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Increased hepatotoxicity among HIV-infected adults co-infected with <i>Schistosoma mansoni</i> in Tanzania: A cross-sectional study

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 17 August 2017 - 9:00pm

by Amon I. Marti, Soledad Colombe, Peter J. Masikini, Samuel E. Kalluvya, Luke R. Smart, Bahati M. Wajanga, Hyasinta Jaka, Robert N. Peck, Jennifer A. Downs

Introduction

Little is known about hepatotoxicity in patients with schistosome and HIV co-infections. Several studies have reported increased liver enzymes and bilirubin levels associated with schistosome infection. We investigated whether HIV-infected adults on antiretroviral therapy who had S. mansoni co-infection had a higher prevalence of hepatotoxicity than those without.

Methodology/Principal findings

We determined the presence and grade of hepatotoxicity among 305 HIV-infected outpatients who had been on medium-term (3–6 months) and long-term (>36 months) antiretroviral therapy in a region of northwest Tanzania where S. mansoni is hyperendemic. We used the AIDS Clinical Trial Group definition to define mild to moderate hepatotoxicity as alanine aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, and/or bilirubin elevations of grade 1 or 2, and severe hepatotoxicity as any elevation of grade 3 or 4. We determined schistosome infection status using the serum circulating cathodic antigen rapid test and used logistic regression to determine factors associated with hepatotoxicity. The prevalence of mild-moderate and severe hepatotoxicity was 29.6% (45/152) and 2.0% (3/152) in patients on medium-term antiretroviral therapy and 19.6% (30/153) and 3.3% (5/153) in the patients on long-term antiretroviral therapy. S. mansoni infection was significantly associated with hepatotoxicity on univariable analysis and after controlling for other factors associated with hepatotoxicity including hepatitis B or C and anti-tuberculosis medication use (adjusted odds ratio = 3.0 [1.6–5.8], p = 0.001).

Conclusions/Significance

Our work demonstrates a strong association between S. mansoni infection and hepatotoxicity among HIV-infected patients on antiretroviral therapy. Our study highlights the importance of schistosome screening and treatment for patients starting antiretroviral therapy in schistosome-endemic settings. Additional studies to determine the effects of schistosome-HIV co-infections are warranted.

Assessment of risk of dengue and yellow fever virus transmission in three major Kenyan cities based on <i>Stegomyia</i> indices

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 17 August 2017 - 9:00pm

by Sheila B. Agha, David P. Tchouassi, Armanda D. S. Bastos, Rosemary Sang

Dengue (DEN) and yellow fever (YF) are re-emerging in East Africa, with contributing drivers to this trend being unplanned urbanization and increasingly adaptable anthropophilic Aedes (Stegomyia) vectors. Entomological risk assessment of these diseases remains scarce for much of East Africa and Kenya even in the dengue fever-prone urban coastal areas. Focusing on major urban cities of Kenya, we compared DEN and YF risk in Kilifi County (DEN-outbreak-prone), and Kisumu and Nairobi Counties (no documented DEN outbreaks). We surveyed water-holding containers for mosquito immature (larvae/pupae) indoors and outdoors from selected houses during the long rains, short rains and dry seasons (100 houses/season) in each County from October 2014-June 2016. House index (HI), Breteau index (BI) and Container index (CI) estimates based on Aedes (Stegomyia) immature infestations were compared by city and season. Aedes aegypti and Aedes bromeliae were the main Stegomyia species with significantly more positive houses outdoors (212) than indoors (88) (n = 900) (χ2 = 60.52, P < 0.0001). Overall, Ae. aegypti estimates of HI (17.3 vs 11.3) and BI (81.6 vs 87.7) were higher in Kilifi and Kisumu, respectively, than in Nairobi (HI, 0.3; BI,13). However, CI was highest in Kisumu (33.1), followed by Kilifi (15.1) then Nairobi (5.1). Aedes bromeliae indices were highest in Kilifi, followed by Kisumu, then Nairobi with HI (4.3, 0.3, 0); BI (21.3, 7, 0.7) and CI (3.3, 3.3, 0.3), at the respective sites. HI and BI for both species were highest in the long rains, compared to the short rains and dry seasons. We found strong positive correlations between the BI and CI, and BI and HI for Ae. aegypti, with the most productive container types being jerricans, drums, used/discarded containers and tyres. On the basis of established vector index thresholds, our findings suggest low-to-medium risk levels for urban YF and high DEN risk for Kilifi and Kisumu, whereas for Nairobi YF risk was low while DEN risk levels were low-to-medium in Kenya. The study provides a baseline for future vector studies needed to further characterise the observed differential risk patterns by vector potential evaluation. Identified productive containers should be made the focus of community-based targeted vector control programs.

