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Rabies in the Baltic States: Decoding a Process of Control and Elimination

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 5 February 2016 - 10:00pm

by Emmanuelle Robardet, Evelyne Picard-Meyer, Marianna Dobroštana, Ingrida Jaceviciene, Katrin Mähar, Zita Muižniece, Gediminas Pridotkas, Marius Masiulis, Enel Niin, Edvīns Olševskis, Florence Cliquet

Rabies is a fatal zoonosis that still causes nearly 70, 000 human deaths every year. In Europe, the oral rabies vaccination (ORV) of red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) was developed in the late 1970s and has demonstrated its effectiveness in the eradication of the disease in Western and some Central European countries. Following the accession of the three Baltic countries—Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania—to the European Union in 2004, subsequent financial support has allowed the implementation of regular ORV campaigns since 2005–2006. This paper reviews ten years of surveillance efforts and ORV campaigns in these countries resulting in the near eradication of the disease. The various factors that may have influenced the results of vaccination monitoring were assessed using generalized linear models (GLMs) on bait uptake and on herd immunity. As shown in previous studies, juveniles had lower bait uptake level than adults. For the first time, raccoon dogs (Nyctereutes procyonoides) were shown to have significantly lower bait uptake proportion compared with red foxes. This result suggests potentially altered ORV effectiveness in this invasive species compared to the red foxes. An extensive phylogenetic analysis demonstrated that the North-East European (NEE) rabies phylogroup is endemic in all three Baltic countries. Although successive oral vaccination campaigns have substantially reduced the number of detected rabies cases, sporadic detection of the C lineage (European part of Russian phylogroup) underlines the risk of reintroduction via westward spread from bordering countries. Vaccine induced cases were also reported for the first time in non-target species (Martes martes and Meles meles).

Vaccination with the Surface Proteins MUL_2232 and MUL_3720 of Mycobacterium ulcerans Induces Antibodies but Fails to Provide Protection against Buruli Ulcer

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 5 February 2016 - 10:00pm

by Miriam Bolz, Angèle Bénard, Anita M. Dreyer, Sarah Kerber, Andrea Vettiger, Wulf Oehlmann, Mahavir Singh, Malcolm S. Duthie, Gerd Pluschke

Background

Buruli ulcer, caused by infection with Mycobacterium ulcerans, is a chronic ulcerative neglected tropical disease of the skin and subcutaneous tissue that is most prevalent in West African countries. M. ulcerans produces a cytotoxic macrolide exotoxin called mycolactone, which causes extensive necrosis of infected subcutaneous tissue and the development of characteristic ulcerative lesions with undermined edges. While cellular immune responses are expected to play a key role against early intracellular stages of M. ulcerans in macrophages, antibody mediated protection might be of major relevance against advanced stages, where bacilli are predominantly found as extracellular clusters.

Methodology/Principal Findings

To assess whether vaccine induced antibodies against surface antigens of M. ulcerans can protect against Buruli ulcer we formulated two surface vaccine candidate antigens, MUL_2232 and MUL_3720, as recombinant proteins with the synthetic Toll-like receptor 4 agonist glucopyranosyl lipid adjuvant-stable emulsion. The candidate vaccines elicited strong antibody responses without a strong bias towards a TH1 type cellular response, as indicated by the IgG2a to IgG1 ratio. Despite the cross-reactivity of the induced antibodies with the native antigens, no significant protection was observed against progression of an experimental M. ulcerans infection in a mouse footpad challenge model.

Conclusions

Even though vaccine-induced antibodies have the potential to opsonise the extracellular bacilli they do not have a protective effect since infiltrating phagocytes might be killed by mycolactone before reaching the bacteria, as indicated by lack of viable infiltrates in the necrotic infection foci.

