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Clinical and epidemiologic characteristics associated with dengue during and outside the 2016 outbreak identified in health facility-based surveillance in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 6 December 2019 - 10:00pm

by Jacqueline K. Lim, Yaro Seydou, Mabel Carabali, Ahmed Barro, Desire Lucien Dahourou, Kang Sung Lee, Teguewende Nikiema, Suk Namkung, Jung-Seok Lee, Mee Young Shin, Emmanuel Bonnet, Therese Kagone, Losseni Kaba, Tansy Edwards, Paul-André Somé, Jae Seung Yang, Neal Alexander, In-Kyu Yoon, Valéry Ridde

Background

In Africa, the magnitude of dengue virus (DENV) transmission is largely unknown. In Burkina Faso, several outbreaks have been reported and data are often based on findings from outbreak investigations.

Methods

To better understand dengue epidemiology and clinical characteristics in Burkina Faso, a fever surveillance study was conducted among patients aged 1–55 years, who presented with non-malarial febrile illness at five primary healthcare facilities in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso from December 2014 to February 2017, encompassing a 3-month dengue outbreak in September-November 2016. Acute and convalescent blood samples were collected within an interval of 10–21 days between visits. Acute samples were tested with dengue rapid diagnostic tests (RDT) and a selected subset with RT-PCR, and all acute/convalescent samples with IgM/IgG ELISA.

Results

Among 2929 non-malarial febrile patients, 740 (25%) were dengue–positive based on RT-PCR and/or IgM/IgG ELISA; 428 out of 777 patients (55%) and 312 out of 2152 (14%) were dengue-positive during outbreak and non-outbreak periods, respectively. There were 11% (316/2929) and 4% (129/2929) patients showing positive for NS1 and IgM, on the RDT, respectively. DENV 2 predominated during the outbreak, whereas DENV 3 predominated before the outbreak. Only 25% of dengue-positive cases were clinically diagnosed with suspected dengue. The odds of requiring observation for ≤3 days (versus routine outpatient care) were 11 times higher among dengue-positive cases than non-dengue cases. In adjusted analyses, dengue-positivity was associated with rash and retro-orbital pain (OR = 2.6 and 7.4, respectively) during the outbreak and with rash and nausea/vomiting (OR = 1.5 and 1.4, respectively) during the non-outbreak period.

Conclusion

Dengue virus is an important pathogen in Burkina Faso, accounting for a substantial proportion of non-malarial fevers both during and outside outbreak, but is only infrequently suspected by clinicians. Additional longitudinal data would help to further define characteristics of dengue for improved case detection and surveillance.

<i>Taenia solium</i> cysticercosis and taeniasis in urban settings: Epidemiological evidence from a health-center based study among people with epilepsy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 6 December 2019 - 10:00pm

by Veronika Schmidt, Marie-Claire O’Hara, Bernard Ngowi, Karl-Heinz Herbinger, John Noh, Patricia Procell Wilkins, Vivien Richter, Christian Kositz, William Matuja, Andrea Sylvia Winkler

In Africa, urbanization is happening faster than ever before which results in new implications for transmission of infectious diseases. For the zoonotic parasite Taenia solium, a major cause of acquired epilepsy in endemic countries, the prevalence in urban settings is unknown. The present study investigated epidemiological, neurological, and radiological characteristics of T. solium cysticercosis and taeniasis (TSCT) in people with epilepsy (PWE) living in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, one of the fastest growing cities worldwide. A total of 302 PWE were recruited from six health centers in the Kinondoni district of Dar es Salaam. Serological testing for T. solium cysticercosis-antigen (Ag) and -antibodies (Abs) and for T. solium taeniasis-Abs was performed in all PWE. In addition, clinical and radiological examinations that included cranial computed tomography (CT) were performed. With questionnaires, demographic data from study populations were collected, and factors associated with TSCT were assessed. Follow-up examinations were conducted in PWE with TSCT. T. solium cysticercosis-Ag was detected in three (0.99%; 95% CI: 0–2.11%), -Abs in eight (2.65%; 95% CI: 0.84–4.46%), and taeniasis-Abs in five (1.66%; 95% CI: 0.22–3.09%) of 302 PWE. Six PWE (1.99%; 95% CI: 0.41–3.56%) were diagnosed with neurocysticercosis (NCC). This study demonstrates the presence of TSCT in Dar es Salaam, however, NCC was only associated with a few cases of epilepsy. The small fraction of PWE with cysticercosis- and taeniasis-Abs may suggest that active transmission of T. solium plays only a minor role in Dar es Salaam. A sufficiently powered risk analysis was hampered by the small number of PWE with TSCT; therefore, further studies are required to determine the exact routes of infection and risk behavior of affected individuals.

