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Concept: World Health Organization


Herbal products available to consumers in the marketplace may be contaminated or substituted with alternative plant species and fillers that are not listed on the labels. According to the World Health Organization, the adulteration of herbal products is a threat to consumer safety. Our research aimed to investigate herbal product integrity and authenticity with the goal of protecting consumers from health risks associated with product substitution and contamination.

Concepts: Organism, Species, Herbalism, DNA barcoding, World Health Organization, Herbal, Consumer protection, Consumer


Background In September 2012, the World Health Organization reported the first cases of pneumonia caused by the novel Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). We describe a cluster of health care-acquired MERS-CoV infections. Methods Medical records were reviewed for clinical and demographic information and determination of potential contacts and exposures. Case patients and contacts were interviewed. The incubation period and serial interval (the time between the successive onset of symptoms in a chain of transmission) were estimated. Viral RNA was sequenced. Results Between April 1 and May 23, 2013, a total of 23 cases of MERS-CoV infection were reported in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia. Symptoms included fever in 20 patients (87%), cough in 20 (87%), shortness of breath in 11 (48%), and gastrointestinal symptoms in 8 (35%); 20 patients (87%) presented with abnormal chest radiographs. As of June 12, a total of 15 patients (65%) had died, 6 (26%) had recovered, and 2 (9%) remained hospitalized. The median incubation period was 5.2 days (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.9 to 14.7), and the serial interval was 7.6 days (95% CI, 2.5 to 23.1). A total of 21 of the 23 cases were acquired by person-to-person transmission in hemodialysis units, intensive care units, or in-patient units in three different health care facilities. Sequencing data from four isolates revealed a single monophyletic clade. Among 217 household contacts and more than 200 health care worker contacts whom we identified, MERS-CoV infection developed in 5 family members (3 with laboratory-confirmed cases) and in 2 health care workers (both with laboratory-confirmed cases). Conclusions Person-to-person transmission of MERS-CoV can occur in health care settings and may be associated with considerable morbidity. Surveillance and infection-control measures are critical to a global public health response.

Concepts: Health care, Health care provider, Public health, Epidemiology, Disease, Patient, Saudi Arabia, World Health Organization


Zika virus was discovered in Uganda in 1947 and is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, which also act as vectors for dengue and chikungunya viruses throughout much of the tropical world. In 2007, an outbreak in the Federated States of Micronesia sparked public health concern. In 2013, the virus began to spread across other parts of Oceania and in 2015, a large outbreak in Latin America began in Brazil. Possible associations with microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome observed in this outbreak have raised concerns about continued global spread of Zika virus, prompting its declaration as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the World Health Organization. We conducted species distribution modelling to map environmental suitability for Zika. We show a large portion of tropical and sub-tropical regions globally have suitable environmental conditions with over 2.17 billion people inhabiting these areas.

Concepts: AIDS, Public health, United States, Aedes aegypti, Aedes, Brazil, World Health Organization, Federated States of Micronesia


Globally, norovirus is associated with approximately one-fifth of all diarrhea cases, with similar prevalence in both children and adults, and is estimated to cause over 200,000 deaths annually in developing countries. Norovirus is an important pathogen in a number of high-priority domains: it is the most common cause of diarrheal episodes globally, the principal cause of foodborne disease outbreaks in the United States, a key health care-acquired infection, a common cause of travel-associated diarrhea, and a bane for deployed military troops. Partly as a result of this ubiquity and burden across a range of different populations, identifying target groups and strategies for intervention has been challenging. And, on top of the breadth of this public health problem, there remain important gaps in scientific knowledge regarding norovirus, especially with respect to disease in low-income settings. Many pathogens can cause acute gastroenteritis. Historically, rotavirus was the most common cause of severe disease in young children globally. Now, vaccines are available for rotavirus and are universally recommended by the World Health Organization. In countries with effective rotavirus vaccination programs, disease due to that pathogen has decreased markedly, but norovirus persists and is now the most common cause of pediatric gastroenteritis requiring medical attention. However, the data supporting the precise role of norovirus in low- and middle-income settings are sparse. With vaccines in the pipeline, addressing these and other important knowledge gaps is increasingly pressing. We assembled an expert group to assess the evidence for the global burden of norovirus and to consider the prospects for norovirus vaccine development. The group assessed the evidence in the areas of burden of disease, epidemiology, diagnostics, disease attribution, acquired immunity, and innate susceptibility, and the group considered how to bring norovirus vaccines from their current state of development to a viable product that will benefit global health.

Concepts: Immune system, Public health, Vaccine, Vaccination, Salmonella, World Health Organization, Diarrhea, Gastroenteritis


Assessing the mortality impact of the 2009 influenza A H1N1 virus (H1N1pdm09) is essential for optimizing public health responses to future pandemics. The World Health Organization reported 18,631 laboratory-confirmed pandemic deaths, but the total pandemic mortality burden was substantially higher. We estimated the 2009 pandemic mortality burden through statistical modeling of mortality data from multiple countries.

