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The Global Burden of Disease Study 2010: Interpretation and Implications for the Neglected Tropical Diseases

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 24 July 2014 - 9:00pm

by Peter J. Hotez, Miriam Alvarado, María-Gloria Basáñez, Ian Bolliger, Rupert Bourne, Michel Boussinesq, Simon J. Brooker, Ami Shah Brown, Geoffrey Buckle, Christine M. Budke, Hélène Carabin, Luc E. Coffeng, Eric M. Fèvre, Thomas Fürst, Yara A. Halasa, Rashmi Jasrasaria, Nicole E. Johns, Jennifer Keiser, Charles H. King, Rafael Lozano, Michele E. Murdoch, Simon O'Hanlon, Sébastien D. S. Pion, Rachel L. Pullan, Kapa D. Ramaiah, Thomas Roberts, Donald S. Shepard, Jennifer L. Smith, Wilma A. Stolk, Eduardo A. Undurraga, Jürg Utzinger, Mengru Wang, Christopher J. L. Murray, Mohsen Naghavi

Unsuspected Leptospirosis Is a Cause of Acute Febrile Illness in Nicaragua

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 24 July 2014 - 9:00pm

by Megan E. Reller, Elsio A. Wunder, Jeremy J. Miles, Judith E. Flom, Orlando Mayorga, Christopher W. Woods, Albert I. Ko, J. Stephen Dumler, Armando J. Matute

Background

Epidemic severe leptospirosis was recognized in Nicaragua in 1995, but unrecognized epidemic and endemic disease remains unstudied.

Methodology/Principal Findings

To determine the burden of and risk factors associated with symptomatic leptospirosis in Nicaragua, we prospectively studied patients presenting with fever at a large teaching hospital. Epidemiologic and clinical features were systematically recorded, and paired sera tested by IgM-ELISA to identify patients with probable and possible acute leptospirosis. Microscopic Agglutination Test and PCR were used to confirm acute leptospirosis. Among 704 patients with paired sera tested by MAT, 44 had acute leptospirosis. Patients with acute leptospirosis were more likely to present during rainy months and to report rural residence and fresh water exposure. The sensitivity of clinical impression and acute-phase IgM detected by ELISA were poor.

Conclusions/Significance

Leptospirosis is a common (6.3%) but unrecognized cause of acute febrile illness in Nicaragua. Rapid point-of-care tests to support early diagnosis and treatment as well as tests to support population-based studies to delineate the epidemiology, incidence, and clinical spectrum of leptospirosis, both ideally pathogen-based, are needed.

A Novel MVA Vectored Chikungunya Virus Vaccine Elicits Protective Immunity in Mice

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 24 July 2014 - 9:00pm

by James Weger-Lucarelli, Haiyan Chu, Matthew T. Aliota, Charalambos D. Partidos, Jorge E. Osorio

Background

Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a re-emerging arbovirus associated with febrile illness often accompanied by rash and arthralgia that may persist for several years. Outbreaks are associated with high morbidity and create a public health challenge for countries affected. Recent outbreaks have occurred in both Europe and the Americas, suggesting CHIKV may continue to spread. Despite the sustained threat of the virus, there is no approved vaccine or antiviral therapy against CHIKV. Therefore, it is critical to develop a vaccine that is both well tolerated and highly protective.

Methodology/Principal Findings

In this study, we describe the construction and characterization of a modified Vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) virus expressing CHIKV E3 and E2 proteins (MVA-CHIK) that protected several mouse models from challenge with CHIKV. In particular, BALB/c mice were completely protected against viremia upon challenge with CHIKV after two doses of MVA-CHIK. Additionally, A129 mice (deficient in IFNα/β) were protected from viremia, footpad swelling, and mortality. While high anti-virus antibodies were elicited, low or undetectable levels of neutralizing antibodies were produced in both mouse models. However, passive transfer of MVA-CHIK immune serum to naïve mice did not protect against mortality, suggesting that antibodies may not be the main effectors of protection afforded by MVA-CHIK. Furthermore, depletion of CD4+, but not CD8+ T-cells from vaccinated mice resulted in 100% mortality, implicating the indispensable role of CD4+ T-cells in the protection afforded by MVA-CHIK.

