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Human leptospirosis in Seychelles: A prospective study confirms the heavy burden of the disease but suggests that rats are not the main reservoir

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

by Leon Biscornet, Koussay Dellagi, Frédéric Pagès, Jastin Bibi, Jeanine de Comarmond, Julien Mélade, Graham Govinden, Maria Tirant, Yann Gomard, Vanina Guernier, Erwan Lagadec, Jimmy Mélanie, Gérard Rocamora, Gildas Le Minter, Julien Jaubert, Patrick Mavingui, Pablo Tortosa

Background

Leptospirosis is a bacterial zoonosis caused by pathogenic Leptospira for which rats are considered as the main reservoir. Disease incidence is higher in tropical countries, especially in insular ecosystems. Our objectives were to determine the current burden of leptospirosis in Seychelles, a country ranking first worldwide according to historical data, to establish epidemiological links between animal reservoirs and human disease, and to identify drivers of transmission.

Methods

A total of 223 patients with acute febrile symptoms of unknown origin were enrolled in a 12-months prospective study and tested for leptospirosis through real-time PCR, IgM ELISA and MAT. In addition, 739 rats trapped throughout the main island were investigated for Leptospira renal carriage. All molecularly confirmed positive samples were further genotyped.

Results

A total of 51 patients fulfilled the biological criteria of acute leptospirosis, corresponding to an annual incidence of 54.6 (95% CI 40.7–71.8) per 100,000 inhabitants. Leptospira carriage in Rattus spp. was overall low (7.7%) but dramatically higher in Rattus norvegicus (52.9%) than in Rattus rattus (4.4%). Leptospira interrogans was the only detected species in both humans and rats, and was represented by three distinct Sequence Types (STs). Two were novel STs identified in two thirds of acute human cases while noteworthily absent from rats.

Conclusions

This study shows that human leptospirosis still represents a heavy disease burden in Seychelles. Genotype data suggests that rats are actually not the main reservoir for human disease. We highlight a rather limited efficacy of preventive measures so far implemented in Seychelles. This could result from ineffective control measures of excreting animal populations, possibly due to a misidentification of the main contaminating reservoir(s). Altogether, presented data stimulate the exploration of alternative reservoir animal hosts.

Pre-treatment with <i>Lactobacillus plantarum</i> prevents severe pathogenesis in mice infected with <i>Leptospira interrogans</i> and may be associated with recruitment of myeloid cells

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 25 August 2017 - 9:00pm

by Hari-Hara Potula, Luciana Richer, Catherine Werts, Maria Gomes-Solecki

Recent estimates on global morbidity and mortality caused by Leptospirosis point to one million cases and almost 60,000 deaths a year worldwide, especially in resource poor countries. We analyzed how a commensal probiotic immunomodulator, Lactobacillus plantarum, affects Leptospira interrogans pathogenesis in a murine model of sub-lethal leptospirosis. We found that repeated oral pre-treatment of mice with live L. plantarum restored body weight to normal levels in mice infected with L. interrogans. Pre-treatment did not prevent L. interrogans access to the kidney but it affected the inflammatory response and it reduced histopathological signs of disease. Analysis of the immune cell profiles in lymphoid tissues of mice pre-treated with L. plantarum showed increased numbers of B cells as well as naïve and memory CD4+ helper T cell populations in uninfected mice that shifted towards increased numbers of effector CD4+ helper T in infected mice. CD8+ cytotoxic T cell profiles in pre-treated uninfected and infected mice mirrored the switch observed for CD4+ except that CD8+ memory T cells were not affected. In addition, pre-treatment led to increased populations of monocytes in lymphoid tissues of uninfected mice and to increased populations of macrophages in the same tissues of infected mice. Immunohistochemistry of kidney sections of pre-treated infected mice showed an enrichment of neutrophils and macrophages and a reduction of total leucocytes and T cells. Our results suggest that complex myeloid and T cell responses orchestrate the deployment of monocytes and other cells from lymphoid tissue and the recruitment of neutrophils and macrophages to the kidney, and that, the presence of these cells in the target organ may be associated with reductions in pathogenesis observed in infected mice treated with L. plantarum.

