Deep Learning Technology: Sebastian Arnold, Betty van Aken, Paul Grundmann, Felix A. Gers and Alexander Löser. Learning Contextualized Document Representations for Healthcare Answer Retrieval. The Web Conference 2020 (WWW'20)
Funded by The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy; Grant: 01MD19013D, Smart-MD Project, Digital Technologies
The clinical definition of smallpox is an illness with acute onset of fever equal to or greater than followed by a rash characterized by firm, deep seated vesicles or pustules in the same stage of development without other apparent cause. If a clinical case is observed, smallpox is confirmed using laboratory tests.
Microscopically, poxviruses produce characteristic cytoplasmic inclusions, the most important of which are known as Guarnieri bodies, and are the sites of viral replication. Guarnieri bodies are readily identified in skin biopsies stained with hematoxylin and eosin, and appear as pink blobs. They are found in virtually all poxvirus infections but the absence of Guarnieri bodies cannot be used to rule out smallpox. The diagnosis of an orthopoxvirus infection can also be made rapidly by electron microscopic examination of pustular fluid or scabs. All orthopoxviruses exhibit identical brick-shaped virions by electron microscopy. If particles with the characteristic morphology of herpesviruses are seen this will eliminate smallpox and other orthopoxvirus infections.
Definitive laboratory identification of variola virus involves growing the virus on chorioallantoic membrane (part of a chicken embryo) and examining the resulting pock lesions under defined temperature conditions. Strains may be characterized by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis. Serologic tests and enzyme linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA), which measure variola virus-specific immunoglobulin and antigen have also been developed to assist in the diagnosis of infection.
Chickenpox was commonly confused with smallpox in the immediate post-eradication era. Chickenpox and smallpox can be distinguished by several methods. Unlike smallpox, chickenpox does not usually affect the palms and soles. Additionally, chickenpox pustules are of varying size due to variations in the timing of pustule eruption: smallpox pustules are all very nearly the same size since the viral effect progresses more uniformly. A variety of laboratory methods are available for detecting chickenpox in evaluation of suspected smallpox cases.
Currently, there is no proven, safe treatment for monkeypox. The people who have been infected can be vaccinated up to 14 days after exposure.
Vaccination against smallpox is assumed to provide protection against human monkeypox infection considering they are closely related viruses and the vaccine protects animals from experimental lethal monkeypox challenge. This has not been conclusively demonstrated in humans because routine smallpox vaccination was discontinued following the apparent eradication of smallpox and due to safety concerns with the vaccine.
Smallpox vaccine has been reported to reduce the risk of monkeypox among previously vaccinated persons in Africa. The decrease in immunity to poxviruses in exposed populations is a factor in the prevalence of monkeypox. It is attributed both to waning cross-protective immunity among those vaccinated before 1980 when mass smallpox vaccinations were discontinued, and to the gradually increasing proportion of unvaccinated individuals. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that persons investigating monkeypox outbreaks and involved in caring for infected individuals or animals should receive a smallpox vaccination to protect against monkeypox. Persons who have had close or intimate contact with individuals or animals confirmed to have monkeypox should also be vaccinated.
CDC does not recommend preexposure vaccination for unexposed veterinarians, veterinary staff, or animal control officers, unless such persons are involved in field investigations.
The earliest procedure used to prevent smallpox was inoculation (known as variolation after the introduction of smallpox vaccine to avoid possible confusion), which likely occurred in India, Africa, and China well before the practice arrived in Europe. The idea that inoculation originated in India has been challenged, as few of the ancient Sanskrit medical texts described the process of inoculation. Accounts of inoculation against smallpox in China can be found as early as the late 10th century, and the procedure was widely practiced by the 16th century, during the Ming dynasty. If successful, inoculation produced lasting immunity to smallpox. Because the person was infected with variola virus, a severe infection could result, and the person could transmit smallpox to others. Variolation had a 0.5–2 percent mortality rate, considerably less than the 20–30 percent mortality rate of the disease. Two reports on the Chinese practice of inoculation were received by the Royal Society in London in 1700; one by Dr. Martin Lister who received a report by an employee of the East India Company stationed in China and another by Clopton Havers.
