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Trotz-Williams L.A.,Wellington Dufferin Guelph Public Health | Mercer N.J.,Wellington Dufferin Guelph Public Health | Walters J.M.,Wellington Dufferin Guelph Public Health | Maki A.M.,Public Health Laboratories Toronto | Johnson R.P.,Public Health Agency of Canada
Canadian Journal of Public Health

Objectives: To describe an outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157:H7 infection following a four-day family gathering in Ontario. This is the first published account of a STEC O157 outbreak in Canada linked to consumption of pork. Methods: The outbreak investigation included interviews with food handlers and other key associated persons, inspection of food preparation premises, traceback investigations, case finding, analysis of data from an outbreak questionnaire, and laboratory analysis of samples collected from various sources associated with the outbreak. Results: Several meals, including pork from a pig roast, were served to the 59 attendees, 29 of whom developed gastrointestinal illness following the event. Six cases developed bloody diarrhoea and seven were hospitalized. Leftover pork served the day after the pig roast was the item most significantly associated with an increased risk of illness (p<0.001). STEC O157:H7 was isolated from 11 of the 29 ill attendees, and also from the pork. By pulse-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), all STEC O157:H7 pork isolates were either identical or closely related to the 11 clinical isolates. No STEC was detected in any other samples. Three Clostridium perfringens isolates, unrelated by PFGE, were obtained from two STEC-positive cases and the pork. Conclusion: This outbreak highlights the need for increased awareness of pork as a potential source of STEC O157 infection, and for enhanced education regarding the safe handling, cooking and storage of food, specifically where large cuts of meat are cooked outdoors at events such as pig roasts, a cultural norm in some communities. © Canadian Public Health Association, 2012. Source

Rank C.,Public Health Agency of Canada | Njihia J.G.,Public Health Agency of Canada | Remis R.S.,University of Toronto | Shah L.,Public Health Agency of Canada | And 4 more authors.
International Journal of STD and AIDS

We characterized HIV-1 subtypes among 204 persons newly diagnosed with HIV in Ontario from 2003 to 2005 using samples from the Canadian HIV Strain and Drug Resistance Surveillance Program. We examined HIV-1 subtype by demographic characteristics and exposure category, and determined independent predictors of infection with a non-B HIV subtype using multivariate logistic regression. The distribution of HIV subtypes was: B 77.0%, C 10.3%, AG 4.9%, A 2.5%, AE 2.5% and others 3.0%. Overall, 23.0% were non-B, greater in women than in men (62.8% versus 12.4%, P<0.0001) and persons under 35 years (31.1% versus 18.5% in those ≥35, P = 0.04). Non-B subtype was predominant (78.9%) among persons from HIV-endemic regions and considerable (28.6%) among other persons infected heterosexually. In multivariate modelling adjusted for gender, non-B subtype was significantly associated with birth in an HIV-endemic region (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 59.2, P<0.0001) and heterosexual exposure (aOR 6.3, P = 0.02). Additionally, compared with men who had sex with men, non-B subtype was greater among heterosexual women (aOR 17.8, P<0.001) and women who injected drugs (injection drug use, aOR 13.4, P = 0.01). We found a non-negligible proportion of non-B subtypes among women infected heterosexually not from HIV-endemic countries, providing interesting insights into HIV transmission patterns. Source

Brown E.M.,Public Health Laboratories Toronto | Brown E.M.,University of Toronto | McTaggart L.R.,Public Health Laboratories Toronto | Low D.E.,Mount Sinai Hospital | And 3 more authors.
Medical Mycology

Manipulation of Blastomyces dermatitidis requires the use of containment level 3 (CL3) practices. However, access to CL3 laboratories is limited and working conditions are restrictive. We describe the validation of a "heat-killing" method to inactivate B. dermatitidis, thus allowing cellular material to be removed from the CL3 laboratory for subsequent DNA isolation that is suitable for genetic applications. © 2014 The Author. Source

McTaggart L.R.,Public Health Laboratories Toronto | Brown E.M.,Public Health Laboratories Toronto | Brown E.M.,University of Toronto | Richardson S.E.,Public Health Laboratories Toronto | Richardson S.E.,University of Toronto