Treatment of <i>Schistosoma mansoni</i> with miltefosine <i>in vitro</i> enhances serological recognition of defined worm surface antigens

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 25 August 2017 - 9:00pm

by Marwa H. El-Faham, Maha M. Eissa, Joseph E. Igetei, Eglal I. Amer, Susan Liddell, Mervat Z. El-Azzouni, Michael J. Doenhoff

Background

Miltefosine, an anti-cancer drug that has been successfully repositioned for treatment of Leishmania infections, has recently also shown promising effects against Schistosoma spp targeting all life cycle stages of the parasite. The current study examined the effect of treating Schistosoma mansoni adult worms with miltefosine on exposure of worm surface antigens in vitro.

Methodology/Principal findings

In an indirect immunofluorescence assay, rabbit anti-S.mansoni adult worm homogenate and anti-S. mansoni infection antisera gave strong immunofluorescence of the S. mansoni adult worm surface after treatment with miltefosine, the latter antiserum having previously been shown to synergistically enhance the schistosomicidal activity of praziquantel. Rabbit antibodies that recognised surface antigens exposed on miltefosine-treated worms were recovered by elution off the worm surface in low pH buffer and were used in a western immunoblotting assay to identify antigenic targets in a homogenate extract of adult worms (SmWH). Four proteins reacting with the antibodies in immunoblots were purified and proteomic analysis (MS/MS) combined with specific immunoblotting indicated they were the S. mansoni proteins: fructose-1,6 bisphosphate aldolase (SmFBPA), Sm22.6, alkaline phosphatase and malate dehydrogenase. These antibodies were also found to bind to the surface of 3-hour schistosomula and induce immune agglutination of the parasites, suggesting they may have a role in immune protection.

Conclusion/Significance

This study reveals a novel mode of action of miltefosine as an anti-schistosome agent. The immune-dependent hypothesis we investigated has previously been lent credence with praziquantel (PZQ), whereby treatment unmasks parasite surface antigens not normally exposed to the host during infection. Antigens involved in this molecular mechanism could have potential as intervention targets and antibodies against these antigens may act to increase the drug’s anti-parasite efficacy and be involved in the development of resistance to re-infection.

Modeling zoonotic cutaneous leishmaniasis incidence in central Tunisia from 2009-2015: Forecasting models using climate variables as predictors

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 25 August 2017 - 9:00pm

by Khouloud Talmoudi, Hedia Bellali, Nissaf Ben-Alaya, Marc Saez, Dhafer Malouche, Mohamed Kouni Chahed

Transmission of zoonotic cutaneous leishmaniasis (ZCL) depends on the presence, density and distribution of Leishmania major rodent reservoir and the development of these rodents is known to have a significant dependence onenvironmental and climate factors. ZCL in Tunisia is one of the most common forms of leishmaniasis. The aim of this paper was to build a regression model of ZCL cases to identify the relationship between ZCL occurrence and possible risk factors, and to develop a predicting model for ZCL's control and prevention purposes. Monthly reported ZCL cases, environmental and bioclimatic data were collected over 6 years (2009–2015). Three rural areas in the governorate of Sidi Bouzid were selected as the study area. Cross-correlation analysis was used to identify the relevant lagged effects of possible risk factors, associated with ZCL cases. Non-parametric modeling techniques known as generalized additive model (GAM) and generalized additive mixed models (GAMM) were applied in this work. These techniques have the ability to approximate the relationship between the predictors (inputs) and the response variable (output), and express the relationship mathematically. The goodness-of-fit of the constructed model was determined by Generalized cross-validation (GCV) score and residual test. There were a total of 1019 notified ZCL cases from July 2009 to June 2015. The results showed seasonal distribution of reported ZCL cases from August to January. The model highlighted that rodent density, average temperature, cumulative rainfall and average relative humidity, with different time lags, all play role in sustaining and increasing the ZCL incidence. The GAMM model could be applied to predict the occurrence of ZCL in central Tunisia and could help for the establishment of an early warning system to control and prevent ZCL in central Tunisia.

