RSS news feeds

Experimental <i>Bothrops atrox</i> envenomation: Efficacy of antivenom therapy and the combination of <i>Bothrops</i> antivenom with dexamethasone

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

by Gabriella Neves Leal Santos Barreto, Sâmella Silva de Oliveira, Isabelle Valle dos Anjos, Hipocrates de Menezes Chalkidis, Rosa Helena Veras Mourão, Ana Maria Moura da Silva, Ida Sigueko Sano-Martins, Luis Roberto de Camargo Gonçalves

Bothrops atrox snakes are the leading cause of snake bites in Northern Brazil. The venom of this snake is not included in the antigen pool used to obtain the Bothrops antivenom. There are discrepancies in reports on the effectiveness of this antivenom to treat victims bitten by B. atrox snakes. However, these studies were performed using a pre-incubation of the venom with the antivenom and, thus, did not simulate a true case of envenomation treatment. In addition, the local lesions induced by Bothrops venoms are not well resolved by antivenom therapy. Here, we investigated the efficacy of the Bothrops antivenom in treating the signs and symptoms caused by B. atrox venom in mice and evaluated whether the combination of dexamethasone and antivenom therapy enhanced the healing of local lesions induced by this envenomation. In animals that were administered the antivenom 10 minutes after the envenomation, we observed an important reduction of edema, dermonecrosis, and myonecrosis. When the antivenom was given 45 minutes after the envenomation, the edema and myonecrosis were reduced, and the fibrinogen levels and platelet counts were restored. The groups treated with the combination of antivenom and dexamethasone had an enhanced decrease in edema and a faster recovery of the damaged skeletal muscle. Our results show that Bothrops antivenom effectively treats the envenomation caused by Bothrops atrox and that the use of dexamethasone as an adjunct to the antivenom therapy could be useful to improve the treatment of local symptoms observed in envenomation caused by Bothrops snakes.

Developing photoreceptor-based models of visual attraction in riverine tsetse, for use in the engineering of more-attractive polyester fabrics for control devices

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

by Roger D. Santer

Riverine tsetse transmit the parasites that cause the most prevalent form of human African trypanosomiasis, Gambian HAT. In response to the imperative for cheap and efficient tsetse control, insecticide-treated ‘tiny targets’ have been developed through refinement of tsetse attractants based on blue fabric panels. However, modern blue polyesters used for this purpose attract many less tsetse than traditional phthalogen blue cottons. Therefore, colour engineering polyesters for improved attractiveness has great potential for tiny target development. Because flies have markedly different photoreceptor spectral sensitivities from humans, and the responses of these photoreceptors provide the inputs to their visually guided behaviours, it is essential that polyester colour engineering be guided by fly photoreceptor-based explanations of tsetse attraction. To this end, tsetse attraction to differently coloured fabrics was recently modelled using the calculated excitations elicited in a generic set of fly photoreceptors as predictors. However, electrophysiological data from tsetse indicate the potential for modified spectral sensitivities versus the generic pattern, and processing of fly photoreceptor responses within segregated achromatic and chromatic channels has long been hypothesised. Thus, I constructed photoreceptor-based models explaining the attraction of G. f. fuscipes to differently coloured tiny targets recorded in a previously published investigation, under differing assumptions about tsetse spectral sensitivities and organisation of visual processing. Models separating photoreceptor responses into achromatic and chromatic channels explained attraction better than earlier models combining weighted photoreceptor responses in a single mechanism, regardless of the spectral sensitivities assumed. However, common principles for fabric colour engineering were evident across the complete set of models examined, and were consistent with earlier work. Tools for the calculation of fly photoreceptor excitations are available with this paper, and the ways in which these and photoreceptor-based models of attraction can provide colorimetric values for the engineering of more-attractively coloured polyester fabrics are discussed.