Correction: Rapid Diagnostic Tests for Dengue Virus Infection in Febrile Cambodian Children: Diagnostic Accuracy and Incorporation into Diagnostic Algorithms

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 5 February 2016 - 10:00pm

by Michael J. Carter, Kate R. Emary, Catherine E. Moore, Christopher M. Parry, Soeng Sona, Hor Putchhat, Sin Reaksmey, Ngoun Chanpheaktra, Nicole Stoesser, Andrew D. M. Dobson, Nicholas P. J. Day, Varun Kumar, Stuart D. Blacksell

Albendazole and Corticosteroids for the Treatment of Solitary Cysticercus Granuloma: A Network Meta-analysis

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 5 February 2016 - 10:00pm

by Bing-Cheng Zhao, Hong-Ye Jiang, Wei-Ying Ma, Da-Di Jin, Hao-Miao Li, Hai Lu, Hideaki Nakajima, Tong-Yi Huang, Kai-Yu Sun, Shu-Ling Chen, Ke-Bing Chen

Background

Solitary cysticercus granuloma (SCG) is the commonest form of neurocysticercosis in the Indian subcontinent and in travelers. Several different treatment options exist for SCG. We conducted a Bayesian network meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials (RCTs) to identify the best treatment option to prevent seizure recurrence and promote lesion resolution for patients with SCG.

Methods and Principal Findings

PubMed, EMBASE and the Cochrane Library databases (up to June 1, 2015) were searched for RCTs that compared any anthelmintics or corticosteroids, alone or in combination, with placebo or head to head and reported on seizure recurrence and lesion resolution in patients with SCG. A total of 14 RCTs (1277 patients) were included in the quantitative analysis focusing on four different treatment options. A Bayesian network model computing odds ratios (OR) with 95% credible intervals (CrI) and probability of being best (Pbest) was used to compare all interventions simultaneously. Albendazole and corticosteroids combination therapy was the only regimen that significantly decreased the risk of seizure recurrence compared with conservative treatment (OR 0.32, 95% CrI 0.10–0.93, Pbest 73.3%). Albendazole and corticosteroids alone or in combination were all efficacious in hastening granuloma resolution, but the combined therapy remained the best option based on probability analysis (OR 3.05, 95% CrI 1.24–7.95, Pbest 53.9%). The superiority of the combination therapy changed little in RCTs with different follow-up durations and in sensitivity analyses. The limitations of this study include high risk of bias and short follow-up duration in most studies.

Conclusions

Dual therapy of albendazole and corticosteroids was the most efficacious regimen that could prevent seizure recurrence and promote lesion resolution in a follow-up period of around one year. It should be recommended for the management of SCG until more high-quality evidence is available.

Correction: FOXP3+ Regulatory T Cells in Hepatic Fibrosis and Splenomegaly Caused by Schistosoma japonicum: The Spleen May Be a Major Source of Tregs in Subjects with Splenomegaly

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 5 February 2016 - 10:00pm

by Audrey Romano, Xunya Hou, Mathieu Sertorio, Hélia Dessein, Sandrine Cabantous, Pablo Oliveira, Jun Li, Sandrine Oyegue, Violaine Arnaud, Xinsong Luo, Martine Daujat-Chavanieu, Odette Mariani, Xavier Sastre, Anne-Marie Dombey, Hongbin He, Yuesheng Li, Alain Dessein

Correction: Multiple Pathogens Including Potential New Species in Tick Vectors in Côte d'Ivoire

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 5 February 2016 - 10:00pm

by Cyrille Bilé Ehounoud, Kouassi Patrick Yao, Mustapha Dahmani, Yaba Louise Achi, Nadia Amanzougaghene, Adèle Kacou N’Douba, Jean David N’Guessan, Didier Raoult, Florence Fenollar, Oleg Mediannikov

