PCR. A single tube nested PCR that amplified a region of the rrs gene was developed and applied, amplicons sequenced and a phylogenetic tree reconstructed.
Results
39/418 (9%) patients were culture-positive for Leptospira spp., and 81/418 (19%) patients were culture-negative but rrs PCR-positive. The species associated with culture-positive leptospirosis (37 L. interrogans and 2 L. borgpetersenii) were comparable to those associated with culture-negative, PCR-positive leptospirosis (76 L. interrogans, 4 L. borgpetersenii, 1 unidentified, possibly new species).
Conclusion
Molecular speciation failed to identify a unique bacterial subset in patients with culture-negative, PCR-positive leptospirosis. The rate of false-negative culture was high, and we speculate that antibiotic pre-treatment is the most likely explanation for this.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-338
PMCID: PMC3297668  PMID: 22151687

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