LigB subunit vaccine confers sterile immunity against challenge in the hamster model of leptospirosis

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 16 March 2017 - 9:00pm

by Neida L. Conrad, Flávia W. Cruz McBride, Jéssica D. Souza, Marcelle M. Silveira, Samuel Félix, Karla S. Mendonça, Cleiton S. Santos, Daniel A. Athanazio, Marco A. Medeiros, Mitermayer G. Reis, Odir A. Dellagostin, Alan J. A. McBride

Neglected tropical diseases, including zoonoses such as leptospirosis, have a major impact on rural and poor urban communities, particularly in developing countries. This has led to major investment in antipoverty vaccines that focus on diseases that influence public health and thereby productivity. While the true, global, impact of leptospirosis is unknown due to the lack of adequate laboratory diagnosis, the WHO estimates that incidence has doubled over the last 15 years to over 1 million cases that require hospitalization every year. Leptospirosis is caused by pathogenic Leptospira spp. and is spread through direct contact with infected animals, their urine or contaminated water and soil. Inactivated leptospirosis vaccines, or bacterins, are approved in only a handful of countries due to the lack of heterologous protection (there are > 250 pathogenic Leptospira serovars) and the serious side-effects associated with vaccination. Currently, research has focused on recombinant vaccines, a possible solution to these problems. However, due to a lack of standardised animal models, rigorous statistical analysis and poor reproducibility, this approach has met with limited success. We evaluated a subunit vaccine preparation, based on a conserved region of the leptospiral immunoglobulin-like B protein (LigB(131–645)) and aluminium hydroxide (AH), in the hamster model of leptospirosis. The vaccine conferred significant protection (80.0–100%, P < 0.05) against mortality in vaccinated animals in seven independent experiments. The efficacy of the LigB(131–645)/AH vaccine ranged from 87.5–100% and we observed sterile immunity (87.5–100%) among the vaccinated survivors. Significant levels of IgM and IgG were induced among vaccinated animals, although they did not correlate with immunity. A mixed IgG1/IgG2 subclass profile was associated with the subunit vaccine, compared to the predominant IgG2 profile seen in bacterin vaccinated hamsters. These findings suggest that LigB(131–645) is a vaccine candidate against leptospirosis with potential ramifications to public and veterinary health.

Management and modeling approaches for controlling raccoon rabies: The road to elimination

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 16 March 2017 - 9:00pm

by Stacey A. Elmore, Richard B. Chipman, Dennis Slate, Kathryn P. Huyvaert, Kurt C. VerCauteren, Amy T. Gilbert

Rabies is an ancient viral disease that significantly impacts human and animal health throughout the world. In the developing parts of the world, dog bites represent the highest risk of rabies infection to people, livestock, and other animals. However, in North America, where several rabies virus variants currently circulate in wildlife, human contact with the raccoon rabies variant leads to the highest per capita population administration of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) annually. Previous rabies variant elimination in raccoons (Canada), foxes (Europe), and dogs and coyotes (United States) demonstrates that elimination of the raccoon variant from the eastern US is feasible, given an understanding of rabies control costs and benefits and the availability of proper tools. Also critical is a cooperatively produced strategic plan that emphasizes collaborative rabies management among agencies and organizations at the landscape scale. Common management strategies, alone or as part of an integrated approach, include the following: oral rabies vaccination (ORV), trap-vaccinate-release (TVR), and local population reduction. As a complement, mathematical and statistical modeling approaches can guide intervention planning, such as through contact networks, circuit theory, individual-based modeling, and others, which can be used to better understand and predict rabies dynamics through simulated interactions among the host, virus, environment, and control strategy. Strategies derived from this ecological lens can then be optimized to produce a management plan that balances the ecological needs and program financial resources. This paper discusses the management and modeling strategies that are currently used, or have been used in the past, and provides a platform of options for consideration while developing raccoon rabies virus elimination strategies in the US.

Increasing prevalence of genitourinary schistosomiasis in Europe in the Migrant Era: Neglected no more?

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 16 March 2017 - 9:00pm

by Niccolò Riccardi, Francesca Nosenzo, Francesca Peraldo, Francesca Sarocchi, Lucia Taramasso, Paolo Traverso, Claudio Viscoli, Antonio Di Biagio, Lorenzo E. Derchi, Andrea De Maria

Increased Von Willebrand factor, decreased ADAMTS13 and thrombocytopenia in melioidosis

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 15 March 2017 - 9:00pm

by Emma Birnie, Gavin C. K. W. Koh, Ester C. Löwenberg, Joost C. M. Meijers, Rapeephan R. Maude, Nicholas P. J. Day, Sharon J. Peacock, Tom van der Poll, W. Joost Wiersinga

Background

Melioidosis, caused by bioterror treat agent Burkholderia pseudomallei, is an important cause of community-acquired Gram-negative sepsis in Southeast Asia and Northern Australia. New insights into the pathogenesis of melioidosis may help improve treatment and decrease mortality rates from this dreadful disease. We hypothesized that changes in Von Willebrand factor (VWF) function should occur in melioidosis, based on the presence of endothelial stimulation by endotoxin, pro-inflammatory cytokines and thrombin in melioidosis, and investigated whether this impacted on outcome.

