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Zika virus infection in Nicaraguan households

31 May 2018 - 9:00pm

by Raquel Burger-Calderon, Karla Gonzalez, Sergio Ojeda, José Victor Zambrana, Nery Sanchez, Cristhiam Cerpas Cruz, Harold Suazo Laguna, Fausto Bustos, Miguel Plazaola, Brenda Lopez Mercado, Douglas Elizondo, Sonia Arguello, Jairo Carey Monterrey, Andrea Nuñez, Josefina Coloma, Jesse J. Waggoner, Aubree Gordon, Guillermina Kuan, Angel Balmaseda, Eva Harris

Zika virus (ZIKV) infection recently caused major epidemics in the Americas and is linked to congenital birth defects and Guillain-Barré Syndrome. A pilot study of ZIKV infection in Nicaraguan households was conducted from August 31 to October 21, 2016, in Managua, Nicaragua. We enrolled 33 laboratory-confirmed Zika index cases and their household members (109 contacts) and followed them on days 3–4, 6–7, 9–10, and 21, collecting serum/plasma, urine, and saliva specimens along with clinical, demographic, and socio-economic status information. Collected samples were processed by rRT-PCR to determine viral load (VL) and duration of detectable ZIKV RNA in human bodily fluids. At enrollment, 11 (10%) contacts were ZIKV rRT-PCR-positive and 23 (21%) were positive by IgM antibodies; 3 incident cases were detected during the study period. Twenty of 33 (61%) index households had contacts with ZIKV infection, with an average of 1.9 (range 1–6) positive contacts per household, and in 60% of these households, ≥50% of the members were positive for ZIKV infection. Analysis of clinical information allowed us to estimate the symptomatic to asymptomatic (S:A) ratio of 14:23 (1:1.6) among the contacts, finding 62% of the infections to be asymptomatic. The maximum number of days during which ZIKV RNA was detected was 7 days post-symptom onset in saliva and serum/plasma and 22 days in urine. Overall, VL levels in serum/plasma, saliva, and urine specimens were comparable, with means of 5.6, 5.3 and 4.5 log10 copies/ml respectively, with serum attaining the highest VL peak at 8.1 log10 copies/ml. Detecting ZIKV RNA in saliva over a similar time-period and level as in serum/plasma indicates that saliva could potentially serve as a more accessible diagnostic sample. Finding the majority of infections to be asymptomatic emphasizes the importance of silent ZIKV transmission and helps inform public health interventions in the region and globally.

Detection and phylogenetic characterization of arbovirus dual-infections among persons during a chikungunya fever outbreak, Haiti 2014

31 May 2018 - 9:00pm

by Sarah K. White, Carla Mavian, Maha A. Elbadry, Valery Madsen Beau De Rochars, Taylor Paisie, Taina Telisma, Marco Salemi, John A. Lednicky, J. Glenn Morris Jr.

In the context of recent arbovirus epidemics, questions about the frequency of simultaneous infection of patients with different arbovirus species have been raised. In 2014, a major Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) epidemic impacted the Caribbean and South America. As part of ongoing screening of schoolchildren presenting with acute undifferentiated febrile illness in rural Haiti, we used RT-PCR to identify CHIKV infections in 82 of 100 children with this diagnosis during May—August 2014. Among these, eight were infected with a second arbovirus: six with Zika virus (ZIKV), one with Dengue virus serotype 2, and one with Mayaro virus (MAYV). These dual infections were only detected following culture of the specimen, suggesting low viral loads of the co-infecting species. Phylogenetic analyses indicated that the ZIKV and MAYV strains differ from those detected later in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Moreover, CHIKV and ZIKV strains from co-infected patients clustered monophyletically in their respective phylogeny, and clock calibration traced back the common ancestor of each clade to an overlapping timeframe of introduction of these arboviruses onto the island.

Deworming in pre-school age children: A global empirical analysis of health outcomes

31 May 2018 - 9:00pm

by Nathan C. Lo, Jedidiah Snyder, David G. Addiss, Sam Heft-Neal, Jason R. Andrews, Eran Bendavid

Background

There is debate over the effectiveness of deworming children against soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH) to improve health outcomes, and current evidence may be limited in study design and generalizability. However, programmatic deworming continues throughout low and middle-income countries.

Methodology and principal findings

We performed an empirical evaluation of the relationship between deworming in pre-school age children (ages 1–4 years) within the previous 6 months, as proxy-reported by the mother, and health outcomes of weight, height, and hemoglobin. We used nationally representative cross-sectional data from 45 countries using the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) during the period 2005–2016. We used logistic regression with coarsened exact matching, fixed effects for survey and year, and person-level covariates. We included data on 325,115 children in 45 STH-endemic countries from 66 DHS surveys. Globally in STH-endemic countries, children who received deworming treatment were less likely to be stunted (1.2 percentage point decline from mean of 36%; 95% CI [-1.9, -0.5%]; p<0.001), but we did not detect consistent associations between deworming and anemia or weight. In sub-Saharan Africa, we found that children who received deworming treatment were less likely to be stunted (1.1 percentage point decline from mean of 36%; 95% CI [-2.1, -0.2%]; p = 0.01) and less likely to have anemia (1.8 percentage point decline from mean of 58%; 95% CI [-2.8, -0.7%]; p<0.001), but we did not detect consistent associations between deworming and weight. These findings were robust across multiple statistical models, and we did not find consistently measurable associations with data from non-endemic settings.

