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Gentamicin-Attenuated Leishmania infantum Vaccine: Protection of Dogs against Canine Visceral Leishmaniosis in Endemic Area of Southeast of Iran

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

by Hamid Daneshvar, Mohammad Javad Namazi, Hossein Kamiabi, Richard Burchmore, Sarah Cleaveland, Stephen Phillips

An attenuated line of Leishmania infantum (L. infantum H-line) has been established by culturing promastigotes in vitro under gentamicin pressure. A vaccine trial was conducted using 103 naive dogs from a leishmaniosis non-endemic area (55 vaccinated and 48 unvaccinated) brought into an endemic area of southeast Iran. No local and/or general indications of disease were observed in the vaccinated dogs immediately after vaccination. The efficacy of the vaccine was evaluated after 24 months (4 sandfly transmission seasons) by serological, parasitological analyses and clinical examination. In western blot analysis of antibodies to L. infantum antigens, sera from 10 out of 31 (32.2%) unvaccinated dogs, but none of the sera from vaccinated dogs which were seropositive at >100, recognized the 21 kDa antigen of L. infantum wild-type (WT). Nine out of 31 (29%) unvaccinated dogs, but none of vaccinated dogs, were positive for the presence of Leishmania DNA. One out of 46 (2.2%) vaccinated dogs and 9 out of 31 (29%) unvaccinated dogs developed clinical signs of disease. These results suggest that gentamicin-attenuated L. infantum induced a significant and strong protective effect against canine visceral leishmaniosis in the endemic area.

Air Travel Is Associated with Intracontinental Spread of Dengue Virus Serotypes 1–3 in Brazil

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

by Marcio R. T. Nunes, Gustavo Palacios, Nuno Rodrigues Faria, Edivaldo Costa Sousa, Jamilla A. Pantoja, Sueli G. Rodrigues, Valéria L. Carvalho, Daniele B. A. Medeiros, Nazir Savji, Guy Baele, Marc A. Suchard, Philippe Lemey, Pedro F. C. Vasconcelos, W. Ian Lipkin

Dengue virus and its four serotypes (DENV-1 to DENV-4) infect 390 million people and are implicated in at least 25,000 deaths annually, with the largest disease burden in tropical and subtropical regions. We investigated the spatial dynamics of DENV-1, DENV-2 and DENV-3 in Brazil by applying a statistical framework to complete genome sequences. For all three serotypes, we estimated that the introduction of new lineages occurred within 7 to 10-year intervals. New lineages were most likely to be imported from the Caribbean region to the North and Northeast regions of Brazil, and then to disperse at a rate of approximately 0.5 km/day. Joint statistical analysis of evolutionary, epidemiological and ecological data indicates that aerial transportation of humans and/or vector mosquitoes, rather than Aedes aegypti infestation rates or geographical distances, determine dengue virus spread in Brazil.

Opportunity Cost for Early Treatment of Chagas Disease in Mexico

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

by Janine M. Ramsey, Miguel Elizondo-Cano, Gilberto Sanchez-González, Adriana Peña-Nieves, Alejandro Figueroa-Lara

Background

Given current neglect for Chagas disease in public health programs in Mexico, future healthcare and economic development policies will need a more robust model to analyze costs and impacts of timely clinical attention of infected populations.

Methodology/Principal Findings

A Markov decision model was constructed to simulate the natural history of a Chagas disease cohort in Mexico and to project the associated short and long-term clinical outcomes and corresponding costs. The lifetime cost for a timely diagnosed and treated Chagas disease patient is US$ 10,160, while the cost for an undiagnosed individual is US$ 11,877. The cost of a diagnosed and treated case increases 24-fold from early acute to indeterminate stage. The major cost component for lifetime cost was working days lost, between 44% and 75%, depending on the program scenario for timely diagnosis and treatment.