Challenges in diagnosing scrub typhus among hospitalized patients with undifferentiated fever at a national tertiary hospital in northern Vietnam

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 5 December 2019 - 10:00pm

by Shungo Katoh, Ngo Chi Cuong, Sugihiro Hamaguchi, Pham Thanh Thuy, Do Duy Cuong, Le Kim Anh, Nguyen Thi Hien Anh, Dang Duc Anh, Eiichiro Sando, Motoi Suzuki, Hiromi Fujita, Michio Yasunami, Keisuke Yoshihara, Lay-Myint Yoshida, Daniel Henry Paris, Koya Ariyoshi

Background

Scrub typhus (ST) is a leading cause of non-malarial febrile illness in Southeast Asia, but evidence of its true disease burden is limited because of difficulties of making the clinical diagnosis and lack of adequate diagnostic tests. To describe the epidemiology and clinical characteristics of ST, we conducted an observational study using multiple diagnostic assays at a national tertiary hospital in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Methodology/Principal findings

We enrolled 1,127 patients hospitalized with documented fever between June 2012 and May 2013. Overall, 33 (2.9%) patients were diagnosed with ST by PCR and/or screening of ELISA for immunoglobulin M (IgM) with confirmatory tests: 14 (42.4%) were confirmed by indirect immunoperoxidase assay (IIP), and 19 (57.6%) were by IIP and PCR. Living by farming, conjunctival injection, eschar, aspartate aminotransferase elevation, and alanine aminotransferase elevation were significantly associated with ST cases (adjusted odds ratios (aORs): 2.8, 3.07, 48.8, 3.51, and 4.13, respectively), and having a comorbidity and neutrophilia were significantly less common in ST cases (aORs: 0.29 and 0.27, respectively). The majority of the ST cases were not clinically diagnosed with rickettsiosis (72.7%). Dominant IIP reactions against a single antigen were identified in 15 ST cases, whereas indistinguishably high reactions against multiple antigens were seen in 11 ST cases. The most frequently observed dominant IIP reaction was against Karp antigen (eight cases) followed by Gilliam (four cases). The highest diagnostic accuracy of IgM ELISA in acute samples was 78%. In a phylogenetic analysis of the 56-kDa type-specific antigen gene, the majority (14 cases) were located in the Karp-related branch followed by the Gilliam-related (two cases), Kato-related (two cases), and TA763-related clades (one case).

Conclusions/Significance

Both the clinical and laboratory diagnoses of ST remain challenging at a tertiary hospital. Implementation of both serological and nucleic acid amplification assays covering endemic O. tsutsugamushi strains is essential.

Whole genome sequencing of <i>Entamoeba nuttalli</i> reveals mammalian host-related molecular signatures and a novel octapeptide-repeat surface protein

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 5 December 2019 - 10:00pm

by Masayuki Tanaka, Takashi Makiuchi, Tomoyoshi Komiyama, Takashi Shiina, Ken Osaki, Hiroshi Tachibana

The enteric protozoa Entamoeba histolytica is the causative agent of amebiasis, which is one of the most common parasitic diseases in developed and developing countries. Entamoeba nuttalli is the genetically closest species to E. histolytica in current phylogenetic analyses of Entamoeba species, and is prevalent in wild macaques. Therefore, E. nuttalli may be a key organism in which to investigate molecules required for infection of human or non-human primates. To explore the molecular signatures of host-parasite interactions, we conducted de novo assembly of the E. nuttalli genome, utilizing self-correction of PacBio long reads and polishing corrected reads using Illumina short reads, followed by comparative genomic analysis with two other mammalian and a reptilian Entamoeba species. The final draft assembly of E. nuttalli included 395 contigs with a total length of approximately 23 Mb, and 9,647 predicted genes, of which 6,940 were conserved with E. histolytica. In addition, we found an E. histolytica-specific repeat known as ERE2 in the E. nuttalli genome. GO-term enrichment analysis of mammalian host-related molecules indicated diversification of transmembrane proteins, including AIG1 family and BspA-like proteins that may be involved in the host-parasite interaction. Furthermore, we identified an E. nuttalli-specific protein that contained 42 repeats of an octapeptide ([G,E]KPTDTPS). This protein was shown to be localized on the cell surface using immunofluorescence. Since many repeat-containing proteins in parasites play important roles in interactions with host cells, this unique octapeptide repeat-containing protein may be involved in colonization of E. nuttalli in the intestine of macaques. Overall, our draft assembly provides a valuable resource for studying Entamoeba evolution and host-parasite selection.

The impact of vector migration on the effectiveness of strategies to control gambiense human African trypanosomiasis

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 5 December 2019 - 10:00pm

by Martial L. Ndeffo-Mbah, Abhishek Pandey, Katherine E. Atkins, Serap Aksoy, Alison P. Galvani

Background

Several modeling studies have been undertaken to assess the feasibility of the WHO goal of eliminating gambiense human African trypanosomiasis (g-HAT) by 2030. However, these studies have generally overlooked the effect of vector migration on disease transmission and control. Here, we evaluated the impact of vector migration on the feasibility of interrupting transmission in different g-HAT foci.

Methods

We developed a g-HAT transmission model of a single tsetse population cluster that accounts for migration of tsetse fly into this population. We used a model calibration approach to constrain g-HAT incidence to ranges expected for high, moderate and low transmission settings, respectively. We used the model to evaluate the effectiveness of current intervention measures, including medical intervention through enhanced screening and treatment, and vector control, for interrupting g-HAT transmission in disease foci under each transmission setting.

