Sharon Balter

New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, New York, United States

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Publications (32)93.78 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: In July 2014, as the Ebola virus disease (Ebola) epidemic expanded in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, an air traveler brought Ebola to Nigeria and two American health care workers in West Africa were diagnosed with Ebola and later medically evacuated to a U.S. hospital. New York City (NYC) is a frequent port of entry for travelers from West Africa, a home to communities of West African immigrants who travel back to their home countries, and a home to health care workers who travel to West Africa to treat Ebola patients. Ongoing transmission of Ebolavirus in West Africa could result in an infected person arriving in NYC. The announcement on September 30 of an Ebola case diagnosed in Texas in a person who had recently arrived from an Ebola-affected country further reinforced the need in NYC for local preparedness for Ebola.
    MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report. 10/2014; 63(41):934-936.
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    ABSTRACT: SUMMARY Using surveillance data, we describe the prevalence and characteristics of individuals in New York City (NYC) co-infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV) and/or hepatitis C virus (HCV). Surveillance databases including persons reported to the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene with HIV, HBV, and HCV by 31 December 2010 and not known to be dead as of 1 January 2000, were matched with 2000-2011 vital statistics mortality data. Of 140 606 persons reported with HIV, 4% were co-infected with HBV only, 15% were co-infected with HCV only, and 1% were co-infected with HBV and HCV. In all groups, 70-80% were male. The most common race/ethnicity and HIV transmission risk groups were non-Hispanic blacks and men who have sex with men (MSM) for HIV/HBV infection, and non-Hispanic blacks, Hispanics, and injection drug users for HIV/HCV and HIV/HBV/HCV infections. The overall age-adjusted 2000-2011 mortality was higher in co-infected than HIV mono-infected individuals. Use of population-based surveillance data provided a comprehensive characterization of HIV co-infection with HBV and HCV. Our findings emphasize the importance of targeting HIV and viral hepatitis testing and prevention efforts to populations at risk for co-infection, and of integrating HIV and viral hepatitis care and testing services.
    Epidemiology and infection. 08/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Since 2009, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) has received FoodCORE funding to hire graduate students to conduct in-depth food exposure interviews of salmonellosis case patients. In 2011, an increase in the number of Salmonella Heidelberg infections with pulsed-field gel electrophoresis Xba I pattern JF6X01.0022 among observant Jewish communities in New York and New Jersey was investigated. As this pattern is common nationwide, some cases identified were not associated with the outbreak. To reduce the number of background cases, DOHMH focused on the community initially identified in the outbreak and defined a case as a person infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Heidelberg with illness onset from 1 April to 17 November 2011 and who consumed a kosher diet, spoke Yiddish, or self-identified as Jewish. Nationally, 190 individuals were infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Heidelberg; 63 New York City residents met the DOHMH case definition. In October 2011, the graduate students (Team Salmonella) interviewed three case patients who reported eating broiled chicken livers. Laboratory testing of chicken liver samples revealed the outbreak strain of Salmonella Heidelberg. Although they were only partially cooked, the livers appeared fully cooked, and consumers and retail establishment food handlers did not cook them thoroughly before eating or using them in a ready-to-eat spread. This investigation highlighted the need to prevent further illnesses from partially cooked chicken products. Removing background cases helped to focus the investigation. Training graduate students to collect exposure information can be a highly effective model for conducting foodborne disease surveillance and outbreak investigations for local and state departments of public health.