"We are survivors and not a virus:" Content analysis of media reporting on Ebola survivors in Liberia

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 24 August 2017 - 9:00pm

by Elisabeth Anne-Sophie Mayrhuber, Thomas Niederkrotenthaler, Ruth Kutalek

Background

The Ebola virus disease epidemic between 2013 and 2016 in West Africa was unprecedented. It resulted in approximately 28.000 cases and 10.000 Ebola survivors. Many survivors face social, economic and health-related predicaments and media reporting is crucially important in infectious disease outbreaks. However, there is little research on reporting of the social situation of Ebola survivors in Liberia.

Methods

The study used a mixed methods approach and analysed media reports from the Liberian Daily Observer (DOL), a daily newspaper available online in English. We were interested to know how the situation of Ebola survivors was portrayed; in what way issues such as stigma and discrimination were addressed; and which stigma reduction interventions were covered and how. We included all articles on the situation of Ebola survivors in the quantitative and in-depth qualitative analysis published between April 2014 and March 2016.

Results

The DOL published 148 articles that portrayed the social situation of Ebola survivors between the 24 months observation period. In these articles, Ebola survivors were often defined beyond biological terms, reflecting on a broader social definition of survivorship. Survivorship was associated with challenges such as suffering from after-effects, social and economic consequences and psychological distress. Almost 50% of the articles explicitly mentioned stigmatisation in their reporting on Ebola survivors. This was contextualised in untrustworthiness towards international responses and the local health care system and inconclusive knowledge on cures and transmission routes. In the majority of DOL articles stigma reduction and engaging survivors in the response was reported as crucially important.

Discussion

Reporting in the DOL was educational-didactical and well-balanced in terms of disseminating available medical knowledge and reflecting the social situation of Ebola survivors. While the articles contextualised factors contributing to stigmatisation throughout the reporting, journalistic scrutiny regarding effectiveness of interventions by government and NGOs was missing.

Mycetoma laboratory diagnosis: Review article

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 24 August 2017 - 9:00pm

by Amel Altayeb Ahmed, Wendy van de Sande, Ahmed Hassan Fahal

Mycetoma is a unique neglected tropical disease caused by a substantial number of microorganisms of fungal or bacterial origins. Identification of the causative organism and the disease extension are the first steps in the management of the affected patients and predicting disease treatment outcome and prognosis. Different laboratory-based diagnostic tools and techniques were developed over the years to determine and identify the causative agents. These include direct microscopy and cytological, histopathological, and immunohistochemical techniques in addition to the classical grain culture. More recently, various molecular-based techniques have joined the mycetoma diagnostic armamentarium. The available mycetoma diagnostic techniques are of various specificity and sensitivity rates. Most are invasive, time consuming, and operator dependent, and a combination of them is required to reach a diagnosis. In addition, they need a well-equipped laboratory and are therefore not field friendly. This review aims to provide an update on the laboratory investigations used in the diagnosis of mycetoma. It further aims to assist practising health professionals dealing with mycetoma by outlining the guidelines developed by the Mycetoma Research Centre, University of Khartoum, WHO collaborating centre on mycetoma following a cumulative experience of managing more than 7,700 mycetoma patients.

Soil iron and aluminium concentrations and feet hygiene as possible predictors of Podoconiosis occurrence in Kenya

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 23 August 2017 - 9:00pm

by Jacinta Muli, John Gachohi, Jim Kagai

Background

Podoconiosis (mossy foot) is a neglected non-filarial elephantiasis considered to be caused by predisposition to cumulative contact of uncovered feet to irritative red clay soil of volcanic origins in the tropical regions. Data from structured observational studies on occurrence of Podoconiosis and related factors are not available in Kenya.

