Ellen A Spotts Whitney

Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, United States

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Publications (33)132.1 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Objective: To estimate the proportion of obstetric practice web sites in the United States providing information on antenatal influenza and tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid, and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccination. Methods: Using www.healthgrades.com, a national random sample of 1,003 obstetric practice web sites was examined for provision of information on antenatal vaccination and other preventive prenatal health topics. Data were collected for this cross-sectional study between September 25, 2014, and November 12, 2014. χ tests and odds ratios were calculated to determine significance and magnitude of associations between provision of antenatal vaccination information and other practice characteristics. Results: Of 1,003 web sites examined, 229 (22.8%) posted information pertaining to antenatal vaccinations. Only 105 web sites (10.5%) provided up-to-date information about both antenatal influenza and Tdap vaccination. Compared with the proportion posting on antenatal vaccination, significantly more web sites posted on safe foods (40.8%; P<.001), safe medications (36.9%; P<.001), and safe exercise (38.5%; P<.001) during pregnancy. When compared with web sites not mentioning these other prenatal health topics, web sites mentioning these topics were more likely to also mention antenatal vaccination (safe foods: 45.7% compared with 7.1%; odds ratio [OR] 11.07, 95% confidence interval [CI] 7.65-16.01; safe medications: 45.4% compared with 9.6%; OR 7.8, CI 5.58-10.89; safe exercise: 45.9% compared with 8.4%; OR 9.2, CI 6.5-13.03). Conclusion: A majority of obstetric care practice web sites do not provide information on antenatal vaccinations. Obstetric practices should consider using their web sites to provide reliable information on antenatal vaccinations as many already do for other prenatal health topics.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2015 · Obstetrics and Gynecology
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    ABSTRACT: Legionellosis is an important public health problem in the United States and other countries, and residents of long-term care facilities (LTCFs) are at higher risk for Legionnaires' disease than the general population. In this study, we reviewed published US and international guidelines for the primary prevention of legionellosis in LTCFs, including nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, and aged care facilities. The results of this review indicate that most guidelines emphasize adequate design and maintenance of water systems and water temperatures; however, guidance regarding routine preventative environmental testing for Legionella bacteria is not uniform among various jurisdictions, and facilities are generally left without clear guidance on this issue. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend such testing in LTCFs, in contrast to the Veterans Health Administration and Environmental Protection Agency. Internationally, the World Health Organization recommends routine environmental testing, as do Ireland; France; The Netherlands; South Africa; Vienna, Austria; and Queensland, Australia. Among domestic and international guidelines in favor of environmental testing, recommendations on the frequency of testing for Legionella in water systems vary. Further research to inform recommendations on the usefulness of routine environmental testing and other measures for the primary prevention of legionellosis in this setting is needed. Copyright © 2015 AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · Journal of the American Medical Directors Association
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    ABSTRACT: Evidence-based interventions to improve influenza vaccine coverage among pregnant women are needed, particularly among those who remain unvaccinated late into the influenza season. Improving rates of antenatal tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccination is also needed. To test the effectiveness of a practice-, provider-, and patient-focused influenza and Tdap vaccine promotion package on improving antenatal influenza and Tdap vaccination in the obstetric setting. A cluster-randomized trial among 11 obstetric practices in Georgia was conducted in 2012-2013. Intervention practices adopted the intervention package that included identification of a vaccine champion, provider-to-patient talking points, educational brochures, posters, lapel buttons, and iPads loaded with a patient-centered tutorial. Participants were recruited from December 2012-April 2013 and included 325 unvaccinated pregnant women in Georgia. Random effects regression models were used to evaluate primary and secondary outcomes. Data on antenatal influenza and Tdap vaccine receipt were obtained for 300 (92.3%) and 291 (89.5%) women, respectively. Although antenatal influenza and Tdap vaccination rates were higher in the intervention group than the control group, improvements were not significant (For influenza: risk difference (RD)=3.6%, 95% confidence interval (CI): -4.0%, 11.2%; for Tdap: RD=1.3%, 95% CI: -10.7%, 13.2%). While the majority of intervention package components were positively associated with antenatal vaccine receipt, a provider's recommendation was the factor most strongly associated with actual receipt, regardless of study group or vaccine. The intervention package did not significantly improve antenatal influenza or Tdap vaccine coverage. More research is needed to determine what motivates women remaining unvaccinated against influenza late into the influenza season to get vaccinated. Future research should quantify the extent to which clinical interventions can bolster a provider's recommendation for vaccination. This study is registered with clinicaltrials.gov, study ID NCT01761799. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2015 · Vaccine
