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lunes, 18 de junio de 2018

Regulatory oversight of human pathogens and toxins in Canada

From 1994 to 2009, federal oversight of human pathogens and toxins was limited to facilities importing human pathogens and toxins into Canada under the Human Pathogens Importation Regulations (HPIR). This narrow focus of authority restricted the Government of Canada’s ability to regulate and monitor a full range of activities, including those involving human pathogens and toxins acquired from domestic sources. In 2009, the Human Pathogens and Toxins Act (the Act) received Royal Assent to establish a national safety and security regime and expand oversight through a national, standardized process to verify safe and secure use of human pathogens and toxins in Canada. The Act and the Human Pathogens and Toxins Regulations (the Regulations), in full force since December 1, 2015, provides legislative and statutory requirements for the comprehensive oversight of the control of human pathogens and toxins in Canada. Expanded regulation and monitoring program activities aim to reduce the risks posed by human pathogens and toxins and strengthen biosafety management systems that serve to protect the health of Canadians.
REFERENCE:
Labrie, C, and S Lecordier. “Regulatory Oversight of Human Pathogens and Toxins in Canada.” Canada Communicable Disease Report 41.Suppl 6 (2015): 14–18. Print.

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viernes, 15 de junio de 2018

Epidemiology, Pathogenesis, and Control of a Tick-Borne Disease Kyasanur Forest Disease


In South Asia, Haemaphysalis spinigera tick transmits Kyasanur Forest Disease Virus (KFDV), a flavivirus that causes severe hemorrhagic fever with neurological manifestations such as mental disturbances, severe headache, tremors, and vision deficits in infected human beings with a fatality rate of 3-10%. The disease was first reported in March 1957 from Kyasanur forest of Karnataka (India) from sick and dying monkeys. Since then, between 400 and 500 humans cases per year have been recorded; monkeys and small mammals are common hosts of this virus. KFDV can cause epizootics with high fatality in primates and is a level-4 virus according to the international biosafety rules. The density of tick vectors in a given year correlates with the incidence of human disease. The virus is a positive strand RNA virus and its genome was discovered to code for one polyprotein that is cleaved post-translationally into 3 structural proteins (Capsid protein, Envelope Glycoprotein M and Envelope Glycoprotein E) and 7 non-structural proteins (NS1, NS2A, NS2B, NS3, NS4A, NS4B, and NS5). KFDV has a high degree of sequence homology with most members of the TBEV serocomplex. Alkhurma virus is a KFDV variant sharing a sequence similarity of 97%. KFDV is classified as a NIAID Category C priority pathogen due to its extreme pathogenicity and lack of US FDA approved vaccines and therapeutics; also, the infectious dose is currently unknown for KFD. In India, formalin-inactivated KFDV vaccine produced in chick embryo fibroblast is being used. Nevertheless, further efforts are required to enhance its long-term efficacy. KFDV remains an understudied virus and there remains a lack of insight into its pathogenesis; moreover, specific treatment to the disease is not available to date. Environmental and climatic factors involved in disseminating Kyasanur Forest Disease are required to be fully explored. There should be a mapping of endemic areas and cross-border veterinary surveillance needs to be developed in high-risk regions. The involvement of both animal and health sector is pivotal for circumscribing the spread of this disease to new areas.
REFERENCE:
Shah, Syed Z. et al. “Epidemiology, Pathogenesis, and Control of a Tick-Borne Disease- Kyasanur Forest Disease: Current Status and Future Directions.” Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology 8 (2018): 149. PMC. Web. 11 June 2018.
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jueves, 14 de junio de 2018