Conclusions and significance

Among pre-school age children, we detected a robust and consistent association between deworming and reduced stunting, with additional evidence for reduced anemia in sub-Saharan Africa. We did not find a consistent relationship between deworming and improved weight. This global empirical analysis provides evidence to support the deworming of pre-school age children.

Causes of acute undifferentiated fever and the utility of biomarkers in Chiangrai, northern Thailand

31 May 2018 - 9:00pm

by Tri Wangrangsimakul, Thomas Althaus, Mavuto Mukaka, Pacharee Kantipong, Vanaporn Wuthiekanun, Wirongrong Chierakul, Stuart D. Blacksell, Nicholas P. Day, Achara Laongnualpanich, Daniel H. Paris

Background

Tropical infectious diseases like dengue, scrub typhus, murine typhus, leptospirosis, and enteric fever continue to contribute substantially to the febrile disease burden throughout Southeast Asia while malaria is declining. Recently, there has been increasing focus on biomarkers (i.e. C-reactive protein (CRP) and procalcitonin) in delineating bacterial from viral infections.

Methodology/Principal findings

A prospective observational study was performed to investigate the causes of acute undifferentiated fever (AUF) in adults admitted to Chiangrai Prachanukroh hospital, northern Thailand, which included an evaluation of CRP and procalcitonin as diagnostic tools. In total, 200 patients with AUF were recruited. Scrub typhus was the leading bacterial cause of AUF (45/200, 22.5%) followed by leptospirosis (15/200, 7.5%) and murine typhus (7/200, 3.5%), while dengue was the leading viral cause (23/200, 11.5%). Bloodstream infections contributed to 7/200 (3.5%) of the study cohort. There were 9 deaths during this study (4.5%): 3 cases of scrub typhus, 2 with septicaemia (Talaromyces marneffei and Haemophilus influenzae), and 4 of unknown aetiologies. Rickettsioses, leptospirosis and culture-attributed bacterial infections, received a combination of 3rd generation cephalosporin plus a rickettsia-active drug in 53%, 73% and 67% of cases, respectively. Low CRP and white blood count were significant predictors of a viral infection (mainly dengue) while the presence of an eschar and elevated aspartate aminotransferase and alkaline phosphatase were important predictors of scrub typhus.

Interpretation

Scrub typhus and dengue are the leading causes of AUF in Chiangrai, Thailand. Eschar, white blood count and CRP were beneficial in differentiating between bacterial and viral infections in this study. CRP outperformed procalcitonin although cut-offs for positivity require further assessment. The study provides evidence that accurate, pathogen-specific rapid diagnostic tests coupled with biomarker point-of-care tests such as CRP can inform the correct use of antibiotics and improve antimicrobial stewardship in this setting.

A serologic study of dengue in northwest Ethiopia: Suggesting preventive and control measures

31 May 2018 - 9:00pm

by Getachew Ferede, Moges Tiruneh, Ebba Abate, Yitayih Wondimeneh, Demekech Damtie, Endalamaw Gadisa, Rawleigh Howe, Abraham Aseffa, Belay Tessema

Background

Dengue is one of the most serious and rapidly spreading arboviral diseases in the world. Despite many acute febrile illnesses in Ethiopia, the burden of illness due to dengue in the country is largely unknown. Thus, the present study aimed to provide the first baseline data on seroprevalence and associated risk factors of dengue virus (DENV) infection in the country.

Methods

A cross-sectional study of febrile patients who were visiting Metema and Humera hospitals in Northwest Ethiopia from March 2016 to May 2017 was conducted. Blood samples were collected from each participant and serum samples were separated and tested for IgM and IgG antibodies against DENV infection by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Risk factors associated with the prevalence of anti-DENV antibodies were tested using logistic regression analysis.

Results

Of the 600 samples tested, the overall seroprevalence against DENV infection was 33.3%, while the seroprevalence by the study area was 40% in Metema and 27.5% in Humera. The overall prevalence of IgM and IgG antibodies against DENV infection was 19% and 21% respectively. Of these, 6.7% were positive for both IgM and IgG antibodies. Residence and occupational status were significantly associated with the prevalence of anti-DENV IgM seropositivity and anti-DENV IgM-/G+serostatus. The seasonal variation was significantly associated with the prevalence of anti-DENV IgM but not with anti-DENV IgM-/G+serostatus. The prevalence of anti-DENV IgM-/G+serostatus was significantly higher in Metema than Humera. High prevalence of anti-DENV IgM seropositivity was found in the summer and spring, with a peak in the month of August. The presence of uncovered water either indoor or outdoor and lack of mosquito net use was identified as risk factors for DENV infection.