Methods/Principal findings

We recruited 52 controls and 34 culture-confirmed melioidosis patients at Sappasithiprasong Hospital in Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand. All subjects were diabetic. Platelet counts in melioidosis patients were lower compared to controls (p = 0.0001) and correlated with mortality (p = 0.02). VWF antigen levels were higher in patients (geometric mean, 478 U/dl) compared to controls (166 U/dL, p<0.0001). The high levels of VWF in melioidosis appeared to be due to increased endothelial stimulation (VWF propeptide levels were elevated, p<0.0001) and reduced clearance (ADAMTS13 reduction, p<0.0001). However, VWF antigen levels did not correlate with platelet counts implying that thrombocytopenia in acute melioidosis has an alternative cause.

Conclusions/Significance

Thrombocytopenia is a key feature of melioidosis and is correlated with mortality. Additionally, excess VWF and ADAMTS13 deficiency are features of acute melioidosis, but are not the primary drivers of thrombocytopenia in melioidosis. Further studies on the role of thrombocytopenia in B. pseudomallei infection are needed.

Detection and characterization of <i>Brucella</i> spp. in bovine milk in small-scale urban and peri-urban farming in Tajikistan

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 15 March 2017 - 9:00pm

by Elisabeth Lindahl-Rajala, Tove Hoffman, David Fretin, Jacques Godfroid, Nosirjon Sattorov, Sofia Boqvist, Åke Lundkvist, Ulf Magnusson

Brucellosis is one of the most common zoonoses globally, and Central Asia remains a Brucella hotspot. The World Health Organization classifies brucellosis as a neglected zoonotic disease that is rarely in the spotlight for research and mainly affects poor, marginalized people. Urban and peri-urban farming is a common practice in many low-income countries, and it increases the incomes of families that are often restrained by limited economic resources. However, there is a concern that the growing number of people and livestock living close together in these areas will increase the transmission of zoonotic pathogens such as Brucella. This study investigates the presence of Brucella DNA in bovine milk in the urban and peri-urban area of Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Brucella DNA was detected in 10.3% of 564 cow milk samples by IS711-based real-time PCR. This finding is concerning because consumption of unpasteurized dairy products is common in the region. Furthermore, Brucella DNA was detected in the milk of all seropositive cows, but 8.3% of the seronegative cows also showed the presence of Brucella DNA. In addition, sequence analysis of the rpoB gene suggests that one cow was infected with B. abortus and another cow was most likely infected with B. melitensis. The discrepancies between the serology and real-time PCR results highlight the need to further investigate whether there is a need for implementing complementary diagnostic strategies to detect false serological negative individuals in Brucella surveillance, control, and eradication programmes. Furthermore, vaccination of cattle with S19 in addition to vaccination of small ruminants with Rev 1 might be needed in order to control Brucella infections in the livestock population but further research focusing on the isolation of Brucella is required to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the Brucella spp. circulating among the livestock in this region.

Neutropenia induced by high-dose intravenous benzylpenicillin in treating neurosyphilis: Does it really matter?

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 13 March 2017 - 9:00pm

by Rui-Rui Peng, Juan Wu, Wei Zhao, Tengfei Qi, Mei Shi, Zhifang Guan, Haikong Lu, Fuquan Long, Zixiao Gao, Sufang Zhang, Pingyu Zhou

Background

Prompt therapy with high-dose intravenous benzylpenicillin for a prolonged period is critical for neurosyphilis patients to avoid irreversible sequelae. However, life-threatening neutropenia has been reported as a complication of prolonged therapy with high doses of benzylpenicillin when treating other diseases. This study aimed to investigate the incidence, presentation, management and prognosis of benzylpenicillin-induced neutropenia in treating neurosyphilis based on a large sample of syphilis patients in Shanghai.