An enduring legacy of discovery: Margaret Stirewalt

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 17 August 2017 - 9:00pm

by Lucie Henein, James J. Cody, Michael H. Hsieh

Caprine brucellosis: A historically neglected disease with significant impact on public health

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 17 August 2017 - 9:00pm

by Carlos A. Rossetti, Angela M. Arenas-Gamboa, Estefanía Maurizio

Caprine brucellosis is a chronic infectious disease caused by the gram-negative cocci-bacillus Brucella melitensis. Middle- to late-term abortion, stillbirths, and the delivery of weak offspring are the characteristic clinical signs of the disease that is associated with an extensive negative impact in a flock’s productivity. B. melitensis is also the most virulent Brucella species for humans, responsible for a severely debilitating and disabling illness that results in high morbidity with intermittent fever, chills, sweats, weakness, myalgia, abortion, osteoarticular complications, endocarditis, depression, anorexia, and low mortality. Historical observations indicate that goats have been the hosts of B. melitensis for centuries; but around 1905, the Greek physician Themistokles Zammit was able to build the epidemiological link between “Malta fever” and the consumption of goat milk. While the disease has been successfully managed in most industrialized countries, it remains a significant burden on goat and human health in the Mediterranean region, the Middle East, Central and Southeast Asia (including India and China), sub-Saharan Africa, and certain areas in Latin America, where approximately 3.5 billion people live at risk. In this review, we describe a historical evolution of the disease, highlight the current worldwide distribution, and estimate (by simple formula) the approximate costs of brucellosis outbreaks to meat- and milk-producing farms and the economic losses associated with the disease in humans. Successful control leading to eradication of caprine brucellosis in the developing world will require a coordinated Global One Health approach involving active involvement of human and animal health efforts to enhance public health and improve livestock productivity.

Adherence to ivermectin is more associated with perceptions of community directed treatment with ivermectin organization than with onchocerciasis beliefs

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 14 August 2017 - 9:00pm

by Fanny Nadia Dissak-Delon, Guy-Roger Kamga, Perrine Claire Humblet, Annie Robert, Jacob Souopgui, Joseph Kamgno, Marie José Essi, Stephen Mbigha Ghogomu, Isabelle Godin

Background

The fight against onchocerciasis in Africa has boomed thanks to the Community Directed Treatment with Ivermectin (CDTI) program. However, in Cameroon, after more than 15 years of mass treatment, onchocerciasis prevalence is still above the non-transmission threshold. This study aimed to explore a possible association between people’s beliefs/perceptions of onchocerciasis and of CDTI program, and their adherence to ivermectin in three regions of Cameroon.

Methodology/Principal findings

A cross sectional survey was carried out in three health districts with persistent high onchocerciasis prevalence. Participants were randomly selected in 30 clusters per district. Adherence to ivermectin was comparable between Bafang and Bafia (55.0% and 48.8%, respectively, p>0.05) and lower in Yabassi (40.7%). Among all factors related to program perceptions and disease representations that were studied, perceptions of the program are the ones that were most determinant in adherence to ivermectin. People who had a “not positive” opinion of ivermectin distribution campaigns were less compliant than those who had a positive opinion about the campaigns (40% vs 55% in Bafang, and 48% vs 62% in Bafia, p<0.01), as well as those who had a negative appreciation of community drug distributors’ commitment (22% vs 53% in Bafang, 33% vs 59% in Bafia, 27% vs 47% in Yabassi; p<0.01). The most common misconception about onchocerciasis transmission was the lack of hygiene, especially in Bafia and Yabassi. In Bafang, high proportions of people believed that onchocerciasis was due to high consumption of sugar (31% vs less than 5% in Bafia and Yabassi, p<0.001).

Conclusion/Significance

There are still frequent misconceptions about onchocerciasis transmission in Cameroon. Perceptions of ivermectin distribution campaigns are more strongly associated to adherence. In addition to education/sensitisation on onchocerciasis during the implementation of the CDTI program, local health authorities should strive to better involve communities and more encourage community distributors’ work.

An economic evaluation of vector control in the age of a dengue vaccine

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 14 August 2017 - 9:00pm

by Christopher Fitzpatrick, Alexander Haines, Mathieu Bangert, Andrew Farlow, Janet Hemingway, Raman Velayudhan

Introduction

Dengue is a rapidly emerging vector-borne Neglected Tropical Disease, with a 30-fold increase in the number of cases reported since 1960. The economic cost of the illness is measured in the billions of dollars annually. Environmental change and unplanned urbanization are conspiring to raise the health and economic cost even further beyond the reach of health systems and households. The health-sector response has depended in large part on control of the Aedes aegypti and Ae. albopictus (mosquito) vectors. The cost-effectiveness of the first-ever dengue vaccine remains to be evaluated in the field. In this paper, we examine how it might affect the cost-effectiveness of sustained vector control.