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    ABSTRACT: Improving influenza and tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine coverage among pregnant women is needed. To assess factors associated with intention to receive influenza and/or Tdap vaccinations during pregnancy with a focus on perceptions of influenza and pertussis disease severity and influenza vaccine safety. Participants were 325 pregnant women in Georgia recruited from December 2012 - April 2013 who had not yet received a 2012/2013 influenza vaccine or a Tdap vaccine while pregnant. Women completed a survey assessing influenza vaccination history, likelihood of receiving antenatal influenza and/or Tdap vaccines, and knowledge, attitudes and beliefs about influenza, pertussis, and their associated vaccines. Seventy-three percent and 81% of women believed influenza and pertussis, respectively, would be serious during pregnancy while 87% and 92% believed influenza and pertussis, respectively, would be serious to their infants. Perception of pertussis severity for their infant was strongly associated with an intention to receive a Tdap vaccine before delivery (p=0.004). Despite perceptions of disease severity for themselves and their infants, only 34% and 44% intended to receive antenatal influenza and Tdap vaccines, respectively. Forty-six percent had low perceptions of safety regarding the influenza vaccine during pregnancy, and compared to women who perceived the influenza vaccine as safe, women who perceived the vaccine as unsafe were less likely to intend to receive antenatal influenza (48% vs. 20%; p < 0.001) or Tdap (53% vs. 33%; p < 0.001) vaccinations. Results from this baseline survey suggest that while pregnant women who remain unvaccinated against influenza within the first three months of the putative influenza season may be aware of the risks influenza and pertussis pose to themselves and their infants, many remain reluctant to receive influenza and Tdap vaccines antenatally. To improve vaccine uptake in the obstetric setting, our findings support development of evidence-based vaccine promotion interventions which emphasize vaccine safety during pregnancy and mention disease severity in infancy.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2015 · PLoS Currents
  • Ellen A Whitney · Ruth L Berkelman

    No preview · Article · Nov 2014 · Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract In mid-2012 we conducted survey of immunization program managers (IPMs) for the purpose of describing relationships between immunization programs and emergency preparedness programs, IPM's perceptions of challenges encountered and changes made or planned in programmatic budgeting, vaccine allocation and pandemic plans as a result of the H1N1 vaccination campaign. Over 95% of IPMs responded (61/64) to the survey. IPMs reported that a primary budget-related challenge faced during H1N1 included staff-related restrictions that limited the ability to hire extra help or pay regular staff overtime resulting in overworked regular staff. Other budget-related challenges related to operational budget shortfalls and vaccine procurement delays. IPMs described overcoming these challenges by increasing staff where possible, using executive order or other high-level support by officials to access emergency funds and make policy changes, as well as expedite hiring and spending processes according to their pandemic influenza plan or by direction from leadership. Changes planned for response to future pandemic vaccine allocation strategies were to "tailor the strategy to the event" taking into account disease virulence, vaccine production rates and public demand, having flexible vaccine allocation strategies, clarifying priority groups for vaccine receipt to providers and the public, and having targeted clinics such as through pharmacies or schools. Changes already made to pandemic plans were improving strategies for internal and external communication, improving vaccine allocation efficiency, and planning for specific scenarios. To prepare for future pandemics, programs should ensure well-defined roles, collaborating during non-emergency situations, sustaining continuity in preparedness funding, and improved technologies.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2014 · Human Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics
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    Alyssa Parr · Ellen A Whitney · Ruth L Berkelman
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    ABSTRACT: Context: Reported cases of legionellosis more than tripled between 2001 and 2012 in the United States. The disease results primarily from exposure to aerosolized water contaminated with Legionella. Objective: To identify and describe policies and guidelines for the primary prevention of legionellosis in the US. Design: An Internet search for Legionella prevention guidelines in the United States at the federal and state levels was conducted from March to June 2012. Local government agency guidelines and guidelines from professional organizations that were identified in the initial search were also included. Setting: Federal, state, and local governing bodies and professional organizations. Results: Guidelines and regulations for the primary prevention of legionellosis (ie, Legionnaires' disease and Pontiac fever) have been developed by various public health and other government agencies at the federal, state, and local levels as well as by professional organizations. These guidelines are similar in recommending maintenance of building water systems; federal and other guidelines differ in the population/institutions targeted, the extent of technical detail, and support of monitoring water systems for levels of Legionella contamination. Conclusions: Legionellosis deserves a higher public health priority for research and policy development. Guidance across public health agencies for the primary prevention of legionellosis requires strengthening as this disease escalates in importance as a cause of severe morbidity and mortality. We recommend a formal and comprehensive review of national public health guidelines for prevention of legionellosis. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivitives 3.0 License, where it is permissible to download and share the work provided it is properly cited. The work cannot be changed in any way or used commercially.