Routes of influenza transmission

Remarkably little is known definitively about the modes of influenza transmission. Thus, important health policy and infection control issues remain unresolved. These shortcomings have been exposed in national and international pandemic preparedness activities over recent years. Indeed, WHO, CDC, ECDC and the U.S. Institute of Medicine have prioritised understanding the modes of influenza transmission as a critical need for pandemic planning. Studying influenza transmission is difficult; seasonality, unpredictable attack rates, role of environmental parameters such as temperature and humidity, numbers of participants required and confounding variables all present considerable obstacles to the execution of definitive studies. A range of investigations performed to date have failed to provide definitive answers and key questions remain. Reasons for this include the fact that many studies have not sought to investigate routes of transmission as a primary objective (instead, they have evaluated specific interventions) and that fieldwork in natural settings, specifically assessing the dynamics and determinants of transmission between humans, has been limited. The available evidence suggests that all routes of transmission (droplet, aerosol and contact) have a role to play; their relative significance will depend on the set of circumstances acting at a given time. Dictating the process are factors related to the virus itself, the host and the environment.
REFERENCES:
Killingley, Ben, and Jonathan Nguyen‐Van‐Tam. “Routes of Influenza Transmission.” Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses 7.Suppl Suppl 2 (2013): 42–51. PMC. Web. 18 May 2018.

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lunes, 11 de junio de 2018

Assessment of a respiratory face mask for capturing air pollutants and pathogens including human influenza and rhinoviruses

Background. Prevention of infection with airborne pathogens and exposure to airborne particulates and aerosols (environmental pollutants and allergens) can be facilitated through use of disposable face masks. The effectiveness of such masks for excluding pathogens and pollutants is dependent on the intrinsic ability of the masks to resist penetration by airborne contaminants. This study evaluated the relative contributions of a mask, valve, and Micro Ventilator on aerosol filtration efficiency of a new N95 respiratory face mask.
Methods. The test mask was challenged, using standardized methods, with influenza A and rhinovirus type 14, bacteriophage ΦΧ174, Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus), and model pollutants. The statistical significance of results obtained for different challenge microbial agents and for different mask configurations (masks with operational or nonoperational ventilation fans and masks with sealed Smart Valves) was assessed.
Results. The results demonstrate >99.7% efficiency of each test mask configuration for exclusion of influenza A virus, rhinovirus 14, and S. aureus and >99.3% efficiency for paraffin oil and sodium chloride (surrogates for PM2.5). Statistically significant differences in effectiveness of the different mask configurations were not identified. The efficiencies of the masks for excluding smaller-size (i.e., rhinovirus and bacteriophage ΦΧ174) vs. larger-size microbial agents (influenza virus, S. aureus) were not significantly different.
Conclusions. The masks, with or without features intended for enhancing comfort, provide protection against both small- and large-size pathogens. Importantly, the mask appears to be highly efficient for filtration of pathogens, including influenza and rhinoviruses, as well as the fine particulates (PM2.5) present in aerosols that represent a greater challenge for many types of dental and surgical masks. This renders this individual-use N95 respiratory mask an improvement over the former types of masks for protection against a variety of environmental contaminants including PM2.5 and pathogens such as influenza and rhinoviruses.
REFERENCES:
Zhou, S. Steve et al. “Assessment of a Respiratory Face Mask for Capturing Air Pollutants and Pathogens Including Human Influenza and Rhinoviruses.” Journal of Thoracic Disease 10.3 (2018): 2059–2069. PMC. Web. 18 May 2018.

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viernes, 8 de junio de 2018

Effectiveness of control measures to prevent occupational tuberculosis infection in health care workers: a systematic review

Background: A number of guideline documents have been published over the past decades on preventing occupational transmission of tuberculosis (TB) infection in health care workers (HCWs). However, direct evidence for the effectiveness of these controls is limited particularly in low-and middle-income (LMIC) countries. Thus, we sought to evaluate whether recommended administrative, environmental and personal protective measures are effective in preventing tuberculin skin test conversion among HCWs, and whether there has been recent research appropriate to LMIC needs.
Methods: Using inclusion criteria that included tuberculin skin test (TST) conversion as the outcome and longitudinal study design, we searched a number of electronic databases, complemented by hand-searching of reference lists and contacting experts. Reviewers independently selected studies, extracted data and assessed study quality using recommended criteria and overall evidence quality using GRADE criteria.
Results: Ten before-after studies were found, including two from upper middle income countries. All reported a decline in TST conversion frequency after the intervention. Among five studies that provided rates, the size of the decline varied, ranging from 35 to 100%. Since all were observational studies assessed as having high or unclear risk of bias on at least some criteria, the overall quality of evidence was rated as low using GRADE criteria.
Conclusion: We found consistent but low quality of evidence for the effectiveness of combined control measures in reducing TB infection transmission in HCWs in both high-income and upper-middle income country settings. However, research is needed in low-income high TB burden, including non-hospital, settings, and on contextual factors determining implementation of recommended control measures. Explicit attention to the reporting of methodological quality is recommended.
REFERENCE:
Bey-Marrié Schmidt, et al. Effectiveness of control measures to prevent occupational tuberculosis infection in health care workers: a systematic review. BMC Public Health. 2018; 18: 661. Published online 2018 May 25.
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miércoles, 6 de junio de 2018