Conclusions

These findings provide the preliminary data on seroprevalence and associated risk factors of DENV infection in the country. The presence of antibodies against DENV infection indicates dengue as one of the causes of undifferentiated febrile illnesses in the study areas. This suggests that prevention and control measures should be designed considering the risk factors identified by this study. Furthermore, we recommend a large-scale study to include DENV infection in the differential diagnosis of all febrile illnesses in Ethiopia.

Scabies and impetigo in Timor-Leste: A school screening study in two districts

31 May 2018 - 9:00pm

by Laura M. Korte, Asha C. Bowen, Anthony D. K. Draper, Kim Davis, Annette Steel, Ines Teodora, Ivonia Mascarenhas, Benjamin Dingle, Joshua R. Francis

Introduction

Scabies and impetigo are common and important skin conditions which are often neglected in developing countries. Limited data have been published on the prevalence of scabies and impetigo in Timor-Leste. Sequelae including cellulitis, bacteraemia, nephritis, acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease contribute significantly to the burden of disease.

Methods

School students were recruited from schools in Dili (urban) and Ermera (rural) in Timor-Leste for an epidemiological study in October 2016. A standard questionnaire was used to record demographics, anthropometry and skin examination results. Impetigo and scabies were diagnosed based on clinical examination of exposed surfaces, and clinical photographs were reviewed for correlation by an infectious diseases paediatrician. Prevalence of scabies and impetigo were calculated and binary risk factor associations were described using relative risks and 95% confidence intervals. Adjusted odds ratios were calculated using logistic regression multivariate analysis. Continuous variables were analysed for associations using the Mann-Whitney Rank Sum test.

Results

The study enrolled 1396 students; median age 11 years (interquartile range (IQR) 9–15). The prevalence of scabies was 22.4% (95% CI 20.2–24.7%) and active impetigo 9.7% (95% CI 8.3–11.4%); 68.2% of students had evidence of either active or healed impetigo. Students in Ermera were more likely than those in Dili to have scabies (prevalence 32.0% vs 5.2%, aOR 8.1 (95% CI 5.2–12.4), p<0.01). There was no difference in the prevalence of active impetigo between urban and rural sites. More than a third of participants were moderately or severely underweight. Stunting was markedly more common in the rural district of Ermera.

Conclusion

Scabies and impetigo are common in Timor-Leste, with very high prevalence of scabies in the rural district of Ermera. Improvements in prevention and treatment are needed, with prioritised activities in the rural areas where prevalence is highest.

Prediction of the potential global distribution for <i>Biomphalaria straminea</i>, an intermediate host for <i>Schistosoma mansoni</i>

29 May 2018 - 9:00pm

by Ya Yang, Wanting Cheng, Xiaoying Wu, Shaoyu Huang, Zhuohui Deng, Xin Zeng, Dongjuan Yuan, Yu Yang, Zhongdao Wu, Yue Chen, Yibiao Zhou, Qingwu Jiang

Background

Schistosomiasis is a snail-borne parasitic disease and is endemic in many tropical and subtropical countries. Biomphalaria straminea, an intermediate host for Schistosoma mansoni, is native to the southeastern part of South America and has established in other regions of South America, Central America and southern China during the last decades. S. mansoni is endemic in Africa, the Middle East, South America and the Caribbean. Knowledge of the potential global distribution of this snail is essential for risk assessment, monitoring, disease prevention and control.

Methods and findings

A comprehensive database of cross-continental occurrence for B. straminea was compiled to construct ecological models. We used several approaches to investigate the distribution of B. straminea, including direct comparison of climatic conditions, principal component analysis and niche overlap analyses to detect niche shifts. We also investigated the impacts of bioclimatic and human factors, and then used the bioclimatic and footprint layers to predict the potential distribution of B. straminea at global scale. We detected niche shifts accompanying the invasions of B. straminea in the Americas and China. The introduced populations had enlarged its habitats to subtropical regions where annual mean temperature is relatively low. Annual mean temperature, isothermality and temperature seasonality were identified as most important climatic features for the occurrence of B. straminea. Additionally, human factors improved the model prediction (P<0.001). Our model showed that under current climate conditions the snail should mostly be confined to the tropic and subtropic regions, including South America, Central America, Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.

Conclusions

Our results confirmed that niche shifts took place in the invasions of B. straminea, for which bioclimatic and human factors played an important role. Our model predicted the global distribution of B. straminea based on habitat suitability, which would help for prioritizing monitoring and management efforts for B. straminea control in the context of ongoing climate change and human disturbances.