Conclusions/Significance

The results presented herein demonstrate the potential of MVA to effectively express CHIKV E3-E2 proteins and generate protective immune responses. Our findings challenge the assumption that only neutralizing antibodies are effective in providing protection against CHIKV, and provides a framework for the development of novel, more effective vaccine strategies to combat CHIKV.

Transmission and Control of Plasmodium knowlesi: A Mathematical Modelling Study

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 24 July 2014 - 9:00pm

by Natsuko Imai, Michael T. White, Azra C. Ghani, Chris J. Drakeley

Introduction

Plasmodium knowlesi is now recognised as a leading cause of malaria in Malaysia. As humans come into increasing contact with the reservoir host (long-tailed macaques) as a consequence of deforestation, assessing the potential for a shift from zoonotic to sustained P. knowlesi transmission between humans is critical.

Methods

A multi-host, multi-site transmission model was developed, taking into account the three areas (forest, farm, and village) where transmission is thought to occur. Latin hypercube sampling of model parameters was used to identify parameter sets consistent with possible prevalence in macaques and humans inferred from observed data. We then explore the consequences of increasing human-macaque contact in the farm, the likely impact of rapid treatment, and the use of long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs) in preventing wider spread of this emerging infection.

Results

Identified model parameters were consistent with transmission being sustained by the macaques with spill over infections into the human population and with high overall basic reproduction numbers (up to 2267). The extent to which macaques forage in the farms had a non-linear relationship with human infection prevalence, the highest prevalence occurring when macaques forage in the farms but return frequently to the forest where they experience higher contact with vectors and hence sustain transmission. Only one of 1,046 parameter sets was consistent with sustained human-to-human transmission in the absence of macaques, although with a low human reproduction number (R0H = 1.04). Simulations showed LLINs and rapid treatment provide personal protection to humans with maximal estimated reductions in human prevalence of 42% and 95%, respectively.

Conclusion

This model simulates conditions where P. knowlesi transmission may occur and the potential impact of control measures. Predictions suggest that conventional control measures are sufficient at reducing the risk of infection in humans, but they must be actively implemented if P. knowlesi is to be controlled.

The Population Structure of Vibrio cholerae from the Chandigarh Region of Northern India

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 24 July 2014 - 9:00pm

by Moataz Abd El Ghany, Jagadish Chander, Ankur Mutreja, Mamoon Rashid, Grant A. Hill-Cawthorne, Shahjahan Ali, Raeece Naeem, Nicholas R. Thomson, Gordon Dougan, Arnab Pain

Background

Cholera infection continues to be a threat to global public health. The current cholera pandemic associated with Vibrio cholerae El Tor has now been ongoing for over half a century.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Thirty-eight V. cholerae El Tor isolates associated with a cholera outbreak in 2009 from the Chandigarh region of India were characterised by a combination of microbiology, molecular typing and whole-genome sequencing. The genomic analysis indicated that two clones of V. cholera circulated in the region and caused disease during this time. These clones fell into two distinct sub-clades that map independently onto wave 3 of the phylogenetic tree of seventh pandemic V. cholerae El Tor. Sequence analyses of the cholera toxin gene, the Vibrio seventh Pandemic Island II (VSPII) and SXT element correlated with this phylogenetic position of the two clades on the El Tor tree. The clade 2 isolates, characterized by a drug-resistant profile and the expression of a distinct cholera toxin, are closely related to the recent V. cholerae isolated elsewhere, including Haiti, but fell on a distinct branch of the tree, showing they were independent outbreaks. Multi-Locus Sequence Typing (MLST) distinguishes two sequence types among the 38 isolates, that did not correspond to the clades defined by whole-genome sequencing. Multi-Locus Variable-length tandem-nucleotide repeat Analysis (MLVA) identified 16 distinct clusters.