Methodology/Principal findings

To establish the occurrence and aspects associated with Podoconiosis, a cross-sectional survey was implemented in an area located within 30 km from the foot of volcanic Mount Longonot in the Great Rift Valley in Kenya. Five villages and 385 households were selected using multistage and systematic random sampling procedures respectively during the survey. Podoconiosis was determined by triangulating (1) the clinical diagnosis, (2) molecular assaying of sputum samples to rule out Wuchereria bancrofti microfilaria and (3) determining the concentration of six elements and properties in the soil known to be associated with Podoconiosis. A structured questionnaire was used to identify possible risk factors. Univariable and multivariable Poisson regression analyses were carried out to determine factors associated with Podoconiosis. Thirteen participants were clinically positive for Podoconiosis giving an overall prevalence of 3.4%. The prevalence ranged between 0% and 18.8% across the five villages. Molecular assay for W. bancrofti test turned negative in the 13 samples. The following factors were positively associated with the Podoconiosis prevalence (P<0.1) in the univariable analyses: (i) age, (ii) gender, (iii) education level, (iv) frequency of washing legs, (v) frequency of wearing shoes, (vi) soil pH, and (vii) village. Unexpectedly, the concentration of soil minerals previously thought to be associated with Podoconiosis was found to be negatively associated with the Podoconiosis prevalence (P<0.1). In the multivariable analyses, only frequency of wearing shoes and village turned out significant (P≤0.05). By modeling the different soil mineral concentrations and pH while adjusting for the variable frequency of wearing shoes, only iron concentration was significant and in the negative dimension (P≤0.05). However, controlling for Iron, Aluminum concentrations turned significant.

Conclusion/Significance

This study has pointed to a hitherto unreported occurrence of Podoconiosis cases and has contributed to the baseline knowledge on the occurrence of Podoconiosis in Kenya. Consistent with many studies, wearing shoes remain an important risk factor for the occurrence of the disease. However, our findings are inconsistent with some of the hitherto postulations that associate Podoconiosis prevalence with certain minerals in the soil in other regions in Africa. These findings provide new beginnings for the cross-disciplinary research of Podoconiosis in environmental health, socio-ecology and ecological niche and geo-spatial modeling and prediction.

Molluscicidal activities of curcumin-nisin polylactic acid nanoparticle on <i>Biomphalaria pfeifferi</i>

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 23 August 2017 - 9:00pm

by Michael E. Omobhude, Olajumoke A. Morenikeji, Oyetunde T. Oyeyemi

Background

Snail intermediate host control is a widely canvassed strategy for schistosomiasis control in endemic countries. While there have been increasing studies on the search for potent molluscicides in the past years, the use of nanoparticulate agents as molluscicides is yet to gain wide attention. The aim of this study was to assess the molluscicidal potential of curcumin-nisin poly lactic acid (PLA) entrapped nanoparticle (CurNisNp) against Biomphalaria pfeifferi, a snail intermediate host for Schistosoma mansoni.

Methodology/Principal findings

CurNisNp formulated by double emulsion method was tested against the young adults, < 1 week, 1-2-week old juveniles, 1 day (blastula) and 7 day-old (hippo-stage) egg masses of B. pfeifferi. Mortality in the different stages was determined after 96-h of exposure at varying concentrations (350, 175, 87.5, 43.75 and 21.88 ppm). The sub-lethal effects of CurNisNp on the hatchability of the 7-day-old egg masses and egg laying capacity of the young adult snails were determined. The CurNisNp diameter, polydispersity index (PDI), zeta potential and drug entrapment efficiency were 284.0 ± 17.9 nm, 0.166 ± 0.03, -16.6 ± 2.45 mV and 35.0% respectively. The < 1 week old juveniles and the 1-day-old egg stage (blastula) of B. pfeifferi with LC50 277.9 ppm and 4279.5 ppm were the most susceptible and resistant stages to the drug respectively. CurNisNp was also observed to cause significant reductions (P<0.05) in egg hatchability and egg laying capacity with strong negative correlation between egg laying capacity and concentration (r = -0.928; P<0.05).

Conclusion/Significance

This study showed that CurNisNp has molluscicidal activities on different developmental stages of B. pfeifferi. It is therefore recommended that the formulation be more optimised to give a nanoparticle with a narrow range monodispersed PDI for better drug distribution and eventual greater molluscicidal activities.

