Jay K Varma

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

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Publications (142)

  • Jay K Varma · David J Prezant · Ross Wilson · [...] · Marisa Raphael
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The world's largest outbreak of Ebola virus disease began in West Africa in 2014. Although few cases were identified in the United States, the possibility of imported cases led US public health systems and health care facilities to focus on preparing the health care system to quickly and safely identify and respond to emerging infectious diseases. In New York City, early, coordinated planning among city and state agencies and the health care delivery system led to a successful response to a single case diagnosed in a returned health care worker. In this article we describe public health and health care system preparedness efforts in New York City to respond to Ebola and conclude that coordinated public health emergency response relies on joint planning and sustained resources for public health emergency response, epidemiology and laboratory capacity, and health care emergency management. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2016;page 1 of 5).
    Article · Nov 2016 · Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness
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    File available · Data · Aug 2016
  • Yang Huai · Xuhua Guan · Shali Liu · [...] · Jay K Varma
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background: Influenza is an important cause of respiratory illness in children, but data are limited on hospitalized children with laboratory-confirmed influenza in China. Methods: We conducted active surveillance for severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) (fever and at least one sign or symptom of acute respiratory illness) among hospitalized pediatric patients in Jingzhou, Hubei province from April 2010 to April 2012. Data were collected from enrolled SARI patients on demographics, underlying health conditions, clinical course of illness, and outcomes. Nasal swabs were collected and tested for influenza viruses by RT-PCR. We described the clinical and epidemiological characteristics of children with influenza, and analyzed the association between potential risk factors and SARI patients with influenza. Results: During the study period, 15,354 children aged <15 years with signs and symptoms of SARI were enrolled at hospital admission.. SARI patients aged 5-15 years with confirmed influenza (H3N2) infection were more likely than children without influenza to have radiographic diagnosis of pneumonia (11/31, 36% vs 15/105, 14%. p-value<0.05). Only 16% (1,116/7,145) of enrolled patients had received seasonal trivalent influenza vaccination within 12 months of hospital admission.Non-vaccinated influenza cases were more likely than vaccinated influenza cases to have pneumonia (31/133, 23% vs 37/256, 15%, p-value<0.05). SARI cases aged 5-15 years diagnosed with influenza were also more likely to have a household member who smoked cigarettes compared to SARI cases without a smoking household member (54/208, 26% vs 158/960, 16%, p-value<0.05) CONCLUSIONS: Influenza A (H3N2) virus infection was an important contributor to pneumonia requiring hospitalization. Our results highlight the importance of surveillance in identifying factors for influenza hospitalization, monitoring adherence to influenza prevention and treatment strategies, and evaluating the disease burden among hospitalized pediatric SARI patients. Influenza vaccination promotion should target children. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Article · Jul 2016 · Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We examined five annual cohorts (2007–2011) of men who have sex with men (MSM) attending New York City STD clinics who had negative HIV-1 nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) on the day of clinic visit. Annual HIV incidence was calculated using HIV diagnoses within 1 year of negative NAAT, determined by matching with the citywide HIV registry. Predictors (demographic; behavioral; bacterial STD from citywide STD registry match) of all new HIV diagnoses through 2012 were calculated from Cox proportional hazards models. Among 10,487 HIV NAAT-negative MSM, 371 had an HIV diagnosis within 1 year. Annual incidence was 2.4/100 person-years, and highest among non-Hispanic black MSM (4.1/100 person-years) and MSM aged <20 years (5.7/100 person-years). Characteristics associated with all 648 new HIV diagnoses included: black race (aHR 2.2; 95 % CI 1.6–3.1), condomless receptive anal sex (aHR 2.1; 95 % CI 1.5–2.8), condomless insertive anal sex (aHR 1.3; 95 % CI 1.1–1.8), and incident STD diagnosis (aHR 1.6; 95 % CI 1.3–1.9). MSM attending STD clinics have substantial HIV incidence and report risk behaviors that are highly associated with HIV acquisition. Increased uptake of effective interventions, e.g., pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis, is needed.