    Preview · Article · Sep 2014 · Journal of public health management and practice: JPHMP

  • No preview · Article · Jun 2014 · Clinical Infectious Diseases
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    ABSTRACT: To identify factors associated with vaccine receipt among correctional facilities during the A(H1N1)pdm09 influenza pandemic, this study surveyed one third of U.S. correctional facilities. Analysis of the association of average daily population (ADP) on A(H1N1)pdm09 influenza vaccine receipt found that an ADP increase of 100 inmates resulted in a 32% increased likelihood of receiving influenza vaccine among smaller jails. Zero percent of large jails, 14% of federal prisons, 11% of nonfederal prisons, and 57% of small jails reported never receiving pandemic influenza vaccine. A qualitative assessment identified barriers to vaccine delivery, lessons learned from pandemic response, and recommendations for public health partners. Building stronger relationships between public health entities and correctional facilities to collaborate in influenza pandemic preparedness efforts may help protect correctional and community populations.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2014 · Journal of Correctional Health Care
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    ABSTRACT: Little is known about the prevalence of zoonotic infections among laboratory animal care technicians (LAT). Q fever, a disease caused by Coxiella burnetii, is a known occupational hazard for persons caring for livestock. We sought to determine the seroprevalence of C. burnetii antibodies among LAT and to identify risk factors associated with C. burnetii seropositivity. A survey was administered and serum samples collected from a convenience sample of 97 LAT. Samples were screened by using a Q fever IgG ELISA. Immunofluorescent antibody assays for phase I and phase II IgG were used to confirm the status of samples that were positive or equivocal by ELISA; positive samples were titered to endpoint. Antibodies against C. burnetii were detected in 6 (6%) of the 97 respondents. In our sample of LAT, seropositivity to C. burnetii was therefore twice as high in LAT as compared with the general population. Age, sex, and working with sheep regularly were not associated with seropositivity. Risk factors associated with seropositivity included breeding cattle within respondent's research facility, any current job contact with waste from beef cattle or goats, and exposure to animal waste during previous jobs or outside of current job duties. Only 15% of responding LAT reported being aware that sheep, goats, and cattle can transmit Q fever. Research facilities that use cattle or goats should evaluate their waste-management practices and educational programs in light of these findings. Additional efforts are needed to increase awareness among LAT regarding Q fever and heightened risk of exposure to infectious materials. Physicians should consider the risk of infection with C. burnetii when treating LAT with potential occupational exposures.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2013 · Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science: JAALAS
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    ABSTRACT: To understand immunization programs' experience managing the 2007 to 2009 Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) vaccine shortage and identify ways in which the US immunization system can be improved to assist in responses to future shortages of routine vaccines and large-scale public health emergencies. An Internet-based survey was conducted from July 2009 to October 2009 among the 64 city, state, and territorial immunization program managers (IPMs). Fifty-eight percent (37 of the 64) of IPMs responded. Forty percent of responding IPMs indicated not having enough Hib vaccine within their Vaccines for Children program to fulfill the temporary 3-dose recommendation issued in December 2007 in response to the Hib vaccine shortage. While 73% of IPMs indicated success in monitoring provider inventory and 68% indicated success in monitoring doses administered during the shortage, fewer than half indicated success in monitoring providers' compliance with shortage-specific recommendations regarding Hib vaccine. Forty-six percent of IPMs used their immunization information system (IIS) to monitor provider compliance with recommendations regarding Hib vaccine use, and of these, nearly 60% reported success in monitoring provider compliance with recommendations compared with 35% of IPMs who did not use their IIS in this way. Forty-two percent of IPMs felt that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was successful in determining stockpiled vaccine allocations to their program, and 56% felt that the CDC was successful in communicating its rationale for their immunization program's Hib allocation during the shortage. Experiences from the 2007 to 2009 Hib vaccine shortage offer insights on how the US immunization system and system-wide response to vaccine shortages can be improved. Results from this survey suggest that improving vaccine transfer between jurisdictions and using IIS to track provider compliance with shortage recommendations are 2 ways that can help the US immunization system respond to future vaccine shortages and large-scale public health emergencies like influenza pandemics.
