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A Field-Deployable Reverse Transcription Recombinase Polymerase Amplification Assay for Rapid Detection of the Chikungunya Virus

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 29 September 2016 - 9:00pm

by Pranav Patel, Ahmed Abd El Wahed, Oumar Faye, Pauline Prüger, Marco Kaiser, Sasikanya Thaloengsok, Sukathida Ubol, Anavaj Sakuntabhai, Isabelle Leparc-Goffart, Frank T. Hufert, Amadou A. Sall, Manfred Weidmann, Matthias Niedrig

Background

Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a mosquito-borne virus currently transmitted in about 60 countries. CHIKV causes acute flu-like symptoms and in many cases prolonged musculoskeletal and joint pain. Detection of the infection is mostly done using RT-RCR or ELISA, which are not suitable for point-of-care diagnosis.

Methodology/Principal Findings

In this study, a reverse transcription recombinase polymerase amplification (RT-RPA) assay for the detection of the CHIKV was developed. The assay sensitivity, specificity, and cross-reactivity were tested. CHIKV RT-RPA assay detected down to 80 genome copies/reaction in a maximum of 15 minutes. It successfully identified 18 isolates representing the three CHIKV genotypes. No cross-reactivity was detected to other alphaviruses and arboviruses except O'nyong'nyong virus, which could be differentiated by a modified RPA primer pair. Seventy-eight samples were screened both by RT-RPA and real-time RT-PCR. The diagnostic sensitivity and specificity of the CHIKV RT-RPA assay were determined at 100%.

Conclusions/Significance

The developed RT-RPA assay represents a promising method for the molecular detection of CHIKV at point of need.

Abdominal Cystic-Like Lesion as a Rare Complication of Neglected Infectious Disease

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 29 September 2016 - 9:00pm

by Priscila Marques de Macedo, Rodrigo Almeida-Paes, Dayvison Francis Saraiva Freitas, Paula Marsillac, Ana Paola de Oliveira, Flavia Antelo Saez, Bodo Wanke, Antonio Carlos Francesconi do Valle

KAP Surveys and Dengue Control in Colombia: Disentangling the Effect of Sociodemographic Factors Using Multiple Correspondence Analysis

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 28 September 2016 - 9:00pm

by Diana Rocío Higuera-Mendieta, Sebastián Cortés-Corrales, Juliana Quintero, Catalina González-Uribe

During the last few decades, several studies have analyzed and described knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP) of populations regarding dengue. However, few studies have applied geometric data analytic techniques to generate indices from KAP domains. Results of such analyses have not been used to determine the potential effects of sociodemographic variables on the levels of KAP. The objective was to determine the sociodemographic factors related to different levels of KAP regarding dengue in two hyper-endemic cities of Colombia, using a multiple correspondence analysis (MCA) technique. In the context of a cluster randomized trial, 3,998 households were surveyed in Arauca and Armenia between 2012 and 2013. To generate KAP indexes, we performed a MCA followed by a hierarchical cluster analysis to classify each score in different groups. A quantile regression for each of the score groups was conducted. KAP indexes explained 56.1%, 79.7%, and 83.2% of the variance, with means of 4.2, 1.4, and 3.2 and values that ranged from 1 to 7, 7 and 11, respectively. The highest values of the index denoted higher levels of knowledge and practices. The attitudes index did not show the same relationship and was excluded from the analysis. In the quantile regression, age (0.06; IC: 0.03, 0.09), years of education (0.14; IC: 0.06, 0.22), and history of dengue in the family (0.21; IC: 0.12, 0.31) were positively related to lower levels of knowledge regarding dengue. The effect of such factors gradually decreased or disappeared when knowledge was higher. The practices indexes did not evidence a correlation with sociodemographic variables. These results suggest that the transformation of categorical variables into a single index by the use of MCA is possible when analyzing knowledge and practices regarding dengue from KAP questionnaires. Additionally, the magnitude of the effect of socioeconomic variables on the knowledge scores varies according to the levels of knowledge, suggesting that other factors might be influencing higher levels of knowledge.

