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Population diversity and virulence characteristics of <i>Cryptococcus neoformans/C</i>. <i>gattii</i> species complexes isolated during the pre-HIV-pandemic era

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 5 October 2020 - 9:00pm

by Sujiraphong Pharkjaksu, Kyung J. Kwon-Chung, John E. Bennett, Popchai Ngamskulrungroj

Cryptococcosis has become a major global health problem since the advent of the HIV pandemic in 1980s. Although its molecular epidemiology is well-defined, using isolates recovered since then, no pre-HIV-pandemic era epidemiological data exist. We conducted a molecular epidemiological study using 228 isolates of the C. neoformans/C. gattii species complexes isolated before 1975. Genotypes were determined by URA5 restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis and multi-locus sequence typing. Population genetics were defined by nucleotide diversity measurements, neutrality tests, and recombination analysis. Growth at 37°C, melanin synthesis, capsule production, and urease activity as virulence factors were quantified. The pre-HIV-pandemic isolates consisted of 186 (81.5%) clinical, 35 (15.4%) environmental, and 7 (3.1%) veterinary isolates. Of those, 204 (89.5%) belonged to C. neoformans VNI (64.0%), VNII (14.9%) and VNIV (10.5%) while 24 (10.5%) belonged to C. gattii VGIII (7.5%), VGI (2.6%) and VGII (0.5%). Among the 47 sequence types (STs) identified, one of VNII and 8 of VNIV were novel. ST5/VNI (23.0%) in C. neoformans and ST75/VGIII (25.0%) in C. gattii were the most common STs in both species complexes. Among C. neoformans, VNIV had the highest genetic diversity (Hd = 0.926) and the minimum recombination events (Rm = 10), and clinical isolates had less genetic diversity (Hd = 0.866) than environmental (Hd = 0.889) and veterinary isolates (Hd = 0.900). Among C. gattii, VGI had a higher nucleotide diversity (π = 0.01436) than in VGIII (π = 0.00328). The high-virulence genotypes (ST5/VNI and VGIIIa/serotype B) did not produce higher virulence factors levels than other genotypes. Overall, high genetic variability and recombination rates were found for the pre-HIV-pandemic era among strains of the C. neoformans/C. gattii species complexes. Whole genome analysis and in vivo virulence studies would clarify the evolution of the genetic diversity and/or virulence of isolates of the C. neoformans/C. gattii species complexes during the pre- and post-HIV-pandemic eras.

Proteomic analysis of plasma exosomes from Cystic Echinococcosis patients provides <i>in vivo</i> support for distinct immune response profiles in active <i>vs</i> inactive infection and suggests potential biomarkers

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 5 October 2020 - 9:00pm

by Federica Fratini, F. Tamarozzi, G. Macchia, L. Bertuccini, M. Mariconti, C. Birago, A. Iriarte, E. Brunetti, CM. Cretu, O. Akhan, M. Siles-Lucas, A. Díaz, Adriano Casulli

The reference diagnostic method of human abdominal Cystic Echinococcosis (CE) is imaging, particularly ultrasound, supported by serology when imaging is inconclusive. However, current diagnostic tools are neither optimal nor widely available. The availability of a test detecting circulating biomarkers would considerably improve CE diagnosis and cyst staging (active vs inactive), as well as treatments and follow-up of patients. Exosomes are extracellular vesicles involved in intercellular communication, including immune system responses, and are a recognized source of biomarkers. With the aim of identifying potential biomarkers, plasma pools from patients infected by active or inactive CE, as well as from control subjects, were processed to isolate exosomes for proteomic label-free quantitative analysis. Results were statistically processed and subjected to bioinformatics analysis to define distinct features associated with parasite viability. First, a few parasite proteins were identified that were specifically associated with either active or inactive CE, which represent potential biomarkers to be validated in further studies. Second, numerous identified proteins of human origin were common to active and inactive CE, confirming an overlap of several immune response pathways. However, a subset of human proteins specific to either active or inactive CE, and central in the respective protein-protein interaction networks, were identified. These include the Src family kinases Src and Lyn, and the immune-suppressive cytokine TGF-β in active CE, and Cdc42 in inactive CE. The Src and Lyn Kinases were confirmed as potential markers of active CE in totally independent plasma pools. In addition, insights were obtained on immune response profiles: largely consistent with previous evidence, our observations hint to a Th1/Th2/regulatory immune environment in patients with active CE and a Th1/inflammatory environment with a component of the wound healing response in the presence of inactive CE. Of note, our results were obtained for the first time from the analysis of samples obtained in vivo from a well-characterized, large cohort of human subjects.

