[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human metapneumovirus (HMPV) is a cause of respiratory tract illness at all ages. In this study the epidemiological and molecular diversity among patients of different ages was investigated. Between 2000-2001 and 2009-2010, HMPV was detected in 3% (138/4,549) of samples from outpatients with influenza-like illness with a new, sensitive real-time RT-PCR assay. Several hundred (797) clinical specimens from hospitalized children below the age of 4 years with acute respiratory illness were investigated and HMPV was detected in 11.9% of them. Investigation of outpatients revealed that HMPV infections occurred in individuals of all ages but were most prevalent in children (0-4 years) and the elderly (>60 years). The most present clinical features of HMPV infections were cough, bronchitis, fever/shivers and pneumonia. About two thirds of HMPV-positive samples were detected in February and March throughout the study period. Molecular characterization of HMPV revealed a complex cyclic pattern of group dominance where HMPV subgroup A and B viruses predominated in general for three consecutive seasons. German HMPV represented all genetic lineages including A1, A2, B1, B2, sub-clusters A2a and A2b. For Germany, not only time-dependent circulation of lineages and sub-clusters was observed but also co-circulation of two or three predominant lineages. Two newly emerging amino acid substitutions (positions 223 and 280) of lineage B2 were detected in seven German HMPV sequences. Our study gives new insights into the molecular epidemiology of HMPV in in- and outpatients over a time period of 10 years for the first time. It is one of only few long-term surveillance studies in Europe, and allows comparative molecular analyses of HMPV circulating worldwide.
PLoS ONE 02/2014; 9(2):e88342. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Influenza viral shedding studies provide fundamental information for preventive strategies and modelling exercises. We conducted a prospective household study to investigate viral shedding in seasonal and pandemic influenza between 2007 and 2011 in Berlin and Munich, Germany.
Study physicians recruited index patients and their household members. Serial nasal specimens were obtained from all household members over at least eight days and tested quantitatively by qRT-PCR for the influenza virus (sub)type of the index patient. A subset of samples was also tested by viral culture. Symptoms were recorded daily.
We recruited 122 index patients and 320 household contacts, of which 67 became secondary household cases. Among all 189 influenza cases, 12 were infected with seasonal/prepandemic influenza A(H1N1), 19 with A(H3N2), 60 with influenza B, and 98 with A(H1N1)pdm09. Nine (14%) of 65 non-vaccinated secondary cases were asymptomatic/subclinical (0 (0%) of 21 children, 9 (21%) of 44 adults; p = 0.03). Viral load among patients with influenza-like illness (ILI) peaked on illness days 1, 2 or 3 for all (sub)types and declined steadily until days 7-9. Clinical symptom scores roughly paralleled viral shedding dynamics. On the first day prior to symptom onset 30% (12/40) of specimens were positive. Viral load in 6 asymptomatic/subclinical patients was similar to that in ILI-patients. Duration of infectiousness as measured by viral culture lasted approximately until illness days 4-6. Viral load did not seem to be influenced by antiviral therapy, age or vaccination status.
Asymptomatic/subclinical infections occur infrequently, but may be associated with substantial amounts of viral shedding. Presymptomatic shedding may arise in one third of cases, and shedding characteristics appear to be independent of (seasonal or pandemic) (sub)type, age, antiviral therapy or vaccination; however the power to find moderate differences was limited.
PLoS ONE 12/2012; 7(12):e51653. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Previous controlled studies on the effect of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPI) - namely the use of facemasks and intensified hand hygiene - in preventing household transmission of influenza have not produced definitive results. We aimed to investigate efficacy, acceptability, and tolerability of NPI in households with influenza index patients.
We conducted a cluster randomized controlled trial during the pandemic season 2009/10 and the ensuing influenza season 2010/11. We included households with an influenza positive index case in the absence of further respiratory illness within the preceding 14 days. Study arms were wearing a facemask and practicing intensified hand hygiene (MH group), wearing facemasks only (M group) and none of the two (control group). Main outcome measure was laboratory confirmed influenza infection in a household contact. We used daily questionnaires to examine adherence and tolerability of the interventions.
We recruited 84 households (30 control, 26 M and 28 MH households) with 82, 69 and 67 household contacts, respectively. In 2009/10 all 41 index cases had a influenza A (H1N1) pdm09 infection, in 2010/11 24 had an A (H1N1) pdm09 and 20 had a B infection. The total secondary attack rate was 16% (35/218). In intention-to-treat analysis there was no statistically significant effect of the M and MH interventions on secondary infections. When analysing only households where intervention was implemented within 36 h after symptom onset of the index case, secondary infection in the pooled M and MH groups was significantly lower compared to the control group (adjusted odds ratio 0.16, 95% CI, 0.03-0.92). In a per-protocol analysis odds ratios were significantly reduced among participants of the M group (adjusted odds ratio, 0.30, 95% CI, 0.10-0.94). With the exception of MH index cases in 2010/11 adherence was good for adults and children, contacts and index cases.
Results suggest that household transmission of influenza can be reduced by the use of NPI, such as facemasks and intensified hand hygiene, when implemented early and used diligently. Concerns about acceptability and tolerability of the interventions should not be a reason against their recommendation.
The study was registered with ClinicalTrials.gov (Identifier NCT00833885).