Incomplete Protection against Dengue Virus Type 2 Re-infection in Peru

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 5 February 2016 - 10:00pm

by Brett M. Forshey, Robert C. Reiner, Sandra Olkowski, Amy C. Morrison, Angelica Espinoza, Kanya C. Long, Stalin Vilcarromero, Wilma Casanova, Helen J. Wearing, Eric S. Halsey, Tadeusz J. Kochel, Thomas W. Scott, Steven T. Stoddard

Background

Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk for dengue, yet no licensed vaccine or anti-viral drug is currently available. Dengue is caused by any of four dengue virus serotypes (DENV-1 through DENV-4), and infection by a DENV serotype is assumed to provide life-long protection against re-infection by that serotype. We investigated the validity of this fundamental assumption during a large dengue epidemic caused by DENV-2 in Iquitos, Peru, in 2010–2011, 15 years after the first outbreak of DENV-2 in the region.

Methodology/Principal Findings

We estimated the age-dependent prevalence of serotype-specific DENV antibodies from longitudinal cohort studies conducted between 1993 and 2010. During the 2010–2011 epidemic, active dengue cases were identified through active community- and clinic-based febrile surveillance studies, and acute inapparent DENV infections were identified through contact tracing studies. Based on the age-specific prevalence of DENV-2 neutralizing antibodies, the age distribution of DENV-2 cases was markedly older than expected. Homologous protection was estimated at 35.1% (95% confidence interval: 0%–65.2%). At the individual level, pre-existing DENV-2 antibodies were associated with an incomplete reduction in the frequency of symptoms. Among dengue cases, 43% (26/66) exhibited elevated DENV-2 neutralizing antibody titers for years prior to infection, compared with 76% (13/17) of inapparent infections (age-adjusted odds ratio: 4.2; 95% confidence interval: 1.1–17.7).

Conclusions/Significance

Our data indicate that protection from homologous DENV re-infection may be incomplete in some circumstances, which provides context for the limited vaccine efficacy against DENV-2 in recent trials. Further studies are warranted to confirm this phenomenon and to evaluate the potential role of incomplete homologous protection in DENV transmission dynamics.

High Resolution Esophageal Manometry in Patients with Chagas Disease: A Cross-Sectional Evaluation

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 5 February 2016 - 10:00pm

by Adrián Sánchez-Montalvá, María Moris, Marianela Mego, Fernando Salvador, Anna Accarino, Kathleen Ramírez, Fernando Azpiroz, Antonio Ruiz-de-Leon, Israel Molina

Introduction

Gastrointestinal involvement affects 30–40% of the patients with chronic Chagas disease. Esophageal symptoms appear once the structural damage is established. Little is known about the usefulness of high resolution manometry to early identification of esophageal involvement.

Method

We performed a cross-sectional study at the Vall d’Hebron University Hospital (Barcelona, Spain) between May 2011 and April 2012. Consecutive patients diagnosed with Chagas disease in the chronic phase were offered to participate. All patients underwent a structured questionnaire about digestive symptoms, a barium esophagogram (Rezende classification) and an esophageal high resolution manometry (HRM). A control group of patients with heartburn who underwent an esophageal HRM in our hospital was selected.

Results

62 out of 73 patients that were included in the study fulfilled the study protocol. The median age of the Chagas disease group (CG) was 37 (IQR 32–45) years, and 42 (67.7%) patients were female. Twenty-seven (43.5%) patients had esophageal symptoms, heartburn being the most frequent. Esophagogram was abnormal in 5 (8.77%). The esophageal HRM in the CG showed a pathological motility pattern in 14 patients (22.6%). All of them had minor disorders of the peristalsis (13 with ineffective esophageal motility and 1 with fragmented peristalsis). Hypotonic lower esophageal sphincter was found more frequently in the CG than in the control group (21% vs 3.3%; p<0.01). Upper esophageal sphincter was hypertonic in 22 (35.5%) and hypotonic in 1 patient. When comparing specific manometric parameters or patterns in the CG according to the presence of symptoms or esophagogram no statistically significant association were seen, except for distal latency.

