Publications by authors named "Theano Georgakopoulou"

35 Publications

Active case finding of pulmonary TB in a European refugee camp: lessons learnt from Oinofyta hosting site in Greece.

Trop Med Int Health 2021 May 15. Epub 2021 May 15.

Medical School, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece.

Objectives: To report on an active case finding (ACF) intervention that took place in the migrant camp of Oinofyta, Greece, upon suspicion of active TB transmission.

Methods: Upon diagnosis of 3 TB cases among camp residents, an ACF intervention among contacts was implemented. All camp residents were offered two-step screening, that is tuberculin skin testing (TST) followed by chest X-ray in case of positive TST (defined as ≥5 mm).

Results: 336 of 379 (89%) camp residents underwent TST testing, of whom 110 (33%) exhibited a positive skin reaction. The rate of positive TST results was particularly high in the elderly and significantly higher in adults than in children. Differences by sex or nationality were not observed. Of the 110 cases with positive TST, only 75 underwent chest X-ray, resulting in the detection of one pulmonary TB case in an adult woman.

Conclusions: In the given intervention context, two-step ACF proved to be operationally cumbersome, with many residents lost to follow-up and a high Number Needed to Screen. Simpler ACF designs should be pilot-tested in similar settings in the future, and blanket screening of all camp residents should be reconsidered. Conclusions drawn by these exercises should pave the way for adopting a comprehensive, context-specific and evidence-based national strategy on TB in migrants.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/tmi.13626DOI Listing
May 2021

Surveillance data for human leishmaniasis indicate the need for a sustainable action plan for its management and control, Greece, 2004 to 2018.

Euro Surveill 2021 May;26(18)

These authors contributed equally to this article.

BackgroundThe World Health Organization (WHO) lists human leishmaniasis as a neglected tropical disease; it is not under surveillance at European level.AimWe present surveillance data for visceral (VL) and cutaneous (CL) leishmaniasis for the period 2004 to 2018 in Greece to assess their public health importance.MethodsWe extracted data from the mandatory notification system to analyse separately imported and domestic cases of VL and CL. A case was defined by clinical manifestations compatible with VL or CL and laboratory confirmation.ResultsBetween 2004 and 2018, 881 VL (862 domestic, 19 imported) and 58 CL cases (24 domestic, 34 imported) were recorded. The mean annual notification rate of domestic VL was 0.5 per 100,000 (range: 0.12-1.43/100,000) with a statistically significant increasing trend (p = 0.013). Cases were reported by all regions. The highest notification rate occurred in the age group 0-4 years (1.3/100,000). Overall 24% (164/680) of the cases were immunocompromised and their proportion increased after 2010 (p < 0.001). The mean annual notification rate of domestic CL was 0.05 per 100,000 (range: 0.01-0.19/100,000) with the highest rate in the age group 5-14 years (0.03/100,000). Cases were recorded in six of the 13 regions. Among 34 imported CL cases, 29 were foreign nationals.ConclusionVL is endemic in Greece, with an increasing trend and a considerable burden of severe disease and young children being most affected. CL is rarely reported. A sustainable action plan is needed to reduce the burden of VL and prevent local transmission of CL.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2021.26.18.2000159DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8103731PMC
May 2021

Global Landscape Review of Serotype-Specific Invasive Pneumococcal Disease Surveillance among Countries Using PCV10/13: The Pneumococcal Serotype Replacement and Distribution Estimation (PSERENADE) Project.

Microorganisms 2021 Apr 2;9(4). Epub 2021 Apr 2.

National Public Health Organisation, 15123 Athens, Greece.

Serotype-specific surveillance for invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) is essential for assessing the impact of 10- and 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV10/13). The Pneumococcal Serotype Replacement and Distribution Estimation (PSERENADE) project aimed to evaluate the global evidence to estimate the impact of PCV10/13 by age, product, schedule, and syndrome. Here we systematically characterize and summarize the global landscape of routine serotype-specific IPD surveillance in PCV10/13-using countries and describe the subset that are included in PSERENADE. Of 138 countries using PCV10/13 as of 2018, we identified 109 with IPD surveillance systems, 76 of which met PSERENADE data collection eligibility criteria. PSERENADE received data from most (n = 63, 82.9%), yielding 240,639 post-PCV10/13 introduction IPD cases. Pediatric and adult surveillance was represented from all geographic regions but was limited from lower income and high-burden countries. In PSERENADE, 18 sites evaluated PCV10, 42 PCV13, and 17 both; 17 sites used a 3 + 0 schedule, 38 used 2 + 1, 13 used 3 + 1, and 9 used mixed schedules. With such a sizeable and generally representative dataset, PSERENADE will be able to conduct robust analyses to estimate PCV impact and inform policy at national and global levels regarding adult immunization, schedule, and product choice, including for higher valency PCVs on the horizon.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms9040742DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8066045PMC
April 2021

Determinants of intention to get vaccinated against COVID-19 among healthcare personnel in hospitals in Greece.

Infect Dis Health 2021 Mar 31. Epub 2021 Mar 31.

Pathophysiology Department, Medical School, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, 11527, Greece.

Background: To investigate intention rates to get vaccinated against COVID-19 among healthcare personnel (HCP) in Greece.

Methods: Cross-sectional survey.

