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Concept: 2015


Background Zika virus (ZIKV) infection has been linked to the Guillain-Barré syndrome. From November 2015 through March 2016, clusters of cases of the Guillain-Barré syndrome were observed during the outbreak of ZIKV infection in Colombia. We characterized the clinical features of cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome in the context of this ZIKV infection outbreak and investigated their relationship with ZIKV infection. Methods A total of 68 patients with the Guillain-Barré syndrome at six Colombian hospitals were evaluated clinically, and virologic studies were completed for 42 of the patients. We performed reverse-transcriptase-polymerase-chain-reaction (RT-PCR) assays for ZIKV in blood, cerebrospinal fluid, and urine, as well as antiflavivirus antibody assays. Results A total of 66 patients (97%) had symptoms compatible with ZIKV infection before the onset of the Guillain-Barré syndrome. The median period between the onset of symptoms of ZIKV infection and symptoms of the Guillain-Barré syndrome was 7 days (interquartile range, 3 to 10). Among the 68 patients with the Guillain-Barré syndrome, 50% were found to have bilateral facial paralysis on examination. Among 46 patients in whom nerve-conduction studies and electromyography were performed, the results in 36 patients (78%) were consistent with the acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy subtype of the Guillain-Barré syndrome. Among the 42 patients who had samples tested for ZIKV by RT-PCR, the results were positive in 17 patients (40%). Most of the positive RT-PCR results were in urine samples (in 16 of the 17 patients with positive RT-PCR results), although 3 samples of cerebrospinal fluid were also positive. In 18 of 42 patients (43%) with the Guillain-Barré syndrome who underwent laboratory testing, the presence of ZIKV infection was supported by clinical and immunologic findings. In 20 of these 42 patients (48%), the Guillain-Barré syndrome had a parainfectious onset. All patients tested were negative for dengue virus infection as assessed by RT-PCR. Conclusions The evidence of ZIKV infection documented by RT-PCR among patients with the Guillain-Barré syndrome during the outbreak of ZIKV infection in Colombia lends support to the role of the infection in the development of the Guillain-Barré syndrome. (Funded by the Bart McLean Fund for Neuroimmunology Research and others.).

Concepts: Immune system, Cerebrospinal fluid, Fever, Dengue fever, The Onset, Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, 2016, 2015


Zika virus belongs to the genus Flavivirus of the family Flaviviridae; it is transmitted to humans primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (e.g., Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus) (1). Zika virus has been identified as a cause of congenital microcephaly and other serious brain defects (2). As of June 30, 2016, CDC had issued travel notices for 49 countries and U.S. territories across much of the Western hemisphere (3), including Brazil, where the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games (Games of the XXXI Olympiad, also known as Rio 2016; Games) will be hosted in Rio de Janeiro in August and September 2016. During the Games, mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission is expected to be low because August and September are winter months in Brazil, when cooler and drier weather typically reduces mosquito populations (4). CDC conducted a risk assessment to predict those countries susceptible to ongoing Zika virus transmission resulting from introduction by a single traveler to the Games. Whereas all countries are at risk for travel-associated importation of Zika virus, CDC estimated that 19 countries currently not reporting Zika outbreaks have the environmental conditions and population susceptibility to sustain mosquito-borne transmission of Zika virus if a case were imported from infection at the Games. For 15 of these 19 countries, travel to Rio de Janeiro during the Games is not estimated to increase substantially the level of risk above that incurred by the usual aviation travel baseline for these countries. The remaining four countries, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, and Yemen, are unique in that they do not have a substantial number of travelers to any country with local Zika virus transmission, except for anticipated travel to the Games. These four countries will be represented by a projected, combined total of 19 athletes (plus a projected delegation of about 60 persons), a tiny fraction of the 350,000-500,000 visitors expected at the Games.* Overall travel volume to the Games represents a very small fraction (<0.25%) of the total estimated 2015 travel volume to Zika-affected countries,(†) highlighting the unlikely scenario that Zika importation would be solely attributable to travel to the Games. To prevent Zika virus infection and its complications among athletes and visitors to the Games and importation of Zika virus into countries that could sustain local transmission, pregnant women should not travel to the Games, mosquito bites should be avoided while traveling and for 3 weeks after returning home, and measures should be taken to prevent sexual transmission (Box).