Methods

We employ a dynamic Markov model of the effects of vector control on dengue in both vectors and humans over a 15-year period, in six countries: Brazil, Columbia, Malaysia, Mexico, the Philippines, and Thailand. We evaluate the cost (direct medical costs and control programme costs) and cost-effectiveness of sustained vector control, outbreak response and/or medical case management, in the presence of a (hypothetical) highly targeted and low cost immunization strategy using a (non-hypothetical) medium-efficacy vaccine.

Results

Sustained vector control using existing technologies would cost little more than outbreak response, given the associated costs of medical case management. If sustained use of existing or upcoming technologies (of similar price) reduce vector populations by 70–90%, the cost per disability-adjusted life year averted is 2013 US$ 679–1331 (best estimates) relative to no intervention. Sustained vector control could be highly cost-effective even with less effective technologies (50–70% reduction in vector populations) and in the presence of a highly targeted and low cost immunization strategy using a medium-efficacy vaccine.

Discussion

Economic evaluation of the first-ever dengue vaccine is ongoing. However, even under very optimistic assumptions about a highly targeted and low cost immunization strategy, our results suggest that sustained vector control will continue to play an important role in mitigating the impact of environmental change and urbanization on human health. If additional benefits for the control of other Aedes borne diseases, such as Chikungunya, yellow fever and Zika fever are taken into account, the investment case is even stronger. High-burden endemic countries should proceed to map populations to be covered by sustained vector control.

Endothelial activation and dysfunction in severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 14 August 2017 - 9:00pm

by Xiao-Kun Li, Zhen-Dong Yang, Juan Du, Bo Xing, Ning Cui, Pan-He Zhang, Hao Li, Xiao-Ai Zhang, Qing-Bin Lu, Wei Liu

Background

Pathogenesis of severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS) has not been well described yet. Recent studies indicate that SFTSV could replicate in endothelial cells. Here we performed a case-control study to determine whether endothelial activation/dysfunction occurred in SFTSV infection and to identify the biomarkers reflecting endothelial dysfunction.

Methodology/Principal findings

In a case-control study of 134 SFTS patients and 68 healthy controls, serum levels of plasminogen activator inhibitor 1, tissue plasminogen activator, P-selectin, platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecular, CD40 ligand, E-selectin, vascular endothelial growth factor A, serum amyloid antigen 1 (SAA-1) and vascular cell adhesion molecular 1 were significantly enhanced in the patients than the controls (all P<0.05), indicating the occurrence of endothelial activation/dysfunction in SFTS. The intercellular adhesion molecular 1 (ICAM-1) and SAA-1 at the convalescent phase were also significantly associated with severe patients, after adjusting for the potential confounders. The odds ratio was estimated to be 3.364 (95% CI 1.074–10.534) for ICAM-1, and 1.881 (95% CI 1.166–3.034) for SAA-1, respectively. Cutoff value of 1.1×107 pg/mL SAA-1 or 1.2×106 pg/mL ICAM-1 were found to have moderate power of predicting fatal cases.

Conclusions

The endothelial dysfunction may be one of the pathogenic mechanism of SFTS. The serum levels of ICAM-1 and SAA-1 might be used to predict adverse outcome.

The Trypomastigote Small Surface Antigen (TSSA) regulates <i>Trypanosoma cruzi</i> infectivity and differentiation

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 11 August 2017 - 9:00pm

by María de los Milagros Cámara, Gaspar E. Cánepa, Andrés B. Lantos, Virginia Balouz, Hai Yu, Xi Chen, Oscar Campetella, Juan Mucci, Carlos A. Buscaglia

Background

TSSA (Trypomastigote Small Surface Antigen) is an antigenic, adhesion molecule displayed on the surface of Trypanosoma cruzi trypomastigotes. TSSA displays substantial sequence identity to members of the TcMUC gene family, which code for the trypomastigote mucins (tGPI-mucins). In addition, TSSA bears sequence polymorphisms among parasite strains; and two TSSA variants expressed as recombinant molecules (termed TSSA-CL and TSSA-Sy) were shown to exhibit contrasting features in their host cell binding and signaling properties.

