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Transcriptome Profiling and Genetic Study Reveal Amplified Carboxylesterase Genes Implicated in Temephos Resistance, in the Asian Tiger Mosquito Aedes albopictus

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 22 May 2015 - 9:00pm

by Linda Grigoraki, Jacques Lagnel, Ilias Kioulos, Anastasia Kampouraki, Evangelia Morou, Pierrick Labbé, Mylene Weill, John Vontas

Background

The control of Aedes albopictus, a major vector for viral diseases, such as dengue fever and chikungunya, has been largely reliant on the use of the larvicide temephos for many decades. This insecticide remains a primary control tool for several countries and it is a potential reliable reserve, for emergency epidemics or new invasion cases, in regions such as Europe which have banned its use. Resistance to temephos has been detected in some regions, but the mechanism responsible for the trait has not been investigated.

Principal findings

Temephos resistance was identified in an Aedes albopictus population isolated from Greece, and subsequently selected in the laboratory for a few generations. Biochemical assays suggested the association of elevated carboxylesterases (CCE), but not target site resistance (altered AChE), with this phenotype. Illumina transcriptomic analysis revealed the up-regulation of three transcripts encoding CCE genes in the temephos resistant strain. CCEae3a and CCEae6a showed the most striking up-regulation (27- and 12-folds respectively, compared to the reference susceptible strain); these genes have been previously shown to be involved in temephos resistance also in Ae. aegypti. Gene amplification was associated with elevated transcription levels of both CCEae6a and CCEae3a genes. Genetic crosses confirmed the genetic link between CCEae6a and CCEae3a amplification and temephos resistance, by demonstrating a strong association between survival to temephos exposure and gene copy numbers in the F2 generation. Other transcripts, encoding cytochrome P450s, UDP-glycosyltransferases (UGTs), cuticle and lipid biosynthesis proteins, were upregulated in resistant mosquitoes, indicating that the co-evolution of multiple mechanisms might contribute to resistance.

Significance

The identification of specific genes associated with insecticide resistance in Ae. albopictus for the first time is an important pre-requirement for insecticide resistance management. The genomic resources that were produced will be useful to the community, to study relevant aspects of Ae. albopictus biology.

Prevalence and Transmission of Trypanosoma cruzi in People of Rural Communities of the High Jungle of Northern Peru

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 22 May 2015 - 9:00pm

by Karen A. Alroy, Christine Huang, Robert H. Gilman, Victor R. Quispe-Machaca, Morgan A. Marks, Jenny Ancca-Juarez, Miranda Hillyard, Manuela Verastegui, Gerardo Sanchez, Lilia Cabrera, Elisa Vidal, Erica M. W. Billig, Vitaliano A. Cama, César Náquira, Caryn Bern, Michael Z. Levy, Working Group on Chagas Disease in Peru

Background

Vector-borne transmission of Trypanosoma cruzi is seen exclusively in the Americas where an estimated 8 million people are infected with the parasite. Significant research in southern Peru has been conducted to understand T. cruzi infection and vector control, however, much less is known about the burden of infection and epidemiology in northern Peru.

Methodology

A cross-sectional study was conducted to estimate the seroprevalence of T. cruzi infection in humans (n=611) and domestic animals [dogs (n=106) and guinea pigs (n=206)] in communities of Cutervo Province, Peru. Sampling and diagnostic strategies differed according to species. An entomological household study (n=208) was conducted to identify the triatomine burden and species composition, as well as the prevalence of T. cruzi in vectors. Electrocardiograms (EKG) were performed on a subset of participants (n=90 T. cruzi infected participants and 170 age and sex-matched controls). The seroprevalence of T. cruzi among humans, dogs, and guinea pigs was 14.9% (95% CI: 12.2 – 18.0%), 19.8% (95% CI: 12.7- 28.7%) and 3.3% (95% CI: 1.4 – 6.9%) respectively. In one community, the prevalence of T. cruzi infection was 17.2% (95% CI: 9.6 - 24.7%) among participants < 15 years, suggesting recent transmission. Increasing age, positive triatomines in a participant's house, and ownership of a T. cruzi positive guinea pig were independent correlates of T. cruzi infection. Only one species of triatomine was found, Panstrongylus lignarius, formerly P. herreri. Approximately forty percent (39.9%, 95% CI: 33.2 - 46.9%) of surveyed households were infested with this vector and 14.9% (95% CI: 10.4 - 20.5%) had at least one triatomine positive for T. cruzi. The cardiac abnormality of right bundle branch block was rare, but only identified in seropositive individuals.

Conclusions

Our research documents a substantial prevalence of T. cruzi infection in Cutervo and highlights a need for greater attention and vector control efforts in northern Peru.