Fluorescent Nanomaterials for the Development of Latent Fingerprints in Forensic Sciences

This review presents an overview on the application of latent fingerprint development techniques in forensic sciences. At present, traditional developing methods such as powder dusting, cyanoacrylate fuming, chemical method, and small particle reagent method, have all been gradually compromised given their emerging drawbacks such as low contrast, sensitivity, and selectivity, as well as high toxicity. Recently, much attention has been paid to the use of fluorescent nanomaterials including quantum dots (QDs) and rare earth upconversion fluorescent nanomaterials (UCNMs) due to their unique optical and chemical properties. Thus, this review lays emphasis on latent fingerprint development based on QDs and UCNMs. Compared to latent fingerprint development by traditional methods, the new methods using fluorescent nanomaterials can achieve high contrast, sensitivity, and selectivity while showing reduced toxicity. Overall, this review provides a systematic overview on such methods.
REFERENCE:
Wang, Meng et al. “Fluorescent Nanomaterials for the Development of Latent Fingerprints in Forensic Sciences.” Advanced functional materials 27.14 (2017): 1606243. PMC. Web. 18 May 2018.

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lunes, 4 de junio de 2018

Contact among healthcare workers in the hospital setting: developing the evidence base for innovative approaches to infection control

Background. Nosocomial, or healthcare-associated infections (HAI), exact a high medical and financial toll on patients, healthcare workers, caretakers, and the health system. Interpersonal contact patterns play a large role in infectious disease spread, but little is known about the relationship between health care workers’ (HCW) movements and contact patterns within a heath care facility and HAI. Quantitatively capturing these patterns will aid in understanding the dynamics of HAI and may lead to more targeted and effective control strategies in the hospital setting.
Methods. Staff at 3 urban university-based tertiary care hospitals in Canada completed a detailed questionnaire on demographics, interpersonal contacts, in-hospital movement, and infection prevention and control practices. Staff were divided into categories of administrative/support, nurses, physicians, and “Other HCWs” - a fourth distinct category, which excludes physicians and nurses. Using quantitative network modeling tools, we constructed the resulting HCW “co-location network” to illustrate contacts among different occupations and with locations in hospital settings.
Results. Among 3048 respondents (response rate 38%) an average of 3.79, 3.69 and 3.88 floors were visited by each HCW each week in the 3 hospitals, with a standard deviation of 2.63, 1.74 and 2.08, respectively. Physicians reported the highest rate of direct patient contacts (> 20 patients/day) but the lowest rate of contacts with other HCWs; nurses had the most extended (> 20 min) periods of direct patient contact. “Other HCWs” had the most direct daily contact with all other HCWs. Physicians also reported significantly more locations visited per week than nurses, other HCW, or administrators; nurses visited the fewest. Public spaces such as the cafeteria had the most staff visits per week, but the least mean hours spent per visit. Inpatient settings had significantly more HCW interactions per week than outpatient settings.
Conclusions. HCW contact patterns and spatial movement demonstrate significant heterogeneity by occupation. Control strategies that address this diversity among health care workers may be more effective than “one-strategy-fits-all” HAI prevention and control programs.
REFERENCE:
English, Krista M. et al. “Contact among Healthcare Workers in the Hospital Setting: Developing the Evidence Base for Innovative Approaches to Infection Control.” BMC Infectious Diseases 18 (2018): 184. PMC. Web. 18 May 2018.