Methods/Principle findings

Here we used a variety of approaches to get insights into TSSA structure/function. We show that at variance with tGPI-mucins, which rely on their extensive O-glycoslylation to achieve their protective function, TSSA seems to be displayed on the trypomastigote coat as a hypo-glycosylated molecule. This has a functional correlate, as further deletion mapping experiments and cell binding assays indicated that exposition of at least two peptidic motifs is critical for the engagement of the ‘adhesive’ TSSA variant (TSSA-CL) with host cell surface receptor(s) prior to trypomastigote internalization. These motifs are not conserved in the ‘non-adhesive’ TSSA-Sy variant. We next developed transgenic lines over-expressing either TSSA variant in different parasite backgrounds. In strict accordance to recombinant protein binding data, trypomastigotes over-expressing TSSA-CL displayed improved adhesion and infectivity towards non-macrophagic cell lines as compared to those over-expressing TSSA-Sy or parental lines. These phenotypes could be specifically counteracted by exogenous addition of peptides spanning the TSSA-CL adhesion motifs. In addition, and irrespective of the TSSA variant, over-expression of this molecule leads to an enhanced trypomastigote-to-amastigote conversion, indicating a possible role of TSSA also in parasite differentiation.

Conclusion/Significance

In this study we provided novel evidence indicating that TSSA plays an important role not only on the infectivity and differentiation of T. cruzi trypomastigotes but also on the phenotypic variability displayed by parasite strains.

Assessment and optimization of <i>Theileria parva</i> sporozoite full-length p67 antigen expression in mammalian cells

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 11 August 2017 - 9:00pm

by Giulia Tebaldi, Laura B. Williams, Andrea E. Verna, Francesca Macchi, Valentina Franceschi, Lindsay M. Fry, Donald P. Knowles, Gaetano Donofrio

Delivery of various forms of recombinant Theileria parva sporozoite antigen (p67) has been shown to elicit antibody responses in cattle capable of providing protection against East Coast fever, the clinical disease caused by T. parva. Previous formulations of full-length and shorter recombinant versions of p67 derived from bacteria, insect, and mammalian cell systems are expressed in non-native and highly unstable forms. The stable expression of full-length recombinant p67 in mammalian cells has never been described and has remained especially elusive. In this study, p67 was expressed in human-derived cells as a full-length, membrane-linked protein and as a secreted form by omission of the putative transmembrane domain. The recombinant protein expressed in this system yielded primarily two products based on Western immunoblot analysis, including one at the expected size of 67 kDa, and one with a higher than expected molecular weight. Through treatment with PNGase F, our data indicate that the larger product of this mammalian cell-expressed recombinant p67 cannot be attributed to glycosylation. By increasing the denaturing conditions, we determined that the larger sized mammalian cell-expressed recombinant p67 product is likely a dimeric aggregate of the protein. Both forms of this recombinant p67 reacted with a monoclonal antibody to the p67 molecule, which reacts with the native sporozoite. Additionally, through this work we developed multiple mammalian cell lines, including both human and bovine-derived cell lines, transduced by a lentiviral vector, that are constitutively able to express a stable, secreted form of p67 for use in immunization, diagnostics, or in vitro assays. The recombinant p67 developed in this system is immunogenic in goats and cattle based on ELISA and flow cytometric analysis. The development of a mammalian cell system that expresses full-length p67 in a stable form as described here is expected to optimize p67-based immunization.

A new perspective on cutaneous leishmaniasis—Implications for global prevalence and burden of disease estimates

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 10 August 2017 - 9:00pm

by Freddie Bailey, Karina Mondragon-Shem, Peter Hotez, José Antonio Ruiz-Postigo, Waleed Al-Salem, Álvaro Acosta-Serrano, David H. Molyneux

Multiple introductions of the dengue vector, <i>Aedes aegypti</i>, into California

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 10 August 2017 - 9:00pm

by Evlyn Pless, Andrea Gloria-Soria, Benjamin R. Evans, Vicki Kramer, Bethany G. Bolling, Walter J. Tabachnick, Jeffrey R. Powell

The yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti inhabits much of the tropical and subtropical world and is a primary vector of dengue, Zika, and chikungunya viruses. Breeding populations of A. aegypti were first reported in California (CA) in 2013. Initial genetic analyses using 12 microsatellites on collections from Northern CA in 2013 indicated the South Central US region as the likely source of the introduction. We expanded genetic analyses of CA A. aegypti by: (a) examining additional Northern CA samples and including samples from Southern CA, (b) including more southern US populations for comparison, and (c) genotyping a subset of samples at 15,698 SNPs. Major results are: (1) Northern and Southern CA populations are distinct. (2) Northern populations are more genetically diverse than Southern CA populations. (3) Northern and Southern CA groups were likely founded by two independent introductions which came from the South Central US and Southwest US/northern Mexico regions respectively. (4) Our genetic data suggest that the founding events giving rise to the Northern CA and Southern CA populations likely occurred before the populations were first recognized in 2013 and 2014, respectively. (5) A Northern CA population analyzed at multiple time-points (two years apart) is genetically stable, consistent with permanent in situ breeding. These results expand previous work on the origin of California A. aegypti with the novel finding that this species entered California on multiple occasions, likely some years before its initial detection. This work has implications for mosquito surveillance and vector control activities not only in California but also in other regions where the distribution of this invasive mosquito is expanding.