The Heme Transport Capacity of LHR1 Determines the Extent of Virulence in Leishmania amazonensis

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 22 May 2015 - 9:00pm

by Rebecca L. Renberg, Xiaojing Yuan, Tamika K. Samuel, Danilo C. Miguel, Iqbal Hamza, Norma W. Andrews, Andrew R. Flannery

Leishmania spp. are trypanosomatid parasites that replicate intracellularly in macrophages, causing serious human morbidity and mortality throughout the world. Trypanosomatid protozoa cannot synthesize heme, so must acquire this essential cofactor from their environment. Earlier studies identified LHR1 as a Leishmania amazonensis transmembrane protein that mediates heme uptake. Null mutants of LHR1 are not viable and single knockout strains have reduced virulence, but very little is known about the properties of LHR1 directly associated with heme transport. Here, we use functional assays in Saccharomyces cerevisiae to show that specific tyrosine residues within the first three predicted transmembrane domains of LHR1 are required for efficient heme uptake. These tyrosines are unique to LHR1, consistent with the low similarity between LHR1 and its corresponding homologs in C. elegans and human. Substitution of these tyrosines in LHR1 resulted in varying degrees of heme transport inhibition, phenotypes that closely mirrored the impaired ability of L. amazonensis to replicate as intracellular amastigotes in macrophages and generate cutaneous lesions in mice. Taken together, our results imply that the mechanism for heme transport by LHR1 is distinctive and may have adapted to secure heme, a limiting cofactor, inside the host. Since LHR1 is significantly divergent from the human heme transporter HRG1, our findings lay the groundwork for selective targeting of LHR1 by small molecule antagonists.

Competence of Cimex lectularius Bed Bugs for the Transmission of Bartonella quintana, the Agent of Trench Fever

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 22 May 2015 - 9:00pm

by Hamza Leulmi, Idir Bitam, Jean Michel Berenger, Hubert Lepidi, Jean Marc Rolain, Lionel Almeras, Didier Raoult, Philippe Parola

Background

Bartonella quintana, the etiologic agent of trench fever and other human diseases, is transmitted by the feces of body lice. Recently, this bacterium has been detected in other arthropod families such as bed bugs, which begs the question of their involvement in B. quintana transmission. Although several infectious pathogens have been reported and are suggested to be transmitted by bed bugs, the evidence regarding their competence as vectors is unclear.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Bed bugs at the adult and instar developmental stages were fed three successive human blood meals inoculated with B. quintana bacterium from day one (D1) to D5; subsequently they were fed with pathogen-free human blood until the end of the experiment. Bed bugs and feces were collected in time series, to evaluate their capacities to acquire, multiply and expel viable B. quintana using molecular biology, immunohistochemistry and cultures assays. B. quintana was detected molecularly in 100% of randomly selected experimentally infected bed bug specimens (D3). The monitoring of B. quintana in bed bug feces showed that the bacterium was detectable starting on the 3rd day post-infection (pi) and persisted until day 18±1 pi. Although immunohistochemistry assays localized the bacteria to the gastrointestinal bed bug gut, the detection of B. quintana in the first and second instar larva stages suggested a vertical non-transovarial transmission of the bacterium.

Conclusion

The present work demonstrated for the first time that bed bugs can acquire, maintain for more than 2 weeks and release viable B. quintana organisms following a stercorarial shedding. We also observed the vertical transmission of the bacterium to their progeny. Although the biological role of bed bugs in the transmission of B. quintana under natural conditions has yet to be confirmed, the present work highlights the need to reconsider monitoring of these arthropods for the transmission of human pathogens.

Pan-phylum Comparison of Nematode Metabolic Potential

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 22 May 2015 - 9:00pm

by Rahul Tyagi, Bruce A. Rosa, Warren G. Lewis, Makedonka Mitreva

Nematodes are among the most important causative pathogens of neglected tropical diseases. The increased availability of genomic and transcriptomic data for many understudied nematode species provides a great opportunity to investigate different aspects of their biology. Increasingly, metabolic potential of pathogens is recognized as a critical determinant governing their development, growth and pathogenicity. Comparing metabolic potential among species with distinct trophic ecologies can provide insights on overall biology or molecular adaptations. Furthermore, ascertaining gene expression at pathway level can help in understanding metabolic dynamics over development. Comparison of biochemical pathways (or subpathways, i.e. pathway modules) among related species can also retrospectively indicate potential mistakes in gene-calling and functional annotation. We show with numerous illustrative case studies that comparisons at the level of pathway modules have the potential to uncover biological insights while remaining computationally tractable. Here, we reconstruct and compare metabolic modules found in the deduced proteomes of 13 nematodes and 10 non-nematode species (including hosts of the parasitic nematode species). We observed that the metabolic potential is, in general, concomitant with phylogenetic and/or ecological similarity. Varied metabolic strategies are required among the nematodes, with only 8 out of 51 pathway modules being completely conserved. Enzyme comparison based on topology of metabolic modules uncovered diversification between parasite and host that can potentially guide therapeutic intervention. Gene expression data from 4 nematode species were used to study metabolic dynamics over their life cycles. We report unexpected differential metabolism between immature and mature microfilariae of the human filarial parasite Brugia malayi. A set of genes potentially important for parasitism is also reported, based on an analysis of gene expression in C. elegans and the human hookworm Necator americanus. We illustrate how analyzing and comparing metabolism at the level of pathway modules can improve existing knowledge of nematode metabolic potential and can provide parasitism related insights. Our reconstruction and comparison of nematode metabolic pathways at a pan-phylum and inter-phylum level enabled determination of phylogenetic restrictions and differential expression of pathways. A visualization of our results is available at http://nematode.net and the program for identification of module completeness (modDFS) is freely available at SourceForge. The methods reported will help biologists to predict biochemical potential of any organism with available deduced proteome, to direct experiments and test hypotheses.

