We document an echovirus 18 meningitis outbreak occurring at a remote overnight children's camp in Alaska. The outbreak involved 26% of 113 camp residents, was associated with building overcrowding and occurred in a camp with a contaminated drinking water source. Lack of specific children's camp regulations and failure to implement and enforce existing regulations may have contributed to the outbreak.
We report an outbreak of botulism that occurred in July 2002 in a group of 12 Alaskan Yu'pik Eskimos who ate blubber and skin from a beached beluga whale. Botulism death rates among Alaska Natives have declined in the last 20 years, yet incidence has increased.
Foodborne botulism resulting from consumption of uncooked aquatic game foods has been an endemic hazard among Alaska Native populations for centuries. Our review was conducted to help target botulism prevention and response activities.
Records of Alaska botulism investigations for the period 1947-2007 were reviewed. We used the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention case definitions for foodborne botulism and linear regression to evaluate incidence trends and ?(2) or Fisher's Exact tests to evaluate categorical data.
A total of 317 patients (61% of whom were female) and 159 outbreaks were reported. Overall mean annual incidence was 6.9 cases per 100,000 Alaska Native persons; mean incidence was lower in 2000 (5.7 cases per 100,000 Alaska Native persons) than in any period since 1965-1969 (0.8 cases per 100,000 Alaska Native persons). Age-specific incidence was highest (26.6 cases per 100,000 Alaska Native persons) among persons aged =60 years. The overall case-fatality rate was 8.2%, and the case-fatality rate was =4.0% since 1980. Misdiagnosis was associated with a higher case-fatality rate and delayed antitoxin administration.
Foodborne botulism remains a public health problem in Alaska. Incidence might be decreasing, but it remains >800 times the overall US rate (0.0068 cases per 100,000 persons). Prevention messages should highlight the additional risk to female individuals and older persons. Early diagnosis is critical for timely access to antitoxin and supportive care.
Comment In: Clin Infect Dis. 2011 Mar 1;52(5):593-421292664
To determine the burden of and risk factors for diarrheal illness among mountaineers climbing Denali during the spring of 2002.
We conducted a retrospective cohort study of all willing and available climbers who returned to base camp from June 11 to 14, 2002. We used a questionnaire that addressed illness status, demographics, and potential risk factors for illness. A case of diarrhea was defined as self-reported diarrhea (loose stool) in a Denali climber who did not have diarrhea before arrival at base camp.
Thirty-eight (29%) of the 132 climbers who were interviewed reported experiencing diarrhea at some point on the mountain. Spending 8 or more days at the 17 200-foot high camp; being a member of a climbing party in which at least 1 other person also had diarrhea, especially if tent occupancy was 3 or more; and not receiving education about disease risk-reduction techniques among climbers who were on a guided expedition were associated with increased risk of illness.
To prevent infectious diarrheal outbreaks among mountaineers climbing Denali (and other highly trafficked alpine routes), we recommend that park staff provide climbers with detailed information related to minimizing disease risk and develop more effective strategies for preventing climbers from depositing fecal material directly into snow along the route, such as establishing and enforcing firmer penalties for noncompliance with existing human waste disposal regulations and requiring the use of personal stool-hauling devices.
In July 2015, personnel in the Alaska Division of Public Health's Section of Epidemiology became aware of an increase in the number of patients being treated in Anchorage hospital emergency departments for adverse reactions associated with use of synthetic cannabinoids (SCs). SCs are a chemically diverse class of designer drugs that bind to the same cannabinoid receptors as tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive component of cannabis. A public health investigation was initiated to describe clinical outcomes, characterize the outbreak, and identify SC chemicals circulating in Anchorage. During July 15, 2015-March 15, 2016, a total of 1,351 ambulance transports to Anchorage emergency departments for adverse SC reactions were identified. A review of charts obtained from two Anchorage hospitals determined that among 167 emergency department visits for adverse SC reactions during July 15-September 30, 2015, 11 (6.6%) involved a patient who required endotracheal intubation, 17 (10.2%) involved a patient who was admitted to the intensive care unit, and 66 (39.5%) involved a patient classified as being homeless. Testing of 25 product and paraphernalia samples collected from patients at one hospital identified 11 different SC chemicals. Educational outreach campaigns focused on the considerable health risks of using SCs need to complement judicial and law enforcement actions to reduce SC use.