Methodology/Principal findings

Between 1st January 2013 and 31st December 2015, 1367 patients with neurosyphilis were treated with benzylpenicillin, 578 of whom were eligible for recruitment to this study. Among patients without medical co-morbidities, the total incidence of benzylpenicillin-induced neutropenia and severe neutropenia was 2.42% (95% CI: 1.38–4.13%) and0.35% (95% CI: 0.06–1.39%), respectively. The treatment duration before onset of neutropenia ranged from 10 to 14 days, with a total cumulative dose of between 240 and 324 megaunits of benzylpenicillin. Neutropenia was accompanied by symptoms of chills and fever (5 patients), fatigue (2 patients), cough (1 patient), sore throat (1 patient), diarrhea (1 patient)and erythematous rash (1 patient). The severity of neutropenia was not associated with age, gender or type of neurosyphilis (p>0.05). Neutropenia, even when severe, was often tolerated and normalized within one week. A more serious neutropenia did not occur when reinstituting benzylpenicillin in patients with mild or moderate neutropenia nor when ceftriaxone was used three months after patients had previously experienced severe neutropenia.

Conclusions/Significance

Benzylpenicillin-induced neutropenia was uncommon in our cohort of patients. Continuation of therapy was possible with intensive surveillance for those with mild or moderate neutropenia. For severe neutropenia, it is not essential to aggressively use hematopoietic growth factors or broad-spectrum antibiotics for patients in good physical condition after withdrawing anti-neurosyphilis regimen. We did not see an exacerbation of neutropenia in patients with the readministration of benzylpenicillin.

Epidemiology of cholera outbreaks and socio-economic characteristics of the communities in the fishing villages of Uganda: 2011-2015

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 13 March 2017 - 9:00pm

by Godfrey Bwire, Aline Munier, Issaka Ouedraogo, Leonard Heyerdahl, Henry Komakech, Atek Kagirita, Richard Wood, Raymond Mhlanga, Berthe Njanpop-Lafourcade, Mugagga Malimbo, Issa Makumbi, Jennifer Wandawa, Bradford D. Gessner, Christopher Garimoi Orach, Martin A. Mengel

Background

The communities in fishing villages in the Great Lakes Region of Africa and particularly in Uganda experience recurrent cholera outbreaks that lead to considerable mortality and morbidity. We evaluated cholera epidemiology and population characteristics in the fishing villages of Uganda to better target prevention and control interventions on cholera and contribute to its elimination from those communities.

Methodology/Principal findings

We conducted a prospective study between 2011–15 in fishing villages in Uganda. We collected, reviewed and documented epidemiological and socioeconomic data for 10 cholera outbreaks that occurred in fishing communities located along the African Great Lakes and River Nile in Uganda. These outbreaks caused 1,827 suspected cholera cases and 43 deaths, with a Case-Fatality Ratio (CFR) of 2.4%. Though the communities in the fishing villages make up only 5–10% of the Ugandan population, they bear the biggest burden of cholera contributing 58% and 55% of all reported cases and deaths in Uganda during the study period. The CFR was significantly higher among males than females (3.2% vs. 1.3%, p = 0.02). The outbreaks were seasonal with most cases occurring during the months of April-May. Male children under age of 5 years, and 5–9 years had increased risk. Cholera was endemic in some villages with well-defined “hotspots”. Practices predisposing communities to cholera outbreaks included: the use of contaminated lake water, poor sanitation and hygiene. Additional factors were: ignorance, illiteracy, and poverty.

Conclusions/Significance

Cholera outbreaks were a major cause of morbidity and mortality among the fishing communities in Uganda. In addition to improvements in water, sanitation, and hygiene, oral cholera vaccines could play an important role in the prevention and control of these outbreaks, particularly when targeted to high-risk areas and populations. Promotion and facilitation of access to social services including education and reduction in poverty should contribute to cholera prevention, control and elimination in these communities.

Murine models of scrub typhus associated with host control of <i>Orientia tsutsugamushi</i> infection

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 10 March 2017 - 10:00pm

by Nicole L. Mendell, Donald H. Bouyer, David H. Walker

Background

Scrub typhus, a febrile illness of substantial incidence and mortality, is caused by infection with the obligately intracellular bacterium Orientia tsutsugamushi. It is estimated that there are more than one million cases annually transmitted by the parasitic larval stage of trombiculid mites in the Asia-Pacific region. The antigenic and genetic diversity of the multiple strains of O. tsutsugamushi hinders the advancement of laboratory diagnosis, development of long-lasting vaccine-induced protection, and interpretation of clinical infection. Despite the life-threatening severity of the illness in hundreds of thousands of cases annually, 85–93% of patients survive, often without anti-rickettsial treatment. To more completely understand the disease caused by Orientia infection, animal models which closely correlate with the clinical manifestations, target cells, organ involvement, and histopathologic lesions of human cases of scrub typhus should be employed. Previously, our laboratory has extensively characterized two relevant C57BL/6 mouse models using O. tsutsugamushi Karp strain: a route-specific intradermal model of infection and persistence and a hematogenously disseminated dose-dependent lethal model.