Drivers of Bushmeat Hunting and Perceptions of Zoonoses in Nigerian Hunting Communities

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 22 May 2015 - 9:00pm

by Sagan Friant, Sarah B. Paige, Tony L. Goldberg

Bushmeat hunting threatens biodiversity and increases the risk of zoonotic pathogen transmission. Nevertheless, limited information exists on patterns of contact with wildlife in communities that practice bushmeat hunting, especially with respect to social drivers of hunting behavior. We used interview responses from hunters and non-hunters in rural hunting communities in Nigeria to: 1) quantify contact rates with wildlife, 2) identify specific hunting behaviors that increase frequency of contact, 3) identify socioeconomic factors that predispose individuals to hunt, and 4) measure perceptions of risk. Participants engaged in a variety of behaviors that increased contact with wild animals, including: butchering to sell (37%), being injured (14%), using body parts for traditional medicine (19%), collecting carcasses found in forests and/or farms (18%), and keeping as pets (16%). Hunters came into contact with wildlife significantly more than non-hunters, even through non-hunting exposure pathways. Participants reported hunting rodents (95%), ungulates (93%), carnivores (93%), primates (87%), and bats (42%), among other prey. Reported hunting frequencies within taxonomic groups of prey were different for different hunting behaviors. Young age, lower education level, larger household size, having a father who hunts, and cultural group were all associated with becoming a hunter. Fifty-five percent of respondents were aware that they could contract diseases from wild animals, but only 26% of these individuals reported taking protective measures. Overall, hunters in this setting frequently contact a diversity of prey in risky ways, and the decision to become a hunter stems from family tradition, modified by economic necessity. Conservation and public health interventions in such settings may be most efficient when they capitalize on local knowledge and target root socio-economic and cultural drivers that lead to hunting behavior. Importantly, interventions that target consumption alone will not be sufficient; other drivers and modes of interaction with wildlife must also be considered.

Urbanization of Scrub Typhus Disease in South Korea

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 22 May 2015 - 9:00pm

by Sang-Won Park, Na-Young Ha, Boyeong Ryu, Ji Hwan Bang, Hoyeon Song, Yuri Kim, Gwanghun Kim, Myoung-don Oh, Nam-Hyuk Cho, Jong-koo Lee

Background

Scrub typhus is an endemic disease in Asia. It has been a rural disease, but indigenous urban cases have been observed in Seoul, South Korea. Urban scrub typhus may have a significant impact because of the large population.

Methods

Indigenous urban scrub typhus was epidemiologically identified in Seoul, the largest metropolitan city in South Korea, using national notifiable disease data from 2010 to 2013. For detailed analysis of clinical features, patients from one hospital that reported the majority of cases were selected and compared to a historic control group. Chigger mites were prospectively collected in the city using a direct chigger mite-collecting trap, and identified using both phenotypic and 18S rDNA sequencing analyses. Their infection with Orientia tsutsugamushi was confirmed by sequencing the 56-kDa antigen gene.

Results

Eighty-eight cases of urban scrub typhus were determined in Seoul. The possible sites of infection were mountainous areas (56.8%), city parks (20.5%), the vicinity of one’s own residence (17.0%), and riversides (5.7%). Eighty-seven chigger mites were collected in Gwanak mountain, one of the suspected infection sites in southern Seoul, and seventy-six (87.4%) of them were identified as Helenicula miyagawai and eight (9.2%) as Leptotrombidium scutellare. Pooled DNA extracted from H. miyagawai mites yielded O. tsutsugamushi Boryong strain. Twenty-six patients from one hospital showed low APACHE II score (3.4 ± 2.7), low complication rate (3.8%), and no hypokalemia.

Conclusions

We identified the presence of indigenous urban scrub typhus in Seoul, and a subgroup of them had mild clinical features. The chigger mite H. miyagawai infected with O. tsutsugamushi within the city was found. In endemic area, urban scrub typhus needs to be considered as one of the differential febrile diseases and a target for prevention.

