Can't sign in? Forgot your username?
Enter your email address below and we will send you your username
Background: Arsenic exposure is a significant worldwide environmental health concern. We recently reported that 5-week exposure to environmentally relevant levels (10 and 100 ppb) of As in drinking water significantly altered components of the innate immune response in mouse lung, which we hypothesize is an important contributor to the increased risk of lung disease in exposed human populations.
Objectives: We investigated the effects of As exposure on respiratory influenza A (H1N1) virus infection, a common and potentially fatal disease.
Methods: In this study, we exposed C57BL/6J mice to 100 ppb As in drinking water for 5 weeks, followed by intranasal inoculation with a sub lethal dose of influenza A/PuertoRico/8/34 (H1N1) virus. Multiple end points were assessed postinfection.
Results: Arsenic was associated with a number of significant changes in response to influenza, including an increase in morbidity and higher pulmonary influenza virus titers on day 7 post-infection. We also found many alterations in the immune response relative to As-unexposed controls, including a decrease in the number of dendritic cells in the mediastinal lymph nodes early in the course of infection.
Conclusions: Our data indicate that chronic As exposure significantly compromises the immune response to infection. Alterations in response to repeated lung infection may also contribute to other chronic illnesses, such as bronchiectasis, which is elevated by As exposure in epidemiology studies.
Background: Oseltamivir phosphate (OP; Tamiflu) is a prodrug of the anti-influenza neuraminidase inhibitor oseltamivir carboxylate (OC) and has been developed for the treatment and prevention of both A and B strains of influenza. The recent increase in OP resistance in influenza A virus (H1N1; commonlly called “swine flu”) has raised questions about the widespread use of Tamiflu in seasonal epidemics and the potential ecotoxicologic risk associated with its use in the event of a pandemic.
Objectives: The objectives of this study were to develop an analytical method for quantitative determination of OC in sewage treatment plant (STP) effluent and receiving river water, and to investigate the occurrence of OC in STP effluent and river water in Japan during a seasonal flu outbreak.
Methods: We developed an analytical method based on solid-phase extraction followed by liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry. Using this method, we analyzed samples from three sampling campaigns conducted during the 2008–2009 flu season in Kyoto City, Japan.
Results: The highest concentration of OC detected in STP discharge was 293.3 ng/L from a conventional activated-sludge–based STP; however, we detected only 37.9 ng/L from an advanced STP with ozonation as a tertiary treatment. In the receiving river water samples, we detected 6.6–190.2 ng/L OC, during the peak of the flu season.
Conclusion: OC is present in STP effluent and river water only during the flu season. Ozonation as tertiary treatment in STP will substantially reduce the OC load in STP effluent during an influenza epidemic or pandemic.
Background: Epidemiologic evidence links tobacco smoke and increased risk for influenza in humans, but the specific host defense pathways involved are unclear.
Objective: We developed a model to examine influenza-induced innate immune responses in humans and test the hypothesis that exposure to cigarette smoke alters nasal inflammatory and antiviral responses to live attenuated influenza virus (LAIV).
Methods: This was an observational cohort study comparing nasal mucosal responses to LAIV among young adult active smokers (n = 17), nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke (SHS; n = 20), and unexposed controls (n = 23). Virus RNA and inflammatory factors were measured in nasal lavage fluids (NLF) serially after LAIV inoculation. For key end points, peak and total (area under curve) responses were compared among groups.
Results: Compared with controls, NLF interleukin-6 (IL-6) responses to LAIV (peak and total) were suppressed in smokers. Virus RNA in NLF cells was significantly increased in smokers, as were interferon-inducible protein 10:virus ratios. Responses in SHS-exposed subjects were generally intermediate between controls and smokers. We observed significant associations between urine cotinine and NLF IL-6 responses (negative correlation) or virus RNA in NLF cells (positive correlation) for all subjects combined.
Conclusions: Nasal inoculation with LAIV results in measurable inflammatory and antiviral responses in human volunteers, thus providing a model for investigating environmental effects on influenza infections in humans. Exposure to cigarette smoke was associated with suppression of specific nasal inflammatory and antiviral responses, as well as increased virus quantity, after nasal inoculation with LAIV. These data suggest mechanisms for increased susceptibility to influenza infection among persons exposed to tobacco smoke.
Background: Despite the significant disease burden of the influenza virus in humans, our understanding of the basis for its pronounced seasonality remains incomplete. Past observations that influenza epidemics occur in the winter across temperate climates, combined with insufficient knowledge about the epidemiology of influenza in the tropics, led to the perception that cool and dry conditions were a necessary, and possibly sufficient, driver of influenza epidemics. Recent reports of substantial levels of influenza virus activity and well-defined seasonality in tropical regions, where warm and humid conditions often persist year-round, have rendered previous hypotheses insufficient for explaining global patterns of influenza.
Objective: In this review, we examined the scientific evidence for the seasonal mechanisms that potentially explain the complex seasonal patterns of influenza disease activity observed globally.
Methods: In this review we assessed the strength of a range of hypotheses that attempt to explain observations of influenza seasonality across different latitudes and how they relate to each other. We reviewed studies describing population-scale observations, mathematical models, and ecological, laboratory, and clinical experiments pertaining to influenza seasonality. The literature review includes studies that directly mention the topic of influenza seasonality, as well as other topics we believed to be relevant. We also developed an analytical framework that highlights the complex interactions among environmental stimuli, mediating mechanisms, and the seasonal timing of influenza epidemics and identify critical areas for further research.