Results: The response rate was 14.5%. Of 1521 HCP with a known profession, 607 (39.9%) were nursing personnel, 480 (31.6%) physicians, 171 (11.2%) paramedical personnel, 72 (4.7%) supportive personnel, and 191 (12.6%) administrative personnel. Overall, 803 of 1571 HCP (51.1%) stated their intention to get vaccinated while 768 (48.9%) stated their intention to decline vaccination. Most HCP (71.3%) who reported intent to get vaccinated noted contributing to the control of the pandemic and protecting their families and themselves as their reasons, while the most common reason for reporting intent to decline vaccination was inadequate information about the vaccines (74.9%), followed by concerns about vaccine safety (36.2%). Logistic regression analysis revealed that the probability of intending to get vaccinated increased with male gender, being a physician, history of complete vaccination against hepatitis B, history of vaccination against pandemic A (H1N1) in 2009-2010, belief that COVID-19 vaccination should be mandatory for HCP, and increased confidence in vaccines in general during the COVID-19 pandemic. The following factors were associated with a lower intention to get vaccinated: no vaccination against influenza the past season, no intention to get vaccinated against influenza in 2020-2021, and no intention to recommend COVID-19 vaccination to high-risk patients.

Conclusion: There is an urgent need to built safety perception towards COVID-19 vaccines and raise vaccine uptake rates by HCP, and thus to protect the healthcare workforce and the healthcare services.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.idh.2021.03.002DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8011642PMC
March 2021

Changes in Invasive Pneumococcal Disease Caused by Serotype 1 Following Introduction of PCV10 and PCV13: Findings from the PSERENADE Project.

Microorganisms 2021 03 27;9(4). Epub 2021 Mar 27.

National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance and Discipline of Child and Adolescent Health, Children's Hospital Westmead Clinical School, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney, Westmead, NSW 2145, Australia.

serotype 1 (ST1) was an important cause of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) globally before the introduction of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCVs) containing ST1 antigen. The Pneumococcal Serotype Replacement and Distribution Estimation (PSERENADE) project gathered ST1 IPD surveillance data from sites globally and aimed to estimate PCV10/13 impact on ST1 IPD incidence. We estimated ST1 IPD incidence rate ratios (IRRs) comparing the pre-PCV10/13 period to each post-PCV10/13 year by site using a Bayesian multi-level, mixed-effects Poisson regression and all-site IRRs using a linear mixed-effects regression (N = 45 sites). Following PCV10/13 introduction, the incidence rate (IR) of ST1 IPD declined among all ages. After six years of PCV10/13 use, the all-site IRR was 0.05 (95% credibility interval 0.04-0.06) for all ages, 0.05 (0.04-0.05) for <5 years of age, 0.08 (0.06-0.09) for 5-17 years, 0.06 (0.05-0.08) for 18-49 years, 0.06 (0.05-0.07) for 50-64 years, and 0.05 (0.04-0.06) for ≥65 years. PCV10/13 use in infant immunization programs was followed by a 95% reduction in ST1 IPD in all ages after approximately 6 years. Limited data availability from the highest ST1 disease burden countries using a 3+0 schedule constrains generalizability and data from these settings are needed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms9040696DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8066231PMC
March 2021

Spatiotemporal Distribution and Genetic Characterization of Measles Strains Circulating in Greece during the 2017-2018 Outbreak.

Viruses 2020 10 15;12(10). Epub 2020 Oct 15.

Bioinformatics and Applied Genomics Unit, Department of Microbiology, Hellenic Pasteur Institute, 11521 Athens, Greece.

Between May 2017 and November 2018, Greece has experienced a severe measles outbreak with a total of 3258 cases reported, after reaching its goal of eliminating measles since 2014-2015. In this study, we aimed to investigate the origin and the dispersal patterns of the measles strains that circulated in Greece during this outbreak and to identify possible transmission patterns of measles virus (MeV) in the country. Of the 832 measles suspect cases referred to the National Measles and Rubella Reference Laboratory for MeV RNA detection, 131 randomly selected positive samples, representative of the temporal and spatial distribution of the laboratory-confirmed measles cases in Greece, were processed for genotypic identification by an RT-PCR amplification of a 598 bp fragment containing the 450 bp hypervariable region of the measles virus N gene. Phylogenetic analysis was carried out by the approximate maximum likelihood method (ML) under the generalized time-reversible (GTR + cat) model. All samples analyzed were found to belong to genotype B3. Comparative analysis with other European and reference measles strains revealed three separate major clusters and other multiple viruses circulating simultaneously in Greece. They were all isolated from three main community groups, Greek-Roma children, non-minority Greek nationals and immigrants/refugees, a finding that is in accordance with what was also observed in the last two measles outbreaks in 2005-2006 and 2010-2011. Notably, for one of the three clusters, no similarity was detected with previously reported prototype strains. Our results indicate the need for a more intensive vaccination program against measles amongst minority populations and in refugee hot-spots as well as the importance of molecular surveillance as a tool for monitoring measles outbreaks.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/v12101166DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7602502PMC
October 2020

West Nile virus in humans, Greece, 2018: the largest seasonal number of cases, 9 years after its emergence in the country.

Euro Surveill 2020 08;25(32)

National Reference Center for Arboviruses and Haemorrhagic Fever Viruses, Department of Microbiology, Medical School, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece.

BackgroundHuman cases of West Nile virus (WNV) infection are recorded since 2010 in Greece, with seasonal outbreaks occurring almost annually. Enhanced surveillance has been implemented since 2010, to promptly characterise cases' temporal and geographical distribution and inform authorities for implementation of appropriate measures (mosquito control, health education, blood safety).AimWe describe the epidemiology of WNV human infections in Greece focusing on the 2018 season.MethodsThe National Public Health Organization advised physicians to test all suspect WNV infection cases and refer samples to reference laboratories. Laboratories notified diagnosed cases on a daily basis. Treating physicians, patients, and infected blood donors were interviewed within 48 hours after diagnosis and the probable infection location was identified. Hospitalised cases were followed up until discharge.ResultsA total of 317 autochthonous WNV infection cases were diagnosed in 2018. Among them, 243 cases had neuroinvasive disease (WNND), representing a 23% increase of WNND cases compared with 2010, the previous most intense season. There were 51 deaths. Cases started occurring from week 22, earlier than usual. Both rural and urban areas were affected, with 86 (26% of the total) municipalities belonging to seven (54% of the total) regions recording cases. Two major epicentres were identified in Attica and Central Macedonia regions.ConclusionsThe largest number of human cases of WNV infection ever recorded in Greece occurred in 2018, with a wide geographical distribution, suggesting intense virus circulation. Enhanced surveillance is vital for the early detection of human cases and the prompt implementation of response measures.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2020.25.32.1900543DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7427301PMC
August 2020

First report of meningococcal ciprofloxacin resistance in Greece due to invasive isolates of the sequence type ST-3129.

Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis 2020 Dec 3;39(12):2467-2470. Epub 2020 Jul 3.

Invasive Bacterial Infections Unit, Institute Pasteur, Paris, France.

A local outbreak caused by Neisseria meningitidis occurred in the migration camp in the Greek island of Lesbos during January-February 2020 (4 of 5 cases). In total, 5 samples positive for N. meningitidis were further investigated for sero-/genogroup, PorA, and WGS analysis. MenB was found among 3 cases, while in two cases, MenY was identified. WGS analysis and antibiotic susceptibility testing on the 2 culture positive MenB samples showed the new ST-3129, ciprofloxacin-resistant clone was circulating among the immigrants in the aforementioned camp. This is the first report of ciprofloxacin resistance in Greece.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10096-020-03965-xDOI Listing
December 2020

The Importance of an Active Case Detection (ACD) Programme for Malaria among Migrants from Malaria Endemic Countries: The Greek Experience in a Receptive and Vulnerable Area.

Int J Environ Res Public Health 2020 06 8;17(11). Epub 2020 Jun 8.

Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Thessaly, 22 Papakyriazi St., 41222 Larissa, Greece.

Greece has been malaria-free since 1974. In October 2011, following an outbreak of 36 locally acquired malaria (LAM) cases in Evrotas Municipality, a Pro-Active Case Detection (PACD) program for malaria was implemented among migrants from malaria-endemic countries, to support early diagnosis and treatment of cases. We evaluated the PACD program for the years 2012-2017 using indicators such as the number of locally acquired cases, the detection rate/sensitivity and the timeliness of diagnosis and treatment. We visited each migrant home every 7-15 days to screen migrants for malaria symptoms, performing Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDTs) and blood smears on symptomatic patients. We estimated: (i) the number of malaria cases detected by the PACD, divided by the total number of reported malaria cases during the same period among the same population; (ii) the time between onset of symptoms, diagnosis and initiation of treatment. The total number of migrants who were screened for malaria symptoms for the years 2012-2017 was 5057 with 84,169 fever screenings conducted, while 2288 RDTs and 1736 blood smears were performed. During the same period, 53 imported malaria cases were detected, while incidence of malaria among migrants was estimated at 1.8% annually. Ten and one LAM cases were also reported in 2012 and 2015, respectively. Sensitivity of PACD ranged from 86% to 100%; median timeliness between onset of symptoms and diagnosis decreased from 72 h in 2012 to 12 h in 2017 (83% decrease), while timeliness between diagnosis and treatment initiation was 0 h. The implementation of PACD could be considered an effective prevention and response tool against malaria re-introduction.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17114080DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7312366PMC
June 2020

Influenza vaccine effectiveness against hospitalization with laboratory-confirmed influenza in Greece: A pooled analysis across six seasons, 2013-2014 to 2018-2019.

Vaccine 2020 03 6;38(12):2715-2724. Epub 2020 Feb 6.

National Public Health Organization, Athens, Greece.

Background: Monitoring seasonal influenza Vaccine Effectiveness (VE) is key to inform vaccination strategies and sustain uptake. Pooling data across multiple seasons increases precision and allows for subgroup analyses, providing more conclusive evidence. Our aim was to assess VE against hospitalization with laboratory-confirmed influenza in Greece over six seasons, from 2013 to 2014 to 2018-2019, using routinely collected surveillance data.

Methods: Swab samples from hospitalized patients across the country were tested for influenza by RT-PCR. We used the test-negative design, with patients testing positive for influenza serving as cases and those testing negative serving as controls. VE was calculated as one minus the Odds Ratio (OR) for influenza vaccination, estimated by mixed-effects logistic regression and adjusted for age, sex, hospitalization type (being in intensive care or not), time from symptom onset to swabbing, and calendar time. Stratified estimates by age and hospitalization type were obtained, and also subgroup estimates by influenza type/subtype and season. Antigenic and genetic characterization of a subset of circulating influenza strains was performed.

Results: A total of 3,882 test-positive cases and 5,895 test-negative controls were analyzed. Across all seasons, adjusted VE was 45.5% (95% CI: 31.6-56.6) against all influenza, 62.8% against A(H1N1)pdm09 (95% CI: 40.7-76.7), 28.2% against A(H3N2) (95% CI: 12.0-41.3) and 45.5% against influenza B (95% CI: 29.1-58.1). VE was slightly lower for patients aged 60 years and over, and similar between patients hospitalized inside or outside intensive care. Circulating A(H1N1)pdm09 and B strains were antigenically similar to the vaccine strains, whereas A(H3N2) were not.

Conclusion: Our results confirm the public health benefits from seasonal influenza vaccination, despite the suboptimal effectiveness against A(H3N2) strains. Continued monitoring of VE is essential, and routinely collected surveillance data can be valuable in this regard.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2020.01.083DOI Listing
March 2020

Antibody Response Following Pre-Exposure Immunization Against Rabies in High-Risk Professionals.

Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis 2020 04 2;20(4):303-309. Epub 2019 Dec 2.

Department of Microbiology, Medical School, University of Athens, Athens, Greece.