Conclusion

The esophageal involvement measured by HRM in patients with chronic Chagas disease in our cohort is 22.6%. All the patients with esophageal alterations had minor disorders of the peristalsis. Symptoms and esophagogram results did not correlate with the HRM results.

Experiences of a Community-Based Lymphedema Management Program for Lymphatic Filariasis in Odisha State, India: An Analysis of Focus Group Discussions with Patients, Families, Community Members and Program Volunteers

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 5 February 2016 - 10:00pm

by Tali Cassidy, Caitlin M. Worrell, Kristen Little, Aishya Prakash, Inakhi Patra, Jonathan Rout, LeAnne M. Fox

Background

Globally 68 million people are infected with lymphatic filariasis (LF), 17 million of whom have lymphedema. This study explores the effects of a lymphedema management program in Odisha State, India on morbidity and psychosocial effects associated with lymphedema.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Focus groups were held with patients (eight groups, separated by gender), their family members (eight groups), community members (four groups) and program volunteers (four groups) who had participated in a lymphedema management program for the past three years. Significant social, physical, and economic difficulties were described by patients and family members, including marriageability, social stigma, and lost workdays. However, the positive impact of the lymphedema management program was also emphasized, and many family and community members indicated that community members were accepting of patients and had some improved understanding of the etiology of the disease. Program volunteers and community members stressed the role that the program had played in educating people, though interestingly, local explanations and treatments appear to coexist with knowledge of biomedical treatments and the mosquito vector.

Conclusions/Significance

Local and biomedical understandings of disease can co-exist and do not preclude individuals from participating in biomedical interventions, specifically lymphedema management for those with lymphatic filariasis. There is a continued need for gender-specific psychosocial support groups to address issues particular to men and women as well as a continued need for improved economic opportunities for LF-affected patients. There is an urgent need to scale up LF-related morbidity management programs to reduce the suffering of people affected by LF.

Incidence of Dengue Virus Infection in Adults and Children in a Prospective Longitudinal Cohort in the Philippines

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 4 February 2016 - 10:00pm

by Maria Theresa Alera, Anon Srikiatkhachorn, John Mark Velasco, Ilya A. Tac-An, Catherine B. Lago, Hannah E. Clapham, Stefan Fernandez, Jens W. Levy, Butsaya Thaisomboonsuk, Chonticha Klungthong, Louis R. Macareo, Ananda Nisalak, Laura Hermann, Daisy Villa, In-Kyu Yoon

Background

The mean age of dengue has been increasing in some but not all countries. We sought to determine the incidence of dengue virus (DENV) infection in adults and children in a prospective cohort study in the Philippines where dengue is hyperendemic.

Methodology/Principal Findings

A prospective cohort of subjects ≥6 months old in Cebu City, Philippines, underwent active community-based surveillance for acute febrile illnesses by weekly contact. Fever history within the prior seven days was evaluated with an acute illness visit followed by 2, 5, and 8-day, and 3-week convalescent visits. Blood was collected at the acute and 3-week visits. Scheduled visits took place at enrolment and 12 months that included blood collections. Acute samples were tested by DENV PCR and acute/convalescent samples by DENV IgM/IgG ELISA to identify symptomatic infections. Enrolment and 12-month samples were tested by DENV hemagglutination inhibition (HAI) assay to identify subclinical infections. Of 1,008 enrolled subjects, 854 completed all study activities at 12 months per-protocol undergoing 868 person-years of surveillance. The incidence of symptomatic and subclinical infections was 1.62 and 7.03 per 100 person-years, respectively. However, in subjects >15 years old, only one symptomatic infection occurred whereas 27 subclinical infections were identified. DENV HAI seroprevalence increased sharply with age with baseline multitypic HAIs associated with fewer symptomatic infections. Using a catalytic model, the historical infection rate among dengue naïve individuals was estimated to be high at 11–22%/year.

