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<i>Burkholderia pseudomallei</i> invades the olfactory nerve and bulb after epithelial injury in mice and causes the formation of multinucleated giant glial cells <i>in vitro</i>

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 24 January 2020 - 10:00pm

by Heidi Walkden, Ali Delbaz, Lynn Nazareth, Michael Batzloff, Todd Shelper, Ifor R. Beacham, Anu Chacko, Megha Shah, Kenneth W. Beagley, Johana Tello Velasquez, James A. St John, Jenny A. K. Ekberg

The infectious disease melioidosis is caused by the bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei. Melioidosis is characterised by high mortality and morbidity and can involve the central nervous system (CNS). We have previously discovered that B. pseudomallei can infect the CNS via the olfactory and trigeminal nerves in mice. We have shown that the nerve path is dependent on mouse strain, with outbred mice showing resistance to olfactory nerve infection. Damage to the nasal epithelium by environmental factors is common, and we hypothesised that injury to the olfactory epithelium may increase the vulnerability of the olfactory nerve to microbial insult. We therefore investigated this, using outbred mice that were intranasally inoculated with B. pseudomallei, with or without methimazole-induced injury to the olfactory neuroepithelium. Methimazole-mediated injury resulted in increased B. pseudomallei invasion of the olfactory epithelium, and only in pre-injured animals were bacteria found in the olfactory nerve and bulb. In vitro assays demonstrated that B. pseudomallei readily infected glial cells isolated from the olfactory and trigeminal nerves (olfactory ensheathing cells and trigeminal Schwann cells, respectively). Bacteria were degraded by some cells but persisted in other cells, which led to the formation of multinucleated giant cells (MNGCs), with olfactory ensheathing cells less likely to form MNGCs than Schwann cells. Double Cap mutant bacteria, lacking the protein BimA, did not form MNGCs. These data suggest that injuries to the olfactory epithelium expose the primary olfactory nervous system to bacterial invasion, which can then result in CNS infection with potential pathogenic consequences for the glial cells.

Plasma metabolomics of the time resolved response to <i>Opisthorchis felineus</i> infection in an animal model (golden hamster, <i>Mesocricetus auratus</i>)

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 24 January 2020 - 10:00pm

by Daria Kokova, Aswin Verhoeven, Ekaterina A. Perina, Vladimir V. Ivanov, Elena M. Knyazeva, Irina V. Saltykova, Oleg A. Mayboroda

Background

Opisthorchiasis is a hepatobiliary disease caused by flukes of the trematode family Opisthorchiidae. Opisthorchiasis can lead to severe hepatobiliary morbidity and is classified as a carcinogenic agent. Here we investigate the time-resolved metabolic response to Opisthorchis felineus infection in an animal model.

Methodology

Thirty golden hamsters were divided in three groups: severe infection (50 metacercariae/hamster), mild infection (15 metacercariae/hamster) and uninfected (vehicle-PBS) groups. Each group consisted of equal number of male and female animals. Plasma samples were collected one day before the infection and then every two weeks up to week 22 after infection. The samples were subjected to 1H Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and multivariate statistical modelling.

Principal findings

The time-resolved study of the metabolic response to Opisthorchis infection in plasma in the main lines agrees with our previous report on urine data. The response reaches its peak around the 4th week of infection and stabilizes after the 10th week. Yet, unlike the urinary data there is no strong effect of the gender in the data and the intensity of infection is presented in the first two principal components of the PCA model. The main trends of the metabolic response to the infection in blood plasma are the transient depletion of essential amino acids and an increase in lipoprotein and cholesterol concentrations.

Conclusions

The time resolved metabolic signature of Opisthorchis infection in the hamster’s plasma shows a coherent shift in amino acids and lipid metabolism. Our work provides insight into the metabolic basis of the host response on the helminth infection.

Outcomes of visceral leishmaniasis in pregnancy: A retrospective cohort study from South Sudan

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 24 January 2020 - 10:00pm

by Judith E. Pekelharing, Francis Gatluak, Tim Harrison, Fernando Maldonado, M. Ruby Siddiqui, Koert Ritmeijer

Introduction

Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is endemic in South Sudan, where outbreaks occur frequently. Because of changes in the immune system during pregnancy, pregnant women are considered particularly vulnerable for developing complications of VL disease, including opportunistic infections. There is limited evidence available about clinical aspects and treatment outcomes of VL in pregnancy. We describe characteristics, maternal and pregnancy outcomes from a cohort of pregnant women with VL.

Methods

We conducted a retrospective analysis using routine programme data from a MSF health facility in Lankien, Jonglei State, South Sudan, between Oct 2014 and April 2018. Records were extracted of women diagnosed with VL while pregnant, and those symptomatic during pregnancy but diagnosed during the first two weeks postpartum. Records were matched with a random sample of non-pregnant women of reproductive age (15–45 years) with VL from the same period.

