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Phylogenetic analysis of simian <i>Plasmodium</i> spp. infecting <i>Anopheles balabacensis</i> Baisas in Sabah, Malaysia

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 2 October 2017 - 9:00pm

by Tock H. Chua, Benny O. Manin, Sylvia Daim, Indra Vythilingam, Chris Drakeley

Background

Anopheles balabacensis of the Leucospyrus group has been confirmed as the primary knowlesi malaria vector in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo for some time now. Presently, knowlesi malaria is the only zoonotic simian malaria in Malaysia with a high prevalence recorded in the states of Sabah and Sarawak.

Methodology/Principal findings

Anopheles spp. were sampled using human landing catch (HLC) method at Paradason village in Kudat district of Sabah. The collected Anopheles were identified morphologically and then subjected to total DNA extraction and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to detect Plasmodium parasites in the mosquitoes. Identification of Plasmodium spp. was confirmed by sequencing the SSU rRNA gene with species specific primers. MEGA4 software was then used to analyse the SSU rRNA sequences and bulid the phylogenetic tree for inferring the relationship between simian malaria parasites in Sabah.PCR results showed that only 1.61% (23/1,425) of the screened An. balabacensis were infected with one or two of the five simian Plasmodispp. found in Sabah, vi Plasmodium coatneyi, P. inui, P. fieldi, P. cynomolgi and P. knowlesi. Sequence analysis of SSU rRNA of Plasmodium isolates showed high percentage of identity within the same Plasmodium sp. group. The phylogenetic tree based on the consensus sequences of P. knowlesi showed 99.7%–100.0% nucleotide identity among the isolates from An. balabacensis, human patients and a long-tailed macaque from the same locality.

Conclusions/Significance

This is the first study showing high molecular identity between the P. knowlesi isolates from An. balabacensis, human patients and a long-tailed macaque in Sabah. The other common simian Plasmodium spp. found in long-tailed macaques and also detected in An. balabacensis were P. coatneyi, P. inui, P. fieldi and P. cynomolgi. The high percentage identity of nucleotide sequences between the P. knowlesi isolates from the long-tailed macaque, An. balabacensis and human patients suggests a close genetic relationship between the parasites from these hosts.

Perceptions about interventions to control schistosomiasis among the Lake Victoria island communities of Koome, Uganda

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 2 October 2017 - 9:00pm

by Richard E. Sanya, Edward Tumwesige, Alison M. Elliott, Janet Seeley

Background

Praziquantel-based mass treatment is the main approach to controlling schistosomiasis mansoni in endemic areas. Interventions such as provision and use of safe water, minimising contact with infested water, disposal of stool in latrines and snail control provide key avenues to break the transmission cycle and can sustain the benefits of mass treatment in the long term. Efforts are also being made to develop a schistosomiasis vaccine which, if effective, might reduce the incidence of re-infection after treatment. However, any interventions deployed need to be acceptable to, and sustainable by, the target communities.

Methods

In this qualitative study, we investigated the perceptions of six Lake Victoria island communities of Koome, Uganda, about interventions to control Schistosoma mansoni infection and their willingness to participate in Schistosoma vaccine trials. Thirty-two in-depth interviews, 12 key informant interviews and 10 focus group discussions were conducted. Data were analysed using a thematic content approach.

Findings

Intestinal schistosomiasis was not regarded as a serious health problem because a mass treatment programme is in place. However, the communities lack safe water sources and latrines. Mass treatment with praziquantel, safe water supplies and use of toilets were deemed the most acceptable interventions by the participants. The communities are willing to participate in Schistosoma vaccine trials.

Conclusion/Significance

Knowledge of a community’s perception about interventions to control schistosomiasis can be valuable to policy makers and programme implementers intending to set up interventions co-managed by the community members. In this study, the views of the Lake Victoria island communities of Koome are presented. This study also provides data to guide further work on alternative interventions such as Schistosoma vaccine trials in these communities.

A longitudinal study of the infant nasopharyngeal microbiota: The effects of age, illness and antibiotic use in a cohort of South East Asian children

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 2 October 2017 - 9:00pm

by Susannah J. Salter, Claudia Turner, Wanitda Watthanaworawit, Marcus C. de Goffau, Josef Wagner, Julian Parkhill, Stephen D. Bentley, David Goldblatt, Francois Nosten, Paul Turner