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu observed smallpox inoculation during her stay in the Ottoman Empire, writing detailed accounts of the practice in her letters, and enthusiastically promoted the procedure in England upon her return in 1718. In 1721, Cotton Mather and colleagues provoked controversy in Boston by inoculating hundreds. In 1796, Edward Jenner, a doctor in Berkeley, Gloucestershire, rural England, discovered that immunity to smallpox could be produced by inoculating a person with material from a cowpox lesion. Cowpox is a poxvirus in the same family as variola. Jenner called the material used for inoculation vaccine, from the root word "vacca", which is Latin for cow. The procedure was much safer than variolation, and did not involve a risk of smallpox transmission. Vaccination to prevent smallpox was soon practiced all over the world. During the 19th century, the cowpox virus used for smallpox vaccination was replaced by vaccinia virus. Vaccinia is in the same family as cowpox and variola, but is genetically distinct from both. The origin of vaccinia virus and how it came to be in the vaccine are not known. According to Voltaire (1742), the Turks derived their use of inoculation to neighbouring Circassia. Voltaire does not speculate on where the Circassians derived their technique from, though he reports that the Chinese have practiced it "these hundred years".
The current formulation of smallpox vaccine is a live virus preparation of infectious vaccinia virus. The vaccine is given using a bifurcated (two-pronged) needle that is dipped into the vaccine solution. The needle is used to prick the skin (usually the upper arm) a number of times in a few seconds. If successful, a red and itchy bump develops at the vaccine site in three or four days. In the first week, the bump becomes a large blister (called a "Jennerian vesicle") which fills with pus, and begins to drain. During the second week, the blister begins to dry up and a scab forms. The scab falls off in the third week, leaving a small scar.
The antibodies induced by vaccinia vaccine are cross-protective for other orthopoxviruses, such as monkeypox, cowpox, and variola (smallpox) viruses. Neutralizing antibodies are detectable 10 days after first-time vaccination, and seven days after revaccination. Historically, the vaccine has been effective in preventing smallpox infection in 95 percent of those vaccinated. Smallpox vaccination provides a high level of immunity for three to five years and decreasing immunity thereafter. If a person is vaccinated again later, immunity lasts even longer. Studies of smallpox cases in Europe in the 1950s and 1960s demonstrated that the fatality rate among persons vaccinated less than 10 years before exposure was 1.3 percent; it was 7 percent among those vaccinated 11 to 20 years prior, and 11 percent among those vaccinated 20 or more years prior to infection. By contrast, 52 percent of unvaccinated persons died.
There are side effects and risks associated with the smallpox vaccine. In the past, about 1 out of 1,000 people vaccinated for the first time experienced serious, but non-life-threatening, reactions, including toxic or allergic reaction at the site of the vaccination (erythema multiforme), spread of the vaccinia virus to other parts of the body, and to other individuals. Potentially life-threatening reactions occurred in 14 to 500 people out of every 1 million people vaccinated for the first time. Based on past experience, it is estimated that 1 or 2 people in 1 million (0.000198 percent) who receive the vaccine may die as a result, most often the result of postvaccinial encephalitis or severe necrosis in the area of vaccination (called progressive vaccinia).
Given these risks, as smallpox became effectively eradicated and the number of naturally occurring cases fell below the number of vaccine-induced illnesses and deaths, routine childhood vaccination was discontinued in the United States in 1972, and was abandoned in most European countries in the early 1970s. Routine vaccination of health care workers was discontinued in the U.S. in 1976, and among military recruits in 1990 (although military personnel deploying to the Middle East and Korea still receive the vaccination). By 1986, routine vaccination had ceased in all countries. It is now primarily recommended for laboratory workers at risk for occupational exposure.
The diagnosis of chickenpox is primarily based on the signs and symptoms, with typical early symptoms followed by a characteristic rash. Confirmation of the diagnosis is by examination of the fluid within the vesicles of the rash, or by testing blood for evidence of an acute immunologic response.
Vesicular fluid can be examined with a Tzanck smear, or by testing for direct fluorescent antibody. The fluid can also be "cultured", whereby attempts are made to grow the virus from a fluid sample. Blood tests can be used to identify a response to acute infection (IgM) or previous infection and subsequent immunity (IgG).
Prenatal diagnosis of fetal varicella infection can be performed using ultrasound, though a delay of 5 weeks following primary maternal infection is advised. A PCR (DNA) test of the mother's amniotic fluid can also be performed, though the risk of spontaneous abortion due to the amniocentesis procedure is higher than the risk of the baby's developing fetal varicella syndrome.