Pre and postnatal exposure to Chikungunya virus does not affect child neurodevelopmental outcomes at two years of age

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 5 October 2020 - 9:00pm

by Randall Waechter, Erinique Ingraham, Roberta Evans, Nikita Cudjoe, Amy Krystosik, Rashida Isaac, Ashlee Watts, Trevor Noël, Barbara Landon, Michelle Fernandes, Veronica Mapp-Alexander, Priyanka Suresh, George Mitchell, Calum Macpherson, Patrick Gérardin, A. Desiree LaBeaud


The 2005–06 chikungunya virus (CHIKV) outbreak in La Réunion suggested that mothers could transmit CHIKV to their neonates while viremic during the intrapartum period, and more than half of the infected neonates showed impaired neurodevelopment at two years of age. However, data sparsity precluded an overview of the developmental impact of vertical infection within the whole prenatal period.

Objective & methods

The current study assessed two-year old children born to mothers who were infected during the 2014 CHIKV outbreak in Grenada to determine the neurodevelopmental impact of perinatal CHIKV infection throughout gestation. Mother and child infection status were confirmed by serologic testing (IgG and IgM) for CHIKV. Cognitive, fine motor, gross motor, language and behavioral outcomes were assessed at two years of age on the INTERGROWTH-21st Neurodevelopment Assessment (INTER-NDA).


No differences in neurodevelopmental outcomes were observed between two-year-old children born to mothers infected with CHIKV during gestation (n = 149) and those born to mothers not infected with CHIKV (n = 161). No differences were found in INTER-NDA scores between children infected with CHIKV (n = 47) and children not infected with CHIKV (n = 592). Likewise, there were no differences between children infected with CHIKV post-partum (n = 19) versus children not infected with CHIKV (n = 592).


Our findings suggest that children exposed and/or infected with CHIKV outside of the intrapartum period experience no significant neurodevelopmental delay at two years of age, as measured by the INTER-NDA, compared to their unexposed and/or uninfected peers. These results complement those of previous studies which showed a neurodevelopmental risk only for children infected during the intrapartum period, while the mother was highly viremic. These results might be reassuring for women of childbearing age and public health officials in CHIKV-endemic regions.

Trypanosomatid selenophosphate synthetase structure, function and interaction with selenocysteine lyase

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 5 October 2020 - 9:00pm

by Marco Túlio Alves da Silva, Ivan Rosa e Silva, Lívia Maria Faim, Natália Karla Bellini, Murilo Leão Pereira, Ana Laura Lima, Teresa Cristina Leandro de Jesus, Fernanda Cristina Costa, Tatiana Faria Watanabe, Humberto D'Muniz Pereira, Sandro Roberto Valentini, Cleslei Fernando Zanelli, Júlio Cesar Borges, Marcio Vinicius Bertacini Dias, Júlia Pinheiro Chagas da Cunha, Bidyottam Mittra, Norma W. Andrews, Otavio Henrique Thiemann