Cardiomyocyte oxidants production may signal to <i>T</i>. <i>cruzi</i> intracellular development

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 23 August 2017 - 9:00pm

by Patrícia Pereira Dias, Rhayanne Figueiredo Capila, Natália Fernanda do Couto, Damían Estrada, Fernanda Ramos Gadelha, Rafael Radi, Lucía Piacenza, Luciana O. Andrade

Chagas disease, caused by the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, presents a variable clinical course, varying from asymptomatic to serious debilitating pathologies with cardiac, digestive or cardio-digestive impairment. Previous studies using two clonal T. cruzi populations, Col1.7G2 (T. cruzi I) and JG (T. cruzi II) demonstrated that there was a differential tissue distribution of these parasites during infection in BALB/c mice, with predominance of JG in the heart. To date little is known about the mechanisms that determine this tissue selection. Upon infection, host cells respond producing several factors, such as reactive oxygen species (ROS), cytokines, among others. Herein and in agreement with previous data from the literature we show that JG presents a higher intracellular multiplication rate when compared to Col1.7G2. We also showed that upon infection cardiomyocytes in culture may increase the production of oxidative species and its levels are higher in cultures infected with JG, which expresses lower levels of antioxidant enzymes. Interestingly, inhibition of oxidative stress severely interferes with the intracellular multiplication rate of JG. Additionally, upon H2O2-treatment increase in intracellular Ca2+ and oxidants were observed only in JG epimastigotes. Data presented herein suggests that JG and Col1.7G2 may sense extracellular oxidants in a distinct manner, which would then interfere differently with their intracellular development in cardiomyocytes.

Local environmental and meteorological conditions influencing the invasive mosquito <i>Ae</i>. <i>albopictus</i> and arbovirus transmission risk in New York City

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 23 August 2017 - 9:00pm

by Eliza Little, Waheed Bajwa, Jeffrey Shaman

Ae. albopictus, an invasive mosquito vector now endemic to much of the northeastern US, is a significant public health threat both as a nuisance biter and vector of disease (e.g. chikungunya virus). Here, we aim to quantify the relationships between local environmental and meteorological conditions and the abundance of Ae. albopictus mosquitoes in New York City. Using statistical modeling, we create a fine-scale spatially explicit risk map of Ae. albopictus abundance and validate the accuracy of spatiotemporal model predictions using observational data from 2016. We find that the spatial variability of annual Ae. albopictus abundance is greater than its temporal variability in New York City but that both local environmental and meteorological conditions are associated with Ae. albopictus numbers. Specifically, key land use characteristics, including open spaces, residential areas, and vacant lots, and spring and early summer meteorological conditions are associated with annual Ae. albopictus abundance. In addition, we investigate the distribution of imported chikungunya cases during 2014 and use these data to delineate areas with the highest rates of arboviral importation. We show that the spatial distribution of imported arboviral cases has been mostly discordant with mosquito production and thus, to date, has provided a check on local arboviral transmission in New York City. We do, however, find concordant areas where high Ae. albopictus abundance and chikungunya importation co-occur. Public health and vector control officials should prioritize control efforts to these areas and thus more cost effectively reduce the risk of local arboviral transmission. The methods applied here can be used to monitor and identify areas of risk for other imported vector-borne diseases.

Mitochondria and lipid raft-located F<sub>O</sub>F<sub>1</sub>-ATP synthase as major therapeutic targets in the antileishmanial and anticancer activities of ether lipid edelfosine

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 22 August 2017 - 9:00pm

by Janny A. Villa-Pulgarín, Consuelo Gajate, Javier Botet, Alberto Jimenez, Nicole Justies, Rubén E. Varela-M, Álvaro Cuesta-Marbán, Ingrid Müller, Manuel Modolell, José L. Revuelta, Faustino Mollinedo

Background

Leishmaniasis is the world’s second deadliest parasitic disease after malaria, and current treatment of the different forms of this disease is far from satisfactory. Alkylphospholipid analogs (APLs) are a family of anticancer drugs that show antileishmanial activity, including the first oral drug (miltefosine) for leishmaniasis and drugs in preclinical/clinical oncology trials, but their precise mechanism of action remains to be elucidated.