Phlebotomine sand fly–borne pathogens in the Mediterranean Basin: Human leishmaniasis and phlebovirus infections

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 10 August 2017 - 9:00pm

by Martina Moriconi, Gianluca Rugna, Mattia Calzolari, Romeo Bellini, Alessandro Albieri, Paola Angelini, Roberto Cagarelli, Maria P. Landini, Remi N. Charrel, Stefania Varani

Pathogens transmitted to humans by phlebotomine sand flies are neglected, as they cause infectious diseases that are not on the priority list of national and international public health systems. However, the infections caused by protozoa of the Leishmania genus and viruses belonging to the Phlebovirus genus (family Phenuiviridae)—the most significant group of viruses transmitted by sand flies—have a relevant role for human pathology. These infections are emerging in the Mediterranean region and will likely spread in forthcoming decades, posing a complex threat to human health. Four species and 2 hybrid strains of Leishmania are pathogenic for humans in the Mediterranean Basin, with an estimated annual incidence of 239,500–393,600 cases of cutaneous leishmaniasis and 1,200–2,000 cases of visceral leishmaniasis. Among the phleboviruses, Toscana virus can cause neuroinvasive infections, while other phleboviruses are responsible for a typical “3-day fever”; the actual incidence of Phlebovirus infections in the Mediterranean area is unknown, although at least 250 million people are exposed. Here, we reviewed the current literature on epidemiology of sand fly–borne infections in the Mediterranean Basin, with a focus on humans. Our analysis indicates the need for increased public health activities directed to determine the disease burden of these infections as well as to improve their surveillance. Among the emerging challenges concerning sand fly–borne pathogens, the relationships between sand fly–borne protozoa and viruses should be considered in future studies, including epidemiological links between Leishmania and phleboviruses as well as the conditional capacity for these pathogens to be involved in interactions that may evolve towards increased virulence.

<i>Larrea tridentata</i>: A novel source for anti-parasitic agents active against <i>Entamoeba histolytica</i>, <i>Giardia lamblia</i> and <i>Naegleria fowleri</i>

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 9 August 2017 - 9:00pm

by Bharat Bashyal, Linfeng Li, Trpta Bains, Anjan Debnath, Daniel V. LaBarbera

Protozoan parasites infect and kill millions of people worldwide every year, particularly in developing countries where access to clean fresh water is limited. Among the most common are intestinal parasites, including Giardia lamblia and Entamoeba histolytica. These parasites wreak havoc on the epithelium lining the small intestines (G. lamblia) and colon (E. histolytica) causing giardiasis and amebiasis, respectively. In addition, there are less common but far more deadly pathogens such as Naegleria fowleri that thrive in warm waters and infect the central nervous systems of their victims via the nasal passages. Despite their prevalence and associated high mortality rates, there remains an unmet need to identify more effective therapeutics for people infected with these opportunistic parasites. To address this unmet need, we have surveyed plants and traditional herbal medicines known throughout the world to identify novel antiparasitic agents with activity against G. lamblia, E. histolytica, and N. fowleri. Herein, we report Larrea tridentata, known as creosote bush, as a novel source for secondary metabolites that display antiparasitic activity against all three pathogens. This report also characterizes the lignan compound classes, nordihydroguairetic acid and demethoxyisoguaiacin, as novel antiparasitic lead agents to further develop more effective drug therapy options for millions of people worldwide.

The microbiome in urogenital schistosomiasis and induced bladder pathologies

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 9 August 2017 - 9:00pm

by Adewale S. Adebayo, Mangesh Survayanshi, Shrikanth Bhute, Atinuke M. Agunloye, Raphael D. Isokpehi, Chiaka I. Anumudu, Yogesh S. Shouche

Background

Human schistosomiasis is a highly prevalent neglected tropical disease (NTD) caused by Schistosoma species. Research on the molecular mechanisms influencing the outcomes of bladder infection by Schistosoma haematobium is urgently needed to develop new diagnostics, therapeutics and infection prevention strategies. The objective of the research study was to determine the microbiome features and changes in urine during urogenital schistosomiasis and induced bladder pathologies.

Methodology

Seventy participants from Eggua, southwestern Nigeria provided morning urine samples and were screened for urogenital schistosomiasis infection and bladder pathologies in a cross-sectional study. Highthroughput NGS sequencing was carried out, targeting the 16S V3 region. Filtered reads were processed and analyzed in a bioinformatics pipeline.