Results

We included 113 women with VL in pregnancy, and 223 non-pregnant women with VL. Women with VL in pregnancy presented with more severe anaemia, were more likely to need blood transfusion (OR 9.3; 95%CI 2.5–34.2) and were more often prescribed antibiotics (OR 6.0; 95%CI 3.4–10.6), as compared to non-pregnant women with VL. Adverse pregnancy outcomes, including miscarriage and premature delivery, were reported in 20% (16/81) where VL was diagnosed in pregnancy, and 50% 13/26) where VL was diagnosed postpartum. Postpartum haemorrhage was common. Pregnant women were more likely to require extension of treatment to achieve cure (OR 10.0; 95%CI 4.8–20.9), as compared to non-pregnant women with VL. Nevertheless, overall initial cure rates were high (96.5%) and mortality was low (1.8%) in this cohort of pregnant women with VL.

Conclusion

This is the largest cohort in the literature of VL in pregnancy. Our data suggest that good maternal survival rates are possible in resource-limited settings, despite the high incidence of complications.

Molecular xenomonitoring as a post-MDA surveillance tool for global programme to eliminate lymphatic filariasis: Field validation in an evaluation unit in India

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 24 January 2020 - 10:00pm

by Swaminathan Subramanian, Purushothaman Jambulingam, Kaliannagounder Krishnamoorthy, Neelavathi Sivagnaname, Candasamy Sadanandane, Venkatesan Vasuki, Chokkalingam Palaniswamy, Balakrishnan Vijayakumar, Adinarayanan Srividya, Hari Kishan K. Raju

Background

Lymphatic filariasis (LF) is targeted for elimination by the year 2020. As of 2017, 67 of the 72 endemic countries have implemented annual Mass Drug Administration (MDA) for interrupting LF transmission. Transmission Assessment Survey (TAS) is the recommended protocol to evaluate the impact of MDA and to decide when to stop MDA in an Evaluation Unit (EU, population ≤2 million). As the human infection levels go down with repeated MDA rounds, it becomes a challenge to select the appropriate survey methods to assess transmission interruption. This study validates a standard protocol for molecular xenomonitoring of infection in vectors (MX) at an EU as a complementary tool for TAS to stop MDA and its utility for post-MDA or post-validation surveillance.

Methodology

The study was conducted in Cuddalore district, Tamil Nadu, India, which was found eligible for TAS after 15 annual rounds of MDA (4 with DEC alone and 11 with DEC plus albendazole). The district was divided into two EUs as per the TAS protocol and one EU was randomly selected for the study. A two-stage cluster design vector sampling, developed and validated at a sub-district level, was implemented in 30 randomly selected clusters in the EU. Female Culex quinquefasciatus were collected placing gravid traps overnight (1800–0600 hrs) inside the premises of systematically selected households. Pools of 20–25 blood-fed, semi-gravid and gravid Cx. quinquefasciatus were subjected to real-time quantitative PCR (polymerase chain reaction) assay for detecting Wuchereria bancrofti DNA. Pool infection rate (% of pools positive for W. bancrofti DNA), and the estimated prevalence of W. bancrofti DNA in mosquitoes and its 95% confidence interval were calculated. Additionally, in these 30 clusters, microfilaria (Mf) survey among individuals >5 years old was carried out. School-based TAS was conducted using Immunochromatographic Card Test (ICT) in the EU. Prepared itemized cost-menu for different cost components of MX survey and TAS were estimated and compared.

Results

MX survey showed that only 11 (3.1%) of the 358 pools (8850 Cx.quinquefasciatus females), collected from 30 clusters, were found positive for W. bancrofti DNA. The estimated vector infection rate was 0.13% (95% CI: 0.07–0.22%), below the provisional threshold (0.25%) for transmission interruption. Of 1578 children tested in the TAS, only four (0.25%) were positive for filarial antigenemia, and it is well below the critical cut-off (18 positives) for stopping MDA. Among 9804 persons tested in the 30 clusters, only four were found positive for Mf (0.04%; 95% CI: 0.01–0.1%). The Mf-prevalence was <1% threshold for transmission interruption in humans. The estimated costs for TAS and MX per EU were $14,104 USD and $14,259 USD respectively.

Conclusions

The result of MX protocol was in good agreement with that of TAS, providing evidence to recommend MX as a complementary tool to TAS to decide on stopping MDA. MX can also be a potential surveillance tool for post-MDA and post-validation phases as it could detect sites with residual infection and risk of resurgence of transmission. MX is economically feasible as its cost is slightly lower than that of TAS.

Hyperendemic <i>Chlamydia trachomatis</i> sexually transmitted infections among females represent a high burden of asymptomatic disease and health disparity among Pacific Islanders in Fiji

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 23 January 2020 - 10:00pm

by Virginia Svigals, Alden Blair, Santha Muller, Aalisha Sahu Khan, Daniel Faktaufon, Mike Kama, Torika Tamani, Laila Esfandiari, Mollie O’Brien, Deborah Dean

Background

Chlamydia trachomatis is the most common bacterial sexually transmitted infection worldwide with some of the highest prevalence rates among Pacific Island Countries where syndromic management is practiced. However, little is known about the true prevalence and risk indicators for infection among neglected populations in these countries that suffer from health disparities.