Conclusions/Significance

In the long term, it is cheaper to diagnose and treat chagasic patients early, instead of doing nothing. This finding by itself argues for the need to shift current policy, in order to prioritize and attend this neglected disease for the benefit of social and economic development, which implies including treatment drugs in the national formularies. Present results are even more relevant, if one considers that timely diagnosis and treatment can arrest clinical progression and enhance a chronic patient's quality of life.

Structures of Trypanosoma brucei Methionyl-tRNA Synthetase with Urea-Based Inhibitors Provide Guidance for Drug Design against Sleeping Sickness

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

by Cho Yeow Koh, Jessica E. Kim, Allan B. Wetzel, Will J. de van der Schueren, Sayaka Shibata, Ranae M. Ranade, Jiyun Liu, Zhongsheng Zhang, J. Robert Gillespie, Frederick S. Buckner, Christophe L. M. J. Verlinde, Erkang Fan, Wim G. J. Hol

Methionyl-tRNA synthetase of Trypanosoma brucei (TbMetRS) is an important target in the development of new antitrypanosomal drugs. The enzyme is essential, highly flexible and displaying a large degree of changes in protein domains and binding pockets in the presence of substrate, product and inhibitors. Targeting this protein will benefit from a profound understanding of how its structure adapts to ligand binding. A series of urea-based inhibitors (UBIs) has been developed with IC50 values as low as 19 nM against the enzyme. The UBIs were shown to be orally available and permeable through the blood-brain barrier, and are therefore candidates for development of drugs for the treatment of late stage human African trypanosomiasis. Here, we expand the structural diversity of inhibitors from the previously reported collection and tested for their inhibitory effect on TbMetRS and on the growth of T. brucei cells. The binding modes and binding pockets of 14 UBIs are revealed by determination of their crystal structures in complex with TbMetRS at resolutions between 2.2 Å to 2.9 Å. The structures show binding of the UBIs through conformational selection, including occupancy of the enlarged methionine pocket and the auxiliary pocket. General principles underlying the affinity of UBIs for TbMetRS are derived from these structures, in particular the optimum way to fill the two binding pockets. The conserved auxiliary pocket might play a role in binding tRNA. In addition, a crystal structure of a ternary TbMetRS•inhibitor•AMPPCP complex indicates that the UBIs are not competing with ATP for binding, instead are interacting with ATP through hydrogen bond. This suggests a possibility that a general ‘ATP-engaging’ binding mode can be utilized for the design and development of inhibitors targeting tRNA synthetases of other disease-causing pathogen.

Comparison between Itraconazole and Cotrimoxazole in the Treatment of Paracoccidiodomycosis

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

by Ricardo de Souza Cavalcante, Tatiane Fernanda Sylvestre, Adriele Dandara Levorato, Lídia Rachel de Carvalho, Rinaldo Poncio Mendes

Background

There are no published reports on studies comparing itraconazole (ITC), sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim (cotrimoxazole, CMX), and ITC followed by CMX (ITC/CMX) in the treatment of paracoccidiodomycosis. This study aimed to compare the efficacy, effectiveness, safety and time to clinical and serologic cure in paracoccidioidomycosis patients treated with ITC or CMX, the antifungal agents most widely used.

Methodology

A quasi-experimental study was performed in 177 patients with a confirmed or probable diagnosis of paracoccidioidomycosis. Treatment was divided into two stages: 1) initial, which was continued until clinical cure was achieved and the erythrocyte sedimentation rate decreased to normal values; 2) complementary, which was continued until serologic cure was achieved. Medians were compared via the Mann-Whitney test, and frequencies were compared via the chi-squared test. The assessment of variables as a function of time was performed using Kaplan-Meier curves and Cox regression. The significance level was established as p≤0.05.

Principal Findings

No difference was found in the efficacy and effectiveness of the initial treatment of 47 individuals given ITC and 130 individuals given CMX; however, the time to clinical cure was shorter in the former compared with the latter group (105 vs. 159 days; p = 0.001), specifically in patients with the chronic form. Efficacy and effectiveness of the three regimens were similar in the complementary treatment; however, the time to serologic cure was shorter when ITC (161 days) or CMX (495 days) was used compared with ITC/CMX (881 days) [p = 0.02]. The independent predictors of a shorter time to serologic cure were treatment with ITC [risk ratio = 6.61 (2.01–21.75)] or with CMX [risk ratio = 5.11 (1.91–13.67)]). The prevalence of side effects was lower with ITC (6.4%) than with CMX (20.0%; p = 0.03).