Principal findings

The study participants (36 males and 34 females, between ages 15 and 65) were categorized into four groups according to status of schistosomiasis infection and bladder pathology. Data analytics of the next-generation sequencing reads revealed that Proteobacteria and Firmicutes dominated and had influence on microbiome structure of both non-infected persons and persons with urogenital schistosomiasis. Furthermore, gender and age influenced taxa abundance independent of infection or bladder pathology. Several taxa distinguished urogenital schistosomiasis induced bladder pathologies from urogenital schistosomiasis infection alone and from healthy persons, including known immune-stimulatory taxa such as Fusobacterium, Sphingobacterium and Enterococcus. Some of these significant taxa, especially Sphingobacterium were projected as markers of infection, while several genera including potentially beneficial taxa such as Trabulsiella and Weissella, were markers of the non-infected. Finally, expected changes in protein functional categories were observed to relate to cellular maintenance and lipid metabolism.

Conclusion

The urinary microbiome is a factor to be considered in developing biomarkers, diagnostic tools, and new treatment for urogenital schistosomiasis and induced bladder pathologies.

Different but overlapping populations of <i>Strongyloides stercoralis</i> in dogs and humans—Dogs as a possible source for zoonotic strongyloidiasis

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 9 August 2017 - 9:00pm

by Tegegn G. Jaleta, Siyu Zhou, Felix M. Bemm, Fabian Schär, Virak Khieu, Sinuon Muth, Peter Odermatt, James B. Lok, Adrian Streit

Strongyloidiasis is a much-neglected soil born helminthiasis caused by the nematode Strongyloides stercoralis. Human derived S. stercoralis can be maintained in dogs in the laboratory and this parasite has been reported to also occur in dogs in the wild. Some authors have considered strongyloidiasis a zoonotic disease while others have argued that the two hosts carry host specialized populations of S. stercoralis and that dogs play a minor role, if any, as a reservoir for zoonotic S. stercoralis infections of humans. We isolated S. stercoralis from humans and their dogs in rural villages in northern Cambodia, a region with a high incidence of strongyloidiasis, and compared the worms derived from these two host species using nuclear and mitochondrial DNA sequence polymorphisms. We found that in dogs there exist two populations of S. stercoralis, which are clearly separated from each other genetically based on the nuclear 18S rDNA, the mitochondrial cox1 locus and whole genome sequence. One population, to which the majority of the worms belong, appears to be restricted to dogs. The other population is indistinguishable from the population of S. stercoralis isolated from humans. Consistent with earlier studies, we found multiple sequence variants of the hypervariable region I of the 18 S rDNA in S. stercoralis from humans. However, comparison of mitochondrial sequences and whole genome analysis suggest that these different 18S variants do not represent multiple genetically isolated subpopulations among the worms isolated from humans. We also investigated the mode of reproduction of the free-living generations of laboratory and wild isolates of S. stercoralis. Contrary to earlier literature on S. stercoralis but similar to other species of Strongyloides, we found clear evidence of sexual reproduction. Overall, our results show that dogs carry two populations, possibly different species of Strongyloides. One population appears to be dog specific but the other one is shared with humans. This argues for the strong potential of dogs as reservoirs for zoonotic transmission of S. stercoralis to humans and suggests that in order to reduce the exposure of humans to infective S. stercoralis larvae, dogs should be treated for the infection along with their owners.

Predictive factors for a one-year improvement in nontuberculous <i>mycobacterial</i> pulmonary disease: An 11-year retrospective and multicenter study

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 7 August 2017 - 9:00pm

by Gilbert Cadelis, Rodolphe Ducrot, Arnaud Bourdin, Nalin Rastogi

Background

Nontuberculous mycobacterial pulmonary disease (NTM-PD) has become an emerging infectious disease and is responsible for more deaths than tuberculosis in industrialized countries. NTM-PD mortality remains high in some series reportedly ranging from 25% to 40% at five years and often due to unfavorable evolution of NTM-PD despite established treatment. The purpose of our study was to search for early factors that could predict the favorable or unfavorable evolution of NTM-PD at the first year of treatment.

Methods

In this retrospective and multicenter study, we selected 119 patients based on clinical, radiological and microbiological data from 2002 to 2012 from three French university hospitals (Guadeloupe, Martinique, Montpellier) with definite (meeting the criteria of the American Thoracic Society and the Infectious Disease Society of America in 2007; ATS/IDSA) or probable (one positive sputum culture) NTM-PD. We compared two patient groups: those who improved at one year (clinical symptoms, radiological lesions and microbiology data) and those who did not improve at one year. The data were analyzed for all patients as well as for subgroups by gender, HIV-positive patients, and Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) infection.

