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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health, Volume 10, Issue 12 (December 2013), Pages 6215-7326

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Editorial

Jump to: Research, Review, Other

Open AccessEditorial Leptospirosis: A Silent Epidemic Disease
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 7229-7234; doi:10.3390/ijerph10127229
Received: 9 December 2013 / Accepted: 9 December 2013 / Published: 16 December 2013
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (145 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is dedicated to leptospirosis, an endemic zoonotic disease that is a cause of many acute undifferentiated fevers, especially in tropical countries [1,2]. While it can be debated whether leptospirosis is [...] Read more.
This special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is dedicated to leptospirosis, an endemic zoonotic disease that is a cause of many acute undifferentiated fevers, especially in tropical countries [1,2]. While it can be debated whether leptospirosis is an emerging disease, it is evident that it is becoming an emerging public health problem. It is recognized as a disease of epidemic potential that has a significant health impact in many parts of the world. [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Leptospirosis in the Animal—Human-Ecosystem Interface)

Research

Jump to: Editorial, Review, Other

Open AccessArticle Effects of Habitual Anger on Employees’ Behavior during Organizational Change
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6215-6234; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126215
Received: 16 September 2013 / Revised: 22 October 2013 / Accepted: 23 October 2013 / Published: 25 November 2013
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (663 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Organizational change is a particularly emotional event for those being confronted with it. Anger is a frequently experienced emotion under these conditions. This study analyses the influence of employees’ habitual anger reactions on their reported behavior during organizational change. It was explored [...] Read more.
Organizational change is a particularly emotional event for those being confronted with it. Anger is a frequently experienced emotion under these conditions. This study analyses the influence of employees’ habitual anger reactions on their reported behavior during organizational change. It was explored whether anger reactions conducive to recovering or increasing individual well-being will enhance the likelihood of functional change behavior. Dysfunctional regulation strategies in terms of individual well-being are expected to decrease the likelihood of functional change behavior—mediated by the commitment to change. Four hundred and twelve employees of different organizations in Luxembourg undergoing organizational change participated in the study. Findings indicate that the anger regulation strategy venting, and humor increase the likelihood of deviant resistance to change. Downplaying the incident’s negative impact and feedback increase the likelihood of active support for change. The mediating effect of commitment to change has been found for humor and submission. The empirical findings suggest that a differentiated conceptualization of resistance to change is required. Specific implications for practical change management and for future research are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Job Stress and Health)
Open AccessArticle Indoor and Outdoor Monitoring of Volatile Organic Compounds in School Buildings: Indicators Based on Health Risk Assessment to Single out Critical Issues
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6273-6291; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126273
Received: 18 September 2013 / Revised: 24 October 2013 / Accepted: 7 November 2013 / Published: 25 November 2013
Cited by 13 | PDF Full-text (2641 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Children are more sensitive to pollutants than adults and yet they spend large amounts of time in school environments where they are exposed to unknown levels of indoor pollutants. This study investigated the concentrations of the most abundant volatile organic compounds (VOCs) [...] Read more.
Children are more sensitive to pollutants than adults and yet they spend large amounts of time in school environments where they are exposed to unknown levels of indoor pollutants. This study investigated the concentrations of the most abundant volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in eight naturally ventilated school buildings in Italy. The schools were chosen to include areas with different urbanization and traffic density characteristics in order to gather a more diverse picture of exposure risks in the different areas of the city. VOCs were sampled for one week in the presence/absence of pupils using diffusive samplers suitable for thermal desorption inside three classrooms at each school. The samples were then analyzed with thermal desorption-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (TD-GC-MS). In addition, outdoor measurements were carried out in the yard at each school. VOC identification and quantification, and indoor/outdoor concentration plots were used to identify pollutant sources. While some classrooms were found to have very low VOC levels, others had a significant indoor contribution or a prevalent outdoor contribution. High concentrations of terpenes were found in all monitored classrooms: a-pinene and limonene were in the range of 6.55–34.18 µg/m3 and 11.11–25.42 µg/m3 respectively. Outdoor concentrations were lower than indoors for each monitored school. Indicators based on health risk assessment for chronic health effects associated with VOCs (either carcinogenic or non-carcinogenic) were proposed to rank sites according to their hazard level. Full article
Open AccessArticle Factor Structure of Early Smoking Experiences and Associations with Smoking Behavior: Valence or Sensitivity Model?
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6305-6318; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126305
Received: 1 October 2013 / Revised: 13 November 2013 / Accepted: 14 November 2013 / Published: 26 November 2013
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Abstract
The Early Smoking Experience (ESE) questionnaire is the most widely used questionnaire to assess initial subjective experiences of cigarette smoking. However, its factor structure is not clearly defined and can be perceived from two main standpoints: valence, or positive and negative experiences, [...] Read more.
The Early Smoking Experience (ESE) questionnaire is the most widely used questionnaire to assess initial subjective experiences of cigarette smoking. However, its factor structure is not clearly defined and can be perceived from two main standpoints: valence, or positive and negative experiences, and sensitivity to nicotine. This article explores the ESE’s factor structure and determines which standpoint was more relevant. It compares two groups of young Swiss men (German- and French-speaking). We examined baseline data on 3,368 tobacco users from a representative sample in the ongoing Cohort Study on Substance Use Risk Factors (C-SURF). ESE, continued tobacco use, weekly smoking and nicotine dependence were assessed. Exploratory structural equation modeling (ESEM) and structural equation modeling (SEM) were performed. ESEM clearly distinguished positive experiences from negative experiences, but negative experiences were divided in experiences related to dizziness and experiences related to irritations. SEM underlined the reinforcing effects of positive experiences, but also of experiences related to dizziness on nicotine dependence and weekly smoking. The best ESE structure for predictive accuracy of experiences on smoking behavior was a compromise between the valence and sensitivity standpoints, which showed clinical relevance. Full article
Open AccessArticle Assessing Weather Effects on Dengue Disease in Malaysia
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6319-6334; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126319
Received: 23 September 2013 / Revised: 4 November 2013 / Accepted: 8 November 2013 / Published: 26 November 2013
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (859 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
The number of dengue cases has been increasing on a global level in recent years, and particularly so in Malaysia, yet little is known about the effects of weather for identifying the short-term risk of dengue for the population. The aim of [...] Read more.
The number of dengue cases has been increasing on a global level in recent years, and particularly so in Malaysia, yet little is known about the effects of weather for identifying the short-term risk of dengue for the population. The aim of this paper is to estimate the weather effects on dengue disease accounting for non-linear temporal effects in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, Malaysia, from 2008 to 2010. We selected the weather parameters with a Poisson generalized additive model, and then assessed the effects of minimum temperature, bi-weekly accumulated rainfall and wind speed on dengue cases using a distributed non-linear lag model while adjusting for trend, day-of-week and week of the year. We found that the relative risk of dengue cases is positively associated with increased minimum temperature at a cumulative percentage change of 11.92% (95% CI: 4.41–32.19), from 25.4 °C to 26.5 °C, with the highest effect delayed by 51 days. Increasing bi-weekly accumulated rainfall had a positively strong effect on dengue cases at a cumulative percentage change of 21.45% (95% CI: 8.96, 51.37), from 215 mm to 302 mm, with the highest effect delayed by 26–28 days. The wind speed is negatively associated with dengue cases. The estimated lagged effects can be adapted in the dengue early warning system to assist in vector control and prevention plan. Full article
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Open AccessCommunication Issues to Consider When Measuring and Applying Socioeconomic Position Quantitatively in Immigrant Health Research
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6354-6365; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126354
Received: 18 September 2013 / Revised: 4 November 2013 / Accepted: 8 November 2013 / Published: 27 November 2013
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (178 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The relationship between migration and health is complex, yet, immigrant-related inequalities in health are largely influenced by socioeconomic position. Drawing upon previous findings, this paper discusses issues to consider when measuring and applying socioeconomic position in quantitative immigrant health research. When measuring [...] Read more.
The relationship between migration and health is complex, yet, immigrant-related inequalities in health are largely influenced by socioeconomic position. Drawing upon previous findings, this paper discusses issues to consider when measuring and applying socioeconomic position in quantitative immigrant health research. When measuring socioeconomic position, it is important to be aware of four aspects: (1) there is a lack of clarity about how socioeconomic position should be measured; (2) different types of socioeconomic position may be relevant to immigrants compared with the native-born population; (3) choices of measures of socioeconomic position in quantitative analyses often rely on data availability; and (4) different measures of socioeconomic position have different effects in population groups. Therefore, caution should be used in the collection, presentation, analyses, and interpretation of data and researchers need to display their proposed conceptual models and data limitations as well as apply different approaches for analyses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Inequalities in Health)
Open AccessArticle Vector Contact Rates on Eastern Bluebird Nestlings Do Not Indicate West Nile Virus Transmission in Henrico County, Virginia, USA
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6366-6379; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126366
Received: 22 September 2013 / Revised: 7 November 2013 / Accepted: 11 November 2013 / Published: 27 November 2013
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (961 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Sensitive indicators of spatial and temporal variation in vector-host contact rates are critical to understanding the transmission and eventual prevention of arboviruses such as West Nile virus (WNV). Monitoring vector contact rates on particularly susceptible and perhaps more exposed avian nestlings may [...] Read more.
Sensitive indicators of spatial and temporal variation in vector-host contact rates are critical to understanding the transmission and eventual prevention of arboviruses such as West Nile virus (WNV). Monitoring vector contact rates on particularly susceptible and perhaps more exposed avian nestlings may provide an advanced indication of local WNV amplification. To test this hypothesis we monitored WNV infection and vector contact rates among nestlings occupying nest boxes (primarily Eastern bluebirds; Sialia sialis, Turdidae) across Henrico County, Virginia, USA, from May to August 2012. Observed host-seeking rates were temporally variable and associated with absolute vector and host abundances. Despite substantial effort to monitor WNV among nestlings and mosquitoes, we did not detect the presence of WNV in these populations. Generally low vector-nestling host contact rates combined with the negative WNV infection data suggest that monitoring transmission parameters among nestling Eastern bluebirds in Henrico County, Virginia, USA may not be a sensitive indicator of WNV activity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Epidemiology of West Nile Virus)
Open AccessArticle Monitoring Street-Level Spatial-Temporal Variations of Carbon Monoxide in Urban Settings Using a Wireless Sensor Network (WSN) Framework
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6380-6396; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126380
Received: 12 August 2013 / Revised: 12 November 2013 / Accepted: 13 November 2013 / Published: 27 November 2013
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1878 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Air pollution has become a severe environmental problem due to urbanization and heavy traffic. Monitoring street-level air quality is an important issue, but most official monitoring stations are installed to monitor large-scale air quality conditions, and their limited spatial resolution cannot reflect [...] Read more.
Air pollution has become a severe environmental problem due to urbanization and heavy traffic. Monitoring street-level air quality is an important issue, but most official monitoring stations are installed to monitor large-scale air quality conditions, and their limited spatial resolution cannot reflect the detailed variations in air quality that may be induced by traffic jams. By deploying wireless sensors on crossroads and main roads, this study established a pilot framework for a wireless sensor network (WSN)-based real-time monitoring system to understand street-level spatial-temporal changes of carbon monoxide (CO) in urban settings. The system consists of two major components. The first component is the deployment of wireless sensors. We deployed 44 sensor nodes, 40 transmitter nodes and four gateway nodes in this study. Each sensor node includes a signal processing module, a CO sensor and a wireless communication module. In order to capture realistic human exposure to traffic pollutants, all sensors were deployed at a height of 1.5 m on lampposts and traffic signs. The study area covers a total length of 1.5 km of Keelung Road in Taipei City. The other component is a map-based monitoring platform for sensor data visualization and manipulation in time and space. Using intensive real-time street-level monitoring framework, we compared the spatial-temporal patterns of air pollution in different time periods. Our results capture four CO concentration peaks throughout the day at the location, which was located along an arterial and nearby traffic sign. The hourly average could reach 5.3 ppm from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm due to the traffic congestion. The proposed WSN-based framework captures detailed ground information and potential risk of human exposure to traffic-related air pollution. It also provides street-level insights into real-time monitoring for further early warning of air pollution and urban environmental management. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Influence of Domestic Overload on the Association between Job Strain and Ambulatory Blood Pressure among Female Nursing Workers
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6397-6408; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126397
Received: 16 July 2013 / Revised: 29 August 2013 / Accepted: 3 September 2013 / Published: 27 November 2013
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (193 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Evidence suggests that the workplace plays an important etiologic role in blood pressure (BP) alterations. Associations in female samples are controversial, and the domestic environment is hypothesized to be an important factor in this relationship. This study assessed the association between job [...] Read more.