Parasitism in Children Aged Three Years and Under: Relationship between Infection and Growth in Rural Coastal Kenya

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 21 May 2015 - 9:00pm

by A. Desiree LaBeaud, Monica Nayakwadi Singer, Maxim McKibben, Peter Mungai, Eric M. Muchiri, Elisabeth McKibben, Ginny Gildengorin, Laura J. Sutherland, Charles H. King, Christopher L. King, Indu Malhotra

Background

Parasitic infections, which are among the most common infections worldwide, disproportionately affect children; however, little is known about the impact of parasitic disease on growth in very early childhood. Our objective was to document the prevalence of parasitic infections and examine their association with growth during the first three years of life among children in coastal Kenya.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Children enrolled in a maternal-child cohort were tested for soil transmitted helminths (STHs: Ascaris, Trichuris, hookworm, Strongyloides), protozoa (malaria, Entamoeba histolytica and Giardia lamblia), filaria, and Schistosoma infection every six months from birth until age three years. Anthropometrics were measured at each visit. We used generalized estimating equation (GEE) models to examine the relationship between parasitic infections experienced in the first three years of life and growth outcomes (weight, length and head circumference). Of 545 children, STHs were the most common infection with 106 infections (19%) by age three years. Malaria followed in period prevalence with 68 infections (12%) by three years of age. Filaria and Schistosoma infection occurred in 26 (4.8%) and 16 (2.9%) children, respectively. Seven percent were infected with multiple parasites by three years of age. Each infection type (when all STHs were combined) was documented by six months of age. Decreases in growth of weight, length and head circumference during the first 36 months of life were associated with hookworm, Ascaris, E. histolytica, malaria and Schistosoma infection. In a subset analysis of 180 children who followed up at every visit through 24 months, infection with any parasite was associated with decelerations in weight, length and head circumference growth velocity. Multiple infections were associated with greater impairment of linear growth.

Conclusions/Significance

Our results demonstrate an under-recognized burden of parasitism in the first three years of childhood in rural Kenya. Parasitic infection and polyparasitism were common, and were associated with a range of significant growth impairment in terms of weight, length and/or head circumference.

High Rates of Asymptomatic, Sub-microscopic Plasmodium vivax Infection and Disappearing Plasmodium falciparum Malaria in an Area of Low Transmission in Solomon Islands

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 21 May 2015 - 9:00pm

by Andreea Waltmann, Andrew W. Darcy, Ivor Harris, Cristian Koepfli, John Lodo, Ventis Vahi, David Piziki, G. Dennis Shanks, Alyssa E. Barry, Maxine Whittaker, James W. Kazura, Ivo Mueller

Introduction

Solomon Islands is intensifying national efforts to achieve malaria elimination. A long history of indoor spraying with residual insecticides, combined recently with distribution of long lasting insecticidal nets and artemether-lumefantrine therapy, has been implemented in Solomon Islands. The impact of these interventions on local endemicity of Plasmodium spp. is unknown.

Methods

In 2012, a cross-sectional survey of 3501 residents of all ages was conducted in Ngella, Central Islands Province, Solomon Islands. Prevalence of Plasmodium falciparum, P. vivax, P. ovale and P. malariae was assessed by quantitative PCR (qPCR) and light microscopy (LM). Presence of gametocytes was determined by reverse transcription quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR).

Results

By qPCR, 468 Plasmodium spp. infections were detected (prevalence = 13.4%; 463 P. vivax, five mixed P. falciparum/P. vivax, no P. ovale or P. malariae) versus 130 by LM (prevalence = 3.7%; 126 P. vivax, three P. falciparum and one P. falciparum/P. vivax). The prevalence of P. vivax infection varied significantly among villages (range 3.0–38.5%, p<0.001) and across age groups (5.3–25.9%, p<0.001). Of 468 P. vivax infections, 72.9% were sub-microscopic, 84.5% afebrile and 60.0% were both sub-microscopic and afebrile. Local residency, low education level of the household head and living in a household with at least one other P. vivax infected individual increased the risk of P. vivax infection. Overall, 23.5% of P. vivax infections had concurrent gametocytaemia. Of all P. vivax positive samples, 29.2% were polyclonal by MS16 and msp1F3 genotyping. All five P. falciparum infections were detected in residents of the same village, carried the same msp2 allele and four were positive for P. falciparum gametocytes.

Conclusion

P. vivax infection remains endemic in Ngella, with the majority of cases afebrile and below the detection limit of LM. P. falciparum has nearly disappeared, but the risk of re-introductions and outbreaks due to travel to nearby islands with higher malaria endemicity remains.

Arterial Hypertension and Skin Allergy Are Risk Factors for Progression from Dengue to Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever: A Case Control Study

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 21 May 2015 - 9:00pm

by Maria Glória Teixeira, Enny S. Paixão, Maria da Conceição N. Costa, Rivaldo V. Cunha, Luciano Pamplona, Juarez P. Dias, Camila A. Figueiredo, Maria Aparecida A. Figueiredo, Ronald Blanton, Vanessa Morato, Maurício L. Barreto, Laura C. Rodrigues

Background

Currently, knowledge does not allow early prediction of which cases of dengue fever (DF) will progress to dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF), to allow early intervention to prevent progression or to limit severity. The objective of this study is to investigate the hypothesis that some specific comorbidities increase the likelihood of a DF case progressing to DHF.