Eukaryotes from the Excavata superphylum have been used as models to study the evolution of cellular molecular processes. Strikingly, human parasites of the Trypanosomatidae family (T. brucei, T. cruzi and L. major) conserve the complex machinery responsible for selenocysteine biosynthesis and incorporation in selenoproteins (SELENOK/SelK, SELENOT/SelT and SELENOTryp/SelTryp), although these proteins do not seem to be essential for parasite viability under laboratory controlled conditions. Selenophosphate synthetase (SEPHS/SPS) plays an indispensable role in selenium metabolism, being responsible for catalyzing the formation of selenophosphate, the biological selenium donor for selenocysteine synthesis. We solved the crystal structure of the L. major selenophosphate synthetase and confirmed that its dimeric organization is functionally important throughout the domains of life. We also demonstrated its interaction with selenocysteine lyase (SCLY) and showed that it is not present in other stable assemblies involved in the selenocysteine pathway, namely the phosphoseryl-tRNASec kinase (PSTK)-Sec-tRNASec synthase (SEPSECS) complex and the tRNASec-specific elongation factor (eEFSec) complex. Endoplasmic reticulum stress with dithiothreitol (DTT) or tunicamycin upon selenophosphate synthetase ablation in procyclic T. brucei cells led to a growth defect. On the other hand, only DTT presented a negative effect in bloodstream T. brucei expressing selenophosphate synthetase-RNAi. Furthermore, selenoprotein T (SELENOT) was dispensable for both forms of the parasite. Together, our data suggest a role for the T. brucei selenophosphate synthetase in the regulation of the parasite’s ER stress response.

Vitamin A supplementation boosts control of antibiotic-resistant <i>Salmonella</i> infection in malnourished mice

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 2 October 2020 - 9:00pm

by Annica R. Stull-Lane, Kristen L. Lokken-Toyli, Vladimir E. Diaz-Ochoa, Gregory T. Walker, Stephanie A. Cevallos, Andromeda L. N. Winter, Ariel Del Hoyo Muñoz, Guiyan G. Yang, Eric M. Velazquez, Chun-Yi Wu, Renée M. Tsolis

Disseminated disease from non-typhoidal Salmonella enterica strains results in >20% mortality globally. Barriers to effective treatment include emerging multidrug resistance, antibiotic treatment failure, and risk factors such as malnutrition and related micronutrient deficiencies. Individuals in sub-Saharan Africa are disproportionately affected by non-typhoidal S. enterica bloodstream infections. To inform a clinical trial in people, we investigated vitamin A as a treatment in the context of antibiotic treatment failure in a mouse model of vitamin A deficiency. Vitamin A-deficient (VAD) mice exhibited higher systemic bacterial levels with a multidrug-resistant clinical isolate in comparison to mice on a control diet. Sex-specific differences in vitamin A deficiency and disseminated infection with S. enterica serotype Typhimurium (S. Typhimurium) were observed. VAD male mice had decreased weight gain compared to control male mice. Further, infected VAD male mice had significant weight loss and decreased survival during the course of infection. These differences were not apparent in female mice. In a model of disseminated S. Typhimurium infection and antibiotic treatment failure, we assessed the potential of two consecutive doses of vitamin A in alleviating infection in male and female mice on a VAD or control diet. We found that subtherapeutic antibiotic treatment synergized with vitamin A treatment in infected VAD male mice, significantly decreasing systemic bacterial levels, mitigating weight loss and improving survival. These results suggest that assessing vitamin A as a therapy during bacteremia in malnourished patients may lead to improved health outcomes in a subset of patients, especially in the context of antibiotic treatment failure.

