Grace Tjon

Municipal Health Service of South Netherlands, Dordt, South Holland, Netherlands

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Publications (7)18.63 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: To investigate the epidemiological links between several outbreaks of hepatitis A in The Netherlands (2001-2004). Descriptive. Blood samples taken in connection with reports of hepatitis A to municipal health centres from 2001-2004, were typed by determining the nucleotide sequence of the VP3-VP1 and the VP1-P2A regions of the genome of the hepatitis A virus (HAV). Genetic distances were represented graphically by means of a phylogenetic tree. The study into the spread of various subtypes of HAV showed a clear link between the HAV-(sub)genotype and risk of transmission: in men that have sex with men only genotype 1A occurred, in travellers to African countries genotype 1B was predominantly seen. A database containing various viral strains from people with hepatitis A in The Netherlands could, if kept up to date, be used as an aid in confirming the classical way of tracing sources as well as for the evaluation of preventative measures.
    Nederlands tijdschrift voor geneeskunde 01/2008; 151(50):2779-86.
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    ABSTRACT: Men who have sex with men and traveling children are the most important risk groups for transmission of hepatitis A virus (HAV) in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Between these two risk groups, different HAV genotypes are found. In this study the patterns of introduction and transmission of HAV were investigated in the two groups. HAV sequences from Amsterdam patients were divided according to risk: (I) travelers and their contacts, (II) homosexual men and their contacts. The sequences in each risk group were then grouped into clusters based on the genetic distances between the sequences. Among travelers many sporadic cases were found, the clusters were small, and introduced frequently into the population, mostly in the second half of each calendar year, indicating a seasonal pattern of introduction and transmission after the summer holidays. Among men who have sex with men the clusters were bigger and remained present for a longer time; sporadic cases were few, and introduction of new strains occurred only occasionally but throughout the year. Our findings indicate that new HAV strains are frequently imported into Amsterdam by travelers, but they are limited in the extent and season of their spread. In contrast, HAV is only occasionally imported into the male homosexual and bisexual population, but remains endemic and spreads to a large number of individuals without a seasonal pattern.
    Journal of Medical Virology 06/2007; 79(5):488-94. · 2.37 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Large outbreaks of hepatitis A have occurred in Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom during the period 1997-2005 affecting homosexual men. A collaborative study was undertaken between these countries to determine if the strains involved in these hepatitis A outbreaks were related genetically. The N-terminal region of VP1 and the VP1/P2A region of the strains were sequenced and compared. The majority of the strains found among homosexual men from the different European countries formed a closely related cluster, named MSM1, belonging to genotype IA. Different HAV strains circulated among other risk groups in these countries during the same period, indicating that specific strains were circulating among homosexual men exclusively. Similar strains found among homosexual men from 1997 to 2005 indicate that these HAV strains have been circulating among homosexual men for a long time. The homosexual communities are probably too small within the individual countries to maintain HAV in their population over time, whereas the homosexual communities across Europe are probably sufficiently large to sustain continued circulation of homologous HAV strains for years resulting in an endemic situation among homosexual men.
    Journal of Medical Virology 05/2007; 79(4):356-65. · 2.37 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The duration and level of virus excretion in blood and faeces of patients with hepatitis A virus (HAV) infection were studied in relation to levels of alanine aminotransferase (ALT), disease severity and HAV genotype. Clinical data, blood and faeces were collected from 27 patients with acute hepatitis A (median age: 33 years) for a maximum of 26 weeks. Single blood donations from 55 other patients with acute HAV (median age: 32 years) were also used. Virus loads were quantified by competitive nested RT-PCR. HAV was excreted in faeces for a median period of 81 days after disease onset, with 50% of patients still excreting high levels at Day 36 (2 x 10(6) - 2 x 10(8) copies/ml faeces suspension). Viraemia was detected, but not quantifiable, for a median period of 42 days. In the first 10 days of illness, higher ALT levels were correlated with higher viraemia levels. Comparison of patients infected with genotype 1a with those infected with type 1b did not differ significantly in terms of the duration of HAV excretion or jaundice. In conclusion, faecal excretion of HAV is at a high titre in the first month, perhaps making patients infectious for a longer period than assumed currently. Blood banks should be aware that viraemia may be present for more than 1 month, and genotype did not affect the duration of virus excretion or jaundice.