Methods

A concurrent case-control study, conducted during dengue epidemics, from 2009 to 2012. Cases were patients with dengue fever that progressed to DHF, and controls were patients of dengue fever who did not progress to DHF. Logistic regression was used to estimate the association between DHF and comorbidities.

Results

There were 490 cases of DHF and 1,316 controls. Among adults, progression to DHF was associated with self-reported hypertension (OR = 1.6; 95% CI 1.1-2.1) and skin allergy (OR = 1.8; 95% CI 1.1-3.2) with DHF after adjusting for ethnicity and socio-economic variables. There was no statistically significant association between any chronic disease and progression to DHF in those younger than 15 years.

Conclusions

Physicians attending patients with dengue fever should keep those with hypertension or skin allergies in health units to monitor progression for early intervention. This would reduce mortality by dengue.

Biodistribution and Trafficking of Hydrogel Nanoparticles in Adult Mosquitoes

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 21 May 2015 - 9:00pm

by Cynthia C. H. Paquette, Yashdeep Phanse, Jillian L. Perry, Irma Sanchez-Vargas, Paul M. Airs, Brendan M. Dunphy, Jing Xu, Jonathan O. Carlson, J. Christopher Luft, Joseph M. DeSimone, Lyric C. Bartholomay, Barry J. Beaty

Background

Nanotechnology offers great potential for molecular genetic investigations and potential control of medically important arthropods. Major advances have been made in mammalian systems to define nanoparticle (NP) characteristics that condition trafficking and biodistribution of NPs in the host. Such information is critical for effective delivery of therapeutics and molecules to cells and organs, but little is known about biodistribution of NPs in mosquitoes.

Methodology/Principal Findings

PRINT technology was used to construct a library of fluorescently labeled hydrogel NPs of defined size, shape, and surface charge. The biodistribution (organ, tissue, and cell tropisms and trafficking kinetics) of positively and negatively charged 200 nm x 200 nm, 80 nm x 320 nm, and 80 nm x 5000 nm NPs was determined in adult Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes as a function of the route of challenge (ingestion, injection or contact) using whole body imaging and fluorescence microscopy. Mosquitoes readily ingested NPs in sugar solution. Whole body fluorescence imaging revealed substantial NP accumulation (load) in the alimentary tracts of the adult mosquitoes, with the greatest loads in the diverticula, cardia and foregut. Positively and negatively charged NPs differed in their biodistribution and trafficking. Following oral challenge, negatively charged NPs transited the alimentary tract more rapidly than positively charged NPs. Following contact challenge, negatively charged NPs trafficked more efficiently in alimentary tract tissues. Following parenteral challenge, positively and negatively charged NPs differed in tissue tropisms and trafficking in the hemocoel. Injected NPs were also detected in cardia/foregut, suggesting trafficking of NPs from the hemocoel into the alimentary tract.

Conclusions/Significance

Herein we have developed a tool box of NPs with the biodistribution and tissue tropism characteristics for gene structure/function studies and for delivery of vector lethal cargoes for mosquito control.

Biodistribution and Toxicity Studies of PRINT Hydrogel Nanoparticles in Mosquito Larvae and Cells

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 21 May 2015 - 9:00pm

by Yashdeep Phanse, Brendan M. Dunphy, Jillian L. Perry, Paul M. Airs, Cynthia C. H. Paquette, Jonathan O. Carlson, Jing Xu, J. Christopher Luft, Joseph M. DeSimone, Barry J. Beaty, Lyric C. Bartholomay

Mosquito-borne diseases continue to remain major threats to human and animal health and impediments to socioeconomic development. Increasing mosquito resistance to chemical insecticides is a great public health concern, and new strategies/technologies are necessary to develop the next-generation of vector control tools. We propose to develop a novel method for mosquito control that employs nanoparticles (NPs) as a platform for delivery of mosquitocidal dsRNA molecules to silence mosquito genes and cause vector lethality. Identifying optimal NP chemistry and morphology is imperative for efficient mosquitocide delivery. Toward this end, fluorescently labeled polyethylene glycol NPs of specific sizes, shapes (80 nm x 320 nm, 80 nm x 5000 nm, 200 nm x 200 nm, and 1000 nm x 1000 nm) and charges (negative and positive) were fabricated by Particle Replication in Non-Wetting Templates (PRINT) technology. Biodistribution, persistence, and toxicity of PRINT NPs were evaluated in vitro in mosquito cell culture and in vivo in Anopheles gambiae larvae following parenteral and oral challenge. Following parenteral challenge, the biodistribution of the positively and negatively charged NPs of each size and shape was similar; intense fluorescence was observed in thoracic and abdominal regions of the larval body. Positively charged NPs were more associated with the gastric caeca in the gastrointestinal tract. Negatively charged NPs persisted through metamorphosis and were observed in head, body and ovaries of adults. Following oral challenge, NPs were detected in the larval mid- and hindgut. Positively charged NPs were more efficiently internalized in vitro than negatively charged NPs. Positively charged NPs trafficked to the cytosol, but negatively charged NPs co-localized with lysosomes. Following in vitro and in vivo challenge, none of the NPs tested induced any cytotoxic effects.