DC-159a Shows Inhibitory Activity against DNA Gyrases of <i>Mycobacterium leprae</i>

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 28 September 2016 - 9:00pm

by Tomoyuki Yamaguchi, Kazumasa Yokoyama, Chie Nakajima, Yasuhiko Suzuki

Background

Fluoroquinolones are a class of antibacterial agents used for leprosy treatment. Some new fluoroquinolones have been attracting interest due to their remarkable potency that is reportedly better than that of ofloxacin, the fluoroquinolone currently recommended for treatment of leprosy. For example, DC-159a, a recently developed 8-methoxy fluoroquinolone, has been found to be highly potent against various bacterial species. Nonetheless, the efficacy of DC-159a against Mycobacterium leprae is yet to be examined.

Methodology/Principal Findings

To gather data that can support highly effective fluoroquinolones as candidates for new remedies for leprosy treatment, we conducted in vitro assays to assess and compare the inhibitory activities of DC-159a and two fluoroquinolones that are already known to be more effective against M. leprae than ofloxacin. The fluoroquinolone-inhibited DNA supercoiling assay using recombinant DNA gyrases of wild type and ofloxacin-resistant M. leprae revealed that inhibitory activities of DC-159a and sitafloxacin were at most 9.8- and 11.9-fold higher than moxifloxacin. Also the fluoroquinolone–mediated cleavage assay showed that potencies of those drugs were at most 13.5- and 9.8-fold higher than moxifloxacin. In addition, these two drugs retained their inhibitory activities even against DNA gyrases of ofloxacin-resistant M. leprae.

Conclusions/Significance

The results indicated that DC-159a and sitafloxacin are more effective against wild type and mutant M. leprae DNA gyrases than moxifloxacin, suggesting that these antibacterial drugs can be good candidates that may supersede current fluoroquinolone remedies. DC-159a in particular is very promising because it is classified in a subgroup of fluoroquinolones that is known to be less likely to cause adverse effects. Our results implied that DC-159a is well worth further investigation to ascertain its in vivo effectiveness and clinical safety for humans.

Snowball Vs. House-to-House Technique for Measuring Annual Incidence of Kala-azar in the Higher Endemic Blocks of Bihar, India: A Comparison

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 28 September 2016 - 9:00pm

by Niyamat A. Siddiqui, Vidya N. Rabidas, Sanjay K. Sinha, Rakesh B. Verma, Krishna Pandey, Vijay P. Singh, Alok Ranjan, Roshan K. Topno, Chandra S. Lal, Vijay Kumar, Ganesh C. Sahoo, Srikantaih Sridhar, Arvind Pandey, Pradeep Das

Background

Visceral Leishmaniasis, commonly known as kala-azar, is widely prevalent in Bihar. The National Kala-azar Control Program has applied house-to-house survey approach several times for estimating Kala-azar incidence in the past. However, this approach includes huge logistics and operational cost, as occurrence of kala-azar is clustered in nature. The present study aims to compare efficiency, cost and feasibility of snowball sampling approach to house-to-house survey approach in capturing kala-azar cases in two endemic districts of Bihar, India.

Methodology/Principal findings

A community based cross-sectional study was conducted in two highly endemic Primary Health Centre (PHC) areas, each from two endemic districts of Bihar, India. Snowball technique (used to locate potential subjects with help of key informants where subjects are hard to locate) and house-to-house survey technique were applied to detect all the new cases of Kala-azar during a defined reference period of one year i.e. June, 2010 to May, 2011. The study covered a total of 105,035 households with 537,153 populations. Out of total 561 cases and 17 deaths probably due to kala-azar, identified by the study, snowball sampling approach captured only 221 cases and 13 deaths, whereas 489 cases and 17 deaths were detected by house-to-house survey approach. Higher value of McNemar’s χ² statistics (64; p<0.0001) for house-to-house survey approach than snowball sampling and relative difference (>1) indicates that most of the kala-azar cases missed by snowball sampling were captured by house-to-house approach with 13% of omission.

Conclusion/Significance

Snowball sampling was not found sensitive enough as it captured only about 50% of VL cases. However, it captured about 77% of the deaths probably due to kala-azar and was found more cost-effective than house-to-house approach. Standardization of snowball approach with improved procedure, training and logistics may enhance the sensitivity of snowball sampling and its application in national Kala-azar elimination programme as cost-effective approach for estimation of kala-azar burden.

Association of <i>Fasciola hepatica</i> Infection with Liver Fibrosis, Cirrhosis, and Cancer: A Systematic Review

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 28 September 2016 - 9:00pm

by Claudia Machicado, Jorge D. Machicado, Vicente Maco, Angelica Terashima, Luis A. Marcos

Background

Fascioliasis has been sporadically associated with chronic liver disease on previous studies. In order to describe the current evidence, we carried out a systematic review to assess the association between fascioliasis with liver fibrosis, cirrhosis and cancer.