Results

We showed that, in low transmission settings, under enhanced medical intervention alone, at least 70% treatment coverage is needed to interrupt g-HAT transmission within 10 years. In moderate transmission settings, a combination of medical intervention and a vector control measure with a daily tsetse mortality greater than 0.03 is required to achieve interruption of disease transmission within 10 years. In high transmission settings, interruption of disease transmission within 10 years requires a combination of at least 70% medical intervention coverage and at least 0.05 tsetse daily mortality rate from vector control. However, the probability of achieving elimination in high transmission settings decreases with an increased tsetse migration rate.

Conclusion

Our results suggest that the WHO 2030 goal of G-HAT elimination is, at least in theory, achievable. But the presence of tsetse migration may reduce the probability of interrupting g-HAT transmission in moderate and high transmission foci. Therefore, optimal vector control programs should incorporate monitoring and controlling of vector density in buffer areas around foci of g-HAT control efforts.

Beyond the ‘big four’: Venom profiling of the medically important yet neglected Indian snakes reveals disturbing antivenom deficiencies

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 5 December 2019 - 10:00pm

by R. R. Senji Laxme, Suyog Khochare, Hugo Francisco de Souza, Bharat Ahuja, Vivek Suranse, Gerard Martin, Romulus Whitaker, Kartik Sunagar

Background

Snakebite in India causes the highest annual rates of death (46,000) and disability (140,000) than any other country. Antivenom is the mainstay treatment of snakebite, whose manufacturing protocols, in essence, have remained unchanged for over a century. In India, a polyvalent antivenom is produced for the treatment of envenomations from the so called ‘big four’ snakes: the spectacled cobra (Naja naja), common krait (Bungarus caeruleus), Russell’s viper (Daboia russelii), and saw-scaled viper (Echis carinatus). In addition to the ‘big four’, India is abode to many other species of venomous snakes that have the potential to inflict severe clinical or, even, lethal envenomations in their human bite victims. Unfortunately, specific antivenoms are not produced against these species and, instead, the ‘big four’ antivenom is routinely used for the treatment.

Methods

We characterized the venom compositions, biochemical and pharmacological activities and toxicity profiles (mouse model) of the major neglected yet medically important Indian snakes (E. c. sochureki, B. sindanus, B. fasciatus, and two populations of N. kaouthia) and their closest ‘big four’ congeners. By performing WHO recommended in vitro and in vivo preclinical assays, we evaluated the efficiencies of the commercially marketed Indian antivenoms in recognizing venoms and neutralizing envenomations by these neglected species.

Findings

As a consequence of dissimilar ecologies and diet, the medically important snakes investigated exhibited dramatic inter- and intraspecific differences in their venom profiles. Currently marketed antivenoms were found to exhibit poor dose efficacy and venom recognition potential against the ‘neglected many’. Premium Serums antivenom failed to neutralise bites from many of the neglected species and one of the ‘big four’ snakes (North Indian population of B. caeruleus).

Conclusions

This study unravels disturbing deficiencies in dose efficacy and neutralisation capabilities of the currently marketed Indian antivenoms, and emphasises the pressing need to develop region-specific snakebite therapy for the ‘neglected many’.

Intralesional infiltration versus parenteral use of meglumine antimoniate for treatment of cutaneous leishmaniasis: A cost-effectiveness analysis

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 5 December 2019 - 10:00pm

by Nayara C. Brito, Tália S. Machado de Assis, Ana Rabello, Gláucia Cota

Cutaneous leishmaniasis (LC) is a complex and variable disease in terms of epidemiology, aetiology, pathology and clinical characteristics. The mainstay of treatment is still pentavalent antimony (Sbv) compounds administered systemically, despite their recognized toxicity. The advantages of antimony intralesional (IL) infiltration are the use of lower doses of Sbv and, therefore, less toxic effects. The objective of this study was to estimate the cost-effectiveness ratio of intralesional meglumine antimoniate therapy (IL-MA) compared with endovenous meglumine antimoniate therapy (EV-MA) for the treatment of CL in the context of the Brazilian National Health System (SUS). An analytical decision model (decision tree) was developed using TreeAge Pro 2018 software. Data from the open-label, uncontrolled phase II clinical trial evaluating IL-MA were used as a reference for posology, efficacy, and adverse event rates (AE). The same premises for the intravenous approach (EV-MA) were extracted from systematic literature reviews. Macro and micro calculations of spending were included in the analysis. The IL-MA and EV-MA strategies had a total cost per patient cured of US$330.81 and US$494.16, respectively. The intralesional approach was dominant, meaning it was more economic and effective than was endovenous therapy. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio showed that IL-MA could result in savings of US$864.37 for each additional patient cured, confirming that the IL-MA strategy is cost effective in the context of the Brazilian public health scenario.

