BACKGROUND: Adjuvant chemotherapy (5-fluorouracil, levamisole) is now standard practice in the treatment of Dukes' B and C coloretal carcinoma (CRC), and this has increased the financial burden on health care systems world-wide. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Between 1993 and 1996, 95 patients in northern Norway were included in a national randomised CRC study, and assigned to surgery plus adjuvant chemotherapy or surgery alone. In April 1996, 94 of the patients were evaluable and 82 were still alive. The total treatment costs (hospital stay, surgery, chemotherapy, administrative and travelling costs) were calculated. A questionnaire was mailed to all survivors for assessment of the quality of their lives (QoL) (EuroQol questionnaire, a simple QoL-scale, global QoL-measure of the EORTC QLQ-C30), and 62 of them (76%) responded. RESULTS: Adjuvant chemotherapy in Dukes' B and C CRC raised the total treatment costs by 3,369 pounds. The median QoL was 0.83 (0-1 scale) in both arms. Employing a 5% discount rate and an improved survival of adjuvant therapy ranging from 5% to 15%, we calculated the cost of one gained quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) to be between 4,800 pounds and 16,800 pounds. CONCLUSION: Using a cut-off point level of 20,000 pounds per QALY, adjuvant chemotherapy in CRC appears to be cost-effective only when the improvement in 5-year survival is > or = 5%. Adjuvant chemotherapy does not affect short-term QoL.
Vaccination against Japanese Encephalitis (JE) has been carried out extensively in many Asian countries for the past 20 years. The vaccine was generally considered to be effective and of low reactogenity. However, since 1989 an unusual number of systemic reactions characterized mainly by generalized urticaria and/or angioedema following JE vaccination were reported from Australia, Canada and Denmark, 860 travellers were recruited during a period of 16 months for a prospective study with the aim to investigate the type and incidence of side effects following JE vaccination (JEV) in German travellers. 826 received a primary immunization (2 injections at days 0 and 7-14) and 34 received a single booster injection. A detailed standardized questionnaire was distributed to all vaccinees after the first injection. A total of 509 questionnaires could be evaluated, which represents a return rate of 59.2%. 46% of the vaccinees reported about no adverse events at all. 54% reported about one or more adverse effects. Local reactions at the injection site were observed by 209 vaccinees, while 65 reported about systemic side effects like headache, fever, dizziness and generalized rash. There was no significant difference following first or second injection of the primary immunization or the booster injection, respectively, regarding incidence, severity or type of side effects. 2.2% of the vaccinees reporting reactions sought medical advice and 1.8% were judged unfit for work for an average of 2.2 days. The amount of systemic reactions might indicate a potential hazard of serious anaphylactic reactions. Unlike hepatitis A. Japanese encephalitis is an extremely rare disease in travellers. Therefore, the risk of acquiring the disease when travelling to affected areas without prior immunization should be considered against the risk of developing serious side effects after vaccination. We conclude that JEV should remain restricted to travellers with an increased risk of acquiring JE.
In March 1997, an outbreak of Vero cytotoxin-producing Escherichia coli O157 (VTEC) infection occurred amongst holidaymakers returning from Fuerteventura, Canary Islands. For the investigation, a confirmed case was an individual staying in Fuerteventura during March 1997, with either E. coli O157 VTEC isolated in stool, HUS or serological evidence of recent infection; a probable case was an individual with bloody diarrhoea without laboratory confirmation. Local and Europe-wide active case finding was undertaken through national centres, Salm-Net and the European Programme of Intervention Epidemiology, followed by a case-control study. Fourteen confirmed and one probable case were identified from England (7), Finland (5), Wales (1), Sweden (1) and Denmark (1) staying in four hotels. Three of the four hotels were supplied with water from a private well which appeared to be the probable vehicle of transmission. The case-control study showed illness was associated with consumption of raw vegetables (OR 8.4, 95% CI 1-5-48.2) which may have been washed in well water. This investigation shows the importance of international collaboration in the detection and investigation of clusters of enteric infection.
Seamen constitute a special group of international travellers who may run an increased risk of contracting hepatitis, because of visits to foreign ports and the particular environment on board ship. The purpose of the survey was to assess the prevalence of serological markers for hepatitis A, B and C virus infection among seamen and to identify present and previous risk factors for infection. 515 seamen were studied. The prevalence of antibodies against hepatitis A was 0.3% in subjects below 40 years of age, increasing with age above 40 years, and highest among those who had sailed in international trade. The prevalence of antibodies against hepatitis B was 2.7% in subjects below 40 years of age, increasing to 35.7% in the group above 60 years of age. Hepatitis C antibodies occurred in 1.2%. Vaccination of sailors against hepatitis A should follow the same recommendations as to other travellers. The prevalence of hepatitis B was higher than in reference groups of non-seamen but, because hepatitis B is only one of many blood-borne diseases, prevention should be directed towards changes in behaviour rather than vaccination, except for special groups. Young seamen in international trade were found to be most at risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.