Conclusions/Significance

The use of whole-genome sequencing enabled the identification of two clones of V. cholerae that circulated during the 2009 Chandigarh outbreak. These clones harboured a similar structure of ICEVchHai1 but differed mainly in the structure of CTX phage and VSPII. The limited capacity of MLST and MLVA to discriminate between the clones that circulated in the 2009 Chandigarh outbreak highlights the value of whole-genome sequencing as a route to the identification of further genetic markers to subtype V. cholerae isolates.

Risk Factors for Adverse Prognosis and Death in American Visceral Leishmaniasis: A Meta-analysis

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 24 July 2014 - 9:00pm

by Vinícius Silva Belo, Claudio José Struchiner, David Soeiro Barbosa, Bruno Warlley Leandro Nascimento, Marco Aurélio Pereira Horta, Eduardo Sérgio da Silva, Guilherme Loureiro Werneck

Background

In the current context of high fatality rates associated with American visceral leishmaniasis (VL), the appropriate use of prognostic factors to identify patients at higher risk of unfavorable outcomes represents a potential tool for clinical practice. This systematic review brings together information reported in studies conducted in Latin America, on the potential predictors of adverse prognosis (continued evolution of the initial clinical conditions of the patient despite the implementation of treatment, independent of the occurrence of death) and death from VL. The limitations of the existing knowledge, the advances achieved and the approaches to be used in future research are presented.

Methods/Principal Findings

The full texts of 14 studies conforming to the inclusion criteria were analyzed and their methodological quality examined by means of a tool developed in the light of current research tools. Information regarding prognostic variables was synthesized using meta-analysis. Variables were grouped according to the strength of evidence considering summary measures, patterns and heterogeneity of effect-sizes, and the results of multivariate analyses. The strongest predictors identified in this review were jaundice, thrombocytopenia, hemorrhage, HIV coinfection, diarrhea, age <5 and age >40–50 years, severe neutropenia, dyspnoea and bacterial infections. Edema and low hemoglobin concentration were also associated with unfavorable outcomes. The main limitation identified was the absence of validation procedures for the few prognostic models developed so far.

Conclusions/Significance

Integration of the results from different investigations conducted over the last 10 years enabled the identification of consistent prognostic variables that could be useful in recognizing and handling VL patients at higher risk of unfavorable outcomes. The development of externally validated prognostic models must be prioritized in future investigations.

MALDI-TOF Mass Spectrometry Detection of Pathogens in Vectors: The Borrelia crocidurae/Ornithodoros sonrai Paradigm

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 24 July 2014 - 9:00pm

by Aurélien Fotso Fotso, Oleg Mediannikov, Georges Diatta, Lionel Almeras, Christophe Flaudrops, Philippe Parola, Michel Drancourt

Background

In Africa, relapsing fever borreliae are neglected vector-borne pathogens that cause mild to deadly septicemia and miscarriage. Screening vectors for the presence of borreliae currently requires technically demanding, time- and resource-consuming molecular methods. Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF-MS) has recently emerged as a tool for the rapid identification of vectors and the identification of cultured borreliae. We investigated whether MALDI-TOF-MS could detect relapsing fever borreliae directly in ticks.

Methodology/Principal Findings

As a first step, a Borrelia MALDI-TOF-MS database was created to house the newly determined Mean Spectrum Projections for four Lyme disease group and ten relapsing fever group reference borreliae. MALDI-TOF-MS yielded a unique protein profile for each of the 14 tested Borrelia species, with 100% reproducibility over 12 repeats. In a second proof-of-concept step, the Borrelia database and a custom software program that subtracts the uninfected O. sonrai profile were used to detect Borrelia crocidurae in 20 Ornithodoros sonrai ticks, including eight ticks that tested positive for B. crocidurae by PCR-sequencing. A B. crocidurae-specific pattern consisting of 3405, 5071, 5898, 7041, 8580 and 9757-m/z peaks was found in all B. crocidurae-infected ticks and not found in any of the un-infected ticks. In a final blind validation step, MALDI-TOF-MS exhibited 88.9% sensitivity and 93.75% specificity for the detection of B. crocidurae in 50 O. sonrai ticks, including 18 that tested positive for B. crocidurae by PCR-sequencing. MALDI-TOF-MS took 45 minutes to be completed.