Trajectories of hepatic and coagulation dysfunctions related to a rapidly fatal outcome among hospitalized patients with dengue fever in Tainan, 2015

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 5 December 2019 - 10:00pm

by Chun-Yin Yeh, Bing-Ze Lu, Wei-Jie Liang, Yu-Chen Shu, Kun-Ta Chuang, Po-Lin Chen, Wen-Chien Ko, Nai-Ying Ko

Background

Hepatic dysfunction and coagulopathy are common in acute dengue illness. We analyzed the trajectories of the above parameters in the survivors and fatal patients in the outbreak in Tainan, 2015.

Methods

A retrospective study was conducted using data from a tertiary hospital between January and December 2015. Multilevel modeling (MLM) was used to identify the changes in aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), activated partial thromboplastin time (aPTT), and platelet counts from Day 0 to Day 7 of the onset of dengue infection. The machine-learning algorithm was used by purity measure assumption to calculate the accuracy of serum transaminases and coagulation variables to discriminate between the fatal and survival groups.

Results

There were 4,069 dengue patients, of which 0.9% died in one week after illness onset (i.e., early mortality). Case fatality rate was the highest for those aged ≥70 years. Both AST and ALT values of the fatal group were significantly higher than those of the survivor group from Day 3 (AST median, 624 U/L vs. 60 U/L, p < 0.001; ALT median, 116 U/L vs. 29 U/L, p = 0.01) of illness onset and peaked on Day 6 (AST median, 9805 U/L vs. 90 U/L, p < 0.001; ALT median, 1504 U/L vs. 49 U/L, p < 0.001). AST ≥ 203 U/L, ALT ≥ 55 U/L, AST2/ALT criteria ≥337.35, or AST/platelet count ratio index (APRI) ≥ 19.18 on Day 3 of dengue infection had a high true positive rate, 90%, 78%, 100%, or 100%, respectively, of early mortality. The platelet counts of the fatal group declined significantly than those of the survivor group since Day 3 of illness onset (median, 19 x103/μl vs. 91 x103/μl, p < 0.01), and aPTT values of the fatal group significantly prolonged longer since Day 5 (median, 68.7 seconds vs. 40.1 seconds, p < 0.001).

Conclusions

AST, ALT, and platelet counts should be monitored closely from Day 0 to Day 3 of dengue infection, and aPTT be followed up on Day 5 of infection to identify the individuals at risk for early mortality.

Modelling exposure heterogeneity and density dependence in onchocerciasis using a novel individual-based transmission model, EPIONCHO-IBM: Implications for elimination and data needs

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 5 December 2019 - 10:00pm

by Jonathan I. D. Hamley, Philip Milton, Martin Walker, Maria-Gloria Basáñez

Background

Density dependence in helminth establishment and heterogeneity in exposure to infection are known to drive resilience to interventions based on mass drug administration (MDA). However, the interaction between these processes is poorly understood. We developed a novel individual-based model for onchocerciasis transmission, EPIONCHO-IBM, which accounts for both processes. We fit the model to pre-intervention epidemiological data and explore parasite dynamics during MDA with ivermectin.

Methodology/Principal findings

Density dependence and heterogeneity in exposure to blackfly (vector) bites were estimated by fitting the model to matched pre-intervention microfilarial prevalence, microfilarial intensity and vector biting rate data from savannah areas of Cameroon and Côte d’Ivoire/Burkina Faso using Latin hypercube sampling. Transmission dynamics during 25 years of annual and biannual ivermectin MDA were investigated. Density dependence in parasite establishment within humans was estimated for different levels of (fixed) exposure heterogeneity to understand how parametric uncertainty may influence treatment dynamics. Stronger overdispersion in exposure to blackfly bites results in the estimation of stronger density-dependent parasite establishment within humans, consequently increasing resilience to MDA. For all levels of exposure heterogeneity tested, the model predicts a departure from the functional forms for density dependence assumed in the deterministic version of the model.

Conclusions/Significance

This is the first, stochastic model of onchocerciasis, that accounts for and estimates density-dependent parasite establishment in humans alongside exposure heterogeneity. Capturing the interaction between these processes is fundamental to our understanding of resilience to MDA interventions. Given that uncertainty in these processes results in very different treatment dynamics, collecting data on exposure heterogeneity would be essential for improving model predictions during MDA. We discuss possible ways in which such data may be collected as well as the importance of better understanding the effects of immunological responses on establishing parasites prior to and during ivermectin treatment.

Severe leptospirosis in tropical Australia: Optimising intensive care unit management to reduce mortality

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 2 December 2019 - 10:00pm

by Simon Smith, Yu-Hsuan Liu, Angus Carter, Brendan J. Kennedy, Alexis Dermedgoglou, Suzanne S. Poulgrain, Matthew P. Paavola, Tarryn L. Minto, Michael Luc, Josh Hanson

Background

Severe leptospirosis can have a case-fatality rate of over 50%, even with intensive care unit (ICU) support. Multiple strategies–including protective ventilation and early renal replacement therapy (RRT)–have been recommended to improve outcomes. However, management guidelines vary widely around the world and there is no consensus on the optimal approach.