Principal findings

To complement the lethal model, here we illustrate a sublethal model in the same mouse strain using the O. tsutsugamushi Gilliam strain, which resulted in dose-dependent severity of illness, weight loss, and systemic dissemination to endothelial cells of the microcirculation and mononuclear phagocytic cells. Histopathologic lesions included expansion of the pulmonary interstitium by inflammatory cell infiltrates and multifocal hepatic lesions with mononuclear cellular infiltrates, renal interstitial lymphohistiocytic inflammation, mild meningoencephalitis, and characteristic typhus nodules.

Significance

These models parallel characteristics of human cases of scrub typhus, and will be used in concert to understand differences in severity which lead to lethality or host control of the infection and to address the explanation for short duration of heterologous immunity in Orientia infection.

The socio-economic drivers of bushmeat consumption during the West African Ebola crisis

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 10 March 2017 - 10:00pm

by Isabel Ordaz-Németh, Mimi Arandjelovic, Lukas Boesch, Tsegaye Gatiso, Trokon Grimes, Hjalmar S. Kuehl, Menladi Lormie, Colleen Stephens, Clement Tweh, Jessica Junker

Bushmeat represents an important source of animal protein for humans in tropical Africa. Unsustainable bushmeat hunting is a major threat to wildlife and its consumption is associated with an increased risk of acquiring zoonotic diseases, such as Ebola virus disease (EVD). During the recent EVD outbreak in West Africa, it is likely that human dietary behavior and local attitudes toward bushmeat consumption changed in response to the crisis, and that the rate of change depended on prevailing socio-economic conditions, including wealth and education. In this study, we therefore investigated the effects of income, education, and literacy on changes in bushmeat consumption during the crisis, as well as complementary changes in daily meal frequency, food diversity and bushmeat preference. More specifically, we tested whether wealthier households with more educated household heads decreased their consumption of bushmeat during the EVD crisis, and whether their daily meal frequency and food diversity remained constant. We used Generalized Linear Mixed Models to analyze interview data from two nationwide household surveys across Liberia. We found an overall decrease in bushmeat consumption during the crisis across all income levels. However, the rate of bushmeat consumption in high-income households decreased less than in low-income households. Daily meal frequency decreased during the crisis, and the diversity of food items and preferences for bushmeat species remained constant. Our multidisciplinary approach to study the impact of EVD can be applied to assess how other disasters affect social-ecological systems and improve our understanding and the management of future crises.

GOST: A generic ordinal sequential trial design for a treatment trial in an emerging pandemic

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

by John Whitehead, Peter Horby

Background

Conducting clinical trials to assess experimental treatments for potentially pandemic infectious diseases is challenging. Since many outbreaks of infectious diseases last only six to eight weeks, there is a need for trial designs that can be implemented rapidly in the face of uncertainty. Outbreaks are sudden and unpredictable and so it is essential that as much planning as possible takes place in advance. Statistical aspects of such trial designs should be evaluated and discussed in readiness for implementation.

Methodology/Principal findings

This paper proposes a generic ordinal sequential trial design (GOST) for a randomised clinical trial comparing an experimental treatment for an emerging infectious disease with standard care. The design is intended as an off-the-shelf, ready-to-use robust and flexible option. The primary endpoint is a categorisation of patient outcome according to an ordinal scale. A sequential approach is adopted, stopping as soon as it is clear that the experimental treatment has an advantage or that sufficient advantage is unlikely to be detected. The properties of the design are evaluated using large-sample theory and verified for moderate sized samples using simulation. The trial is powered to detect a generic clinically relevant difference: namely an odds ratio of 2 for better rather than worse outcomes. Total sample sizes (across both treatments) of between 150 and 300 patients prove to be adequate in many cases, but the precise value depends on both the magnitude of the treatment advantage and the nature of the ordinal scale. An advantage of the approach is that any erroneous assumptions made at the design stage about the proportion of patients falling into each outcome category have little effect on the error probabilities of the study, although they can lead to inaccurate forecasts of sample size.

Conclusions/Significance

It is important and feasible to pre-determine many of the statistical aspects of an efficient trial design in advance of a disease outbreak. The design can then be tailored to the specific disease under study once its nature is better understood.