Methodology/Principal findings

Consecutive sampling was used to enroll sexually active females, aged 18–40 years, attending 12 Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical Services Health Centers and outreach locations from February to December, 2018. A Behavioral Surveillance Survey was administered to assess risk indicators for infection. Signs and symptoms were recorded, and vaginal swabs were tested for C. trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Trichomonas vaginalis, Candida and bacterial vaginosis. Bivariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed using R-Studio. Of 577 participants, 103 (17.85%) were infected with C. trachomatis of whom 80% were asymptomatic and only 11 met criteria for syndromic management; 38.8% of infected women were 18–24 years old with a prevalence of 30.5%. 91.7% of participants intermittently or did not use condoms. C. trachomatis infection was associated with iTaukei ethnicity (OR 21.41 [95% CI: 6.38–133.53]); two (OR 2.12 [95% CI: 1.08–4.18]) lifetime partners; and N. gonorrhoeae co-infection (OR 9.56 [95% CI: 3.67–28.15]) in multivariate analyses.

Conclusions

A disproportionately high burden of C. trachomatis is present among young asymptomatic women in Fiji of iTaukei ethnicity despite the low number of lifetime partners. Syndromic management and lack of barrier contraceptives contribute to hyperendemic levels. Strategic STI education and screening of at-risk adolescents, young women, and their partner(s) with appropriate treatment are urgently needed to control the epidemic.

Implementation of a mass canine rabies vaccination campaign in both rural and urban regions in southern Malawi

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 23 January 2020 - 10:00pm

by Carlos Sánchez-Soriano, Andrew D. Gibson, Luke Gamble, Jordana L. Burdon Bailey, Dagmar Mayer, Frederic Lohr, Patrick Chikungwa, Julius Chulu, Ian G. Handel, Barend M. deC. Bronsvoort, Richard J. Mellanby, Stella Mazeri

Rabies is a devastating zoonotic disease causing nearly 60,000 deaths globally each year. The disease causes Malawi an economic loss of 13 million USD and kills almost 500 people annually. Domestic dogs are the main reservoir for rabies and vaccinating over 70% of the dog population is the most efficient method to reduce its incidence in both humans and canines. However, achieving such coverages is often difficult and depend on many geospatial factors. Rural and pastoral regions are considered difficult to vaccinate efficiently due to low dog densities, and reports of campaigns spanning large areas containing vastly different communities are lacking. This study describes a mass canine vaccination campaign covering rural and urban regions in southern Malawi. The campaign achieved an average vaccination coverage of 83.4% across 3 districts, and vaccinated over 89,000 dogs through a combined static point and door-to-door effort. A dog population of 107,574 dogs was estimated (dog:human ratio of 1:23). The canine population was found to be almost completely owned (99.2%) and mostly kept for security purposes (82.7%). The dogs were mainly adults, males, and not neutered. Regression analysis identified education level and proportion of young dogs as the only factors influencing (positively and negatively, respectively) whether vaccination coverage over 70% was achieved in a region, independently of variables such as population density or poverty. A second regression analysis was performed predicting absolute vaccination coverage. While education level and the proportion of confined dogs were associated with positive vaccination coverage, higher proportions of young animals and female dogs were associated with a decrease in coverage. This study confirms the feasibility of homogeneously vaccinating over 70% of the dogs in a large area including rural and urban communities. These findings can inform the logistics of future campaigns and might be used as a template to facilitate high-number, high-coverage vaccination campaigns to other regions in sub-Saharan Africa.

Language and beliefs in relation to noma: a qualitative study, northwest Nigeria

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 23 January 2020 - 10:00pm

by Elise Farley, Annick Lenglet, Aisha Abubakar, Karla Bil, Adolphe Fotso, Bukola Oluyide, Simba Tirima, Ushma Mehta, Beverley Stringer

Background

Noma is an orofacial gangrene that rapidly disintegrates the tissues of the face. Little is known about noma, as most patients live in underserved and inaccessible regions. We aimed to assess the descriptive language used and beliefs around noma, at the Noma Children’s Hospital in Sokoto, Nigeria. Findings will be used to inform prevention programs.

Methods

Five focus group discussions (FGD) were held with caretakers of patients with noma who were admitted to the hospital at the time of interview, and 12 in-depth interviews (IDI) were held with staff at the hospital. Topic guides used for interviews were adapted to encourage the natural flow of conversation. Emergent codes, patterns and themes were deciphered from the data derived from IDI’s and FGDs.