The small RNA complement of adult <i>Schistosoma haematobium</i>

29 May 2018 - 9:00pm

by Andreas J. Stroehlein, Neil D. Young, Pasi K. Korhonen, Ross S. Hall, Aaron R. Jex, Bonnie L. Webster, David Rollinson, Paul J. Brindley, Robin B. Gasser

Background

Blood flukes of the genus Schistosoma cause schistosomiasis—a neglected tropical disease (NTD) that affects more than 200 million people worldwide. Studies of schistosome genomes have improved our understanding of the molecular biology of flatworms, but most of them have focused largely on protein-coding genes. Small non-coding RNAs (sncRNAs) have been explored in selected schistosome species and are suggested to play essential roles in the post-transcriptional regulation of genes, and in modulating flatworm-host interactions. However, genome-wide small RNA data are currently lacking for key schistosomes including Schistosoma haematobium—the causative agent of urogenital schistosomiasis of humans.

Methodology

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) and other sncRNAs of male and female adults of S. haematobium and small RNA transcription levels were explored by deep sequencing, genome mapping and detailed bioinformatic analyses.

Principal findings

In total, 89 transcribed miRNAs were identified in S. haematobium—a similar complement to those reported for the congeners S. mansoni and S. japonicum. Of these miRNAs, 34 were novel, with no homologs in other schistosomes. Most miRNAs (n = 64) exhibited sex-biased transcription, suggestive of roles in sexual differentiation, pairing of adult worms and reproductive processes. Of the sncRNAs that were not miRNAs, some related to the spliceosome (n = 21), biogenesis of other RNAs (n = 3) or ribozyme functions (n = 16), whereas most others (n = 3798) were novel (‘orphans’) with unknown functions.

Conclusions

This study provides the first genome-wide sncRNA resource for S. haematobium, extending earlier studies of schistosomes. The present work should facilitate the future curation and experimental validation of sncRNA functions in schistosomes to enhance our understanding of post-transcriptional gene regulation and of the roles that sncRNAs play in schistosome reproduction, development and parasite-host cross-talk.

Viral immunogenicity determines epidemiological fitness in a cohort of DENV-1 infection in Brazil

29 May 2018 - 9:00pm

by Tauyne Menegaldo Pinheiro, Mânlio Tasso de Oliveira Mota, Aripuanã Sakurada Aranha Watanabe, Joice Matos Biselli-Périco, Betânia Paiva Drumond, Milene Rocha Ribeiro, Danila Vedovello, João Pessoa Araújo Jr., Paulo Filemon Paolucci Pimenta, Bárbara Aparecida Chaves, Mayara Marques Carneiro da Silva, Izabella Cristina Andrade Batista, Michelle Premazzi Papa, Lana Monteiro Meuren, Carolina Gonçalves de Oliveira Lucas, Flavio Lemos Matassoli, Laura Helena Vega Gonzales Gil, Adriana Bozzi, Carlos Eduardo Calzavara-Silva, Luciana Barros de Arruda, Danielle da Glória de Souza, Mauro Martins Teixeira, Nikos Vasilakis, Maurício Lacerda Nogueira

The dynamics of dengue virus (DENV) circulation depends on serotype, genotype and lineage replacement and turnover. In São José do Rio Preto, Brazil, we observed that the L6 lineage of DENV-1 (genotype V) remained the dominant circulating lineage even after the introduction of the L1 lineage. We investigated viral fitness and immunogenicity of the L1 and L6 lineages and which factors interfered with the dynamics of DENV epidemics. The results showed a more efficient replicative fitness of L1 over L6 in mosquitoes and in human and non-human primate cell lines. Infections by the L6 lineage were associated with reduced antigenicity, weak B and T cell stimulation and weak host immune system interactions, which were associated with higher viremia. Our data, therefore, demonstrate that reduced viral immunogenicity and consequent greater viremia determined the increased epidemiological fitness of DENV-1 L6 lineage in São José do Rio Preto.

MicroRNA and cellular targets profiling reveal miR-217 and miR-576-3p as proviral factors during Oropouche infection

29 May 2018 - 9:00pm

by Victor Emmanuel Viana Geddes, Anibal Silva de Oliveira, Amilcar Tanuri, Eurico Arruda, Marcelo Ribeiro-Alves, Renato Santana Aguiar

Oropouche Virus is the etiological agent of an arbovirus febrile disease that affects thousands of people and is widespread throughout Central and South American countries. Although isolated in 1950’s, still there is scarce information regarding the virus biology and its prevalence is likely underestimated. In order to identify and elucidate interactions with host cells factors and increase the understanding about the Oropouche Virus biology, we performed microRNA (miRNA) and target genes screening in human hepatocarcinoma cell line HuH-7. Cellular miRNAs are short non-coding RNAs that regulates gene expression post-transcriptionally and play key roles in several steps of viral infections. The large scale RT-qPCR based screening found 13 differentially expressed miRNAs in Oropouche infected cells. Further validation confirmed that miR-217 and miR-576-3p were 5.5 fold up-regulated at early stages of virus infection (6 hours post-infection). Using bioinformatics and pathway enrichment analysis, we predicted the cellular targets genes for miR-217 and miR-576-3p. Differential expression analysis of RNA from 95 selected targets revealed genes involved in innate immunity modulation, viral release and neurological disorder outcomes. Further analysis revealed the gene of decapping protein 2 (DCP2), a previous known restriction factor for bunyaviruses transcription, as a miR-217 candidate target that is progressively down-regulated during Oropouche infection. Our analysis also showed that activators genes involved in innate immune response through IFN-β pathway, as STING (Stimulator of Interferon Genes) and TRAF3 (TNF-Receptor Associated Factor 3), were down-regulated as the infection progress. Inhibition of miR-217 or miR-576-3p restricts OROV replication, decreasing viral RNA (up to 8.3 fold) and virus titer (3 fold). Finally, we showed that virus escape IFN-β mediated immune response increasing the levels of cellular miR-576-3p resulting in a decreasing of its partners STING and TRAF3. We concluded stating that the present study, the first for a Peribunyaviridae member, gives insights in its prospective pathways that could help to understand virus biology, interactions with host cells and pathogenesis, suggesting that the virus escapes the antiviral cellular pathways increasing the expression of cognates miRNAs.