Methodology/Principal findings

All cases of leptospirosis admitted to the ICU of Cairns Hospital in tropical Australia between 1998 and 2018 were retrospectively reviewed. The patients’ demographics, presentation, management and clinical course were examined. The 55 patients’ median (interquartile range (IQR)) age was 47 (32–62) years and their median (IQR) APACHE III score was 67 (48–105). All 55 received appropriate antibiotic therapy, 45 (82%) within the first 6 hours. Acute kidney injury was present in 48/55 (87%), 18/55 (33%) required RRT, although this was usually not administered until traditional criteria for initiation were met. Moderate to severe acute respiratory distress syndrome developed in 37/55 (67%), 32/55 (58%) had pulmonary haemorrhage, and mechanical ventilation was required in 27/55 (49%). Vasopressor support was necessary in 34/55 (62%). Corticosteroids were prescribed in 20/55 (36%). The median (IQR) fluid balance in the initial three days of ICU care was +1493 (175–3567) ml. Only 2/55 (4%) died, both were elderly men with multiple comorbidities.

Conclusion

In patients with severe leptospirosis in tropical Australia, prompt ICU support that includes early antibiotics, protective ventilation strategies, conservative fluid resuscitation, traditional thresholds for RRT initiation and corticosteroid therapy is associated with a very low case-fatality rate. Prospective studies are required to establish the relative contributions of each of these interventions to optimal patient outcomes.

Mapping the global distribution of podoconiosis: Applying an evidence consensus approach

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 2 December 2019 - 10:00pm

by Kebede Deribe, Hope Simpson, Jorge Cano, David M. Pigott, Nicole Davis Weaver, Elizabeth A. Cromwell, Oliver J. Brady, Rachel L. Pullan, Abdisalan M. Noor, Daniel Argaw, Christopher J. L. Murray, Simon J. Brooker, Simon I. Hay, Melanie J. Newport, Gail Davey

Background

Podoconiosis is a type of elephantiasis characterised by swelling of the lower legs. It is often confused with other causes of tropical lymphedema and its global distribution is uncertain. Here we synthesise the available information on the presence of podoconiosis to produce evidence consensus maps of its global geographical distribution.

Methods and findings

We systematically searched available data on podoconiosis in SCOPUS and MEDLINE from inception, updated to 10 May, 2019, and identified observational and population-based studies reporting podoconiosis. To establish existence of podoconiosis, we used the number of cases reported in studies and prevalence data with geographical locations. We then developed an index to assess evidence quality and reliability, assigning each country an evidence consensus score. Using these summary scores, we then developed a contemporary global map of national-level podoconiosis status.There is evidence of podoconiosis in 17 countries (12 in Africa, three in Latin America, and two in Asia) and consensus on presence in six countries (all in Africa). We have identified countries where surveillance is required to further define the presence or absence of podoconiosis. We have highlighted areas where evidence is currently insufficient or conflicting, and from which more evidence is needed.

Conclusion

The global distribution of podoconiosis is not clearly known; the disease extent and limits provided here inform the best contemporary map of the distribution of podoconiosis globally from available data. These results help identify surveillance needs, direct future mapping activities, and inform prevention plans and burden estimation of podoconiosis.

Polymorphism analyses and protein modelling inform on functional specialization of <i>Piwi</i> clade genes in the arboviral vector <i>Aedes albopictus</i>

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 2 December 2019 - 10:00pm

by Michele Marconcini, Luis Hernandez, Giuseppe Iovino, Vincent Houé, Federica Valerio, Umberto Palatini, Elisa Pischedda, Jacob E. Crawford, Bradley J. White, Teresa Lin, Rebeca Carballar-Lejarazu, Lino Ometto, Federico Forneris, Anna-Bella Failloux, Mariangela Bonizzoni

Current knowledge of the piRNA pathway is based mainly on studies on Drosophila melanogaster where three proteins of the Piwi subclade of the Argonaute family interact with PIWI-interacting RNAs to silence transposable elements in gonadal tissues. In mosquito species that transmit epidemic arboviruses such as dengue and chikungunya viruses, Piwi clade genes underwent expansion, are also expressed in the soma and cross-talk with proteins of recognized antiviral function cannot be excluded for some Piwi proteins. These observations underscore the importance of expanding our knowledge of the piRNA pathway beyond the model organism D. melanogaster. Here we focus on the emerging arboviral vector Aedes albopictus and we couple traditional approaches of expression and adaptive evolution analyses with most current computational predictions of protein structure to study evolutionary divergence among Piwi clade proteins. Superposition of protein homology models indicate possible high structure similarity among all Piwi proteins, with high levels of amino acid conservation in the inner regions devoted to RNA binding. On the contrary, solvent-exposed surfaces showed low conservation, with several sites under positive selection. Analysis of the expression profiles of Piwi transcripts during mosquito development and following infection with Dengue serotype 1 or Chikungunya viruses showed a concerted elicitation of all Piwi transcripts during viral dissemination of dengue viruses while maintenance of infection relied on expression of primarily Piwi5. Opposite, establishment of persistent infection by Chikungunya virus is accompanied by increased expression of all Piwi genes, particularly Piwi4 and, again, Piwi5. Overall these results are consistent with functional specialization and a general antiviral role for Piwi5. Experimental evidences of sites under positive selection in Piwi1-3, Piwi4 and Piwi6, that have complex expression profiles, provide useful knowledge to design tailored functional experiments.