    Article · Jul 2016 · AIDS and Behavior
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Zika virus has rapidly spread through the World Health Organization's Region of the Americas since being identified in Brazil in early 2015. Transmitted primarily through the bite of infected Aedes species mosquitoes, Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause spontaneous abortion and birth defects, including microcephaly (1,2). New York City (NYC) is home to a large number of persons who travel frequently to areas with active Zika virus transmission, including immigrants from these areas. In November 2015, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) began developing and implementing plans for managing Zika virus and on February 1, 2016, activated its Incident Command System. During January 1-June 17, 2016, DOHMH coordinated diagnostic laboratory testing for 3,605 persons with travel-associated exposure, 182 (5.0%) of whom had confirmed Zika virus infection. Twenty (11.0%) confirmed patients were pregnant at the time of diagnosis. In addition, two cases of Zika virus-associated Guillain-Barré syndrome were diagnosed. DOHMH's response has focused on 1) identifying and diagnosing suspected cases; 2) educating the public and medical providers about Zika virus risks, transmission, and prevention strategies, particularly in areas with large populations of immigrants from areas with ongoing Zika virus transmission; 3) monitoring pregnant women with Zika virus infection and their fetuses and infants; 4) detecting local mosquito-borne transmission through both human and mosquito surveillance; and 5) modifying existing Culex mosquito control measures by targeting Aedes species of mosquitoes through the use of larvicides and adulticides.
    Full-text available · Article · Jun 2016 · MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report
  • Article · May 2016 · Emerging infectious diseases
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background: After the 2009 influenza A (H1N1) pandemic, we conducted hospital-based severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) surveillance in one central Chinese city to assess disease burden attributable to influenza among adults and adolescents. Methods: We defined an adult SARI case as a hospitalized patient aged ≥ 15 years with temperature ≥38.0°C and at least one of the following: cough, sore throat, tachypnea, difficulty breathing, abnormal breath sounds on auscultation, sputum production, hemoptysis, chest pain, or chest radiograph consistent with pneumonia. For each enrolled SARI case-patient, we completed a standardized case report form, and collected a nasopharyngeal swab within 24 hours of admission. Specimens were tested for influenza viruses by real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR). We analyzed data from adult SARI cases in four hospitals in Jingzhou, China from April 2010 to April 2012. Results: Of 1,790 adult SARI patients enrolled, 40% were aged ≥ 65 years old. The median duration of hospitalization was 9 days. Nearly all were prescribed antibiotics during their hospitalization, less than 1% were prescribed oseltamivir, and 28% were prescribed corticosteroids. Only 0.1% reported receiving influenza vaccination in the past year. Of 1,704 samples tested, 16% were positive for influenza. Influenza activity in all age groups showed winter-spring and summer peaks. Influenza-positive patients had a longer duration from illness onset to hospitalization and a shorter duration from hospital admission to discharge or death compared to influenza negative SARI patients. Conclusions: There is substantial burden of influenza-associated SARI hospitalizations in Jingzhou, China, especially among older adults. More effective promotion of annual seasonal influenza vaccination and timely oseltamivir treatment among high risk groups may improve influenza prevention and control in China.
