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ISSN: 15607917
Total articles ≅ 8,331

Latest articles in this journal

Julia Wigren Byström, Linnea Vikström, Ebba Rosendal, Remigius Gröning, Yong-Dae Gwon, Emma Nilsson, Atin Sharma, Akbar Espaillat, Leo Hanke, Gerald McInerney, et al.
Background: The current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has highlighted a need for easy and safe blood sampling in combination with accurate serological methodology. Venipuncture for testing is usually performed by trained staff at healthcare centres. Long travel distances to healthcare centres in rural regions may introduce a bias of testing towards relatively large communities with closer access. Rural regions are therefore often not represented in population-based data. Aim: The aim of this retrospective cohort study was to develop and implement a strategy for at-home testing in a rural region of Sweden during spring 2021, and to evaluate its role to provide equal health care for its inhabitants. Methods: We developed a sensitive method to measure antibodies to the S-protein of SARS-CoV-2 and optimised this assay for clinical use together with a strategy of at-home capillary blood sampling. Results: We demonstrated that our ELISA gave comparable results after analysis of capillary blood or serum from SARS-CoV-2-experienced individuals. We demonstrated stability of the assay under conditions that reflected temperature and humidity during winter or summer. By assessment of capillary blood samples from 4,122 individuals, we could show both feasibility of the strategy and that implementation shifted the geographical spread of testing in favour of rural areas. Conclusion: Implementation of at-home sampling enabled citizens living in remote rural areas access to centralised and sensitive laboratory antibody tests. The strategy for testing used here could therefore enable disease control authorities to get rapid access to information concerning immunity to infectious diseases, even across vast geographical distance.
Massimo Vicentini, Francesco Venturelli, Pamela Mancuso, Eufemia Bisaccia, Alessandro Zerbini, Marco Massari, Andrea Cossarizza, Sara De Biasi, Patrizio Pezzotti, Emanuela Bedeschi, et al.
Background: Understanding the epidemiology of reinfections is crucial for SARS-CoV-2 control over a long period. Aim: To evaluate the risk of SARS-CoV-2 reinfection by vaccination status, predominant variant and time after first infection. Methods: We conducted a cohort study including all residents in the Reggio Emilia province on 31 December 2019, followed up until 28 February 2022 for SARS-CoV-2 first infection and reinfection after 90 days. Cox models were used to compare risk of first infection vs reinfection, adjusting for age, sex, vaccine doses and comorbidities. Results: The cohort included 538,516 residents, 121,154 with first SARS-CoV-2 infections and 3,739 reinfections, most in the Omicron BA.1 period. In the pre-Omicron period, three doses of vaccine reduced risk of reinfection by 89% (95% CI: 87–90), prior infection reduced risk by 90% (95% CI: 88–91), while two doses and infection reduced risk by 98% (95% CI: 96–99). In the Omicron BA.1 period, protection estimates were 53% (95% CI: 52–55), 9% (95% CI: 4–14) and 76% (95% CI: 74–77). Before Omicron, protection from reinfection remained above 80% for up to 15 months; with Omicron BA.1, protection decreased from 71% (95% CI: 65–76) at 5 months to 21% (95% CI: 10–30) at 22 months from the first infection. Omicron BA.1 reinfections showed 48% (95% CI: 10–57) lower risk of severe disease than first infections. Conclusions: Natural immunity acquired with previous variants showed low protection against Omicron BA.1. Combined vaccination and natural immunity seems to be more protective against reinfection than either alone. Vaccination of people with prior infection reduced the risk of severe disease.