Conclusions/Significance

In this hyperendemic area with high seroprevalence of multitypic DENV HAIs in adults, symptomatic dengue rarely occurred in individuals older than 15 years. Our findings demonstrate that dengue is primarily a pediatric disease in areas with high force of infection. However, the average age of dengue could increase if force of infection decreases over time, as is occurring in some hyperendemic countries such as Thailand.

Vibrio cholerae Biofilms and Cholera Pathogenesis

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 4 February 2016 - 10:00pm

by Anisia J. Silva, Jorge A. Benitez

Vibrio cholerae can switch between motile and biofilm lifestyles. The last decades have been marked by a remarkable increase in our knowledge of the structure, regulation, and function of biofilms formed under laboratory conditions. Evidence has grown suggesting that V. cholerae can form biofilm-like aggregates during infection that could play a critical role in pathogenesis and disease transmission. However, the structure and regulation of biofilms formed during infection, as well as their role in intestinal colonization and virulence, remains poorly understood. Here, we review (i) the evidence for biofilm formation during infection, (ii) the coordinate regulation of biofilm and virulence gene expression, and (iii) the host signals that favor V. cholerae transitions between alternative lifestyles during intestinal colonization, and (iv) we discuss a model for the role of V. cholerae biofilms in pathogenicity.

A Missense LRRK2 Variant Is a Risk Factor for Excessive Inflammatory Responses in Leprosy

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 4 February 2016 - 10:00pm

by Vinicius M. Fava, Jérémy Manry, Aurélie Cobat, Marianna Orlova, Nguyen Van Thuc, Nguyen Ngoc Ba, Vu Hong Thai, Laurent Abel, Alexandre Alcaïs, Erwin Schurr, Canadian Lrrk2 in Inflammation Team (CLINT)

Background

Depending on the epidemiological setting, a variable proportion of leprosy patients will suffer from excessive pro-inflammatory responses, termed type-1 reactions (T1R). The LRRK2 gene encodes a multi-functional protein that has been shown to modulate pro-inflammatory responses. Variants near the LRRK2 gene have been associated with leprosy in some but not in other studies. We hypothesized that LRRK2 was a T1R susceptibility gene and that inconsistent association results might reflect different proportions of patients with T1R in the different sample settings. Hence, we evaluated the association of LRRK2 variants with T1R susceptibility.

Methodology

An association scan of the LRRK2 locus was performed using 156 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Evidence of association was evaluated in two family-based samples: A set of T1R-affected and a second set of T1R-free families. Only SNPs significant for T1R-affected families with significant evidence of heterogeneity relative to T1R-free families were considered T1R-specific. An expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) analysis was applied to evaluate the impact of T1R-specific SNPs on LRRK2 gene transcriptional levels.

Principal Findings

A total of 18 T1R-specific variants organized in four bins were detected. The core SNP capturing the T1R association was the LRRK2 missense variant M2397T (rs3761863) that affects LRRK2 protein turnover. Additionally, a bin of nine SNPs associated with T1R were eQTLs for LRRK2 in unstimulated whole blood cells but not after exposure to Mycobacterium leprae antigen.

Significance

The results support a preferential association of LRRK2 variants with T1R. LRRK2 involvement in T1R is likely due to a pathological pro-inflammatory loop modulated by LRRK2 availability. Interestingly, the M2397T variant was reported in association with Crohn’s disease with the same risk allele as in T1R suggesting common inflammatory mechanism in these two distinct diseases.