    Full-text available · Article · Mar 2016 · PLoS ONE
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    Kimberly D McCarthy · Kevin P Cain · Kevin L Winthrop · [...] · Jay K Varma
    File available · Data · Feb 2016
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    Kimberly D McCarthy · Kevin P Cain · Kevin L Winthrop · [...] · Jay K Varma
    File available · Data · Feb 2016
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Ebola virus disease (Ebola) outbreak in West Africa has claimed approximately 11,300 lives (1), and the magnitude and course of the epidemic prompted many nonaffected countries to prepare for Ebola cases imported from affected countries. In October 2014, CDC and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) implemented enhanced entry risk assessment and management at five U.S. airports: John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport in New York City (NYC), O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, and Dulles International Airport in Virginia (2). Enhanced entry risk assessment began at JFK on October 11, 2014, and at the remaining airports on October 16 (3). On October 21, DHS exercised its authority to direct all travelers flying into the United States from an Ebola-affected country to arrive at one of the five participating airports. At the time, the Ebola-affected countries included Guinea, Liberia, Mali, and Sierra Leone. On October 27, CDC issued updated guidance for monitoring persons with potential Ebola virus exposure (4), including recommending daily monitoring of such persons to ascertain the presence of fever or symptoms for a period of 21 days (the maximum incubation period of Ebola virus) after the last potential exposure; this was termed "active monitoring." CDC also recommended "direct active monitoring" of persons with a higher risk for Ebola virus exposure, including health care workers who had provided direct patient care in Ebola-affected countries. Direct active monitoring required direct observation of the person being monitored by the local health authority at least once daily (5). This report describes the operational structure of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's (DOHMH) active monitoring program during its first 6 months (October 2014-April 2015) of operation. Data collected on persons who required direct active monitoring are not included in this report.
    Full-text available · Article · Jan 2016 · MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report
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    Haileyesus Getahun · Alberto Matteelli · Ibrahim Abubakar · [...] · Mario Raviglione
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) is characterised by the presence of immune responses to previously acquired Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection without clinical evidence of active tuberculosis (TB). Here we report evidence-based guidelines from the World Health Organization for a public health approach to the management of LTBI in high risk individuals in countries with high or middle upper income and TB incidence of <100 per 100 000 per year. The guidelines strongly recommend systematic testing and treatment of LTBI in people living with HIV, adult and child contacts of pulmonary TB cases, patients initiating anti-tumour necrosis factor treatment, patients receiving dialysis, patients preparing for organ or haematological transplantation, and patients with silicosis. In prisoners, healthcare workers, immigrants from high TB burden countries, homeless persons and illicit drug users, systematic testing and treatment of LTBI is conditionally recommended, according to TB epidemiology and resource availability. Either commercial interferon-gamma release assays or Mantoux tuberculin skin testing could be used to test for LTBI. Chest radiography should be performed before LTBI treatment to rule out active TB disease. Recommended treatment regimens for LTBI include: 6 or 9 month isoniazid; 12 week rifapentine plus isoniazid; 3-4 month isoniazid plus rifampicin; or 3-4 month rifampicin alone.
    Full-text available · Article · Sep 2015 · European Respiratory Journal
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To control an outbreak of invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) among men who have sex with men (MSM) in New York City (NYC), the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) recommended vaccination of all HIV-infected MSM and at-risk HIV-uninfected MSM in October 2012. A decision analytic model estimated the cost-effectiveness of meningococcal vaccination compared to no vaccination. Model inputs, including IMD incidence of 20.5 per 100,000 HIV-positive MSM (42% fatal) and 7.6 per 100,000 HIV-negative MSM (20% fatal), were from DOHMH reported data and published sources. Outcomes included costs (2012 US dollars), IMD cases averted, IMD deaths averted, quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICER; $/QALY). Scenarios with and without herd immunity were considered and sensitivity analyses were performed on key inputs. Compared to no vaccination, the targeted vaccination campaign averted an estimated 2.7 IMD cases, 1.0 IMD deaths, with an ICER of $66,000/QALY when herd immunity was assumed. Without herd immunity, vaccination prevented 1.1 IMD cases, 0.4 IMD deaths, with an ICER of $177,000/QALY. In one-way sensitivity analyses, variables that exerted the greatest influence on results in order of effect were the magnitude of herd immunity, IMD case fatality ratio and IMD incidence. In probabilistic sensitivity analyses, at a cost-effectiveness threshold of $100,000/QALY, vaccination was preferred in 97% of simulations with herd immunity and 20% of simulations without herd immunity. Vaccination during an IMD outbreak among MSM with and without HIV infection was projected to avert IMD cases and deaths and could be cost-effective depending on IMD incidence, case fatality, and herd immunity.