Serotype distribution and antimicrobial resistance of human <i>Salmonella enterica</i> in Bangui, Central African Republic, from 2004 to 2013

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 2 December 2019 - 10:00pm

by Sebastien Breurec, Yann Reynaud, Thierry Frank, Alain Farra, Geoffroy Costilhes, François-Xavier Weill, Simon Le Hello

Background

Limited epidemiological and antimicrobial resistance data are available on Salmonella enterica from sub-Saharan Africa. We determine the prevalence of resistance to antibiotics in isolates in the Central African Republic (CAR) between 2004 and 2013 and the genetic basis for resistance to third-generation cephalosporin (C3G).

Methodology/Principal findings

A total of 582 non-duplicate human clinical isolates were collected. The most common serotype was Typhimurium (n = 180, 31% of the isolates). A randomly selected subset of S. Typhimurium isolates were subtyped by clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat polymorphism (CRISPOL) typing. All but one invasive isolate tested (66/68, 96%) were associated with sequence type 313. Overall, the rates of resistance were high to traditional first-line drugs (18–40%) but low to many other antimicrobials, including fluoroquinolones (one resistant isolate) and C3G (only one ESBL-producing isolate). The extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing isolate and three additional ESBL isolates from West Africa were studied by whole genome sequencing. The blaCTX-M-15 gene and the majority of antimicrobial resistance genes found in the ESBL isolate were present in a large conjugative IncHI2 plasmid highly similar (> 99% nucleotide identity) to ESBL-carrying plasmids found in Kenya (S. Typhimurium ST313) and also in West Africa (serotypes Grumpensis, Havana, Telelkebir and Typhimurium).

Conclusions/Significance

Although the prevalence of ESBL-producing Salmonella isolates was low in CAR, we found that a single IncHI2 plasmid-carrying blaCTX-M-15 was widespread among Salmonella serotypes from sub-Saharan Africa, which is of concern.

Spatio-temporal patterns of scrub typhus in mainland China, 2006-2017

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 2 December 2019 - 10:00pm

by Yujuan Yue, Dongsheng Ren, Xiaobo Liu, Yujiao Wang, Qiyong Liu, Guichang Li

Background

Scrub typhus, a serious public health problem in the Asia-Pacific area, is endemic in the “tsutsugamushi triangle” area. Scrub typhus has been widespread and has become a significant health concern in China. However, spatiotemporal patterns need to be investigated further.

Objective

This study aims to explore spatiotemporal patterns, diffusion characteristics and regional distribution differences of scrub typhus cases in mainland China from January 2006 to December 2017.

Method

Monthly cases of scrub typhus reported at the county level during 2006–2017 were obtained. Time-series analyses, spatial distribution analyses, spatial diffusion analyses, spatial autocorrelation analyses and space-time scan statistic analyses were used to explore spatiotemporal characteristics of scrub typhus.

Results

A total of 121 251 scrub typhus cases were reported in 30 provinces (or municipalities) of mainland China during 2006–2017, which rose exponentially. There were seasonal characteristics from June to November for scrub typhus. Scrub typhus had been diffused from south, southwest, southeast and eastern coasts to center, north, northeast and northwest in mainland China. Scrub typhus occurrences were from point to surrounding regions, and from south to north every year. The peak periods of scrub typhus became longer and longer from north to southwest to south in mainland China. There existed a single peak in Southwest region and North region, respectively, but existed a bimodal peak for South region. Scrub typhus cases were clustered in Yunnan, Guangdong, Guangxi, Fujian and Anhui among June to November. The scrub typhus epidemics in Guangdong and Yunnan were the most serious.

Conclusions

The results in this study can be guide targeted public health interventions against scrub typhus at the county level.

Estimating snakebite incidence from mathematical models: A test in Costa Rica

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 2 December 2019 - 10:00pm

by Carlos A. Bravo-Vega, Juan M. Cordovez, Camila Renjifo-Ibáñez, Mauricio Santos-Vega, Mahmood Sasa

Background

Snakebite envenoming is a neglected public health challenge that affects mostly economically deprived communities who inhabit tropical regions. In these regions, snakebite incidence data is not always reliable, and access to health care is scare and heterogeneous. Thus, addressing the problem of snakebite effectively requires an understanding of how spatial heterogeneity in snakebite is associated with human demographics and snakes’ distribution. Here, we use a mathematical model to address the determinants of spatial heterogeneity in snakebite and we estimate snakebite incidence in a tropical country such as Costa Rica.

Methods and findings

We combined a mathematical model that follows the law of mass action, where the incidence is proportional to the exposed human population and the venomous snake population, with a spatiotemporal dataset of snakebite incidence (Data from year 1990 to 2007 for 193 districts) in Costa Rica. This country harbors one of the most dangerous venomous snakes, which is the Terciopelo (Bothrops asper, Garman, 1884). We estimated B. asper distribution using a maximum entropy algorithm, and its abundance was estimated based on field data. Then, the model was adjusted to the data using a lineal regression with the reported incidence. We found a significant positive correlation (R2 = 0.66, p-value < 0.01) between our estimation and the reported incidence, suggesting the model has a good performance in estimating snakebite incidence.