International External Quality Assessment Study for Molecular Detection of Lassa Virus

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 21 May 2015 - 9:00pm

by Sergejs Nikisins, Toni Rieger, Pranav Patel, Rolf Müller, Stephan Günther, Matthias Niedrig

Lassa virus (LASV) is a causative agent of hemorrhagic fever in West Africa. In recent years, it has been imported several times to Europe and North America. The method of choice for early detection of LASV in blood is RT-PCR. Therefore, the European Network for Diagnostics of ‘Imported’ Viral Diseases (ENIVD) performed an external quality assessment (EQA) study for molecular detection of LASV. A proficiency panel of 13 samples containing various concentrations of inactivated LASV strains Josiah, Lib-1580/121, CSF, or AV was prepared. Samples containing the LASV-related lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) and negative sera were included as specificity controls. Twenty-four laboratories from 17 countries (13 European, one African, one Asian, two American countries) participated in the study. Thirteen laboratories (54%) reported correct results, 4 (17%) laboratories reported 1 to 2 false-negative results, and 7 (29%) laboratories reported 3 to 5 false-negative results. This EQA study indicates that most participating laboratories have a good or acceptable performance in molecular detection of LASV. However, several laboratories need to review and improve their diagnostic procedures.

Snakebites and Scorpion Stings in the Brazilian Amazon: Identifying Research Priorities for a Largely Neglected Problem

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 21 May 2015 - 9:00pm

by Fan Hui Wen, Wuelton Marcelo Monteiro, Ana Maria Moura da Silva, Denise V. Tambourgi, Iran Mendonça da Silva, Vanderson S. Sampaio, Maria Cristina dos Santos, Jacqueline Sachett, Luiz Carlos L. Ferreira, Jorge Kalil, Marcus Lacerda

The Contributions of Onchocerciasis Control and Elimination Programs toward the Achievement of the Millennium Development Goals

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 21 May 2015 - 9:00pm

by Caitlin Dunn, Kelly Callahan, Moses Katabarwa, Frank Richards, Donald Hopkins, P. Craig Withers, Lucas E. Buyon, Deborah McFarland

In 2000, 189 member states of the United Nations (UN) developed a plan for peace and development, which resulted in eight actionable goals known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Since their inception, the MDGs have been considered the international standard for measuring development progress and have provided a blueprint for global health policy and programming. However, emphasis upon the achievement of priority benchmarks around the “big three” diseases—namely HIV, tuberculosis (TB), and malaria—has influenced global health entities to disproportionately allocate resources. Meanwhile, several tropical diseases that almost exclusively impact the poorest of the poor continue to be neglected, despite the existence of cost-effective and feasible methods of control or elimination. One such Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD), onchocerciasis, more commonly known as river blindness, is a debilitating and stigmatizing disease primarily affecting individuals living in remote and impoverished areas. Onchocerciasis control is considered to be one of the most successful and cost-effective public health campaigns ever launched. In addition to improving the health and well-being of millions of individuals, these programs also lead to improvements in education, agricultural production, and economic development in affected communities. Perhaps most pertinent to the global health community, though, is the demonstrated effectiveness of facilitating community engagement by allowing communities considerable ownership with regard to drug delivery. This paper reviews the contributions that such concentrated efforts to control and eliminate onchocerciasis make to achieving select MDGs. The authors hope to draw the attention of public policymakers and global health funders to the importance of the struggle against onchocerciasis as a model for community-directed interventions to advance health and development, and to advocate for NTDs inclusion in the post 2015 agenda.

The Epidemiology of Soil-Transmitted Helminths in Bihar State, India

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 20 May 2015 - 9:00pm

by Katie Greenland, Ruth Dixon, Shabbir Ali Khan, Kithsiri Gunawardena, Jimmy H. Kihara, Jennifer L. Smith, Lesley Drake, Prerna Makkar, Sri Raman, Sarman Singh, Sanjay Kumar

Background

Soil-transmitted helminths (STHs) infect over a billion individuals worldwide. In India, 241 million children are estimated to need deworming to avert the negative consequences STH infections can have on child health and development. In February-April 2011, 17 million children in Bihar State were dewormed during a government-led school-based deworming campaign. Prior to programme implementation, a study was conducted to assess STH prevalence in the school-age population to direct the programme. The study also investigated risk factors for STH infections, including caste, literacy, and defecation and hygiene practices, in order to inform the development of complementary interventions.

Methods

A cross-sectional survey was conducted among children in 20 schools in Bihar. In addition to providing stool samples for identification of STH infections, children completed a short questionnaire detailing their usual defecation and hand-hygiene practices. Risk factors for STH infections were explored.