Evidence suggests that the workplace plays an important etiologic role in blood pressure (BP) alterations. Associations in female samples are controversial, and the domestic environment is hypothesized to be an important factor in this relationship. This study assessed the association between job strain and BP within a sample of female nursing workers, considering the potential role of domestic overload. A cross-sectional study was conducted in a group of 175 daytime workers who wore an ambulatory BP monitor for 24 h during a working day. Mean systolic and diastolic BP were calculated. Job strain was evaluated using the Demand-Control Model. Domestic overload was based on the level of responsibility in relation to four household tasks and on the number of beneficiaries. After adjustments no significant association between high job strain and BP was detected. Stratified analyses revealed that women exposed to both domestic overload and high job strain had higher systolic BP at home. These results indicate a possible interaction between domestic overload and job strain on BP levels and revealed the importance of domestic work, which is rarely considered in studies of female workers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Job Stress and Health)
Open AccessArticle Impact and Cost-Effectiveness of a Comprehensive Schistosomiasis japonica Control Program in the Poyang Lake Region of China
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6409-6421; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126409
Received: 1 August 2013 / Revised: 8 October 2013 / Accepted: 21 October 2013 / Published: 28 November 2013
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Abstract
Schistosomiasis japonica remains a significant public-health problem in China. This study evaluated cost-effectiveness of a comprehensive schistosomiasis control program (2003–2006). The comprehensive control program was implemented in Zhangjia and Jianwu (cases); while standard interventions continued in Koutou and Xiajia (controls). Incurred costs [...] Read more.
Schistosomiasis japonica remains a significant public-health problem in China. This study evaluated cost-effectiveness of a comprehensive schistosomiasis control program (2003–2006). The comprehensive control program was implemented in Zhangjia and Jianwu (cases); while standard interventions continued in Koutou and Xiajia (controls). Incurred costs were documented and the schistosomiasis comprehensive impact index (SCI) and cost-effectiveness ratio (Comprehensive Control Program Cost/SCI) were applied. In 2003, prevalence of Schistosoma japonicum infection was 11.3% (Zhangjia), 6.7% (Jianwu), 6.5% (Koutou), and 8.0% (Xiajia). In 2006, the comprehensive control program in Zhangjia and Jianwu reduced infection to 1.6% and 0.6%, respectively; while Koutou and Xiajia had a schistosomiasis prevalence of 3.2% and 13.0%, respectively. The year-by-year SCIs in Zhangjia were 0.28, 105.25, and 47.58, with an overall increase in cost-effectiveness ratio of 374.9%–544.8%. The SCIs in Jianwu were 16.21, 52.95, and 149.58, with increase in cost-effectiveness of 226.7%–1,149.4%. Investment in Koutou and Xiajia remained static (US$10,000 unit cost). The comprehensive control program implemented in the two case villages reduced median prevalence of schistosomiasis 8.5-fold. Further, the cost effectiveness ratio demonstrated that the comprehensive control program was 170% (Zhangjia) and 922.7% (Jianwu) more cost-effective. This work clearly shows the improvements in both cost and disease prevention effectiveness that a comprehensive control program-approach has on schistosomiasis infection prevalence. Full article
Open AccessArticle Impact of Traumatic Dental Injury on the Quality of Life of Brazilian Preschool Children
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6422-6441; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126422
Received: 25 July 2013 / Revised: 18 October 2013 / Accepted: 8 November 2013 / Published: 28 November 2013
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (380 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This study aimed to assess the impact of traumatic dental injury (TDI) on the quality of life of preschoolers and their families. A cross-sectional study was carried out, with a sample of 814 children, aged three to five years old, in Campina [...] Read more.
This study aimed to assess the impact of traumatic dental injury (TDI) on the quality of life of preschoolers and their families. A cross-sectional study was carried out, with a sample of 814 children, aged three to five years old, in Campina Grande, Brazil. Parents/caregivers were asked to complete the Brazilian Early Childhood Oral Health Impact Scale and a questionnaire on socio-demographic data. Oral examinations of the children were performed by three previously calibrated dentists. Bivariate and multiple Poisson regression analyses were performed (α = 5%). The prevalence of negative impact from oral conditions on quality of life was 31.1% among the children and 24.7% among the families. TDI was not associated with a negative impact on quality of life. Parent/caregiver’s assessment of the child’s oral health (PR = 1.210; 95% CI: 1.027–1.426) and history of toothache (PR = 4.997; 95% CI: 2.943–8.493) remained in the final model for the child section, whereas only a history of toothache (PR = 2.791; 95% CI: 1.801–4.325) remained in the final model for the family section. TDI exerted no negative impact on quality of life in the present sample. A history of toothache was the only variable associated with a negative impact on the quality of life of the preschoolers and their families. Full article
Open AccessArticle Occupational Injuries on Thoroughbred Horse Farms: A Description of Latino and Non-Latino Workers’ Experiences
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6500-6516; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126500
Received: 30 August 2013 / Revised: 13 November 2013 / Accepted: 14 November 2013 / Published: 29 November 2013
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (202 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Animal production is a dangerous industry and increasingly reliant on a Latino workforce. Within animal production, little is known about the risks or the occupational hazards of working on farms involved in various aspects of thoroughbred horse breeding. Extant research suggests that [...] Read more.
Animal production is a dangerous industry and increasingly reliant on a Latino workforce. Within animal production, little is known about the risks or the occupational hazards of working on farms involved in various aspects of thoroughbred horse breeding. Extant research suggests that horse workers are at risk of musculoskeletal and respiratory symptoms, kicks, and other injuries. However, limited known research has examined the experiences of the industry’s workers, including immigrant workers, despite their prominence and increased vulnerability. Using data collected from thoroughbred farm representatives via a phone-administered survey, a 2-hour face-to-face semi-structured interview, and farm injury logs, this article identifies and describes types of injuries experienced by workers (N = 284) and their surrounding circumstances. Results indicate that general injuries and musculoskeletal strains, sprains, and tears account for a majority of injuries among workers on thoroughbred farms. Upper limbs and extremities are most frequently injured, while direct contact with the horse accounted for over half of all injuries. No differences in the diagnoses or distribution of injury were found by ethnicity; however, Latinos were more often struck by or trampled by a horse while non-Latinos were more often injured by an insect or plant. Implications and opportunities for future research are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Occupational Health)
Open AccessArticle Social Network Characteristics and Daily Smoking among Young Adults in Sweden
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6517-6533; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126517
Received: 27 June 2013 / Revised: 10 November 2013 / Accepted: 12 November 2013 / Published: 29 November 2013
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (198 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A large number of studies have shown that friends’ smoking behavior is strongly associated with an individual’s own risk for smoking. However, few studies have examined whether other features of social networks, independently or conjointly with friends’ smoking behavior, may influence the [...] Read more.
A large number of studies have shown that friends’ smoking behavior is strongly associated with an individual’s own risk for smoking. However, few studies have examined whether other features of social networks, independently or conjointly with friends’ smoking behavior, may influence the risk for smoking. Because it is characterized by the growing importance of friendship networks, the transition from adolescence to young adulthood may constitute a particularly relevant period on which to focus our investigation of network influences on smoking behavior. The aim of this study was therefore to examine the consequences of peer smoking as well as other network characteristics (friends’ other health behaviors, relationship content, and structural aspects of the network) on the risk for smoking among young adults. The data was based on a cross-sectional survey of Swedish 19-year-olds carried out in 2009 (n = 5,695) with a response rate of 51.6%. Logistic regression was the primary method of analysis. The results show that having a large percentage of smokers in one’s network was by far the most important risk factor for daily smoking. The risk of daily smoking was 21.20 (CI 14.24. 31.54) if 76%–100% of the network members smoked. Having a high percentage of physically active friends was inversely associated with daily smoking. The risk of smoking was 0.65 (CI 0.42. 1.00) if 76%–100% of the network members were physically active. No main associations between the other network characteristics (relationship content and structural aspects of the network) and smoking were found. However, there was an interaction between the percentage of smokers in the network and relationship content (i.e., trust, relationship quality and propensity to discuss problems): positive relationship content in combination with peer smoking may increase the risk of smoking. Women with a high percentage of smokers in their networks were also at higher risk of daily smoking than were men with many smoking friends. Hence, it is important to consider the interplay between peer smoking and other network characteristics on the risk of smoking, where features of networks which traditionally are seen as constructive may occasionally provide the impetus to smoke. Future studies should use longitudinal data to study whether these findings reflect peer selection or peer influence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Inequalities in Health)
Open AccessArticle Recruiting Hard-to-Reach Subjects for Exercise Interventions: A Multi-Centre and Multi-Stage Approach Targeting General Practitioners and Their Community-Dwelling and Mobility-Limited Patients
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6611-6629; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126611
Received: 1 October 2013 / Revised: 18 November 2013 / Accepted: 22 November 2013 / Published: 2 December 2013
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (626 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The general practitioner (GP)’s practice appears to be an ideal venue for recruiting community-dwelling older adults with limited mobility. This study (Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN17727272) aimed at evaluating the recruiting process used for a multi-centre exercise intervention (HOMEfit). Each of six steps [...] Read more.
The general practitioner (GP)’s practice appears to be an ideal venue for recruiting community-dwelling older adults with limited mobility. This study (Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN17727272) aimed at evaluating the recruiting process used for a multi-centre exercise intervention (HOMEfit). Each of six steps resulted in an absolute number of patients (N1–N6). Sex and age (for N4–N6) and reasons for dropping out were assessed. Patient database screening (N1–N3) at 15 GP practices yielded N1 = 5,990 patients aged 70 and above who had visited their GP within the past 6 months, N2 = 5,467 after exclusion of institutionalised patients, N3 = 1,545 patients eligible. Using a pre-defined limitation algorithm in order to conserve the practices’ resources resulted in N4 = 1,214 patients (80.3 ± 5.6 years, 68% female), who were then officially invited to the final assessment of eligibility at the GP’s practice. N5 = 434 patients (79.5 ± 5.4 years, 69% female) attended the practice screening (n = 13 of whom had not received an official invitation). Finally, N6 = 209 (79.8 ± 5.2 years, 74% female) were randomised after they were judged eligible and had given their written informed consent to participate in the randomised controlled trial (overall recruitment rate: 4.4%). The general strategy of utilising a GP’s practice to recruit the target group proved beneficial. The data and experiences presented here can help planners of future exercise-intervention studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Care for Old People)
Open AccessCommunication Indicators for Healthy Ageing — A Debate
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6630-6644; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126630
Received: 2 September 2013 / Revised: 5 November 2013 / Accepted: 19 November 2013 / Published: 2 December 2013
Cited by 11 | PDF Full-text (485 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Definitions of healthy ageing include survival to a specific age, being free of chronic diseases, autonomy in activities of daily living, wellbeing, good quality of life, high social participation, only mild cognitive or functional impairment, and little or no disability. The working [...] Read more.
Definitions of healthy ageing include survival to a specific age, being free of chronic diseases, autonomy in activities of daily living, wellbeing, good quality of life, high social participation, only mild cognitive or functional impairment, and little or no disability. The working group Epidemiology of Ageing of the German Association of Epidemiology organized a workshop in 2012 with the aim to present different indicators used in German studies and to discuss their impact on health for an ageing middle-European population. Workshop presentations focused on prevalence of chronic diseases and multimorbidity, development of healthy life expectancy at the transition to oldest-age, physical activity, assessment of cognitive capability, and functioning and disability in old age. The communication describes the results regarding specific indicators for Germany, and hereby contributes to the further development of a set of indicators for the assessment of healthy ageing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Care for Old People)
Open AccessArticle Associations of Job Stress Indicators with Oxidative Biomarkers in Japanese Men and Women
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6662-6671; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126662
Received: 26 July 2013 / Revised: 14 November 2013 / Accepted: 16 November 2013 / Published: 2 December 2013
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Abstract
Some researchers have suggested that oxidative damage may be one of the mechanisms linking job stress with coronary heart disease. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between job stress indicators and oxidative biomarkers. The study included 567 subjects [...] Read more.