A longitudinal study was undertaken in infants living in the Maela refugee camp on the Thailand-Myanmar border between 2007 and 2010. Nasopharyngeal swabs were collected monthly, from birth to 24 months of age, with additional swabs taken if the infant was diagnosed with pneumonia according to WHO clinical criteria. At the time of collection, swabs were cultured for Streptococcus pneumoniae and multiple serotype carriage was assessed. The bacterial 16S rRNA gene profiles of 544 swabs from 21 infants were analysed to see how the microbiota changes with age, respiratory infection, antibiotic consumption and pneumococcal acquisition. The nasopharyngeal microbiota is a somewhat homogenous community compared to that of other body sites. In this cohort it is dominated by five taxa: Moraxella, Streptococcus, Haemophilus, Corynebacterium and an uncharacterized Flavobacteriaceae taxon of 93% nucleotide similarity to Ornithobacterium. Infant age correlates with certain changes in the microbiota across the cohort: Staphylococcus and Corynebacterium are associated with the first few months of life while Moraxella and the uncharacterised Flavobacteriaceae increase in proportional abundance with age. Respiratory illness and antibiotic use often coincide with an unpredictable perturbation of the microbiota that differs from infant to infant and in different illness episodes. The previously described interaction between Dolosigranulum and Streptococcus was observed in these data. Monthly sampling demonstrates that the nasopharyngeal microbiota is in flux throughout the first two years of life, and that in this refugee camp population the pool of potential bacterial colonisers may be limited.

Correlates of multi-drug non-susceptibility in enteric bacteria isolated from Kenyan children with acute diarrhea

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 2 October 2017 - 9:00pm

by Rebecca L. Brander, Judd L. Walson, Grace C. John-Stewart, Jacqueline M. Naulikha, Janet Ndonye, Nancy Kipkemo, Doreen Rwigi, Benson O. Singa, Patricia B. Pavlinac

Background

Reduced antimicrobial susceptibility threatens treatment efficacy in sub-Saharan Africa, where data on the burden and correlates of antibiotic resistance among enteric pathogens are limited.

Methods

Fecal samples from children aged 6 mos—15 yrs presenting with acute diarrhea in western Kenya were cultured for bacterial pathogens. HIV-uninfected children with identified Shigella or Salmonella species or pathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC, ETEC, EAEC or EIEC) were included in this cross-sectional sub-study. Non-susceptibility to ampicillin, ceftriaxone, ciprofloxacin, cotrimoxazole, and tetracycline was determined using MicroScan Walkaway40 Plus. Multivariable log-binomial regression was used to identify correlates of multi-drug non-susceptibility (MDNS, non-susceptibility to ≥ 3 of these antibiotics).

Results

Of 292 included children, median age was 22.5 mos. MDNS was identified in 62.5% of 318 isolates. Non-susceptibility to cotrimoxazole (92.8%), ampicillin (81.3%), and tetracycline (75.0%) was common. Young age (6–24 mos vs. 24–59 mos adjusted prevalence ratio [aPR] = 1.519 [95% confidence interval: 1.19, 1.91]), maternal HIV (aPR = 1.29 [1.01, 1.66]); and acute malnutrition (aPR = 1.28 [1.06, 1.55]) were associated with higher prevalence of MDNS, as were open defecation (aPR = 2.25 [1.13, 4.50]), household crowding (aPR = 1.29 [1.08, 1.53]) and infrequent caregiver hand-washing (aPR = 1.50 [1.15, 1.95]).

Conclusions

Young age, HIV exposure, acute malnutrition and poor sanitation may increase risk of antibiotic non-susceptible enteric pathogen infections among children in Kenya.

Distribution of triatomine species in domestic and peridomestic environments in central coastal Ecuador

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 2 October 2017 - 9:00pm

by Mario J. Grijalva, Anita G. Villacís, Ana L. Moncayo, Sofia Ocaña-Mayorga, Cesar A. Yumiseva, Esteban G. Baus

Background

Although the central coast of the Ecuador is considered endemic for Chagas disease, few studies have focused on determining the risk of transmission in this region. In this study we describe the triatomine household infestation in Manabí province (Central Coast region), determine the rate of Trypanosoma cruzi infection and study the risk factors associated with infestation by Rhodnius ecuadoriensis.

Methodology/Principal findings

An entomological survey found three triatomine species (Rhodnius ecuadoriensis, Panstrongylus rufotuberculatus and P. howardi) infesting domiciles in 47.4% of the 78 communities visited (total infestation rate of 4.5%). Four percent of domiciles were infested, and nymphs were observed in 77% of those domiciles. The three species were found in altitudes below 500 masl and in all ecological zones except cloud forest. Within the domicile, we found the three species mostly in bedrooms. Rhodnius ecuadoriensis and P. rufotuberculatus were abundant in bird nests, including chicken coops and P. howardi associated with rats in piles of bricks, in the peridomicile. Triatomine infestation was characterized by high rates of colonization, especially in peridomicile. Flagelates infection was detected in only 12% of the samples by microscopy and Trypanosoma cruzi infection in 42% of the examined triatomines by PCR (n = 372). The most important risk factors for house infestation by R. ecuadoriensis were ecological zone (w = 0.99) and presence of chickens (w = 0.96). Determinants of secondary importance were reporting no insecticide applications over the last twelve months (w = 0.86) and dirt floor (w = 0.70). On the other hand, wood as wall material was a protective factor (w = 0.85).