Conclusions

Since ITC induced earlier clinical cure and was better tolerated than CMX, such triazole should be considered the first-choice for PCM treatment.

Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices Related to Visceral Leishmaniasis in Rural Communities of Amhara State: A Longitudinal Study in Northwest Ethiopia

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

by Noemí López-Perea, Luis Sordo, Endalamaw Gadisa, Israel Cruz, Tsegaye Hailu, Javier Moreno, Abraham Aseffa, Carmen Cañavate, Estefanía Custodio

Background

In the northwest of Ethiopia, at the South Gondar region, there was a visceral leishmaniasis (VL) outbreak in 2005, making the disease a public health concern for the regional health authorities ever since. The knowledge on how the population perceives the disease is essential in order to propose successful control strategies.

Methodology/Principal findings

Two surveys on VL knowledge, attitudes and practices were conducted at the beginning (May 2009) and at the end (February 2011) of a VL longitudinal study carried out in rural communities of Libo Kemkem and Fogera, two districts of the Amhara Regional State. Results showed that VL global knowledge was very low in the area, and that it improved substantially in the period studied. Specifically, from 2009 to 2011, the frequency of proper knowledge regarding VL signs and symptoms increased from 47% to 71% (p<0.0001), knowledge of VL causes increased from 8% to 25% (p<0.0001), and knowledge on VL protection measures from 16% to 55% (p<0.0001). Moreover, the improvement observed in VL knowledge was more marked among the families with no previous history of VL case. Finally, in 2011 more than 90% of the households owned at least an impregnated bed net and had been sprayed, and attitudes towards these and other protective measures were very positive (over 94% acceptance for all of them).

Conclusions/Significance

In 2009 the level of knowledge regarding VL was very low among the rural population of this area, although it improved substantially in the study period, probably due to the contribution of many actors in the area. VL patients and relatives should be appropriately informed and trained as they may act as successful health community agents. VL risk behavioural patterns are subject to change as attitudes towards protective measures were very positive overall.

Leishmania-HIV Co-infection: Clinical Presentation and Outcomes in an Urban Area in Brazil

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

by Gláucia F. Cota, Marcos R. de Sousa, Andrea Laender Pessoa de Mendonça, Allan Patrocinio, Luiza Siqueira Assunção, Sidnei Rodrigues de Faria, Ana Rabello

Background

Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is an emerging condition affecting HIV-infected patients living in Latin America, particularly in Brazil. Leishmania-HIV coinfection represents a challenging diagnosis because the clinical picture of VL is similar to that of other disseminated opportunistic diseases. Additionally, coinfection is related to treatment failure, relapse and high mortality.

Objective

To assess the clinical-laboratory profile and outcomes of VL-HIV-coinfected patients using a group of non HIV-infected patients diagnosed with VL during the same period as a comparator.

Methods

The study was conducted at a reference center for infectious diseases in Brazil. All patients with suspected VL were evaluated in an ongoing cohort study. Confirmed cases were divided into two groups: with and without HIV coinfection. Patients were treated according to the current guidelines of the Ministry of Health of Brazil, which considers antimony as the first-choice therapy for non HIV-infected patients and recommends amphotericin B for HIV-infected patients. After treatment, all patients with CD4 counts below 350 cells/mm3 received secondary prophylaxis with amphotericin B.

Results

Between 2011 and 2013, 168 patients with suspected VL were evaluated, of whom 90 were confirmed to have VL. In total, 51% were HIV coinfected patients (46 patients). HIV-infected patients had a lower rate of fever and splenomegaly compared with immunocompetent patients. The VL relapse rate in 6 months was 37% among HIV-infected patients, despite receiving secondary prophylaxis. The overall case-fatality rate was 6.6% (4 deaths in the HIV-infected group versus 2 deaths in the non HIV-infected group). The main risk factors for a poor outcome at 6 months after the end of treatment were HIV infection, bleeding and a previous VL episode.