Complement inhibition by <i>Sarcoptes scabiei</i> protects <i>Streptococcus pyogenes - </i>An <i>in vitro</i> study to unravel the molecular mechanisms behind the poorly understood predilection of <i>S</i>. <i>pyogenes</i> to infect mite-induced skin...

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

by Pearl M. Swe, Lindsay D. Christian, Hieng C. Lu, Kadaba S. Sriprakash, Katja Fischer

Background

On a global scale scabies is one of the most common dermatological conditions, imposing a considerable economic burden on individuals, communities and health systems. There is substantial epidemiological evidence that in tropical regions scabies is often causing pyoderma and subsequently serious illness due to invasion by opportunistic bacteria. The health burden due to complicated scabies causing cellulitis, bacteraemia and sepsis, heart and kidney diseases in resource-poor communities is extreme. Co-infections of group A streptococcus (GAS) and scabies mites is a common phenomenon in the tropics. Both pathogens produce multiple complement inhibitors to overcome the host innate defence. We investigated the relative role of classical (CP), lectin (LP) and alternative pathways (AP) towards a pyodermic GAS isolate 88/30 in the presence of a scabies mite complement inhibitor, SMSB4.

Methodology/Principal findings

Opsonophagocytosis assays in fresh blood showed baseline immunity towards GAS. The role of innate immunity was investigated by deposition of the first complement components of each pathway, specifically C1q, FB and MBL from normal human serum on GAS. C1q deposition was the highest followed by FB deposition while MBL deposition was undetectable, suggesting that CP and AP may be mainly activated by GAS. We confirmed this result using sera depleted of either C1q or FB, and serum deficient in MBL. Recombinant SMSB4 was produced and purified from Pichia pastoris. SMSB4 reduced the baseline immunity against GAS by decreasing the formation of CP- and AP-C3 convertases, subsequently affecting opsonisation and the release of anaphylatoxin.

Conclusions/Significance

Our results indicate that the complement-inhibitory function of SMSB4 promotes the survival of GAS in vitro and inferably in the microenvironment of the mite-infested skin. Understanding the tripartite interactions between host, parasite and microbial pathogens at a molecular level may serve as a basis to develop improved intervention strategies targeting scabies and associated bacterial infections.

Structure of SALO, a leishmaniasis vaccine candidate from the sand fly <i>Lutzomyia longipalpis</i>

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

by Oluwatoyin A. Asojo, Alan Kelleher, Zhuyun Liu, Jeroen Pollet, Elissa M. Hudspeth, Wanderson C. Rezende, Mallory Jo Groen, Christopher A. Seid, Maha Abdeladhim, Shannon Townsend, Waldione de Castro, Antonio Mendes-Sousa, Daniella Castanheira Bartholomeu, Ricardo Toshio Fujiwara, Maria Elena Bottazzi, Peter J. Hotez, Bin Zhan, Fabiano Oliveira, Shaden Kamhawi, Jesus G. Valenzuela

Background

Immunity to the sand fly salivary protein SALO (Salivary Anticomplement of Lutzomyia longipalpis) protected hamsters against Leishmania infantum and L. braziliensis infection and, more recently, a vaccine combination of a genetically modified Leishmania with SALO conferred strong protection against L. donovani infection. Because of the importance of SALO as a potential component of a leishmaniasis vaccine, a plan to produce this recombinant protein for future scale manufacturing as well as knowledge of its structural characteristics are needed to move SALO forward for the clinical path.

Methodology/Principal findings

Recombinant SALO was expressed as a soluble secreted protein using Pichia pastoris, rSALO(P), with yields of 1g/L and >99% purity as assessed by SEC-MALS and SDS-PAGE. Unlike its native counterpart, rSALO(P) does not inhibit the classical pathway of complement; however, antibodies to rSALO(P) inhibit the anti-complement activity of sand fly salivary gland homogenate. Immunization with rSALO(P) produces a delayed type hypersensitivity response in C57BL/6 mice, suggesting rSALO(P) lacked anti-complement activity but retained its immunogenicity. The structure of rSALO(P) was solved by S-SAD at Cu-Kalpha to 1.94 Å and refined to Rfactor 17%. SALO is ~80% helical, has no appreciable structural similarities to any human protein, and has limited structural similarity in the C-terminus to members of insect odorant binding proteins. SALO has three predicted human CD4+ T cell epitopes on surface exposed helices.

