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Concept: World Health Organization


Herbal products available to consumers in the marketplace may be contaminated or substituted with alternative plant species and fillers that are not listed on the labels. According to the World Health Organization, the adulteration of herbal products is a threat to consumer safety. Our research aimed to investigate herbal product integrity and authenticity with the goal of protecting consumers from health risks associated with product substitution and contamination.

Concepts: Organism, Species, Herbalism, DNA barcoding, World Health Organization, Herbal, Consumer protection, Consumer


Background In September 2012, the World Health Organization reported the first cases of pneumonia caused by the novel Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). We describe a cluster of health care-acquired MERS-CoV infections. Methods Medical records were reviewed for clinical and demographic information and determination of potential contacts and exposures. Case patients and contacts were interviewed. The incubation period and serial interval (the time between the successive onset of symptoms in a chain of transmission) were estimated. Viral RNA was sequenced. Results Between April 1 and May 23, 2013, a total of 23 cases of MERS-CoV infection were reported in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia. Symptoms included fever in 20 patients (87%), cough in 20 (87%), shortness of breath in 11 (48%), and gastrointestinal symptoms in 8 (35%); 20 patients (87%) presented with abnormal chest radiographs. As of June 12, a total of 15 patients (65%) had died, 6 (26%) had recovered, and 2 (9%) remained hospitalized. The median incubation period was 5.2 days (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.9 to 14.7), and the serial interval was 7.6 days (95% CI, 2.5 to 23.1). A total of 21 of the 23 cases were acquired by person-to-person transmission in hemodialysis units, intensive care units, or in-patient units in three different health care facilities. Sequencing data from four isolates revealed a single monophyletic clade. Among 217 household contacts and more than 200 health care worker contacts whom we identified, MERS-CoV infection developed in 5 family members (3 with laboratory-confirmed cases) and in 2 health care workers (both with laboratory-confirmed cases). Conclusions Person-to-person transmission of MERS-CoV can occur in health care settings and may be associated with considerable morbidity. Surveillance and infection-control measures are critical to a global public health response.

Concepts: Health care, Health care provider, Public health, Epidemiology, Disease, Patient, Saudi Arabia, World Health Organization


Zika virus was discovered in Uganda in 1947 and is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, which also act as vectors for dengue and chikungunya viruses throughout much of the tropical world. In 2007, an outbreak in the Federated States of Micronesia sparked public health concern. In 2013, the virus began to spread across other parts of Oceania and in 2015, a large outbreak in Latin America began in Brazil. Possible associations with microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome observed in this outbreak have raised concerns about continued global spread of Zika virus, prompting its declaration as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the World Health Organization. We conducted species distribution modelling to map environmental suitability for Zika. We show a large portion of tropical and sub-tropical regions globally have suitable environmental conditions with over 2.17 billion people inhabiting these areas.

Concepts: AIDS, Public health, United States, Aedes aegypti, Aedes, Brazil, World Health Organization, Federated States of Micronesia


Zika virus, a mosquito-borne flavivirus, spread to the Region of the Americas (Americas) in mid-2015, and appears to be related to congenital microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome (1,2). On February 1, 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the occurrence of microcephaly cases in association with Zika virus infection to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.* On December 31, 2015, Puerto Rico Department of Health (PRDH) reported the first locally acquired (index) case of Zika virus disease in a jurisdiction of the United States in a patient from southeastern Puerto Rico. During November 23, 2015-January 28, 2016, passive and enhanced surveillance for Zika virus disease identified 30 laboratory-confirmed cases. Most (93%) patients resided in eastern Puerto Rico or the San Juan metropolitan area. The most frequently reported signs and symptoms were rash (77%), myalgia (77%), arthralgia (73%), and fever (73%). Three (10%) patients were hospitalized. One case occurred in a patient hospitalized for Guillain-Barré syndrome, and one occurred in a pregnant woman. Because the most common mosquito vector of Zika virus, Aedes aegypti, is present throughout Puerto Rico, Zika virus is expected to continue to spread across the island. The public health response in Puerto Rico is being coordinated by PRDH with assistance from CDC. Clinicians in Puerto Rico should report all cases of microcephaly, Guillain-Barré syndrome, and suspected Zika virus disease to PRDH. Other adverse reproductive outcomes, including fetal demise associated with Zika virus infection, should be reported to PRDH. To avoid infection with Zika virus, residents of and visitors to Puerto Rico, particularly pregnant women, should strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites, including wearing pants and long-sleeved shirts, using permethrin-treated clothing and gear, using an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellent, and ensuring that windows and doors have intact screens.