Methodology and Principal Findings

A systematic search of electronic databases (PubMed, LILACS, Scopus, Embase, Cochrane, and Scielo) was conducted from June to July 2015 and yielded 1,557 published studies. Among 21 studies that met inclusion and exclusion criteria, 12 studies explored the association of F. hepatica with liver fibrosis, 4 with liver cirrhosis, and 5 with cancer. Globally these studies suggested the ability of F. hepatica to promote liver fibrosis and cirrhosis. The role of F. hepatica in cancer is unknown. Given the heterogeneity of the studies, a meta-analysis could not be performed.

Conclusions

Future high-quality studies are needed to determine the role of F. hepatica on the development of liver fibrosis, liver cirrhosis, and cancer in humans.

<i>Plasmodium vivax</i> Reticulocyte Binding Proteins Are Key Targets of Naturally Acquired Immunity in Young Papua New Guinean Children

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 27 September 2016 - 9:00pm

by Camila T. França, Wen-Qiang He, Jakub Gruszczyk, Nicholas T. Y. Lim, Enmoore Lin, Benson Kiniboro, Peter M. Siba, Wai-Hong Tham, Ivo Mueller

Background

Major gaps in our understanding of Plasmodium vivax biology and the acquisition of immunity to this parasite hinder vaccine development. P. vivax merozoites exclusively invade reticulocytes, making parasite proteins that mediate reticulocyte binding and/or invasion potential key vaccine or drug targets. While protein interactions that mediate invasion are still poorly understood, the P. vivax Reticulocyte-Binding Protein family (PvRBP) is thought to be involved in P. vivax restricted host-cell selectivity.

Methodology/Principal findings

We assessed the binding specificity of five members of the PvRBP family (PvRBP1a, PvRBP1b, PvRBP2a, PvRBP2b, PvRBP2-P2 and a non-binding fragment of PvRBP2c) to normocytes or reticulocytes. PvRBP2b was identified as the only reticulocyte-specific binder (P<0.001), whereas the others preferentially bound to normocytes (PvRBP1a/b P≤0.034), or showed comparable binding to both (PvRBP2a/2-P2, P = 0.38). Furthermore, we measured levels of total and IgG subclasses 1, 2, 3 and 4 to the six PvRBPs in a cohort of young Papua New Guinean children, and assessed their relationship with prospective risk of P. vivax malaria. Children had substantial, highly correlated (rho = 0.49–0.82, P<0.001) antibody levels to all six PvRBPs, with dominant IgG1 and IgG3 subclasses. Both total IgG (Incidence Rate Ratio [IRR] 0.63–0.73, P = 0.008–0.041) and IgG1 (IRR 0.56–0.69, P = 0.001–0.035) to PvRBP2b and PvRBP1a were strongly associated with reduced risk of vivax-malaria, independently of age and exposure.

Conclusion/Significance

These results demonstrate a diversity of erythrocyte-binding phenotypes of PvRBPs, indicating binding to both reticulocyte-specific and normocyte-specific ligands. Our findings provide further insights into the naturally acquired immunity to P. vivax and highlight the importance of PvRBP proteins as targets of naturally acquired humoral immunity. In-depth studies of the role of PvRBPs in P. vivax invasion and functional validation of the role of anti-PvRBP antibodies in clinical immunity against P. vivax are now required to confirm the potential of the reticulocyte-binding PvRBP2b and PvRBP1a as vaccine candidate antigens.

Sex-Biased Transcriptome of <i>Schistosoma mansoni</i>: Host-Parasite Interaction, Genetic Determinants and Epigenetic Regulators Are Associated with Sexual Differentiation

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 27 September 2016 - 9:00pm

by Marion A. L. Picard, Jérôme Boissier, David Roquis, Christoph Grunau, Jean-François Allienne, David Duval, Eve Toulza, Nathalie Arancibia, Conor R. Caffrey, Thavy Long, Sabine Nidelet, Marine Rohmer, Céline Cosseau

Background

Among more than 20,000 species of hermaphroditic trematodes, Schistosomatidae are unusual since they have evolved gonochorism. In schistosomes, sex is determined by a female heterogametic system, but phenotypic sexual dimorphism appears only after infection of the vertebrate definitive host. The completion of gonad maturation occurs even later, after pairing. To date, the molecular mechanisms that trigger the sexual differentiation in these species remain unknown, and in vivo studies on the developing schistosomulum stages are lacking. To study the molecular basis of sex determination and sexual differentiation in schistosomes, we investigated the whole transcriptome of the human parasite Schistosoma mansoni in a stage- and sex-comparative manner.

