We present new and revised data for the phocine distemper virus (PDV) epidemics that resulted in the deaths of more than 23 000 harbour seals Phoca vitulina in 1988 and 30,000 in 2002. On both occasions the epidemics started at the Danish island of Anholt in central Kattegat, and subsequently spread to adjacent colonies in a stepwise fashion. However, this pattern was not maintained throughout the epidemics and new centres of infection appeared far from infected populations on some occasions: in 1988 early positive cases were observed in the Irish Sea, and in 2002 the epidemic appeared in the Dutch Wadden Sea, 6 wk after the initiation of the outbreak at Anholt Island. Since the harbour seal is a rather sedentary species, such 'jumps' in the spread among colonies suggest that another vector species could have been involved. We discussed the role of sympatric species as disease vectors, and suggested that grey seal populations could act as reservoirs for PDV if infection rates in sympatric species are lower than in harbour seals. Alternatively, grey seals could act as subclinical infected carriers of the virus between Arctic and North Sea seal populations. Mixed colonies of grey and harbour seal colonies are found at all locations where the jumps occurred. It seems likely that grey seals, which show long-distance movements, contributed to the spread among regions. The harbour seal populations along the Norwegian coast and in the Baltic escaped both epidemics, which could be due either to genetic differences among harbour seal populations or to immunity. Catastrophic events such as repeated epidemics should be accounted for in future models and management strategies of wildlife populations.
Inherited retinal dystrophies represent the most important cause of vision impairment in adolescence, affecting approximately 1 out of 3000 individuals. Mutations of the photoreceptor-specific gene ABCA4 (ABCR) are a common cause of retinal dystrophy. A number of mutations have been repeatedly reported for this gene, notably the 2588G>C mutation which is frequent in both patients and controls. Here we ascertained the frequency of the 2588G>C mutation in a total of 2343 unrelated random control individuals from 11 European countries and 241 control individuals from the US, as well as in 614 patients with STGD both from Europe and the US. We found an overall carrier frequency of 1 out of 54 in Europe, compared with 1 out of 121 in the US, confirming that the 2588G>C ABCA4 mutation is one of the most frequent autosomal recessive mutations in the European population. Carrier frequencies show an increasing gradient in Europe from South-West to North-East. The lowest carrier frequency, 0 out of 199 (0%), was found in Portugal; the highest, 11 out of 197 (5.5%), was found in Sweden. Haplotype analysis in 16 families segregating the 2588G>C mutation showed four intragenic polymorphisms invariably present in all 16 disease chromosomes and sharing of the same allele for several markers flanking the ABCA4 locus in most of the disease chromosomes. These results indicate a single origin of the 2588G>C mutation which, to our best estimate, occurred between 2400 and 3000 years ago.
In the last several years, West Nile virus (WNV) was proven to be present especially in the neighboring countries of Austria, such as Italy, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, as well as in eastern parts of Austria, where it was detected in migratory and domestic birds. In summer 2010, infections with WNV were reported from Romania and northern Greece with about 150 diseased and increasingly fatal cases. We tested the sera of 1,607 blood donors from North Tyrol (Austria) and South Tyrol (Italy) for antibodies against WNV by using IgG enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Initial results of the ELISA tests showed seroprevalence rates of 46.2% in North Tyrol and 0.5% in South Tyrol, which turned out to be false-positive cross-reactions with antibodies against tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) by adjacent neutralization assays. These results indicate that seropositivity against WNV requires confirmation by neutralization assays, as cross-reactivity with TBEV is frequent and because, currently, WNV is not endemic in the study area.
Chorionic gonadotropin (CG) is an essential signal in establishment and maintenance of pregnancy in humans and higher primates. A G-to-A transition in exon 3 of human CGbeta gene 5, changing the naturally occurring valine residue to methionine in codon 79 (Val(79)Met) has been reported at carrier frequency 4.2% in a random population from the Midwest of the United States. The biological activity of the variant hCG was similar to that of wild-type (WT) hCG. However, the Val(79)Met beta-subunit displayed impaired ability to assemble with alpha-subunit, and the amount of hCG alpha/beta heterodimers formed and secreted by transfected cells was seriously impaired in the previous study. Because of these functional implications we found it important to study the occurrence of the Val(79)Met hCGbeta variant in other populations. By using a PCR-RFLP method, a search for the Val(79)Met hCGbeta variant was carried out on a total of 580 DNA samples from five European populations (Finland, Denmark, Greece, Germany and the UK). The results demonstrated an absence of the polymorphism in these populations. Hence, the naturally occurring variant (Val(79)Met) of the hCGbeta gene 5, found previously at high frequency in the US, is clearly less common, or absent, in the European populations studied.