Some researchers have suggested that oxidative damage may be one of the mechanisms linking job stress with coronary heart disease. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between job stress indicators and oxidative biomarkers. The study included 567 subjects (272 men, 295 women) who answered questionnaires related to their work and underwent a medical examination. Job stress evaluated using the demands-control-support model was measured using the Job Content Questionnaire. Effort-reward imbalance was measured using the Effort-Reward Imbalance Questionnaire. Urinary hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and 8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) were measured by the modified ferrous ion oxidation xylenol orange version-1 method and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, respectively. In men, the changes in the odds ratios for high urinary H2O2 associated with a 1-standard-deviation (SD) increase in worksite social support were 0.69 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.53, 0.91) univariately and 0.68 (95%CI 0.51, 0.90) after adjustment for covariates. The change in the odds ratio for high urinary H2O2 associated with a 1-SD increase in effort-reward ratio was 1.35 (95% CI 1.03, 1.78) after adjustment for covariates. In women, there were no significant associations of the two job stress indicators with urinary H2O2 and 8-OHdG levels after adjustment for covariates (p > 0.05). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Job Stress and Health)
Open AccessArticle Physical Performance and Quality of Life of Nursing-Home Residents with Mild and Moderate Dementia
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6672-6686; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126672
Received: 5 September 2013 / Revised: 13 November 2013 / Accepted: 20 November 2013 / Published: 2 December 2013
Cited by 9 | PDF Full-text (220 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Introduction: The aims of this study were to describe the quality of life (QoL) of nursing-home residents with dementia and their balance, mobility, muscle strength and daily life activity, as well as to examine the associations between QoL and levels of [...] Read more.
Introduction: The aims of this study were to describe the quality of life (QoL) of nursing-home residents with dementia and their balance, mobility, muscle strength and daily life activity, as well as to examine the associations between QoL and levels of balance, mobility, muscle strength and daily life activity. Methods: The study is cross sectional, and 170 nursing-home residents with dementia were included. Tests: “The quality of life in late-stage dementia scale” (QUALID), Berg Balance Scale, comfortable walking speed, maximum walking speed, 30-s sit-to-stand, Barthel Index, Clinical Dementia Rating Scale, the Clock Drawing Test and the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) were used. Results: Our study showed that nursing-home residents with dementia are a heterogeneous group regarding registrations of QUALID and physical function measures. The scores on the QUALID ranged from 11 to 41 points. Higher scores on the 30-s sit-to-stand and Berg Balance Scale were associated with a better QUALID. For comfortable, as well as maximum, walking speed there was a trend towards better QUALID results for those participants with higher walking speed. Conclusions: Good muscle strength and balance were the most important physical performance variables significantly associated with a good QUALID score. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Care for Old People)
Open AccessArticle Lead Ions Encapsulated in Liposomes and Their Effect on Staphylococcus aureus
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6687-6700; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126687
Received: 4 September 2013 / Revised: 6 November 2013 / Accepted: 7 November 2013 / Published: 2 December 2013
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Abstract
The aim of the study was the preparation of a liposome complex with encapsulated lead ions, which were electrochemically detected. In particular, experiments were focused on the potential of using an electrochemical method for the determination of free and liposome-encapsulated lead and [...] Read more.
The aim of the study was the preparation of a liposome complex with encapsulated lead ions, which were electrochemically detected. In particular, experiments were focused on the potential of using an electrochemical method for the determination of free and liposome-encapsulated lead and determination of the encapsulation efficiency preventing the lead toxicity. Primarily, encapsulation of lead ions in liposomes and confirmation of successful encapsulation by electrochemical methods was done. Further, the reduction effect of the liposome matrix on the detected electrochemical signal was monitored. Besides encapsulation itself, comparison of toxicity of free lead ions and lead ions encapsulated in liposome was tested. The calculated IC50 values for evaluating the lead cytotoxicity showed significant differences between the lead enclosed in liposomes (28 µM) and free lead ions (237 µM). From the cytotoxicity studies on the bacterial strain of S. aureus it was observed that the free lead ions are less toxic in comparison with lead encapsulated in liposomes. Liposomes appear to be a suitable carrier of various substances through the inner cavity. Due to the liposome structure the lead enclosed in the liposome is more easily accepted into the cell structure and the toxicity of the enclosed lead is higher in comparison to free lead ions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances on Environmental and Toxicologic Pathology)
Open AccessArticle A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Health Behaviors between Saudi and British Adolescents Living in Urban Areas: Gender by Country Analyses
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6701-6720; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126701
Received: 26 August 2013 / Revised: 15 November 2013 / Accepted: 19 November 2013 / Published: 3 December 2013
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Abstract
This study investigated the cross-cultural differences and similarity in health behaviors between Saudi and British adolescents. A school-based cross-sectional study was conducted at four cities in Saudi Arabia (Riyadh and Al-Khobar; N = 1,648) and Britain (Birmingham and Coventry; N = 1,158). [...] Read more.
This study investigated the cross-cultural differences and similarity in health behaviors between Saudi and British adolescents. A school-based cross-sectional study was conducted at four cities in Saudi Arabia (Riyadh and Al-Khobar; N = 1,648) and Britain (Birmingham and Coventry; N = 1,158). The participants (14–18 year-olds) were randomly selected using a multistage stratified cluster sampling technique. Measurements included anthropometric, screen time, validated physical activity (PA) questionnaire and dietary habits. The overweight/obesity prevalence among Saudi adolescents (38.3%) was significantly (p < 0.001) higher than that found among British adolescents (24.1%). The British adolescents demonstrated higher total PA energy expenditure than Saudi adolescents (means ± SE = 3,804.8 ± 81.5 vs. 2,219.9 ± 65.5 METs-min/week). Inactivity prevalence was significantly (p < 0.001) higher among Saudi adolescents (64%) compared with that of British adolescents (25.5%). The proportions of adolescents exceeding 2 h of daily screen time were high (88.0% and 90.8% among Saudis and British, respectively). The majority of Saudi and British adolescents did not have daily intakes of breakfast, fruit, vegetables and milk. MANCOVA showed significant (p < 0.05) gender by country interactions in several lifestyle factors. There was a significant (p < 0.001) gender differences in the ratio of physical activity to sedentary behaviors. In conclusion, Saudi and British adolescents demonstrated some similarities and differences in their PA levels, sedentary behaviors and dietary habits. Unhealthy lifestyle behaviors among adolescents appear to be a cross-cultural phenomenon. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Behavior and Public Health)
Open AccessArticle Risk Factors, Health Effects and Behaviour in Older People during Extreme Heat: A Survey in South Australia
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6721-6733; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126721
Received: 9 October 2013 / Revised: 21 November 2013 / Accepted: 22 November 2013 / Published: 3 December 2013
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Abstract
Older people had a high incidence of hospitalisation during the 2009 heat wave in South Australia. We sought to explore resilience, behaviours, health risk factors and health outcomes during recent heat waves for a representative sample of independently living residents. A telephone [...] Read more.
Older people had a high incidence of hospitalisation during the 2009 heat wave in South Australia. We sought to explore resilience, behaviours, health risk factors and health outcomes during recent heat waves for a representative sample of independently living residents. A telephone survey of 499 people aged 65 years and over was conducted, and included both metropolitan and rural residences. A variety of adaptive strategies were reported, with 75% maintaining regular appointments and activities during the heat. However, 74% took medication for chronic disease and 25% assessed their health status to be fair to poor. In a multivariate model, factors associated with heat health outcomes included medication for mental health, heart failure, diabetes or respiratory health, reporting a reduced health status, use of mobility aids and being female. Compared with younger participants, those over 75 had more check-up calls and visits by family, friends and neighbours. However, confidence to call on support was associated with indicators of social isolation. The study indicates that older people are generally resilient, but interventions addressing multi-morbidity and medication interactions and social isolation should be developed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change and Human Health)
Open AccessArticle Projected Heat-Related Mortality in the U.S. Urban Northeast
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6734-6747; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126734
Received: 16 October 2013 / Revised: 19 November 2013 / Accepted: 19 November 2013 / Published: 3 December 2013
Cited by 9 | PDF Full-text (323 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Increased heat-related mortality is projected to be among the major impacts of climate change on human health, and the United States urban Northeast region is likely to be particularly vulnerable. In support of regional adaptation planning, quantitative information is needed on potential [...] Read more.
Increased heat-related mortality is projected to be among the major impacts of climate change on human health, and the United States urban Northeast region is likely to be particularly vulnerable. In support of regional adaptation planning, quantitative information is needed on potential future health responses at the urban and regional scales. Here, we present future projections of heat-related mortality in Boston, New York and Philadelphia utilizing downscaled next-generation climate models and Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) developed in support of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). Our analyses reveal that heat-related mortality rates per 100,000 of population during the baseline period between 1985 and 2006 were highest in Philadelphia followed by New York City and Boston. However, projected heat-related mortality rates in the 2020s, 2050s and 2080s were highest in New York City followed by Philadelphia and Boston. This study may be of value in developing strategies for reducing the future impacts of heat and building climate change resilience in the urban Northeast region. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change and Human Health)
Open AccessArticle A Microfluidic Device for Continuous Sensing of Systemic Acute Toxicants in Drinking Water
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6748-6763; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126748
Received: 5 September 2013 / Revised: 18 November 2013 / Accepted: 27 November 2013 / Published: 3 December 2013
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Abstract
A bioluminescent-cell-based microfluidic device for sensing toxicants in drinking water was designed and fabricated. The system employed Vibrio fischeri cells as broad-spectrum sensors to monitor potential systemic cell toxicants in water, such as heavy metal ions and phenol. Specifically, the chip was [...] Read more.
A bioluminescent-cell-based microfluidic device for sensing toxicants in drinking water was designed and fabricated. The system employed Vibrio fischeri cells as broad-spectrum sensors to monitor potential systemic cell toxicants in water, such as heavy metal ions and phenol. Specifically, the chip was designed for continuous detection. The chip design included two counter-flow micromixers, a T-junction droplet generator and six spiral microchannels. The cell suspension and water sample were introduced into the micromixers and dispersed into droplets in the air flow. This guaranteed sufficient oxygen supply for the cell sensors. Copper (Cu2+), zinc (Zn2+), potassium dichromate and 3,5-dichlorophenol were selected as typical toxicants to validate the sensing system. Preliminary tests verified that the system was an effective screening tool for acute toxicants although it could not recognize or quantify specific toxicants. A distinct non-linear relationship was observed between the zinc ion concentration and the Relative Luminescence Units (RLU) obtained during testing. Thus, the concentration of simple toxic chemicals in water can be roughly estimated by this system. The proposed device shows great promise for an early warning system for water safety. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances on Environmental and Toxicologic Pathology)
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Open AccessArticle Participatory Research to Design a Novel Telehealth System to Support the Night-Time Needs of People with Dementia: NOCTURNAL
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6764-6782; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126764
Received: 11 September 2013 / Revised: 15 November 2013 / Accepted: 18 November 2013 / Published: 4 December 2013
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Abstract
Strategies to support people living with dementia are broad in scope, proposing both pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions as part of the care pathway. Assistive technologies form part of this offering as both stand-alone devices to support particular tasks and the more complex [...] Read more.
Strategies to support people living with dementia are broad in scope, proposing both pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions as part of the care pathway. Assistive technologies form part of this offering as both stand-alone devices to support particular tasks and the more complex offering of the “smart home” to underpin ambient assisted living. This paper presents a technology-based system, which expands on the smart home architecture, orientated to support people with daily living. The system, NOCTURNAL, was developed by working directly with people who had dementia, and their carers using qualitative research methods. The research focused primarily on the nighttime needs of people living with dementia in real home settings. Eight people with dementia had the final prototype system installed for a three month evaluation at home. Disturbed sleep patterns, night-time wandering were a focus of this research not only in terms of detection by commercially available technology but also exploring if automated music, light and visual personalized photographs would be soothing to participants during the hours of darkness. The NOCTURNAL platform and associated services was informed by strong user engagement of people with dementia and the service providers who care for them. NOCTURNAL emerged as a holistic service offering a personalised therapeutic aspect with interactive capabilities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Telehealthcare)
Open AccessArticle Objectively Measured Activity Patterns among Adults in Residential Aged Care
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6783-6798; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126783
Received: 15 October 2013 / Revised: 26 November 2013 / Accepted: 27 November 2013 / Published: 4 December 2013
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Abstract
Objectives: To determine the feasibility of using the activPAL3TM activity monitor, and, to describe the activity patterns of residential aged care residents. Design: Cross-sectional. Setting: Randomly selected aged care facilities within 100 km of the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. Participants: Ambulatory, [...] Read more.