, Mary O’Riordan, Mary C. Morrissey, Niamh Dever, Cliodhna O’Mahony, Shem Romanowski, Máirín Boland
Many countries were under-prepared for the arrival of an emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic. An intra-action review allows countries, systems and services to reflect on their preparedness and response to date, and revise their policies and approaches as needed. We describe the approach to undertaking an intra-action review of Ireland’s Health Protection COVID-19 response during 2021. A project team within National Health Protection developed a project plan, identified key stakeholders, trained facilitators and designed workshop programmes, employing integrated collaborative web tools. Multidisciplinary representatives participated in three half-day, independently facilitated workshops on challenges and solutions within specific response areas: communication, governance and cross-cutting themes such as staff well-being. An all-stakeholder survey sought further in-depth detail. Participants reviewed the ongoing pandemic response in terms of good practice and challenges and recommended implementable solutions. We customised our mixed-methods approach using existing ECDC/WHO guidance, producing consensus recommendations during Ireland’s fourth wave of COVID-19, with particular focus on pathways to implementation. Our adaptations may help others in formulating and customising methodological approaches. During an emergency, identifying and reflecting on good practices to retain, and areas for strengthening, with a clear action plan of implementing recommendations, will enhance preparedness now, and for future emergencies.
Miguel Martínez-Lirola, Marta Herranz, Sergio Buenestado Serrano, Cristina Rodríguez-Grande, Eva Dominguez Inarra, Jose Antonio Garrido-Cárdenas, Ana María Correa Ruiz, María Pilar Bermúdez, Manuel Causse del Río, Verónica González Galán, et al.
Introduction: Mycobacterium caprae is a member of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC) not routinely identified to species level. It lacks specific clinical features of presentation and may therefore not be identified as the causative agent of tuberculosis. Use of whole genome sequencing (WGS) in the investigation of a family microepidemic of tuberculosis in Almería, Spain, unexpectedly identified the involvement of M. caprae. Aim: We aimed to evaluate the presence of additional unidentified M. caprae cases and to determine the magnitude of this occurrence. Methods: First-line characterisation of the MTBC isolates was done by MIRU-VNTR, followed by WGS. Human and animal M. caprae isolates were integrated in the analysis. Results: A comprehensive One Health strategy allowed us to (i) detect other 11 M. caprae infections in humans in a period of 18 years, (ii) systematically analyse M. caprae infections on an epidemiologically related goat farm and (iii) geographically expand the study by including 16 M. caprae isolates from other provinces. Integrative genomic analysis of 41 human and animal M. caprae isolates showed a high diversity of strains. The animal isolates’ diversity was compatible with long-term infection, and close genomic relationships existed between isolates from goats on the farm and recent cases of M. caprae infection in humans. Discussion: Zoonotic circulation of M. caprae strains had gone unnoticed for 18 years. Systematic characterisation of MTBC at species level and/or extended investigation of the possible sources of exposure in all tuberculosis cases would minimise the risk of overlooking similar zoonotic events.
Jean-Paul Guthmann, Philippe Fraisse, Isabelle Bonnet, Jérôme Robert
Persons fleeing Ukraine since February 2022 have potentially higher risk of tuberculosis (TB) vs all European Union countries. Interest of active TB screening among this population is debated and not widely adopted. In this screening intervention by a network of TB centres in France, the number needed to screen (NNS) was 862 to find one case. This experience shows that this strategy may be relevant for TB control in situations of massive displacement, similar to that following the Russian invasion.
Håvard Skagseth, , Jacqui Reilly, Oliver Kacelnik
Background: Great efforts have been made to minimise spread and prevent outbreaks of COVID-19 in hospitals. However, there is uncertainty in identifying nosocomial vs community-acquired infections. To minimise risks and evaluate measures, timely data on infection risk in healthcare institutions are required. Aims: To design an automated nationwide surveillance system for nosocomial COVID-19 using existing data to analyse the impact of community infection rates on nosocomial infections, to explore how changes in case definitions influence incidence and to identify patients and wards at highest risk and effects of SARS-CoV-2 variants. Methods: We used data from the Norwegian real-time emergency preparedness register (Beredt C19), which includes all patients nationwide admitted to Norwegian hospitals between March 2020 and March 2022 with a positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR test during their hospital stay or within 7 days post-discharge. COVID-19 cases were assigned to categories depending on the time between admission and testing. Results: Infection rates for definite/probable nosocomial COVID-19 increased from 0.081% in year 1 to 0.50% in year 2 in hospital admissions 7 days or longer. Varying the definitions resulted in large changes in registered nosocomial infections. Infection rates were similar across different ward types. By 2022, 58% of patients with a definite/probable nosocomial infection had received three vaccine doses. Conclusion: Automated national surveillance for nosocomial COVID-19 is possible based on existing data sources. Beredt C19 provided detailed information with only 5% missing data on hospitals/wards. Epidemiological definitions are possible to standardise, enabling easier comparison between regions and countries.