Concepts: Influenza, Swine influenza, Pandemic, Influenza vaccine, World Health Organization, 2009 flu pandemic, Influenza A virus subtype H1N1, Pandemic H1N1/09 virus


Epidemiologic studies have consistently reported associations between outdoor fine particulate matter (PM2.5) air pollution and adverse health effects. Although Asia bears the majority of the public health burden from air pollution, few epidemiologic studies have been conducted outside of North America and Europe due in part to challenges in population exposure assessment. We assessed the feasibility of two current exposure assessment techniques, land use regression (LUR) modeling and mobile monitoring, and estimated the mortality attributable to air pollution in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. We developed LUR models for predicting wintertime spatial patterns of NO2 and SO2 based on 2-week passive Ogawa measurements at 37 locations and freely available geographic predictors. The models explained 74% and 78% of the variance in NO2 and SO2, respectively. Land cover characteristics derived from satellite images were useful predictors of both pollutants. Mobile PM2.5 monitoring with an integrating nephelometer also showed promise, capturing substantial spatial variation in PM2.5 concentrations. The spatial patterns in SO2 and PM, seasonal and diurnal patterns in PM2.5, and high wintertime PM2.5/PM10 ratios were consistent with a major impact from coal and wood combustion in the city’s low-income traditional housing (ger) areas. The annual average concentration of PM2.5 measured at a centrally located government monitoring site was 75 μg/m3 or more than seven times the World Health Organization’s PM2.5 air quality guideline, driven by a wintertime average concentration of 148 μg/m3. PM2.5 concentrations measured in a traditional housing area were higher, with a wintertime mean PM2.5 concentration of 250 μg/m3. We conservatively estimated that 29% (95% CI, 12-43%) of cardiopulmonary deaths and 40% (95% CI, 17-56%) of lung cancer deaths in the city are attributable to outdoor air pollution. These deaths correspond to nearly 10% of the city’s total mortality, with estimates ranging to more than 13% of mortality under less conservative model assumptions. LUR models and mobile monitoring can be successfully implemented in developing country cities, thus cost-effectively improving exposure assessment for epidemiology and risk assessment. Air pollution represents a major threat to public health in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, and reducing home heating emissions in traditional housing areas should be the primary focus of air pollution control efforts.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Lung cancer, Pollution, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Particulate, Smog, World Health Organization, Air pollution


US tobacco control policies to reduce cigarette use have been effective, but their impact has been relatively slow. This study considers a strategy of switching cigarette smokers to e-cigarette use (‘vaping’) in the USA to accelerate tobacco control progress.

Concepts: Smoking, Tobacco, Cigarette, Nicotine, Cigar, Electronic cigarette, World Health Organization, Cigarettes


Each novel vaccine candidate needs to be evaluated for safety, immunogenicity, and protective efficacy in humans before it is licensed for use. After initial safety evaluation in healthy adults, each vaccine candidate follows a unique development path. This article on clinical development gives an overview on the development path based on the expectations of various guidelines issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Medicines Agency (EMA), and the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA). The manuscript describes the objectives, study populations, study designs, study site, and outcome(s) of each phase (Phase I-III) of a clinical trial. Examples from the clinical development of a malaria vaccine candidate, a rotavirus vaccine, and two vaccines approved for human papillomavirus (HPV) have also been discussed. The article also tabulates relevant guidelines, which can be referred to while drafting the development path of a novel vaccine candidate.

Concepts: Immune system, Pharmacology, Clinical trial, HPV vaccine, Malaria, United States, World Health Organization, Food and Drug Administration


Zika virus, a mosquito-borne flavivirus, spread to the Region of the Americas (Americas) in mid-2015, and appears to be related to congenital microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome (1,2). On February 1, 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the occurrence of microcephaly cases in association with Zika virus infection to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.* On December 31, 2015, Puerto Rico Department of Health (PRDH) reported the first locally acquired (index) case of Zika virus disease in a jurisdiction of the United States in a patient from southeastern Puerto Rico. During November 23, 2015-January 28, 2016, passive and enhanced surveillance for Zika virus disease identified 30 laboratory-confirmed cases. Most (93%) patients resided in eastern Puerto Rico or the San Juan metropolitan area. The most frequently reported signs and symptoms were rash (77%), myalgia (77%), arthralgia (73%), and fever (73%). Three (10%) patients were hospitalized. One case occurred in a patient hospitalized for Guillain-Barré syndrome, and one occurred in a pregnant woman. Because the most common mosquito vector of Zika virus, Aedes aegypti, is present throughout Puerto Rico, Zika virus is expected to continue to spread across the island. The public health response in Puerto Rico is being coordinated by PRDH with assistance from CDC. Clinicians in Puerto Rico should report all cases of microcephaly, Guillain-Barré syndrome, and suspected Zika virus disease to PRDH. Other adverse reproductive outcomes, including fetal demise associated with Zika virus infection, should be reported to PRDH. To avoid infection with Zika virus, residents of and visitors to Puerto Rico, particularly pregnant women, should strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites, including wearing pants and long-sleeved shirts, using permethrin-treated clothing and gear, using an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellent, and ensuring that windows and doors have intact screens.

Concepts: Pregnancy, United States, Mosquito, Yellow fever, Aedes aegypti, Aedes, Dengue fever, World Health Organization


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