Current Perspectives on Plague Vector Control in Madagascar: Susceptibility Status of Xenopsylla cheopis to 12 Insecticides

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 4 February 2016 - 10:00pm

by Adélaïde Miarinjara, Sébastien Boyer

Plague is a rodent disease transmissible to humans by infected flea bites, and Madagascar is one of the countries with the highest plague incidence in the world. This study reports the susceptibility of the main plague vector Xenopsylla cheopis to 12 different insecticides belonging to 4 insecticide families (carbamates, organophosphates, pyrethroids and organochlorines). Eight populations from different geographical regions of Madagascar previously resistant to deltamethrin were tested with a World Health Organization standard bioassay. Insecticide susceptibility varied amongst populations, but all of them were resistant to six insecticides belonging to pyrethroid and carbamate insecticides (alphacypermethrin, lambdacyhalothrin, etofenprox, deltamethrin, bendiocarb and propoxur). Only one insecticide (dieldrin) was an efficient pulicide for all flea populations. Cross resistances were suspected. This study proposes at least three alternative insecticides (malathion, fenitrothion and cyfluthrin) to replace deltamethrin during plague epidemic responses, but the most efficient insecticide may be different for each population studied. We highlight the importance of continuous insecticide susceptibility surveillance in the areas of high plague risk in Madagascar.

An Anti-proteome Nanobody Library Approach Yields a Specific Immunoassay for Trypanosoma congolense Diagnosis Targeting Glycosomal Aldolase

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 2 February 2016 - 10:00pm

by Steven Odongo, Yann G. J. Sterckx, Benoît Stijlemans, Davita Pillay, Théo Baltz, Serge Muyldermans, Stefan Magez

Background

Infectious diseases pose a severe worldwide threat to human and livestock health. While early diagnosis could enable prompt preventive interventions, the majority of diseases are found in rural settings where basic laboratory facilities are scarce. Under such field conditions, point-of-care immunoassays provide an appropriate solution for rapid and reliable diagnosis. The limiting steps in the development of the assay are the identification of a suitable target antigen and the selection of appropriate high affinity capture and detection antibodies. To meet these challenges, we describe the development of a Nanobody (Nb)-based antigen detection assay generated from a Nb library directed against the soluble proteome of an infectious agent. In this study, Trypanosoma congolense was chosen as a model system.

Methodology/Principal Findings

An alpaca was vaccinated with whole-parasite soluble proteome to generate a Nb library from which the most potent T. congolense specific Nb sandwich immunoassay (Nb474H-Nb474B) was selected. First, the Nb474-homologous sandwich ELISA (Nb474-ELISA) was shown to detect experimental infections with high Positive Predictive Value (98%), Sensitivity (87%) and Specificity (94%). Second, it was demonstrated under experimental conditions that the assay serves as test-of-cure after Berenil treatment. Finally, this assay allowed target antigen identification. The latter was independently purified through immuno-capturing from (i) T. congolense soluble proteome, (ii) T. congolense secretome preparation and (iii) sera of T. congolense infected mice. Subsequent mass spectrometry analysis identified the target as T. congolense glycosomal aldolase.

Conclusions/Significance

The results show that glycosomal aldolase is a candidate biomarker for active T. congolense infections. In addition, and by proof-of-principle, the data demonstrate that the Nb strategy devised here offers a unique approach to both diagnostic development and target discovery that could be widely applied to other infectious diseases.

Induction of IL-10 and TGFβ from CD4+CD25+FoxP3+ T Cells Correlates with Parasite Load in Indian Kala-azar Patients Infected with Leishmania donovani

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 1 February 2016 - 10:00pm

by Pradyot Bhattacharya, Smriti Ghosh, Sarfaraz Ahmad Ejazi, Mehebubar Rahaman, Krishna Pandey, Vidya Nand Ravi Das, Pradeep Das, Rama Prosad Goswami, Bibhuti Saha, Nahid Ali

Background

Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is distinguished by a complex interplay of immune response and parasite multiplication inside host cells. However, the direct association between different immunological correlates and parasite numbers remains largely unknown.