Mycolactone induces cell death by SETD1B-dependent degradation of glutathione

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 2 October 2020 - 9:00pm

by Birgit Förster, Caroline Demangel, Thorsten Thye

Mycobacterium ulcerans is a human pathogen that causes a necrotizing skin disease known as Buruli ulcer. Necrosis of infected skin is driven by bacterial production of mycolactone, a diffusible exotoxin targeting the host translocon (Sec61). By blocking Sec61, mycolactone prevents the transport of nascent secretory proteins into the endoplasmic reticulum of host cells. This triggers pro-apoptotic stress responses partially depending on activation of the ATF4 transcription factor. To gain further insight into the molecular pathways mediating the cytotoxic effects of mycolactone we conducted the first haploid genetic screen with the M. ulcerans toxin in KBM-7 cells. This approach allowed us to identify the histone methyltransferase SETD1B as a novel mediator of mycolactone-induced cell death. CRISPR/Cas9-based inactivation of SETD1B rendered cells resistant to lethal doses of the toxin, highlighting the critical importance of this gene’s expression. To understand how SETD1B contributes to mycolactone cytotoxicity, we compared the transcriptomes of wild-type (WT) and SETD1B knockout KBM-7 cells upon exposure to the toxin. While ATF4 effectors were upregulated by mycolactone in both WT and SETD1B knockout cells, mycolactone selectively induced the expression of pro-apoptotic genes in WT cells. Among those genes we identified CHAC1, which codes for a major glutathione (GSH)-degrading enzyme, and whose strong upregulation in mycolactone-treated WT cells correlated with a marked reduction in GSH protein level. Moreover, GSH supplementation conferred cells with substantial protection against the toxic effects of mycolactone. Our data thus identify SETD1B/CHAC1/GSH as a novel, epigenetic mechanism connecting Sec61 blockade with apoptotic cell death. They suggest that GSH-based treatments might have the capacity to limit skin necrosis in Buruli ulcer.

Postnatal symptomatic Zika virus infections in children and adolescents: A systematic review

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 2 October 2020 - 9:00pm

by Anna Ramond, Ludmila Lobkowicz, Nuria Sanchez Clemente, Aisling Vaughan, Marília Dalva Turchi, Annelies Wilder-Smith, Elizabeth B. Brickley


Recent Zika virus (ZIKV) outbreaks in the Pacific and the Americas have highlighted clinically significant congenital neurological abnormalities resulting from ZIKV infection in pregnancy. However, little is known about ZIKV infections in children and adolescents, a group that is potentially vulnerable to ZIKV neurovirulence.


We conducted a systematic review on the clinical presentation and complications of children and adolescents aged 0 to 18 years with a robust diagnosis of ZIKV infection. We searched PubMed, Web of Science, LILACs, and EMBASE until 13 February 2020 and screened reference lists of eligible articles. We assessed the studies’ risk of bias using pre-specified criteria.


Our review collated the evidence from 2543 pediatric ZIKV cases representing 17 countries and territories, identified in 1 cohort study, 9 case series and 22 case reports. The most commonly observed signs and symptoms of ZIKV infection in children and adolescents were mild and included fever, rash, conjunctivitis and arthralgia. The frequency of neurological complications was reported only in the largest case series (identified in 1.0% of cases) and in an additional 14 children identified from hospital-based surveillance studies and case reports. ZIKV-related mortality was primarily accompanied by co-morbidity and was reported in one case series (<0.5% of cases) and three case reports. One death was attributed to complications of Guillain-Barré Syndrome secondary to ZIKV infection.

Conclusions and relevance

Based on the current evidence, the clinical presentation of ZIKV infection in children and adolescents appears to be primarily mild and similar to the presentation in adults, with rare instances of severe complications and/or mortality. However, reliable estimation of the risks of ZIKV complications in these age groups is limited by the scarcity and quality of published data. Additional prospective studies are needed to improve understanding of the relative frequency of the signs, symptoms, and complications associated with pediatric ZIKV infections and to investigate any potential effects of early life ZIKV exposure on neurodevelopment.

The recently introduced <i>Aedes albopictus</i> in Tunisia has the potential to transmit chikungunya, dengue and Zika viruses

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 2 October 2020 - 9:00pm

by Chloé Bohers, Laurence Mousson, Yoann Madec, Marie Vazeille, Adel Rhim, Youmna M’ghirbi, Ali Bouattour, Anna-Bella Failloux

The mosquito Aedes albopictus was detected for the first time in Tunisia in 2018. With its establishment in the capital city of Tunis, local health authorities fear the introduction of new human arboviral diseases, like what happened in Europe with unexpected local cases of chikungunya, dengue and Zika. Even though this mosquito is competent to transmit the arboviruses mentioned above, the transmission level will vary depending on the couple, mosquito population and virus genotype. Here, we assessed the vector competence of Ae. albopictus Tunisia by experimental infections with chikungunya (CHIKV), dengue (DENV), and Zika (ZIKV) viruses. We found that Ae. albopictus Tunisia was highly competent for CHIKV (transmission efficiency of 25% at 21 post-infection) and to a lesser extent, for ZIKV (8.7%) and DENV (8.3%). Virus was detected in mosquito saliva at day 3 (CHIKV), day 10 (ZIKV) and day 21 (DENV) post-infection. These results suggest that the risk of emergence of chikungunya is the highest imposing a more sustained surveillance to limit Ae. albopictus populations in densely populated urban dwellings and at the entry points of travelers returning from CHIKV-endemic regions.