The spread of chickenpox can be prevented by isolating affected individuals. Contagion is by exposure to respiratory droplets, or direct contact with lesions, within a period lasting from three days before the onset of the rash, to four days after the onset of the rash. The chickenpox virus is susceptible to disinfectants, notably chlorine bleach (i.e., sodium hypochlorite). Like all enveloped viruses, it is sensitive to desiccation, heat and detergents.
Cowpox is an infectious disease caused by the cowpox virus. The virus, part of the orthopoxvirus family, is closely related to the "vaccinia" virus. The virus is zoonotic, meaning that it is transferable between species, such as from animal to human. The transferral of the disease was first observed in dairymaids who touched the udders of infected cows and consequently developed the signature pustules on their hands. Cowpox is more commonly found in animals other than bovines, such as rodents. Cowpox is similar to, but much milder than, the highly contagious and often deadly smallpox disease. Its close resemblance to the mild form of smallpox and the observation that dairymaids were immune from smallpox inspired the first smallpox vaccine, created and administered by English physician Edward Jenner.
The word “vaccination,” coined by Jenner in 1796, is derived from the Latin root "vaccinus", meaning of or from the cow. Once vaccinated, a patient develops antibodies that make them immune to cowpox, but they also develop immunity to the smallpox virus, or "Variola virus". The cowpox vaccinations and later incarnations proved so successful that in 1980, the World Health Organization announced that smallpox was the first disease to be eradicated by vaccination efforts worldwide. Other orthopox viruses remain prevalent in certain communities and continue to infect humans, such as the cowpox virus (CPXV) in Europe, vaccinia in Brazil, and monkeypox virus in Central and West Africa.
Lesions of paravaccinia virus will clear up with little to no scaring after 4 to 8 weeks. An antibiotic may be prescribed by a physician to help prevent bacterial infection of the lesion area. In rare cases, surgical removal of the lesions can be done to help increase rate of healing, and help minimize risk of bacterial or fungal infection. Upon healing, no long term side effects have been reported.
Diagnosis of paravaccinia virus will often come from Polymerase chain reaction screening ordered by their physician. However, due to how common paravaccinia virus is in rural areas, individuals typically do not seek professional help in diagnosis. Instead individuals may refer to people with local knowledge of the cattle in their area such as ranchers, or veterinarians who have some familiarity with the infections in the region.
Alastrim, also known as variola minor, was the milder strain of the variola virus that caused smallpox. The last known case of variola minor was in Somalia, Africa in 1977. Smallpox was formally declared eradicated in May 1980.
Variola minor is of the genus orthopoxvirus, which are DNA viruses that replicate in the cytoplasm of the affected cell, rather than in its nucleus. Like variola major, alastrim was spread through inhalation of the virus in the air, which could occur through face-to-face contact or through fomites. Infection with variola minor conferred immunity against the more dangerous variola major.
Variola minor was a less common form of the virus, and much less deadly. Although alastrim had the same incubation period and pathogenetic stages as smallpox, alastrim is believed to have had a mortality rate of less than 1%, as compared to smallpox's 30%.
Because alastrim was a less debilitating disease than smallpox, patients were more frequently ambulant and thus able to infect others more rapidly. As such, variola minor swept through the USA, Great Britain, and South Africa in the early 20th century, becoming the dominant form of the disease in those areas and thus rapidly decreasing mortality rates.
Alastrim was also called white pox, kaffir pox, Cuban itch, West Indian pox, milk pox, and pseudovariola.
Like smallpox, alastrim has now been totally eradicated from the globe thanks to the 1960s Global Smallpox Eradication campaign. The last case of indigenous variola minor was reported in a Somalian cook, Ali Maow Maalin, in October 1977, and smallpox was officially declared eradicated worldwide in May 1980.
Cowpox originates on the udders or teats of cows. It is classified as a zoonotic disease, which means it can be transferred from animals to humans and vice versa. Cowpox is an infectious disease. So, the disease can manifest on cows in environments where bacteria thrive, due to unsanitary conditions, or randomly. Cowpox symptoms are similar in whichever host they infect: cow, cat, human. Cowpox symptoms include round, pus filled lesions on the skin at the site of infection. In most cases of humans, the lesions develop on the inner and outer parts of the hand and fingers. In some cases, the infected person can develop a mild fever or inflammation around the lesions. Cowpox can be transferred from human to human by contact of the infected site to another individual. It is very similar in pathology and structure in contrast to small pox. However, cowpox has increased activity in between the ectoderm and endoderm layers of the human skin. Cowpox includes both A type bodies and B type inclusion bodies which largely impacts the pathology of the disease.