    Journal of food protection 08/2014; · 1.83 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We analyzed and evaluated enhanced chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) surveillance in New York City (NYC), which involved detailed investigations on a sample of newly reported HCV patients. Beginning in July 2009, we generated a simple random sample bimonthly from all patients newly reported with a positive HCV test. We administered questionnaires to clinicians and patients to collect clinical and epidemiological information on patients diagnosed from April 2009 to January 2011 and evaluated the staff resources required to conduct enhanced surveillance. Of 205 patients meeting inclusion criteria, 40 (19.5%) tested HCV ribonucleic acid (RNA) negative. For the remaining 165 patients, questionnaires were completed by 164 clinicians (99.4%) and 77 patients (46.7%). Many patients (54.0%) were born between 1945 and 1964, and most patients were Hispanic (32.7%) or non-Hispanic black (32.7%). Common risk factors were injection (43.0%) and intranasal (33.9%) drug use. One-third of patients were diagnosed in nontraditional medical settings including substance abuse/detoxification centers (25.0%), jail/prison (6.7%), and psychiatric facilities (1.8%). Of 98 patients with positive HCV RNA tests, 38.8% were immune to hepatitis A and 39.8% were immune to hepatitis B. Investigators required approximately 3.5 hours to complete each investigation and averaged 50 days from assignment to completion. Although conducting enhanced HCV surveillance requires significant resources, investigating a representative sample provides detailed information about NYC's HCV population. Surveillance data have been used to plan educational initiatives for clinicians and patients, which may have led to increased awareness of HCV status, improved patient support, and better overall care.
    Public Health Reports 11/2013; 128(6):510-8. · 1.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To survey anesthesiologists to assess medication injection safety knowledge and practices, and to improve infection control programs of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the New York State Society of Anesthesiologists (NYSSA). Survey instrument. Scientific Educational and Professional Development Program Office, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA. A confidential, 23-question survey was emailed to a total of 2,310 NYSSA members. Data from the survey were culled from the responses of NYSSA members who practiced in New York State only. Of the 607 survey respondents, 595 met inclusion criteria (response rate 26%). Of these, 94% to 99% correctly answered 4 questions about injection-contamination mechanisms. Respondents reported unacceptable practices (eg, not using a new needle and syringe for each new patient [3%]; not using a new needle and syringe to access medication vials [28%]; and combining vial content leftovers [11%]). Resident physicians reported these unacceptable practices more often than attending physicians. Use of medication vials for multiple patients (permitted for multi-dose vials but a potentially high-risk practice) was reported by 49% of respondents and was more common among those who worked in outpatient settings. Reported barriers to using a new medication vial for each new patient were medication shortages (44%), reduction of waste (44%), and cost (27%). Unacceptable or potentially high-risk practices were more common among respondents who reported ≥ one barrier. Although they were not necessarily representative of all anesthesiologists in New York State, unacceptable or high-risk injection practices were common among respondents despite widespread knowledge regarding injection-contamination mechanisms. Systemic barriers contribute to the use of medication vials for multiple patients.
    Journal of clinical anesthesia 09/2013; · 1.32 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Recent guidelines recommend testing all individuals born during 1945-1965 for hepatitis C virus (HCV) antibody. For antibody-positive patients, subsequent RNA testing is necessary to determine current infection status. This study aimed to assess whether clinicians order HCV RNA tests as recommended for antibody-positive patients and to identify barriers to such testing. We sampled individuals newly reported to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's HCV surveillance system and collected information from clinicians. For patients without RNA test results, we asked the reason an RNA test was not ordered and requested that the clinician order the test. Of 245 antibody-positive patients, 67% were tested for HCV RNA (for 21% of these, the test was ordered only after our request); 33% had no RNA testing despite our request. Patients without RNA testing were seen in medical facilities (47%), detox facilities (30%), and jail/prison (15%). Reasons RNA testing was not done were that the patient did not return for follow-up (35%), the facility does not do RNA testing (22%), and the patient was tested in jail (15%). In our study, one third of patients did not get complete testing for accurate diagnosis of HCV, which is essential for medical management. Additional education for clinicians about the importance of RNA testing may help. However, with improved antiviral treatments now available for HCV, it is time for reflex HCV RNA testing for positive antibody tests to become routine, just as reflex Western blot testing is standard for human immunodeficiency virus.
