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      Laboratory Surge Response to Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 Outbreak, New York City Metropolitan Area, USA

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          Emergency preparedness programs are critical.


          The North Shore–Long Island Jewish Health System Laboratories serve 15 hospitals and affiliated regional physician practices in the New York City metropolitan area, with virus testing performed at a central reference laboratory. The influenza A pandemic (H1N1) 2009 outbreak began in this area on April 24, 2009, and within weeks respiratory virus testing increased 7.5 times. In response, laboratory and client service workforces were increased, physical plant build-out was completed, testing paradigms were converted from routine screening tests and viral culture to a high-capacity molecular assay for respiratory viruses, laboratory information system interfaces were built, and same-day epidemiologic reports were produced. Daily review by leadership of data from emergency rooms, hospital facilities, and the Health System Laboratories enabled real-time management of unfolding events. The ability of System laboratories to rapidly increase to high-volume comprehensive diagnostics, including influenza A subtyping, provided key epidemiologic information for local and state public health departments.

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          Most cited references 16

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          Emergence of a novel swine-origin influenza A (H1N1) virus in humans.

          On April 15 and April 17, 2009, novel swine-origin influenza A (H1N1) virus (S-OIV) was identified in specimens obtained from two epidemiologically unlinked patients in the United States. The same strain of the virus was identified in Mexico, Canada, and elsewhere. We describe 642 confirmed cases of human S-OIV infection identified from the rapidly evolving U.S. outbreak. Enhanced surveillance was implemented in the United States for human infection with influenza A viruses that could not be subtyped. Specimens were sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for real-time reverse-transcriptase-polymerase-chain-reaction confirmatory testing for S-OIV. From April 15 through May 5, a total of 642 confirmed cases of S-OIV infection were identified in 41 states. The ages of patients ranged from 3 months to 81 years; 60% of patients were 18 years of age or younger. Of patients with available data, 18% had recently traveled to Mexico, and 16% were identified from school outbreaks of S-OIV infection. The most common presenting symptoms were fever (94% of patients), cough (92%), and sore throat (66%); 25% of patients had diarrhea, and 25% had vomiting. Of the 399 patients for whom hospitalization status was known, 36 (9%) required hospitalization. Of 22 hospitalized patients with available data, 12 had characteristics that conferred an increased risk of severe seasonal influenza, 11 had pneumonia, 8 required admission to an intensive care unit, 4 had respiratory failure, and 2 died. The S-OIV was determined to have a unique genome composition that had not been identified previously. A novel swine-origin influenza A virus was identified as the cause of outbreaks of febrile respiratory infection ranging from self-limited to severe illness. It is likely that the number of confirmed cases underestimates the number of cases that have occurred. 2009 Massachusetts Medical Society
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            Triple-reassortant swine influenza A (H1) in humans in the United States, 2005-2009.

            Triple-reassortant swine influenza A (H1) viruses--containing genes from avian, human, and swine influenza viruses--emerged and became enzootic among pig herds in North America during the late 1990s. We report the clinical features of the first 11 sporadic cases of infection of humans with triple-reassortant swine influenza A (H1) viruses reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, occurring from December 2005 through February 2009, until just before the current epidemic of swine-origin influenza A (H1N1) among humans. These data were obtained from routine national influenza surveillance reports and from joint case investigations by public and animal health agencies. The median age of the 11 patients was 10 years (range, 16 months to 48 years), and 4 had underlying health conditions. Nine of the patients had had exposure to pigs, five through direct contact and four through visits to a location where pigs were present but without contact. In another patient, human-to-human transmission was suspected. The range of the incubation period, from the last known exposure to the onset of symptoms, was 3 to 9 days. Among the 10 patients with known clinical symptoms, symptoms included fever (in 90%), cough (in 100%), headache (in 60%), and diarrhea (in 30%). Complete blood counts were available for four patients, revealing leukopenia in two, lymphopenia in one, and thrombocytopenia in another. Four patients were hospitalized, two of whom underwent invasive mechanical ventilation. Four patients received oseltamivir, and all 11 recovered from their illness. From December 2005 until just before the current human epidemic of swine-origin influenza viruses, there was sporadic infection with triple-reassortant swine influenza A (H1) viruses in persons with exposure to pigs in the United States. Although all the patients recovered, severe illness of the lower respiratory tract and unusual influenza signs such as diarrhea were observed in some patients, including those who had been previously healthy. 2009 Massachusetts Medical Society
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              Development of a respiratory virus panel test for detection of twenty human respiratory viruses by use of multiplex PCR and a fluid microbead-based assay.

              Virology laboratories historically have used direct fluorescent-antibody assay (DFA) and culture to detect six or seven respiratory viruses. Following the discovery of five new human respiratory viruses since 2000, there is an increasing need for diagnostic tests to detect these emerging viruses. We have developed a new test that can detect 20 different respiratory virus types/subtypes in a single 5-h test. The assay employs multiplex PCR using 14 virus-specific primer pairs, followed by a multiplexed target-specific primer extension (TSPE) reaction using 21 primers for specific respiratory virus types and subtypes. TSPE products were sorted and identified by using a fluid microsphere-based array (Universal Array; TmBioscience Corporation, Toronto, Canada) and the Luminex x-MAP system. The assay detected influenza A and B viruses; influenza A virus subtypes H1, H3, and H5 (including subtype H5N1 of the Asian lineage); parainfluenza virus types 1, 2, 3, and 4; respiratory syncytial virus types A and B; adenovirus; metapneumovirus; rhinovirus; enterovirus; and coronaviruses OC43, 229E, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus, NL63, and HKU1. In a prospective evaluation using 294 nasopharyngeal swab specimens, DFA/culture detected 119 positives and the respiratory virus panel (RVP) test detected 112 positives, for a sensitivity of 97%. The RVP test detected an additional 61 positive specimens that either were not detected by DFA/culture or were positive for viruses not tested for by DFA/culture. After resolution of discordant results by using a second unique PCR assay and by using a combined reference standard of positivity, the RVP test detected 180 of 183 true positives, for a sensitivity of 98.5%, whereas DFA and culture detected only 126 of 183 true positives, for a sensitivity of 68.8%. The RVP test should improve the capabilities of hospital and public health laboratories for diagnosing viral respiratory tract infections and should assist public health agencies in identifying etiologic agents in respiratory tract infection outbreaks.

                Author and article information

                Emerg Infect Dis
                Emerging Infectious Diseases
                Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
                January 2010
                : 16
                : 1
                : 8-13
                North Shore–Long Island Jewish Health System Laboratories, Manhasset, New York, USA (J.M. Crawford, R. Stallone, F. Zhang, M. Gerolimatos, D.D. Korologos, C.C. Ginocchio)
                Krasnoff Quality Management Institute of the North Shore–Long Island Jewish Health System, Manhasset (C. Sweetapple, M. de Geronimo, Y. Dlugacz)
                North Shore University Hospital, Manhasset (D.M. Armellino)
                Author notes
                Address for correspondence: Christine C. Ginocchio, North Shore–Long Island Jewish Health System Laboratories, 10 Nevada Dr, Lake Success, NY 11042-1114, USA; e-mail: cginocch@


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