Identifying the outbreak signal of COVID-19 before the response of the traditional disease monitoring system

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 1 October 2020 - 9:00pm

by Yaoyao Dai, Jianming Wang


Early identification of the emergence of an outbreak of a novel infectious disease is critical to generating a timely response. The traditional monitoring system is adequate for detecting the outbreak of common diseases; however, it is insufficient for the discovery of novel infectious diseases. In this study, we used COVID-19 as an example to compare the delay time of different tools for identifying disease outbreaks. The results showed that both the abnormal spike in influenza-like illnesses and the peak of online searches of key terms could provide early signals. We emphasize the importance of testing these findings and discussing the broader potential to use syndromic surveillance, internet searches, and social media data together with traditional disease surveillance systems for early detection and understanding of novel emerging infectious diseases.

High-quality nuclear genome for <i>Sarcoptes scabiei</i>—A critical resource for a neglected parasite

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 1 October 2020 - 9:00pm

by Pasi K. Korhonen, Robin B. Gasser, Guangxu Ma, Tao Wang, Andreas J. Stroehlein, Neil D. Young, Ching-Seng Ang, Deepani D. Fernando, Hieng C. Lu, Sara Taylor, Simone L. Reynolds, Ehtesham Mofiz, Shivashankar H. Najaraj, Harsha Gowda, Anil Madugundu, Santosh Renuse, Deborah Holt, Akhilesh Pandey, Anthony T. Papenfuss, Katja Fischer

The parasitic mite Sarcoptes scabiei is an economically highly significant parasite of the skin of humans and animals worldwide. In humans, this mite causes a neglected tropical disease (NTD), called scabies. This disease results in major morbidity, disability, stigma and poverty globally and is often associated with secondary bacterial infections. Currently, anti-scabies treatments are not sufficiently effective, resistance to them is emerging and no vaccine is available. Here, we report the first high-quality genome and transcriptomic data for S. scabiei. The genome is 56.6 Mb in size, has a a repeat content of 10.6% and codes for 9,174 proteins. We explored key molecules involved in development, reproduction, host-parasite interactions, immunity and disease. The enhanced ‘omic data sets for S. scabiei represent comprehensive and critical resources for genetic, functional genomic, metabolomic, phylogenetic, ecological and/or epidemiological investigations, and will underpin the design and development of new treatments, vaccines and/or diagnostic tests.

Complex relationships between <i>Aedes</i> vectors, socio-economics and dengue transmission—Lessons learned from a case-control study in northeastern Thailand

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 1 October 2020 - 9:00pm

by Benedicte Fustec, Thipruethai Phanitchat, Mohammad Injamul Hoq, Sirinart Aromseree, Chamsai Pientong, Kesorn Thaewnongiew, Tipaya Ekalaksananan, Michael J. Bangs, Vincent Corbel, Neal Alexander, Hans J. Overgaard


Dengue fever is an important public health concern in most tropical and subtropical countries, and its prevention and control rest on vector surveillance and control. However, many aspects of dengue epidemiology remain unclear; in particular, the relationship between Aedes vector abundance and dengue transmission risk. This study aims to identify entomological and immunological indices capable of discriminating between dengue case and control (non-case) houses, based on the assessment of candidate indices, as well as individual and household characteristics, as potential risk factors for acquiring dengue infection.