Results

Our study uncovered two main themes: names, descriptions and explanations for the disease, and risks and consequences of noma. Naming of the disease differed between caretakers and heath care workers. The general names used for noma illustrate the beliefs and social system used to explain the disease. Beliefs were varied; participant responses demonstrate a wide range of understanding of the disease and its causes. Difficulty in accessing care for patients with noma was evident and the findings suggest a variety of actions taking place before reaching a health center or health worker. Patient caretakers mentioned that barriers to care included a lack of knowledge regarding this medical condition, as well as a lack of trust in seeking medical care. Participants in our study spoke of the mental health strain the disease placed on them, particularly due to the stigma that is associated with noma.

Conclusions

Caretaker and practitioner perspectives enhance our understanding of the disease in this context and can be usedto improve treatment and prevention programs, and to better understand barriers to accessing health care. Differences in disease naming illustrate the difference in beliefs about the disease. This has an impact on health seeking behaviours, which for noma cases has important ramifications on outcomes, due to the rapid progression of the disease.

Heatwaves cause fluctuations in <i>w</i>Mel <i>Wolbachia</i> densities and frequencies in <i>Aedes aegypti</i>

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 23 January 2020 - 10:00pm

by Perran A. Ross, Jason K. Axford, Qiong Yang, Kyran M. Staunton, Scott A. Ritchie, Kelly M. Richardson, Ary A. Hoffmann

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes infected with the wMel strain of Wolbachia are being released into natural mosquito populations in the tropics as a way of reducing dengue transmission. High temperatures adversely affect wMel, reducing Wolbachia density and cytoplasmic incompatibility in some larval habitats that experience large temperature fluctuations. We monitored the impact of a 43.6°C heatwave on the wMel infection in a natural population in Cairns, Australia, where wMel was first released in 2011 and has persisted at a high frequency. Wolbachia infection frequencies in the month following the heatwave were reduced to 83% in larvae sampled directly from field habitats and 88% in eggs collected from ovitraps, but recovered to be near 100% four months later. Effects of the heatwave on wMel appeared to be stage-specific and delayed, with reduced frequencies and densities in field-collected larvae and adults reared from ovitraps but higher frequencies in field-collected adults. Laboratory experiments showed that the effects of heatwaves on cytoplasmic incompatibility and density are life stage-specific, with first instar larvae being the most vulnerable to temperature effects. Our results indicate that heatwaves in wMel-infected populations will have only temporary effects on Wolbachia frequencies and density once the infection has established in the population. Our results are relevant to ongoing releases of wMel-infected Ae. aegypti in several tropical countries.

Identification of trombiculid mites (Acari: Trombiculidae) on rodents from Chiloé Island and molecular evidence of infection with <i>Orientia</i> species

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 23 January 2020 - 10:00pm

by Gerardo Acosta-Jamett, Constanza Martínez-Valdebenito, Esperanza Beltrami, María Carolina Silva-de La Fuente, Ju Jiang, Allen L. Richards, Thomas Weitzel, Katia Abarca

Background

Scrub typhus is an emerging vector-borne zoonosis, caused by Orientia spp. and transmitted by larvae of trombiculid mites, called chiggers. It mainly occurs within a region of the Asia-Pacific called the tsutsugamushi triangle, where rodents are known as the most relevant hosts for the trombiculid vector. However, the reservoir(s) and vector(s) of the scrub typhus outside Asia-Pacific are unknown. The disease has recently been discovered on and is considered endemic for Chiloé Island in southern Chile. The aim of the present work was to detect and determine the prevalence of chiggers on different rodent species captured in probable sites for the transmission of orientiae responsible for scrub typhus on Chiloé Island in southern Chile and to molecularly examine collected chiggers for the presence of Orientia DNA.

Methodology/Principal findings

During the austral summer 2018, rodents were live-trapped in six sites and examined for chigger infestation. All study sites were rural areas on Chiloé Island, previously identified as probable localities where human cases acquired the scrub typhus. During a total of 4,713 trap-nights, 244 rodents of seven species were captured: the most abundant was Abrothrix olivacea. Chiggers were detected on all seven rodent species with a 55% prevalence rate. Chiggers showed low host specificity and varied according to site specific host abundance. Three genera of trombiculids were identified. Herpetacarus was the most abundant genus (93%), prevalent in five of the six sites. Infestation rates showed site specific differences, which were statistically significant using a GLM model with binomial errors. Molecular analyses proved that 21 of 133 (15.8%) mite pools were positive for Orientia species, all of them belonged to the genus Herpetacarus.

Conclusions/Significance

This study firstly reports the presence of different rodent-associated chigger mites positive for Orientia sp., in a region endemic for scrub typhus in southern Chile. Herpetacarus and two other genera of mites were found with high infestation rates of rodents in sites previously identified as probable exposure of scrub typhus cases. A substantial percentage of mite pools were positive for Orientia DNA, suggesting that chigger mites serve as vectors and reservoirs of this emerging zoonosis in South America.