Conclusions/Significance

After the development of an appropriate database, MALDI-TOF-MS can be used to identify tick species and the presence of relapsing fever borreliae in a single assay. This work paves the way for the use of MALDI-TOF-MS for the dual identification of vectors and vectorized pathogens.

Risk Factors and Spatial Distribution of Schistosoma mansoni Infection among Primary School Children in Mbita District, Western Kenya

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 24 July 2014 - 9:00pm

by Sachiyo Nagi, Evans A. Chadeka, Toshihiko Sunahara, Faith Mutungi, Yombo K. Dan Justin, Satoshi Kaneko, Yoshio Ichinose, Sohkichi Matsumoto, Sammy M. Njenga, Masahiro Hashizume, Masaaki Shimada, Shinjiro Hamano

Background

An increasing risk of Schistosoma mansoni infection has been observed around Lake Victoria, western Kenya since the 1970s. Understanding local transmission dynamics of schistosomiasis is crucial in curtailing increased risk of infection.

Methodology/Principal Findings

We carried out a cross sectional study on a population of 310 children from eight primary schools. Overall, a total of 238 (76.8%) children were infected with S. mansoni, while seven (2.3%) had S. haematobium. The prevalence of hookworm, Trichuris trichiura and Ascaris lumbricoides were 6.1%, 5.2% and 2.3%, respectively. Plasmodium falciparum was the only malaria parasite detected (12.0%). High local population density within a 1 km radius around houses was identified as a major independent risk factor of S. mansoni infection. A spatial cluster of high infection risk was detected around the Mbita causeway following adjustment for population density and other potential risk factors.

Conclusions/Significance

Population density was shown to be a major factor fuelling schistosome infection while individual socio-economic factors appeared not to affect the infection risk. The high-risk cluster around the Mbita causeway may be explained by the construction of an artificial pathway that may cause increased numbers of S. mansoni host snails through obstruction of the waterway. This construction may have, therefore, a significant negative impact on the health of the local population, especially school-aged children who frequently come in contact with lake water.

Cross-sectional Study of the Burden of Vector-Borne and Soil-Transmitted Polyparasitism in Rural Communities of Coast Province, Kenya

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 24 July 2014 - 9:00pm

by Donal Bisanzio, Francis Mutuku, Amaya L. Bustinduy, Peter L. Mungai, Eric M. Muchiri, Charles H. King, Uriel Kitron

Background

In coastal Kenya, infection of human populations by a variety of parasites often results in co-infection or poly-parasitism. These parasitic infections, separately and in conjunction, are a major cause of chronic clinical and sub-clinical human disease and exert a long-term toll on economic welfare of affected populations. Risk factors for these infections are often shared and overlap in space, resulting in interrelated patterns of transmission that need to be considered at different spatial scales. Integration of novel quantitative tools and qualitative approaches is needed to analyze transmission dynamics and design effective interventions.

Methodology

Our study was focused on detecting spatial and demographic patterns of single- and co-infection in six villages in coastal Kenya. Individual and household level data were acquired using cross-sectional, socio-economic, and entomological surveys. Generalized additive models (GAMs and GAMMs) were applied to determine risk factors for infection and co-infections. Spatial analysis techniques were used to detect local clusters of single and multiple infections.

Principal findings

Of the 5,713 tested individuals, more than 50% were infected with at least one parasite and nearly 20% showed co-infections. Infections with Schistosoma haematobium (26.0%) and hookworm (21.4%) were most common, as was co-infection by both (6.3%). Single and co-infections shared similar environmental and socio-demographic risk factors. The prevalence of single and multiple infections was heterogeneous among and within communities. Clusters of single and co-infections were detected in each village, often spatially overlapped, and were associated with lower SES and household crowding.