Methodology/ Principal Findings

We performed a RNA-seq on males and females for five developmental stages: cercariae larvae, three in vivo schistosomulum stages and adults. We detected 7,168 genes differentially expressed between sexes in at least one of the developmental stages, and 4,065 of them were functionally annotated. Transcriptome data were completed with H3K27me3 histone modification analysis using ChIP-Seq before (in cercariae) and after (in adults) the phenotypic sexual dimorphism appearance. In this paper we present (i) candidate determinants of the sexual differentiation, (ii) sex-biased players of the interaction with the vertebrate host, and (iii) different dynamic of the H3K27me3 histone mark between sexes as an illustration of sex-biased epigenetic landscapes.

Conclusions/ Significance

Our work presents evidence that sexual differentiation in S. mansoni is accompanied by distinct male and female transcriptional landscapes of known players of the host-parasite crosstalk, genetic determinants and epigenetic regulators. Our results suggest that such combination could lead to the optimized sexual dimorphism of this parasitic species. As S. mansoni is pathogenic for humans, this study represents a promising source of therapeutic targets, providing not only data on the parasite development in interaction with its vertebrate host, but also new insights on its reproductive function.

Analyses of the Distribution Patterns of <i>Burkholderia pseudomallei</i> and Associated Phages in Soil Samples in Thailand Suggest That Phage Presence Reduces the Frequency of Bacterial Isolation

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 26 September 2016 - 9:00pm

by Patoo Withatanung, Narisara Chantratita, Veerachat Muangsombut, Natnaree Saiprom, Ganjana Lertmemongkolchai, Jochen Klumpp, Martha R. J. Clokie, Edouard E. Galyov, Sunee Korbsrisate

Background

Burkholderia pseudomallei is a soil saprophytic bacterium that causes melioidosis. The infection occurs through cutaneous inoculation, inhalation or ingestion. Bacteriophages (phages) in the same ecosystem may significantly impact the biology of this bacterium in the environment, and in their culturability in the laboratory.

Methods/Principal Findings

The soil samples were analysed for the presence of bacteria using culture methods, and for phages using plaque assays on B. pseudomallei strain 1106a lawns. Of the 86 soil samples collected from northeastern Thailand, B. pseudomallei was cultured from 23 (26.7%) samples; no phage capable of infecting B. pseudomallei was detected in these samples. In contrast, phages capable of infecting B. pseudomallei, but no bacteria, were present in 10 (11.6%) samples. B. pseudomallei and their phages were co-isolated from only 3 (3.5%) of soil samples. Since phage capable of infecting B. pseudomallei could not have appeared in the samples without the prior presence of bacteria, or exposure to bacteria nearby, our data suggest that all phage-positive/bacteria-negative samples have had B. pseudomallei in or in a close proximity to them. Taken together, these findings indicate that the presence of phages may influence the success of B. pseudomallei isolation. Transmission electron microscopy revealed that the isolated phages are podoviruses. The temperate phages residing in soil-isolated strains of B. pseudomallei that were resistant to the dominant soil borne phages could be induced by mitomycin C. These induced-temperate phages were closely related, but not identical, to the more dominant soil-isolated phage type.

Conclusion/Significance

The presence of podoviruses capable of infecting B. pseudomallei may affect the success of the pathogen isolation from the soil. The currently used culture-based methods of B. pseudomallei isolation appear to under-estimate the bacterial abundance. The detection of phage capable of infecting B. pseudomallei from environmental samples could be a useful preliminary test to indicate the likely presence of B. pseudomallei in environmental samples.