Development of a single-tube one-step RT-LAMP assay to detect the Chikungunya virus genome

29 May 2018 - 9:00pm

by Benjamin Lopez-Jimena, Stefanie Wehner, Graham Harold, Mohammed Bakheit, Sieghard Frischmann, Michaël Bekaert, Oumar Faye, Amadou Alpha Sall, Manfred Weidmann

Background

A single-tube one-step real-time reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP) assay for rapid detection of chikungunya virus (CHIKV) targeting the conserved 6K-E1 target region was developed. The assay was validated with sera collected from a CHIKV outbreak in Senegal in 2015.

Methodology/Principal findings

A novel design approach by combining Principal Component Analysis and phylogenetic analysis of 110 available CHIKV sequences and the LAMP oligonucleotide design software LAVA was used. The assay was evaluated with an External Quality Assessment panel from the European Network for Diagnostics of "Imported" Viral Diseases and was shown to be sensitive and specific and did not cross-detect other arboviruses. The limit of detection as determined by probit analysis, was 163 molecules, and 100% reproducibility in the assays was obtained for 103 molecules (7/8 repetitions were positive for 102 molecules). The assay was validated using 35 RNA samples extracted from sera, and results were compared with those obtained by quantitative RT-PCR carried out at the Institut Pasteur Dakar, demonstrating that the RT-LAMP is 100% sensitive and 80% specific, with a positive predictive value of 97% and negative predictive value of 100%.

Conclusions/Significance

The RT-LAMP appeared to show superior performance with material stored for months compared to qRT-PCR and can be therefore recommended for use in infrastructures with poor settings.

Development and validation of four one-step real-time RT-LAMP assays for specific detection of each dengue virus serotype

29 May 2018 - 9:00pm

by Benjamin Lopez-Jimena, Michaël Bekaert, Mohammed Bakheit, Sieghard Frischmann, Pranav Patel, Etienne Simon-Loriere, Louis Lambrechts, Veasna Duong, Philippe Dussart, Graham Harold, Cheikh Fall, Oumar Faye, Amadou Alpha Sall, Manfred Weidmann

Background

4 one-step, real-time, reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP) assays were developed for the detection of dengue virus (DENV) serotypes by considering 2,056 full genome DENV sequences. DENV1 and DENV2 RT-LAMP assays were validated with 31 blood and 11 serum samples from Tanzania, Senegal, Sudan and Mauritania. DENV3 and DENV4 RT-LAMP assays were validated with 25 serum samples from Cambodia

Methodology/Principal findings

4 final reaction primer mixes were obtained by using a combination of Principal Component Analysis of the full DENV genome sequences, and LAMP primer design based on sequence alignments using the LAVA software. These mixes contained 14 (DENV1), 12 (DENV2), 8 (DENV3) and 3 (DENV4) LAMP primer sets. The assays were evaluated with an External Quality Assessment panel from Quality Control for Molecular Diagnostics. The assays were serotype-specific and did not cross-detect with other flaviviruses. The limits of detection, with 95% probability, were 22 (DENV1), 542 (DENV2), 197 (DENV3) and 641 (DENV4) RNA molecules, and 100% reproducibility in the assays was obtained with up to 102 (DENV1) and 103 RNA molecules (DENV2, DENV3 and DENV4). Validation of the DENV2 assay with blood samples from Tanzania resulted in 23 samples detected by RT-LAMP, demonstrating that the assay is 100% specific and 95.8% sensitive (positive predictive value of 100% and a negative predictive value of 85.7%). All serum samples from Senegal, Sudan and Mauritania were detected and 3 untyped as DENV1. The sensitivity of RT-LAMP for DENV4 samples from Cambodia did not quite match qRT-PCR.

Conclusions/Significance

We have shown a novel approach to design LAMP primers that makes use of fast growing sequence databases. The DENV1 and DENV2 assays were validated with viral RNA extracted clinical samples, showing very good performance parameters.