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viernes, 1 de junio de 2018

Managing Husbandry Programs Involving Experimental Hazards

Performing husbandry for animals exposed to potential hazards presents many unique challenges to creating and maintaining a safe work environment. While this chapter focuses largely on hazards of biological origin, it also discusses hazards of a nonbiological origin that can be common in an animal research environment, or may be of new or recent interest. For the purpose of consistency, the terms biosafety and containment may be used when discussing these nonbiological hazards, with the understanding that they are referring to the provision of safe practices and the containment of hazards to prevent inadvertent exposure to people or the environment.
REFERENCE:
Swearengen JR, Holt RK, Bowman RL. Managing Husbandry Programs Involving Experimental Hazards. In: Weichbrod RH, Thompson GAH, Norton JN, editors. Management of Animal Care and Use Programs in Research, Education, and Testing. 2nd edition. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2018. Chapter 30. PubMed PMID: 29787222.

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miércoles, 30 de mayo de 2018

Agents of Change: The Role of Healthcare Workers in the Prevention of Nosocomial and Occupational Tuberculosis

Healthcare workers (HCWs) play a central role in global tuberculosis (TB) elimination efforts but their contributions are undermined by occupational TB. HCWs have higher rates of latent and active TB than the general population due to persistent occupational TB exposure, particularly in settings where there is a high prevalence of undiagnosed TB in healthcare facilities and TB infection control (TB-IC) programmes are absent or poorly implemented. Occupational health programmes in high TB burden settings are often weak or non-existent and thus data that record the extent of the increased risk of occupational TB globally are scarce. HCWs represent a limited resource in high TB burden settings and occupational TB can lead to workforce attrition. Stigma plays a role in delayed diagnosis, poor treatment outcomes and impaired wellbeing in HCWs who develop TB. Ensuring the prioritization and implementation of TB-IC interventions and occupational health programmes, which include robust monitoring and evaluation, is critical to reduce nosocomial TB transmission to patients and HCWs. The provision of preventive therapy for HCWs with latent TB infection can also prevent progression to active TB. Unlike other patient groups, HCWs are in a unique position to serve as agents of change to raise awareness, advocate for necessary resource allocation and implement TB-IC interventions, with appropriate support from dedicated TB-IC officers at the facility and national TB programme level. Students and community health workers (CHWs) must be engaged and involved in these efforts. Nosocomial TB transmission is an urgent public health problem and adopting rights-based approaches can be helpful. However, these efforts cannot succeed without increased political will, supportive legal frameworks and financial investments to support HCWs in efforts to decrease TB transmission.
REFERENCE:
Nathavitharana RR, et al. Agents of Change: The Role of Healthcare Workers in the Prevention of Nosocomial and Occupational Tuberculosis. Presse Med. 2017 Mar; 46(2 Pt 2): e53–e62.

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lunes, 28 de mayo de 2018

A Curriculum-Based Approach to Teaching Biosafety Through eLearning

Anyone working in biosafety capacity enhancement faces the challenge of ensuring that the impact of a capacity enhancing activity continues and becomes sustainable beyond the depletion of funding. Many training efforts face the limitation of one-off events: they only reach those people present at the time. It becomes incumbent upon the trainees to pass on the training to colleagues as best they can, whilst the demand for the training never appears to diminish. However, beyond the initial effort to establish the basic content, repeating capacity enhancement events in different locations is usually not economically feasible. Also, the lack of infrastructure and other resources needed to support a robust training programme hinder operationalizing a “train-the-trainer” approach to biosafety training. One way to address these challenges is through the use of eLearning modules that can be delivered online, globally, continuously, at low cost, and on an as-needed basis to multiple audiences. Once the modules are developed and peer-reviewed, they can be maintained on a remote server and made available to various audiences through a password-protected portal that delivers the programme content, administers preliminary and final exams, and provides the administrative infrastructure to register users and track their progress through the modules. Crucial to the implementation of such an eLearning programme is an approach in which the modules are intentionally developed together as a cohesive curriculum. Once developed, such a curriculum can be released as a stand-alone programme for the training of governmental risk assessors and regulators or used as accredited components in post-graduate degree programmes in biosafety, at minimal cost to the government or university. Examples from the portfolio of eLearning modules developed by the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) are provided to demonstrate these key features.
REFERENCE:
NDOLO DO, et al. A Curriculum-Based Approach to Teaching Biosafety Through eLearning. Bioeng Biotechnol. 2018; 6: 42.

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