[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In May 2013, a European alert was issued regarding a hepatitis A virus (HAV) outbreak in Italy. In June 2013, HAV subgenotype IA with an identical sequence was identified in Ireland in three cases who had not travelled to Italy. The investigation consisted of descriptive epidemiology, a case-control study, microbiological testing of human and food specimens, molecular typing of positive specimens and food traceback. We identified 21 outbreak cases (14 confirmed primary cases) with symptom onset between 31 January and 11 October 2013. For the case-control study, we recruited 11 confirmed primary cases and 42 matched controls. Cases were more likely than controls to have eaten berry cheesecake (matched odds ratio (mOR): 12; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.3-114), whole frozen berries (mOR: 9.5; 95% CI: 1.0-89), yoghurt containing frozen berries (mOR: 6.6, 95% CI: 1.2-37) or raw celery (mOR: 4; 95% CI: 1.2-16). Among cases, 91% had consumed at least one of four products containing frozen berries (mOR: 12; 95% CI: 1.5-94). Sixteen food samples tested were all negative for HAV. As products containing frozen berries were implicated in the outbreak, the public were advised to heat-treat frozen berries before consumption.
No preview · Article · Oct 2014 · Eurosurveillance: bulletin europeen sur les maladies transmissibles = European communicable disease bulletin
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In 2011, the Irish Medicines Board received reports of onset of narcolepsy following vaccination against influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 with Pandemrix. A national steering committee was convened to examine the association between narcolepsy and pandemic vaccination. We conducted a retrospective population-based cohort study. Narcolepsy cases with onset from 1 April 2009 to 31 December 2010 were identified through active case finding. Narcolepsy history was gathered from medical records. Pandemic vaccination status was obtained from vaccination databases. Two independent experts classified cases using the Brighton case definition. Date of onset was defined as date of first healthcare contact for narcolepsy symptoms. Incidence of narcolepsy in vaccinated and non-vaccinated individuals was compared. Of 32 narcolepsy cases identified, 28 occurred in children/adolescents and for 24 first healthcare contact was between April 2009 and December 2010. Narcolepsy incidence was 5.7 (95% confidence interval (CI): 3.4-8.9) per 100,000 children/adolescents vaccinated with Pandemrix and 0.4 (95% CI: 0.1-1.0) per 100,000 unvaccinated children/adolescents (relative risk: 13.9; absolute attributable risk: 5.3 cases per 100,000 vaccinated children/adolescents). This study confirms the crude association between Pandemrix vaccination and narcolepsy as observed in Finland and Sweden. The vaccine is no longer in use in Ireland. Further studies are needed to explore the immunogenetic mechanism of narcolepsy.
No preview · Article · May 2014 · Eurosurveillance: bulletin europeen sur les maladies transmissibles = European communicable disease bulletin
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Since 2008, annual surveys of influenza vaccination policies, practices and coverage have been undertaken in 29 European Union (EU)/ European Economic Area (EEA) countries. After 2009, this monitored the impact of European Council recommendation to increase vaccination coverage to 75% among risk groups. This paper summarises the results of three seasonal influenza seasons: 2008/09, 2009/10 and 2010/11. In 2008/09, 27/29 countries completed the survey; in 2009/10 and 2010/11, 28/29 completed it. All or almost all countries recommended vaccination of older people (defined as those aged ≥50, ≥55, ≥59, ≥60 or ≥65 years), and people aged ≥6 months with clinical risk and healthcare workers. A total of 23 countries provided vaccination coverage data for older people, but only 7 and 10 had data for the clinical risk groups and healthcare workers, respectively. The number of countries recommending vaccination for some or all pregnant women increased from 10 in 2008/09 to 22 in 2010/11. Only three countries could report coverage among pregnant women. Seasonal influenza vaccination coverage during and after the pandemic season in older people and clinical groups remained unchanged in countries with higher coverage. However, small decreases were seen in most countries during this period. The results of the surveys indicate that most EU/EEA countries recommend influenza vaccination for the main target groups; however, only a few countries have achieved the target of 75% coverage among risk groups. Coverage among healthcare workers remained low.
No preview · Article · Apr 2014 · Eurosurveillance: bulletin europeen sur les maladies transmissibles = European communicable disease bulletin
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Invasive group A streptococcal (iGAS) infections have been notifiable in Ireland since 2004. Incidence rates (2004-2011) have ranged from 0.8 to 1.65 per 100,000. In 2012, the iGAS rate rose to 2.66 per 100,000 and was associated with a high proportion of emm1 isolates. A further increase in January to June 2013 has been associated with increased prevalence of emm3. Public health departments and clinicians have been alerted to this increase. In this communication, we report the increased incidence of severe Streptococcus pyogenes (group A streptococcus; GAS) infection in Ireland and a predominance of emm1 in 2012. In the first six months of 2013, we observed a further increase in iGAS and the emergence of emm3.