Model-Informed Risk Assessment and Decision Making for an Emerging Infectious Disease in the Asia-Pacific Region

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 23 September 2016 - 9:00pm

by Robert Moss, Roslyn I. Hickson, Jodie McVernon, James M. McCaw, Krishna Hort, Jim Black, John R. Madden, Nhi H. Tran, Emma S. McBryde, Nicholas Geard

Background

Effective response to emerging infectious disease (EID) threats relies on health care systems that can detect and contain localised outbreaks before they reach a national or international scale. The Asia-Pacific region contains low and middle income countries in which the risk of EID outbreaks is elevated and whose health care systems may require international support to effectively detect and respond to such events. The absence of comprehensive data on populations, health care systems and disease characteristics in this region makes risk assessment and decisions about the provision of such support challenging.

Methodology/principal findings

We describe a mathematical modelling framework that can inform this process by integrating available data sources, systematically explore the effects of uncertainty, and provide estimates of outbreak risk under a range of intervention scenarios. We illustrate the use of this framework in the context of a potential importation of Ebola Virus Disease into the Asia-Pacific region. Results suggest that, across a wide range of plausible scenarios, preemptive interventions supporting the timely detection of early cases provide substantially greater reductions in the probability of large outbreaks than interventions that support health care system capacity after an outbreak has commenced.

Conclusions/significance

Our study demonstrates how, in the presence of substantial uncertainty about health care system infrastructure and other relevant aspects of disease control, mathematical models can be used to assess the constraints that limited resources place upon the ability of local health care systems to detect and respond to EID outbreaks in a timely and effective fashion. Our framework can help evaluate the relative impact of these constraints to identify resourcing priorities for health care system support, in order to inform principled and quantifiable decision making.

Transcriptomic Study on Ovine Immune Responses to <i>Fasciola hepatica</i> Infection

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 23 September 2016 - 9:00pm

by Yan Fu, Andreas L. Chryssafidis, John A. Browne, Jack O'Sullivan, Paul A. McGettigan, Grace Mulcahy

Background

Fasciola hepatica is not only responsible for major economic losses in livestock farming, but is also a major food-borne zoonotic agent, with 180 million people being at risk of infection worldwide. This parasite is sophisticated in manipulating the hosts’ immune system to benefit its own survival. A better understanding of the mechanisms underpinning this immunomodulation is crucial for the development of control strategies such as vaccines.

Methodology/principal findings

This in vivo study investigated the global gene expression changes of ovine peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) response to both acute & chronic infection of F. hepatica, and revealed 6490 and 2364 differential expressed genes (DEGS), respectively. Several transcriptional regulators were predicted to be significantly inhibited (e.g. IL12 and IL18) or activated (e.g. miR155-5p) in PBMC during infection. Ingenuity Pathway Analysis highlighted a series of immune-associated pathways involved in the response to infection, including ‘Transforming Growth Factor Beta (TGFβ) signaling’, ‘Production of Nitric Oxide in Macrophages’, ‘Toll-like Receptor (TLRs) Signaling’, ‘Death Receptor Signaling’ and ‘IL17 Signaling’. We hypothesize that activation of pathways relevant to fibrosis in ovine chronic infection, may differ from those seen in cattle. Potential mechanisms behind immunomodulation in F. hepatica infection are a discussed.

Significance

In conclusion, the present study performed global transcriptomic analysis of ovine PBMC, the primary innate/adaptive immune cells, in response to infection with F. hepatica, using deep-sequencing (RNAseq). This dataset provides novel information pertinent to understanding of the pathological processes in fasciolosis, as well as a base from which to further refine development of vaccines.

Expanding Praziquantel (PZQ) Access beyond Mass Drug Administration Programs: Paving a Way Forward for a Pediatric PZQ Formulation for Schistosomiasis

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 22 September 2016 - 9:00pm

by Amaya L. Bustinduy, Jennifer F. Friedman, Eyrun Floerecke Kjetland, Amara E. Ezeamama, Narcis B. Kabatereine, J. Russell Stothard, Charles H. King

Identifying Leprosy and Those at Risk of Developing Leprosy by Detection of Antibodies against LID-1 and LID-NDO

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 22 September 2016 - 9:00pm

by Francianne M. Amorim, Maurício L. Nobre, Leonardo C. Ferreira, Larissa S. Nascimento, Alesson M. Miranda, Glória R. G. Monteiro, Kathryn M. Dupnik, Malcolm S. Duthie, Steven G. Reed, Selma M. B. Jeronimo