Human infection by orthopoxviruses is being reported with increasing frequency, attributed in part to the cessation of smallpox vaccination and concomitant waning of population-level immunity. In July 2015, a female resident of interior Alaska presented to an urgent care clinic with a dermal lesion consistent with poxvirus infection. Laboratory testing of a virus isolated from the lesion confirmed infection by an Orthopoxvirus.
The virus isolate was characterized by using electron microscopy and nucleic acid sequencing. An epidemiologic investigation that included patient interviews, contact tracing, and serum testing, as well as environmental and small-mammal sampling, was conducted to identify the infection source and possible additional cases.
Neither signs of active infection nor evidence of recent prior infection were observed in any of the 4 patient contacts identified. The patient's infection source was not definitively identified. Potential routes of exposure included imported fomites from Azerbaijan via the patient's cohabiting partner or wild small mammals in or around the patient's residence. Phylogenetic analyses demonstrated that the virus represents a distinct and previously undescribed genetic lineage of Orthopoxvirus, which is most closely related to the Old World orthopoxviruses.
Investigation findings point to infection of the patient after exposure in or near Fairbanks. This conclusion raises questions about the geographic origins (Old World vs North American) of the genus Orthopoxvirus. Clinicians should remain vigilant for signs of poxvirus infection and alert public health officials when cases are suspected.
Campylobacter jejuni is a leading cause of acute gastroenteritis worldwide, and most cases are identified as sporadic events rather than as parts of recognized outbreaks. We report findings from a substantial 2008 campylobacteriosis outbreak with general implications for fresh produce safety.
We conducted a matched case-control study to determine the source of the outbreak and enhanced surveillance to identify additional cases. Clinical and environmental specimens were tested for Campylobacter, and isolates were subtyped by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE).
By routine surveillance, we identified 63 cases of laboratory-confirmed infection. Only raw peas, consumed by 30 (67%) of 45 case-patients and by 15 (17%) of 90 control participants, were associated with illness (adjusted odds ratio: 8.2; P
An outbreak of gastroenteritis occurred among at least 47 persons attending a school potluck. Illness was associated with consumption of ground beef (estimated odds ratio, 16.3; 95% confidence interval, 2.2 to 338.3). Salmonella Typhimurium isolated from infected individuals and the implicated ground beef revealed identical pulsed-field gel electrophoresis patterns and was multidrug resistant. The implicated ground beef was improperly handled during the cooking process and stored above the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cooling temperature standard for >15 h before being served. This outbreak demonstrates the limitations of food safety regulations in settings where foods are prepared in the home environment for communal potlucks, bake sales, or other such gatherings held at schools, churches, or other institutions. Public health authorities should encourage school and other institutional administrators to develop policies that require dissemination of safe food preparation guidelines to prospective food handlers when such events are scheduled.
BACKGROUND: In September 2008, an outbreak of pneumonia associated with an emerging human adenovirus (human adenovirus serotype 14 [HAdV-14]) occurred on a rural Southeast Alaska island. Nine patients required hospitalization, and 1 patient died. METHODS: To investigate the outbreak, pneumonia case patients were matched to control participants on the basis of age, sex, and community of residence. Participants in the investigation and their household contacts were interviewed, and serum samples and respiratory tract specimens were collected. Risk factors were evaluated by means of conditional logistic regression. RESULTS: Among 32 pneumonia case patients, 21 (65%) had confirmed or probable HAdV-14 infection. None of 32 matched control participants had evidence of HAdV-14 infection (Por=2.0]), current smoking (OR, 6.7 [95% CI, >or=0.9]), and having neither traveled off the island nor attended a large public gathering (OR, 14.7 [95% CI, >or=2.0]). Fourteen (67%) of 21 HAdV-14-positive case patients belonged to a single network of people who socialized and often smoked together and infrequently traveled off the island. HAdV-14 infection occurred in 43% of case-patient household contacts, compared with 5% of control-participant household contacts (P = .005). CONCLUSIONS: During a community outbreak in Alaska, HAdV-14 appeared to have spread mostly among close contacts and not widely in the community. Demographic characteristics and illness patterns among the case patients were similar to those observed in other recent outbreaks of HAdV-14 infection in the United States.