Concepts: Olympic Games, Aedes, Rio de Janeiro, Summer Olympic Games, 2016 Summer Olympics, Paralympic Games, Estádio do Maracanã, 2015


In July 2015, a municipal health department in Ohio received complaints of respiratory and ocular symptoms from patrons of an indoor waterpark resort. In response, the health department conducted an online survey in August 2015 through which 19 (68%) patron and employee respondents reported eye burning, nose irritation, difficulty breathing, and vomiting. On August 11, 2015, the health department requested a health hazard evaluation by CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to characterize the prevalence of symptoms among employees and determine the etiology of work-related symptoms. In January 2016, CDC investigators performed a cross-sectional epidemiologic study, environmental sampling, and ventilation system assessment (1). Findings suggested that chlorine disinfection byproducts and environmental conditions contributed to a higher prevalence of work-related respiratory and ocular symptoms among employees in the waterpark compared with employees in other resort areas. Recommendations included servicing the ventilation system, changing work practices to decrease the amount of disinfection byproduct precursors, and responding promptly to employee reports of symptoms.

Concepts: Public health, Health, Epidemiology, Disease, Occupational safety and health, Health Hazard Evaluation Program, 2016, 2015


Background Colombia began official surveillance for Zika virus disease (ZVD) in August 2015. In October 2015, an outbreak of ZVD was declared after laboratory-confirmed disease was identified in nine patients. Methods Using the national population-based surveillance system, we assessed patients with clinical symptoms of ZVD from August 9, 2015, to April 2, 2016. Laboratory test results and pregnancy outcomes were evaluated for a subgroup of pregnant women. Concurrently, we investigated reports of microcephaly for evidence of congenital ZVD. Results By April 2, 2016, there were 65,726 cases of ZVD reported in Colombia, of which 2485 (4%) were confirmed by means of reverse-transcriptase-polymerase-chain-reaction (RT-PCR) assay. The overall reported incidence of ZVD among female patients was twice that in male patients. A total of 11,944 pregnant women with ZVD were reported in Colombia, with 1484 (12%) of these cases confirmed on RT-PCR assay. In a subgroup of 1850 pregnant women, more than 90% of women who were reportedly infected during the third trimester had given birth, and no infants with apparent abnormalities, including microcephaly, have been identified. A majority of the women who contracted ZVD in the first or second trimester were still pregnant at the time of this report. Among the cases of microcephaly investigated from January 2016 through April 2016, four patients had laboratory evidence of congenital ZVD; all were born to asymptomatic mothers who were not included in the ZVD surveillance system. Conclusions Preliminary surveillance data in Colombia suggest that maternal infection with the Zika virus during the third trimester of pregnancy is not linked to structural abnormalities in the fetus. However, the monitoring of the effect of ZVD on pregnant women in Colombia is ongoing. (Funded by Colombian Instituto Nacional de Salud and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.).

Concepts: Pregnancy, Childbirth, Infant, Embryo, Fetus, Infection, 2016, 2015


Candida auris is a globally emerging multidrug resistant fungal pathogen causing nosocomial transmission. We report an ongoing outbreak of C. auris in a London cardio-thoracic center between April 2015 and July 2016. This is the first report of C. auris in Europe and the largest outbreak so far. We describe the identification, investigation and implementation of control measures.