Role of maternal health and infant inflammation in nutritional and neurodevelopmental outcomes of two-year-old Bangladeshi children

29 May 2018 - 9:00pm

by Jeffrey R. Donowitz, Heather Cook, Masud Alam, Fahmida Tofail, Mamun Kabir, E. Ross Colgate, Marya P. Carmolli, Beth D. Kirkpatrick, Charles A. Nelson, Jennie Z. Ma, Rashidul Haque, William A. Petri Jr.

Background

Previous studies have shown maternal, inflammatory, and socioeconomic variables to be associated with growth and neurodevelopment in children from low-income countries. However, these outcomes are multifactorial and work describing which predictors most strongly influence them is lacking.

Methodology/Principal findings

We conducted a longitudinal study of Bangladeshi children from birth to two years to assess oral vaccine efficacy. Variables pertaining to maternal and perinatal health, socioeconomic status, early childhood enteric and systemic inflammation, and anthropometry were collected. Bayley-III neurodevelopmental assessment was conducted at two years. As a secondary analysis, we employed hierarchical cluster and random forests techniques to identify and rank which variables predicted growth and neurodevelopment. Cluster analysis demonstrated three distinct groups of predictors. Mother’s weight and length-for-age Z score (LAZ) at enrollment were the strongest predictors of LAZ at two years. Cognitive score on Bayley-III was strongly predicted by weight-for-age (WAZ) at enrollment, income, and LAZ at enrollment. Top predictors of language included Rotavirus vaccination, plasma IL 5, sCD14, TNFα, mother’s weight, and male gender. Motor function was best predicted by fecal calprotectin, WAZ at enrollment, fecal neopterin, and plasma CRP index. The strongest predictors for social-emotional score included plasma sCD14, income, WAZ at enrollment, and LAZ at enrollment. Based on the random forests’ predictions, the estimated percentage of variation explained was 35.4% for LAZ at two years, 34.3% for ΔLAZ, 42.7% for cognitive score, 28.1% for language, 40.8% for motor, and 37.9% for social-emotional score.

Conclusions/Significance

Birth anthropometry and maternal weight were strong predictors of growth while enteric and systemic inflammation had stronger associations with neurodevelopment. Birth anthropometry was a powerful predictor for all outcomes. These data suggest that further study of stunting in low-income settings should include variables relating to maternal and prenatal health, while investigations focusing on neurodevelopmental outcomes should additionally target causes of systemic and enteric inflammation.

Minimum requirements and optimal testing strategies of a diagnostic test for leprosy as a tool towards zero transmission: A modeling study

25 May 2018 - 9:00pm

by David J. Blok, Sake J. de Vlas, Annemieke Geluk, Jan Hendrik Richardus

Background

The availability of a diagnostic test to detect subclinical leprosy cases is crucial to interrupt the transmission of M. leprae. In this study we assessed the minimum sensitivity level of such a (hypothetical) diagnostic test and the optimal testing strategy in order to effectively reduce the new case detection rate (NCDR) of leprosy.

Methods and findings

We used the individual-based model SIMCOLEP, and based it on previous quantification using COLEP data, a cohort study of leprosy cases in Bangladesh. The baseline consisted of treatment with Multidrug therapy of clinically diagnosed leprosy cases, passive case detection and household contact tracing. We examined the use of a leprosy diagnostic test for subclinical leprosy in four strategies: testing in 1) household contacts, 2) household contacts with a 3-year follow-up, 3) a population survey with coverage 50%, and 4) a population survey (100%). For each strategy, we varied the test sensitivity between 50% and 100%. All analyses were conducted for a high, medium, and low (i.e. 25, 5 and 1 per 100,000) endemic setting over a period of 50 years.In all strategies, the use of a diagnostic test further reduces the NCDR of leprosy compared to the no test strategy. A substantial reduction could already be achieved at a test sensitivity as low as 50%. In a high endemic setting, a NCDR of 10 per 100,000 could be reached within 8–10 years in household contact testing, and 2–6 years in a population testing. Testing in a population survey could also yield the highest number of prevented new cases, but requires a large number needed to test and treat. In contrast, household contact testing has a smaller impact on the NCDR but requires a substantially lower number needed to test and treat.

Conclusions

A diagnostic test for subclinical leprosy with a sensitivity of at least 50% could substantially reduce M. leprae transmission. To effectively reduce NCDR in the short run, a population survey is preferred over household contact tracing. However, this is only favorable in high endemic settings.

The initial effectiveness of liposomal amphotericin B (AmBisome) and miltefosine combination for treatment of visceral leishmaniasis in HIV co-infected patients in Ethiopia: A retrospective cohort study

25 May 2018 - 9:00pm

by Charles Abongomera, Ermias Diro, Alan de Lima Pereira, Jozefien Buyze, Kolja Stille, Fareed Ahmed, Johan van Griensven, Koert Ritmeijer

Background

North-west Ethiopia faces the highest burden world-wide of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) and HIV co-infection. VL-HIV co-infected patients have higher (initial) parasitological failure and relapse rates than HIV-negative VL patients. Whereas secondary prophylaxis reduces the relapse rate, parasitological failure rates remain high with the available antileishmanial drugs, especially when administered as monotherapy. We aimed to determine the initial effectiveness (parasitologically-confirmed cure) of a combination of liposomal amphotericin B (AmBisome) and miltefosine for treatment of VL in HIV co-infected patients.