Results

The average patient age was 50 years ± 19.4; 58% had respiratory comorbidities, 24% were HIV positive and 19% had cystic fibrosis. Coughing concerned 66% of patients and bronchiectasis concerned 45%. The most frequently isolated NTM were MAC (46%). 57% (n = 68) of patients met the ATS criteria and improved status concerned 38.6% (n = 46). The improvement factors at one year of NTM-PD were associated with the duration of ethambutol treatment: (Odds ratio adjusted [ORa]: 2.24, 95% Confidence interval [CI]; 2.11–3.41), HIV-positive status: (ORa: 3.23, 95% CI; 1.27–8.45), and male gender: (ORa: 2.34, 95% CI; 1.26–8.16). For the group with NTM-PD due to MAC, improvement was associated with the duration of macrolide treatment (ORa: 3.27, 95% CI; 1.88–7.30) and an age <50 years (ORa: 1.88, 95% CI; 1.55–8.50).

Conclusion

In this retrospective multicenter study, improvement at one year in patients with definite or probable NTM-PD was associated with the duration of ethambutol treatment, HIV-positive status and male gender. For the group of patients infected with MAC, improvement was associated with the duration of macrolide treatment and an age <50 years. Identifying predictors of improvement at one year of NTM-PD is expected to optimize the management of the disease in its early stages.

Widespread <i>Trypanosoma cruzi</i> infection in government working dogs along the Texas-Mexico border: Discordant serology, parasite genotyping and associated vectors

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 7 August 2017 - 9:00pm

by Alyssa C. Meyers, Marvin Meinders, Sarah A. Hamer

Background

Chagas disease, caused by the vector-borne protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi, is increasingly recognized in the southern U.S. Government-owned working dogs along the Texas-Mexico border could be at heightened risk due to prolonged exposure outdoors in habitats with high densities of vectors. We quantified working dog exposure to T. cruzi, characterized parasite strains, and analyzed associated triatomine vectors along the Texas-Mexico border.

Methodology/Principle findings

In 2015–2016, we sampled government working dogs in five management areas plus a training center in Texas and collected triatomine vectors from canine environments. Canine serum was tested for anti-T. cruzi antibodies with up to three serological tests including two immunochromatographic assays (Stat-Pak and Trypanosoma Detect) and indirect fluorescent antibody (IFA) test. The buffy coat fraction of blood and vector hindguts were tested for T. cruzi DNA and parasite discrete typing unit was determined. Overall seroprevalence was 7.4 and 18.9% (n = 528) in a conservative versus inclusive analysis, respectively, based on classifying weakly reactive samples as negative versus positive. Canines in two western management areas had 2.6–2.8 (95% CI: 1.0–6.8 p = 0.02–0.04) times greater odds of seropositivity compared to the training center. Parasite DNA was detected in three dogs (0.6%), including TcI and TcI/TcIV mix. Nine of 20 (45%) T. gerstaeckeri and T. rubida were infected with TcI and TcIV; insects analyzed for bloodmeals (n = 11) fed primarily on canine (54.5%).

Conclusions/Significance

Government working dogs have widespread exposure to T. cruzi across the Texas-Mexico border. Interpretation of sample serostatus was challenged by discordant results across testing platforms and very faint serological bands. In the absence of gold standard methodologies, epidemiological studies will benefit from presenting a range of results based on different tests/interpretation criteria to encompass uncertainty. Working dogs are highly trained in security functions and potential loss of duty from the clinical outcomes of infection could affect the work force and have broad consequences.

Cross-reactivity, antivenomics, and neutralization of toxic activities of <i>Lachesis</i> venoms by polyspecific and monospecific antivenoms

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 7 August 2017 - 9:00pm

by Marvin Madrigal, Davinia Pla, Libia Sanz, Elexandra Barboza, Cynthia Arroyo-Portilla, Carlos Corrêa-Netto, José María Gutiérrez, Alberto Alape-Girón, Marietta Flores-Díaz, Juan J. Calvete

Background

Bothrops, Crotalus and Lachesis represent the most medically relevant genera of pitvipers in Central and South America. Similarity in venom phenotype and physiopathological profile of envenomings caused by the four nominal Lachesis species led us to hypothesize that an antivenom prepared against venom from any of them may exhibit paraspecificity against all the other congeneric taxa.

Methods

To assess this hypothesis, in this work we have applied antivenomics and immunochemical methods to investigate the immunoreactivity of three monovalent antivenoms and two polyvalent antivenoms towards the venoms from different geographic populations of three different Lachesis species. The ability of the antivenoms to neutralize the proteolytic, hemorrhagic, coagulant, and lethal activities of the seven Lachesis venoms was also investigated.

