Eurosurveillance, Volume 11, Issue 9, 01 September 2006
Table of Contents
Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV), a systemic sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by a variety of the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis, occurs rarely in the Western world . However, in January 2004, public health officials in the Netherlands noted an outbreak of cases of LGV proctitis among men who have sex with men (MSM) . Since then, cases have been reported from several European countries, and the United States of America and Canada. In this issue three countries report on the current status of LGV [3-5].
In 2004, an outbreak of LGV was detected in MSM in the Netherlands. By January 2006, 179 confirmed cases of LGV had been reported; 65 (retrospectively) in 2002/2003, 76 in 2004 and 38 in 2005.
The evolution of the LGV outbreak appears to have slowed down and only a few cases were found in the first months of 2006.
A resurgence of lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) has been observed in several European countries. LGV is not a mandatorily notifiable disease in Germany. Reports of LGV cases have actively been collected by the Robert Koch-Institut since 2004 to describe the outbreak and estimate the extent of the LGV problem in Germany.
Updates on the LGV outbreak were published in the German national epidemiological bulletin. Physicians were asked to send their samples to a laboratory for genotyping. A possible case was defined as a person with symptoms of proctitis and/or inguinal lymph node swelling and a positive chlamydia serology. A probable case had in addition a positive chlamydia rectal or urinary PCR test. A case was confirmed if the genotype L1-L3 was identified based on sequence analysis of omp1 gene sequences.
Since 2003, LGV has been reported in 78 male patients in Germany. Of these, 61 patients were confirmed as genotype L2. Fifty eight out of 78 patients (74%) are known to be men who have sex with men (MSM). Fifty five patients (71%) had rectal symptoms and 49 (63%) knew they were HIV positive. Sixty two (79%) of the patients were residents of Berlin or Hamburg.
LGV has emerged in MSM in Germany at the same time as in other European countries. It is thought that LGV may become endemic in the MSM community in German metropolitan areas, because the number of reported patients with LGV continues to increase. The increase in the number of LGV cases and the high HIV prevalence in LGV patients are of great public health concern. Clinicians and MSM may not be sufficiently aware of the disease, and existing efforts to promote awareness and prevention of sexually transmitted infections and HIV need to be strengthened.
Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by Chlamydia trachomatis strains belonging to the L1, L2 or L3 genotype.
An alert about an outbreak of LGV among MSM in the Netherlands was published in January 2004. The first cases of rectal LGV in France were retrospectively diagnosed in March 2004 and sentinel surveillance for LGV was implemented in April 2004.
Most of the participating centres were located in the cities of Paris and Bordeaux. Only confirmed rectal LGV cases were included in the surveillance. Rectal specimens from men that were found to be positive for C trachomatis by PCR were sent to the National Reference Centre for Chlamydia infection for genotyping. Simple epidemiological data provided by clinicians and genotyping results were sent to the Institut de Veille Sanitaire (InVS) where data were anonymously recorded.
A total of 328 C. trachomatis rectal strains isolated in men were genotyped by the end of December 2005. Of these, 244 (74%) were LGV strains belonging to the L2 genotype. No L1 or L3 C. trachomatis genotype was found.
Diagnosis was made retrospectively for 46 cases. The median age of patients with LGV was 39 years. HIV status was known for 96 patients: 82/96 (85%) were HIV-infected. Most LGV cases were diagnosed in the Paris area (92%). Among the remaining 26% C. trachomatis strains, genotypes Da and G were the most frequent.
As with syphilis in recent years, the emergence of LGV in Europe is mainly affecting HIV-infected MSM. The screening and treatment of STIs should be included in the clinical follow-up of all HIV-infected MSM.
After an initial peak in the mid-1980s, HIV incidence in men who have sex with men (MSM) declined in most western industrialised countries and then levelled off during the 1990s. Since the late 1990s, increasing numbers of newly diagnosed HIV infections in MSM have been observed in the majority of countries with large and visible MSM communities.
Based on a review of national and international behavioural surveillance studies of MSM and national HIV surveillance data, we propose a model for the HIV epidemic in MSM in Germany.
The model includes aspects such as individuals’ increasing numbers of sexual partners and increasing frequency of unprotected anal intercourse, conditional condom use based on real or perceived HIV status of sexual partners (HIV ‘serosorting’) and sexual role assignments (insertive versus receptive based on HIV status (HIV ‘seropositioning’), selection of partners and formation of sexual networks through seeking sexual partners on the internet, the introduction of HAART and changing HAART treatment strategies. All these aspects have been shown or are suspected to increase or decrease HIV transmission risk in MSM.
We conclude that increasing HIV incidence in MSM in recent years has been fuelled by a spread of HIV in high-risk sexual networks with an increasing proportion of infections transmitted during highly infective early HIV infection, acquired mostly from casual sexual partners.
Pneumococcal disease (Pnc) is responsible for invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) – mainly meningitis and septicaemia - and is an infection of public health importance in Europe. Following the licensure of an effective conjugate vaccine (PCV) in Europe, several European countries, including France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom, are introducing universal Pnc childhood immunisation programmes. As part of a European Union (EU) funded project on pneumococcal disease (Pnc-EURO), a questionnaire was distributed in late 2003 to each of the current 25 European Union member states as well as Norway and Switzerland to get a clearer picture of national surveillance for invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) in Europe. All respondents were contacted in 2006 and asked to provide an update to the questionnaire.
Twenty two of the 27 countries targeted completed and returned the questionnaire. Four of the 22 responding countries have no reporting requirement for IPD. Eighteen countries reported a total of 27 national surveillance systems. Case definitions employed in these systems differed. Fourteen of the 18 countries reported collection of IPD strains to a single reference lab for serotyping and in 12 countries to a single laboratory for susceptibility testing. Thirteen countries undertook laboratory quality assurance. Information on age and sex were widely collected, but only 11/27 systems collected information on pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine status, while 5/27 systems collected information on pneumococcal conjugate vaccine status. The incidence of IPD reported in each of the 18 countries ranged from 0.4 to 20/100 000 in the general population, with a total of 23 470 IPD cases reported over a 12 month period.
Surveillance for IPD in Europe is very heterogeneous. Several countries lack surveillance systems. Large differences in reported disease incidence may reflect both true differences, and also variations in patient and healthcare factors, including surveillance. If IPD surveillance in Europe can be strengthened, countries will be able to make informed decisions regarding the introduction of new pneumococcal vaccines and also to monitor and compare the impact and effectiveness of new programmes.
Eurosurveillance Monthly Release: 01 September 2006
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