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Concept: Outbreak

198

Understanding Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) transmission is essential to guide efficient tuberculosis control strategies. Traditional strain typing lacks sufficient discriminatory power to resolve large outbreaks. Here, we tested the potential of using next generation genome sequencing for identification of outbreak-related transmission chains.

Concepts: DNA, Epidemiology, Molecular biology, Tuberculosis, Mycobacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Outbreak, Shotgun sequencing

183

The spatiotemporal evolution of human mobility and the related fluctuations of population density are known to be key drivers of the dynamics of infectious disease outbreaks. These factors are particularly relevant in the case of mass gatherings, which may act as hotspots of disease transmission and spread. Understanding these dynamics, however, is usually limited by the lack of accurate data, especially in developing countries. Mobile phone call data provide a new, first-order source of information that allows the tracking of the evolution of mobility fluxes with high resolution in space and time. Here, we analyze a dataset of mobile phone records of ∼150,000 users in Senegal to extract human mobility fluxes and directly incorporate them into a spatially explicit, dynamic epidemiological framework. Our model, which also takes into account other drivers of disease transmission such as rainfall, is applied to the 2005 cholera outbreak in Senegal, which totaled more than 30,000 reported cases. Our findings highlight the major influence that a mass gathering, which took place during the initial phase of the outbreak, had on the course of the epidemic. Such an effect could not be explained by classic, static approaches describing human mobility. Model results also show how concentrated efforts toward disease control in a transmission hotspot could have an important effect on the large-scale progression of an outbreak.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Disease, Infectious disease, Infectious diseases, Pandemic, Mobile phone, Cholera, Outbreak

170

Research studies show that social media may be valuable tools in the disease surveillance toolkit used for improving public health professionals' ability to detect disease outbreaks faster than traditional methods and to enhance outbreak response. A social media work group, consisting of surveillance practitioners, academic researchers, and other subject matter experts convened by the International Society for Disease Surveillance, conducted a systematic primary literature review using the PRISMA framework to identify research, published through February 2013, answering either of the following questions: Can social media be integrated into disease surveillance practice and outbreak management to support and improve public health?Can social media be used to effectively target populations, specifically vulnerable populations, to test an intervention and interact with a community to improve health outcomes?Examples of social media included are Facebook, MySpace, microblogs (e.g., Twitter), blogs, and discussion forums. For Question 1, 33 manuscripts were identified, starting in 2009 with topics on Influenza-like Illnesses (n = 15), Infectious Diseases (n = 6), Non-infectious Diseases (n = 4), Medication and Vaccines (n = 3), and Other (n = 5). For Question 2, 32 manuscripts were identified, the first in 2000 with topics on Health Risk Behaviors (n = 10), Infectious Diseases (n = 3), Non-infectious Diseases (n = 9), and Other (n = 10).

Concepts: Medicine, Epidemiology, Disease, Infectious disease, Infection, Non-infectious disease, Outbreak, Facebook

169

BACKGROUND: There is an increasing need for processing and understanding relevant information generated by the systematic collection of public health data over time. However, the analysis of those time series usually requires advanced modeling techniques, which are not necessarily mastered by staff, technicians and researchers working on public health and epidemiology. Here a user-friendly tool, EPIPOI, is presented that facilitates the exploration and extraction of parameters describing trends, seasonality and anomalies that characterize epidemiological processes. It also enables the inspection of those parameters across geographic regions. Although the visual exploration and extraction of relevant parameters from time series data is crucial in epidemiological research, until now it had been largely restricted to specialists. METHODS: EPIPOI is freely available software developed in Matlab (The Mathworks Inc) that runs both on PC and Mac computers. Its friendly interface guides users intuitively through useful comparative analyses including the comparison of spatial patterns in temporal parameters. RESULTS: EPIPOI is able to handle complex analyses in an accessible way. A prototype has already been used to assist researchers in a variety of contexts from didactic use in public health workshops to the main analytical tool in published research. CONCLUSIONS: EPIPOI can assist public health officials and students to explore time series data using a broad range of sophisticated analytical and visualization tools. It also provides an analytical environment where even advanced users can benefit by enabling a higher degree of control over model assumptions, such as those associated with detecting disease outbreaks and pandemics.

Concepts: Public health, Health, Epidemiology, Time series, Biostatistics, Outbreak, The MathWorks, MATLAB

55

Zika virus (ZIKV) is a mosquito-borne flavivirus that is transmitted through the bite of Aedes spp mosquitoes and less predominantly, through sexual intercourse. Prior to 2007, ZIKV was associated with only sporadic human infections with minimal or no clinical manifestations. Recently the virus has caused disease outbreaks from the Pacific Islands, the Americas, and off the coast of West Africa with approximately 1.62 million people suspected to be infected in more than 60 countries around the globe. The recent ZIKV outbreaks have been associated with guillain-barré syndrome, congenital syndrome (microcephaly, congenital central nervous system anomalies), miscarriages, and even death. This review summarizes the path of ZIKV outbreak within the last decade, highlights three novel modes of ZIKV transmission associated with recent outbreaks, and points to the hallmarks of congenital syndrome. The review concludes with a summary of challenges facing ZIKV research especially the control of ZIKV infection in the wake of most recent data showing that anti-dengue virus antibodies enhance ZIKV infection.