    The American journal of medicine 06/2013; · 5.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: SUMMARY Hepatitis C virus is the most common chronic blood-borne infection in the USA. Based on results of a serosurvey, national prevalence is estimated to be 1·3% or 3·2 million people. Sub-national estimates are not available for most jurisdictions. Hepatitis C surveillance data was adjusted for death, out-migration, under-diagnosis, and undetectable blood RNA, to estimate prevalence in New York City (NYC). The prevalence of hepatitis C infection in adults aged ⩾20 years in NYC is 2·37% (range 1·53-4·90%) or 146 500 cases of hepatitis C. This analysis presents a mechanism for generating prevalence estimates using local surveillance data accounting for biases and difficulty in accessing hard to reach populations. As the cohort of patients with hepatitis C age and require additional medical care, local public health officials will need a method to generate prevalence estimates to allocate resources. This approach can serve as a guideline for generating local estimates using surveillance data that is less resource prohibitive.
    Epidemiology and Infection 05/2013; · 2.87 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In May 2001, The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene was informed of a cluster of 4 patients treated at an outpatient gastroenterology center who developed acute hepatitis C virus infection. An investigation identified a total of 12 clinic-associated hepatitis C virus transmissions and the outbreak and was traced to unsafe handling of multidose anesthetic vials and possible re-use of contaminated needles. This report typifies the types of outbreaks that continue to occur despite safe injection guidelines.
    American journal of infection control 05/2012; · 3.01 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Reports of hepatitis B and hepatitis C virus transmission associated with unsafe medical practices have been increasing in the United States. However, the contribution of healthcare exposures to the burden of new infections is poorly understood outside of recognized outbreaks. METHODS: We conducted a case-control study at 3 health departments that perform enhanced viral hepatitis surveillance in New York and Oregon. Reported cases of symptomatic acute hepatitis B and hepatitis C occurring in persons aged ≥ 55 years from 2006-2008 were enrolled. Controls were identified using telephone directories and matched to individual cases by age group (55-59 years, 60-69 years, and ≥70 years) and residential ZIP code. Data collection covered exposures within 6 months prior to symptom onset (cases) or date of interview (controls). RESULTS: Forty-eight (37 hepatitis B; 11 hepatitis C) case- and 159 control-patients were enrolled. Case-patients were more likely than controls to report one or more behavioral risk exposures, including sexual or household contact with an HBV or HCV patient, >1 sex partner, illicit drug use or incarceration (21% of cases vs 4% of controls exposed; matched Odds Ratio [mOR]=7.1; 95%CI 2.1, 24.1). Case-patients were more likely than controls to report hemodialysis (8% of cases; mOR=13.0; 95%CI 1.5, 115); injections in a healthcare setting (58%; mOR=2.7; 95%CI 1.3, 5.3); and surgery (33%; mOR=2.3; 95%CI 1.1, 4.7). In a multivariate model, behavioral risks (adjusted OR [aOR]=5.4, 95%CI 1.5, 19.0; 17% attributable risk), injections (aOR=2.7, 95%CI 1.3, 5.8; 37% attributable risk) and hemodialysis (aOR=11.5, 95%CI 1.2, 107; 8% attributable risk) were associated with case status. CONCLUSION: Healthcare exposures may represent an important source of new HBV and HCV infections among older adults. (HEPATOLOGY 2012.).