This prospective, hospital-based, case-control study was conducted in northeastern Thailand between June 2016 and August 2019. Immature and adult stage Aedes were collected at the houses of case and control patients, recruited from district hospitals, and at patients’ neighboring houses. Blood samples were tested by RDT and PCR to detect dengue cases, and were processed with the Nterm-34 kDa salivary peptide to measure the human immune response to Aedes bites. Socioeconomic status, and other individual and household characteristics were analyzed as potential risk factors for dengue.


Study findings showed complex relationships between entomological indices and dengue risk. The presence of DENV-infected Aedes at the patient house was associated with 4.2-fold higher odds of dengue. On the other hand, Aedes presence (irrespective of infectious status) in the patient’s house was negatively associated with dengue. In addition, the human immune response to Aedes bites, was higher in control than in case patients and Aedes adult abundance and immature indices were higher in control than in case houses at the household and the neighboring level. Multivariable analysis showed that children aged 10–14 years old and those aged 15–25 years old had respectively 4.5-fold and 2.9-fold higher odds of dengue infection than those older than 25 years.


DENV infection in female Aedes at the house level was positively associated with dengue infection, while adult Aedes presence in the household was negatively associated. This study highlights the potential benefit of monitoring dengue viruses in Aedes vectors. Our findings suggest that monitoring the presence of DENV-infected Aedes mosquitoes could be a better indicator of dengue risk than the traditional immature entomological indices.

Spatial epidemiology of yellow fever: Identification of determinants of the 2016-2018 epidemics and at-risk areas in Brazil

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 1 October 2020 - 9:00pm

by Benoit de Thoisy, Natalia Ingrid Oliveira Silva, Lívia Sacchetto, Giliane de Souza Trindade, Betânia Paiva Drumond

Optimise control strategies of infectious diseases, identify factors that favour the circulation of pathogens, and propose risk maps are crucial challenges for global health. Ecological niche modelling, once relying on an adequate framework and environmental descriptors can be a helpful tool for such purposes. Despite the existence of a vaccine, yellow fever (YF) is still a public health issue. Brazil faced massive sylvatic YF outbreaks from the end of 2016 up to mid-2018, but cases in human and non-human primates have been recorded until the beginning of 2020. Here we used both human and monkey confirmed YF cases from two epidemic periods (2016/2017 and 2017/2018) to describe the spatial distribution of the cases and explore how biotic and abiotic factors drive their occurrence. The distribution of YF cases largely overlaps for humans and monkeys, and a contraction of the spatial extent associated with a southward displacement is observed during the second period of the epidemics. More contributive variables to the spatiotemporal heterogeneity of cases were related to biotic factors (mammal richness), abiotic factors (temperature and precipitation), and some human-related variables (population density, human footprint, and human vaccination coverage). Both projections of the most favourable conditions showed similar trends with a contraction of the more at-risk areas. Once extrapolated at a large scale, the Amazon basin remains at lower risk, although surrounding forest regions and notably the North-West region, would face a higher risk. Spatial projections of infectious diseases often relied on climatic variables only; here for both models, we instead highlighted the importance of considering local biotic conditions, hosts vulnerability, social and epidemiological factors to run the spatial risk analysis correctly: all YF cases occurring later on, in 2019 and 2020, were observed in the predicted at-risk areas.

Transmission of <i>Bartonella henselae</i> within <i>Rhipicephalus sanguineus</i>: Data on the Potential Vector Role of the Tick

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 1 October 2020 - 9:00pm

by Wittawat Wechtaisong, Sarah I. Bonnet, Yi-Yang Lien, Shih-Te Chuang, Yi-Lun Tsai