Conclusion

Although VL mortality rates among HIV-infected individuals are close to those observed among immunocompetent patients treated with amphotericin B, HIV coinfection is related to a low clinical response and high relapse rates within 6 months.

Methods to Determine the Transcriptomes of Trypanosomes in Mixtures with Mammalian Cells: The Effects of Parasite Purification and Selective cDNA Amplification

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

by Julius Mulindwa, Abeer Fadda, Clementine Merce, Enoch Matovu, John Enyaru, Christine Clayton

Patterns of gene expression in cultured Trypanosoma brucei bloodstream and procyclic forms have been extensively characterized, and some comparisons have been made with trypanosomes grown to high parasitaemias in laboratory rodents. We do not know, however, to what extent these transcriptomes resemble those in infected Tsetse flies - or in humans or cattle, where parasitaemias are substantially lower. For clinical and field samples it is difficult to characterize parasite gene expression because of the large excess of host cell RNA. We have here examined two potential solutions to this problem for bloodstream form trypanosomes, assaying transcriptomes by high throughput cDNA sequencing (RNASeq). We first purified the parasites from blood of infected rats. We found that a red blood cell lysis procedure affected the transcriptome substantially more than purification using a DEAE cellulose column, but that too introduced significant distortions and variability. As an alternative, we specifically amplified parasite sequences from a mixture containing a 1000-fold excess of human RNA. We first purified polyadenylated RNA, then made trypanosome-specific cDNA by priming with a spliced leader primer. Finally, the cDNA was amplified using nested primers. The amplification procedure was able to produce samples in which 20% of sequence reads mapped to the trypanosome genome. Synthesis of the second cDNA strand with a spliced leader primer, followed by amplification, is sufficiently reproducible to allow comparison of different samples so long as they are all treated in the same way. However, SL priming distorted the abundances of the cDNA products and definitely cannot be used, by itself, to measure absolute mRNA levels. The amplification method might be suitable for clinical samples with low parasitaemias, and could also be adapted for other Kinetoplastids and to samples from infected vectors.

Diagnostic Performance of Schistosoma Real-Time PCR in Urine Samples from Kenyan Children Infected with Schistosoma haematobium: Day-to-day Variation and Follow-up after Praziquantel Treatment

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

by Natalie V. S. Vinkeles Melchers, Govert J. van Dam, David Shaproski, Anthony I. Kahama, Eric A. T. Brienen, Birgitte J. Vennervald, Lisette van Lieshout

Background

In an effort to enhance accuracy of diagnosis of Schistosoma haematobium, this study explores day-to-day variability and diagnostic performance of real-time PCR for detection and quantification of Schistosoma DNA compared to other diagnostic tools in an endemic area before and after treatment.

Methodology

Previously collected urine samples (N = 390) from 114 preselected proven parasitological and/or clinical S. haematobium positive Kenyan schoolchildren were analyzed by a Schistosoma internal transcribed spacer-based real-time PCR after 14 years of storage. Pre-treatment day-to-day fluctuations of PCR and microscopy over three consecutive days were measured for 24 children using intra-class correlation coefficient. A combined ‘gold standard’ (PCR and/or microscopy positive) was used to measure sensitivity and negative predictive value (NPV) of several diagnostic tools at baseline, two and 18 months post-treatment with praziquantel.

Principal Findings

All 24 repeatedly tested children were PCR-positive over three days with little daily variation in median Ct-values, while 83.3% were found to be egg-positive for S. haematobium at day 1 and 75.0% at day 2 and 3 pre-treatment, signifying daily fluctuations in microscopy diagnosis. Of all 114 preselected schoolchildren, repeated microscopic measurements were required to detect 96.5% versus 100% of positive pre-treatment cases by single PCR. At two months post-treatment, microscopy and PCR detected 22.8% versus 69.3% positive children, respectively. Based on the ‘gold standard’, PCR showed high sensitivity (>92%) as compared to >31% sensitivity for microscopy, both pre- and post-treatment.