Combined <i>in vitro</i> IL-12 and IL-15 stimulation promotes cellular immune response in dogs with visceral leishmaniasis

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 21 January 2020 - 10:00pm

by Sidnei Ferro Costa, Vinícius Oliveira Gomes, Marilene Oliveira dos Santos Maciel, Larissa Martins Melo, Gabriela Lovizutto Venturin, Jaqueline Poleto Bragato, Gabriela Torres Rebech, Catiule de Oliveira Santos, Bárbara Maria Nascimento de Oliveira, Geraldo Gileno de Sá Oliveira, Valéria Marçal Felix de Lima

Domestic dogs are the main reservoir of Leishmania infantum, a causative agent of visceral leishmaniasis (VL). The number of human disease cases is associated with the rate of canine infection. Currently available drugs are not efficient at treating canine leishmaniasis (CanL) and months after the treatment most dogs show disease relapse, therefore the development of new drugs or new therapeutic strategies should be sought. In CanL, dogs lack the ability to mount a specific cellular immune response suitable for combating the parasite and manipulation of cytokine signaling pathway has the potential to form part of effective immunotherapeutic methods. In this study, recombinant canine cytokines (rcaIL-12, rcaIL-2, rcaIL-15 and rcaIL-7) and soluble receptor IL-10R1 (rcasIL-10R1), with antagonistic activity, were evaluated for the first time in combination (rcaIL-12/rcaIL-2, rcaIL-12/rcaIL-15, rcaIL-12/rcasIL-10R1, rcaIL-15/rcaIL-7) or alone (rcasIL-10R1) to evaluate their immunomodulatory capacity in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from dogs with leishmaniasis. All the combinations of recombinant proteins tested were shown to improve lymphoproliferative response. Further, the combinations rcaIL-12/rcaIL-2 and rcaIL-12/rcaIL-15 promoted a decrease in programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) expression in lymphocytes. These same combinations of cytokines and rcaIL-12/rcasIL-10R1 induced IFN-γ and TNF-α production in PBMC. Furthermore, the combination IL-12/IL-15 led to an increased in T-bet expression in lymphocytes. These findings are encouraging and indicate the use of rcaIL-12 and rcaIL-15 in future in vivo studies aimed at achieving polarization of cellular immune responses in dogs with leishmaniasis, which may contribute to the development of an effective treatment against CanL.

Pathological roles of MRP14 in anemia and splenomegaly during experimental visceral leishmaniasis

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 21 January 2020 - 10:00pm

by Kanna Ishizuka, Wataru Fujii, Natsuho Azuma, Haruka Mizobuchi, Ayako Morimoto, Chizu Sanjoba, Yoshitsugu Matsumoto, Yasuyuki Goto

Myeloid-related protein 14 (MRP14) belongs to the S100 calcium-binding protein family and is expressed in neutrophils and inflammatory macrophages. Increase in the number of MRP14+ cells or serum level of MRP14 is associated with various diseases such as autoimmune diseases and infectious diseases, suggesting the involvement of the molecule in pathogenesis of those diseases. In this study, to examine the pathological involvement of MRP14 during cutaneous and visceral leishmaniasis, wild-type (WT) and MRP14 knockout (MRP14KO) mice were infected with Leishmania major and L. donovani. Increase in the number of MRP14+ cells at the infection sites in wild-type mice was commonly found in the skin during L. major infection as well as the spleen and liver during L. donovani infection. In contrast, the influence of MRP14 to the pathology seemed different between the two infections. MRP14 depletion exacerbated the lesion development and ulcer formation in L. major infection. On the other hand, the depletion improved anemia and splenomegaly but not leukopenia or hepatomegaly at 24 weeks of L. donovani infection. These results suggest that, distinct from its protective role in CL, MRP14 is involved in exacerbation of some symptoms during VL.

Heatwaves and dengue outbreaks in Hanoi, Vietnam: New evidence on early warning

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 21 January 2020 - 10:00pm

by Jian Cheng, Hilary Bambrick, Laith Yakob, Gregor Devine, Francesca D. Frentiu, Do Thi Thanh Toan, Pham Quang Thai, Zhiwei Xu, Wenbiao Hu

Background

Many studies have shown associations between rising temperatures, El Niño events and dengue incidence, but the effect of sustained periods of extreme high temperatures (i.e., heatwaves) on dengue outbreaks has not yet been investigated. This study aimed to compare the short-term temperature-dengue associations during different dengue outbreak periods, estimate the dengue cases attributable to temperature, and ascertain if there was an association between heatwaves and dengue outbreaks in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Methodology/Principal findings

Dengue outbreaks were assigned to one of three categories (small, medium and large) based on the 50th, 75th, and 90th percentiles of distribution of weekly dengue cases during 2008–2016. Using a generalised linear regression model with a negative binomial link that controlled for temporal trends, temperature variation, rainfall and population size over time, we examined and compared associations between weekly average temperature and weekly dengue incidence for different outbreak categories. The same model using weeks with or without heatwaves as binary variables was applied to examine the potential effects of extreme heatwaves, defined as seven or more days with temperatures above the 95th percentile of daily temperature distribution during the study period. This study included 55,801 dengue cases, with an average of 119 (range: 0 to 1454) cases per week. The exposure-response relationship between temperature and dengue risk was non-linear and differed with dengue category. After considering the delayed effects of temperature (one week lag), we estimated that 4.6%, 11.6%, and 21.9% of incident cases during small, medium, and large outbreaks were attributable to temperature. We found evidence of an association between heatwaves and dengue outbreaks, with longer delayed effects on large outbreaks (around 14 weeks later) than small and medium outbreaks (4 to 9 weeks later). Compared with non-heatwave years, dengue outbreaks (i.e., small, moderate and large outbreaks combined) in heatwave years had higher weekly number of dengue cases (p<0.05). Findings were robust under different sensitivity analyses.