Methodology/Principal findings

We conducted a retrospective cohort study at a Médecins Sans Frontières—supported health center in north-west Ethiopia. We included VL-HIV co-infected adults, treated for VL between January 2011 and August 2014, with AmBisome infusion (30 mg/kg total dose) and miltefosine orally for 28 days (100 mg/day). Proportions of initial treatment outcome categories were calculated. Predictors of initial parasitological failure and of death were determined using multivariable logistic regression. Of the 173 patients included, 170 (98.3%) were male and the median age was 32 years. The proportion of patients with primary VL (48.0%) and relapse VL (52.0%) were similar. The majority had advanced HIV disease (n = 111; 73.5%) and were on antiretroviral therapy prior to VL diagnosis (n = 106; 64.2%). Initial cure rate was 83.8% (95% confidence interval [CI], 77.6–88.6); death rate 12.7% (95% CI, 8.5–18.5) and parasitological failure rate 3.5% (95% CI, 1.6–7.4). Tuberculosis co-infection at VL diagnosis was predictive of parasitological failure (adjusted odds ratio (aOR), 8.14; p = 0.02). Predictors of death were age >40 years (aOR, 5.10; p = 0.009), hemoglobin ≤6.5 g/dL (aOR, 5.20; p = 0.002) and primary VL (aOR, 8.33; p = 0.001).

Conclusions/Significance

Initial parasitological failure rates were very low with AmBisome and miltefosine combination therapy. This regimen seems a suitable treatment option. Knowledge of predictors of poor outcome may facilitate better management. These findings remain to be confirmed in clinical trials.

The first Saudi Arabian national inventory study revealed the upcoming challenges of highly diverse non-tuberculous mycobacterial diseases

25 May 2018 - 9:00pm

by Bright Varghese, Mushira Enani, Mohammed Shoukri, Sameera AlJohani, Hawra Al Ghafli, Sahar AlThawadi, Sahal Al Hajoj

Background

Incidences of nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) causing pulmonary and extrapulmonary diseases are reportedly increasing globally and the current epidemiologic situation in Saudi Arabia remains unclear. To study such trend, we carried out a nationwide systematic epidemiological study focusing on NTM diseases for the first time in the country.

Methods/Principle findings

A nationwide collection of NTM isolates with clinical and demographical data was conducted for a period of 24 months. Primary species identification was carried out by line probe assays followed by sequencing of 16S rRNA, 16S-23S ITS region, rpoB and hsp65 genes. The laboratory findings were comprehensively analysed against demographical and clinical data. A total of 527 isolates were enrolled with a higher proportion of Saudi citizens (76.5%), elderly (>60 years) patients (34.2%), and male gender (65.3%) respectively. Overall, 75.1% isolates were pulmonary origin with a proven clinical significance of 44.7%. In total, 34 NTM species including 17 rare species were identified, in addition to 8 ‘undefined’ isolates. M.simiae (22.6%), M.fortuitum (18.1%) and M.abscessus (17.8%) were predominant species. Interestingly, 27 new cases of clinically relevant M.riyadhense were also noticed (Primary data on emergence of rare NTM species and M.riyadhense has been recently reported). Results showed, rare clinical events such as mycobacteremia, cecum abscess, peritonitis and ascites caused by M.wolinskyi, M.holsaticum, M.duvalii and M.monacence respectively. Diabetes mellitus (P value-0.04) and previous history of tuberculosis (P value- 0.001) were identified as independent risk factors associated with NTM diseases.

Conclusions/Significance

NTM disease spectrum and pathogen diversity is an emerging challenge to any nation, including Saudi Arabia. Therefore, more priorities will be given to NTM’s with an immediate initiative to develop diagnostic infrastructures and disease management plans.

Consensus criteria for the diagnosis of scabies: A Delphi study of international experts

24 May 2018 - 9:00pm

by Daniel Engelman, L. Claire Fuller, Andrew C. Steer, for the International Alliance for the Control of Scabies Delphi panel

Background

Scabies was added to the WHO Neglected Tropical Diseases portfolio in 2017, and further understanding of the disease burden is now required. There are no uniformly accepted test methods or examination procedures for diagnosis, which limits the interpretation of research and epidemiological findings. The International Alliance for the Control of Scabies (IACS) designated harmonization of diagnostic procedures as a priority for the development of a global control strategy. Therefore, we aimed to develop consensus criteria for the diagnosis of scabies.