Objectives: To determine the feasibility of using the activPAL3TM activity monitor, and, to describe the activity patterns of residential aged care residents. Design: Cross-sectional. Setting: Randomly selected aged care facilities within 100 km of the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. Participants: Ambulatory, older (≥60 years) residential aged care adults without cognitive impairment. Measurements: Feasibility was assessed by consent rate, sleep/wear diary completion, and through interviews with staff/participants. Activity patterns (sitting/lying, standing, and stepping) were measured via activPAL3TM monitors worn continuously for seven days. Times spent in each activity were described and then compared across days of the week and hours of the day using linear mixed models. Results: Consent rate was 48% (n = 41). Activity patterns are described for the 31 participants (mean age 84.2 years) who provided at least one day of valid monitor data. In total, 14 (45%) completed the sleep/wear diary. Participants spent a median (interquartile range) of 12.4 (1.7) h sitting/lying (with 73% of this accumulated in unbroken bouts of ≥30 min), 1.9 (1.3) h standing, and 21.4 (36.7) min stepping during their monitored waking hours per day. Activity did not vary significantly by day of the week (p ≥ 0.05); stepping showed significant hourly variation (p = 0.018). Conclusions: Older adults in residential aged care were consistently highly sedentary. Feasibility considerations for objective activity monitoring identified for this population include poor diary completion and lost monitors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Care for Old People)
Open AccessArticle Analysis of Newspaper Coverage of Active Aging through the Lens of the 2002 World Health Organization Active Ageing Report: A Policy Framework and the 2010 Toronto Charter for Physical Activity: A Global Call for Action
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6799-6819; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126799
Received: 19 September 2013 / Revised: 6 November 2013 / Accepted: 19 November 2013 / Published: 5 December 2013
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (229 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
As populations continue to grow older, efforts to support the process of aging well are important goals. Various synonyms are used to cover aging well, such as active aging. The World Health Organization published in 2002 the report Active Ageing: A [...] Read more.
As populations continue to grow older, efforts to support the process of aging well are important goals. Various synonyms are used to cover aging well, such as active aging. The World Health Organization published in 2002 the report Active Ageing: A Policy Framework that according to the call for papers, has brought active ageing to the forefront of international public health awareness. The 2010 Toronto Charter for Physical Activity: A Global Call for Action was singled out in the call for papers as a key document promoting physical activity one goal of the 2002 WHO active aging policy framework. Media are to report to the public topics of importance to them. We investigated the newspaper coverage of aging well and synonymous terms such as active aging through the lens of the 2002 WHO active aging policy framework and the 2010 Toronto Charter for Physical Activity. As sources we used the following newspapers: China Daily, The Star (Malaysia), two UK newspapers (The Guardian, The Times), a database of 300 Canadian newspapers (Canadian Newsstand) and a US newspaper (The New York Times). The study generated data answering the following four research questions: (1) how often are the 2002 WHO active aging policy framework and the 2010 Toronto Charter for Physical Activity mentioned; (2) how often is the topic of active aging and terms conveying similar content (aging well, healthy aging, natural aging and successful aging) discussed; (3) which of the issues flagged as important in the 2002 WHO active aging policy framework and the 2010 Toronto Charter for Physical Activity are covered in the newspaper coverage of active aging and synonymous terms; (4) which social groups were mentioned in the newspapers covered. The study found a total absence of mentioning of the two key documents and a low level of coverage of “active aging” and terms conveying similar content. It found further a lack of engagement with the issues raised in the two key documents and a low level of mentioning of socially disadvantages groups. We posit that reading the newspapers we covered will not expose the reader to the two key documents and the issues linked to aging well including the need to increase physical activity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Care for Old People)
Open AccessArticle The Involvement of Girls and Boys with Bullying: An Analysis of Gender Differences
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6820-6831; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126820
Received: 2 October 2013 / Revised: 18 November 2013 / Accepted: 21 November 2013 / Published: 5 December 2013
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (191 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
This exploratory and cross-sectional study aimed to identify the prevalence of bullying in a group of students and analyze the data regarding the gender of those involved in the violence. A questionnaire adapted from Olweus was applied in seven elementary education schools [...] Read more.
This exploratory and cross-sectional study aimed to identify the prevalence of bullying in a group of students and analyze the data regarding the gender of those involved in the violence. A questionnaire adapted from Olweus was applied in seven elementary education schools in Portugal. The sample consisted of 387 students between 7 and 14 years old. Data are presented in terms of descriptive statistics and differences between proportions were analyzed using chi-square tests. The gender analysis of victimization and aggression shows that boys and girls are both victims and aggressors, and there are significant differences in involvement in bullying between genders and the roles played. Boys are victims more often when considering different types of bullying, although significant differences were only found for physical aggression. Strategies that include gender roles are a priority for prevention and careful attention to this phenomenon in the school context. The questions addressed contribute to a broader understanding of the phenomenon, emphasizing the differential participation of boys and girls in bullying. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue IJERPH: 10th Anniversary)
Open AccessArticle Spatial Distribution of Cosmetic-Procedure Businesses in Two U.S. Cities: A Pilot Mapping and Validation Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6832-6862; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126832
Received: 17 October 2013 / Revised: 21 November 2013 / Accepted: 22 November 2013 / Published: 6 December 2013
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Abstract
Cosmetic procedures have proliferated rapidly over the past few decades, with over $11 billion spent on cosmetic surgeries and other minimally invasive procedures and another $2.9 billion spent on U.V. indoor tanning in 2012 in the United States alone. While research interest [...] Read more.
Cosmetic procedures have proliferated rapidly over the past few decades, with over $11 billion spent on cosmetic surgeries and other minimally invasive procedures and another $2.9 billion spent on U.V. indoor tanning in 2012 in the United States alone. While research interest is increasing in tandem with the growth of the industry, methods have yet to be developed to identify and geographically locate the myriad types of businesses purveying cosmetic procedures. Geographic location of cosmetic-procedure businesses is a critical element in understanding the public health impact of this industry; however no studies we are aware of have developed valid and feasible methods for spatial analyses of these types of businesses. The aim of this pilot validation study was to establish the feasibility of identifying businesses offering surgical and minimally invasive cosmetic procedures and to characterize the spatial distribution of these businesses. We developed and tested three methods for creating a geocoded list of cosmetic-procedure businesses in Boston (MA) and Seattle (WA), USA, comparing each method on sensitivity and staff time required per confirmed cosmetic-procedure business. Methods varied substantially. Our findings represent an important step toward enabling rigorous health-linked spatial analyses of the health implications of this little-understood industry. Full article
Open AccessArticle Radioactivity of Drinking-Water in the Vicinity of Nuclear Power Plants in China Based on a Large-Scale Monitoring Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6863-6872; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126863
Received: 21 October 2013 / Revised: 19 November 2013 / Accepted: 27 November 2013 / Published: 6 December 2013
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Abstract
The public concern for radioactivity of drinking-water has been increasing in recent years after the rapid development of nuclear power plants, and especially after the Fukushima nuclear accident. In this study, the radioactivity of water samples collected in the vicinity of nuclear [...] Read more.
The public concern for radioactivity of drinking-water has been increasing in recent years after the rapid development of nuclear power plants, and especially after the Fukushima nuclear accident. In this study, the radioactivity of water samples collected in the vicinity of nuclear facilities from seven provinces in China was measured and an average annual equivalent effective dose derived from drinking-water ingestion was calculated. The results showed that, in winter and spring, the activities of gross α and β ranged from 0.009 Bq/L to 0.200 Bq/L and from 0.067 Bq/L to 0.320 Bq/L, respectively. While, in summer and autumn, the activities of gross a and β varied from 0.002 Bq/L to 0.175 Bq/L and from 0.060 Bq/L to 0.334 Bq/L. Our results indicated that the gross a and β activities in these measured water samples were below the WHO recommended values (0.5 Bq/L for gross α and 1.0 Bq/L for gross β) and the annual equivalent effective dose derived from drinking-water ingestion was at a safe level. Full article
Open AccessArticle Design and Experimental Approach to the Construction of a Human Signal-Molecule-Profiling Database
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6887-6908; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126887
Received: 22 September 2013 / Revised: 2 December 2013 / Accepted: 3 December 2013 / Published: 9 December 2013
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Abstract
The human signal-molecule-profiling database (HSMPD) is designed as a prospective medical database for translational bioinformatics (TBI). To explore the feasibility of low-cost database construction, we studied the roadmap of HSMPD. A HSMPD-oriented tool, called “signal-molecule-profiling (SMP) chip” was developed for data acquisition, [...] Read more.
The human signal-molecule-profiling database (HSMPD) is designed as a prospective medical database for translational bioinformatics (TBI). To explore the feasibility of low-cost database construction, we studied the roadmap of HSMPD. A HSMPD-oriented tool, called “signal-molecule-profiling (SMP) chip” was developed for data acquisition, which can be employed in the routine blood tests in hospitals; the results will be stored in the HSMPD system automatically. HSMPD system can provide data services for the TBI community, which generates a stable income to support the data acquisition. The small-scale experimental test was performed in the hospital to verify SMP chips and the demo HSMPD software. One hundred and eighty nine complete SMP records were collected, and the demo HSMPD system was also evaluated in the survey study on patients and doctors. The function of SMP chip was verified, whereas the demo HSMPD software needed to be improved. The survey study showed that patients would only accept free tests of SMP chips when they originally needed blood examinations. The study indicated that the construction of HSMPD relies on the self-motivated cooperation of the TBI community and the traditional healthcare system. The proposed roadmap potentially provides an executable solution to build the HSMPD without high costs. Full article
Open AccessCommunication Volcanic Ash and Daily Mortality in Sweden after the Icelandic Volcano Eruption of May 2011
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6909-6919; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126909
Received: 27 September 2013 / Revised: 18 November 2013 / Accepted: 21 November 2013 / Published: 10 December 2013
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Abstract
In the aftermath of the Icelandic volcano Grimsvötn’s eruption on 21 May 2011, volcanic ash reached Northern Europe. Elevated levels of ambient particles (PM) were registered in mid Sweden. The aim of the present study was to investigate if the Grimsvötn eruption [...] Read more.
In the aftermath of the Icelandic volcano Grimsvötn’s eruption on 21 May 2011, volcanic ash reached Northern Europe. Elevated levels of ambient particles (PM) were registered in mid Sweden. The aim of the present study was to investigate if the Grimsvötn eruption had an effect on mortality in Sweden. Based on PM measurements at 16 sites across Sweden, data were classified into an ash exposed data set (Ash area) and an unexposed data set (No ash area). Data on daily all-cause mortality were obtained from Statistics Sweden for the time period 1 April through 31 July 2011. Mortality ratios were calculated as the ratio between the daily number of deaths in the Ash area and the No ash area. The exposure period was defined as the week following the days with elevated particle concentrations, namely 24 May through 31 May. The control period was defined as 1 April through 23 May and 1 June through 31 July. There was no absolute increase in mortality during the exposure period. However, during the exposure period the mean mortality ratio was 2.42 compared with 2.17 during the control period, implying a relatively higher number of deaths in the Ash area than in the No ash area. The differences in ratios were mostly due to a single day, 31 May, and were not statistically significant when tested with a Mann-Whitney non-parametric test (p > 0.3). The statistical power was low with only 8 days in the exposure period (24 May through 31 May). Assuming that the observed relative differences were not due to chance, the results would imply an increase of 128 deaths during the exposure period 24–31 May. If 31 May was excluded, the number of extra deaths was reduced to 20. The results of the present study are contradicting and inconclusive, but may indicate that all-cause mortality was increased by the ash-fall from the Grimsvötn eruption. Meta-analysis or pooled analysis of data from neighboring countries might make it possible to reach sufficient statistical power to study effects of the Grimsvötn ash on morbidity and mortality. Such studies would be of particular importance for European societies preparing for future large scale volcanic eruptions in Iceland. Full article
Open AccessArticle Using Formative Research to Design a Behavior Change Strategy to Increase the Use of Improved Cookstoves in Peri-Urban Kampala, Uganda
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6920-6938; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126920
Received: 9 September 2013 / Revised: 29 November 2013 / Accepted: 30 November 2013 / Published: 10 December 2013
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Abstract
Household air pollution from cooking with biomass fuels negatively impacts maternal and child health and the environment, and contributes to the global burden of disease. In Uganda, nearly 20,000 young children die of household air pollution-related pneumonia every year. Qualitative research was [...] Read more.