    No preview · Article · May 2012 · Journal of public health management and practice: JPHMP
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    ABSTRACT: In June and July 2010, we conducted a national internet-based survey of 64 city, state, and territorial immunization program managers (IPMs) to assess their experiences in managing the 2009-10 H1N1 influenza vaccination campaign. Fifty-four (84%) of the managers or individuals responsible for an immunization program responded to the survey. To manage the campaign, 76% indicated their health department activated an incident command system (ICS) and 49% used an emergency operations center (EOC). Forty percent indicated they shared the leadership of the campaign with their state-level emergency preparedness program. The managers' perceptions of the helpfulness of the emergency preparedness staff was higher when they had collaborated with the emergency preparedness program on actual or simulated mass vaccination events within the previous 2 years. Fifty-seven percent found their pandemic influenza plan helpful, and those programs that mandated that vaccine providers enter data into their jurisdiction's immunization information system (IIS) were more likely than those who did not mandate data entry to rate their IIS as valuable for facilitating registration of nontraditional providers (42% vs. 25%, p<0.05) and tracking recalled influenza vaccine (50% vs. 38%, p<0.05). Results suggest that ICS and EOC structures, pandemic influenza plans, collaborations with emergency preparedness partners during nonemergencies, and expanded use of IIS can enhance immunization programs' ability to successfully manage a large-scale vaccination campaign. Maintaining the close working relationships developed between state-level immunization and emergency preparedness programs during the H1N1 influenza vaccination campaign will be especially important as states prepare for budget cuts in the coming years.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2012 · Biosecurity and bioterrorism: biodefense strategy, practice, and science
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    ABSTRACT: Approximately 2.3 million inmates were confined to U.S. prisons and jails on any given day in 2009 (1,2). However, over the course of a year, approximately 10 million persons spend time in a correctional facility (3). To determine to what extent correctional facility populations were included in the national vaccine response to the influenza A (H1N1)pdm09 pandemic, staff members at the Emory University Preparedness and Emergency Response Research Center, aided by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC), conducted a survey to document whether jails and prisons received A(H1N1)pdm09 vaccine during the 2009-10 pandemic period. This report summarizes the results of that survey, which found that 55% of jails did not receive A(H1N1)pdm09 vaccine during the pandemic period, whereas only 14% of federal prisons and 11% of state prisons did not receive the vaccine. Greater inclusion of correctional facilities, especially smaller facilities, in pandemic preparedness planning might better protect correctional facility populations and the community as a whole in the event of future influenza pandemics.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2012
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    ABSTRACT: Concern over the adequacy of biosafety training and incident-reporting practices within biological laboratories in the United States has risen in recent years due to the increase in research on infectious diseases and the concomitant rise in the number of biocontainment laboratories. Reports of laboratory-acquired infections and delays in reporting such incidents have also contributed to the concern. Consequently, biosafety training and incident-reporting practices are being given considerable attention by both the executive branch and Congress. We conducted a 51-question survey of biosafety professionals in June 2008 to capture information on methods used to train new laboratory workers within biosafety level 2 (BSL-2) laboratories, animal biosafety
    Preview · Article · Oct 2009
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    ABSTRACT: Since 2001, many state and local health departments have implemented automated systems to monitor healthcare use and to promptly identify and track epidemics and other public health threats. In 2007-08, we conducted case studies of selected events with actual or potential public health impacts to determine whether and how health departments and hospitals used these new systems. We interviewed public health and hospital representatives and applied qualitative analysis methods to identify response themes. So-called "syndromic" surveillance methods were most useful in situations with widespread health effects, such as respiratory illness associated with seasonal influenza or exposures to smoke from wildfires. In other instances, such as a tornado or hazardous material exposures, these systems were useful for detecting or monitoring health impacts that affected relatively few people, or they were used to affirm the absence of outbreaks following natural disasters or the detection of a potential pathogen in air samples. Typically, these data supplemented information from traditional sources to provide a timelier or fuller mosaic of community health status, and use was shaped by long-standing contacts between health department and hospital staffs. State or local epidemiologists generally preferred syndromic systems they had developed over the CDC BioSense system, citing lesser familiarity with BioSense and less engagement in its development. Instances when BioSense data were most useful to state officials occurred when analyses and reports were provided by CDC staff. Understanding the uses of surveillance information during such events can inform further investments in surveillance capacity in public health emergency preparedness programs.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2009 · Biosecurity and bioterrorism: biodefense strategy, practice, and science
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    ABSTRACT: As pandemic influenza becomes an increasing threat, partnerships between public health and correctional facilities are necessary to prepare criminal justice systems adequately. In September 2007, the Planning for Pandemic Influenza in Prison Settings Conference took place in Georgia. This article describes the collaboration and ongoing goals established between administrative leaders and medical staff in Georgia prison facilities and public health officials. Sessions covered topics such as nonpharmaceutical interventions, health care surge capacity, and prison-community interfaces. Interactive activities and tabletop scenarios were used to promote dynamic learning, and pretests and posttests were administered to evaluate the short-term impact of conference participation. The conference has been followed by subsequent meetings and an ongoing process to guide prisons' preparation for pandemic influenza.