No preview · Article · Aug 2013 · Eurosurveillance: bulletin europeen sur les maladies transmissibles = European communicable disease bulletin
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mycobacterial interspersed repetitive-unit-variable-number tandem repeat typing alone was used to investigate the genetic lineages among 361 Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains circulating in Ireland over a two-year period, 2010 and 2011. The majority of isolates, 63% (229/361), belonged to lineage 4 (Euro-American), while lineages 1 (Indo-Oceanic), 2 (East-Asian) and 3 (East-African–Indian) represented 12% of isolates each (42/361, 45/361, and 45/361, respectively). Sub-lineages Beijing (lineage 2), East-African–Indian (lineage 1) and Delhi/central-Asian (lineage 3) predominated among foreign-born cases, while a higher proportion of Euro-American lineages were identified among cases born in Ireland. Eighteen molecular clusters involving 63 tuberculosis (TB) cases were identified across four sub-lineages of lineage 4. While the mean cluster size was 3.5 TB cases, the largest cluster (involving 12 Irish-born cases) was identified in the Latin American–Mediterranean sub-lineage. Clustering of isolates was higher among Irish-born TB cases (47 of 63 clustered cases), whereas only one cluster (3/63) involved solely foreign-born individuals. Four multidrug-resistant cases identified during this period represented lineages 2 and 4. This study provides the first insight into the structure of the M. tuberculosis population in Ireland.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2013 · Eurosurveillance: bulletin europeen sur les maladies transmissibles = European communicable disease bulletin
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A cross-sectional survey was undertaken with the European Union (EU) Member States and Norway and Iceland to describe seasonal influenza immunisation in the 2006-7 season, in particular to identify country-specific recommendations for risk groups, obtain vaccine uptake information and allow comparison with global recommendations. A standardised questionnaire was completed electronically by each country's project gatekeeper. Of the 29 countries surveyed, 28 recommended seasonal influenza vaccination for older age groups (22 for those aged > 65 years), and in one country vaccine was recommended for all age groups. All countries recommended vaccinating patients with chronic pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases and most countries advised to immunise patients with haematologic or metabolic disorders (n=28), immunologic disorders (n=27) and renal disease (n=27), as well as residents of long-term care facilities (n=24). Most countries recommended vaccination for staff in hospitals (n=25), long-term care facilities (n=25) and outpatient clinics (n=23), and one-third had such recommendations for workers in essential (n=10), military (n=10) and veterinary services (n=10) and poultry industry (n=13). Eight countries recommended vaccine for pregnant women; and five advised to vaccinate children (with age limits ranging from 6 months to 5 years). Twenty countries measured influenza vaccine uptake among those aged > 65 years (range 1.8%-82.1%), seven reported uptake in healthcare workers (range 14%-48%) and seven assessed coverage in persons with underlying medical conditions (range 27.6%-75.2%). The data provided by this study can assist EU states to assess and compare their influenza vaccination programme performance with other countries. The information provides a comprehensive overview of policies and programmes and their outcomes and can be used to inform joint discussions on how the national policies in the EU might be standardised in the future to achieve optimal coverage. Annual surveys could be used to monitor changes in these national policies.
No preview · Article · Oct 2008 · Eurosurveillance: bulletin europeen sur les maladies transmissibles = European communicable disease bulletin
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In April 2005, a case of reactivation of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection occurred in a patient undergoing haemodialysis in an Irish hospital. This incident potentially affected patients attending hospitals throughout the country, so a national incident team was set up coordinate the response to the incident.A total of 306 dialysis patients, attending 17 different dialysis centres (14 in Ireland), were identified as having been potentially exposed to HBV as a result of this incident. A programme of HBV serological testing and HBV vaccination was instituted. There was no evidence that any patient acquired HBV infection as a result of cross-infection from the index patient, although 11 patients (3.6%) had evidence of past infection (anti-HBc positive, HBsAg negative). The majority of patients in this cohort were of unknown HBV vaccination status (62.7%), 13.4% were fully vaccinated, 4.6% partially vaccinated and 15.7% unvaccinated. Of 239 tested for anti-HBs, 183 (76.6%) had a titre <10 mIU/ml. Local incidents in dialysis units can have national implications due to the frequent patient transfer between units. This incident highlighted serious deficiencies in current structures and practices, and a lack of appropriate guidelines. However, there were positive outcomes from this incident. The majority of Irish dialysis patients have now been vaccinated against HBV, and lessons learned have been used to develop national guidelines on HBV vaccination and testing and on the management of incidents of blood-borne viral infections in dialysis units.
No preview · Article · Apr 2007 · Eurosurveillance: bulletin europeen sur les maladies transmissibles = European communicable disease bulletin
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The first disaggregate data on tuberculosis in Ireland were collected in 1998. A total of 424 cases were notified (rate 11.7/100 000 population), of which 241 cases were culture positive and 122 were smear positive pulmonary cases. Only 35 cases were fore
No preview · Article · May 2000 · Eurosurveillance: bulletin europeen sur les maladies transmissibles = European communicable disease bulletin