Conclusions

The short-term association between temperature and dengue risk varied by the level of outbreaks and temperature seems more likely affect large outbreaks. Moreover, heatwaves may delay the timing and increase the magnitude of dengue outbreaks.

Test accuracy of polymerase chain reaction methods against conventional diagnostic techniques for Cutaneous Leishmaniasis (CL) in patients with clinical or epidemiological suspicion of CL: Systematic review and meta-analysis

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 21 January 2020 - 10:00pm

by Luz Estella Mesa, Rubén Manrique, Carlos Muskus, Sara M. Robledo

Background

Molecular diagnostic tests, notably polymerase chain reaction (PCR), are highly sensitive test for Leishmania detection, which is especially relevant in chronic cutaneous lesion with lower parasite load. An accurate diagnosis is essential because of the high toxicity of the medications for the disease. Nevertheless, diagnosis of cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) is hampered by the absence of a reference standard. Assuming that the PCR-based molecular tools are the most accurate diagnostic method, the objective of this systematic review was to assess the diagnostic accuracy of PCR-based molecular tools in a meta-analysis of the published literature.

Methodology/Principal findings

A search of the published literature found 142 papers of which only 13 studies met the selection criteria, including conventional PCR, real-time PCR, Loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP), recombinase polymerase amplification (RPA), polymorphism-specific PCR (PS-PCR). The sensitivities of the individual studies ranged from 61% to 100%, and specificities ranged from 11% to 100%. The pooled sensitivities of PCR in smears were 0.95 (95% CI, 0.90 to 0.98), and the specificity was 0.91(95% CI, 0.70 to 0.98). In general population, estimates were lower in aspirates, skin biopsies and swab samples with 0.90 (95% CI, 0.80 to 0.95) and 0.87 (95% CI, 0.76 to 0.94) for sensitivity and specificity, respectively. The specificity was lower in consecutive studies, at 0.88 (95% CI, 0.59 to 0.98) and its CI were wider.

Conclusions/Significance

No statistically significant differences between the accuracy in smears, aspirate, skin biopsies or swabs samples were observed. Therefore, a simple smear sample run by PCR, instead more invasive samples, may be enough to obtain a positive diagnosis of CL. The results for PCR in all samples type confirm previous reports that consider PCR as the most accurate method for the diagnosis of CL.

Assessing the impact of aggregating disease stage data in model predictions of human African trypanosomiasis transmission and control activities in Bandundu province (DRC)

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 21 January 2020 - 10:00pm

by María Soledad Castaño, Martial L. Ndeffo-Mbah, Kat S. Rock, Cody Palmer, Edward Knock, Erick Mwamba Miaka, Joseph M. Ndung’u, Steve Torr, Paul Verlé, Simon E. F. Spencer, Alison Galvani, Caitlin Bever, Matt J. Keeling, Nakul Chitnis

Since the turn of the century, the global community has made great progress towards the elimination of gambiense human African trypanosomiasis (HAT). Elimination programs, primarily relying on screening and treatment campaigns, have also created a rich database of HAT epidemiology. Mathematical models calibrated with these data can help to fill remaining gaps in our understanding of HAT transmission dynamics, including key operational research questions such as whether integrating vector control with current intervention strategies is needed to achieve HAT elimination. Here we explore, via an ensemble of models and simulation studies, how including or not disease stage data, or using more updated data sets affect model predictions of future control strategies.

An investigation into the knowledge, perceptions and role of personal protective technologies in Zika prevention in Colombia

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 21 January 2020 - 10:00pm

by Carolina Mendoza, Gloria-Isabel Jaramillo, Thomas H. Ant, Grace M. Power, Robert T. Jones, Juliana Quintero, Neal Alexander, Jayne Webster, Lyda Osorio, James G. Logan

Background

Arboviruses transmitted by day-biting Aedes mosquitoes are a major public health concern. With the challenges inherent in arbovirus vaccine and therapeutics development, vector control and bite prevention strategies are among the limited options available for immediate intervention. Bite prevention through personal protective technologies (PPT), such as topical mosquito repellents or repellent-impregnated clothing, may help to decrease biting rates and, therefore, the risk of disease in groups most susceptible to adverse outcomes from Zika virus. However, achieving high uptake and compliance with PPT can be challenging.