Concepts: Microbiology, London, 2016, 2015


Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is a postinfectious autoimmune disorder characterized by bilateral flaccid limb weakness attributable to peripheral nerve damage (1). Increased GBS incidence has been reported in countries with local transmission of Zika virus, a flavivirus transmitted primarily by certain Aedes species mosquitoes (2). In Puerto Rico, three arthropod-borne viruses (arboviruses) are currently circulating: Zika, dengue, and chikungunya. The first locally acquired Zika virus infection in Puerto Rico was reported in December 2015 (3). In February 2016, the Puerto Rico Department of Health (PRDH), with assistance from CDC, implemented the GBS Passive Surveillance System (GBPSS) to identify new cases of suspected GBS (4). Fifty-six suspected cases of GBS with onset of neurologic signs during January 1-July 31, 2016, were identified. Thirty-four (61%) patients had evidence of Zika virus or flavivirus infection; the median age of these patients was 55 years (range = 21-88 years), and 20 (59%) patients were female. These 34 patients were residents of seven of eight PRDH public health regions. All 34 patients were hospitalized and treated with intravenous immunoglobulin G (IVIg), the standard treatment for GBS; 21 (62%) required intensive care unit admission, including 12 (35%) who required endotracheal intubation and mechanical ventilation. One patient died of septic shock after treatment for GBS. Additionally, 26 cases of neurologic conditions other than GBS were reported through GBPSS, including seven (27%) in patients with evidence of Zika virus or flavivirus infection. Residents of and travelers to Puerto Rico and countries with active Zika virus transmission should follow recommendations for prevention of Zika virus infections.* Persons with signs or symptoms consistent with GBS should promptly seek medical attention. Health care providers in areas with ongoing local transmission seeing patients with neurologic illnesses should consider GBS and report suspected cases to public health authorities.

Concepts: Immune system, Health care, Health care provider, Medicine, Health, Illness, Intubation, 2015


Objectives To determine whether the outcome of drug studies influenced submission and/or acceptance rates for publication in peer reviewed medical journals.Design A six year retrospective review of publication status by study outcome for all human drug research studies conducted by a single industry sponsor (GlaxoSmithKline) that completed from 1 January 2009 to 30 June 2014 and were therefore due for manuscript submission (per the sponsor’s policy) to peer reviewed journals within 18 months of study completion-that is, 31 December 2015. In addition, manuscripts from studies completing after 30 June 2014 were included irrespective of outcome if they were submitted before 31 December 2015.Setting Studies conducted by a single industry sponsor (GlaxoSmithKline)Studies reviewed 1064 human drug research studies.Main outcome measures All studies were assigned a publication status at 26 February 2016 including (as applicable): study completion date, date of first primary manuscript submission, number of submissions, journal decision(s), and publication date. All studies were also classified with assessors blinded to publication status as “positive” (perceived favorable outcome for the drug under study), “negative” (perceived unfavorable outcome for the drug under study), mixed, or non-comparative based on the presence and outcome of the primary outcome measure(s) for each study. “Negative” studies included safety studies in which the primary outcome was achieved but was adverse for the drug under study. For the total cohort and each of the four study outcomes, measures included descriptive statistics for study phase, time from study completion to submission and publication, and number and outcome (accepted/rejected) of publication submissions.Results Of the 1064 studies (phase I-IV, interventional and non-interventional) included, 321 had study outcomes classified as positive, 155 as negative, 52 as mixed, and 536 as non-comparative. At the time of publication cut-off date (26 February 2016), 904 (85%) studies had been submitted for publication as full manuscripts and 751 (71%) had been successfully published or accepted, with 100 (9%) still under journal review. An additional 77 (7%) studies were conference abstracts and were not included in submission or publication rates. Submission rates by study outcome were 79% for the 321 studies with positive outcomes, 92% for the 155 with negative outcomes, 94% for the 52 with mixed outcomes, and 85% for the 536 non-comparative studies; while rates of publication at the cut-off date were 66%, 77%, 77%, and 71%, respectively. Median time from study completion to submission was 537 days (interquartile range 396-638 days) and 823 days (650-1063 days) from completion to publication, with similar times observed across study outcomes. First time acceptance rates were 56% for studies with positive outcomes and 48% for studies with negative outcomes. Over 10% of studies across all categories required three or more submissions to achieve successful publication. At the time of analysis, 83 studies had not been submitted for publication, including 49 bioequivalence studies with positive outcomes and 33 non-comparative studies. Most studies (98%, 1041/1064) had results posted to one or more public registers, including all studies subject to FDAAA (Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act) requirements for posting to www.clinicaltrials.govConclusions Over the period studied, there was no evidence of submission or publication bias: 92% of studies with negative outcomes were submitted for publication by the cut-off date versus 79% of those with positive outcomes. Publication rates were slightly higher for studies with a negative (that is, unfavorable) outcome compared with a positive outcome, despite a slightly lower rate of acceptance at first submission. Many studies required multiple submission attempts before they were accepted for publication. Analyses focusing solely on publication rates do not take into account unsuccessful efforts to publish. Sponsors and journal editors should share similar information to contribute to better understanding of issues and barriers to full transparency.