Concepts: AIDS, Central nervous system, Nervous system, Brain, Disease, Infection, Transmission and infection of H5N1, Outbreak

48

Ebola virus causes a severe haemorrhagic fever in humans with high case fatality and significant epidemic potential. The 2013-2016 outbreak in West Africa was unprecedented in scale, being larger than all previous outbreaks combined, with 28 646 reported cases and 11 323 reported deaths. It was also unique in its geographical distribution and multicountry spread. It is vital that the lessons learned from the world’s largest Ebola outbreak are not lost. This article aims to provide a detailed description of the evolution of the outbreak. We contextualize this outbreak in relation to previous Ebola outbreaks and outline the theories regarding its origins and emergence. The outbreak is described by country, in chronological order, including epidemiological parameters and implementation of outbreak containment strategies. We then summarize the factors that led to rapid and extensive propagation, as well as highlight the key successes, failures and lessons learned from this outbreak and the response.This article is part of the themed issue ‘The 2013-2016 West African Ebola epidemic: data, decision-making and disease control’.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Infectious disease, Africa, Ebola, Marburg virus, Epidemic, Viral hemorrhagic fever, Outbreak

47

Elizabethkingia meningoseptica is an infrequent colonizer of the respiratory tract; its pathogenicity is uncertain. In the context of a 22-month outbreak of E. meningoseptica acquisition affecting 30 patients in a London, UK, critical care unit (3% attack rate) we derived a measure of attributable morbidity and determined whether E. meningoseptica is an emerging nosocomial pathogen. We found monomicrobial E. meningoseptica acquisition (n = 13) to have an attributable morbidity rate of 54% (systemic inflammatory response syndrome >2, rising C-reactive protein, new radiographic changes), suggesting that E. meningoseptica is a pathogen. Epidemiologic and molecular evidence showed acquisition was water-source-associated in critical care but identified numerous other E. meningoseptica strains, indicating more widespread distribution than previously considered. Analysis of changes in gram-negative speciation rates across a wider London hospital network suggests this outbreak, and possibly other recently reported outbreaks, might reflect improved diagnostics and that E. meningoseptica thus is a pseudo-emerging pathogen.

Concepts: Inflammation, Epidemiology, Pneumonia, Measurement, Systemic inflammatory response syndrome, Linguistics, C-reactive protein, Outbreak

41

The proportion of US food that is imported is increasing; most seafood and half of fruits are imported. We identified a small but increasing number of foodborne disease outbreaks associated with imported foods, most commonly fish and produce. New outbreak investigation tools and federal regulatory authority are key to maintaining food safety.

Concepts: United States, Food, U.S. state, Seafood, Foodborne illness, Food safety, Outbreak, Federal Bureau of Investigation

39

Modern infectious disease epidemiology builds on two independently developed fields: classical epidemiology and dynamical epidemiology. Over the past decade, integration of the two fields has increased in research practice, but training options within the fields remain distinct with few opportunities for integration in the classroom. The annual Clinic on the Meaningful Modeling of Epidemiological Data (MMED) at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences has begun to address this gap. MMED offers participants exposure to a broad range of concepts and techniques from both epidemiological traditions. During MMED 2010 we developed a pedagogical approach that bridges the traditional distinction between classical and dynamical epidemiology and can be used at multiple educational levels, from high school to graduate level courses. The approach is hands-on, consisting of a real-time simulation of a stochastic outbreak in course participants, including realistic data reporting, followed by a variety of mathematical and statistical analyses, stemming from both epidemiological traditions. During the exercise, dynamical epidemiologists developed empirical skills such as study design and learned concepts of bias while classical epidemiologists were trained in systems thinking and began to understand epidemics as dynamic nonlinear processes. We believe this type of integrated educational tool will prove extremely valuable in the training of future infectious disease epidemiologists. We also believe that such interdisciplinary training will be critical for local capacity building in analytical epidemiology as Africa continues to produce new cohorts of well-trained mathematicians, statisticians, and scientists. And because the lessons draw on skills and concepts from many fields in biology–from pathogen biology, evolutionary dynamics of host–pathogen interactions, and the ecology of infectious disease to bioinformatics, computational biology, and statistics–this exercise can be incorporated into a broad array of life sciences courses.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Cancer, Disease, Infectious disease, Statistics, Biology, Epidemic, Outbreak

34

Disease outbreaks can have substantial impacts on wild populations, but the often patchy or anecdotal evidence of these impacts impedes our ability to understand outbreak dynamics. Recently however, a severe disease outbreak occurred in a group of very well-studied organisms-sea stars along the west coast of North America. We analyzed nearly two decades of data from a coordinated monitoring effort at 88 sites ranging from southern British Columbia to San Diego, California along with 2 sites near Sitka, Alaska to better understand the effects of sea star wasting disease (SSWD) on the keystone intertidal predator, Pisaster ochraceus. Quantitative surveys revealed unprecedented declines of P. ochraceus in 2014 and 2015 across nearly the entire geographic range of the species. The intensity of the impact of SSWD was not uniform across the affected area, with proportionally greater population declines in the southern regions relative to the north. The degree of population decline was unrelated to pre-outbreak P. ochraceus density, although these factors have been linked in other well-documented disease events. While elevated seawater temperatures were not broadly linked to the initial emergence of SSWD, anomalously high seawater temperatures in 2014 and 2015 might have exacerbated the disease’s impact. Both before and after the onset of the SSWD outbreak, we documented higher recruitment of P. ochraceus in the north than in the south, and while some juveniles are surviving (as evidenced by transition of recruitment pulses to larger size classes), post-SSWD survivorship is lower than during pre-SSWD periods. In hindsight, our data suggest that the SSWD event defied prediction based on two factors found to be important in other marine disease events, sea water temperature and population density, and illustrate the importance of surveillance of natural populations as one element of an integrated approach to marine disease ecology. Low levels of SSWD-symptomatic sea stars are still present throughout the impacted range, thus the outlook for population recovery is uncertain.

Concepts: Demography, Population, Water, Population density, Evidence, Outbreak, Anecdotal evidence, Asteroidea