Conclusions/Significance

The results indicate that SALO as expressed and purified from P. pastoris is suitable for further scale-up, manufacturing, and testing. SALO has a novel structure, is not similar to any human proteins, is immunogenic in rodents, and does not have the anti-complement activity observed in the native salivary protein which are all important attributes to move this vaccine candidate forward to the clinical path.

Societal impact of dengue outbreaks: Stakeholder perceptions and related implications. A qualitative study in Brazil, 2015

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

by Joël Ladner, Mariana Rodrigues, Ben Davis, Marie-Hélène Besson, Etienne Audureau, Joseph Saba

Background

The growing burden of dengue in many countries worldwide and the difficulty of preventing outbreaks have increased the urgency to identify alternative public health management strategies and effective approaches to control and prevent dengue outbreaks. The objectives of this study were to understand the impact of dengue outbreak on different stakeholders in Brazil, to explore their perceptions of approaches used by governmental authorities to control and prevent dengue outbreaks and to define the challenges and implications of preventing future outbreaks.

Methods

In 2015, a qualitative study was conducted in two urban states in Brazil: São Paulo, which was experiencing an outbreak in 2015, and Rio de Janeiro, which experienced outbreaks in 2011 and 2012. Face-to-face interviews using a semi-structured questionnaire were conducted with nine different categories of stakeholders: health workers (physicians, nurses), hospital administrators, municipal government representatives, community members and leaders, school administrators, business leaders and vector control managers. Interviews were focused on the following areas: impact of the dengue outbreak, perceptions of control measures implemented by governmental authorities during outbreaks and challenges in preventing future dengue outbreaks.

Results

A total of 40 stakeholders were included in the study. Health workers and community members reported longer waiting times at hospitals due to the increased number of patients receiving care for dengue-related symptoms. Health workers and hospital administrators reported that there were no major interruptions in access to care. Overall financial impact of dengue outbreaks on households was greatest for low-income families. Despite prevention and control campaigns implemented between outbreak periods, various stakeholders reported that dengue prevention and control efforts performed by municipal authorities remained insufficient, suggesting that efforts should be reinforced and better coordinated by governmental authorities, particularly during outbreak periods.

Conclusion

The study shows that a dengue outbreak has a multisectorial impact in the medical, societal, economic and political sectors. The study provides useful insights and knowledge in different stakeholder populations that could guide local authorities and government officials in planning, designing and initiating public health programs. Research focused on a better understanding of how communities and political authorities respond to dengue outbreaks is a necessary component for designing and implementing plans to decrease the incidence and impact of dengue outbreaks in Brazil.

MosqTent: An individual portable protective double-chamber mosquito trap for anthropophilic mosquitoes

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

by José Bento Pereira Lima, Allan Kardec Ribeiro Galardo, Leonardo Soares Bastos, Arthur Weiss da Silva Lima, Maria Goreti Rosa-Freitas

Author summary: Here, we describe the development of the MosqTent, an innovative double-chamber mosquito trap in which a human being attracts mosquitoes while is protected from being bitten within the inner chamber of the trap, while mosquitoes are lured to enter an outer chamber where they are trapped. The MosqTent previously collected an average of 3,000 anophelines/man-hour compared to 240 anophelines/man-hour for the human landing catch (HLC), thereby providing high numbers of human host–seeking mosquitoes while protecting the collector from mosquito bites. The MosqTent performed well by collecting a high number of specimens of Anopheles marajoara, a local vector and anthropophilic mosquito species present in high density, but not so well in collecting An. darlingi, an anthropophilic mosquito species considered the main vector in Brazil but is present in low-density conditions in the area. The HLC showed a higher efficiency in collecting An. darlingi in these low-density conditions. The MosqTent is light (<1 kg), portable (comes as a bag with two handles), flexible (can be used with other attractants), adaptable (can be deployed in a variety of environmental settings and weather conditions), and it can be used in the intra-, peri-, and in the extradomicile. Also, the MosqTent collected similar portions of parous females and anthropophilic mosquito species and collects specimens suitable for downstream analysis. Further developments may include testing for other fabric colors, different mesh sizes and dimensions for other hematophagous insects and conditions, additional chemical mosquito attractants, and even the replacement of the human attractant in favor of other attractants. MosqTent modifications that would allow the trap to be applied as a vector control tool with killing action could also be explored.