Conclusions

Our model underscores the importance of the synergistic effect of exposed population size and snake abundance on snakebite incidence. By combining information from venomous snakes’ natural history with census data from rural populations, we were able to estimate snakebite incidence in Costa Rica. The model was able to fit the incidence data at fine administrative scale (district level), which is fundamental for the implementation and planning of management strategies oriented to reduce snakebite burden.

A TGF-β type II receptor that associates with developmental transition in <i>Haemonchus contortus</i> in vitro

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 2 December 2019 - 10:00pm

by Li He, Robin B. Gasser, Tingting Li, Wenda Di, Fangfang Li, Hongrun Zhang, Caixian Zhou, Rui Fang, Min Hu

Background

The TGF-β signalling pathway plays a key role in regulating dauer formation in the free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, and previous work has shown that TGF-β receptors are involved in parasitic nematodes. Here, we explored the structure and function of a TGF-β type II receptor homologue in the TGF-β signalling pathway in Haemonchus contortus, a highly pathogenic, haematophagous parasitic nematode.

Methodology/Principal findings

Amino acid sequence and phylogenetic analyses revealed that the protein, called Hc-TGFBR2 (encoded by the gene Hc-tgfbr2), is a member of TGF-β II receptor family and contains conserved functional domains, both in the extracellular region containing cysteine residues that form a characteristic feature (CXCX4C) of TGF-β II receptors, and in the intracellular regions containing a serine/threonine kinase domain. The Hc-tgfbr2 gene was transcribed in all key developmental stages of H. contortus, with particularly high levels in the infective, third-stage larvae (L3s) and male adults. Immunohistochemical results revealed that Hc-TGFBR2 was expressed in the intestine, ovary and eggs within the uterus of female adults, and also in the testes of male adults of H. contortus. Double-stranded RNA interference (RNAi) in this nematode by soaking induced a marked decrease in transcription of Hc-tgfbr2 and in development from the exsheathed L3 to the fourth-stage larva (L4) in vitro.

Conclusions/Significance

These results indicate that Hc-TGFBR2 plays an important role in governing developmental processes in H. contortus via the TGF-β signalling pathway, particularly in the transition from the free-living to the parasitic stages.

Volatile metabolomic signatures of rabies immunization in two mesocarnivore species

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 2 December 2019 - 10:00pm

by Bruce A. Kimball, Steven F. Volker, Doreen L. Griffin, Shylo R. Johnson, Amy T. Gilbert

Rabies is a zoonotic disease caused by infection with rabies virus, which circulates naturally in several wild carnivore and bat reservoirs in the United States (US). The most important reservoir in the US from an animal and public health perspective is the raccoon (Procyon lotor). To prevent the westward expansion of a significant raccoon rabies epizootic along the eastern seaboard, an operational control program implementing oral rabies vaccination (ORV) has existed in the US since the 1990s. Recently, two vaccine efficacy studies conducted with raccoons and striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis) provided the opportunity to determine if volatile fecal metabolites might be used to non-invasively monitor ORV programs and/or predict virus protection for these species. The volatile metabolome is a rich source of information that may significantly contribute to our understanding of disease and infection. Fecal samples were collected at multiple time points from raccoons and striped skunks subjected to oral treatment with rabies vaccine (or sham). Intramuscular challenge with a lethal dose of rabies virus was used to determine protection status at six (raccoons) and 11 (skunks) months post-vaccination. In addition to fecal samples, blood was collected at various time points to permit quantitative assessment of rabies antibody responses arising from immunization. Feces were analyzed by headspace gas chromatography with mass spectrometric detection and the chromatographic responses were grouped according to cluster analysis. Cluster scores were subjected to multivariate analyses of variance (MANOVA) to determine if fecal volatiles may hold a signal of immunization status. Multiple regression was then used to build models of the measured immune responses based on the metabolomic data. MANOVA results identified one cluster associated with protective status of skunks and one cluster associated with protective status of raccoons. Regression models demonstrated considerably greater success in predicting rabies antibody responses in both species. This is the first study to link volatile compounds with measures of adaptive immunity and provides further evidence that the volatile metabolome holds great promise for contributing to our understanding of disease and infections. The volatile metabolome may be an important resource for monitoring rabies immunization in raccoons and striped skunks.