Conclusion/Significance

According the results, approximately 571,000 people would be at high risk for T. cruzi infection in Manabí province. A multidisciplinary approximation and the adhesion to a periodic integrated vector management (IVM) program are essential to guarantee sustainable preventive and control strategies for Chagas disease in this region.

A clinical severity scoring system for visceral leishmaniasis in immunocompetent patients in South Sudan

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 2 October 2017 - 9:00pm

by Suzette S. Kämink, Simon M. Collin, Tim Harrison, Francis Gatluak, Abdul Wasay Mullahzada, Koert Ritmeijer

Background

South Sudan is one of the most endemic countries for visceral leishmaniasis (VL), and is frequently affected by large epidemics. In resource-limited settings, clinicians require a simple clinical tool to identify VL patients who are at increased risk of dying, and who need specialised treatment with liposomal amphotericin B and other supportive care. The aim of this study was to develop and validate a clinical severity scoring system based on risk factors for death in VL patients in South Sudan.

Methods

A retrospective analysis was conducted of data from a cohort of 6,633 VL patients who were treated in the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospital in Lankien between July 2013 and June 2015. Risk factors for death during treatment were identified using multivariable logistic regression models, and the regression coefficients were used to develop a severity scoring system. Sensitivity and specificity of score cut-offs were assessed by receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis.

Results

In multivariable models, risk factors for death in adult VL patients were: anaemia (odds ratio (OR) 4.46 (95% CI 1.58–12.6) for Hb <6g/dL compared with ≥9g/dL), nutritional status (OR 4.84 (2.09–11.2) for BMI <13 kg/m2 compared with ≥16 kg/m2), weakness (OR 4.20 (1.82–9.73) for collapsed compared with normal weakness), jaundice (OR 3.41 (1.17–9.95)), and oedema/ascites (OR 4.86 (1.67–14.1)). For children and adolescents the risk factors were: age (OR 10.7 (6.3–18.3) for age <2 years compared with 6–18 years), anaemia (OR 7.76 (4.15–14.5) for Hb <6g/dL compared with ≥9g/dL), weakness (OR 3.13 (22.8–105.2) for collapsed compared with normal weakness), and jaundice (OR 12.8 (4.06–40.2)). Severity scoring predictive ability was 74.4% in adults and 83.4% in children and adolescents.

Conclusion

Our evidenced-based severity scoring system demonstrated sufficient predictive ability to be operationalised as a clinical tool for rational allocation of treatment to VL patients at MSF centres in South Sudan.

High-resolution profiling of linear B-cell epitopes from mucin-associated surface proteins (MASPs) of <i>Trypanosoma cruzi</i> during human infections

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 29 September 2017 - 9:00pm

by Ignacio M. Durante, Pablo E. La Spina, Santiago J. Carmona, Fernán Agüero, Carlos A. Buscaglia

Background

The Trypanosoma cruzi genome bears a huge family of genes and pseudogenes coding for Mucin-Associated Surface Proteins (MASPs). MASP molecules display a ‘mosaic’ structure, with highly conserved flanking regions and a strikingly variable central and mature domain made up of different combinations of a large repertoire of short sequence motifs. MASP molecules are highly expressed in mammal-dwelling stages of T. cruzi and may be involved in parasite-host interactions and/or in diverting the immune response.

Methods/Principle findings

High-density microarrays composed of fully overlapped 15mer peptides spanning the entire sequences of 232 non-redundant MASPs (~25% of the total MASP content) were screened with chronic Chagasic sera. This strategy led to the identification of 86 antigenic motifs, each one likely representing a single linear B-cell epitope, which were mapped to 69 different MASPs. These motifs could be further grouped into 31 clusters of structurally- and likely antigenically-related sequences, and fully characterized. In contrast to previous reports, we show that MASP antigenic motifs are restricted to the central and mature region of MASP polypeptides, consistent with their intracellular processing. The antigenicity of these motifs displayed significant positive correlation with their genome dosage and their relative position within the MASP polypeptide. In addition, we verified the biased genetic co-occurrence of certain antigenic motifs within MASP polypeptides, compatible with proposed intra-family recombination events underlying the evolution of their coding genes. Sequences spanning 7 MASP antigenic motifs were further evaluated using distinct synthesis/display approaches and a large panel of serum samples. Overall, the serological recognition of MASP antigenic motifs exhibited a remarkable non normal distribution among the T. cruzi seropositive population, thus reducing their applicability in conventional serodiagnosis. As previously observed in in vitro and animal infection models, immune signatures supported the concurrent expression of several MASPs during human infection.