Leprosy is caused by Mycobacterium leprae infection and remains a major public health problem in many areas of the world. Challenges to its timely diagnosis result in delay in treatment, which is usually associated with severe disability. Although phenolic glycolipid (PGL)-I has been reported as auxiliary diagnostic tool, currently there is no serological assay routinely used in leprosy diagnosis. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of two related reagents, LID-1 and LID-NDO, for the detection of M. leprae infection. Sera from 98 leprosy patients, 365 household contacts (HHC) and 98 endemic controls from Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, were evaluated. A subgroup of the HHC living in a hyperendemic area was followed for 7–10 years. Antigen-specific antibody responses were highest in multibacillary (MB) at the lepromatous pole (LL/BL) and lowest in paucibacillary (PB) at the tuberculoid pole (TT/BT). A positive correlation for both anti-LID-1 and anti-LID-NDO antibodies was found with bacterial burden (LID-1, r = 0.84, p<0.001; LID-NDO, r = 0.82, p<0.001), with higher sensitivity than bacilloscopy. According to Receiver Operating Curve, LID-1 and LID-NDO performed similarly. The sensitivity for MB cases was 89% for LID-1 and 95% for LID-NDO; the specificity was 96% for LID-1 and 88% for LID-NDO. Of the 332 HHC that were followed, 12 (3.6%) were diagnosed with leprosy in a median time of 31 (3–79) months after recruitment. A linear generalized model using LID-1 or LID-NDO as a predictor estimated that 8.3% and 10.4% of the HHC would become a leprosy case, respectively. Together, our findings support a role for the LID-1 and LID-NDO antigens in diagnosing MB leprosy and identifying people at greater risk of developing clinical disease. These assays have the potential to improve the diagnostic capacity at local health centers and aid development of strategies for the eventual control and elimination of leprosy from endemic areas.

Molecular Surveillance Identifies Multiple Transmissions of Typhoid in West Africa

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 22 September 2016 - 9:00pm

by International Typhoid Consortium , Vanessa K. Wong, Kathryn E. Holt, Chinyere Okoro, Stephen Baker, Derek J. Pickard, Florian Marks, Andrew J. Page, Grace Olanipekun, Huda Munir, Roxanne Alter, Paul D. Fey, Nicholas A. Feasey, Francois-Xavier Weill, Simon Le Hello, Peter J. Hart, Samuel Kariuki, Robert F. Breiman, Melita A. Gordon, Robert S. Heyderman, Jan Jacobs, Octavie Lunguya, Chisomo Msefula, Calman A. MacLennan, Karen H. Keddy, Anthony M. Smith, Robert S. Onsare, Elizabeth De Pinna, Satheesh Nair, Ben Amos, Gordon Dougan, Stephen Obaro

Background

The burden of typhoid in sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries has been difficult to estimate, in part, due to suboptimal laboratory diagnostics. However, surveillance blood cultures at two sites in Nigeria have identified typhoid associated with Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi (S. Typhi) as an important cause of bacteremia in children.

Methods

A total of 128 S. Typhi isolates from these studies in Nigeria were whole-genome sequenced, and the resulting data was used to place these Nigerian isolates into a worldwide context based on their phylogeny and carriage of molecular determinants of antibiotic resistance.

Results

Several distinct S. Typhi genotypes were identified in Nigeria that were related to other clusters of S. Typhi isolates from north, west and central regions of Africa. The rapidly expanding S. Typhi clade 4.3.1 (H58) previously associated with multiple antimicrobial resistances in Asia and in east, central and southern Africa, was not detected in this study. However, antimicrobial resistance was common amongst the Nigerian isolates and was associated with several plasmids, including the IncHI1 plasmid commonly associated with S. Typhi.

Conclusions

These data indicate that typhoid in Nigeria was established through multiple independent introductions into the country, with evidence of regional spread. MDR typhoid appears to be evolving independently of the haplotype H58 found in other typhoid endemic countries. This study highlights an urgent need for routine surveillance to monitor the epidemiology of typhoid and evolution of antimicrobial resistance within the bacterial population as a means to facilitate public health interventions to reduce the substantial morbidity and mortality of typhoid.

Vector Competence of French Polynesian <i>Aedes aegypti</i> and <i>Aedes polynesiensis</i> for Zika Virus

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 21 September 2016 - 9:00pm

by Vaea Richard, Tuterarii Paoaafaite, Van-Mai Cao-Lormeau

Background

In 2013–2014, French Polynesia experienced for the first time a Zika outbreak. Two Aedes mosquitoes may have contributed to Zika virus (ZIKV) transmission in French Polynesia: the worldwide distributed Ae. aegypti and the Polynesian islands-endemic Ae. polynesiensis mosquito.