Concepts: Pregnancy, United States, Mosquito, Yellow fever, Aedes aegypti, Aedes, Dengue fever, World Health Organization


The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as a “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Despite general acceptance of this comprehensive definition, there has been little rigorous scientific attempt to use it to measure and assess population health. Instead, the dominant model of health is a disease-centered Medical Model (MM), which actively ignores many relevant domains. In contrast to the MM, we approach this issue through a Comprehensive Model (CM) of health consistent with the WHO definition, giving statistically equal consideration to multiple health domains, including medical, physical, psychological, functional, and sensory measures. We apply a data-driven latent class analysis (LCA) to model 54 specific health variables from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP), a nationally representative sample of US community-dwelling older adults. We first apply the LCA to the MM, identifying five health classes differentiated primarily by having diabetes and hypertension. The CM identifies a broader range of six health classes, including two “emergent” classes completely obscured by the MM. We find that specific medical diagnoses (cancer and hypertension) and health behaviors (smoking) are far less important than mental health (loneliness), sensory function (hearing), mobility, and bone fractures in defining vulnerable health classes. Although the MM places two-thirds of the US population into “robust health” classes, the CM reveals that one-half belong to less healthy classes, independently associated with higher mortality. This reconceptualization has important implications for medical care delivery, preventive health practices, and resource allocation.

Concepts: Health care, Psychology, Medicine, Public health, Health, United States, Definition, World Health Organization


New possibilities for mHealth have arisen by means of the latest advances in mobile communications and technologies. With more than 1 billion smartphones and 100 million tablets around the world, these devices can be a valuable tool in health care management. Every aid for health care is welcome and necessary as shown by the more than 50 million estimated deaths caused by illnesses or health conditions in 2008. Some of these conditions have additional importance depending on their prevalence.

Concepts: Health care, Health economics, Medicine, Public health, Epidemiology, Disease, World Health Organization, Mobile phone


Epidemiologic studies have consistently reported associations between outdoor fine particulate matter (PM2.5) air pollution and adverse health effects. Although Asia bears the majority of the public health burden from air pollution, few epidemiologic studies have been conducted outside of North America and Europe due in part to challenges in population exposure assessment. We assessed the feasibility of two current exposure assessment techniques, land use regression (LUR) modeling and mobile monitoring, and estimated the mortality attributable to air pollution in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. We developed LUR models for predicting wintertime spatial patterns of NO2 and SO2 based on 2-week passive Ogawa measurements at 37 locations and freely available geographic predictors. The models explained 74% and 78% of the variance in NO2 and SO2, respectively. Land cover characteristics derived from satellite images were useful predictors of both pollutants. Mobile PM2.5 monitoring with an integrating nephelometer also showed promise, capturing substantial spatial variation in PM2.5 concentrations. The spatial patterns in SO2 and PM, seasonal and diurnal patterns in PM2.5, and high wintertime PM2.5/PM10 ratios were consistent with a major impact from coal and wood combustion in the city’s low-income traditional housing (ger) areas. The annual average concentration of PM2.5 measured at a centrally located government monitoring site was 75 μg/m3 or more than seven times the World Health Organization’s PM2.5 air quality guideline, driven by a wintertime average concentration of 148 μg/m3. PM2.5 concentrations measured in a traditional housing area were higher, with a wintertime mean PM2.5 concentration of 250 μg/m3. We conservatively estimated that 29% (95% CI, 12-43%) of cardiopulmonary deaths and 40% (95% CI, 17-56%) of lung cancer deaths in the city are attributable to outdoor air pollution. These deaths correspond to nearly 10% of the city’s total mortality, with estimates ranging to more than 13% of mortality under less conservative model assumptions. LUR models and mobile monitoring can be successfully implemented in developing country cities, thus cost-effectively improving exposure assessment for epidemiology and risk assessment. Air pollution represents a major threat to public health in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, and reducing home heating emissions in traditional housing areas should be the primary focus of air pollution control efforts.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Lung cancer, Pollution, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Particulate, Smog, World Health Organization, Air pollution