Bartonella henselae is a fastidious intraerythrocytic, gram-negative bacteria that causes cat scratch disease in humans. Ixodes ricinus has been confirmed to be a competent vector of B. henselae, and some indirect evidences from clinical cases and epidemiological studies also suggested that some other tick species, including Rhipicephalus sanguineus, may transmit the bacteria. B. henselae has been detected in R. sanguineus but no experimental investigations have been performed to evaluate the vector competency of this tick species regarding B. henselae transmission. To this end, this work aimed to assess the transstadial transmission of B. henselae between larvae and nymphs of R. sanguineus as well as transmission by nymphs infected at the larval stage. Four hundred B. henselae negative larvae were fed with B. henselae-infected blood by using an artificial membrane feeding system. After five days of feeding, B. henselae was detected by PCR in 57.1% (8/14) of engorged larval pools, 66.7% (4/6) of semi-engorged larval pools, and 66.7% (2/3) of larval feces pools. After molting, B. henselae DNA was also detected in 10% (1/10) of nymph pools, but not in tick feces. After a pre-fed step of nymphs infected at the larval stage on non-infected blood meal, B. henselae was detected by PCR in blood sample from the feeder, but no Bartonella colonies could be obtained from culture. These findings showed that B. henselae could be transstadial transmitted from R. sanguineus larvae to nymphs, and also suggest that these nymphs may retransmitted the bacteria through the saliva during their blood meal. This is the first study that validated the artificial membrane feeding system for maintaining R. sanguineus tick colony. It shows the possibility of transstadial transmission of B. henselae from R. sanguineus larvae to nymphs.

Investigating a strategy for quantifying schistosome infection levels in preschool-aged children using prevalence data from school-aged children

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 1 October 2020 - 9:00pm

by Rivka M. Lim, Mark E. J. Woolhouse, Takafira Mduluza, Margo Chase-Topping, Derick N. M. Osakunor, Lester Chitsulo, Francisca Mutapi

In 2012, the World Health Organisation (WHO) set out a roadmap for eliminating schistosomiasis as a public health problem by 2025. To achieve this target, preschool-aged children (PSAC; aged 6 years and below) will need to be included in schistosomiasis treatment programmes. As the global community discusses the tools and approaches for treating this group, one of the main questions that remains unanswered is how to quantify infection in this age group to inform treatment strategies. The aim of this study was thus to determine whether a relationship exists between levels of schistosome infection in PSAC and school-aged children (SAC), that can be used to determine unknown schistosome infection prevalence levels in PSAC. A systematic search of publications reporting schistosomiasis prevalence in African PSAC and SAC was conducted. The search strategy was formulated using the PRISMA guidelines and SPIDER search strategy tool. The published data was subjected to regression analysis to determine if a relationship exists between infection levels in PSAC and SAC. The interaction between SAC and community treatment history was also entered in the regression model to determine if treatment history significantly affected the relationship between PSAC and SAC prevalence. The results showed that a significant positive relationship exists between infection prevalence levels in PSAC and SAC for Schistosoma mansoni (r = 0.812, df (88, 1), p = <0.0001) and S. haematobium (r = 0.786, df (53, 1), p = <0.0001). The relationship was still significant after allowing for diagnostic method, treatment history, and the African sub-region where the study was conducted (S. mansoni: F = 25.63, df (88, 9), p = <0.0001; S. haematobium: F = 10.20, df (53, 10), p = <0.0001). Using the regression equation for PSAC and SAC prevalence, over 90% of the PSAC prevalence studies were placed in the correct WHO classifications category based on the SAC levels, regardless of treatment history. The study indicated that schistosome prevalence in SAC can be extended as a proxy for infection levels in PSAC, extending on its current use in the adult population. SAC prevalence data could identify where there is a need to accelerate and facilitate the treatment of PSAC for schistosomiasis in Africa.

A new patient registry for Chagas disease

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 1 October 2020 - 9:00pm

by Peter Hotez, Maria Elena Bottazzi, Nathalie Strub-Wourgaft, Sergio Sosa-Estani, Faustino Torrico, Leire Pajín, Marcelo Abril, Javier Sancho

Validation of the Micronutrient and Environmental Enteric Dysfunction Assessment Tool and evaluation of biomarker risk factors for growth faltering and vaccine failure in young Malian children

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 30 September 2020 - 9:00pm

by Michael B. Arndt, Jason L. Cantera, Laina D. Mercer, Michael Kalnoky, Heather N. White, Gregory Bizilj, David S. Boyle, Eugenio L. de Hostos, Robert K. M. Choy