Vaccination against rabies and routine antibody testing of subjects participating in programs for the surveillance and control of rabies in animals is strongly recommended. The scope of this study is to describe the antibody level as measured by a commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) after primary and booster intramuscular vaccination with a purified vero-cell rabies vaccine (PVRV) in high-risk professionals and to determine the influence of an array of factors on antibody level, that is, time elapsed since primary immunization series and booster dose, sex, age, pathologic conditions, high-risk occupation, and peak antibody level after initial scheme and booster dose. A primary series of three doses of PVRV was administered and a commercial ELISA was recommended 14 days postimmunization with continuous repetition at 6 months and yearly intervals for the laboratory personnel and the rest of the professionals, respectively. The protective antibody titer was defined as a minimum of 0.5 equivalent units/mL (EU/mL) (seroconvertion) and a booster dose was applied if the titer was determined nonprotective. The seroconversion rate (SCR) after primary vaccination was 100%, with a geometric mean titer (GMT) of 2.90 EU/mL (interquartile range [IQR]: 1.85-3.45). After booster vaccination due to nonprotective titer, the SCR was 100% and the GMT increased by 678% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 514-887) reaching 4.25 EU/mL (IQR: 4.00-4.60), 2.5 times higher than the GMT elicited by the primary vaccine scheme in the respective recipients. The titer dropped by 1.20% per month (95% CI: 0.52-1.89) regardless of booster administration or any other factor. Women had 51% higher titer compared with men (95% CI: 6-116). High-risk professionals should be verified for adequate antibody titers, but routine administration of a single booster dose of PVRV 1 year after the primary series could be considered; more evidence is needed to support the benefit in terms of immunity and logistics.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/vbz.2019.2526DOI Listing
April 2020

Foodborne Outbreak during an Athletic Event in Northern Greece, June 2019.

Int J Environ Res Public Health 2019 10 17;16(20). Epub 2019 Oct 17.

Regional Public Health Laboratory (PEDY) of Thessaly, 41221 Thessaly, Greece.

Background: Food safety is a major public health consideration during athletic events. On 27 June 2019, the Hellenic National Public Health Organization was notified of a cluster of gastroenteritis cases among athletes of four of the 47 teams participating at the Panhellenic Handball Championship for children.

Methods: A retrospective cohort study among the members of the four teams was performed. The local public health authority visited the restaurants where common meals took place, amassed information on the preparation of meals, and collected samples of leftovers. Stool samples were tested for spp. and spp.

Results: Consumption of minced beef had a statistically significant association with disease occurrence [RR:8.29 (95%CI 1,31-52,7)]. Samples of meat were found positive for . It was documented that the meat was not stored and re-heated as indicated. Stool samples were negative for spp. and spp. and were not tested for the toxin.

Conclusion: Specific standards should be kept to prevent outbreaks during athletic events. This was the first time that a foodborne outbreak due to was investigated in the country. Laboratory investigation for toxins should be enhanced, especially in foodborne outbreaks where clinical manifestations of cases are found to be compatible with infection caused by a toxin.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16203967DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6843328PMC
October 2019

Epidemiology of invasive meningococcal disease in Greece, 2006-2016.

Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis 2019 Dec 15;38(12):2197-2203. Epub 2019 Aug 15.

National Meningitis Reference Laboratory, Department of Public Health Policy, School of Public Health, University of West Attica, 196, Alexandras Avenue, Athens, Greece.

The present study describes the epidemiology of invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) in Greece for the period 2006-2016. Combined data from notified and laboratory-confirmed IMD cases were obtained from the two involved National Centres (Epidemiology and Reference Laboratory). Laboratory identification and typing was carried out by both conventional (culture) and molecular methods (PCR, MLST, PorA, and FetA typing). A total of 796 IMD cases were notified; of those, 720 (91%) were laboratory confirmed. Overall, a decline on the annual incidence of confirmed cases was observed, ranging from 0.91 (2006) to 0.47 (2016) /100,000. A similar trend was observed in most age groups especially in children 0-4 years (7.7 to 2.9/100,000), with the exception of an increase in the incidence rate in adults > 20 years (0.21 to 0.32/100,000). The overall case fatality rate was 6.5% (52/796), annual range 2-13%. Among 658 strains which were typed by sero/genogroup, 80% were identified as MenB (annual range 65-92%); however, a decline was observed in MenB incidence from 5.3 (2006) to 2.7 (2016), among infants and toddlers, while MenW (1%), MenY (2%), and MenA (1%) remained low. During the 11 years, the annual incidence of IMD declined by 50%, especially in the 0-4-year age group, due mainly to MenB. Continuous surveillance of IMD is important for the development of future vaccination and public health policies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10096-019-03668-yDOI Listing
December 2019

Increasing childhood vaccination coverage of the refugee and migrant population in Greece through the European programme PHILOS, April 2017 to April 2018.

Euro Surveill 2019 Jul;24(27)

Hellenic Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Athens, Greece.

After the 2016 Balkan route border closures, vaccination of refugee children in Greece was mainly performed by non-governmental organisations. Activities varied between camps, resulting in heterogeneity of vaccination coverage (VC). In April 2017, the European programme 'PHILOS - Emergency health response to refugee crisis' took over vaccination coordination. Interventions were planned for the first time for refugee children in the community and unaccompanied minors at safe zones. From April 2017-April 2018, 57,615 vaccinations were performed against measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) (21,031), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (7,341), poliomyelitis (7,652), pneumococcal disease (5,938), type b (7,179) and hepatitis B (8,474). In April 2018, the vaccination status of children at camps (reception and identification centres and community facilities such as hostels/hotels were excluded) was recorded and VC for each disease, stratified by dose, nationality and camp size, was calculated. More than 80% of the children received the first MMR dose, with VC dropping to 45% for the second dose. For all other vaccines, VC was < 50% for the first dose in children aged 0-4 years and < 25% for the second dose. Despite challenges, PHILOS improved planning and monitoring of vaccination activities; however, further efforts towards improving VC in refugee children are needed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2019.24.27.1800326DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6628755PMC
July 2019

Surveillance of Rabies Postexposure Prophylaxis in Greece: 4 Years Experience.

Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis 2019 04 22;19(4):295-301. Epub 2018 Sep 22.

10 National and Kapodistrian University of Athens Medical School, Athens, Greece.

Rabies reemerged in Greek fauna during October 2012, 25 years after the last report in animals and 42 after the last human case. This study examined the administration of rabies postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) in humans over the period 2012-2016. A total of 1,454 individuals (62.6% males) received PEP. The vast majority (92.3%) of regimens was initiated in high risk for animal rabies areas (11.1 PEP per 100,000 residents per year). Among the exposed, 77.0% presented at a healthcare setting during the first 24 h after the incident; more severe injuries were associated with faster presentation (p < 0.05). A vaccine series was administered in 54.5% of exposed persons whereas 43.7% received both vaccine and immunoglobulin and 1.7% immunoglobulin only. Exposure to stray dogs represented 68.4% of all incidents. In exposures occurring in nonhigh risk for rabies areas, bat was the second most frequently involved animal (13.4% of incidents). All dogs and cats evaluated by a veterinarian and laboratory-confirmed rabid were initially deemed suspect for rabies during clinical examination or according to history. No human rabies cases were recorded during the period of the study. Surveillance of PEP represents a valuable tool for aiding assessment of present and future demands in prophylaxis biologicals, outlining the epidemiological profile of exposures and planning effective policies for the management of exposure incidents.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/vbz.2018.2344DOI Listing
April 2019

A modified chain binomial model to analyse the ongoing measles epidemic in Greece, July 2017 to February 2018.

Euro Surveill 2018 04;23(17)

4th Department of Internal Medicine, Attikon University Hospital, University of Athens Medical School, Athens, Greece.

Greece is currently experiencing a large measles outbreak, in the context of multiple similar outbreaks across Europe. We devised and applied a modified chain-binomial epidemic model, requiring very simple data, to estimate the transmission parameters of this outbreak. Model results indicate sustained measles transmission among the Greek Roma population, necessitating a targeted mass vaccination campaign to halt further spread of the epidemic. Our model may be useful for other countries facing similar measles outbreaks.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2018.23.17.18-00165DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5930726PMC
April 2018

Clinical assessment is a neglected component of outbreak preparedness: evidence from refugee camps in Greece.

BMC Med 2018 03 19;16(1):43. Epub 2018 Mar 19.

Epidemic Diseases Research Group, University of Oxford, Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, Oxford, UK.

Background: Refugees may have an increased vulnerability to infectious diseases, and the consequences of an outbreak are more severe in a refugee camp. When an outbreak is suspected, access to clinical information is critical for investigators to verify that an outbreak is occurring, to determine the cause and to select interventions to control it. Experience from previous outbreaks suggests that the accuracy and completeness of this information is poor. This study is the first to assess the adequacy of clinical characterisation of acute medical illnesses in refugee camps. The objective is to direct improvements in outbreak identification and management in this vulnerable setting.

Methods: We collected prospective data in 13 refugee camps in Greece. We passively observed consultations where patients presented with syndromes that might warrant inclusion into an existing syndromic surveillance system and then undertook a structured assessment of routine clinical data collection to examine the extent to which key clinical parameters required for an outbreak response were ascertained and then documented.

Results: A total of 528 patient consultations were included. The most common presenting condition was an acute respiratory illness. Clinicians often made a comprehensive clinical assessment, especially for common syndromes of respiratory and gastrointestinal conditions, but documented their findings less frequently. For fewer than 5% of patients were a full set of vital signs ascertained and so the severity of patient illnesses was largely unknown. In only 11% of consultations was it verified that a patient who met the case criteria for syndromic surveillance reporting based on an independent assessment was reported into the system.

Discussion: Opportunities exist to strengthen clinical data capture and recording in refugee camps, which will produce a better calibrated and directed public health response.

Conclusion: Information of significant utility for outbreak response is collected at the clinical interface and we recommend improving how this information is recorded and linked into surveillance systems.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12916-018-1015-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5858141PMC
March 2018

Fatal human anaplasmosis associated with macrophage activation syndrome in Greece and the Public Health response.

J Infect Public Health 2017 Nov - Dec;10(6):819-823. Epub 2017 Feb 8.

Metropolitan Hospital, Athens, Greece.

Human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA) is a tick-borne disease caused by Anaplasma phagocytophilum that has the potential to spread in new geographical areas. The first fatal case of HGA in Greece is presented. Fever of unknown origin, renal and respiratory insufficiency and development of macrophage activation syndrome characterized the clinical presentation. Amplification and sequencing of a fragment of the groEL gene revealed the presence of A. phagocytophilum. The epidemiological and clinical features were collected during an epidemiological investigation. Public health measures were instituted by the Hellenic Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. The Public Health intervention required the collaboration of epidemiologists, veterinarians and microbiologists. Emphasis was given to communication activities and misconceptions concerning canines and their role in the disease. The emergence of human anaplasmosis in a new geographical area highlights the importance of disease awareness and of the need for continued support for tick and tick-borne disease surveillance networks.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jiph.2017.01.002DOI Listing
January 2018

Hepatitis A among refugees, asylum seekers and migrants living in hosting facilities, Greece, April to December 2016.

Euro Surveill 2017 Jan;22(4)

Hellenic Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (HCDCP), Athens, Greece.

An increased number of hepatitis A cases among refugees, asylum seekers and migrants residing in hosting facilities in Greece were recorded between April and December 2016. In total, 177 laboratory-confirmed symptomatic cases were reported; of these, 149 (84%) occurred in hosting camps mostly among Syrian children under 15 years. All cases reported symptom onset after their entry into the country. Public health interventions focused on hygiene measures and vaccination.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2017.22.4.30448DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5388090PMC
January 2017

Laboratory Surveillance of Polio and Other Enteroviruses in High-Risk Populations and Environmental Samples.