BACKGROUND: There are no effective medications for the treatment of social cognition/function deficits in autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and adult intervention literature in this area is sparse. Emerging data from animal models and genetic association studies as well as early, single-dose intervention studies suggest that the oxytocin system may be a potential therapeutic target for social cognition/function deficits in ASD. The primary aim of this study was to examine the safety/therapeutic effects of intranasal oxytocin versus placebo in adults with ASD, with respect to the two core symptom domains of social cognition/functioning and repetitive behaviors. METHODS: This was a pilot, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel design trial of intranasal oxytocin versus placebo in 19 adults with ASD (16 males; 33.20 +/- 13.29 years). Subjects were randomized to 24 IU intranasal oxytocin or placebo in the morning and afternoon for 6 weeks. Measures of social function/cognition (the Diagnostic Analysis of Nonverbal Accuracy) and repetitive behaviors (Repetitive Behavior Scale Revised) were administered. Secondary measures included the Social Responsiveness Scale, Reading-the-Mind-in-the-Eyes Test and the Yale Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale – compulsion subscale and quality of life (World Health Organization Quality of Life Questionnaire – emotional/social subscales). Full-information maximum-likelihood parameter estimates were obtained and tested using mixed-effects regression analyses. RESULTS: Although no significant changes were detected in the primary outcome measures after correcting for baseline differences, results suggested improvements after 6 weeks in measures of social cognition (Reading-the-Mind-in-the-Eyes Test, p = 0.002, d = 1.2), and quality of life (World Health Organization Quality of Life Questionnaire – emotion, p = 0.031, d = 0.84), both secondary measures. Oxytocin was well tolerated and no serious adverse effects were reported. CONCLUSIONS: This pilot study suggests that there is therapeutic potential to daily administration of intranasal oxytocin in adults with ASD and that larger and longer studies are warranted.Trial registrationNCT00490802.

Concepts: Psychology, Randomized controlled trial, Autism, Pervasive developmental disorder, Asperger syndrome, Autism spectrum, PDD-NOS, World Health Organization


In Uganda, isoniazid plus ethambutol is used for 6 months (6HE) during the continuation treatment phase of new tuberculosis (TB) cases. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends using isoniazid plus rifampicin for 4 months (4HR) instead of 6HE. We compared the impact of a continuation phase using 6HE or 4HR on total cost and expected mortality from the perspective of the Ugandan national health system.

Concepts: Health economics, Costs, Tuberculosis, World Health Organization, Pharmacoeconomics, Tuberculosis treatment, Isoniazid, Ethambutol


In 2007, the World Health Organization (WHO) received a criticism for a lack of transparency and systematic methods in the development of guidelines, which were at that time perceived as substantially driven by expert opinion. In this paper we assessed the quality of maternal and perinatal health guidelines developed since then. We used the Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation (AGREE) II tool to evaluate the quality of methodological rigour and transparency of four different WHO guidelines published between 2007 and 2011. Our findings showed high scores among the most recent guidelines on maternal and perinatal health suggesting higher quality. However, there is still potential for improvement, especially in including different stakeholder views, transparency of guidelines regarding the role of the funding body and presentation of the guideline document.

Concepts: Infant, Evaluation, Assessment, World Health Organization