Conclusion

Parasitic infections and co-infections are widespread in coastal Kenya, and their distributions are heterogeneous across landscapes, but inter-related. We highlighted how shared risk factors are associated with high prevalence of single infections and can result in spatial clustering of co-infections. Spatial heterogeneity and synergistic risk factors for polyparasitism need to be considered when designing surveillance and intervention strategies.

IrSPI, a Tick Serine Protease Inhibitor Involved in Tick Feeding and Bartonella henselae Infection

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 24 July 2014 - 9:00pm

by Xiang Ye Liu, Jose de la Fuente, Martine Cote, Ruth C. Galindo, Sara Moutailler, Muriel Vayssier-Taussat, Sarah I. Bonnet

Ixodes ricinus is the most widespread and abundant tick in Europe, frequently bites humans, and is the vector of several pathogens including those responsible for Lyme disease, Tick-Borne Encephalitis, anaplasmosis, babesiosis and bartonellosis. These tick-borne pathogens are transmitted to vertebrate hosts via tick saliva during blood feeding, and tick salivary gland (SG) factors are likely implicated in transmission. In order to identify such tick factors, we characterized the transcriptome of female I. ricinus SGs using next generation sequencing techniques, and compared transcriptomes between Bartonella henselae-infected and non-infected ticks. High-throughput sequencing of I. ricinus SG transcriptomes led to the generation of 24,539 isotigs. Among them, 829 and 517 transcripts were either significantly up- or down-regulated respectively, in response to bacterial infection. Searches based on sequence identity showed that among the differentially expressed transcripts, 161 transcripts corresponded to nine groups of previously annotated tick SG gene families, while the others corresponded to genes of unknown function. Expression patterns of five selected genes belonging to the BPTI/Kunitz family of serine protease inhibitors, the tick salivary peptide group 1 protein, the salp15 super-family, and the arthropod defensin family, were validated by qRT-PCR. IrSPI, a member of the BPTI/Kunitz family of serine protease inhibitors, showed the highest up-regulation in SGs in response to Bartonella infection. IrSPI silencing impaired tick feeding, as well as resulted in reduced bacterial load in tick SGs. This study provides a comprehensive analysis of I. ricinus SG transcriptome and contributes significant genomic information about this important disease vector. This in-depth knowledge will enable a better understanding of the molecular interactions between ticks and tick-borne pathogens, and identifies IrSPI, a candidate to study now in detail to estimate its potentialities as vaccine against the ticks and the pathogens they transmit.

Characterization of Aedes aegypti Innate-Immune Pathways that Limit Chikungunya Virus Replication

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 24 July 2014 - 9:00pm

by Melanie McFarlane, Camilo Arias-Goeta, Estelle Martin, Zoe O'Hara, Aleksei Lulla, Laurence Mousson, Stephanie M. Rainey, Suzana Misbah, Esther Schnettler, Claire L. Donald, Andres Merits, Alain Kohl, Anna-Bella Failloux

Replication of arboviruses in their arthropod vectors is controlled by innate immune responses. The RNA sequence-specific break down mechanism, RNA interference (RNAi), has been shown to be an important innate antiviral response in mosquitoes. In addition, immune signaling pathways have been reported to mediate arbovirus infections in mosquitoes; namely the JAK/STAT, immune deficiency (IMD) and Toll pathways. Very little is known about these pathways in response to chikungunya virus (CHIKV) infection, a mosquito-borne alphavirus (Togaviridae) transmitted by aedine species to humans resulting in a febrile and arthralgic disease. In this study, the contribution of several innate immune responses to control CHIKV replication was investigated. In vitro experiments identified the RNAi pathway as a key antiviral pathway. CHIKV was shown to repress the activity of the Toll signaling pathway in vitro but neither JAK/STAT, IMD nor Toll pathways were found to mediate antiviral activities. In vivo data further confirmed our in vitro identification of the vital role of RNAi in antiviral defence. Taken together these results indicate a complex interaction between CHIKV replication and mosquito innate immune responses and demonstrate similarities as well as differences in the control of alphaviruses and other arboviruses by mosquito immune pathways.