    Journal of Medical Virology 12/2006; · 2.37 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: From the end of January to mid-June 2004 (weeks 5-24) a hepatitis A virus (HAV) outbreak occurred among a homeless and drug user community in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. To prevent further spread of the virus within this group and to the general population, the Municipal Health Service of Rotterdam organized a mass vaccination campaign during which 83% (1,515/1,800) of the homeless people were vaccinated. As part of a national HAV typing study, blood and/or fecal samples of 30 Rotterdam HAV IgM+ patients who fell ill during the period of 1 September 2003-1 December 2004 were tested. The tests included RT-PCR and sequencing at the VP3-VP1 and VP1-P2a regions of the HAV genome. It was found that 12 homeless people, one family member of a homeless person and two people without a known risk were infected with a unique subtype 3a strain. Four of the homeless patients became ill after vaccination and were probably infected at the time. This study shows that Dutch homeless people and drug users involved in HAV outbreaks should be offered HAV vaccine actively to prevent further spread of the infection. Furthermore, it was shown by molecular techniques that the unique subtype 3a strain was not found before the Rotterdam outbreak or afterwards, indicating that the mass vaccination campaign was successful.
    Journal of Medical Virology 12/2005; 77(3):360-6. · 2.37 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Previous studies on the molecular epidemiology of hepatitis A virus (HAV) in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, show that subgenotype 1A is mainly seen among homosexual men practising anonymous oral-anal sex in saunas and darkrooms, while subgenotype 1B is usually detected among children originating from Morocco, and subgenotype 3A is mostly found among travellers to Pakistan. We studied the genotype distribution in a more rural area of The Netherlands, Noord-Brabant, and compared it with Amsterdam. We collected blood and feces samples from 34 HAV IgM(+) individuals who were reported from August 2001-March 2003 at the Municipal Health Service (MHS) Heart for Brabant (Brabant). We also collected feces samples from nine household contacts of whom the HAV IgM status was not known. HAV RNA was isolated and subsequently amplified by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) at the VP1-P2a and the VP3-VP1 region, sequenced and analysed. In most cases, relations between risk groups and HAV subgenotypes in Noord-Brabant were similar to those in Amsterdam. Next to genotypes 1 and 3 we also detected a genotype 2/7 strain in a Noord-Brabant case. Also, in contrast to the Amsterdam study, sporadic transmission occurred among various risk groups. Children involved in a school-related outbreak were infected with strains identical to one that was previously isolated from a man who has sex with men (MSM). Also, Dutch patients having no epidemiological link with Turkish or Moroccan children harboured strains imported from high-endemic countries. Furthermore, we report a special case in which HAV may be causally involved in meningitis. The results of this study show that the molecular epidemiology of HAV in The Netherlands can be more complicated than previously anticipated and that HAV phylogenetic studies can provide important information for the design of appropriate public health measures.
    Journal of Clinical Virology 03/2005; 32(2):128-36. · 3.29 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We performed a viral sequencing study on samples representing all reported primary cases of acute hepatitis A virus (HAV) infection reported for 2 years in Amsterdam. Two regions of HAV RNA were amplified, sequenced, and used for phylogenetic analysis. Of 156 cases, strains of 104 isolates (66.6%) clustered into 3 genotypes: 1A, 1B, and 3. Two separate transmission circles occurred, without mutual interrelation. In genotype 1A, 4 clusters occurred in men having sex with men (MSM), and the fifth cluster was related to a virus from Morocco. In genotype 1B, 6 small clusters were directly related to the Moroccan virus. In genotype 3, strains were related to a virus from Pakistan. Our analysis indicates that, to stop transmission of HAV in Amsterdam, the entire MSM population and travelers to countries where HAV is endemic, especially children, should be vaccinated. Prevention strategies need not include the vaccination of all children living in Amsterdam.
    The Journal of Infectious Diseases 03/2004; 189(3):471-82. · 5.85 Impact Factor