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      A time-series analysis of morbidity and mortality of viral hepatitis in Venezuela, 1990–2016


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          Viral hepatitis (VH) is a leading contributor to morbidity and mortality worldwide, constituting a public health problem associated with the level of human development. In recent years, Venezuela has experienced a political, social, and economic crisis and has been impacted by natural disasters that have led to the deterioration of sanitary and health infrastructures modifying the determinants of VH. Despite epidemiological studies conducted in specific regions of the country or populations, the national epidemiological behaviour of VH remains unclear.


          This is a time series study involving records of morbidity and mortality by VH in Venezuela reported during the period from 1990 to 2016. The Venezuelan population was taken as the denominator of the morbidity and mortality rates, according to the Venezuelan National Institute of Statistics and the 2016 population projections from the latest census published on the website of the responsible Venezuelan agency.


          During the study period, 630,502 cases and 4,679 deaths from VH in Venezuela were analysed. Most of the cases ( n = 457,278; 72.6%) were classified as unspecific VH (UVH). The deaths were mainly attributed to VHB ( n = 1,532; 32.7%), UVH ( n = 1,287; 27.5%), and sequelae of VH ( n = 977; 20.8%). The mean rates of cases and deaths from VH in the country were 95 ± 40.4 cases per 100,000 inhabitants and 0.7 ± 0.1 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, respectively, showing a large dispersion that is evident from the calculation of the coefficients of variation. There was document a strong correlation between UVH and VHA cases (0.78, p < 0.01) morbidity rates. VHB mortality rate was very strongly correlated with sequelae of VH (–0.9, p < 0.01).


          VH is a major burden of morbidity and mortality in Venezuela with an endemic-epidemic trend and an intermediate prevalence for VHA, VHB, and VHC. Epidemiological information is not published in a timely manner and diagnostic tests are insufficient in primary health services. There is an urgent need to resume epidemiological surveillance of VH and to optimise the classification system for a better understanding of UVH cases and deaths due to sequelae of VHB and VHC.

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          Clinical Characteristics of Covid-19 in New York City

          To the Editor: The world is in the midst of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, 1,2 and New York City has emerged as an epicenter. Here, we characterize the first 393 consecutive patients with Covid-19 who were admitted to two hospitals in New York City. This retrospective case series includes adults 18 years of age or older with confirmed Covid-19 who were consecutively admitted between March 3 (date of the first positive case) and March 27, 2020, at an 862-bed quaternary referral center and an affiliated 180-bed nonteaching community hospital in Manhattan. Both hospitals adopted an early-intubation strategy with limited use of high-flow nasal cannulae during this period. Cases were confirmed through reverse-transcriptase–polymerase-chain-reaction assays performed on nasopharyngeal swab specimens. Data were manually abstracted from electronic health records with the use of a quality-controlled protocol and structured abstraction tool (details are provided in the Methods section in the Supplementary Appendix, available with the full text of this letter at NEJM.org). Among the 393 patients, the median age was 62.2 years, 60.6% were male, and 35.8% had obesity (Table 1). The most common presenting symptoms were cough (79.4%), fever (77.1%), dyspnea (56.5%), myalgias (23.8%), diarrhea (23.7%), and nausea and vomiting (19.1%) (Table S1 in the Supplementary Appendix). Most of the patients (90.0%) had lymphopenia, 27% had thrombocytopenia, and many had elevated liver-function values and inflammatory markers. Between March 3 and April 10, respiratory failure leading to invasive mechanical ventilation developed in 130 patients (33.1%); to date, only 43 of these patients (33.1%) have been extubated. In total, 40 of the patients (10.2%) have died, and 260 (66.2%) have been discharged from the hospital; outcome data are incomplete for the remaining 93 patients (23.7%). Patients who received invasive mechanical ventilation were more likely to be male, to have obesity, and to have elevated liver-function values and inflammatory markers (ferritin, d-dimer, C-reactive protein, and procalcitonin) than were patients who did not receive invasive mechanical ventilation. Of the patients who received invasive mechanical ventilation, 40 (30.8%) did not need supplemental oxygen during the first 3 hours after presenting to the emergency department. Patients who received invasive mechanical ventilation were more likely to need vasopressor support (95.4% vs. 1.5%) and to have other complications, including atrial arrhythmias (17.7% vs. 1.9%) and new renal replacement therapy (13.3% vs. 0.4%). Among these 393 patients with Covid-19 who were hospitalized in two New York City hospitals, the manifestations of the disease at presentation were generally similar to those in a large case series from China 1 ; however, gastrointestinal symptoms appeared to be more common than in China (where these symptoms occurred in 4 to 5% of patients). This difference could reflect geographic variation or differential reporting. Obesity was common and may be a risk factor for respiratory failure leading to invasive mechanical ventilation. 3 The percentage of patients in our case series who received invasive mechanical ventilation was more than 10 times as high as that in China; potential contributors include the more severe disease in our cohort (since testing and hospitalization in the United States is largely limited to patients with more severe disease) and the early-intubation strategy used in our hospitals. Regardless, the high demand for invasive mechanical ventilation has the potential to overwhelm hospital resources. Deterioration occurred in many patients whose condition had previously been stable; almost a third of patients who received invasive mechanical ventilation did not need supplemental oxygen at presentation. The observations that the patients who received invasive mechanical ventilation almost universally received vasopressor support and that many also received new renal replacement therapy suggest that there is also a need to strengthen stockpiles and supply chains for these resources.
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            Hepatitis B virus infection.

            Since the introduction of the hepatitis B vaccine and other preventive measures, the worldwide prevalence of hepatitis B infection has fallen. However, chronic infection remains a challenging global health problem, with more than 350 million people chronically infected and at risk of hepatic decompensation, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. An improved understanding of hepatitis B virology, immunology, and the natural course of chronic infection, has identified hepatitis B virus replication as the key driver of immune-mediated liver injury and disease progression. The approval of potent oral antiviral agents has revolutionised hepatitis B treatment since 1998. Conventional and pegylated interferon alfa and nucleoside and nucleotide analogues are widely authorised treatments, and monotherapy with these drugs greatly suppresses virus replication, reduces hepatitis activity, and halts disease progression. However, hepatitis B virus is rarely eliminated, and drug resistance is a major drawback during long term therapy. The development of new drugs and strategies is needed to improve treatment outcomes.
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              Hepatitis C virus infection


                Author and article information

                BMC Infect Dis
                BMC Infect Dis
                BMC Infectious Diseases
                BioMed Central (London )
                27 May 2023
                27 May 2023
                : 23
                : 361
                [1 ]GRID grid.8171.f, ISNI 0000 0001 2155 0982, “Luis Razetti” School of Medicine, , Central University of Venezuela, ; Caracas, Venezuela
                [2 ]Biomedical Research and Therapeutic Vaccines Institute, Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela
                [3 ]GRID grid.411226.2, Infectious Diseases Department, , University Hospital of Caracas, ; Caracas, Venezuela
                © The Author(s) 2023

                Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

                : 7 December 2022
                : 18 May 2023
                Custom metadata
                © BioMed Central Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2023

                Infectious disease & Microbiology
                epidemiology,viral hepatitis,morbidity,mortality,venezuela
                Infectious disease & Microbiology
                epidemiology, viral hepatitis, morbidity, mortality, venezuela


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