Variola caprina (goat pox) is a contagious viral disease caused by a pox virus that affects goats. The virus usually spreads via the respiratory system, and sometimes spreads through abraded skin. It is most likely to occur in crowded stock. Sources of the virus include cutaneous lesions, saliva, nasal secretions and faeces. There are two types of the disease: the papulo-vesicular form and the nodular form (stone pox). The incubation period is usually 8–13 days, but it may be as short as four days.
It is thought the same virus spreads sheep pox, to which European sheep breeds are highly susceptible. The virus may be present in dried scabs for up to six months.
In endemic areas the morbidity rate is 70–90% and the mortality rate is 5–10%. The mortality rate may reach nearly 100% in imported animals. Resistant animals may show only a mild form of the disease, which may be missed as only a few lesions are present, usually around the ears or the tail.
Pigeon pox is a viral disease to which pigeons are susceptible. There is a live viral vaccine available (ATCvet code: ). Pigeon pox is caused by a virus that is spread by mosquitoes and dirty water but not in droppings.
Eczema vaccinatum is a serious medical condition that requires immediate and intensive medical care. Therapy has been supportive, such as antibiotics, fluid replacement, antipyretics and analgesics, skin healing, etc.; vaccinia immune globulin (VIG) could be very useful but supplies may be deficient as of 2006. Antiviral drugs have been examined for activity in pox viruses and cidofovir is believed to display potential in this area.
Key measures to prevent outbreaks of the disease are maintaining hygiene standards and using screening to exclude persons with suspicious infections from engaging in contact sports. A skin check performed before practice or competition takes place can identify individuals who should be evaluated, and if necessary treated by a healthcare professional. In certain situations, i.e. participating in wrestling camps, consider placing participants on valacyclovir 1GM daily for the duration of camp. 10-year study has shown 89.5% reduction in outbreaks and probable prevention of contracting the virus. Medication must be started 5 days before participation to ensure proper concentrations exist.
Goat pox is found in the part of Africa north of the equator, the Middle East, Central Asia and India. It may be spread between animals by:
- Direct contact
- Indirect transmission by contaminated implements, vehicles or products such as litter or fodder
- Indirect transmission by insects (mechanical vectors).
- Contamination by inhalation, intradermal or subcutaneous inoculation, or by respiratory, transcutaneous and transmucosal routes
Herpes outbreaks should be treated with antiviral medications like Acyclovir, Valacyclovir, or Famcyclovir, each of which is available in tablet form.
Oral antiviral medication is often used as a prophylactic to suppress or prevent outbreaks from occurring. The recommended dosage for suppression therapy for recurrent outbreaks is 1,000 mg of valacyclovir once a day or 400 mg Acyclovir taken twice a day. In addition to preventing outbreaks, these medications greatly reduce the chance of infecting someone while the patient is not having an outbreak.
Often, people have regular outbreaks of anywhere from 1 to 10 times per year, but stress (because the virus lies next to the nerve cells), or a weakened immune system due to a temporary or permanent illness can also spark outbreaks. Some people become infected but fail to ever have a single outbreak, although they remain carriers of the virus and can pass the disease on to an uninfected person through asymptomatic shedding (when the virus is active on the skin but rashes or blisters do not appear).
The use of antiviral medications has been shown to be effective in preventing acquisition of the herpes virus. Specific usage of these agents focus on wrestling camps where intense contact between individuals occur on a daily basis over several weeks. They have also been used for large outbreaks during seasonal competition, but further research needs to be performed to verify efficacy.
A culture of vesicular fluid will grow vaccinia virus. Skin biopsy shows necrotic epidermal cells with intranuclear inclusions.
Dark ground microscopy of serous fluid from a chancre may be used to make an immediate diagnosis. Hospitals do not always have equipment or experienced staff members, and testing must be done within 10 minutes of acquiring the sample. Sensitivity has been reported to be nearly 80%; therefore the test can only be used to confirm a diagnosis, but not to rule one out. Two other tests can be carried out on a sample from the chancre: direct fluorescent antibody testing and nucleic acid amplification tests. Direct fluorescent testing uses antibodies tagged with fluorescein, which attach to specific syphilis proteins, while nucleic acid amplification uses techniques, such as the polymerase chain reaction, to detect the presence of specific syphilis genes. These tests are not as time-sensitive, as they do not require living bacteria to make the diagnosis.
