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Di Giovine P.,Instituto Superiore Of Sanita | Kafatos G.,Public Health England | Nardone A.,Public Health England | Andrews N.,Public Health England | And 15 more authors.
Epidemiology and Infection | Year: 2013

SUMMARY Serological surveys for diphtheria were conducted in six European countries including Czech Republic, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Slovakia and one country outside Europe, Israel. For each country, a nationally representative population sample was collected across the entire age range and was tested for antibodies to diphtheria toxin. Although each national laboratory used its preferred assay, the results were all standardized to those of the in vitro neutralization test and expressed in international units (IU) which allowed comparative analyses to be performed. The results showed that increasing age is related to a gradual increase in seronegative subjects (<0·01' IU/ml of diphtheria antitoxin antibodies). This may reflect waning immunity following childhood vaccination without repeated booster vaccinations in adults. Differences in seronegativity were also found according to gender. In subjects aged 1-19' years, geometric mean titres of antitoxin are clearly related to the different vaccination schedules used in the participating countries. Although clinical disease remains rare, the susceptibility to diphtheria observed in these serosurveys highlights the importance of strengthened surveillance. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012.

Wagner K.S.,Public Health England | White J.M.,Public Health England | Neal S.,Public Health England | Crowcroft N.S.,Public Health England | And 10 more authors.
Clinical Microbiology and Infection | Year: 2011

Diphtheria is now rare in most European countries but, when cases do arise, the case fatality rate is high (5-10%). Because few countries continue to routinely screen for the causative organisms of diphtheria, the extent to which they are circulating amongst different European populations is largely unknown. During 2007-2008, ten European countries each screened between 968 and 8551 throat swabs from patients with upper respiratory tract infections. Six toxigenic strains of Corynebacterium diphtheriae were identified: two from symptomatic patients in Latvia (the country with the highest reported incidence of diphtheria in the European Union) and four from Lithuania (two cases, two carriers); the last reported case of diphtheria in Lithuania was in 2002. Carriage rates of non-toxigenic organisms ranged from 0 (Bulgaria, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Italy) to 4.0 per 1000 (95% CI 2.0-7.1) in Turkey. A total of 28 non-toxigenic strains were identified during the study (26 C. diphtheriae, one Corynebacterium ulcerans, one Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis). The non-toxigenic C. ulcerans strain was isolated from the UK, the country with the highest reported incidence of cases due to C. ulcerans. Of the eleven ribotypes detected, Cluj was seen most frequently in the non-toxigenic isolates and, amongst toxigenic isolates, the major epidemic clone, Sankt-Petersburg, is still in circulation. Isolation of toxigenic C. diphtheriae and non-toxigenic C. diphtheriae and C. ulcerans in highly-vaccinated populations highlights the need to maintain microbiological surveillance, laboratory expertise and an awareness of these organisms amongst public health specialists, microbiologists and clinicians. © 2010 The Authors. Journal Compilation © 2010 European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.

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