Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Syndemic


The effects of influenza on a population are attributable to the clinical severity of illness and the number of persons infected, which can vary greatly between seasons or pandemics. To create a systematic framework for assessing the public health effects of an emerging pandemic, we reviewed data from past influenza seasons and pandemics to characterize severity and transmissibility (based on ranges of these measures in the United States) and outlined a formal assessment of the potential effects of a novel virus. The assessment was divided into 2 periods. Because early in a pandemic, measurement of severity and transmissibility is uncertain, we used a broad dichotomous scale in the initial assessment to divide the range of historic values. In the refined assessment, as more data became available, we categorized those values more precisely. By organizing and prioritizing data collection, this approach may inform an evidence-based assessment of pandemic effects and guide decision making.

Concepts: Public health, Epidemiology, Infectious disease, Influenza, Pandemic, World Health Organization, Epidemic, Syndemic


The recent emergence of dengue viruses into new susceptible human populations throughout Asia and the Middle East, driven in part by human travel on both local and global scales, represents a significant global health risk, particularly in areas with changing climatic suitability for the mosquito vector. In Pakistan, dengue has been endemic for decades in the southern port city of Karachi, but large epidemics in the northeast have emerged only since 2011. Pakistan is therefore representative of many countries on the verge of countrywide endemic dengue transmission, where prevention, surveillance, and preparedness are key priorities in previously dengue-free regions. We analyze spatially explicit dengue case data from a large outbreak in Pakistan in 2013 and compare the dynamics of the epidemic to an epidemiological model of dengue virus transmission based on climate and mobility data from ∼40 million mobile phone subscribers. We find that mobile phone-based mobility estimates predict the geographic spread and timing of epidemics in both recently epidemic and emerging locations. We combine transmission suitability maps with estimates of seasonal dengue virus importation to generate fine-scale dynamic risk maps with direct application to dengue containment and epidemic preparedness.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Infectious disease, Malaria, Middle East, Dengue fever, Urdu, Islamabad, Syndemic


During outbreaks of high-consequence pathogens, airport screening programs have been deployed to curtail geographic spread of infection. The effectiveness of screening depends on several factors, including pathogen natural history and epidemiology, human behavior, and characteristics of the source epidemic. We developed a mathematical model to understand how these factors combine to influence screening outcomes. We analyzed screening programs for six emerging pathogens in the early and late stages of an epidemic. We show that the effectiveness of different screening tools depends strongly on pathogen natural history and epidemiological features, as well as human factors in implementation and compliance. For pathogens with longer incubation periods, exposure risk detection dominates in growing epidemics, while fever becomes a better target in stable or declining epidemics. For pathogens with short incubation, fever screening drives detection in any epidemic stage. However, even in the most optimistic scenario arrival screening will miss the majority of cases.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Disease, Infectious disease, Natural environment, Motivation, Epidemic, Epidemic model, Syndemic


We investigate the impact of contact structure clustering on the dynamics of multiple diseases interacting through coinfection of a single individual, two problems typically studied independently. We highlight how clustering, which is well known to hinder propagation of diseases, can actually speed up epidemic propagation in the context of synergistic coinfections if the strength of the coupling matches that of the clustering. We also show that such dynamics lead to a first-order transition in endemic states, where small changes in transmissibility of the diseases can lead to explosive outbreaks and regions where these explosive outbreaks can only happen on clustered networks. We develop a mean-field model of coinfection of two diseases following susceptible-infectious-susceptible dynamics, which is allowed to interact on a general class of modular networks. We also introduce a criterion based on tertiary infections that yields precise analytical estimates of when clustering will lead to faster propagation than nonclustered networks. Our results carry importance for epidemiology, mathematical modeling, and the propagation of interacting phenomena in general. We make a call for more detailed epidemiological data of interacting coinfections.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Disease, Infectious disease, Mathematics, Infection, Model theory, Complex analysis, Syndemic