Conclusions/Significance

Detection and quantification of Schistosoma DNA in urine by real-time PCR was shown to be a powerful and specific diagnostic tool for detection of S. haematobium infections, with less day-to-day variation and higher sensitivity compared to microscopy. The superior performance of PCR before, and two and 18 months post-treatment provides a compelling argument for PCR as an accurate and reproducible tool for monitoring treatment efficacy.

El Niño Southern Oscillation and Leptospirosis Outbreaks in New Caledonia

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

by Daniel Weinberger, Noémie Baroux, Jean-Paul Grangeon, Albert I. Ko, Cyrille Goarant

Leptospirosis is an important cause of seasonal outbreaks in New Caledonia and the tropics. Using time series derived from high-quality laboratory-based surveillance from 2000–2012, we evaluated whether climatic factors, including El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and meteorological conditions allow for the prediction of leptospirosis outbreaks in New Caledonia. We found that La Niña periods are associated with high rainfall, and both of these factors were in turn, temporally associated with outbreaks of leptospirosis. The sea surface temperature in El Niño Box 4 allowed forecasting of leptospirosis outbreaks four months into the future, a time lag allowing public health authorities to increase preparedness. To our knowledge, our observations in New Caledonia are the first demonstration that ENSO has a strong association with leptospirosis. This association should be tested in other regions in the South Pacific, Asia or Latin America where ENSO may drive climate variability and the risk for leptospirosis outbreaks.

Recombinant Paracoccin Reproduces the Biological Properties of the Native Protein and Induces Protective Th1 Immunity against Paracoccidioides brasiliensis Infection

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

by Ana Claudia Paiva Alegre, Aline Ferreira Oliveira, Fausto Bruno Dos Reis Almeida, Maria Cristina Roque-Barreira, Ebert Seixas Hanna

Background

Paracoccin is a dual-function protein of the yeast Paracoccidioides brasiliensis that has lectin properties and N-acetylglucosaminidase activities. Proteomic analysis of a paracoccin preparation from P. brasiliensis revealed that the sequence matched that of the hypothetical protein encoded by PADG-3347 of isolate Pb-18, with a polypeptide sequence similar to the family 18 endochitinases. These endochitinases are multi-functional proteins, with distinct lectin and enzymatic domains.

Methodology/principal findings

The multi-exon assembly and the largest exon of the predicted ORF (PADG-3347), was cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli cells, and the features of the recombinant proteins were compared to those of the native paracoccin. The multi-exon protein was also used for protection assays in a mouse model of paracoccidioidomycosis.

Conclusions/Significance

Our results showed that the recombinant protein reproduced the biological properties described for the native protein—including binding to laminin in a manner that is dependent on carbohydrate recognition—showed N-acetylglucosaminidase activity, and stimulated murine peritoneal macrophages to produce high levels of TNF-α and nitric oxide. Considering the immunomodulatory potential of glycan-binding proteins, we also investigated whether prophylactic administration of recombinant paracoccin affected the course of experimental paracoccidioidomycosis in mice. In comparison to animals injected with vehicle (controls), mice treated with recombinant paracoccin displayed lower pulmonary fungal burdens and reduced pulmonary granulomas. These protective effects were associated with augmented pulmonary levels of IL-12 and IFN-γ. We also observed that injection of paracoccin three days before challenge was the most efficient administration protocol, as the induced Th1 immunity was balanced by high levels of pulmonary IL-10, which may prevent the tissue damage caused by exacerbated inflammation. The results indicated that paracoccin is the protein encoded by PADG-3347, and we propose that this gene and homologous proteins in other P. brasiliensis strains be called paracoccin. We also concluded that recombinant paracoccin confers resistance to murine P. brasiliensis infection by exerting immunomodulatory effects.