Household air pollution from cooking with biomass fuels negatively impacts maternal and child health and the environment, and contributes to the global burden of disease. In Uganda, nearly 20,000 young children die of household air pollution-related pneumonia every year. Qualitative research was used to identify behavioral determinants related to the acquisition and use of improved cookstoves in peri-urban Uganda. Results were used to design a behavior change strategy for the introduction of a locally-fabricated top-lit updraft gasifier (TLUD) stove in Wakiso district. A theoretical framework—opportunity, ability, and motivation—was used to guide the research and behavior change strategy development. Participants consistently cited financial considerations as the most influential factor related to improved cookstove acquisition and use. In contrast, participants did not prioritize the potential health benefits of improved cookstoves. The theoretical framework, research methodology, and behavior change strategy design process can be useful for program planners and researchers interested in identifying behavioral determinants and designing and evaluating improved cookstove interventions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Behavior and Public Health)
Open AccessArticle Challenges to Achieving Sustainable Sanitation in Informal Settlements of Kigali, Rwanda
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6939-6954; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126939
Received: 6 September 2013 / Revised: 27 November 2013 / Accepted: 28 November 2013 / Published: 10 December 2013
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (203 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Like most cities in developing countries, Kigali is experiencing rapid urbanisation leading to an increase in the urban population and rapid growth in the size and number of informal settlements. More than 60% of the city’s population resides in these settlements, where [...] Read more.
Like most cities in developing countries, Kigali is experiencing rapid urbanisation leading to an increase in the urban population and rapid growth in the size and number of informal settlements. More than 60% of the city’s population resides in these settlements, where they experience inadequate and poor quality urban services including sanitation. This article discusses the issues and constraints related to the provision of sustainable sanitation in the informal settlements in Kigali. Two informal settlements (Gatsata and Kimisagara) were selected for the study, which used a mixed method approach for data collection. The research found that residents experienced multiple problems because of poor sanitation and that the main barrier to improved sanitation was cost. Findings from this study can be used by the city authorities in the planning of effective sanitation intervention strategies for communities in informal settlements. Full article
Open AccessArticle Maternal Exposure to Bisphenol-A and Fetal Growth Restriction: A Case-Referent Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 7001-7014; doi:10.3390/ijerph10127001
Received: 4 November 2013 / Revised: 25 November 2013 / Accepted: 29 November 2013 / Published: 11 December 2013
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (260 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
We conducted a case-referent study of the effect of exposure to bisphenol-A on fetal growth in utero in full-term, live-born singletons in Alberta, Canada. Newborns <10 percentile of expected weight for gestational age and sex were individually matched on sex, maternal smoking [...] Read more.
We conducted a case-referent study of the effect of exposure to bisphenol-A on fetal growth in utero in full-term, live-born singletons in Alberta, Canada. Newborns <10 percentile of expected weight for gestational age and sex were individually matched on sex, maternal smoking and maternal age to referents with weight appropriate to gestational age. Exposure of the fetus to bisphenol-A was estimated from maternal serum collected at 15–16 weeks of gestation. We pooled sera across subjects for exposure assessment, stratified on case-referent status and sex. Individual 1:1 matching was maintained in assembling 69 case and 69 referent pools created from 550 case-referent pairs. Matched pools had an equal number of aliquots from individual women. We used an analytical strategy conditioning on matched set and total pool-level values of covariates to estimate individual-level effects. Pools of cases and referents had identical geometric mean bisphenol-A concentrations (0.5 ng/mL) and similar geometric standard deviations (2.3–2.5). Mean difference in concentration between matched pools was 0 ng/mL, standard deviation: 1 ng/mL. Stratification by sex and control for confounding did not suggest bisphenol-A increased fetal growth restriction. Our analysis does not provide evidence to support the hypothesis that bisphenol-A contributes to fetal growth restriction in full-term singletons. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Maternal and Child Health)
Open AccessArticle Waterpipe Smoking among Middle and High School Jordanian Students: Patterns and Predictors
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 7068-7082; doi:10.3390/ijerph10127068
Received: 21 October 2013 / Revised: 27 November 2013 / Accepted: 28 November 2013 / Published: 12 December 2013
Cited by 14 | PDF Full-text (190 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Despite the increase in attention to waterpipe tobacco smoking, the patterns and predictors of this method of tobacco use among Jordanian youth are not well known. The current study was conducted to assess the patterns and the predictors of waterpipe tobacco smoking [...] Read more.
Despite the increase in attention to waterpipe tobacco smoking, the patterns and predictors of this method of tobacco use among Jordanian youth are not well known. The current study was conducted to assess the patterns and the predictors of waterpipe tobacco smoking among school aged students in one of Jordan’s Central Governorates. A cross-sectional survey was conducted to investigate the patterns and predictors of waterpipe tobacco smoking among youth (grades 6, 8, 10 and 12). Using a multistage random sampling more than 1,000 students was selected. Data were collected using the Arabic Youth Tobacco Use Composite Measure (YTUCM). Waterpipe smoking was assessed for “past 12 months”, “past month” and “past week”. Students’ ages ranged from 11 to 18 years, (mean age ± 14.7; SD ± 1.9 years). The percentage of girls who smoked waterpipe was greater for all frequencies of use than it was for boys. Age, gender, and belief that smoking makes more friends were predictors of smoking among study participants. This is the first known study to examine waterpipe smoking among youth aged 11 and 12. Our findings illustrate the need for public health campaigns to reach and educate youth, their families, teachers and school systems regarding the growing recognized health risks of waterpipe smoking. Full article
Open AccessArticle Can Smartphones Enhance Telephone-Based Cognitive Assessment (TBCA)?
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 7110-7125; doi:10.3390/ijerph10127110
Received: 28 August 2013 / Revised: 3 December 2013 / Accepted: 4 December 2013 / Published: 12 December 2013
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (205 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
TBCA has emerged to solve the limitations of administering cognitive assessments face-to-face. The recent development of telephones and knowledge advances in the area of cognitive impairment may affect the development of TBCA. The purpose of this paper is to discuss how smartphones [...] Read more.
TBCA has emerged to solve the limitations of administering cognitive assessments face-to-face. The recent development of telephones and knowledge advances in the area of cognitive impairment may affect the development of TBCA. The purpose of this paper is to discuss how smartphones can be used to enhance the applicability of TBCA, which has previously been administered by conventional telephone. This paper will first review, describe and critique the existing TBCA instruments. It will then discuss the recent developments in tele-technology, the popularity of tele-technology among the elderly, potential benefits and challenges in using smartphones for cognitive assessment, and possible future developments in this technology. In the systematic review, eighteen TBCA instruments were identified. They were found to be valid in differentiating between people with and without dementia. TBCA was previously found to be launched on a conventional telephone platform. The advances in understanding of cognitive impairment may demand that telephones be equipped with more advanced features. Recently, the development and penetration of smartphones among the elderly has been rapid. This may allow the smartphone to enhance its TBCA applicability by overcoming the limitations of the conventional telephone, rendering the TBCA more efficient in addressing the increasing demand and complexity of cognitive assessments in the future. However, more research and technology developments are needed before smartphones can become a valid platform for TBCA. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Telehealthcare)
Open AccessArticle Nationwide Surveillance for Pathogenic Microorganisms in Groundwater near Carcass Burials Constructed in South Korea in 2010
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 7126-7143; doi:10.3390/ijerph10127126
Received: 15 October 2013 / Revised: 27 November 2013 / Accepted: 28 November 2013 / Published: 12 December 2013
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (821 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Widespread outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease and avian influenza occurred in South Korea during 2010. In response to the culling of many animals to attenuate the spread of disease, South Korea used mass burial sites to dispose of the large number of carcasses; [...] Read more.
Widespread outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease and avian influenza occurred in South Korea during 2010. In response to the culling of many animals to attenuate the spread of disease, South Korea used mass burial sites to dispose of the large number of carcasses; consequently, concerns about groundwater contamination by leachate from these burial sites are increasing. Groundwater is one of the main sources of drinking water, and its cleanliness is directly related to public health. Thus, this study aimed to evaluate the safety of groundwater around the burial sites (total of 600 sites). A total of 1,200 groundwater samples were collected though the country, and microbial analysis was conducted during two time periods: during the spring (n = 600; April to June 2012) and after rainfall (n = 600; August to October, 2012; fall). Fecal coliform and Escherichia coli were detected in 173 (14.4%) and 85 (7.1%) of the 1,200 samples, respectively. Salmonella spp. and Shigella spp. each were detected only once (0.083%). Clostridium perfringens was detected from 7 groundwater samples (0.583%), and E. coli O157:H7 was not detected. With respect to norovirus, only the GII type was detected from six groundwater samples (0.5%), and enterovirus was detected in 15 groundwater samples (1.25%). The frequency of E. coli that we detected was lower than that found in previous studies conducted in South Korea, but we detected higher frequency of fecal coliform than that observed in a previous report. The contamination frequencies of Salmonella spp. and Shigella spp. were very low, but C. perfringens, which could be an indicator of fecal pollution, was detected in seven regions. Overall, the results of the present study indicate a low possibility of contamination from burial sites. However, consistent monitoring is required to prevent microbial contamination of groundwater near the burial sites. Full article
Open AccessArticle Assessment of Natural Radioactivity Levels of Cements and Cement Composites in the Slovak Republic
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 7165-7179; doi:10.3390/ijerph10127165
Received: 7 November 2013 / Revised: 29 November 2013 / Accepted: 2 December 2013 / Published: 12 December 2013
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (325 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The radionuclide activities of 226Ra, 232Th and 40K and radiological parameters (radium equivalent activity, gamma and alpha indices, the absorbed gamma dose rate and external and internal hazard indices) of cements and cement composites commonly used in the Slovak [...] Read more.
The radionuclide activities of 226Ra, 232Th and 40K and radiological parameters (radium equivalent activity, gamma and alpha indices, the absorbed gamma dose rate and external and internal hazard indices) of cements and cement composites commonly used in the Slovak Republic have been studied in this paper. The cement samples of 8 types of cements from Slovak cement plants and five types of composites made from cement type CEM I were analyzed in the experiment. The radionuclide activities in the cements ranged from 8.58–19.1 Bq·kg−1, 9.78–26.3 Bq·kg−1 and 156.5–489.4 Bq·kg−1 for 226Ra, 232Th and 40K, respectively. The radiological parameters in cement samples were calculated as follows: mean radium equivalent activity Raeq = 67.87 Bq·kg−1, gamma index Iγ = 0.256, alpha index Iα = 0.067, the absorbed gamma dose rate D = 60.76 nGy·h−1, external hazard index Hex = 0.182 and internal hazard index Hin was 0.218. The radionuclide activity in composites ranged from 6.84–10.8 Bq·kg−1 for 226Ra, 13.1–20.5 Bq·kg−1 for 232Th and 250.4–494.4 Bq·kg−1 for 40K. The calculated radiological parameters of cements were lower than calculated radiological parameters of cement composites. Full article
Open AccessArticle Integrated Human Surveillance Systems of West Nile Virus Infections in Italy: The 2012 Experience
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 7180-7192; doi:10.3390/ijerph10127180
Received: 8 October 2013 / Revised: 27 November 2013 / Accepted: 2 December 2013 / Published: 13 December 2013
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (296 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In Italy, a West Nile virus (WNV) surveillance plan was firstly implemented in 2008 and 2009 in two affected regions and, since 2010, according to a national plan, a WNV neuroinvasive disease (WNND) surveillance has to be carried out each year during [...] Read more.