Results

A conspicuous pattern of immunorecognition and cross-neutralization for all effects was evident by the polyspecific antivenoms, indicating large immunoreactive epitope conservation across the genus during more than 10 million years since the Central and South American bushmasters diverged.

Conclusions

Despite the broad geographic distribution of Lachesis, antivenoms against venoms of different species are effective in the neutralization of congeneric venoms not used in the immunization mixture, indicating that they can be used equivalently for the clinical treatment of any lachesic envenoming.

General significance

This study demonstrates that antivenoms raised against venom of different Lachesis species are indistinctly effective in the neutralization of congeneric venoms not used in the immunization mixture, indicating that antivenoms against conspecific venoms may be used equivalently for the clinical treatment of envenomings caused by any bushmaster species.

Development of a set of community-informed Ebola messages for Sierra Leone

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 7 August 2017 - 9:00pm

by John Kinsman, Kars de Bruijne, Alpha M. Jalloh, Muriel Harris, Hussainatu Abdullah, Titus Boye-Thompson, Osman Sankoh, Abdul K. Jalloh, Heidi Jalloh-Vos

The West African Ebola epidemic of 2013–2016 was by far the largest outbreak of the disease on record. Sierra Leone suffered nearly half of the 28,646 reported cases. This paper presents a set of culturally contextualized Ebola messages that are based on the findings of qualitative interviews and focus group discussions conducted in 'hotspot' areas of rural Bombali District and urban Freetown in Sierra Leone, between January and March 2015. An iterative approach was taken in the message development process, whereby (i) data from formative research was subjected to thematic analysis to identify areas of community concern about Ebola and the national response; (ii) draft messages to address these concerns were produced; (iii) the messages were field tested; (iv) the messages were refined; and (v) a final set of messages on 14 topics was disseminated to relevant national and international stakeholders. Each message included details of its rationale, audience, dissemination channels, messengers, and associated operational issues that need to be taken into account. While developing the 14 messages, a set of recommendations emerged that could be adopted in future public health emergencies. These included the importance of embedding systematic, iterative qualitative research fully into the message development process; communication of the subsequent messages through a two-way dialogue with communities, using trusted messengers, and not only through a one-way, top-down communication process; provision of good, parallel operational services; and engagement with senior policy makers and managers as well as people in key operational positions to ensure national ownership of the messages, and to maximize the chance of their being utilised. The methodological approach that we used to develop our messages along with our suggested recommendations constitute a set of tools that could be incorporated into international and national public health emergency preparedness and response plans.

Heat shock protein 90 localizes to the surface and augments virulence factors of <i>Cryptococcus neoformans</i>

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 4 August 2017 - 9:00pm

by Sharanya Chatterjee, Utpal Tatu

Background

Thermotolerance is an essential attribute for pathogenesis of Cryptococcus as exemplified by the fact that only two species in the genus, which can grow at 37°C, are human pathogens. Species which have other virulence factors including capsule formation and melanisation, but lack the ability to propagate at 37°C are not pathogenic. In another related fungal pathogen, Candida albicans, heat shock protein 90 has been implicated to be a central player in commanding pathogenicity by governing yeast to hyphal transition and drug resistance. Exploring Hsp90 biology in Cryptococcus in context of thermotolerance may thus highlight important regulatory principles of virulence and open new therapeutic avenues.

Methodology/Principal findings

Hsp90 is involved in regulating thermotolerance in Cryptococcus as indicated by growth hypersensitivity at 37°C upon mild compromise of Hsp90 function relative to 25°C. Biochemical studies revealed a more potent inhibition of ATPase activity by pharmacological inhibitor 17-AAG at 37°C as compared to 25°C. Catalytic efficiency of the protein at 37°C was found to be 6.39×10−5μM-1. Furthermore, indirect immunofluorescence analysis using a specific antibody revealed cell surface localization of Hsp90 via ER Golgi classical secretory pathway. Hsp90 was found to be induced under capsule inducing conditions and Hsp90 inhibition led to decrease in capsular volume. Finally compromising Hsp90 function improved anidulafungin tolerance in Cryptococcus.

Conclusions/Significance

Our findings highlight that Hsp90 regulates pathogenicity of the fungus by myriad ways. Firstly, it is involved in mediating thermotolerance which implies targeting Hsp90 can abrogate thermotolerance and hence growth of the fungus. Secondly, this study provides the first report of biochemical properties of Hsp90 of a pathogenic fungus. Finally, since Hsp90 is localised at the cell wall, targeting cell surface Hsp90 can represent a novel strategy to combat this lethal infection.

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