    Full-text available · Article · Aug 2015 · JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The objectives of the study were to identify dietary and medical risk factors for Vibrio parahaemolyticus (VP) infection in the coastal city Shenzhen in China. In April-October 2012, we conducted a case-control study in two hospitals in Shenzhen, China. Laboratory-confirmed VP cases (N = 83) were matched on age, sex, and other social factors to healthy controls (N = 249). Subjects were interviewed using a questionnaire on medical history; contact with seawater; clinical symptoms and outcome; travel history over the past week; and dietary history 3 days prior to onset. Laboratory tests were used to culture, serotype, and genotype VP strains. We used logistic regression to calculate the odds ratios for the association of VP infection with potential risk factors. In multivariate analysis, VP infection was associated with having pre-existing chronic disease (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 6.0; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.5-23.7), eating undercooked seafood (aOR, 8.0; 95% CI, 1.3-50.4), eating undercooked meat (aOR, 29.1; 95% CI, 3.0-278.2), eating food from a street food vendor (aOR, 7.6; 95% CI, 3.3-17.6), and eating vegetable salad (aOR, 12.1; 95% CI, 5.2-28.2). Eating raw (undercooked) seafood and meat is an important source of VP infection among the study population. Cross-contamination of VP in other food (e.g., vegetables and undercooked meat) likely plays a more important role. Intervention should be taken to lower the risks of cross-contamination with undercooked seafood/meat, especially targeted at people with low income, transient workers, and people with medical risk factors.
    Full-text available · Article · Aug 2015 · Foodborne Pathogens and Disease
  • Molly M. Kratz · Don Weiss · Alison Ridpath · [...] · Jay K. Varma
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In September 2012, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene identified an outbreak of Neisseria meningitidis serogroup C invasive meningococcal disease among men who have sex with men (MSM). Twenty-two case-patients and 7 deaths were identified during August 2010-February 2013. During this period, 7 cases in non-MSM were diagnosed. The slow-moving outbreak was linked to the use of websites and mobile phone applications that connect men with male sexual partners, which complicated the epidemiologic investigation and prevention efforts. We describe the outbreak and steps taken to interrupt transmission, including an innovative and wide-ranging outreach campaign that involved direct, internet-based, and media-based communications; free vaccination events; and engagement of community and government partners. We conclude by discussing the challenges of managing an outbreak affecting a discrete community of MSM and the benefits of using social networking technology to reach this at-risk population.
    Article · Aug 2015 · Emerging infectious diseases
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    [Show description] [Hide description] DESCRIPTION: Check Hep C was implemented in 2012-2013 by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) as a year-long demonstration project designed to increase screening, diagnosis, and linkage to care for persons chronically infected with HCV in NYC.
    File available · Research · Jun 2015
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    Haileyesus Getahun · Jay Varma
    Full-text available · Article · Jun 2015 · The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease
  • Kari Yacisin · Sharon Balter · Annie Fine · [...] · Jay K Varma
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In late October 2014, Ebola virus disease (Ebola) was diagnosed in a humanitarian aid worker who recently returned from West Africa to New York City (NYC). The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) actively monitored three close contacts of the patient and 114 health care personnel. No secondary cases of Ebola were detected. In collaboration with local and state partners, DOHMH had developed protocols to respond to such an event beginning in July 2014. These protocols included safely transporting a person at the first report of symptoms to a local hospital prepared to treat a patient with Ebola, laboratory testing for Ebola, and monitoring of contacts. In response to this single case of Ebola, initial health care worker active monitoring protocols needed modification to improve clarity about what types of exposure should be monitored. The response costs were high in both human resources and money: DOHMH alone spent $4.3 million. However, preparedness activities that include planning and practice in effectively monitoring the health of workers involved in Ebola patient care can help prevent transmission of Ebola.