In-depth comparison of cell-based methodological approaches to determine drug susceptibility of visceral <i>Leishmania</i> isolates

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 2 December 2019 - 10:00pm

by Sarah Hendrickx, Lieselotte Van Bockstal, Guy Caljon, Louis Maes

Monitoring the drug susceptibility of Leishmania isolates still largely relies on standard in vitro cell-based susceptibility assays using (patient-isolated) promastigotes for infection. Although this assay is widely used, no fully standardized/harmonized protocol is yet available hence resulting in the application of a wide variety of host cells (primary cells and cell lines), different drug exposure times, detection methods and endpoint criteria. Advocacy for standardization to decrease inter-laboratory variation and improve interpretation of results has already repeatedly been made, unfortunately still with unsatisfactory progress. As a logical next step, it would be useful to reach at least some agreement on the type of host cell and basic experimental design for routine amastigote susceptibility determination. The present laboratory study using different L. infantum strains as a model for visceral leishmaniasis species compared primary cells (mouse peritoneal exudate (PEC), mouse bone marrow derived macrophages and human peripheral blood monocyte derived macrophages) and commercially available cell lines (THP-1, J774, RAW) for either their susceptibility to infection, their role in supporting intracellular amastigote multiplication and overall feasibility/accessibility of experimental assay protocol. The major findings were that primary cells are better than cell lines in supporting infection and intracellular parasite multiplication, with PECs to be preferred for technical reasons. Cell lines require drug exposure of >96h with THP-1 to be preferred but subject to a variable response to PMA stimulation. The fast dividing J774 and RAW cells out-compete parasite-infected cells precluding proper assay read-out. Some findings could possibly also be applicable to cutaneous Leishmania strains, but this still needs cross-checking. Besides inherent limitations in a clinical setting, susceptibility testing of clinical isolates may remain problematic because of the reliance on patient-derived promastigotes which may exhibit variable degrees of metacyclogenesis and infectivity.

CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene deletion of the <i>ompA</i> gene in symbiotic <i>Cedecea neteri</i> impairs biofilm formation and reduces gut colonization of <i>Aedes aegypti</i> mosquitoes

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 2 December 2019 - 10:00pm

by Shivanand Hegde, Pornjarim Nilyanimit, Elena Kozlova, Enyia R. Anderson, Hema P. Narra, Sanjeev K. Sahni, Eva Heinz, Grant L. Hughes

Background

Symbiotic bacteria are pervasive in mosquitoes and their presence can influence many host phenotypes that affect vectoral capacity. While it is evident that environmental and host genetic factors contribute in shaping the microbiome of mosquitoes, we have a poor understanding regarding how bacterial genetics affects colonization of the mosquito gut. The CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing system is a powerful tool to alter bacterial genomes facilitating investigations into host-microbe interactions but has yet to be applied to insect symbionts.

Methodology/Principal findings

To investigate the role of bacterial genetic factors in mosquito biology and in colonization of mosquitoes we used CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing system to mutate the outer membrane protein A (ompA) gene of a Cedecea neteri symbiont isolated from Aedes mosquitoes. The ompA mutant had an impaired ability to form biofilms and poorly infected Ae. aegypti when reared in a mono-association under gnotobiotic conditions. In adult mosquitoes, the mutant had a significantly reduced infection prevalence compared to the wild type or complement strains, while no differences in prevalence were seen in larvae, suggesting genetic factors are particularly important for adult gut colonization. We also used the CRISPR/Cas9 system to integrate genes (antibiotic resistance and fluorescent markers) into the symbionts genome and demonstrated that these genes were functional in vitro and in vivo.

Conclusions/Significance

Our results shed insights into the role of ompA gene in host-microbe interactions in Ae. aegypti and confirm that CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing can be employed for genetic manipulation of non-model gut microbes. The ability to use this technology for site-specific integration of genes into the symbiont will facilitate the development of paratransgenic control strategies to interfere with arboviral pathogens such Chikungunya, dengue, Zika and Yellow fever viruses transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes.

Determining the post-elimination level of vaccination needed to prevent re-establishment of dog rabies

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 2 December 2019 - 10:00pm

by Seonghye Jeon, Julie Cleaton, Martin I. Meltzer, Emily B. Kahn, Emily G. Pieracci, Jesse D. Blanton, Ryan Wallace

Background

Once a canine rabies-free status has been achieved, there is little guidance available on vaccination standards to maintain that status. In areas with risk of reintroduction, it may be practical to continue vaccinating portions of susceptible dogs to prevent re-establishment of canine rabies.

Methods

We used a modified version of RabiesEcon, a deterministic mathematical model, to evaluate the potential impacts and cost-effectiveness of preventing the reintroduction of canine rabies through proactive dog vaccination. We analyzed four scenarios to simulate varying risk levels involving the reintroduction of canine rabies into an area where it is no longer present. In a sensitivity analysis, we examined the influences of reintroduction frequency and intensity, the density of susceptible dog population, dog birth rate, dog life expectancy, vaccine efficacy, rate of loss of vaccine immunity, and the basic reproduction number (R0).

Results

To prevent the re-establishment of canine rabies, it is necessary to vaccinate 38% to 56% of free-roaming dogs that have no immunity to rabies. These coverage levels were most sensitive to adjustments in R0 followed by the vaccine efficacy and the rate of loss of vaccine immunity. Among the various preventive vaccination strategies, it was most cost-effective to continue dog vaccination at the minimum coverage required, with the average cost per human death averted ranging from $257 to $398 USD.

Conclusions

Without strong surveillance systems, rabies-free countries are vulnerable to becoming endemic when incursions happen. To prevent this, it may be necessary to vaccinate at least 38% to 56% of the susceptible dog population depending on the risk of reintroduction and transmission dynamics.

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