Methodology/Principal findings

To gain an insight into the knowledge and concerns of pregnant women surrounding Zika and their opinions regarding PPT, particularly repellent clothing, a focus group study was carried out with pregnant women, women of reproductive age, and semi-structured interviews with their male partners in two cities in Colombia. The discussions revealed shortfalls in basic knowledge of Zika virus, with several pregnant participants reporting being unaware of the potential for Zika-related congenital malformations. Although participants generally considered Zika to be a significant personal threat, most rated it as less of a concern than dengue or diarrheal diseases. Overall, repellent clothing and other forms of PPT were viewed as effective, although some participants expressed concerns over the high costs of repellents, and safety fears of regular contact with repellent chemicals, which they perceived as potentially harmful. Plant-derived repellents were considered to be safer than synthetic chemical repellents. Discussions also highlighted that health centers were the preferred source of information on bite-reduction.

Conclusions/Significance

Achieving high uptake and compliance with PPT in populations most at risk of adverse outcomes from Zika infection requires engaging key users in open dialogue to identify and address any practical issues regarding PPT use, and concerns over safety. The findings presented here suggest that educational campaigns should strongly emphasize the risks associated with Zika during pregnancy, and discuss safety profiles of approved synthetic repellents and the availability of EPA-approved plant-based repellents. In addition, the economic and political context should be a major consideration when evaluating personal mosquito-repellent strategies.

Utility of primary cells to examine NPC1 receptor expression in <i>Mops condylurus</i>, a potential Ebola virus reservoir

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 21 January 2020 - 10:00pm

by Marcel Bokelmann, Kathryn Edenborough, Nicole Hetzelt, Petra Kreher, Angelika Lander, Andreas Nitsche, Uwe Vogel, Heinz Feldmann, Emmanuel Couacy-Hymann, Andreas Kurth

The significance of the integral membrane protein Niemann-Pick C1 (NPC1) in the ebolavirus entry process has been determined using various cell lines derived from humans, non-human primates and fruit bats. Fruit bats have long been purported as the potential reservoir host for ebolaviruses, however several studies provide evidence that Mops condylurus, an insectivorous microbat, is also an ebolavirus reservoir. NPC1 receptor expression in the context of ebolavirus replication in microbat cells remains unstudied. In order to study Ebola virus (EBOV) cellular entry and replication in M. condylurus, we derived primary and immortalized cell cultures from 12 different organs. The NPC1 receptor expression was characterized by confocal microscopy and flow cytometry comparing the expression levels of M. condylurus primary and immortalized cells, HeLa cells, human embryonic kidney cells and cells from a European microbat species. EBOV replication kinetics was studied for four representative cell cultures using qRT-PCR. The aim was to elucidate the suitability of primary and immortalized cells from different tissues for studying NPC1 receptor expression levels and their potential influence on EBOV replication. The NPC1 receptor expression level in M. condylurus primary cells differed depending on the organ they were derived from and was for most cell types significantly lower than in human cell lines. Immortalized cells showed for most cell types higher expression levels than their corresponding primary cells. Concluding from our infection experiments with EBOV we suggest a potential correlation between NPC1 receptor expression level and virus replication rate in vitro.

Transcriptional analysis of THP-1 cells infected with <i>Leishmania infantum</i> indicates no activation of the inflammasome platform

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 21 January 2020 - 10:00pm

by Mariana Gatto, Patrícia Aparecida Borim, Ivan Rodrigo Wolf, Taís Fukuta da Cruz, Gustavo Augusto Ferreira Mota, Aline Márcia Marques Braz, Bárbara Casella Amorim, Guilherme Targino Valente, Marjorie de Assis Golim, James Venturini, João Pessoa Araújo Junior, Alessandra Pontillo, Alexandrina Sartori

Leishmaniasis is caused by intracellular parasites transmitted to vertebrates by sandfly bites. Clinical manifestations include cutaneous, mucosal or visceral involvement depending upon the host immune response and the parasite species. To assure their survival inside macrophages, these parasites developed a plethora of highly successful strategies to manipulate various immune system pathways. Considering that inflammasome activation is critical for the establishment of a protective immune response in many parasite infections, in this study we determined the transcriptome of THP-1 cells after infection with L. infantum, with a particular focus on the inflammasome components. To this end, the human cell line THP-1, previously differentiated into macrophages by PMA treatment, was infected with L. infantum promastigotes. Differentiated THP-1 cells were also stimulated with LPS to be used as a comparative parameter. The gene expression signature was determined 8 hours after by RNA-seq technique. Infected or uninfected THP-1 cells were stimulated with nigericin (NIG) to measure active caspase-1 and TNF-α, IL-6 and IL-1β levels in culture supernatants after 8, 24 and 48 hours. L. infantum triggered a gene expression pattern more similar to non-infected THP-1 cells and very distinct from LPS-stimulated cells. Some of the most up-regulated genes in L. infantum-infected cells were CDC20, CSF1, RPS6KA1, CD36, DUSP2, DUSP5, DUSP7 and TNFAIP3. Some up-regulated GO terms in infected cells included cell coagulation, regulation of MAPK cascade, response to peptide hormone stimulus, negative regulation of transcription from RNA polymerase II promoter and nerve growth factor receptor signaling pathway. Infection was not able to induce the expression of genes associated with the inflammasome signaling pathway. This finding was confirmed by the absence of caspase-1 activation and IL-1β production after 8, 24 and 48 hours of infection. Our results indicate that L. infantum was unable to activate the inflammasomes during the initial interaction with THP-1 cells.