    Hepatology 03/2012; · 12.00 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To describe New York City (NYC) assisted living facility (ALF) characteristics, services offered, and infection control practices and to identify infection control barriers and unmet needs. Cross-sectional. ALFs licensed or applying to be licensed in NYC. Seventy ALFs; 70 of 77 eligible facilities participated (91% participation rate). Telephone interview questions assessed ALF characteristics, services offered, and infection control practices, including glucometry practices. ALFs provided a broad range of services, such as vaccination (90%), assistance with taking medication (75%), bathing and showering (33%), and blood glucose monitoring (90%). Ninety percent of the facilities had nurses on site (directly employed or through a contract agency). Five facilities reported that residents sometimes shared glucometers, and one reported that fingerstick devices were sometimes shared. The majority of facilities wanted educational materials for staff (83%) and residents (77%) on topics including influenza, respiratory illness, norovirus, standard precautions, and general infection control. ALFs had a range of sick leave policies and infection control training requirements. Eighty-nine percent of the facilities reported having designated staff responsible for infection control, although 50% had nonclinical job titles. NYC ALFs were varied in terms of nursing services offered, characteristics, and residents' needs; therefore, public health agencies may need to be flexible in their assistance. Public health agencies should consider strengthening relationships with ALFs to identify unmet needs and gaps in services.
    Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 02/2012; 60(2):284-9. · 4.22 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a preventable cause of liver failure, cirrhosis, and liver cancer; estimated chronic HBV infection prevalence is 0.3-0.5% in the U.S.A. Prevalence in New York City (NYC) is likely higher because foreign-born persons, who represent 36% of NYC's population versus 11% nationwide, bear a disproportionate burden of chronic HBV infection. However, because no comprehensive, population-based survey of chronic HBV infection has been conducted in NYC, a reliable prevalence estimate is unavailable. We used two approaches to estimate chronic HBV infection prevalence in NYC: (1) a census-based estimate, combining local and national prevalence data for specific populations, and (2) a surveillance-based estimate, using data from NYC's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Hepatitis B Surveillance Registry and adjusting for out-migration and deaths. Results from both the census-based estimate and the surveillance-based estimate were similar, with an estimated prevalence of chronic HBV in NYC of 1.2%. This estimate is two to four times the estimated prevalence for the U.S.A. as a whole. According to the census-based estimate, >93% of all cases in NYC are among persons who are foreign-born, and approximately half of those are among persons born in China. These findings underscore the importance of local data for tailoring programmatic efforts to specific foreign-born populations in NYC. In particular, Chinese-language programs and health education materials are critical. Reliable estimates are important for policymakers in local jurisdictions to better understand their own population's needs and can help target primary care services, prevention materials, and education.
    Journal of Urban Health 01/2012; 89(2):373-83. · 1.89 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To use laboratory data to assess the specificity of syndromes used by the New York City emergency department (ED) syndromic surveillance system to monitor influenza activity. For the period from October 1, 2009 through March 31, 2010, we examined the correlation between citywide ED syndrome assignment and laboratory-confirmed influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). In addition, ED syndromic data from five select NYC hospitals were matched at the patient and visit level to corresponding laboratory reports of influenza and RSV. The matched dataset was used to evaluate syndrome assignment by disease and to calculate the sensitivity and specificity of the influenza-like illness (ILI) syndrome. Citywide ED visits for ILI correlated well with influenza laboratory diagnoses (R=0.92). From October 1, 2009, through March 31, 2010, there were 264,532 ED visits at the five select hospitals, from which the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) received confirmatory laboratory reports of 655 unique cases of influenza and 1348 cases of RSV. The ED visit of most (56%) influenza cases had been categorized in the fever/flu syndrome; only 15% were labeled ILI. Compared to other influenza-related syndromes, ILI had the lowest sensitivity (15%) but the highest specificity (90%) for laboratory-confirmed influenza. Sensitivity and specificity varied by age group and influenza activity level. The ILI syndrome in the NYC ED syndromic surveillance system served as a specific but not sensitive indicator for influenza during the 2009-2010 influenza season. Despite its limited sensitivity, the ILI syndrome can be more informative for tracking influenza trends than the fever/flu or respiratory syndromes because it is less likely to capture cases of other respiratory viruses. However, ED ILI among specific age groups should be interpreted alongside laboratory surveillance data. ILI remains a valuable tool for monitoring influenza activity and trends as it facilitates comparisons nationally and across jurisdictions and is easily communicated to the public.
    PLoS currents. 01/2012; 4:e500563f3ea181.