In Italy, a West Nile virus (WNV) surveillance plan was firstly implemented in 2008 and 2009 in two affected regions and, since 2010, according to a national plan, a WNV neuroinvasive disease (WNND) surveillance has to be carried out each year during the period 15 June–30 November, in those regions where WNV circulation has been demonstrated among humans, animals or vectors. Moreover, since WNV can be transmitted to humans even by blood transfusions and organ transplants obtained from infected donors, the national surveillance integrates the blood transfusions and organs transplant surveillances too. The paper describes the results of this integrated human surveillance in Italy in 2012. Overall, in 2012, 28 autochthonous confirmed cases of WNND were reported, 14 blood donations were found WNV positive by Nucleic Acid Amplification Test and no solid organ donors tested positive for WNV. Moreover, 17 cases of WNV fever were confirmed in Veneto region. When comparing the number of WNND cases reported to the surveillance system in previous 4 years (43 cases during the period 2008–2011), with those reported in 2012 an important increase was observed in 2012. The geographic distribution of human cases was consistent with the WNV circulation among animals and vectors. Moreover, the implementation of preventive measures for WNV transmission through blood components allowed the detection of blood donors positive for WNV, avoiding the further spread of the disease. Since surveillance strategies and preventive measures are based on the integration among human, animal and vector control activities, the Italian experience could be considered a good example of collaboration among different sectors of public health in a “one health” perspective. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Epidemiology of West Nile Virus)
Open AccessArticle Characterising the Smoking Status and Quit Smoking Behaviour of Aboriginal Health Workers in South Australia
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 7193-7206; doi:10.3390/ijerph10127193
Received: 18 October 2013 / Revised: 27 November 2013 / Accepted: 3 December 2013 / Published: 13 December 2013
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Abstract
The study objectives were to characterise the smoking status and quit smoking behaviour of Aboriginal Health Workers (AHWs) in South Australia (SA), Australia; and identify the psychosocial, socio-demographic, and household smoking characteristics that distinguish smokers from quitters and never smokers. A self-reported [...] Read more.
The study objectives were to characterise the smoking status and quit smoking behaviour of Aboriginal Health Workers (AHWs) in South Australia (SA), Australia; and identify the psychosocial, socio-demographic, and household smoking characteristics that distinguish smokers from quitters and never smokers. A self-reported cross-sectional survey was completed by AHWs in SA. Non-parametric statistics were used for inferential analyses. Eighty-five AHWs completed surveys representing a response rate of 63.0%. The prevalence of current smokers was 50.6%. Non-smokers (49.5%) included quitters (22.4%) and never smokers (27.1%). Smoking status did not differ by gender or geographic location. Of current smokers, 69.0% demonstrated a readiness to quit and 50.0% had made at least one quit attempt in the last 12 months. Compared to quitters and never smokers, current smokers expressed lower emotional wellbeing, and three times as many resided with another smoker. Quitters had the highest levels of perceived social support and part-time employment. A high proportion of AHWs who smoke desire, and are ready to quit. Individual, social and household factors differentiated smokers from non-smokers and quitters. Social support, and relationships and structures that favour social support, are implicated as necessary to enable AHWs who smoke to act on their desire to quit smoking. Full article
Open AccessArticle Spatial Autocorrelation of Cancer Incidence in Saudi Arabia
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 7207-7228; doi:10.3390/ijerph10127207
Received: 6 October 2013 / Revised: 27 November 2013 / Accepted: 28 November 2013 / Published: 16 December 2013
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (1192 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Little is known about the geographic distribution of common cancers in Saudi Arabia. We explored the spatial incidence patterns of common cancers in Saudi Arabia using spatial autocorrelation analyses, employing the global Moran’s I and Anselin’s local Moran’s I statistics to detect [...] Read more.
Little is known about the geographic distribution of common cancers in Saudi Arabia. We explored the spatial incidence patterns of common cancers in Saudi Arabia using spatial autocorrelation analyses, employing the global Moran’s I and Anselin’s local Moran’s I statistics to detect nonrandom incidence patterns. Global ordinary least squares (OLS) regression and local geographically-weighted regression (GWR) were applied to examine the spatial correlation of cancer incidences at the city level. Population-based records of cancers diagnosed between 1998 and 2004 were used. Male lung cancer and female breast cancer exhibited positive statistically significant global Moran’s I index values, indicating a tendency toward clustering. The Anselin’s local Moran’s I analyses revealed small significant clusters of lung cancer, prostate cancer and Hodgkin’s disease among males in the Eastern region and significant clusters of thyroid cancers in females in the Eastern and Riyadh regions. Additionally, both regression methods found significant associations among various cancers. For example, OLS and GWR revealed significant spatial associations among NHL, leukemia and Hodgkin’s disease (r² = 0.49–0.67 using OLS and r² = 0.52–0.68 using GWR) and between breast and prostate cancer (r² = 0.53 OLS and 0.57 GWR) in Saudi Arabian cities. These findings may help to generate etiologic hypotheses of cancer causation and identify spatial anomalies in cancer incidence in Saudi Arabia. Our findings should stimulate further research on the possible causes underlying these clusters and associations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spatial Epidemiology)
Open AccessArticle Prevalence of COPD and Tobacco Smoking in Tunisia — Results from the BOLD Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 7257-7271; doi:10.3390/ijerph10127257
Received: 26 September 2013 / Revised: 2 December 2013 / Accepted: 9 December 2013 / Published: 17 December 2013
Cited by 9 | PDF Full-text (910 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In Tunisia, there is a paucity of population-based data on Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) prevalence. To address this problem, we estimated the prevalence of COPD following the Burden of Lung Disease Initiative. We surveyed 807 adults aged 40+ years and have [...] Read more.
In Tunisia, there is a paucity of population-based data on Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) prevalence. To address this problem, we estimated the prevalence of COPD following the Burden of Lung Disease Initiative. We surveyed 807 adults aged 40+ years and have collected information on respiratory history and symptoms, risk factors for COPD and quality of life. Post-bronchodilator spirometry was performed and COPD and its stages were defined according to the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) guidelines. Six hundred and sixty one (661) subjects were included in the final analysis. The prevalence of GOLD Stage I and II or higher COPD were 7.8% and 4.2%, respectively (Lower Limit of Normal modified stage I and II or higher COPD prevalence were 5.3% and 3.8%, respectively). COPD was more common in subjects aged 70+ years and in those with a BMI < 20 kg/m2. Prevalence of stage I+ COPD was 2.3% in <10 pack years smoked and 16.1% in 20+ pack years smoked. Only 3.5% of participants reported doctor-diagnosed COPD. In this Tunisian population, the prevalence of COPD is higher than reported before and higher than self-reported doctor-diagnosed COPD. In subjects with COPD, age is a much more powerful predictor of lung function than smoking. Full article
Open AccessArticle Impact of Flavour Variability on Electronic Cigarette Use Experience: An Internet Survey
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 7272-7282; doi:10.3390/ijerph10127272
Received: 19 November 2013 / Revised: 11 December 2013 / Accepted: 12 December 2013 / Published: 17 December 2013
Cited by 45 | PDF Full-text (192 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Background: A major characteristic of the electronic cigarette (EC) market is the availability of a large number of different flavours. This has been criticised by the public health authorities, some of whom believe that diverse flavours will attract young users and that [...] Read more.
Background: A major characteristic of the electronic cigarette (EC) market is the availability of a large number of different flavours. This has been criticised by the public health authorities, some of whom believe that diverse flavours will attract young users and that ECs are a gateway to smoking. At the same time, several reports in the news media mention that the main purpose of flavour marketing is to attract youngsters. The importance of flavourings and their patterns of use by EC consumers have not been adequately evaluated, therefore, the purpose of this survey was to examine and understand the impact of flavourings in the EC experience of dedicated users. Methods: A questionnaire was prepared and uploaded in an online survey tool. EC users were asked to participate irrespective of their current smoking status. Participants were divided according to their smoking status at the time of participation in two subgroups: former smokers and current smokers. Results: In total, 4,618 participants were included in the analysis, with 4,515 reporting current smoking status. The vast majority (91.1%) were former smokers, while current smokers had reduced smoking consumption from 20 to 4 cigarettes per day. Both subgroups had a median smoking history of 22 years and had been using ECs for 12 months. On average they were using three different types of liquid flavours on a regular basis, with former smokers switching between flavours more frequently compared to current smokers; 69.2% of the former subgroup reported doing so on a daily basis or within the day. Fruit flavours were more popular at the time of participation, while tobacco flavours were more popular at initiation of EC use. On a scale from 1 (not at all important) to 5 (extremely important) participants answered that variability of flavours was “very important” (score = 4) in their effort to reduce or quit smoking. The majority reported that restricting variability will make ECs less enjoyable and more boring, while 48.5% mentioned that it would increase craving for cigarettes and 39.7% said that it would have been less likely for them to reduce or quit smoking. The number of flavours used was independently associated with smoking cessation. Conclusions: The results of this survey of dedicated users indicate that flavours are marketed in order to satisfy vapers’ demand. They appear to contribute to both perceived pleasure and the effort to reduce cigarette consumption or quit smoking. Due to the fact that adoption of ECs by youngsters is currently minimal, it seems that implementing regulatory restrictions to flavours could cause harm to current vapers while no public health benefits would be observed in youngsters. Therefore, flavours variability should be maintained; any potential future risk for youngsters being attracted to ECs can be sufficiently minimized by strictly prohibiting EC sales in this population group. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Electronic Cigarettes as a Tool in Tobacco Harm Reduction)
Open AccessArticle Elderly Healthcare Monitoring Using an Avatar-Based 3D Virtual Environment
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 7283-7298; doi:10.3390/ijerph10127283
Received: 3 September 2013 / Revised: 12 December 2013 / Accepted: 12 December 2013 / Published: 17 December 2013
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (1511 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Homecare systems for elderly people are becoming increasingly important due to both economic reasons as well as patients’ preferences. Sensor-based surveillance technologies are an expected future trend, but research so far has devoted little attention to the User Interface (UI) design of [...] Read more.
Homecare systems for elderly people are becoming increasingly important due to both economic reasons as well as patients’ preferences. Sensor-based surveillance technologies are an expected future trend, but research so far has devoted little attention to the User Interface (UI) design of such systems and the user-centric design approach. In this paper, we explore the possibilities of an avatar-based 3D visualization system, which exploits wearable sensors and human activity simulations. We present a technical prototype and the evaluation of alternative concept designs for UIs based on a 3D virtual world. The evaluation was conducted with homecare providers through focus groups and an online survey. Our results show firstly that systems taking advantage of 3D virtual world visualization techniques have potential especially due to the privacy preserving and simplified information presentation style, and secondly that simple representations and glancability should be emphasized in the design. The identified key use cases highlight that avatar-based 3D presentations can be helpful if they provide an overview as well as details on demand. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Telehealthcare)
Open AccessArticle Tobacco Retail Outlets and Vulnerable Populations in Ontario, Canada
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 7299-7309; doi:10.3390/ijerph10127299
Received: 22 October 2013 / Revised: 11 December 2013 / Accepted: 12 December 2013 / Published: 17 December 2013
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (460 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Interest has been increasing in regulating the location and number of tobacco vendors as part of a comprehensive tobacco control program. The objective of this paper is to examine the distribution of tobacco outlets in a large jurisdiction, to assess: (1) whether [...] Read more.
Interest has been increasing in regulating the location and number of tobacco vendors as part of a comprehensive tobacco control program. The objective of this paper is to examine the distribution of tobacco outlets in a large jurisdiction, to assess: (1) whether tobacco outlets are more likely to be located in vulnerable areas; and (2) what proportion of tobacco outlets are located close to schools. Retail locations across the Province of Ontario from Ministry of Health Promotion data were linked to 2006 Census data at the neighbourhood level. There was one tobacco retail outlet for every 1,000 people over age 15 in Ontario. Density of outlets varied by public health unit, and was associated with the number of smokers. Tobacco outlets were more likely to be located in areas that had high neighbourhood deprivation, in both rural and urban areas. Outlets were less likely to be located in areas with high immigrant populations in urban areas, with the reverse being true for rural areas. Overall, 65% of tobacco retailers were located within 500 m of a school. The sale of tobacco products is ubiquitous, however, neighbourhoods with lower socio-economic status are more likely to have easier availability of tobacco products and most retailers are located within walking distance of a school. The results suggest the importance of policies to regulate the location of tobacco retail outlets. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Association between Splenocyte Apoptosis and Alterations of Bax, Bcl-2 and Caspase-3 mRNA Expression, and Oxidative Stress Induced by Dietary Nickel Chloride in Broilers
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 7310-7326; doi:10.3390/ijerph10127310
Received: 5 November 2013 / Revised: 7 December 2013 / Accepted: 9 December 2013 / Published: 17 December 2013
Cited by 14 | PDF Full-text (944 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Two hundred and forty avian broilers were equally divided into four groups, and raised with a corn-soybean basal diet or the same diet supplemented with 300, 600, 900 mg/kg NiCl2 for 42 days. Numbers or percentages of apoptotic splenocytes by flow [...] Read more.
