Faecal indicator bacteria not sufficient to describe hygienic bathing water quality in several gastroenteritis outbreaks linked to bathing water in Finland
Eurosurveillance, Volume 22, Issue 8, 23 February 2017
Table of Contents
Between July 2016 and February 2017, 48 male cases of hepatitis A were notified in the Netherlands. Of these, 17 identified as men who have sex with men (MSM). Ten of the 13 cases for whom sequencing information was available, were infected with a strain linked with the EuroPride that took place in Amsterdam in 2016. This strain is identical to a strain that has been causing a large outbreak among MSM in Taiwan.
We report the molecular investigations of a large influenza A(H3N2) outbreak, in a season characterised by sharp increase in influenza admissions since December 2016. Analysis of haemagglutinin (HA) sequences demonstrated co-circulation of multiple clades (3C.3a, 3C.2a and 3C.2a1). Most variants fell into a novel subclade (proposed as 3C.2a2); they possessed four unique amino acid substitutions in the HA protein and loss of a potential glycosylation site. These changes potentially modify the H3N2 strain antigenicity.
An increased number of suspected outbreaks of gastroenteritis linked to bathing water were reported to the Finnish food- and waterborne outbreak (FWO) registry in July and August 2014. The investigation reports were assessed by a national outbreak investigation panel. Eight confirmed outbreaks were identified among the 15 suspected outbreaks linked to bathing water that had been reported to the FWO registry. According to the outbreak investigation reports, 1,453 persons fell ill during these outbreaks. Epidemiological and microbiological data revealed noroviruses as the main causative agents. During the outbreaks, exceptionally warm weather had boosted the use of beaches. Six of eight outbreaks occurred at small lakes; for those, the investigation strongly suggested that the beach users were the source of contamination. In one of those eight outbreaks, an external source of contamination was identified and elevated levels of faecal indicator bacteria (FIB) were noted in water. In the remaining outbreaks, FIB analyses were insufficient to describe the hygienic quality of the water. Restrictions against bathing proved effective in controlling the outbreaks. In spring 2015, the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) and the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira) published guidelines for outbreak control to prevent bathing water outbreaks.
An outbreak of isoniazid-resistant tuberculosis first identified in London has now been ongoing for 20 years, making it the largest drug-resistant outbreak of tuberculosis documented to date worldwide. We identified culture-confirmed cases with indistinguishable molecular strain types and extracted demographic, clinical, microbiological and social risk factor data from surveillance systems. We summarised changes over time and used kernel-density estimation and k-function analysis to assess geographic clustering. From 1995 to 2014, 508 cases were reported, with a declining trend in recent years. Overall, 70% were male (n = 360), 60% born in the United Kingdom (n = 306), 39% white (n = 199), and 26% black Caribbean (n = 134). Median age increased from 25 years in the first 5 years to 42 in the last 5. Approximately two thirds of cases reported social risk factors: 45% drug use (n = 227), 37% prison link (n = 189), 25% homelessness (n = 125) and 13% alcohol dependence (n = 64). Treatment was completed at 12 months by 52% of cases (n = 206), and was significantly lower for those with social risk factors (p < 0.05), but increased over time for all patients (p < 0.05). The outbreak remained focused in north London throughout. Control of this outbreak requires continued efforts to prevent and treat further active cases through targeted screening and enhanced case management.
Systems for register-based monitoring of vaccine effectiveness (VE) against laboratory-confirmed influenza (LCI) in real time were set up in Stockholm County, Sweden, and Finland, before start of the 2016/17 influenza season, using population-based cohort studies. Both in Stockholm and Finland, an early epidemic of influenza A(H3N2) peaked in week 52, 2016. Already during weeks 48 to 50, analyses of influenza VE in persons 65 years and above showed moderately good estimates of around 50%, then rapidly declined by week 2, 2017 to 28% and 32% in Stockholm and Finland, respectively. The sensitivity analyses, where time since vaccination was taken into account, could not demonstrate a clear decline, neither by calendar week nor by time since vaccination. Most (68%) of the samples collected from vaccinated patients belonged to the 3C.2a1 subclade with the additional amino acid substitution T135K in haemagglutinin (64%) or to subclade 3C.2a with the additional haemagglutinin substitutions T131K and R142K (36%). The proportion of samples containing these alterations increased during the studied period. These substitutions may be responsible for viral antigenic change and part of the observed VE drop. Another possible cause is poor vaccine immunogenicity in older persons. Improved influenza vaccines are needed, especially for the elderly.
Eurosurveillance Edition: 23 February 2017
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