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    ABSTRACT: Prepared ready-to-eat salads and ready-to-eat delicatessen-style meats present a high risk for Listeria contamination. Because no foodborne illness risk management guidelines exist specifically for US hospitals, a survey of New York City (NYC) hospitals was conducted to characterize policies and practices after a listeriosis outbreak occurred in a NYC hospital. From August through October 2008, a listeriosis outbreak in a NYC hospital was investigated. From February through April 2009, NYC's 61 acute-care hospitals were asked to participate in a telephone survey regarding food safety practices and policies, specifically service of high-risk foods to patients at increased risk for listeriosis. Five patients with medical conditions that put them at high risk for listeriosis had laboratory-confirmed Listeria monocytogenes infection. The Listeria outbreak strain was isolated from tuna salad prepared in the hospital. Fifty-four (89%) of 61 hospitals responded to the survey. Overall, 81% of respondents reported serving ready-to-eat deli meats to patients, and 100% reported serving prepared ready-to-eat salads. Pregnant women, patients receiving immunosuppressive drugs, and patients undergoing chemotherapy were served ready-to-eat deli meats at 77%, 59%, and 49% of hospitals, respectively, and were served prepared ready-to-eat salads at 94%, 89%, and 73% of hospitals, respectively. Only 4 (25%) of 16 respondents reported having a policy that ready-to-eat deli meats must be heated until steaming hot before serving. Despite the potential for severe outcomes of Listeria infection among hospitalized patients, the majority of NYC hospitals had no food preparation policies to minimize risk. Hospitals should implement policies to avoid serving high-risk foods to patients at risk for listeriosis.
    Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology 04/2011; 32(4):380-6. · 4.02 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This project sought to describe unmet needs among patients reported with hepatitis C in New York City. From the New York City Health Department's hepatitis C surveillance database, we randomly selected patients whose positive hepatitis C test was in April or May 2005. In 2006, we interviewed patients by telephone and collected information from their clinicians or by medical record review. New York City. We interviewed 180 of the 387 eligible patients and collected information from clinicians for 145 of the 180 patients. These included whether patients had understood their clinicians' explanation of their hepatitis C diagnosis, if they had been counseled about not drinking alcohol, information about support group attendance, vaccination against hepatitis A and B, health status, treatment, and other factors. Of the 180 patients, 7% stated that they had not understood their clinicians' explanation of their hepatitis C diagnosis, and 26% said that they had not been counseled about avoiding alcohol. Among the 90% of patients who had not attended a hepatitis support group, 31% were interested in attending. Among the 145 patients with information from clinicians, at least 28% were susceptible to hepatitis A and 18% to hepatitis B. This hepatitis C surveillance project, with information from patients and clinicians, illustrates a valuable use of a chronic hepatitis C surveillance system. The patients described here had several unmet needs, including hepatitis A and B vaccination, basic information about the virus, support groups, and counseling about preventing further liver damage and preventing transmission to others. Relatively simple and affordable health department activities can address these needs, improving quality of life and decreasing the likelihood of liver disease progression.
    Journal of public health management and practice: JPHMP 01/2011; 17(4):E9-17. · 1.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Information on how promptly food recalls of U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-regulated products are disseminated to retailers is not well documented. Store managers were surveyed after recalls were declared to estimate the proportion aware of a recall, to describe the methods by which they learned of the recall, and to ascertain how they would prefer to be notified of recalls in the future. From 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2009, we identified FDA Class I products recalled because of potential contamination with an infectious agent such as Salmonella, which were sold in New York City. After each recall, a sample of retailers who carried the products was contacted, a standardized questionnaire was administered to store managers, and a sample of stores was inspected to determine if the product had been removed. Among nine recalls evaluated, 85 % (range, 12 to 100 % ) of managers were aware of the recall affecting a product at their store. Chain store managers were more aware of recalls than were independent store managers (93 versus 78%, P < 0.0001). More chain store managers first heard about the recall via e-mail as compared with independent store managers (35 versus 4%, P < 0.0001). E-mail notification was preferred by large chain store managers (38 versus 8%, P < 0.0001); on inspection, chain stores were more likely to have removed the item than were independent stores (85 versus 56%, P = 0.0071). Although recall information reaches many stores, faster electronic notifications are not effective at reaching small, independent stores, which may lack computers or fax machines. Alternate means to disseminate recall notifications rapidly are needed for stores without electronic communication capabilities.