Methodology/Principal Findings

We examined the plasma levels of different disease promoting/protective as well as Th17 cytokines and found IL-10, TGFβ and IL-17 to be significantly correlated with parasite load in VL patients (r = 0.52, 0.53 and 0.51 for IL-10, TGFβ and IL-17, respectively). We then extended our investigation to a more antigen-specific response and found leishmanial antigen stimulated levels of both IL-10 and TGFβ to be significantly associated with parasite load (r = 0.71 and 0.72 for IL-10 and TGFβ respectively). In addition to cytokines we also looked for different cellular subtypes that could contribute to cytokine secretion and parasite persistence. Our observations manifested an association between different Treg cell markers and disease progression as absolute numbers of CD4+CD25+ (r = 0.55), CD4+CD25hi (r = 0.61) as well as percentages of CD4+CD25+FoxP3+ T cells (r = 0.68) all correlated with parasite load. Encouraged by these results, we investigated a link between these immunological components and interestingly found both CD4+CD25+ and CD4+CD25+FoxP3+ Treg cells to secrete significantly (p<0.05) higher amounts of not only IL-10 but also TGFβ in comparison to corresponding CD25- T cells.

Conclusions/Significance

Our findings shed some light on source(s) of TGFβ and suggest an association between these disease promoting cytokines and Treg cells with parasite load during active disease. Moreover, the direct evidence of CD4+CD25+FoxP3+ Treg cells as a source of IL-10 and TGFβ during active VL could open new avenues for immunotherapy towards cure of this potentially fatal disease.

Neuromuscular Effects of Common Krait (Bungarus caeruleus) Envenoming in Sri Lanka

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 1 February 2016 - 10:00pm

by Anjana Silva, Kalana Maduwage, Michael Sedgwick, Senaka Pilapitiya, Prasanna Weerawansa, Niroshana J. Dahanayaka, Nicholas A. Buckley, Christopher Johnston, Sisira Siribaddana, Geoffrey K. Isbister

Objective

We aimed to investigate neurophysiological and clinical effects of common krait envenoming, including the time course and treatment response.

Methodology

Patients with definite common krait (Bungarus caeruleus) bites were recruited from a Sri Lankan hospital. All patients had serial neurological examinations and stimulated concentric needle single-fibre electromyography (sfEMG) of orbicularis oculi in hospital at 6wk and 6–9mth post-bite.

Principal Findings

There were 33 patients enrolled (median age 35y; 24 males). Eight did not develop neurotoxicity and had normal sfEMG. Eight had mild neurotoxicity with ptosis, normal sfEMG; six received antivenom and all recovered within 20–32h. Seventeen patients developed severe neurotoxicity with rapidly descending paralysis, from ptosis to complete ophthalmoplegia, facial, bulbar and neck weakness. All 17 received Indian polyvalent antivenom a median 3.5h post-bite (2.8–7.2h), which cleared unbound venom from blood. Despite this, the paralysis worsened requiring intubation and ventilation within 7h post-bite. sfEMG showed markedly increased jitter and neuromuscular blocks within 12h. sfEMG abnormalities gradually improved over 24h, corresponding with clinical recovery. Muscle recovery occurred in ascending order. Myotoxicity was not evident, clinically or biochemically, in any of the patients. Patients were extubated a median 96h post-bite (54–216h). On discharge, median 8 days (4–12days) post-bite, patients were clinically normal but had mild sfEMG abnormalities which persisted at 6wk post-bite. There were no clinical or neurophysiological abnormalities at 6–9mth.

Conclusions

Common krait envenoming causes rapid onset severe neuromuscular paralysis which takes days to recover clinically consistent with sfEMG. Subclinical neuromuscular dysfunction lasts weeks but was not permanent. Antivenom effectively cleared venom but did not prevent worsening or reverse neuromuscular paralysis.