Concepts: Academic publishing, Peer review, Cultural studies, Outcome, Peer-to-peer, Mixed martial arts, 2016, 2015


Ireland’s Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 was signed by President Higgins in December 2015 and scheduled for commencement in 2016.

Concepts: 2016, 2015


Approximately 10% of ischemic strokes are associated with atrial fibrillation (AF) first diagnosed at the time of stroke. Detecting asymptomatic AF would provide an opportunity to prevent these strokes by instituting appropriate anticoagulation. The AF-SCREEN international collaboration was formed in September 2015 to promote discussion and research about AF screening as a strategy to reduce stroke and death and to provide advocacy for implementation of country-specific AF screening programs. During 2016, 60 expert members of AF-SCREEN, including physicians, nurses, allied health professionals, health economists, and patient advocates, were invited to prepare sections of a draft document. In August 2016, 51 members met in Rome to discuss the draft document and consider the key points arising from it using a Delphi process. These key points emphasize that screen-detected AF found at a single timepoint or by intermittent ECG recordings over 2 weeks is not a benign condition and, with additional stroke factors, carries sufficient risk of stroke to justify consideration of anticoagulation. With regard to the methods of mass screening, handheld ECG devices have the advantage of providing a verifiable ECG trace that guidelines require for AF diagnosis and would therefore be preferred as screening tools. Certain patient groups, such as those with recent embolic stroke of uncertain source (ESUS), require more intensive monitoring for AF. Settings for screening include various venues in both the community and the clinic, but they must be linked to a pathway for appropriate diagnosis and management for screening to be effective. It is recognized that health resources vary widely between countries and health systems, so the setting for AF screening should be both country- and health system-specific. Based on current knowledge, this white paper provides a strong case for AF screening now while recognizing that large randomized outcomes studies would be helpful to strengthen the evidence base.

Concepts: Stroke, Atrial fibrillation, Transient ischemic attack, Warfarin, Ischemia, Atrial flutter, 2016, 2015


Transmission of Zika virus (ZIKV) in the Americas was first confirmed in May 2015 in northeast Brazil. Brazil has had the highest number of reported ZIKV cases worldwide (more than 200,000 by 24 December 2016) and the most cases associated with microcephaly and other birth defects (2,366 confirmed by 31 December 2016). Since the initial detection of ZIKV in Brazil, more than 45 countries in the Americas have reported local ZIKV transmission, with 24 of these reporting severe ZIKV-associated disease. However, the origin and epidemic history of ZIKV in Brazil and the Americas remain poorly understood, despite the value of this information for interpreting observed trends in reported microcephaly. Here we address this issue by generating 54 complete or partial ZIKV genomes, mostly from Brazil, and reporting data generated by a mobile genomics laboratory that travelled across northeast Brazil in 2016. One sequence represents the earliest confirmed ZIKV infection in Brazil. Analyses of viral genomes with ecological and epidemiological data yield an estimate that ZIKV was present in northeast Brazil by February 2014 and is likely to have disseminated from there, nationally and internationally, before the first detection of ZIKV in the Americas. Estimated dates for the international spread of ZIKV from Brazil indicate the duration of pre-detection cryptic transmission in recipient regions. The role of northeast Brazil in the establishment of ZIKV in the Americas is further supported by geographic analysis of ZIKV transmission potential and by estimates of the basic reproduction number of the virus.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Brazil, São Paulo, Latin America, Portuguese language, Recife, Northeast Region, Brazil, 2015