Methodology/Principal Findings

To evaluate their vector competence for ZIKV, mosquitoes were infected per os at viral titers of 7 logs tissue culture infectious dose 50%. At several days post-infection (dpi), saliva was collected from each mosquito and inoculated onto C6/36 mosquito cells to check for the presence of ZIKV infectious particles. Legs and body of each mosquito were also collected and submitted separately to RNA extraction and ZIKV RT-PCR. In Ae. aegypti the infection rate was high as early as 6 dpi and the dissemination efficiency get substantial from 9 dpi while the both rates remained quite low in Ae. polynesiensis. The transmission efficiency was poor in Ae. aegypti until 14 dpi and no infectious saliva was found in Ae. polynesiensis at the time points studied.

Conclusions/Significance

In our experimental conditions, the late ability of the French Polynesian Ae. aegypti to transmit ZIKV added by the poor competence of Ae. polynesiensis for this virus suggest the possible contribution of another vector for the propagation of ZIKV during the outbreak, in particular in remote islands where Ae. polynesiensis is predominating.

Characterization of a Zika Virus Isolate from Colombia

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 21 September 2016 - 9:00pm

by Anismrita Lahon, Ravi P. Arya, Alexander R. Kneubehl, Megan B. Vogt, Natalie J. M. Dailey Garnes, Rebecca Rico-Hesse

Background

Zika virus (Flavivirus genus) is the first mosquito-borne virus known to cause high rates of microcephaly and abortion in humans. Typically, Zika virus causes a self-limiting, systemic illness; however, the current outbreak of Zika virus in the Americas has been associated with increased rates of fetal malformations and Guillain-Barré syndrome. Very few Zika virus isolates have been described in the literature, and live viruses are needed to perform studies of pathogenesis and to develop vaccines and treatments.

Methodology/Clinical findings

We isolated Zika virus, strain FLR, directly from the serum of an individual infected in Barranquilla, Colombia (December, 2015). Here, we describe the patient’s clinical course and characterize strain FLR by its growth characteristics in mosquito and mammalian cells and its partial resistance to UV-inactivation. The full genome sequence of FLR was also analyzed (including the 3’ un-translated region), to determine its probable geographic origin, and to pinpoint structural differences from other Zika virus strains.

Conclusions/Significance

We anticipate that the study of this low passage, clinical isolate of Zika virus, which is available for worldwide distribution, will help uncover the mechanisms of viral replication and host immune responses contributing to the varied and sometimes severe clinical presentations seen during the current epidemic in the Americas.

DNA Microarray Platform for Detection and Surveillance of Viruses Transmitted by Small Mammals and Arthropods

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 21 September 2016 - 9:00pm

by Mohd Jaseem Khan, Amanda Cristina Trabuco, Helda Liz Alfonso, Mario Luis Figueiredo, Weber Cheli Batista, Soraya Jabur Badra, Luiz Tadeu Figueiredo, Marco Aurélio Lavrador, Victor Hugo Aquino

Viruses transmitted by small mammals and arthropods serve as global threats to humans. Most emergent and re-emergent viral agents are transmitted by these groups; therefore, the development of high-throughput screening methods for the detection and surveillance of such viruses is of great interest. In this study, we describe a DNA microarray platform that can be used for screening all viruses transmitted by small mammals and arthropods (SMAvirusChip) with nucleotide sequences that have been deposited in the GenBank. SMAvirusChip was designed with more than 15,000 oligonucleotide probes (60-mers), including viral and control probes. Two SMAvirusChip versions were designed: SMAvirusChip v1 contains 4209 viral probes for the detection of 409 viruses, while SMAvirusChip v2 contains 4943 probes for the detection of 416 viruses. SMAvirusChip was evaluated with 20 laboratory reference-strain viruses. These viruses could be specifically detected when alone in a sample or when artificially mixed within a single sample. The sensitivity of SMAvirusChip was evaluated using 10-fold serial dilutions of dengue virus (DENV). The results showed a detection limit as low as 2.6E3 RNA copies/mL. Additionally, the sensitivity was one log10 lower (2.6E2 RNA copies/mL) than quantitative real-time RT-PCR and sufficient to detect viral genomes in clinical samples. The detection of DENV in serum samples of DENV-infected patients (n = 6) and in a whole blood sample spiked with DENV confirmed the applicability of SMAvirusChip for the detection of viruses in clinical samples. In addition, in a pool of mosquito samples spiked with DENV, the virus was also detectable. SMAvirusChip was able to specifically detect viruses in cell cultures, serum samples, total blood samples and a pool of mosquitoes, confirming that cellular RNA/DNA did not interfere with the assay. Therefore, SMAvirusChip may represent an innovative surveillance method for the rapid identification of viruses transmitted by small mammals and arthropods.