    Journal of food protection 01/2011; 74(1):111-4. · 1.83 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: On April 23, 2009, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) was notified of a school outbreak of respiratory illness; 2 days later the infection was identified as pandemic (H1N1) 2009. This was the first major outbreak of the illness in the United States. To guide decisions on the public health response, the DOHMH used active hospital-based surveillance and then enhanced passive reporting to collect data on demographics, risk conditions, and clinical severity. This surveillance identified 996 hospitalized patients with confirmed or probable pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus infection from April 24 to July 7; fifty percent lived in high-poverty neighborhoods. Nearly half were <18 years of age. Surveillance data were critical in guiding the DOHMH response. The DOHMH experience during this outbreak illustrates the need for the capacity to rapidly expand and modify surveillance to adapt to changing conditions.
    Emerging Infectious Diseases 08/2010; 16(8):1259-64. · 6.79 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND. When the 2009 H1N1 influenza A virus emerged in the United States, epidemiologic and clinical information about severe and fatal cases was limited. We report the first 47 fatal cases of 2009 H1N1 influenza in New York City. METHODS. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene conducted enhanced surveillance for hospitalizations and deaths associated with 2009 H1N1 influenza A virus. We collected basic demographic and clinical information for all patients who died and compared abstracted data from medical records for a sample of hospitalized patients who died and hospitalized patients who survived. RESULTS. From 24 April through 1 July 2009, 47 confirmed fatal cases of 2009 H1N1 influenza were reported to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Most decedents (60%) were ages 18-49 years, and only 4% were aged 65 years. Many (79%) had underlying risk conditions for severe seasonal influenza, and 58% were obese according to their body mass index. Thirteen (28%) had evidence of invasive bacterial coinfection. Approximately 50% of the decedents had developed acute respiratory distress syndrome. Among all hospitalized patients, decedents had presented for hospitalization later (median, 3 vs 2 days after illness onset; P < .05) and received oseltamivir later (median, 6.5 vs 3 days; P < .01) than surviving patients. Hospitalized patients who died were less likely to have received oseltamivir within 2 days of hospitalization than hospitalized patients who survived (61% vs 96%; P < .01). CONCLUSIONS. With community-wide transmission of 2009 H1N1 influenza A virus, timely medical care and antiviral therapy should be considered for patients with severe influenza-like illness or with underlying risk conditions for complications from influenza.
    Clinical Infectious Diseases 06/2010; 50(11):1498-504. · 9.37 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Shigellosis is the third most common enteric bacterial infection in the United States. Although infection is typically self-limiting, empiric treatment is often prescribed. Because of increasing antimicrobial resistance to Shigella, empiric treatment options are decreasing. Identifying resistance patterns can inform empiric treatment recommendations. The goals of our study were to examine risk factors associated with antimicrobial resistance of Shigella and examine issues related to empiric treatment and antimicrobial resistance of Shigella. During June 2006-February 2009, we attempted to interview all New York City patients reported to have shigellosis. Their Shigella isolates were tested for antimicrobial susceptibility to examine the level of resistance and identify risk factors for resistance. Analysis was conducted on two groups distinguished by a large outbreak that was documented during the data collection period. Of the 477 nonoutbreak patients, 333 (70%) patients reported taking an antibiotic for shigellosis and 36 (11%) were treated with an antibiotic to which their Shigella infection was resistant. Among this group, high levels of antimicrobial resistance were detected to amoxicillin-clavulanate (66%), ampicillin (68%), and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (66%). Non-travel-associated ciprofloxacin-resistant Shigella (five patients) and ciprofloxacin-resistant Shigella sonnei (four patients) were reported for the first time to our knowledge. Antimicrobial resistance is significantly higher in New York City residents compared with national data. Some patients were treated with therapies that were not effective and to which the patient's Shigella infection was resistant. Shigella infections should not be treated with antibiotics unless the patient presents with severe or underlying illness and is at risk for systemic illness. When treatment is indicated, local monitoring of Shigella for antimicrobial resistance will provide local clinicians with the best guidance for effective empiric treatments.