Two hundred and forty avian broilers were equally divided into four groups, and raised with a corn-soybean basal diet or the same diet supplemented with 300, 600, 900 mg/kg NiCl2 for 42 days. Numbers or percentages of apoptotic splenocytes by flow cytometry (FCM) and TUNEL were higher (p < 0.05 or p < 0.01) in the 300, 600 and 900 mg/kg groups than those in the control group. Results measured by qRT-PCR and ELISA showed that mRNA expression and contents were significantly higher (p < 0.05 or p < 0.01) in Bax and Caspase-3, and were significantly lower (p < 0.05 or p < 0.01) in Bcl-2 of the 300, 600 and 900 mg/kg groups. Also, the SOD, CAT and GSH-Px activities, and the ability to inhibit hydroxyl radical, and GSH contents were significantly decreased (p < 0.05 or p < 0.01), and MDA contents were increased (p < 0.05 or p < 0.01) in all groups. In conclusion, dietary NiCl2 in excess of 300 mg/kg caused apoptosis, altered Bax, Bcl-2 and Caspase-3 mRNA expression levels and contents, and induced oxidative stress in the spleen. Also, splenocyte apoptosis was closely related to the alternations of Bax, Bcl-2 and Caspase-3 mRNA expression, and oxidative damage. The splenic immunity and blood filtration functions were impaired in broilers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue IJERPH: 10th Anniversary)

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Open AccessReview Escherichia coli in Europe: An Overview
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6235-6254; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126235
Received: 15 September 2013 / Revised: 4 November 2013 / Accepted: 7 November 2013 / Published: 25 November 2013
Cited by 23 | PDF Full-text (236 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Escherichia coli remains one of the most frequent causes of several common bacterial infections in humans and animals. E. coli is the prominent cause of enteritis, urinary tract infection, septicaemia and other clinical infections, such as neonatal meningitis. E. coli is also [...] Read more.
Escherichia coli remains one of the most frequent causes of several common bacterial infections in humans and animals. E. coli is the prominent cause of enteritis, urinary tract infection, septicaemia and other clinical infections, such as neonatal meningitis. E. coli is also prominently associated with diarrhoea in pet and farm animals. The therapeutic treatment of E. coli infections is threatened by the emergence of antimicrobial resistance. The prevalence of multidrug-resistant E. coli strains is increasing worldwide principally due to the spread of mobile genetic elements, such as plasmids. The rise of multidrug-resistant strains of E. coli also occurs in Europe. Therefore, the spread of resistance in E. coli is an increasing public health concern in European countries. This paper summarizes the current status of E. coli strains clinically relevant in European countries. Furthermore, therapeutic interventions and strategies to prevent and control infections are presented and discussed. The article also provides an overview of the current knowledge concerning promising alternative therapies against E. coli diseases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Antimicrobial Resistance Prevention and Control)
Open AccessReview The Changing Epidemiology of Kunjin Virus in Australia
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6255-6272; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126255
Received: 24 September 2013 / Revised: 4 November 2013 / Accepted: 7 November 2013 / Published: 25 November 2013
Cited by 12 | PDF Full-text (485 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
West Nile virus (WNV) is a mosquito-borne virus responsible for outbreaks of viral encephalitis in humans and horses, with particularly virulent strains causing recent outbreaks of disease in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North America. A strain of WNV, Kunjin (WNV [...] Read more.
West Nile virus (WNV) is a mosquito-borne virus responsible for outbreaks of viral encephalitis in humans and horses, with particularly virulent strains causing recent outbreaks of disease in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North America. A strain of WNV, Kunjin (WNVKUN), is endemic in northern Australia and infection with this virus is generally asymptomatic. However in early 2011, an unprecedented outbreak of encephalitis in horses occurred in south-eastern Australia, resulting in mortality in approximately 10%–15% of infected horses. A WNV-like virus (WNVNSW2011) was isolated and found to be most closely related to the indigenous WNVKUN, rather than other exotic WNV strains. Furthermore, at least two amino acid changes associated with increased virulence of the North American New York 99 strain (WNVNY99) compared to the prototype WNVKUN were present in the WNVNSW2011 sequence. This review summarizes our current understanding of WNVKUN and how the epidemiology and ecology of this virus has changed. Analysis of virulence determinants of contemporary WNVKUN isolates will provide clues on where virulent strains have emerged in Australia. A better understanding of the changing ecology and epidemiology associated with the emergence of virulent strains is essential to prepare for future outbreaks of WNV disease in Australia. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Epidemiology of West Nile Virus)
Open AccessReview Foodborne Campylobacter: Infections, Metabolism, Pathogenesis and Reservoirs
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6292-6304; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126292
Received: 10 September 2013 / Revised: 8 November 2013 / Accepted: 9 November 2013 / Published: 26 November 2013
Cited by 21 | PDF Full-text (210 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Campylobacter species are a leading cause of bacterial-derived foodborne illnesses worldwide. The emergence of this bacterial group as a significant causative agent of human disease and their propensity to carry antibiotic resistance elements that allows them to resist antibacterial therapy make them [...] Read more.
Campylobacter species are a leading cause of bacterial-derived foodborne illnesses worldwide. The emergence of this bacterial group as a significant causative agent of human disease and their propensity to carry antibiotic resistance elements that allows them to resist antibacterial therapy make them a serious public health threat. Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli are considered to be the most important enteropathogens of this genus and their ability to colonize and survive in a wide variety of animal species and habitats make them extremely difficult to control. This article reviews the historical and emerging importance of this bacterial group and addresses aspects of the human infections they cause, their metabolism and pathogenesis, and their natural reservoirs in order to address the need for appropriate food safety regulations and interventions. Full article
Open AccessReview Mouse Models of Mutations and Variations in Autism Spectrum Disorder-Associated Genes: Mice Expressing Caps2/Cadps2 Copy Number and Alternative Splicing Variants
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6335-6353; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126335
Received: 3 September 2013 / Revised: 5 November 2013 / Accepted: 8 November 2013 / Published: 27 November 2013
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (394 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by disturbances in interpersonal relationships and behavior. Although the prevalence of autism is high, effective treatments have not yet been identified. Recently, genome-wide association studies have identified many mutations or variations associated with [...] Read more.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by disturbances in interpersonal relationships and behavior. Although the prevalence of autism is high, effective treatments have not yet been identified. Recently, genome-wide association studies have identified many mutations or variations associated with ASD risk on many chromosome loci and genes. Identification of the biological roles of these mutations or variations is necessary to identify the mechanisms underlying ASD pathogenesis and to develop clinical treatments. At present, mice harboring genetic modifications of ASD-associated gene candidates are the best animal models to analyze hereditary factors involved in autism. In this report, the biological significance of ASD-associated genes is discussed by examining the phenotypes of mouse models with ASD-associated mutations or variations in mouse homologs, with a focus on mice harboring genetic modifications of the Caps2/Cadps2 (Ca2+-dependent activator protein for secretion 2) gene. Full article
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Open AccessReview Occupational Pesticide Exposures and Respiratory Health
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6442-6471; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126442
Received: 26 August 2013 / Revised: 13 November 2013 / Accepted: 14 November 2013 / Published: 28 November 2013
Cited by 14 | PDF Full-text (269 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Pesticides have been widely used to control pest and pest-related diseases in agriculture, fishery, forestry and the food industry. In this review, we identify a number of respiratory symptoms and diseases that have been associated with occupational pesticide exposures. Impaired lung function [...] Read more.
Pesticides have been widely used to control pest and pest-related diseases in agriculture, fishery, forestry and the food industry. In this review, we identify a number of respiratory symptoms and diseases that have been associated with occupational pesticide exposures. Impaired lung function has also been observed among people occupationally exposed to pesticides. There was strong evidence for an association between occupational pesticide exposure and asthma, especially in agricultural occupations. In addition, we found suggestive evidence for a link between occupational pesticide exposure and chronic bronchitis or COPD. There was inconclusive evidence for the association between occupational pesticide exposure and lung cancer. Better control of pesticide uses and enforcement of safety behaviors, such as using personal protection equipment (PPE) in the workplace, are critical for reducing the risk of developing pesticide-related symptoms and diseases. Educational training programs focusing on basic safety precautions and proper uses of personal protection equipment (PPE) are possible interventions that could be used to control the respiratory diseases associated with pesticide exposure in occupational setting. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Occupational Health)
Open AccessReview Smoking and Pregnancy — A Review on the First Major Environmental Risk Factor of the Unborn
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6485-6499; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126485
Received: 8 October 2013 / Revised: 12 November 2013 / Accepted: 13 November 2013 / Published: 29 November 2013
Cited by 17 | PDF Full-text (252 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Smoking cigarettes throughout pregnancy is one of the single most important avoidable causes of adverse pregnancy outcomes and it represents the first major environmental risk of the unborn. If compared with other risk factors in the perinatal period, exposure to tobacco smoke [...] Read more.
Smoking cigarettes throughout pregnancy is one of the single most important avoidable causes of adverse pregnancy outcomes and it represents the first major environmental risk of the unborn. If compared with other risk factors in the perinatal period, exposure to tobacco smoke is considered to be amongst the most harmful and it is associated with high rates of long and short term morbidity and mortality for mother and child. A variety of adverse pregnancy outcomes are linked with cigarette consumption before and during pregnancy. Maternal prenatal cigarette smoke disturbs the equilibrium among the oxidant and antioxidant system, has negative impact on the genetic and cellular level of both mother and fetus and causes a large quantity of diseases in the unborn child. These smoking-induced damages for the unborn offspring manifest themselves at various times in life and for most only a very limited range of causal treatment exists. Education, support and assistance are of high importance to decrease maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality, as there are few other avoidable factors which influence a child’s health that profoundly throughout its life. It is imperative that smoking control should be seen as a public health priority. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Contemporary challenges in public health)
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Open AccessReview West Nile Virus State of the Art Report of MALWEST Project
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6534-6610; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126534
Received: 30 July 2013 / Revised: 11 November 2013 / Accepted: 12 November 2013 / Published: 2 December 2013
Cited by 10 | PDF Full-text (1169 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
During the last three years Greece is experiencing the emergence of West Nile virus (WNV) epidemics. Within this framework, an integrated surveillance and control programme (MALWEST project) with thirteen associate partners was launched aiming to investigate the disease and suggest appropriate interventions. [...] Read more.
During the last three years Greece is experiencing the emergence of West Nile virus (WNV) epidemics. Within this framework, an integrated surveillance and control programme (MALWEST project) with thirteen associate partners was launched aiming to investigate the disease and suggest appropriate interventions. One out of seven work packages of the project is dedicated to the State of the Art report for WNV. Three expert working groups on humans, animals and mosquitoes were established. Medical databases (PubMed, Scopus) were searched together with websites: e.g., WHO, CDC, ECDC. In total, 1,092 relevant articles were initially identified and 258 of them were finally included as references regarding the current knowledge about WNV, along with 36 additional sources (conference papers, reports, book chapters). The review is divided in three sections according to the fields of interest: (1) WNV in humans (epidemiology, molecular characteristics, transmission, diagnosis, treatment, prevention, surveillance); (2) WNV in animals (epidemiological and transmission characteristics concerning birds, horses, reptiles and other animal species) and (3) WNV in mosquitoes (control, surveillance). Finally, some examples of integrated surveillance programmes are presented. The introduction and establishment of the disease in Greece and other European countries further emphasizes the need for thorough research and broadening of our knowledge on this viral pathogen. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Epidemiology of West Nile Virus)
Open AccessReview Prevalence of Sedentary Behavior in Older Adults: A Systematic Review
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6645-6661; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126645
Received: 12 September 2013 / Revised: 1 November 2013 / Accepted: 18 November 2013 / Published: 2 December 2013
Cited by 28 | PDF Full-text (348 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Sedentary behavior is a cluster of behaviors adopted in a sitting or lying posture where little energy is being expended. Sedentary behavior is a risk factor for health independent to inactivity. Currently, there are no published systematic reviews on the prevalence of [...] Read more.