Correction: The Schistosoma mansoni Cytochrome P450 (CYP3050A1) Is Essential for Worm Survival and Egg Development

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 1 February 2016 - 10:00pm

by Peter D. Ziniel, Bhargava Karumudi, Andrew H. Barnard, Ethan M. S. Fisher, Gregory R. J. Thatcher, Larissa M. Podust, David L. Williams

Disease Risk Perception and Safety Practices: A Survey of Australian Flying Fox Rehabilitators

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 1 February 2016 - 10:00pm

by Cecilia A. Sánchez, Michelle L. Baker

Interactions with flying foxes pose disease transmission risks to volunteer rehabilitators (carers) who treat injured, ill, and orphaned bats. In particular, Australian bat lyssavirus (ABLV) can be transmitted directly from flying foxes to humans in Australia. Personal protective equipment (PPE) and rabies vaccination can be used to protect against lyssavirus infection. During May and June 2014, active Australian flying fox carers participated in an online survey (SOAR: Survey Of Australian flying fox Rehabilitators) designed to gather demographic data, assess perceptions of disease risk, and explore safety practices. Responses to open-ended questions were analysed thematically. A logistic regression was performed to assess whether rehabilitators’ gender, use of PPE, threat perception, and years of experience predicted variation in their odds of being bitten or scratched. Eligible responses were received from 122 rehabilitators located predominantly on the eastern coast of Australia. Eighty-four percent of respondents were female. Years of experience ranged from <1 to 30 years (median 5 years). Respondents were highly educated. All rehabilitators were vaccinated against rabies and 94% received a rabies titre check at least every two years. Sixty-three percent of carers did not perceive viruses in flying foxes as a potential threat to their health, yet 74% of carers reported using PPE when handling flying foxes. Eighty-three percent of rehabilitators had received a flying fox bite or scratch at some point during their career. Carers provide an important community service by rescuing and rehabilitating flying foxes. While rehabilitators in this study have many excellent safety practices, including a 100% vaccination rate against rabies, there is room for improvement in PPE use. We recommend 1) the establishment of an Australia-wide set of guidelines for safety when caring for bats and 2) that the responsible government agencies in Australia support carers who rescue potentially ABLV-infected bats by offering compensation for PPE.

Feeding Behavior Modulates Biofilm-Mediated Transmission of Yersinia pestis by the Cat Flea, Ctenocephalides felis

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 1 February 2016 - 10:00pm

by David M. Bland, B. Joseph Hinnebusch

Background

The cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis, is prevalent worldwide, will parasitize animal reservoirs of plague, and is associated with human habitations in known plague foci. Despite its pervasiveness, limited information is available about the cat flea’s competence as a vector for Yersinia pestis. It is generally considered to be a poor vector, based on studies examining early-phase transmission during the first week after infection, but transmission potential by the biofilm-dependent proventricular-blocking mechanism has never been systematically evaluated. In this study, we assessed the vector competence of cat fleas by both mechanisms. Because the feeding behavior of cat fleas differs markedly from important rat flea vectors, we also examined the influence of feeding behavior on transmission dynamics.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Groups of cat fleas were infected with Y. pestis and subsequently provided access to sterile blood meals twice-weekly, 5 times per week, or daily for 4 weeks and monitored for infection, the development of proventricular biofilm and blockage, mortality, and the ability to transmit. In cat fleas allowed prolonged, daily access to blood meals, mimicking their natural feeding behavior, Y. pestis did not efficiently colonize the digestive tract and could only be transmitted during the first week after infection. In contrast, cat fleas that were fed intermittently, mimicking the feeding behavior of the efficient vector Xenopsylla cheopis, could become blocked and regularly transmitted Y. pestis for 3–4 weeks by the biofilm-mediated mechanism, but early-phase transmission was not detected.

Conclusions

The normal feeding behavior of C. felis, more than an intrinsic resistance to infection or blockage by Y. pestis, limits its vector competence. Rapid turnover of midgut contents results in bacterial clearance and disruption of biofilm accumulation in the proventriculus. Anatomical features of the cat flea foregut may also restrict transmission by both early-phase and proventricular biofilm-dependent mechanisms.

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