METHODS: We examined e-cigarette market data from the Euromonitor Global Market Information Database (GMID) Passport database, searched in the academic literature, grey literature and news archives for any reports or studies of e-cigarette related diseases or injuries, e-cigarette marketing, and e-cigarette policy responses in Southeast Asian countries, and browsed the websites of online e-cigarette retailers catering to the region's active e-cigarette markets.
RESULTS: In 2019, e-cigarettes were sold in six Southeast Asian markets with a total market value of $595 million, projected to grow to $766 million by 2023. E-commerce is a significant and growing sales channel in the region, with most of the popular or featured brands in online shops originating from China. Southeast Asian youth are targeted with a wide variety of flavours, trendy designs and point of sale promotions, and several e-cigarette related injuries and diseases have been reported in the region. Policy responses vary considerably between countries, ranging from strict bans to no or partial regulations.
CONCLUSION: Although Southeast Asia's e-cigarette market is relatively nascent, this is likely to change if transnationals invest more heavily in the region. Populous countries with weak e-cigarette regulations, notably Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines, are desirable targets for the transnationals. Regulatory action is needed to prevent e-cigarette use from becoming entrenched into these societies, especially among young people.
METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We performed a literature review, whole genome sequencing on 145 GBS isolates collected from six Southeast Asian countries, and phylogenetic analysis on 7,468 GBS sequences including 227 variants of ST283 from humans and animals. Although almost absent outside Asia, ST283 was found in all invasive Asian collections analysed, from 1995 to 2017. It accounted for 29/38 (76%) human isolates in Lao PDR, 102/139 (73%) in Thailand, 4/13 (31%) in Vietnam, and 167/739 (23%) in Singapore. ST283 and its variants were found in 62/62 (100%) tilapia from 14 outbreak sites in Malaysia and Vietnam, in seven fish species in Singapore markets, and a diseased frog in China.
CONCLUSIONS: GBS ST283 is widespread in Southeast Asia, where it accounts for a large proportion of bacteraemic GBS, and causes disease and economic loss in aquaculture. If human ST283 is fishborne, as in the Singapore outbreak, then GBS sepsis in Thailand and Lao PDR is predominantly a foodborne disease. However, whether transmission is from aquaculture to humans, or vice versa, or involves an unidentified reservoir remains unknown. Creation of cross-border collaborations in human and animal health are needed to complete the epidemiological picture.