Differing Patterns of Selection and Geospatial Genetic Diversity within Two Leading Plasmodium vivax Candidate Vaccine Antigens

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

by Christian M. Parobek, Jeffrey A. Bailey, Nicholas J. Hathaway, Duong Socheat, William O. Rogers, Jonathan J. Juliano

Although Plasmodium vivax is a leading cause of malaria around the world, only a handful of vivax antigens are being studied for vaccine development. Here, we investigated genetic signatures of selection and geospatial genetic diversity of two leading vivax vaccine antigens – Plasmodium vivax merozoite surface protein 1 (pvmsp-1) and Plasmodium vivax circumsporozoite protein (pvcsp). Using scalable next-generation sequencing, we deep-sequenced amplicons of the 42 kDa region of pvmsp-1 (n = 44) and the complete gene of pvcsp (n = 47) from Cambodian isolates. These sequences were then compared with global parasite populations obtained from GenBank. Using a combination of statistical and phylogenetic methods to assess for selection and population structure, we found strong evidence of balancing selection in the 42 kDa region of pvmsp-1, which varied significantly over the length of the gene, consistent with immune-mediated selection. In pvcsp, the highly variable central repeat region also showed patterns consistent with immune selection, which were lacking outside the repeat. The patterns of selection seen in both genes differed from their P. falciparum orthologs. In addition, we found that, similar to merozoite antigens from P. falciparum malaria, genetic diversity of pvmsp-1 sequences showed no geographic clustering, while the non-merozoite antigen, pvcsp, showed strong geographic clustering. These findings suggest that while immune selection may act on both vivax vaccine candidate antigens, the geographic distribution of genetic variability differs greatly between these two genes. The selective forces driving this diversification could lead to antigen escape and vaccine failure. Better understanding the geographic distribution of genetic variability in vaccine candidate antigens will be key to designing and implementing efficacious vaccines.

Experimental Infection of Rhesus Macaques and Common Marmosets with a European Strain of West Nile Virus

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

by Babs E. Verstrepen, Zahra Fagrouch, Melanie van Heteren, Hester Buitendijk, Tom Haaksma, Niels Beenhakker, Giorgio Palù, Justin M. Richner, Michael S. Diamond, Willy M. Bogers, Luisa Barzon, Stefan Chabierski, Sebastian Ulbert, Ivanela Kondova, Ernst J. Verschoor

West Nile virus (WNV) is a mosquito-borne flavivirus that infects humans and other mammals. In some cases WNV causes severe neurological disease. During recent years, outbreaks of WNV are increasing in worldwide distribution and novel genetic variants of the virus have been detected. Although a substantial amount of data exists on WNV infections in rodent models, little is known about early events during WNV infection in primates, including humans. To gain a deeper understanding of this process, we performed experimental infections of rhesus macaques and common marmosets with a virulent European WNV strain (WNV-Ita09) and monitored virological, hematological, and biochemical parameters. WNV-Ita09 productively infected both monkey species, with higher replication and wider tissue distribution in common marmosets compared to rhesus macaques. The animals in this study however, did not develop clinical signs of WNV disease, nor showed substantial deviations in clinical laboratory parameters. In both species, the virus induced a rapid CD56dimCD16bright natural killer response, followed by IgM and IgG antibody responses. The results of this study show that healthy rhesus macaques and common marmosets are promising animal models to study WNV-Ita09 infection. Both models may be particularly of use to evaluate potential vaccine candidates or to investigate WNV pathogenesis.

Distribution and Clinical Manifestations of Cryptosporidium Species and Subtypes in HIV/AIDS Patients in Ethiopia

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

by Haileeyesus Adamu, Beyene Petros, Guoqing Zhang, Hailu Kassa, Said Amer, Jianbin Ye, Yaoyu Feng, Lihua Xiao

Background

Cryptosporidiosis is an important cause for chronic diarrhea and death in HIV/AIDS patients. Among common Cryptosporidium species in humans, C. parvum is responsible for most zoonotic infections in industrialized nations. Nevertheless, the clinical significance of C. parvum and role of zoonotic transmission in cryptosporidiosis epidemiology in developing countries remain unclear.