Catharina E van Ewijk, Fuminari Miura, Gini van Rijckevorsel, Henry Jc de Vries, Matthijs Ra Welkers, Oda E van Den Berg, Ingrid Hm Friesema, Patrick R van Den Berg, Thomas Dalhuisen, Jacco Wallinga, et al.
In early May 2022, a global outbreak of mpox started among persons without travel history to regions known to be enzootic for monkeypox virus (MPXV). On 8 August 2022, the Netherlands reported its 1,000th mpox case, representing a cumulative incidence of 55 per million population, one of the highest cumulative incidences worldwide. We describe characteristics of the first 1,000 mpox cases in the Netherlands, reported between 20 May and 8 August 2022, within the context of the public health response. These cases were predominantly men who have sex with men aged 31–45 years. The vast majority of infections were acquired through sexual contact with casual partners in private or recreational settings including LGBTQIA+ venues in the Netherlands. This indicates that, although some larger upsurges occurred from point-source and/or travel-related events, the outbreak was mainly characterised by sustained transmission within the Netherlands. In addition, we estimated the protective effect of first-generation smallpox vaccine against moderate/severe mpox and found a vaccine effectiveness of 58% (95% CI: 17–78%), suggesting moderate protection against moderate/severe mpox symptoms on top of any possible protection by this vaccine against MPXV infection and disease. Communication with and supporting the at-risk population in following mitigation measures remains essential.
Andrea Ammon, Hans Kluge
Abstract: is the online home of Eurosurveillance, Europe's journal on infectious disease surveillance, epidemiology, prevention and control.
Kathrin Euringer, Philipp Girl, Klaus Kaier, Jan Peilstöcker, Michael Schmidt, Michael Müller-Steinhardt, Beate Rauscher, Evelyn Bressau, Winfried V Kern, Gerhard Dobler, et al.
Background: The exact epidemiology of tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) infections is unknown because many TBEV infections have an influenza-like or asymptomatic course. Surveillance data are based on patients with any (predominantly neurological) symptoms that prompted diagnostic testing. Infection- and vaccine-induced antibodies against TBEV can be distinguished using an NS1 IgG ELISA. Aim: In a seroprevalence study we aimed to investigate TBEV antibody prevalence, incidences, manifestation indices and potential protection rates in a highly endemic district in south-western Germany. Methods: We analysed 2,220 samples from healthy blood donors collected between May and September 2021. The reported number of TBEV infections was provided on a sub-district level by the local public health authorities. Blood samples were first screened using a TBEV IgG ELISA. In a second step, all positive samples were further analysed with a recently established NS1 IgG ELISA. The presence of specific antibodies against TBEV (excluding cross-reacting antibodies against other flaviviruses) was confirmed by testing screening-positive samples with a microneutralisation assay. Results: Of 2,220 included samples, 1,257 (57%) tested positive by TBEV IgG ELISA and 125 tested positive for infection-induced TBEV NS1 antibodies, resulting in a TBEV NS1 IgG seroprevalence at 5.6% in our population. The yearly incidence based on the NS1 ELISA findings resulted in 283 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Conclusion: Using the TBEV NS1 IgG assay, we confirmed a manifestation index of ca 2% and a high incidence of predominantly silent TBEV infections (> 250/100,000/year), which exceeds the incidence of notified cases (4.7/100,000/year) considerably.
Veronica Cristea, , , Anastasia Pharris,
We report progress in the European Union/European Economic Area (EU/EEA) towards the Sustainable Development Goal target for tuberculosis (TB) and for the associated global/regional targets. The TB notification rate and the number of TB deaths declined since 2015 but, if current trends continue, the EU/EEA will not reach the 2030 targets. Performance on treatment initiation targets declined sharply during 2020–2021, while the percentage of TB cases with successful treatment outcomes remains low, at 47.9% of the multidrug-resistant TB cases.
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