Results

In January-February 2011, 1279 school children aged four to seventeen provided stool samples and 1157 children also completed the questionnaire. Overall, 68% of children (10-86% across schools) were infected with one or more soil-transmitted helminth species. The prevalence of ascariasis, hookworm and trichuriasis was 52%, 42% and 5% respectively. The majority of children (95%) practiced open defecation and reported most frequently cleansing hands with soil (61%). Increasing age, lack of maternal literacy and certain castes were independently associated with hookworm infection. Absence of a hand-washing station at the schools was also independently associated with A. lumbricoides infection.

Conclusions

STH prevalence in Bihar is high, and justifies mass deworming in school-aged children. Open defecation is common-place and hands are often cleansed using soil. The findings reported here can be used to help direct messaging appropriate to mothers with low levels of literacy and emphasise the importance of water and sanitation in the control of helminths and other diseases.

Application of RNAi to Genomic Drug Target Validation in Schistosomes

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 20 May 2015 - 9:00pm

by Alessandra Guidi, Nuha R. Mansour, Ross A. Paveley, Ian M. Carruthers, Jérémy Besnard, Andrew L. Hopkins, Ian H. Gilbert, Quentin D. Bickle

Concerns over the possibility of resistance developing to praziquantel (PZQ), has stimulated efforts to develop new drugs for schistosomiasis. In addition to the development of improved whole organism screens, the success of RNA interference (RNAi) in schistosomes offers great promise for the identification of potential drug targets to initiate drug discovery. In this study we set out to contribute to RNAi based validation of putative drug targets. Initially a list of 24 target candidates was compiled based on the identification of putative essential genes in schistosomes orthologous of C. elegans essential genes. Knockdown of Calmodulin (Smp_026560.2) (Sm-Calm), that topped this list, produced a phenotype characterised by waves of contraction in adult worms but no phenotype in schistosomula. Knockdown of the atypical Protein Kinase C (Smp_096310) (Sm-aPKC) resulted in loss of viability in both schistosomula and adults and led us to focus our attention on other kinase genes that were identified in the above list and through whole organism screening of known kinase inhibitor sets followed by chemogenomic evaluation. RNAi knockdown of these kinase genes failed to affect adult worm viability but, like Sm-aPKC, knockdown of Polo-like kinase 1, Sm-PLK1 (Smp_009600) and p38-MAPK, Sm-MAPK p38 (Smp_133020) resulted in an increased mortality of schistosomula after 2-3 weeks, an effect more marked in the presence of human red blood cells (hRBC). For Sm-PLK-1 the same effects were seen with the specific inhibitor, BI2536, which also affected viable egg production in adult worms. For Sm-PLK-1 and Sm-aPKC the in vitro effects were reflected in lower recoveries in vivo. We conclude that the use of RNAi combined with culture with hRBC is a reliable method for evaluating genes important for larval development. However, in view of the slow manifestation of the effects of Sm-aPKC knockdown in adults and the lack of effects of Sm-PLK-1 and Sm-MAPK p38 on adult viability, these kinases may not represent suitable drug targets.

Chikungunya Virus Transmission Potential by Local Aedes Mosquitoes in the Americas and Europe

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 20 May 2015 - 9:00pm

by Anubis Vega-Rúa, Ricardo Lourenço-de-Oliveira, Laurence Mousson, Marie Vazeille, Sappho Fuchs, André Yébakima, Joel Gustave, Romain Girod, Isabelle Dusfour, Isabelle Leparc-Goffart, Dana L. Vanlandingham, Yan-Jang S. Huang, L. Philip Lounibos, Souand Mohamed Ali, Antoine Nougairede, Xavier de Lamballerie, Anna-Bella Failloux

Background

Chikungunya virus (CHIKV), mainly transmitted in urban areas by the mosquitoes Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, constitutes a major public health problem. In late 2013, CHIKV emerged on Saint-Martin Island in the Caribbean and spread throughout the region reaching more than 40 countries. Thus far, Ae. aegypti mosquitoes have been implicated as the sole vector in the outbreaks, leading to the hypothesis that CHIKV spread could be limited only to regions where this mosquito species is dominant.

Methodology/Principal Findings

We determined the ability of local populations of Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus from the Americas and Europe to transmit the CHIKV strain of the Asian genotype isolated from Saint-Martin Island (CHIKV_SM) during the recent epidemic, and an East-Central-South African (ECSA) genotype CHIKV strain isolated from La Réunion Island (CHIKV_LR) as a well-characterized control virus. We also evaluated the effect of temperature on transmission of CHIKV_SM by European Ae. albopictus. We found that (i) Aedes aegypti from Saint-Martin Island transmit CHIKV_SM and CHIKV_LR with similar efficiency, (ii) Ae. aegypti from the Americas display similar transmission efficiency for CHIKV_SM, (iii) American and European populations of the alternative vector species Ae. albopictus were as competent as Ae. aegypti populations with respect to transmission of CHIKV_SM and (iv) exposure of European Ae. albopictus to low temperatures (20°C) significantly reduced the transmission potential for CHIKV_SM.