Methodology/Principal Findings

In this cross-sectional study, 520 HIV/AIDS patients were examined for Cryptosporidium presence in stool samples using genotyping and subtyping techniques. Altogether, 140 (26.9%) patients were positive for Cryptosporidium spp. by PCR-RFLP analysis of the small subunit rRNA gene, belonging to C. parvum (92 patients), C. hominis (25 patients), C. viatorum (10 patients), C. felis (5 patients), C. meleagridis (3 patients), C. canis (2 patients), C. xiaoi (2 patients), and mixture of C. parvum and C. hominis (1 patient). Sequence analyses of the 60 kDa glycoprotein gene revealed a high genetic diversity within the 82 C. parvum and 19 C. hominis specimens subtyped, including C. parvum zoonotic subtype families IIa (71) and IId (5) and anthroponotic subtype families IIc (2), IIb (1), IIe (1) and If-like (2), and C. hominis subtype families Id (13), Ie (5), and Ib (1). Overall, Cryptosporidium infection was associated with the occurrence of diarrhea and vomiting. Diarrhea was attributable mostly to C. parvum subtype family IIa and C. hominis, whereas vomiting was largely attributable to C. hominis and rare Cryptosporidium species. Calf contact was identified as a significant risk factor for infection with Cryptosporidium spp., especially C. parvum subtype family IIa.

Conclusions/Significance

Results of the study indicate that C. parvum is a major cause of cryptosporidiosis in HIV-positive patients and zoonotic transmission is important in cryptosporidiosis epidemiology in Ethiopia. In addition, they confirm that different Cryptosporidium species and subtypes are linked to different clinical manifestations.

PCR-Based Techniques for Leprosy Diagnosis: From the Laboratory to the Clinic

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 10 April 2014 - 9:00pm

by Alejandra Nóbrega Martinez, Carolina Talhari, Milton Ozório Moraes, Sinésio Talhari

In leprosy, classic diagnostic tools based on bacillary counts and histopathology have been facing hurdles, especially in distinguishing latent infection from active disease and diagnosing paucibacillary clinical forms. Serological tests and IFN-gamma releasing assays (IGRA) that employ humoral and cellular immune parameters, respectively, are also being used, but recent results indicate that quantitative PCR (qPCR) is a key technique due to its higher sensitivity and specificity. In fact, advances concerning the structure and function of the Mycobacterium leprae genome led to the development of specific PCR-based gene amplification assays for leprosy diagnosis and monitoring of household contacts. Also, based on the validation of point-of-care technologies for M. tuberculosis DNA detection, it is clear that the same advantages of rapid DNA detection could be observed in respect to leprosy. So far, PCR has proven useful in the determination of transmission routes, M. leprae viability, and drug resistance in leprosy. However, PCR has been ascertained to be especially valuable in diagnosing difficult cases like pure neural leprosy (PNL), paucibacillary (PB), and patients with atypical clinical presentation and histopathological features compatible with leprosy. Also, the detection of M. leprae DNA in different samples of the household contacts of leprosy patients is very promising. Although a positive PCR result is not sufficient to establish a causal relationship with disease outcome, quantitation provided by qPCR is clearly capable of indicating increased risk of developing the disease and could alert clinicians to follow these contacts more closely or even define rules for chemoprophylaxis.

Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH): A Critical Component for Sustainable Soil-Transmitted Helminth and Schistosomiasis Control

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 10 April 2014 - 9:00pm

by Suzy J. Campbell, Georgia B. Savage, Darren J. Gray, Jo-An M. Atkinson, Ricardo J. Soares Magalhães, Susana V. Nery, James S. McCarthy, Yael Velleman, James H. Wicken, Rebecca J. Traub, Gail M. Williams, Ross M. Andrews, Archie C. A. Clements

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