Methodology / Principal findings

We conducted an iterative, consensus (Delphi) study involving international experts in the diagnosis of scabies. Panel members were recruited through expression of interest and targeted invitation of experts. The Delphi study consisted of four rounds of anonymous surveys. Rounds 1 and 2 involved generation and ranking an extensive list of possible features. In Rounds 3 and 4, participants were presented results from previous rounds and indicated agreement with a series of draft criteria. Panel participants (n = 34, range per Round 28–30) were predominantly highly experienced clinicians, representing a range of clinical expertise and all inhabited continents. Based on initial rounds, a draft set of criteria were developed, incorporating three levels of diagnostic certainty–Confirmed Scabies, Clinical Scabies and Suspected Scabies. Consensus was reached in Round 4, with a very high level of agreement (> 89%) for all levels of criteria and subcategories. Adoption of the criteria was supported by 96% of panel members.

Conclusions / Significance

Consensus criteria for scabies diagnosis were established with very high agreement. The 2018 IACS Criteria for the Diagnosis of Scabies can be implemented for scabies research and mapping projects, and for surveillance after control interventions. Validation of the criteria is required.

A modified anthrax toxin-based enzyme-linked immunospot assay reveals robust T cell responses in symptomatic and asymptomatic Ebola virus exposed individuals

24 May 2018 - 9:00pm

by Bobby Brooke Herrera, Donald J. Hamel, Philip Oshun, Rolake Akinsola, Alani S. Akanmu, Charlotte A. Chang, Philomena Eromon, Onikepe Folarin, Kayode T. Adeyemi, Christian T. Happi, Yichen Lu, Folasade Ogunsola, Phyllis J. Kanki

Background

Ebola virus (EBOV) caused more than 11,000 deaths during the 2013–2016 epidemic in West Africa without approved vaccines or immunotherapeutics. Despite its high lethality in some individuals, EBOV infection can produce little to no symptoms in others. A better understanding of the immune responses in individuals who experienced minimally symptomatic and asymptomatic infection could aid the development of more effective vaccines and antivirals against EBOV and related filoviruses.

Methodology/Principle findings

Between August and November 2017, blood samples were collected from 19 study participants in Lagos, Nigeria, including 3 Ebola virus disease (EVD) survivors, 10 individuals with documented close contact with symptomatic EVD patients, and 6 control healthcare workers for a cross-sectional serosurvey and T cell analysis. The Lagos samples, as well as archived serum collected from healthy individuals living in surrounding areas of the 1976 Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) epidemic, were tested for EBOV IgG using commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) and Western blots. We detected antibodies in 3 out of 3 Lagos survivors and identified 2 seropositive individuals not known to have ever been infected. Of the DRC samples tested, we detected antibodies in 9 out of 71 (12.7%). To characterize the T cell responses in the Lagos samples, we developed an anthrax toxin-based enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) assay. The seropositive asymptomatic individuals had T cell responses against EBOV nucleoprotein, matrix protein, and glycoprotein 1 that were stronger in magnitude compared to the survivors.

Conclusion/Significance

Our data provide further evidence of EBOV exposure in individuals without EVD-like illness and, for the first time, demonstrate that these individuals have T cell responses that are stronger in magnitude compared to severe cases. These findings suggest that T cell immunity may protect against severe EVD, which has important implications for vaccine development.

Altered levels of memory T cell subsets and common γc cytokines in <i>Strongyloides stercoralis</i> infection and partial reversal following anthelmintic treatment

24 May 2018 - 9:00pm

by Anuradha Rajamanickam, Saravanan Munisankar, Yukti Bhootra, Chandra Kumar Dolla, Kannan Thiruvengadam, Thomas B. Nutman, Subash Babu

Background

CD4+ and CD8+ T cells are central players in immunity to helminth infections. However, the role of T cell subsets in human helminth infections is not well understood. In addition, the common γc cytokines, IL-2, IL-4, IL-7, IL-9 and IL-15 play an important role in the maintenance of these CD4+ and CD8+ T cell subsets.

Methods

To examine the major T cell subsets and their association with the common γc cytokines, the absolute numbers of CD4+ and CD8+ naïve, central memory, effector memory and effector cells and the plasma levels of IL-2, IL-4, IL-7, IL-9 and IL-15 were measured in Strongyloides stercoralis (Ss) infected (INF, n = 60), helminth—uninfected (UN, n = 58) and in post treatment INF individuals.

Results

Ss infection is characterized by significantly increased absolute numbers of naïve and decreased absolute numbers of central and effector memory CD4+ T cells in comparison to UN individuals. No significant difference in the numbers of CD8+ T cell subsets was observed between the groups. The numbers of naïve cells and central memory CD4+ T cells were significantly reversed after anthelmintic treatment. Circulating levels of IL-2, IL-7 and IL-15 were significantly diminished, whereas the levels of IL-4 and IL-9 were significantly increased in INF compared to UN individuals. Following anthelminthic treatment, IL-2, IL-7 and IL-15 levels were significantly increased, while IL-4 and IL-9 levels were significantly decreased. Our data also showed a significant positive correlation between the levels of IL-7 and the numbers of central and effector memory CD4+ T cells.

Conclusion

Ss infection is characterized by alterations in the absolute numbers of CD4+ T cell subsets and altered levels of common γc cytokines IL-2, IL-4, IL-7, IL-9 and IL-15; alterations which are partially reversed after anthelmintic treatment.

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