Identification of Giardia lamblia DHHC Proteins and the Role of Protein S-palmitoylation in the Encystation Process

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 24 July 2014 - 9:00pm

by María C. Merino, Nahuel Zamponi, Cecilia V. Vranych, María C. Touz, Andrea S. Rópolo

Protein S-palmitoylation, a hydrophobic post-translational modification, is performed by protein acyltransferases that have a common DHHC Cys-rich domain (DHHC proteins), and provides a regulatory switch for protein membrane association. In this work, we analyzed the presence of DHHC proteins in the protozoa parasite Giardia lamblia and the function of the reversible S-palmitoylation of proteins during parasite differentiation into cyst. Two specific events were observed: encysting cells displayed a larger amount of palmitoylated proteins, and parasites treated with palmitoylation inhibitors produced a reduced number of mature cysts. With bioinformatics tools, we found nine DHHC proteins, potential protein acyltransferases, in the Giardia proteome. These proteins displayed a conserved structure when compared to different organisms and are distributed in different monophyletic clades. Although all Giardia DHHC proteins were found to be present in trophozoites and encysting cells, these proteins showed a different intracellular localization in trophozoites and seemed to be differently involved in the encystation process when they were overexpressed. dhhc transgenic parasites showed a different pattern of cyst wall protein expression and yielded different amounts of mature cysts when they were induced to encyst. Our findings disclosed some important issues regarding the role of DHHC proteins and palmitoylation during Giardia encystation.

Brucellosis as an Emerging Threat in Developing Economies: Lessons from Nigeria

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 24 July 2014 - 9:00pm

by Marie J. Ducrotoy, Wilson J. Bertu, Reuben A. Ocholi, Amahyel M. Gusi, Ward Bryssinckx, Sue Welburn, Ignacio Moriyón

Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, has a large proportion of the world's poor livestock keepers, and is a hotspot for neglected zoonoses. A review of the 127 accessible publications on brucellosis in Nigeria reveals only scant and fragmented evidence on its spatial and temporal distribution in different epidemiological contexts. The few bacteriological studies conducted demonstrate the existence of Brucella abortus in cattle and sheep, but evidence for B. melitensis in small ruminants is dated and unclear. The bulk of the evidence consists of seroprevalence studies, but test standardization and validation are not always adequately described, and misinterpretations exist with regard to sensitivity and/or specificity and ability to identify the infecting Brucella species. Despite this, early studies suggest that although brucellosis was endemic in extensive nomadic systems, seroprevalence was low, and brucellosis was not perceived as a real burden; recent studies, however, may reflect a changing trend. Concerning human brucellosis, no studies have identified the Brucella species and most reports provide only serological evidence of contact with Brucella in the classical risk groups; some suggest brucellosis misdiagnoses as malaria or other febrile conditions. The investigation of a severe outbreak that occurred in the late 1970s describes the emergence of animal and human disease caused by the settling of previously nomadic populations during the Sahelian drought. There appears to be an increasing risk of re-emergence of brucellosis in sub-Saharan Africa, as a result of the co-existence of pastoralist movements and the increase of intensive management resulting from growing urbanization and food demand. Highly contagious zoonoses like brucellosis pose a threat with far-reaching social and political consequences.

Serological, Molecular and Entomological Surveillance Demonstrates Widespread Circulation of West Nile Virus in Turkey

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 24 July 2014 - 9:00pm

by Koray Ergunay, Filiz Gunay, Ozge Erisoz Kasap, Kerem Oter, Sepandar Gargari, Taner Karaoglu, Seda Tezcan, Mehmet Cabalar, Yakup Yildirim, Gürol Emekdas, Bulent Alten, Aykut Ozkul