Appl Environ Microbiol 2017 03 15;83(5). Epub 2017 Feb 15.

National Poliovirus/Enterovirus Reference Laboratory, Hellenic Pasteur Institute, Athens, Greece

In the context of poliomyelitis eradication, a reinforced supplementary laboratory surveillance of enteroviruses was implemented in Greece. Between 2008 and 2014, the Hellenic Polioviruses/Enteroviruses Reference Laboratory performed detailed supplementary surveillance of circulating enteroviruses among healthy individuals in high-risk population groups, among immigrants from countries in which poliovirus is endemic, and in environmental samples. In total, 722 stool samples and 179 sewage water samples were included in the study. No wild-type polioviruses were isolated during these 7 years of surveillance, although two imported vaccine polioviruses were detected. Enterovirus presence was recorded in 25.3 and 25.1% of stool and sewage water samples, respectively. Nonpolio enteroviruses isolated from stool samples belonged to species A, B, or C; coxsackievirus A24 was the most frequently identified serotype. Only enteroviruses of species B were identified in sewage water samples, including four serotypes of echoviruses and four serotypes of coxsackie B viruses. Phylogenetic analysis revealed close genetic relationships among virus isolates from sewage water samples and stool samples, which in most cases fell into the same cluster. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to compare enterovirus serotypes circulating in fecal specimens of healthy individuals and environmental samples, emphasizing the burden of enterovirus circulation in asymptomatic individuals at high risk. Given that Greece continues to receive a large number of short-term arrivals, students, migrants, and refugees from countries in which poliovirus is endemic, it is important to guarantee high-quality surveillance in order to maintain its polio-free status until global eradication is achieved. This article summarizes the results of supplementary poliovirus surveillance in Greece and the subsequent characterization of enteroviral circulation in human feces and the environment. The examination of stool samples from healthy refugees and other individuals in "high-risk" groups for poliovirus enables the identification of enterovirus cases and forms the basis for further investigation of the community-level risk of viral transmission. In addition, the examination of composite human fecal samples through environmental surveillance links poliovirus and nonpoliovirus isolates from unknown individuals to populations served by the sewage or wastewater system. Supplementary surveillance is necessary to comply with the prerequisites imposed by the World Health Organization for monitoring the emergence of vaccine-derived polioviruses, reemergence of wild polioviruses, or disappearance of all vaccine-related strains in order for countries such as Greece to maintain their polio-free status and contribute to global poliovirus eradication.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/AEM.02872-16DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5311404PMC
March 2017

A cross-sectional vaccination coverage study in preschool children attending nurseries-kindergartens: Implications on economic crisis effect.

Hum Vaccin Immunother 2017 01;13(1):190-197

c Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology , University of Thessaly , Larissa , Greece.

Vaccination coverage studies are important in determining a population's vaccination status and strategically adjusting national immunization programs. This study assessed full and timely vaccination coverage of preschool children aged 2-3 y attending nurseries-kindergartens (N-K) nationwide at the socioeconomic crisis onset. Geographically stratified cluster sampling was implemented considering prefectures as strata and N-K as clusters. The N-K were selected by simple random sampling from the sampling frame while their number was proportional to the stratum size. In total, 185 N-K (response rate 93.9%) and 2539 children (response rate 81.5%) participated. Coverage with traditional vaccines for diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, polio and measles-mumps-rubella was very high (>95%), followed by Haemophilus influenzae type b and varicella vaccines. Despite very high final coverage, delayed vaccination was observed for hepatitis B (48.3% completed by 12 months). Significant delay was observed for the booster dose of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV) and meningococcal C conjugate vaccines (MCC). Of the total population studied, 82.3% received 3 PCV doses by 12 months, while 62.3% received the fourth dose by 24 months and 76.2% by 30 months. However, 89.6% received at least one MCC dose over 12 months. Timely vaccinated for hepatitis A with 2 doses by 24 months were 6.1%. Coverage was significantly low for Rotavirus (<20%) and influenza (23.1% one dose). High vaccination coverage is maintained for most vaccines at the beginning of the crisis in Greece. Coverage and timeliness show an increasing trend compared to previous studies. Sustained efforts are needed to support the preventive medicine system as socioeconomic instability continues.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21645515.2016.1230577DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5287328PMC
January 2017

An outbreak of a possibly new Salmonella enterica subspecies enterica serovar with the antigenic formula 11:z41:e,n,z15, Greece, March to May 2016: preliminary results.

Euro Surveill 2016 Jun;21(25)

National Reference Centre for Salmonella and Shigella, National School of Public Health & Central Public Health Laboratory, Hellenic Centre of Disease Control and Prevention, Vari, Greece.

Eleven Salmonella spp. isolates with the antigenic type 11:z41:e,n,z15 - not referred to in the 9th edition of the White-Kauffman-Le Minor Scheme - were identified at the National Reference Laboratory for Salmonella in Greece. Their pulsed-field gel electrophoresis profiles were indistinguishable. No apparent epidemiological link has yet been identified; the results of a case-case study are pending.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2016.21.25.30265DOI Listing
June 2016

West Nile Virus Circulation in Mosquitoes in Greece (2010-2013).

Biomed Res Int 2016 12;2016:2450682. Epub 2016 May 12.

School of Medicine, Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, University of Thessaly, 41500 Larissa, Greece.