Blood tests are divided into nontreponemal and treponemal tests.
Nontreponemal tests are used initially, and include venereal disease research laboratory (VDRL) and rapid plasma reagin (RPR) tests. False positives on the nontreponemal tests can occur with some viral infections, such as varicella (chickenpox) and measles. False positives can also occur with lymphoma, tuberculosis, malaria, endocarditis, connective tissue disease, and pregnancy.
Because of the possibility of false positives with nontreponemal tests, confirmation is required with a treponemal test, such as treponemal pallidum particle agglutination (TPHA) or fluorescent treponemal antibody absorption test (FTA-Abs). Treponemal antibody tests usually become positive two to five weeks after the initial infection. Neurosyphilis is diagnosed by finding high numbers of leukocytes (predominately lymphocytes) and high protein levels in the cerebrospinal fluid in the setting of a known syphilis infection.
Hemorrhagic smallpox, sometimes called bloody pox, fulminant smallpox, and blackpox, is a severe and rare form of smallpox and is usually fatal. Like all forms of smallpox it is caused by the variola virus. It is characterized by an incubation period of 7 to 14 days. It has two stages, the first begins with fever, headache, chills, nausea, vomiting and severe muscle aches. The skin flushes in a deep-purple, uneven pattern across the face. The early stage is often mistaken for measles. The late stage is characterized by the appearance of small blisters resembling a severe form of chickenpox. These small blisters then flatten until they are even with the skin, and change into reddish lesions similar to those seen in measles. The skin then turns a deep purple. Lesions appear inside the mouth and active bleeding from oral and nasal mucous membranes is common. This is followed by active bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract, and blood appears in the stool and urine. Blood studies resemble the clinical values of disseminated intravascular coagulation.
It is important to reduce the amount of environmental contamination to prevent the spread of insects or fomites. Owners should regularly apply insect repellent and routinely check their horses for open wounds to prevent chance of infection. A regular manure management program is recommended, including removal of soiled feed and bedding, as the bacteria can survive in hay and shavings for up to two months. Since the disease lives in the ground and is spread by flies, pest control is a good defense but not a guarantee. Horses being introduced to new environments should be quarantined and any infected horses should be isolated to prevent spread of the bacteria. There is currently no vaccination for Pigeon Fever.
This bacterium is present in soil and is transmitted to horses through open wounds, abrasions or mucous membranes.
An emerging infectious disease (EID) is an infectious disease whose incidence has increased in the past 20 years and could increase in the near future. Emerging infections account for at least 12% of all human pathogens. EIDs are caused by newly identified species or strains (e.g. Severe acute respiratory syndrome, HIV/AIDS) that may have evolved from a known infection (e.g. influenza) or spread to a new population (e.g. West Nile fever) or to an area undergoing ecologic transformation (e.g. Lyme disease), or be "reemerging" infections, like drug resistant tuberculosis. Nosocomial (hospital-acquired) infections, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus are emerging in hospitals, and extremely problematic in that they are resistant to many antibiotics. Of growing concern are adverse synergistic interactions between emerging diseases and other infectious and non-infectious conditions leading to the development of novel syndemics. Many emerging diseases are zoonotic - an animal reservoir incubates the organism, with only occasional transmission into human populations.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publishes a journal "Emerging Infectious Diseases" that identifies the following factors contributing to disease emergence:
- Microbial adaption; e.g. genetic drift and genetic shift in Influenza A
- Changing human susceptibility; e.g. mass immunocompromisation with HIV/AIDS
- Climate and weather; e.g. diseases with zoonotic vectors such as West Nile Disease (transmitted by mosquitoes) are moving further from the tropics as the climate warms
- Change in human demographics and trade; e.g. rapid travel enabled SARS to rapidly propagate around the globe
- Economic development; e.g. use of antibiotics to increase meat yield of farmed cows leads to antibiotic resistance
- Breakdown of public health; e.g. the current situation in Zimbabwe
- Poverty and social inequality; e.g. tuberculosis is primarily a problem in low-income areas
- War and famine
- Bioterrorism; e.g. 2001 Anthrax attacks
- Dam and irrigation system construction; e.g. malaria and other mosquito borne diseases