West Nile virus (WNV), a mosquito-borne flavivirus with significant impact on human and animal health, has recently demonstrated an expanded zone of activity globally. The aim of this study is to investigate the frequency and distribution of WNV infections in potential vectors and several mammal and avian species in Turkey, where previous data indicate viral circulation. The study was conducted in 15 provinces across Turkey during 2011–2013. In addition, the entomological study was extended to 4 districts of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. WNV exposure was determined in humans, horses, sheep and ducks from Mersin, Sanliurfa, Van and Kars provinces of Turkey, via the detection of neutralizing antibodies. WNV RNA was sought in human and equine samples from Mersin, Adana and Mugla provinces. Field-collected mosquitoes from 92 sites at 46 locations were characterized morphologically and evaluated for viral RNA. Neutralizing antibodies were identified in 10.5% of the 1180 samples studied and detected in all species evaluated. Viral nucleic acids were observed in 5.9% of 522 samples but only in horses. A total of 2642 mosquito specimens belonging to 15 species were captured, where Ochlerotatus caspius (52.4%), Culex pipiens sensu lato (24.2%) comprise the most frequent species. WNV RNA was detected in 4 mosquito pools (1.9%), that comprise Oc. caspius Cx. pipiens s.l. and DNA barcoding revealed the presence of Cx. quinquefasciatus and Cx. perexiguus mosquitoes in infected Culex pools. All WNV partial sequences were characterized as lineage 1 clade 1a. These findings indicate a widespread WNV activity in Turkey, in Eastern Thrace and Mediterranean-Aegean regions as well as Southeastern and Northeastern Anatolia.

The Incidence of Japanese Encephalitis in Taiwan—A Population-Based Study

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 24 July 2014 - 9:00pm

by Li-Ching Hsu, Yu-Ju Chen, Feng-Kuang Hsu, Jyh-Hsiung Huang, Chi-Ming Chang, Pesus Chou, I-Feng Lin, Feng-Yee Chang

Background

A mass Japanese encephalitis (JE) vaccination program targeting children was launched in Taiwan in 1968, and the number of pediatric JE cases substantially decreased thereafter. The aim of this study was to elucidate the long-term trend of JE incidence, and to investigate the age-specific seroprevalence of JE-neutralizing antibodies.

Methodology/Principal Findings

A total of 2,948 laboratory-confirmed JE cases that occurred between 1966 and 2012 were analyzed using a mandatory notification system managed by the Centers for Disease Control, Taiwan. A total of 6,594 randomly-sampled serum specimens obtained in a nationwide population-based survey in 2002 were analyzed to estimate the seroprevalence of JE-neutralizing antibodies in the general population. The average annual JE incidence rate of the group aged 30 years and older was 0.167 cases per 100,000 people between 2001 and 2012, which was higher than the 0.052 cases per 100,000 people among those aged under 30 years. These seroepidemiological findings indicate that the cohort born between 1963 and 1975, who generally received two or three doses of the vaccine and were administered the last booster dose more than 20 years ago, exhibited the lowest positive rate of JE-neutralizing antibodies (54%). The highest and second highest antibody rates were observed, respectively, in the oldest unvaccinated cohort (86%) and in the youngest cohort born between 1981 and 1986, who received four doses 10–15 years ago (74%).

Conclusion/Significance

Over the past decade, the main age group of the confirmed JE cases in Taiwan shifted from young children to adults over 30 years of age. People who were born between 1963 and 1975 exhibited the lowest seroprevalence of JE-neutralizing antibodies. Thus, the key issue for JE control in Taiwan is to reduce adult JE cases through a cost-effective analysis of various immunization strategies.

Ocular Pentastomiasis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 24 July 2014 - 9:00pm

by Mihály Sulyok, Lajos Rózsa, Imre Bodó, Dennis Tappe, Richard Hardi

Ocular pentastomiasis is a rare infection caused by the larval stage of pentastomids, an unusual group of crustacean-related parasites. Zoonotic pentastomids have a distinct geographical distribution and utilize reptiles or canids as final hosts. Recently, an increasing number of human abdominal infections have been reported in Africa, where pentastomiasis is an emerging, though severely neglected, tropical disease. Here we describe four ocular infections caused by pentastomids from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Two cases underwent surgery and an Armillifer grandis infection was detected by morphological and molecular approaches. Thus far, 15 other cases of ocular pentastomiasis have been reported worldwide. Twelve cases were caused by Armillifer sp., recorded almost exclusively in Africa, where such infections occur as a consequence of hunting and consuming snakes, their final hosts. Seven further cases were caused by Linguatula serrata, a cosmopolitan pentastomid whose final hosts are usually canids. Intraocular infections caused permanent visual damage in 69% and a total loss of vision in 31% of reported cases. In contrast, ocular adnexal cases had a benign clinical course. Further research is required to estimate the burden, therapeutic options and pathogenesis of this neglected disease.