Background of the Study. Following a large West Nile virus (WNV) epidemic in Northern Greece in 2010, an active mosquito surveillance system was implemented, for a 3-year period (2011, 2012, and 2013). Description of the Study Site and Methodology. Using mainly CO2 mosquito traps, mosquito collections were performed. Samples were pooled by date of collection, location, and species and examined for the presence of WNV. Results. Positive pools were detected in different areas of the country. In 2010, MIR and MLE values of 1.92 (95% CI: 0.00-4.57) and 2.30 (95% CI: 0.38-7.49) were calculated for the Serres Regional Unit in Central Macedonia Region. In 2011, the highest MIR value of 3.71(95% CI: 1.52-5.91) was recorded in the Regions of Central Greece and Thessaly. In 2012, MIR and MLE values for the whole country were 2.03 (95% CI: 1.73-2.33) and 2.15 (95% CI: 1.86-2.48), respectively, for Cx. pipiens. In 2013, in the Regional Unit of Attica, the one outbreak epicenter, MIR and MLE values for Cx. pipiens were 10.75 (95% CI: 7.52-13.99) and 15.76 (95% CI: 11.66-20.65), respectively. Significance of Results/Conclusions. The contribution of a mosquito-based surveillance system targeting WNV transmission is highlighted through the obtained data, as in most regions positive mosquito pools were detected prior to the date of symptom onset of human cases. Dissemination of the results on time to Public Health Authorities resulted in planning and application of public health interventions in local level.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2016/2450682DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4880692PMC
February 2017

Imported Chikungunya fever case in Greece in June 2014 and public health response.

Pathog Glob Health 2016 Mar 9;110(2):68-73. Epub 2016 May 9.

c A' Department of Microbiology, Medical School, National Reference Centre for Arboviruses and Hemorrhagic Fever Viruses , Aristotle University of Thessaloniki , Thessaloniki , Greece.

We report about the first imported case of Chikungunya fever in Greece in a Greek traveler returning from the Dominican Republic and the associated public health response. We investigated the case and performed focused epidemiological and entomological investigation in all areas the patient visited during the infectious period, to identify the targeted interventions needed. Entomological investigation revealed the occurrence of the competent vector Aedes albopictus (Diptera: Culicidae) in the environment surrounding the hospital where the patient was admitted and in her workplace. All captured mosquitoes tested negative for Chikungunya virus. We further conducted clinical and laboratory examination of the patient's co-travelers, gave advice on appropriate personal preventive measures against mosquito bites to the patient and co-travelers and on vector control, and raised awareness among health professionals throughout Greece. The risk of introduction and local transmission of Chikungunya and other arboviruses in Greece and other European countries is present, as the competent vector exists in many parts of Europe. Public health professionals, travel medicine specialists and clinicians should maintain awareness regarding this possibility of importation of arbovirus cases in order to provide the appropriate advice, seek the prompt diagnosis, and implement appropriate interventions. Mobilization of various stakeholders will lead to enhanced epidemiological and entomological surveillance that will allow for improved risk assessment in each area.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/20477724.2016.1176311DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4894267PMC
March 2016

Prevention of Malaria Resurgence in Greece through the Association of Mass Drug Administration (MDA) to Immigrants from Malaria-Endemic Regions and Standard Control Measures.

PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2015 Nov 19;9(11):e0004215. Epub 2015 Nov 19.

Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Thessaly, Larissa, Greece.

Greece was declared malaria-free in 1974 after a long antimalarial fight. In 2011-2012, an outbreak of P. vivax malaria was reported in Evrotas, an agricultural area in Southern Greece, where a large number of immigrants from endemic countries live and work. A total of 46 locally acquired and 38 imported malaria cases were detected. Despite a significant decrease of the number of malaria cases in 2012, a mass drug administration (MDA) program was considered as an additional measure to prevent reestablishment of the disease in the area. During 2013 and 2014, a combination of 3-day chloroquine and 14-day primaquine treatment was administered under direct observation to immigrants living in the epicenter of the 2011 outbreak in Evrotas. Adverse events were managed and recorded on a daily basis. The control measures implemented since 2011 continued during the period of 2013-2014 as a part of a national integrated malaria control program that included active case detection (ACD), vector control measures and community education. The MDA program was started prior to the transmission periods (from May to December). One thousand ninety four (1094) immigrants successfully completed the treatment, corresponding to 87.3% coverage of the target population. A total of 688 adverse events were recorded in 397 (36.2%, 95% C.I.: 33.4-39.1) persons, the vast majority minor, predominantly dizziness and headache for chloroquine (284 events) and abdominal pain (85 events) for primaquine. A single case of primaquine-induced hemolysis was recorded in a person whose initial G6PD test proved incorrect. No malaria cases were recorded in Evrotas, Laconia, in 2013 and 2014, though three locally acquired malaria cases were recorded in other regions of Greece in 2013. Preventive antimalarial MDA to a high-risk population in a low transmission setting appears to have synergized with the usual antimalarial activities to achieve malaria elimination. This study suggests that judicious use of MDA can be a useful addition to the antimalarial armamentarium in areas threatened with the reintroduction of the disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0004215DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4652894PMC
November 2015

Assessment of antibody responses in local and immigrant residents of areas with autochthonous malaria transmission in Greece.

Am J Trop Med Hyg 2015 Jul 26;93(1):153-8. Epub 2015 May 26.

Department of Microbiology, Medical School, University of Athens, Athens, Greece; Hellenic Center for Disease Control and Prevention (HCDCP), Athens, Greece; General Hospital of Sparti, Sparti, Greece; Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, Medical School, University of Thessaly, Larissa, Greece

Greece has been officially malaria free since 1974. However, from 2009 to 2012, several locally acquired, cases of Plasmodium vivax malaria were detected, in immigrants and in Greek citizens. In this study, the antibody (Ab) response of Greeks and immigrants with documented malaria was initially assessed, followed by an Ab screening of Greeks and immigrant residents of local transmission areas. Of the 38 patients tested, 10.5% of Greeks and 15.7% of immigrants were positive 5-7 months after infection. Of the 1,019 individuals from various areas of Greece, including those of autochthonous transmission, 85 of the 721 (11.8%) immigrants were positive, whereas all 298 Greeks were negative. The rapid Ab titer decline observed is reasonable, given the non-endemic epidemiological setting. The seroepidemiological findings indicate that the local Greek population remains malaria naive and that at this point Greeks are unlikely to serve as reservoir for the infection of local mosquitoes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4269/ajtmh.14-0420DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4497888PMC
July 2015

Field application of SD bioline malaria Ag Pf/Pan rapid diagnostic test for malaria in Greece.