The World Health Organization Recommendations for Trachoma Surveillance, Experience in Nepal and Added Benefit of Testing for Antibodies to <i>Chlamydia trachomatis</i> pgp3 Protein: NESTS Study

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 21 September 2016 - 9:00pm

by Andrea I. Zambrano, Shekhar Sharma, Kathryn Crowley, Laura Dize, Beatriz E. Muñoz, Sailesh K. Mishra, Lisa A. Rotondo, Charlotte A. Gaydos, Sheila K. West

Background

The World Health Organization (WHO) now requires a second surveillance survey for trachoma after an impact assessment has found follicular trachoma (TF) <5% to determine if re-emergence has occurred. Using new WHO guidelines, we undertook surveillance surveys, and determined the prevalence of infection and antibody positivity, in two districts in Nepal.

Methods

20 clusters were randomly selected within each district, 15 were randomly selected for antibody testing. In each cluster, we randomly selected 50 children ages 1–9 years and 100 adults ≥15 years. TF and trachomatous trichiasis (TT) were evaluated. Conjunctival swabs to test for chlamydial infection using GenXpert platform were obtained, and dried blood spots were collected to test for antibodies to Chlamydia Trachomatis pgp3 using the Luminex platform.

Findings

3 cases of TF were found in the two districts, and one case of infection. Pgp3 antibody positivity was 2·4% (95% confidence interval: 1·4%, 3·7%), and did not increase with age (P = 0.24). No clustering of antibody positivity within communities was found. TT prevalence was <1/1,000 population.

Interpretation

The surveillance surveys, as proposed by WHO, showed no evidence for re-emergence of trachoma in two districts of Nepal. The low level and no significant increase by age in seroprevalence of antibodies to C trachomatis pgp3 antigen deserve further investigation as a marker of interruption of transmission.

Spatial Heterogeneity of Habitat Suitability for Rift Valley Fever Occurrence in Tanzania: An Ecological Niche Modelling Approach

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 21 September 2016 - 9:00pm

by Calvin Sindato, Kim B. Stevens, Esron D. Karimuribo, Leonard E. G. Mboera, Janusz T. Paweska, Dirk U. Pfeiffer

Background

Despite the long history of Rift Valley fever (RVF) in Tanzania, extent of its suitable habitat in the country remains unclear. In this study we investigated potential effects of temperature, precipitation, elevation, soil type, livestock density, rainfall pattern, proximity to wild animals, protected areas and forest on the habitat suitability for RVF occurrence in Tanzania.

Materials and Methods

Presence-only records of 193 RVF outbreak locations from 1930 to 2007 together with potential predictor variables were used to model and map the suitable habitats for RVF occurrence using ecological niche modelling. Ground-truthing of the model outputs was conducted by comparing the levels of RVF virus specific antibodies in cattle, sheep and goats sampled from locations in Tanzania that presented different predicted habitat suitability values.

Principal Findings

Habitat suitability values for RVF occurrence were higher in the northern and central-eastern regions of Tanzania than the rest of the regions in the country. Soil type and precipitation of the wettest quarter contributed equally to habitat suitability (32.4% each), followed by livestock density (25.9%) and rainfall pattern (9.3%). Ground-truthing of model outputs revealed that the odds of an animal being seropositive for RVFV when sampled from areas predicted to be most suitable for RVF occurrence were twice the odds of an animal sampled from areas least suitable for RVF occurrence (95% CI: 1.43, 2.76, p < 0.001).

Conclusion/Significance

The regions in the northern and central-eastern Tanzania were more suitable for RVF occurrence than the rest of the regions in the country. The modelled suitable habitat is characterised by impermeable soils, moderate precipitation in the wettest quarter, high livestock density and a bimodal rainfall pattern. The findings of this study should provide guidance for the design of appropriate RVF surveillance, prevention and control strategies which target areas with these characteristics.

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