Environmental enteric dysfunction (EED) is an intestinal disorder common among children in low-resource settings and is associated with increased risk of growth stunting, cognitive deficits, and reduced oral vaccine immunogenicity. The Micronutrient and EED Assessment Tool (MEEDAT) is a multiplexed immunoassay that measures biomarkers previously associated with child growth faltering and/or oral vaccine immunogenicity: intestinal fatty acid–binding protein (I-FABP), soluble CD14 (sCD14), insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), and fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21). MEEDAT also measures systemic inflammation (α1-acid glycoprotein, C-reactive protein), ferritin, soluble transferrin receptor, retinol binding protein 4, thyroglobulin, and Plasmodium falciparum antigenemia (histidine-rich protein 2). The performance of MEEDAT was compared with commercially available enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) using 300 specimens from Malian infant clinical trial participants. Regression methods were used to test if MEEDAT biomarkers were associated with seroconversion to meningococcal A conjugate vaccine (MenAV), yellow fever vaccine (YFV), and pentavalent rotavirus vaccine (PRV) after 28 days, or with growth faltering over 12 weeks. The Pearson correlations between the MEEDAT and ELISA results were 0.97, 0.86, 0.80, and 0.97 for serum I-FABP, sCD14, IGF-1, and FGF21, respectively. There were significant associations between I-FABP concentration and the probability of PRV IgG seroconversion and between IGF-1 concentration and the probability of YFV seroconversion. In multivariable models neither association remained significant, however there was a significant negative association between AGP concentration and YFV seroconversion. GLP-2 and sCD14 concentrations were significantly negatively associated with 12-week change in weight-for-age z-score and weight-for-height z-score in multivariable models. MEEDAT performed well in comparison to commercially-available ELISAs for the measurement of four analytes for EED and growth hormone resistance. Adoption of MEEDAT in low-resource settings could help accelerate the identification of interventions that prevent or treat child stunting and interventions that boost the immunogenicity of child vaccinations.

Mitogenome diversity of <i>Aedes</i> (<i>Stegomyia</i>) <i>albopictus</i>: Detection of multiple introduction events in Portugal

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 30 September 2020 - 9:00pm

by Líbia Zé-Zé, Vítor Borges, Hugo Costa Osório, Jorge Machado, João Paulo Gomes, Maria João Alves

Aedes albopictus, along with Ae. aegypti, are key arbovirus vectors that have been expanding their geographic range over the last decades. In 2017, Ae. albopictus was detected for the first time at two distinct locations in Portugal. In order to understand how the Ae. albopictus populations recently introduced in Portugal are genetically related and which is their likely route of invasion, we performed an integrative cytochrome C oxidase I gene (COI)- and mitogenome-based phylogeographic analysis of mosquitoes samples collected in Portugal in 2017 and 2018 in the context of the global Ae. albopictus diversity. COI-based analysis (31 partial sequences obtained from 83 mosquitoes) revealed five haplotypes (1 to 5), with haplotype 1 (which is widely distributed in temperate areas worldwide) being detected in both locations. Haplotypes 2 and 3 were exclusively found in Southern region (Algarve), while haplotype 4 and 5 were only detected in the North of Portugal (Penafiel, Oporto region). Subsequent high discriminatory analyses based on Ae. albopictus mitogenome (17 novel sequences) not only confirmed a high degree of genetic variability within and between populations at both geographic locations (compatible with the Ae. albopictus mosquito populations circulating in Europe), but also revealed two mitogenome mutational signatures not previously reported at worldwide level. While our results generally sustain the occurrence of multiple introduction events, fine mitogenome sequence inspection further indicates a possible Ae. albopictus migration within the country, from the Northern introduction locality to the Southern region. In summary, the observed scenario of high Ae. albopictus genetic diversity in Portugal, together with the detection of mosquitoes in successive years since 2017 in Algarve and Penafiel, points that both Ae. albopictus populations seem to be already locally establish, as its presence has been reported for three consecutive years, raising the public health awareness for future mosquito-borne diseases outbreaks.