    Microbial drug resistance (Larchmont, N.Y.) 06/2010; 16(2):155-61. · 1.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In Pennsylvania on February 16, 2006, a New York City resident collapsed with rigors and was hospitalized. On February 21, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene were notified that Bacillus anthracis had been identified in the patient's blood. Although the patient's history of working with dried animal hides to make African drums indicated the likelihood of a natural exposure to aerosolized anthrax spores, bioterrorism had to be ruled out first. Ultimately, this case proved to be the first case of naturally occurring inhalational anthrax in 30 years. This article describes the epidemiologic and environmental investigation to identify other cases and persons at risk and to determine the source of exposure and scope of contamination. Because stricter regulation of the importation of animal hides from areas where anthrax is enzootic is difficult, public healthcare officials should consider the possibility of future naturally occurring anthrax cases caused by contaminated hides. Federal protocols are needed to assist in the local response, which should be tempered by our growing understanding of the epidemiology of naturally acquired anthrax. These protocols should include recommended methods for reliable and efficient environmental sample collection and laboratory testing, and environmental risk assessments and remediation.
    Journal of public health management and practice: JPHMP 04/2010; 16(3):189-200. · 1.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To examine 2009 H1N1 influenza illness severity and the effect of antiviral treatment on the severity of illness among pregnant women. We abstracted medical records from hospitalized pregnant (n=62) and nonpregnant (n=74) women with laboratory-confirmed 2009 H1N1 influenza in New York City, May through June 2009. We compared characteristics of pregnant and nonpregnant women and of severe and moderate influenza illness among pregnant women, with severe defined as illness resulting in intensive care admission or death. The 2009 H1N1 hospitalization rate was significantly higher among pregnant than nonpregnant women (55.3 compared with 7.7 per 100,000 population). Eight pregnant (including two deaths) and 16 nonpregnant (including four deaths) cases were severe. Pregnant women represented 6.4% of hospitalized cases and 4.3% of deaths caused by 2009 H1N1 influenza. Only 1 in 30 (3.3%) pregnant women who received oseltamivir treatment within 2 days of symptom onset had severe illness compared with 3 of 14 (21.4%) and four of nine (44.4%) pregnant women who started treatment 3-4 days and 5 days or more after symptom onset, respectively (P=.002 for trend). Severe and moderate 2009 H1N1 influenza illness occurred in all pregnancy trimesters, but most women (54.8%) were in the third trimester. Twenty-two women delivered during their influenza hospitalization, and severe neonatal outcomes (neonatal intensive care unit admission or death) occurred among five of six (83.3%) women with severe illness compared with 2 of 16 (12.5%) women with moderate illness (P=.004). Our findings highlight the potential for severe illness and adverse neonatal outcomes among pregnant 2009 H1N1 influenza-infected women and suggest the benefit of early oseltamivir treatment. II.
    Obstetrics and Gynecology 04/2010; 115(4):717-26. · 4.80 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

436 Citations
93.78 Total Impact Points


  • 2008–2014
    • New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
      • Division of Disease Control
      New York, United States
  • 2008–2013
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
      • Scientific Education and Professional Development Program Office
      Atlanta, MI, United States
  • 2003–2012
    • New York City Government
      New York City, New York, United States