Conclusions: The central questions in influenza seasonality remain unresolved. Future research is particularly needed in tropical localities, where our understanding of seasonality remains poor, and will require a combination of experimental and observational studies. Further understanding of the environmental factors that drive influenza circulation also may be useful to predict how dynamics will be affected at regional levels by global climate change.
Background: The global public health community has closely monitored the unfolding of the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic to best mitigate its impact on society. However, little attention has been given to the impact of this response on the environment. Antivirals and antibiotics prescribed to treat influenza are excreted into wastewater in a biologically active form, which presents a new and potentially significant ecotoxicologic challenge to microorganisms responsible for wastewater nutrient removal in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) and receiving rivers.
Objectives: We assessed the ecotoxicologic risks of a pandemic influenza medical response.
Methods: To evaluate this risk, we coupled a global spatially structured epidemic model that simulates the quantities of antivirals and antibiotics used during an influenza pandemic of varying severity and a water quality model applied to the Thames catchment to determine predicted environmental concentrations. An additional model was then used to assess the effects of antibiotics on microorganisms in WWTPs and rivers.
Results: Consistent with expectations, our model projected a mild pandemic to exhibit a negligible ecotoxicologic hazard. In a moderate and severe pandemic, we projected WWTP toxicity to vary between 0–14% and 5–32% potentially affected fraction (PAF), respectively, and river toxicity to vary between 0–14% and 0–30% PAF, respectively, where PAF is the fraction of microbial species predicted to be growth inhibited (lower and upper 95% reference range).
Conclusions: The current medical response to pandemic influenza might result in the discharge of insufficiently treated wastewater into receiving rivers, thereby increasing the risk of eutrophication and contamination of drinking water abstraction points. Widespread drugs in the environment could hasten the generation of drug resistance. Our results highlight the need for empirical data on the effects of antibiotics and antiviral medications on WWTPs and freshwater ecotoxicity.
On 3 October 2007, 40 participants with diverse expertise attended the workshop Tamiflu and the Environment: Implications of Use under Pandemic Conditions to assess the potential human health impact and environmental hazards associated with use of Tamiflu during an influenza pandemic. Based on the identification and risk-ranking of knowledge gaps, the consensus was that oseltamivir ethylester-phosphate (OE-P) and oseltamivir carboxylate (OC) were unlikely to pose an ecotoxicologic hazard to freshwater organisms. OC in river water might hasten the generation of OC-resistance in wildfowl, but this possibility seems less likely than the potential disruption that could be posed by OC and other pharmaceuticals to the operation of sewage treatment plants. The work-group members agreed on the following research priorities: a) available data on the ecotoxicology of OE-P and OC should be published; b) risk should be assessed for OC-contaminated river water generating OC-resistant viruses in wildfowl; c) sewage treatment plant functioning due to microbial inhibition by neuraminidase inhibitors and other antimicrobials used during a pandemic should be investigated; and d) realistic worst-case exposure scenarios should be developed. Additional modeling would be useful to identify localized areas within river catchments that might be prone to high pharmaceutical concentrations in sewage treatment plant effluent. Ongoing seasonal use of Tamiflu in Japan offers opportunities for researchers to assess how much OC enters and persists in the aquatic environment.
Background: Both influenza viruses and air pollutants have been well documented as major hazards to human health, but few epidemiologic studies have assessed effect modification of influenza on health effects of ambient air pollutants.
Objectives: We aimed to assess modifying effects of influenza on health effects of ambient air pollutants.
Methods: We applied Poisson regression to daily numbers of hospitalizations and mortality to develop core models after adjustment for potential time-varying confounding variables. We assessed modification of influenza by adding variables for concentrations of single ambient air pollutants and proportions of influenza-positive specimens (influenza intensity) and their cross-product terms.
Results: We found significant effect modification of influenza (p < 0.05) for effects of ozone. When influenza intensity is assumed to increase from 0% to 10%, the excess risks per 10-μg/m increase in concentration of O3 increased 0.24% and 0.40% for hospitalization of respiratory disease in the all-ages group and ≥ 65 year age group, respectively; 0.46% for hospitalization of acute respiratory disease in the all-ages group; and 0.40% for hospitalization of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in the ≥ 65 group. The estimated increases in the excess risks for mortality of respiratory disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in the all-ages group were 0.59% and 1.05%, respectively. We found no significant modification of influenza on effects of other pollutants in most disease outcomes under study.
Conclusions: Influenza activity could be an effect modifier for the health effects of air pollutants particularly for O3 and should be considered in the studies for short-term effects of air pollutants on health.
The industrialization of livestock production and the widespread use of nontherapeutic antimicrobial growth promotants has intensified the risk for the emergence of new, more virulent, or more resistant microorganisms. These have reduced the effectiveness of several classes of antibiotics for treating infections in humans and livestock. Recent outbreaks of virulent strains of influenza have arisen from swine and poultry raised in close proximity. This working group, which was part of the Conference on Environmental Health Impacts of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations: Anticipating Hazards—Searching for Solutions, considered the state of the science around these issues and concurred with the World Health Organization call for a phasing-out of the use of antimicrobial growth promotants for livestock and fish production. We also agree that all therapeutic antimicrobial agents should be available only by prescription for human and veterinary use. Concern about the risk of an influenza pandemic leads us to recommend that regulations be promulgated to restrict the co-location of swine and poultry concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) on the same site and to set appropriate separation distances.