Phylogenetic relationships and diversity of bat-associated <i>Leptospira</i> and the histopathological evaluation of these infections in bats from Grenada, West Indies

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 21 January 2020 - 10:00pm

by Amanda I. Bevans, Daniel M. Fitzpatrick, Diana M. Stone, Brian P. Butler, Maia P. Smith, Sonia Cheetham

Bats can harbor zoonotic pathogens, but their status as reservoir hosts for Leptospira bacteria is unclear. During 2015–2017, kidneys from 47 of 173 bats captured in Grenada, West Indies, tested PCR-positive for Leptospira. Sequence analysis of the Leptospira rpoB gene from 31 of the positive samples showed 87–91% similarity to known Leptospira species. Pairwise and phylogenetic analysis of sequences indicate that bats from Grenada harbor as many as eight undescribed Leptospira genotypes that are most similar to known pathogenic Leptospira, including known zoonotic serovars. Warthin-Starry staining revealed leptospiral organisms colonizing the renal tubules in 70% of the PCR-positive bats examined. Mild inflammatory lesions in liver and kidney observed in some bats were not significantly correlated with renal Leptospira PCR-positivity. Our findings suggest that Grenada bats are asymptomatically infected with novel and diverse Leptospira genotypes phylogenetically related to known pathogenic strains, supporting the hypothesis that bats may be reservoirs for zoonotic Leptospira.

Rift Valley fever virus targets the maternal-foetal interface in ovine and human placentas

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 21 January 2020 - 10:00pm

by Judith Oymans, Paul J. Wichgers Schreur, Lucien van Keulen, Jet Kant, Jeroen Kortekaas

Background

Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) is an arbovirus of the order Bunyavirales that causes severe disease in ruminants and humans. Outbreaks in sheep herds are characterised by newborn fatalities and abortion storms. The association of RVFV infections with abortions of ovines and other ruminants is well recognized, whereas the pathology resulting in abortion has remained undescribed. Accumulating evidence suggests that RVFV is abortogenic in humans as well, warranting more research on the interaction of RVFV with the ruminant and human placenta.

Methodology/Principal findings

Pregnant ewes were inoculated with a highly virulent strain of RVFV and necropsied at different days post infection. Tissues were collected and analysed by PCR, virus isolation, and immunohistochemistry. The results show that RVFV replicates efficiently in maternal placental epithelial cells before the virus infects foetal trophoblasts. Moreover, the virus was shown to bypass the maternal epithelial cell layer by directly targeting foetal trophoblasts in the haemophagous zone, a region of the ovine placenta where maternal blood is in direct contact with foetal cells. Abortion was associated with widespread necrosis of placental tissues accompanied with severe haemorrhage. Experiments with human placental explants revealed that the same virus strain replicates efficiently in both cyto- and syncytiotrophoblasts.

Conclusions/Significance

This study demonstrates that RVFV targets the foetal-maternal interface in both ovine and human placentas. The virus was shown to cross the ovine placental barrier via two distinct routes, ultimately resulting in placental and foetal demise followed by abortion. Our finding that RVFV replicates efficiently in human trophoblasts underscores the risk of RVFV infection during human pregnancy.

Oropouche virus cases identified in Ecuador using an optimised qRT-PCR informed by metagenomic sequencing

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 21 January 2020 - 10:00pm

by Emma L. Wise, Sully Márquez, Jack Mellors, Verónica Paz, Barry Atkinson, Bernardo Gutierrez, Sonia Zapata, Josefina Coloma, Oliver G. Pybus, Simon K. Jackson, Gabriel Trueba, Gyorgy Fejer, Christopher H. Logue, Steven T. Pullan

Oropouche virus (OROV) is responsible for outbreaks of Oropouche fever in parts of South America. We recently identified and isolated OROV from a febrile Ecuadorian patient, however, a previously published qRT-PCR assay did not detect OROV in the patient sample. A primer mismatch to the Ecuadorian OROV lineage was identified from metagenomic sequencing data. We report the optimisation of an qRT-PCR assay for the Ecuadorian OROV lineage, which subsequently identified a further five cases in a cohort of 196 febrile patients. We isolated OROV via cell culture and developed an algorithmically-designed primer set for whole-genome amplification of the virus. Metagenomic sequencing of the patient samples provided OROV genome coverage ranging from 68–99%. The additional cases formed a single phylogenetic cluster together with the initial case. OROV should be considered as a differential diagnosis for Ecuadorian patients with febrile illness to avoid mis-diagnosis with other circulating pathogens.

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