    Article · Apr 2015 · MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Foodborne botulism is a severe, paralytic illness caused by ingestion of preformed neurotoxins produced by Clostridium botulinum. In 2003, we conducted a population-based household survey of home canning practices to explore marked regional variations in botulism incidence in the Republic of Georgia (ROG). We designed a cluster sampling scheme and subdivided each of the 10 regions of the ROG into a variable number of strata. Households were selected from each stratum using a two-step cluster sampling methodology. We administered a questionnaire about home canning practices to household members responsible for food preparation. Using multivariate logistic regression analysis, we modeled high (eastern ROG) against low (western ROG) incidence areas. Overall, we surveyed 2,742 households nationwide. Home canning with a capping device hermetically sealing the lid covering the jar was practiced by 1,909 households (65.9%; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 59.8 to 72.1%). Canning was more prevalent in regions of low botulism incidence (34 versus 32%; P 1 tablespoon of salt per liter (aOR = 5.1; 95% CI: 1.2 to 22.6); vinegar (aOR = 2.2; 95% CI: 1.3 to 3.7), and greens (aOR = 5.6; 95% CI: 1.7 to 18.2). The following practices were associated with a decreased risk in high-botulism areas: >57 jars canned per household annually (aOR = 0.5; 95% CI: 0.3 to 0.9), covering or immersing vegetables in boiling water before placing them into the jar (aOR = 0.3 95% CI: 0.2 to 0.6), covering or immersing vegetables in boiling water after placing them into the jar (aOR = 0.4; 95% CI: 0.2 to 0.9), or adding garlic (aOR = 0.2; 95% CI: 0.1 to 0.5) or aspirin (aOR = 0.1; 95% CI: 0.1 to 0.2) to the jar at the time of preparation.
    Article · Apr 2015 · Journal of food protection
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] 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.
    Article · Oct 2014 · American Journal of Transplantation
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background: To control an outbreak of invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) among men who have sex with men (MSM) in New York City (NYC), the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) recommended vaccination of all HIV-positive MSM and HIV-negative MSM with intimate contact with a man met through an online Web site, digital application or at a bar or party Methods: We used a decision analytic model to estimate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the meningococcal quadrivalent conjugate vaccination campaign as compared to no vaccination. We estimated approximately 60,000 NYC MSM to be targeted through DOHMH recommendations based on NYC Community Health Survey and NYC HIV/AIDS surveillance registry data. Model inputs, including IMD incidence of 20.5 per 100,000 HIV-positive MSM (42% fatal) and 7.6 per 100,000 HIV-negative MSM (20% fatal), were from DOHMH data and published sources. Outcome measures included costs (2012 US dollars), IMD cases averted, IMD deaths averted, quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios ($/QALY). Sensitivity analyses were performed on key inputs including herd immunity (base case 20% protection in all unvaccinated MSM). Results: Compared to no vaccination, the targeted vaccination campaign averted an estimated 2.7 IMD cases (modeled range 0.9-6.0) and 1.0 IMD deaths (modeled range 0.2-2.5) and had an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of $60,100/QALY. At a cost-effectiveness threshold of $100,000/QALY, vaccination remained cost-effective at an IMD incidence as low as 10 per 100,000 persons or at a case fatality rate greater than 13% in all MSM. At a societal willingness to pay consistent with adopted meningococcal vaccination guidelines for adolescents ($230,000/QALY), vaccination was cost-effective at an IMD incidence as low as 5 per 100,000 persons. Results were sensitive to assumptions regarding herd immunity (Figure). Conclusion: Vaccination during a community-wide IMD outbreak among MSM in NYC was projected to avert IMD cases and deaths and had an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio less than $100,000/QALY. Cost-effectiveness was highly dependent on herd immunity.
    Full-text available · Conference Paper · Oct 2014

Publication Stats

2k Citations


  • 2012-2014
    • New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
      לאנג איילענד סיטי, New York, United States
  • 2009
    • Ministry of Public Health, Thailand
      Siayuthia, Bangkok, Thailand
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
      Атланта, Michigan, United States
  • 2004
    • National Center for Disease Control and Public Health
      Tbilsi, T'bilisi, Georgia
  • 2003
    • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
      Maryland, United States