Conclusions/Significance

CHIKV strains belonging to the ECSA genotype could also have initiated local transmission in the new world. Additionally, the ongoing CHIKV outbreak in the Americas could potentially spread throughout Ae. aegypti- and Ae. albopictus-infested regions of the Americas with possible imported cases of CHIKV to Ae. albopictus-infested regions in Europe. Colder temperatures may decrease the local transmission of CHIKV_SM by European Ae. albopictus, potentially explaining the lack of autochthonous transmission of CHIKV_SM in Europe despite the hundreds of imported CHIKV cases returning from the Caribbean.

Impact of Anti-Retroviral Treatment and Cotrimoxazole Prophylaxis on Helminth Infections in HIV-Infected Patients in Lambaréné, Gabon

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 20 May 2015 - 9:00pm

by Saskia Janssen, Sabine Hermans, Martijn Knap, Alma Moekotte, Elie G. Rossatanga, Akim A. Adegnika, Sabine Bélard, Thomas Hänscheid, Martin P. Grobusch

Background

Foci of the HIV epidemic and helminthic infections largely overlap geographically. Treatment options for helminth infections are limited, and there is a paucity of drug-development research in this area. Limited evidence suggests that antiretroviral therapy (ART) reduces prevalence of helminth infections in HIV-infected individuals. We investigated whether ART exposure and cotrimoxazole preventive therapy (CTX-P) is associated with a reduced prevalence of helminth infections.

Methodology and Principal Findings

This cross-sectional study was conducted at a primary HIV-clinic in Lambaréné, Gabon. HIV-infected adults who were ART-naïve or exposed to ART for at least 3 months submitted one blood sample and stool and urine samples on 3 consecutive days. Outcome was helminth infection with intestinal helminths, Schistosoma haematobium, Loa loa or Mansonella perstans. Multivariable logistic regression was used to assess associations between ART or CTX-P and helminth infection. In total, 408 patients were enrolled. Helminth infection was common (77/252 [30.5%]). Filarial infections were most prevalent (55/310 [17.7%]), followed by infection with intestinal helminths (35/296 [11.8%]) and S. haematobium (19/323 [5.9%]). Patients on CTX-P had a reduced risk of Loa loa microfilaremia (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 0.47, 95% CI 0.23-0.97, P = 0.04), also in the subgroup of patients on ART (aOR 0.36, 95% CI 0.13-0.96, P = 0.04). There was no effect of ART exposure on helminth infection prevalence.

Conclusions/Significance

CTX-P use was associated with a decreased risk of Loa loa infection, suggesting an anthelminthic effect of antifolate drugs. No relation between ART use and helminth infections was established.

Molecular Typing of Pathogenic Leptospira Serogroup Icterohaemorrhagiae Strains Circulating in China during the Past 50 Years

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 19 May 2015 - 9:00pm

by Cuicai Zhang, Huimian Yang, Xiuwen Li, Zhiqiang Cao, Haijian Zhou, Linzi Zeng, Jianmin Xu, Yinghua Xu, Yung-Fu Chang, Xiaokui Guo, Yongzhang Zhu, Xiugao Jiang

Background

Leptospirosis is one of the most important neglected tropical infectious diseases worldwide. Icterohaemorrhagiae has been throughout recent history, and still is, the predominant serogroup of this pathogen in China. However, very little in detail is known about the serovars or genotypes of this serogroup.

Methodology/Principal Findings

In this study, 120 epidemic strains from five geographically diverse regions in China collected over a 50 year period (1958~2008), and 8 international reference strains characterized by 16S rRNA sequencing and MLST analysis. 115, 11 and 2 strains were identified as L. interrogans, L. borgpetersenii, and L. kirschneri, respectively. 17 different STs were identified including 69 ST1 strains, 18 ST17, 18 ST128, 9 ST143 and 2 ST209. The remaining 12 strains belonged to 12 different STs. eBURST analysis demonstrated that, among the clonal complexes isolated (CCs), CC1 accounted for 73.3% (88/120) strains representing three STs: ST1, ST128 and ST98. ST1 was the most likely ancestral strain of this CC, followed by singleton CC17 (17/120) and CC143 (11/120). Further analysis of adding 116 serogroup Icterohaemorrhagiae strains in the MLST database and studies previously described using global eBURST analysis and MST dendrogram revealed relatively similar ST clustering patterns with five main CCs and 8 singletons among these 244 strains. CC17 was found to be the most prevalent clone of pathogenic Leptospira circulating worldwide. This is the first time, to our knowledge, that ST1 and ST17 strains were distributed among 4 distinct serovars, indicating a highly complicated relationship between serovars and STs.

Conclusions/Significance

Our studies demonstrated a high level of genetic diversity in the serogroup Icterohaemorrhagiae strains. Distinct from ST17 or ST37 circulating elsewhere, ST1 included in CC1, has over the past 50 years or so, proven to be the most prevalent ST of pathogenic leptospires isolated in China. Moreover, the complicated relationship between STs and serovars indicates an urgent need to develop an improved scheme for Leptospira serotyping.

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