Visceral leishmaniasis in Somalia: A review of epidemiology and access to care

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

by Temmy Sunyoto, Julien Potet, Marleen Boelaert

Somalia, ravaged by conflict since 1991, has areas endemic for visceral leishmaniasis (VL), a deadly parasitic disease affecting the rural poor, internally displaced, and pastoralists. Very little is known about VL burden in Somalia, where the protracted crisis hampers access to health care. We reviewed evidence about VL epidemiology in Somalia and appraised control options within the context of this fragile state’s health system. VL has been reported in Somalia since 1934 and has persisted ever since in foci in the southern parts of the country. The only feasible VL control option is early diagnosis and treatment, currently mostly provided by nonstate actors. The availability of VL care in Somalia is limited and insufficient at best, both in coverage and quality. Precarious security remains a major obstacle to reach VL patients in the endemic areas, and the true VL burden and its impact remain unknown. Locally adjusted, innovative approaches in VL care provision should be explored, without undermining ongoing health system development in Somalia. Ensuring VL care is accessible is a moral imperative, and the limitations of the current VL diagnostic and treatment tools in Somalia and other endemic settings affected by conflict should be overcome.

Climate variability, animal reservoir and transmission of scrub typhus in Southern China

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 8 March 2017 - 10:00pm

by Yuehong Wei, Yong Huang, Xiaoning Li, Yu Ma, Xia Tao, Xinwei Wu, Zhicong Yang

Objectives

We aimed to evaluate the relationships between climate variability, animal reservoirs and scrub typhus incidence in Southern China.

Methods

We obtained data on scrub typhus cases in Guangzhou every month from 2006 to 2014 from the Chinese communicable disease network. Time-series Poisson regression models and distributed lag nonlinear models (DLNM) were used to evaluate the relationship between risk factors and scrub typhus.

Results

Wavelet analysis found the incidence of scrub typhus cycled with a period of approximately 8–12 months and long-term trends with a period of approximately 24–36 months. The DLNM model shows that relative humidity, rainfall, DTR, MEI and rodent density were associated with the incidence of scrub typhus.

Conclusions

Our findings suggest that the incidence scrub typhus has two main temporal cycles. Determining the reason for this trend and how it can be used for disease control and prevention requires additional research. The transmission of scrub typhus is highly dependent on climate factors and rodent density, both of which should be considered in prevention and control strategies for scrub typhus.

Geospatial distribution of intestinal parasitic infections in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and its association with social determinants

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 8 March 2017 - 10:00pm

by Clarissa Perez Faria, Graziela Maria Zanini, Gisele Silva Dias, Sidnei da Silva, Marcelo Bessa de Freitas, Ricardo Almendra, Paula Santana, Maria do Céu Sousa

Background

Intestinal parasitic infections remain among the most common infectious diseases worldwide. This study aimed to estimate their prevalence and provide a detailed analysis of geographical distribution of intestinal parasites in the metropolitan region of Rio de Janeiro, considering demographic, socio-economic, and epidemiological contextual factors.

Methods/Principal findings

The cross-section survey was conducted among individuals attending the Evandro Chagas National Institute of Infectious Diseases (FIOCRUZ, RJ) during the period from April 2012 to February 2015. Stool samples were collected and processed by sedimentation, flotation, Kato-Katz, Baermann-Moraes and Graham methods, iron haematoxylin staining and safranin staining. Of the 3245 individuals analysed, 569 (17.5%) were infected with at least one parasite. The most common protozoa were Endolimax nana (28.8%), Entamoeba coli (14.8%), Complex Entamoeba histolytica/Entamoeba dispar (13.5%), Blastocystis hominis (12.7%), and Giardia lamblia (8.1%). Strongyloides stercoralis (4.3%), Schistosoma mansoni (3.3%), Ascaris lumbricoides (1.6%), and hookworms (1.5%) were the most frequent helminths. There was a high frequency of contamination by protozoa (87%), and multiple infections were observed in 141 participants (24.8%). A positive association between age (young children) and gender (male) with intestinal parasites was observed. Geospatial distribution of the detected intestinal parasitic infections was not random or homogeneous, but was influenced by socioeconomic conditions (through the material deprivation index (MDI)). Participants classified in the highest levels of deprivation had higher risk of having intestinal parasites.

Conclusions/Significance

This study provides the first epidemiological information on the prevalence and distribution of intestinal parasitic infections in the Rio de Janeiro metropolitan area. Intestinal parasites, especially protozoa, are highly prevalent, indicating that parasitic infections are still a serious public health problem. MDI showed that intestinal parasites were strongly associated with the socioeconomic status of the population, thus making it possible to identify social vulnerable areas.

Pages