Conclusions/Significance

In spite of their conspicuous expression and potential roles in parasite biology, this study constitutes the first unbiased, high-resolution profiling of linear B-cell epitopes from T. cruzi MASPs during human infection.

Chikungunya virus dissemination from the midgut of <i>Aedes aegypti</i> is associated with temporal basal lamina degradation during bloodmeal digestion

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 29 September 2017 - 9:00pm

by Shengzhang Dong, Velmurugan Balaraman, Asher M. Kantor, Jingyi Lin, DeAna G. Grant, Nicole L. Held, Alexander W. E. Franz

In the mosquito, the midgut epithelium is the initial tissue to become infected with an arthropod-borne virus (arbovirus) that has been acquired from a vertebrate host along with a viremic bloodmeal. Following its replication in midgut epithelial cells, the virus needs to exit the midgut and infect secondary tissues including the salivary glands before it can be transmitted to another vertebrate host. The viral exit mechanism from the midgut, the midgut escape barrier (MEB), is poorly understood although it is an important determinant of mosquito vector competence for arboviruses. Using chikungunya virus (CHIKV) as a model in Aedes aegypti, we demonstrate that the basal lamina (BL) of the extracellular matrix (ECM) surrounding the midgut constitutes a potential barrier for the virus. The BL, predominantly consisting of collagen IV and laminin, becomes permissive during bloodmeal digestion in the midgut lumen. Bloodmeal digestion, BL permissiveness, and CHIKV dissemination are coincident with increased collagenase activity, diminished collagen IV abundance, and BL shredding in the midgut between 24–32 h post-bloodmeal. This indicates that there may be a window-of-opportunity during which the MEB in Ae. aegypti becomes permissive for CHIKV. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are the principal extracellular endopeptidases responsible for the degradation/remodeling of the ECM including the BL. We focused on Ae. aegypti (Ae)MMP1, which is expressed in midgut epithelial cells, is inducible upon bloodfeeding, and shows collagenase (gelatinase) activity. However, attempts to inhibit AeMMP activity in general or specifically that of AeMMP1 did not seem to affect its function nor produce an altered midgut escape phenotype. As an alternative, we silenced and overexpressed the Ae. aegypti tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases (AeTIMP) in the mosquito midgut. AeTIMP was highly upregulated in the midgut during bloodmeal digestion and was able to inhibit MMP activity in vitro. Bloodmeal-inducible, midgut-specific overexpression of AeTIMP or its expression via a recombinant CHIKV significantly increased midgut dissemination rates of the virus. Possibly, AeTIMP overexpression affected BL degradation and/or restoration thereby increasing the midgut dissemination efficiency of the virus.

Genomic analyses of African <i>Trypanozoon</i> strains to assess evolutionary relationships and identify markers for strain identification

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 29 September 2017 - 9:00pm

by Joshua Brian Richardson, Kuang-Yao Lee, Paul Mireji, John Enyaru, Mark Sistrom, Serap Aksoy, Hongyu Zhao, Adalgisa Caccone

African trypanosomes of the sub-genus Trypanozoon) are eukaryotic parasitesthat cause disease in either humans or livestock. The development of genomic resources can be of great use to those interested in studying and controlling the spread of these trypanosomes. Here we present a large comparative analysis of Trypanozoon whole genomes, 83 in total, including human and animal infective African trypanosomes: 21 T. brucei brucei, 22 T. b. gambiense, 35 T. b. rhodesiense and 4 T. evansi strains, of which 21 were from Uganda. We constructed a maximum likelihood phylogeny based on 162,210 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs.) The three Trypanosoma brucei sub-species and Trypanosoma evansi are not monophyletic, confirming earlier studies that indicated high similarity among Trypanosoma “sub-species”. We also used discriminant analysis of principal components (DAPC) on the same set of SNPs, identifying seven genetic clusters. These clusters do not correspond well with existing taxonomic classifications, in agreement with the phylogenetic analysis. Geographic origin is reflected in both the phylogeny and clustering analysis. Finally, we used sparse linear discriminant analysis to rank SNPs by their informativeness in differentiating the strains in our data set. As few as 84 SNPs can completely distinguish the strains used in our study, and discriminant analysis was still able to detect genetic structure using as few as 10 SNPs. Our results reinforce earlier results of high genetic similarity between the African Trypanozoon. Despite this, a small subset of SNPs can be used to identify genetic markers that can be used for strain identification or other epidemiological investigations.