Sedentary behavior is a cluster of behaviors adopted in a sitting or lying posture where little energy is being expended. Sedentary behavior is a risk factor for health independent to inactivity. Currently, there are no published systematic reviews on the prevalence of sedentary behavior objectively measured in, or subjectively reported by, older adults. The aim of this systematic review was to collect and analyze published literature relating to reported prevalence of sedentary behavior, written in English, on human adults, where subjects aged 60 years and over were represented in the study. 23 reports covered data from 18 surveys sourced from seven countries. It was noted that sedentary behavior is defined in different ways by each survey. The majority of surveys included used self-report as a measurement of sedentary behavior. Objective measurements were also captured with the use of body worn accelerometers. Whether measurements are subjective or objective, the majority of older adults are sedentary. Almost 60% of older adult’s reported sitting for more than 4 h per day, 65% sit in front of a screen for more than 3 h daily and over 55% report watching more than 2 h of TV. However, when measured objectively in a small survey, it was found that 67% of the older population were sedentary for more than 8.5 h daily. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Care for Old People)
Open AccessReview The Evolutionary Puzzle of Suicide
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6873-6886; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126873
Received: 18 October 2013 / Revised: 29 November 2013 / Accepted: 29 November 2013 / Published: 9 December 2013
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (220 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Mechanisms of self-destruction are difficult to reconcile with evolution’s first rule of thumb: survive and reproduce. However, evolutionary success ultimately depends on inclusive fitness. The altruistic suicide hypothesis posits that the presence of low reproductive potential and burdensomeness toward kin can increase [...] Read more.
Mechanisms of self-destruction are difficult to reconcile with evolution’s first rule of thumb: survive and reproduce. However, evolutionary success ultimately depends on inclusive fitness. The altruistic suicide hypothesis posits that the presence of low reproductive potential and burdensomeness toward kin can increase the inclusive fitness payoff of self-removal. The bargaining hypothesis assumes that suicide attempts could function as an honest signal of need. The payoff may be positive if the suicidal person has a low reproductive potential. The parasite manipulation hypothesis is founded on the rodent—Toxoplasma gondii host-parasite model, in which the parasite induces a “suicidal” feline attraction that allows the parasite to complete its life cycle. Interestingly, latent infection by T. gondii has been shown to cause behavioral alterations in humans, including increased suicide attempts. Finally, we discuss how suicide risk factors can be understood as nonadaptive byproducts of evolved mechanisms that malfunction. Although most of the mechanisms proposed in this article are largely speculative, the hypotheses that we raise accept self-destructive behavior within the framework of evolutionary theory. Full article
Open AccessReview Factors Increasing Vulnerability to Health Effects before, during and after Floods
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 7015-7067; doi:10.3390/ijerph10127015
Received: 15 October 2013 / Revised: 2 December 2013 / Accepted: 3 December 2013 / Published: 11 December 2013
Cited by 12 | PDF Full-text (1216 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Identifying the risk factors for morbidity and mortality effects pre-, during and post-flood may aid the appropriate targeting of flood-related adverse health prevention strategies. We conducted a systematic PubMed search to identify studies examining risk factors for health effects of precipitation-related floods, [...] Read more.
Identifying the risk factors for morbidity and mortality effects pre-, during and post-flood may aid the appropriate targeting of flood-related adverse health prevention strategies. We conducted a systematic PubMed search to identify studies examining risk factors for health effects of precipitation-related floods, among Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) member countries. Research identifying flood-related morbidity and mortality risk factors is limited and primarily examines demographic characteristics such as age and gender. During floods, females, elderly and children appear to be at greater risk of psychological and physical health effects, while males between 10 to 29 years may be at greater risk of mortality. Post-flood, those over 65 years and males are at increased risk of physical health effects, while females appear at greater risk of psychological health effects. Other risk factors include previous flood experiences, greater flood depth or flood trauma, existing illnesses, medication interruption, and low education or socio-economic status. Tailoring messages to high-risk groups may increase their effectiveness. Target populations differ for morbidity and mortality effects, and differ pre-, during, and post-flood. Additional research is required to identify the risk factors associated with pre- and post-flood mortality and post-flood morbidity, preferably using prospective cohort studies. Full article
Open AccessReview A Review of National-Level Adaptation Planning with Regards to the Risks Posed by Climate Change on Infectious Diseases in 14 OECD Nations
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 7083-7109; doi:10.3390/ijerph10127083
Received: 16 October 2013 / Revised: 27 November 2013 / Accepted: 27 November 2013 / Published: 12 December 2013
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (385 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Climate change is likely to have significant implications for human health, particularly through alterations of the incidence, prevalence, and distribution of infectious diseases. In the context of these risks, governments in high income nations have begun developing strategies to reduce potential climate [...] Read more.
Climate change is likely to have significant implications for human health, particularly through alterations of the incidence, prevalence, and distribution of infectious diseases. In the context of these risks, governments in high income nations have begun developing strategies to reduce potential climate change impacts and increase health system resilience (i.e., adaptation). In this paper, we review and evaluate national-level adaptation planning in relation to infectious disease risks in 14 OECD countries with respect to “best practices” for adaptation identified in peer-reviewed literature. We find a number of limitations to current planning, including negligible consideration of the needs of vulnerable population groups, limited emphasis on local risks, and inadequate attention to implementation logistics, such as available funding and timelines for evaluation. The nature of planning documents varies widely between nations, four of which currently lack adaptation plans. In those countries where planning documents were available, adaptations were mainstreamed into existing public health programs, and prioritized a sectoral, rather than multidisciplinary, approach. The findings are consistent with other scholarship examining adaptation planning indicating an ad hoc and fragmented process, and support the need for enhanced attention to adaptation to infectious disease risks in public health policy at a national level. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change and Human Health)
Open AccessReview Increased Pathogenicity of West Nile Virus (WNV) by Glycosylation of Envelope Protein and Seroprevalence of WNV in Wild Birds in Far Eastern Russia
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 7144-7164; doi:10.3390/ijerph10127144
Received: 25 September 2013 / Revised: 25 November 2013 / Accepted: 26 November 2013 / Published: 12 December 2013
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (2518 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this review, we discuss the possibility that the glycosylation of West Nile (WN) virus E-protein may be associated with enhanced pathogenicity and higher replication of WN virus. The results indicate that E-protein glycosylation allows the virus to multiply in a heat-stable [...] Read more.
In this review, we discuss the possibility that the glycosylation of West Nile (WN) virus E-protein may be associated with enhanced pathogenicity and higher replication of WN virus. The results indicate that E-protein glycosylation allows the virus to multiply in a heat-stable manner and therefore, has a critical role in enhanced viremic levels and virulence of WN virus in young-chick infection model. The effect of the glycosylation of the E protein on the pathogenicity of WN virus in young chicks was further investigated. The results indicate that glycosylation of the WN virus E protein is important for viral multiplication in peripheral organs and that it is associated with the strong pathogenicity of WN virus in birds. The micro-focus reduction neutralization test (FRNT) in which a large number of serum samples can be handled at once with a small volume (15 μL) of serum was useful for differential diagnosis between Japanese encephalitis and WN virus infections in infected chicks. Serological investigation was performed among wild birds in the Far Eastern region of Russia using the FRNT. Antibodies specific to WN virus were detected in 21 samples of resident and migratory birds out of 145 wild bird samples in the region. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Epidemiology of West Nile Virus)
Open AccessReview The Potential Link between Gut Microbiota and IgE-Mediated Food Allergy in Early Life
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 7235-7256; doi:10.3390/ijerph10127235
Received: 13 October 2013 / Revised: 30 November 2013 / Accepted: 3 December 2013 / Published: 16 December 2013
Cited by 10 | PDF Full-text (259 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
There has been a dramatic rise in the prevalence of IgE-mediated food allergy over recent decades, particularly among infants and young children. The cause of this increase is unknown but one putative factor is a change in the composition, richness and balance [...] Read more.
There has been a dramatic rise in the prevalence of IgE-mediated food allergy over recent decades, particularly among infants and young children. The cause of this increase is unknown but one putative factor is a change in the composition, richness and balance of the microbiota that colonize the human gut during early infancy. The coevolution of the human gastrointestinal tract and commensal microbiota has resulted in a symbiotic relationship in which gut microbiota play a vital role in early life immune development and function, as well as maintenance of gut wall epithelial integrity. Since IgE mediated food allergy is associated with immune dysregulation and impaired gut epithelial integrity there is substantial interest in the potential link between gut microbiota and food allergy. Although the exact link between gut microbiota and food allergy is yet to be established in humans, recent experimental evidence suggests that specific patterns of gut microbiota colonization may influence the risk and manifestations of food allergy. An understanding of the relationship between gut microbiota and food allergy has the potential to inform both the prevention and treatment of food allergy. In this paper we review the theory and evidence linking gut microbiota and IgE-mediated food allergy in early life. We then consider the implications and challenges for future research, including the techniques of measuring and analyzing gut microbiota, and the types of studies required to advance knowledge in the field. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Allergy, Genes and Environment)

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Open AccessCommentary Crossing the Telemedicine Chasm: Have the U.S. Barriers to Widespread Adoption of Telemedicine Been Significantly Reduced?
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6472-6484; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126472
Received: 5 October 2013 / Revised: 13 November 2013 / Accepted: 14 November 2013 / Published: 28 November 2013
Cited by 10 | PDF Full-text (333 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Barriers have challenged widespread telemedicine adoption by health care organizations for 40 years. These barriers have been technological, financial, and legal and have also involved business strategy and human resources. The article canvasses recent trends—events and activities in each of these areas [...] Read more.
Barriers have challenged widespread telemedicine adoption by health care organizations for 40 years. These barriers have been technological, financial, and legal and have also involved business strategy and human resources. The article canvasses recent trends—events and activities in each of these areas as well as US health reform activities that might help to break down these barriers. The key to telemedicine success in the future is to view it as an integral part of health care services and not as a stand-alone project. Telemedicine must move from experimental and separate to integrated and equivalent to other health services within health care organizations. Furthermore, telemedicine serves as vital connective tissue for expanding health care organization networks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Telehealthcare)
Open AccessConcept Paper Proposed Toxic and Hypoxic Impairment of a Brainstem Locus in Autism
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(12), 6955-7000; doi:10.3390/ijerph10126955
Received: 20 September 2013 / Revised: 7 November 2013 / Accepted: 11 November 2013 / Published: 11 December 2013
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (721 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Electrophysiological findings implicate site-specific impairment of the nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS) in autism. This invites hypothetical consideration of a large role for this small brainstem structure as the basis for seemingly disjointed behavioral and somatic features of autism. The NTS is the [...] Read more.
Electrophysiological findings implicate site-specific impairment of the nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS) in autism. This invites hypothetical consideration of a large role for this small brainstem structure as the basis for seemingly disjointed behavioral and somatic features of autism. The NTS is the brain’s point of entry for visceral afference, its relay for vagal reflexes, and its integration center for autonomic control of circulatory, immunological, gastrointestinal, and laryngeal function. The NTS facilitates normal cerebrovascular perfusion, and is the seminal point for an ascending noradrenergic system that modulates many complex behaviors. Microvascular configuration predisposes the NTS to focal hypoxia. A subregion—the “pNTS”—permits exposure to all blood-borne neurotoxins, including those that do not readily transit the blood-brain barrier. Impairment of acetylcholinesterase (mercury and cadmium cations, nitrates/nitrites, organophosphates, monosodium glutamate), competition for hemoglobin (carbon monoxide, nitrates/nitrites), and higher blood viscosity (net systemic oxidative stress) are suggested to potentiate microcirculatory insufficiency of the NTS, and thus autism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Environment Risk of Autism)
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