Blastomyces dermatitidis and Blastomyces gilchristii are dimorphic fungal pathogens that cause serious pulmonary and systemic infections in humans. Although their natural habitat is in the environment, little is known about their specific ecologic niche(s). Here, we analyzed 25 microsatellite loci from 169 strains collected from various regions throughout their known endemic range in North America, representing the largest and most geographically diverse collection of isolates studied to date. Genetic analysis of multilocus microsatellite data divided the strains into four populations of B. dermatitidis and four populations of B. gilchristii. B. dermatitidis isolates were recovered from areas throughout North America, while the B. gilchristii strains were restricted to Canada and some northern US states. Furthermore, the populations of both species were associated with major freshwater drainage basins. The four B. dermatitidis populations were partitioned among (1) the Nelson River drainage basin, (2) the St. Lawrence River and northeast Atlantic Ocean Seaboard drainage basins, (3) the Mississippi River System drainage basin, and (4) the Gulf of Mexico Seaboard and southeast Atlantic Ocean Seaboard drainage basins. A similar partitioning of the B. gilchristii populations was observed among the more northerly drainage basins only. These associations suggest that the ecologic niche where the sexual reproduction, growth, and dispersal of B. dermatitidis and B. gilchristii occur is intimately linked to freshwater systems. For most populations, sexual reproduction was rare enough to produce significant linkage disequilibrium among loci but frequent enough that mating-type idiomorphic ratios were not skewed from 1:1. Furthermore, the evolutionary divergence of B. dermatitidis and B. gilchristii was estimated at 1.9 MYA during the Pleistocene epoch. We suggest that repeated glaciations during the Pleistocene period and resulting biotic refugia may have provided the impetus for speciation as theorized for other species associated with temperate freshwater systems. © 2016 McTaggart et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Source

Brown E.M.,Public Health Laboratories Toronto | Brown E.M.,University of Toronto | McTaggart L.R.,Public Health Laboratories Toronto | Zhang S.X.,Johns Hopkins University | And 5 more authors.

Background: Analysis of the population genetic structure of microbial species is of fundamental importance to many scientific disciplines because it can identify cryptic species, reveal reproductive mode, and elucidate processes that contribute to pathogen evolution. Here, we examined the population genetic structure and geographic differentiation of the sexual, dimorphic fungus Blastomyces dermatitidis, the causative agent of blastomycosis. Methodology/Principal Findings: Criteria for Genealogical Concordance Phylogenetic Species Recognition (GCPSR) applied to seven nuclear loci (arf6, chs2, drk1, fads, pyrF, tub1, and its-2) from 78 clinical and environmental isolates identified two previously unrecognized phylogenetic species. Four of seven single gene phylogenies examined (chs2, drk1, pyrF, and its-2) supported the separation of Phylogenetic Species 1 (PS1) and Phylogenetic Species 2 (PS2) which were also well differentiated in the concatenated chs2-drk1-fads-pyrF-tub1-arf6-its2 genealogy with all isolates falling into one of two evolutionarily independent lineages. Phylogenetic species were genetically distinct with interspecific divergence 4-fold greater than intraspecific divergence and a high Fst value (0.772, P<0.001) indicative of restricted gene flow between PS1 and PS2. Whereas panmixia expected of a single freely recombining population was not observed, recombination was detected when PS1 and PS2 were assessed separately, suggesting reproductive isolation. Random mating among PS1 isolates, which were distributed across North America, was only detected after partitioning isolates into six geographic regions. The PS2 population, found predominantly in the hyper-endemic regions of northwestern Ontario, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, contained a substantial clonal component with random mating detected only among unique genotypes in the population. Conclusions/Significance: These analyses provide evidence for a genetically divergent clade within Blastomyces dermatitidis, which we use to describe a novel species, Blastomyces gilchristii sp. nov. In addition, we discuss the value of population genetic and phylogenetic analyses as a foundation for disease surveillance, understanding pathogen evolution, and discerning phenotypic differences between phylogenetic species. © 2013 Brown et al. Source

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