OBJECTIVE: To investigate determinants of the acceptability of isoflavone products among postmenopausal women with regard to social and lifestyle factors, dietary habits, health concerns, food beliefs, menopausal symptoms and therapies, and to elucidate preferences for specific products. METHODS: A consumer survey was conducted among postmenopausal women in four European countries (Germany, Denmark, Italy and the UK), including a total of 465 respondents. RESULTS: The declared acceptability of isoflavones was highest in Germany (80%), followed by Italy (75%), the UK (59%) and Denmark (55%; p
Little is known about whether the accuracy of tools for assessment of sexual offender recidivism risk holds across ethnic minority offenders. I investigated the predictive validity across ethnicity for the RRASOR and the Static-99 actuarial risk assessment procedures in a national cohort of all adult male sex offenders released from prison in Sweden 1993-1997. Subjects ordered out of Sweden upon release from prison were excluded and remaining subjects (N = 1303) divided into three subgroups based on citizenship. Eighty-three percent of the subjects were of Nordic ethnicity, and non-Nordic citizens were either of non-Nordic European (n = 49, hereafter called European) or African Asian descent (n = 128). The two tools were equally accurate among Nordic and European sexual offenders for the prediction of any sexual and any violent nonsexual recidivism. In contrast, neither measure could differentiate African Asian sexual or violent recidivists from nonrecidivists. Compared to European offenders, AfricanAsian offenders had more often sexually victimized a nonrelative or stranger, had higher Static-99 scores, were younger, more often single, and more often homeless. The results require replication, but suggest that the promising predictive validity seen with some risk assessment tools may not generalize across offender ethnicity or migration status. More speculatively, different risk factors or causal chains might be involved in the development or persistence of offending among minority or immigrant sexual abusers.
High rates of tuberculosis, including multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), have been reported from the former Soviet Union. Our laboratory has supported operational studies in jails in Baku, Azerbaijan, and Mariinsk, Siberia. Combining the results from these two penal systems, the rates of MDR-TB among 'newly enrolled' and 'non-responding' cases were 24.6% and 92.1%, respectively. Restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) studies strongly suggest transmission of MDR-TB between prisoners. In Mariinsk, the high rates of MDR-TB have been associated with failure rates of 23%-50% among smear-positive cases receiving fully-supervised standard short-course treatment. There are no coherent guidelines for TB control programmes confronted by high pre-existing levels of MDR-TB but who have only limited laboratory, clinical, pharmaceutical and financial resources. A 'DOTS plus' strategy has been advocated in which an established TB control programme is complemented by facilities to treat MDR-TB patients. However, the exact format of these programmes remains unresolved. Further research is required to describe the natural history of MDR-TB infection, to determine the failure rate of (and the additional resistance induced by) standard short-course treatment when MDR-TB is prevalent, to decide whether standardised or individualised second-line regimens can be employed, and to define the laboratory facilities required by a 'DOTS plus' programme.
Child and Adolescent Health Research Unit (CAHRU), Department of PE, Sport and Leisure Studies, University of Edinburgh, St. Leonard's Land, Holyrood Road, EH8 8AQ, Edinburgh, UK. firstname.lastname@example.org
This paper examines the relationship between family structure and smoking among 15-year-old adolescents in seven European countries. It also investigates the association between family structure and a number of known smoking risk factors including family socio-economic status, the adolescent's disposable income, parental smoking and the presence of other smokers in the adolescent's home. Findings are based on 1998 survey data from a cross-national study of health behaviours among children and adolescents. Family structure was found to be significantly associated with smoking among 15-year-olds in all countries, with smoking prevalence lowest among adolescents in intact families and highest among adolescents in stepfamilies. Multivariate analysis showed that several risk factors were associated with higher smoking prevalences in all countries, but that even after these other factors were taken into account, there was an increased likelihood of smoking among adolescents in stepfamilies. Further research is needed to determine the possible reasons for this association.