    No preview · Article · May 2009 · Journal of Correctional Health Care
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    Ellen A Spotts Whitney · Elizabeth Ailes · Lee M Myers · Jeremiah T Saliki · Ruth L Berkelman
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    ABSTRACT: To determine the seroprevalence of antibodies against Leptospira serovars among veterinarians and identify risk factors for seropositivity in veterinary care settings. Seroepidemiologic survey. Veterinarians attending the 2006 AVMA Annual Convention. Blood samples were collected from 511 veterinarians, and serum was harvested for a microcapsule agglutination test (MAT) to detect antibodies against 6 serovars of Leptospira. Aggregate data analysis was performed to determine the ratio of the odds of a given exposure (eg, types of animals treated or biosafety practices) in seropositive individuals to the odds in seronegative individuals. Evidence of previous leptospiral infection was detected in 2.5% of veterinarians. Most veterinarians reported multiple potential exposures to Leptospira spp and other pathogens in the previous 12 months, including unintentional needlestick injuries (379/511 [74.2%]), animal bites (345/511 [67.5%]), and animal scratches (451/511 [88.3%]). Treatment of a dog with an influenza-like illness within the past year was associated with seropositivity for antibodies against Leptospira spp. Veterinarians are at risk for leptospirosis and should take measures to decrease potential exposure to infectious agents in general. Diagnostic tests for leptospirosis should be considered when veterinarians have febrile illnesses of unknown origin.
    Preview · Article · May 2009 · Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
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    ABSTRACT: Little is known about the occurrence of Q fever among veterinarians in the United States. In this study, we sought to estimate the prevalence of Coxiella burnetii antibodies among veterinarians and to identify risk factors for exposure. We tested serum samples from 508 veterinarians who attended the 143rd American Veterinary Medical Association Annual Convention in 2006. Samples were screened using a Q fever IgG enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Samples with positive or equivocal results of ELISA were confirmed using phase I and phase II IgG immunofluorescence antibody assays, and end point IgG titers were determined for samples with positive results. Antibodies against C. burnetii were detected in 113 (22.2%) of 508 veterinarians. Risk factors associated with seropositivity included age 46 years, routine contact with ponds, and treatment of cattle, swine, or wildlife. Veterinarians have a high level of exposure to C. burnetii, the causative organism of Q fever, especially those veterinarians who treat livestock. In this study, risk of C. burnetii seropositivity was also independently associated with contact with ponds. The role of exposure to standing bodies of water in infection is not usually considered and should be investigated in future studies. Additionally, the evidence of past infection with C. burnetii in >20% of veterinarians also highlights the need for use of appropriate personal protective equipment when treating animals that are potentially infected with C. burnetii. Physicians should consider the risk of infection with C. burnetii when treating ill veterinarians and others with potential occupational exposures.
    Preview · Article · Mar 2009 · Clinical Infectious Diseases
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    Buehler J · Isakov A · Prietula M · Smith D · Whitney E

    Full-text · Article · Jan 2007
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    ABSTRACT: Similar to other mycobacterial diseases, susceptibility to Buruli ulcer (Mycobacterium ulcerans infection) may be determined by host genetic factors. We investigated the role of SLC11A1 (NRAMP1) in Buruli ulcer because of its associations with both tuberculosis and leprosy. We enrolled 182 Buruli ulcer patients (102 with positive laboratory confirmation) and 191 healthy neighbourhood-matched controls in Ghana, and studied three polymorphisms in the SLC11A1 gene: 3' UTR TGTG ins/del, D543N G/A, and INT4 G/C. Finger prick blood samples from study subjects were dried on filter papers (FTA) and processed. D543N was significantly associated with Buruli ulcer: the odds ratio (adjusted for gender, age, and region of the participant) of the GA genotype versus the GG genotype was 2.89 (95% confidence intervals (CI): 1.41-5.91). We conclude that a genetic polymorphism in the SLC11A1 gene plays a role in susceptibility to develop Buruli ulcer, with an estimated 13% population attributable risk.
    No preview · Article · May 2006 · Genes and Immunity

Publication Stats

583 Citations
132.10 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2004-2015
    • Emory University
      • Department of Epidemiology
      Atlanta, Georgia, United States
  • 2009
    • Vanderbilt University
      Nashville, Michigan, United States
  • 2002-2006
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
      • National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases
      Атланта, Michigan, United States