Although recognized as the leading cause of epidemic acute gastroenteritis across all age groups, norovirus has remained poorly characterized with respect to its endemic disease incidence. Use of different methods, including attributable proportion extrapolation, population-based surveillance, and indirect modeling, in several recent studies has considerably improved norovirus disease incidence estimates for the United States. Norovirus causes an average of 570-800 deaths, 56,000-71,000 hospitalizations, 400,000 emergency department visits, 1.7-1.9 million outpatient visits, and 19-21 million total illnesses per year. Persons >65 years of age are at greatest risk for norovirus-associated death, and children <5 years of age have the highest rates of norovirus-associated medical care visits. Endemic norovirus disease occurs year round but exhibits a pronounced winter peak and increases by ≤50% during years in which pandemic strains emerge. These findings support continued development and targeting of appropriate interventions, including vaccines, for norovirus disease.

Concepts: Medicine, Epidemiology, Infectious disease, Death, Malaria, United States, Pandemic, Syndemic


Public health messaging about antimicrobial resistance (AMR) sometimes conveys the problem as an epidemic. We outline why AMR is a serious endemic problem manifested in hospital and community-acquired infections. AMR is not an epidemic condition, but may complicate epidemics, which are characterised by sudden societal impact due to rapid rise in cases over a short timescale. Influenza, which causes direct viral effects, or secondary bacterial complications is the most likely cause of an epidemic or pandemic where AMR may be a problem. We discuss other possible causes of a pandemic with AMR, and present a risk assessment formula to estimate the impact of AMR during a pandemic. Finally, we flag the potential impact of genetic engineering of pathogens on global risk and how this could radically change the epidemiology of AMR as we know it. Understanding the epidemiology of AMR is key to successfully addressing the problem. AMR is an endemic condition but can play a role in epidemics or pandemics, and we present a risk analysis method for assessing the impact of AMR in a pandemic.

Concepts: Public health, Epidemiology, Infectious disease, Bacteria, Pandemic, Endemic, Epidemic, Syndemic


Planning interventions to respond to cholera epidemics requires an understanding of the major transmission routes. Interrupting short-cycle (household, foodborne) transmission may require different approaches as compared long-cycle (environmentally-mediated/waterborne) transmission. However, differentiating the relative contribution of short- and long-cycle routes has remained difficult, and most cholera outbreak control efforts focus on interrupting long-cycle transmission. Here we use high-resolution epidemiological and municipal infrastructure data from a cholera outbreak in 1853 Copenhagen to explore the relative contribution of short- and long-cycle transmission routes during a major urban epidemic.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Infectious disease, Pandemic, Cholera, Epidemic, John Snow, Pandemics, Syndemic


Epidemics, such as HIV in the early 1980s and Ebola in 2014, inspire decisive government investment and action, and individual and societal concern, sometimes bordering on panic. By contrast, endemic diseases, such as HIV in 2017 and tuberculosis, struggle to maintain the same attention. For many, the paradox is that endemic disease, in its totality, continues to impose a far higher public health burden than epidemic disease. Overall, the swift political response to epidemics has resulted in success. It has proven possible to eradicate epidemic diseases, often without the availability of vaccines and other biomedical technologies. In recent times, only HIV has made the transition from epidemic to endemic, but diseases that have existed for centuries continue to cause most of the infectious disease burden.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Infectious disease, Malaria, Infection, Pandemic, Endemic, Epidemic, Syndemic


The renewal of clinical practice guidelines on acute bronchiolitis (AB) requires the re-assessment of the consequences of their implementation. An update is presented on the main clinical and epidemiological variables in patients hospitalised due to AB in Southern Europe and an analysis made of the causes associated with longer hospital stay.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Infectious disease, Hospital, Illness, Italian language, Southern United States, Epidemic, Syndemic


Victoria was the first state in Australia to experience community transmission of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09. We undertook a descriptive epidemiological analysis of the first 1,000 notified cases to describe the epidemic associated with school children and explore implications for school closure and antiviral distribution policy in revised pandemic plans.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Infectious disease, Influenza, Australia, Pandemic, World Health Organization, Epidemic, Syndemic