- Diagnostic issues and capabilities in 48 isolation facilities in 16 European countries: data from EuroNHID surveys (2012)
- Background: Highly infectious diseases (HIDs) are defined as being transmissible from person to person, causing life-threatening illnesses and presenting a serious public health hazard. The sampling, handling and transport of specimens from patients with HIDs present specific bio-safety concerns. Findings The European Network for HID project aimed to record, in a cross-sectional study, the infection control capabilities of referral centers for HIDs across Europe and assesses the level of achievement to previously published guidelines. In this paper, we report the current diagnostic capabilities and bio-safety measures applied to diagnostic procedures in these referral centers. Overall, 48 isolation facilities in 16 European countries were evaluated. Although 81% of these referral centers are located near a biosafety level 3 laboratory, 11% and 31% of them still performed their microbiological and routine diagnostic analyses, respectively, without bio-safety measures. Conclusions: The discrepancies among the referral centers surveyed between the level of practices and the European Network of Infectious Diseases (EUNID) recommendations have multiple reasons of which the interest of the individuals in charge and the investment they put in preparedness to emerging outbreaks. Despite the fact that the less prepared centers can improve by just updating their practice and policies any support to help them to achieve an acceptable level of biosecurity is welcome.
- Isolation Facilities for Highly Infectious Diseases in Europe – A Cross-Sectional Analysis in 16 Countries (2014)
- Background Highly Infectious Diseases (HIDs) are (i) easily transmissible form person to person; (ii) cause a life-threatening illness with no or few treatment options; and (iii) pose a threat for both personnel and the public. Hence, even suspected HID cases should be managed in specialised facilities minimizing infection risks but allowing state-of-the-art critical care. Consensus statements on the operational management of isolation facilities have been published recently. The study presented was set up to compare the operational management, resources, and technical equipment among European isolation facilities. Due to differences in geography, population density, and national response plans it was hypothesized that adherence to recommendations will vary. Methods and Findings Until mid of 2010 the European Network for Highly Infectious Diseases conducted a cross-sectional analysis of isolation facilities in Europe, recruiting 48 isolation facilities in 16 countries. Three checklists were disseminated, assessing 44 items and 148 specific questions. The median feedback rate for specific questions was 97.9% (n = 47/48) (range: n = 7/48 (14.6%) to n = 48/48 (100%). Although all facilities enrolled were nominated specialised facilities' serving countries or regions, their design, equipment and personnel management varied. Eighteen facilities fulfilled the definition of a High Level Isolation Unit'. In contrast, 24 facilities could not operate independently from their co-located hospital, and five could not ensure access to equipment essential for infection control. Data presented are not representative for the EU in general, as only 16/27 (59.3%) of all Member States agreed to participate. Another limitation of this study is the time elapsed between data collection and publication; e.g. in Germany one additional facility opened in the meantime. Conclusion There are disparities both within and between European countries regarding the design and equipment of isolation facilities. With regard to the International Health Regulations, terminology, capacities and equipment should be standardised.
- Influenza A (H1N1) 2009: Impact on Frankfurt in due consideration of health care and public health (2010)
- Background: In April 2009 a novel influenza A H1N1/2009 virus was identified in Mexico and in the United States which quickly spread around the world. Most of the countries established infection surveillance systems in order to track the number of (laboratory-confirmed) H1N1 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Methods: The impact of the emergence of the novel pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus on Frankfurt was statistically evaluated by the Health Protection Authority, City of Frankfurt am Main. Vaccination rates of the health care workers (HCWs) of the University Hospital Frankfurt were measured by the Occupational Health Service. Results: Although the virulence of pandemic (H1N1) 2009 seems to be comparable with seasonal influenza, a major patient load and wave of hospital admissions occurred in the summer of 2009. Even though the 2009 vaccination rate of the University Hospital Frankfurt (seasonal influenza [40.5%], swine flu [36.3%]) is better than the average annual uptake of influenza vaccine in the German health care system (approximately 22% for seasonal and 15% for swine flu), vaccination levels remain insufficient. However, physicians were significantly (p < 0.001) more likely to have been vaccinated against swine flu and seasonal influenza than nurses. Conclusions: The outbreak of the pandemic (H1N1) 2009 in April 2009 provided a major challenge to health services around the world. Nosocomial transmission of H1N1/2009 has been documented. Present experience should be used to improve pandemic preparedness plans and vaccination programs ought to target as many HCWs as possible.
- Reliability of medical students' vaccination histories for immunisable diseases (2008)
- Background Medical students come into contact with infectious diseases early on their career. Immunity against vaccine-preventable diseases is therefore vital for both medical students and the patients with whom they come into contact. Methods The purpose of this study was to compare the medical history and serological status of selected vaccine-preventable diseases of medical students in Germany. Results The overall correlation between medical history statements and serological findings among the 150 students studied was 86.7 %, 66.7 %, 78 % and 93.3 % for measles, mumps, rubella and varicella, conditional on sufficient immunity being achieved after one vaccination. Conclusions Although 81.2 % of the students medical history data correlated with serological findings, significant gaps in immunity were found. Our findings indicate that medical history alone is not a reliable screening tool for immunity against the vaccine-preventable diseases studied.