PLoS One 2015 24;10(3):e0120367. Epub 2015 Mar 24.

Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Thessaly, Larissa, Greece.

Greece, a malaria-free country since 1974, has experienced re-emergence of Plasmodium vivax autochthonous malaria cases in some agriculture areas over the last three years. In early 2012, an integrated control programme (MALWEST Project) was launched in order to prevent re-establishment of the disease. In the context of this project, the rapid diagnostic tests (RDT) of SD Bioline Malaria Ag Pf/Pan that detects hrp-2 and pan-LDH antigens were used. The aim of this study was to assess the field application of the RDT for the P. vivax diagnosis in comparison to light microscopy and polymerase chain reaction (PCR). A total of 955 samples were tested with all three diagnostic tools. Agreement of RDT against microscopy and PCR for the diagnosis of P. vivax was satisfactory (K value: 0.849 and 0.976, respectively). The sensitivity, specificity and positive predictive value of RDT against PCR was 95.6% (95% C.I.: 84.8-99.3), 100% (95% C.I.: 99.6-100.0) and 100% (95% CI: 91.7-100.0) respectively, while the sensitivity, specificity and positive predictive value of RDT against microscopic examination was 97.4% (95% C.I.: 86.1-99.6), 99.4% (95% C.I.: 98.6-99.8) and 86.1% (95% CI: 72.1-94.7), respectively. Our results indicate that RDT performed satisfactory in a non-endemic country and therefore is recommended for malaria diagnosis, especially in areas where health professionals lack experience on light microscopy.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0120367PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4372373PMC
February 2016

Considerations on the current universal vaccination policy against hepatitis A in Greece after recent outbreaks.

PLoS One 2015 15;10(1):e0116939. Epub 2015 Jan 15.

Hellenic Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Athens, Greece; Department of hygiene and epidemiology, Medical Faculty, University of Thessaly, Larissa, Greece.

Greece is the only European Union member state that in 2008 included hepatitis A (HAV) vaccine in the routine national childhood immunization program (NCIP). Given that the resources allocated to public health have dramatically decreased since 2008 and that Greece is a low endemicity country for the disease, the benefit from universal vaccination has been questioned. The aim of this paper is to summarize the available epidemiological data of the disease for 1982-2013, and discuss the effects of universal vaccination on disease morbidity. Descriptive analysis, ARIMA modeling and time series intervention analysis were conducted using surveillance data of acute HAV. A decreasing trend of HAV notification rate over the years was identified (p<0.001). However, universal vaccination (~ 80% vaccine coverage of children) had no significant effect on the annual number of reported cases (p = 0.261) and has resulted to a progressive increase of the average age of infection in the general population. The mean age of cases before the inclusion of the vaccine to NCIP (24.1 years, SD = 1.5) was significantly lower than the mean age of cases after 2008 (31.7 years, SD = 2.1) (p<0.001). In the last decade, one third of all reported cases were Roma (a population accounting for 1.5% of the country's total population) and in 2013 three outbreaks with 16, 9 and 25 Roma cases respectively, were recorded, indicating the decreased effectiveness of the current immunization strategy in this group. Data suggest that universal vaccination may need to be re-considered. Probably a more cost effective approach would be to implement a program that will include: a) vaccination of high risk groups, b) universal vaccination of Roma children and improving conditions at Roma camps, c) education of the population and travel advice, and d) enhancement of the control measures to increase safety of shellfish and other foods.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0116939PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4295885PMC
December 2015

Laboratory and surveillance studies following a suspected Dengue case in Greece, 2012.

Int J Infect Dis 2015 Jan 26;30:150-3. Epub 2014 Nov 26.

Hellenic Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (HCDCP), Athens 15123, Greece; Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Thessaly, Larissa 41222, Greece.

Objectives: To describe the laboratory assays used to investigate a suspected dengue case in summer 2012 in western Greece and to report the public health response.

Design Of Methods: Samples from the patient were tested for detection of Dengue virus (DENV) antibodies, NS1 antigen and RNA. Public health professionals interviewed residents of the village, and blood samples taken from 132 persons were tested for antibodies for DENV and West Nile virus (WNV). Samples from 10 persons who reported symptoms in the prior 15 days (including 3 persons who had fever at the time of sampling) were tested for DENV, WNV and additional arboviruses. Entomological missions were organized in the area of potential exposure to investigate the presence of competent DENV vectors.

Results: Based on a combination of serological and molecular methods, DENV infection was excluded, and the problems in the serology, especially in the DENV NS1 antigen, were attributed to interfering factors. A 6.1% WNV seroprevalence was detected in the region, and phlebovirus IgM and IgG antibodies were detected in two of three persons who had fever at the time of sampling. Aedes albopictus adult mosquitoes were present in the region.

Conclusions: A multi-disciplinary field and laboratory investigation showed no evidence of DENV infection. There is a need for industries to improve the immunometric assays to avoid interference with rheumatoid or other factors, and increased awareness is needed for the evaluation of the diagnostic assays. The high WNV seroprevalence in the investigated region highlights the need for strengthening awareness on vector borne diseases. The presence of Ae. albopictus suggests that the possibility of introduction of DENV exists, and preparedness plans are needed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijid.2014.11.019DOI Listing
January 2015