Use of rhodamine B to mark the body and seminal fluid of male <i>Aedes aegypti</i> for mark-release-recapture experiments and estimating efficacy of sterile male releases

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 28 September 2017 - 9:00pm

by Brian J. Johnson, Sara N. Mitchell, Christopher J. Paton, Jessica Stevenson, Kyran M. Staunton, Nigel Snoad, Nigel Beebe, Bradley White, Scott A. Ritchie

Background

Recent interest in male-based sterile insect technique (SIT) and incompatible insect technique (IIT) to control Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus populations has revealed the need for an economical, rapid diagnostic tool for determining dispersion and mating success of sterilized males in the wild. Previous reports from other insects indicated rhodamine B, a thiol-reactive fluorescent dye, administered via sugar-feeding can be used to stain the body tissue and seminal fluid of insects. Here, we report on the adaptation of this technique for male Ae. aegypti to allow for rapid assessment of competitiveness (mating success) during field releases.

Methodology/Principle findings

Marking was achieved by feeding males on 0.1, 0.2, 0.4 or 0.8% rhodamine B (w/v) in 50% honey solutions during free flight. All concentrations produced >95% transfer to females and successful body marking after 4 days of feeding, with 0.4 and 0.8% solutions producing the longest-lasting body marking. Importantly, rhodamine B marking had no effect on male mating competitiveness and proof-of-principle field releases demonstrated successful transfer of marked seminal fluid to females under field conditions and recapture of marked males.

Conclusions/Significance

These results reveal rhodamine B to be a potentially useful evaluation method for male-based SIT/IIT control strategies as well as a viable body marking technique for male-based mark-release-recapture experiments without the negative side-effects of traditional marking methods. As a standalone method for use in mating competitiveness assays, rhodamine B marking is less expensive than PCR (e.g. paternity analysis) and stable isotope semen labelling methods and less time-consuming than female fertility assays used to assess competitiveness of sterilised males.

The diversity of the Chagas parasite, <i>Trypanosoma cruzi</i>, infecting the main Central American vector, <i>Triatoma dimidiata</i>, from Mexico to Colombia

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 28 September 2017 - 9:00pm

by Patricia L. Dorn, Annie G. McClure, Meghan D. Gallaspy, Etienne Waleckx, Adrienne S. Woods, Maria Carlota Monroy, Lori Stevens

Little is known about the strains of Trypanosoma cruzi circulating in Central America and specifically in the most important vector in this region, Triatoma dimidiata. Approximately six million people are infected with T. cruzi, the causative agent of Chagas disease, which has the greatest negative economic impact and is responsible for ~12,000 deaths annually in Latin America. By international consensus, strains of T. cruzi are divided into six monophyletic clades called discrete typing units (DTUs TcI-VI) and a seventh DTU first identified in bats called TcBat. TcI shows the greatest geographic range and diversity. Identifying strains present and diversity within these strains is important as different strains and their genotypes may cause different pathologies and may circulate in different localities and transmission cycles, thus impacting control efforts, treatment and vaccine development. To determine parasite strains present in T. dimidiata across its geographic range from Mexico to Colombia, we isolated abdominal DNA from T. dimidiata and determined which specimens were infected with T. cruzi by PCR. Strains from infected insects were determined by comparing the sequence of the 18S rDNA and the spliced-leader intergenic region to typed strains in GenBank. Two DTUs were found: 94% of infected T. dimidiata contained TcI and 6% contained TcIV. TcI exhibited high genetic diversity. Geographic structure of TcI haplotypes was evident by Principal Component and Median-Joining Network analyses as well as a significant result in the Mantel test, indicating isolation by distance. There was little evidence of association with TcI haplotypes and host/vector or ecotope. This study provides new information about the strains circulating in the most important Chagas vector in Central America and reveals considerable variability within TcI as well as geographic structuring at this large geographic scale. The lack of association with particular vectors/hosts or ecotopes suggests the parasites are moving among vectors/hosts and ecotopes therefore a comprehensive approach, such as the Ecohealth approach that makes houses refractory to the vectors will be needed to successfully halt transmission of Chagas disease.

Global surgery and the neglected tropical diseases

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 28 September 2017 - 9:00pm

by Vivek Karun, Peter J. Hotez, Todd K. Rosengart

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