Burden of Diarrhea, Hospitalization and Mortality Due to Cryptosporidial Infections in Indian Children

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 24 July 2014 - 9:00pm

by Rajiv Sarkar, Jacqueline E. Tate, Sitara S. R. Ajjampur, Deepthi Kattula, Jacob John, Honorine D. Ward, Gagandeep Kang

Background

Cryptosporidium spp. is a common, but under-reported cause of childhood diarrhea throughout the world, especially in developing countries. A comprehensive estimate of the burden of cryptosporidiosis in resource-poor settings is not available.

Methodology/Principal Findings

We used published and unpublished studies to estimate the burden of diarrhea, hospitalization and mortality due to cryptosporidial infections in Indian children. Our estimates suggest that annually, one in every 6–11 children <2 years of age will have an episode of cryptosporidial diarrhea, 1 in every 169–633 children will be hospitalized and 1 in every 2890–7247 children will die due to cryptosporidiosis. Since there are approximately 42 million children <2 years of age in India, it is estimated that Cryptosporidium results in 3.9–7.1 million diarrheal episodes, 66.4–249.0 thousand hospitalizations, and 5.8–14.6 thousand deaths each year.

Conclusions/Significance

The findings of this study suggest a high burden of cryptosporidiosis among children <2 years of age in India and makes a compelling case for further research on transmission and prevention modalities of Cryptosporidium spp. in India and other developing countries.

Monitoring Antigenic Variations of Enterovirus 71: Implications for Virus Surveillance and Vaccine Development

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 24 July 2014 - 9:00pm

by Min-Yuan Chia, Wan-Yu Chung, Pai-Shan Chiang, Yeh-Sheng Chien, Mei-Shang Ho, Min-Shi Lee

Enterovirus 71 (EV71) causes life-threatening epidemics in Asia and can be phylogenetically classified into three major genogroups (A∼C) including 11 genotypes (A, B1∼B5, and C1∼C5). Recently, EV71 epidemics occurred cyclically in Taiwan with different genotypes. In recent years, human studies using post-infection sera obtained from children have detected antigenic variations among different EV71 strains. Therefore, surveillance of enterovirus 71 should include phylogenetic and antigenic analysis. Due to limitation of sera available from children with EV71 primary infection, suitable animal models should be developed to generate a panel of antisera for monitoring EV71 antigenic variations. Twelve reference strains representing the 11 EV71 genotypes were grown in rhabdomyosarcoma cells. Infectious EV71 particles were purified and collected to immunize rabbits. The rabbit antisera were then employed to measure neutralizing antibody titers against the 12 reference strains and 5 recent strains. Rabbits immunized with genogroup B and C viruses consistently have a lower neutralizing antibody titers against genogroup A (≧8-fold difference) and antigenic variations between genogroup B and C viruses can be detected but did not have a clear pattern, which are consistent with previous human studies. Comparison between human and rabbit neutralizing antibody profiles, the results showed that ≧8-fold difference in rabbit cross-reactive antibody ratios could be used to screen EV71 isolates for identifying potential antigenic variants. In conclusion, a rabbit model was developed to monitor antigenic variations of EV71, which are critical to select vaccine strains and predict epidemics.

Haiti National Program for the Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis—A Model of Success in the Face of Adversity

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 17 July 2014 - 9:00pm

by Roland Oscar, Jean Frantz Lemoine, Abdel Nasser Direny, Luccene Desir, Valery E. Madsen Beau de Rochars, Mathieu J. P. Poirier, Ann Varghese, Ijeoma Obidegwu, Patrick J. Lammie, Thomas G. Streit, Marie Denise Milord

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