Methodology/Principal findings

Here we show that the tumor cell apoptosis-inducer edelfosine was the most effective APL, as compared to miltefosine, perifosine and erucylphosphocholine, in killing Leishmania spp. promastigotes and amastigotes as well as tumor cells, as assessed by DNA breakdown determined by flow cytometry. In studies using animal models, we found that orally-administered edelfosine showed a potent in vivo antileishmanial activity and diminished macrophage pro-inflammatory responses. Edelfosine was also able to kill Leishmania axenic amastigotes. Edelfosine was taken up by host macrophages and killed intracellular Leishmania amastigotes in infected macrophages. Edelfosine accumulated in tumor cell mitochondria and Leishmania kinetoplast-mitochondrion, and led to mitochondrial transmembrane potential disruption, and to the successive breakdown of parasite mitochondrial and nuclear DNA. Ectopic expression of Bcl-XL inhibited edelfosine-induced cell death in both Leishmania parasites and tumor cells. We found that the cytotoxic activity of edelfosine against Leishmania parasites and tumor cells was associated with a dramatic recruitment of FOF1-ATP synthase into lipid rafts following edelfosine treatment in both parasites and cancer cells. Raft disruption and specific FOF1-ATP synthase inhibition hindered edelfosine-induced cell death in both Leishmania parasites and tumor cells. Genetic deletion of FOF1-ATP synthase led to edelfosine drug resistance in Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast.

Conclusions/Significance

The present study shows that the antileishmanial and anticancer actions of edelfosine share some common signaling processes, with mitochondria and raft-located FOF1-ATP synthase being critical in the killing process, thus identifying novel druggable targets for the treatment of leishmaniasis.

Host regulation of liver fibroproliferative pathology during experimental schistosomiasis via interleukin-4 receptor alpha

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 21 August 2017 - 9:00pm

by Justin Komguep Nono, Hlumani Ndlovu, Nada Abdel Aziz, Thabo Mpotje, Lerato Hlaka, Frank Brombacher

Interleukin-4 receptor (IL-4Rα) is critical for the initiation of type-2 immune responses and implicated in the pathogenesis of experimental schistosomiasis. IL-4Rα mediated type-2 responses are critical for the control of pathology during acute schistosomiasis. However, type-2 responses tightly associate with fibrogranulomatous inflammation that drives host pathology during chronic schistosomiasis. To address such controversy on the role of IL-4Rα, we generated a novel inducible IL-4Rα-deficient mouse model that allows for temporal knockdown of il-4rα gene after oral administration of Tamoxifen. Interrupting IL-4Rα mediated signaling during the acute phase impaired the development of protective type-2 immune responses, leading to rapid weight loss and premature death, confirming a protective role of IL-4Rα during acute schistosomiasis. Conversely, IL-4Rα removal at the chronic phase of schistosomiasis ameliorated the pathological fibro-granulomatous pathology and reversed liver scarification without affecting the host fitness. This amelioration of the morbidity was accompanied by a reduced Th2 response and increased frequencies of FoxP3+ Tregs and CD1dhiCD5+ Bregs. Collectively, these data demonstrate that IL-4Rα mediated signaling has two opposing functions during experimental schistosomiasis depending on the stage of advancement of the disease and indicate that interrupting IL-4Rα mediated signaling is a viable therapeutic strategy to ameliorate liver fibroproliferative pathology in diseases like chronic schistosomiasis.

A prospective cohort study of the effectiveness of the primary hospital management of all snakebites in Kurunegala district of Sri Lanka

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 21 August 2017 - 9:00pm

by Seyed Shahmy, Senanayake A. M. Kularatne, Shantha S. Rathnayake, Andrew H. Dawson

Introduction

Sri Lanka records substantial numbers of snakebite annually. Primary rural hospitals are important contributors to health care. Health care planning requires a more detailed understanding of snakebite within this part of the health system. This study reports the management and epidemiology of all hospitalised snakebite in the Kurunegala district in Sri Lanka.

Methodology

The district has 44 peripheral/primary hospitals and a tertiary care hospital-Teaching Hospital, Kurunegala (THK). This prospective study was conducted over one year. All hospitals received copies of the current national guidelines on snakebite management. Clinical and demographic details of all snakebite admissions to primary hospitals were recorded by field researchers and validated by comparing with scanned copies of the medical record. Management including hospital transfers was independently assessed against the national guidelines recommendation. Population rates were calculated and compared with estimates derived from recent community based surveys.

Results

There were 2186 admissions of snakebites and no deaths in primary hospitals. An additional 401 patients from the district were admitted directly to the teaching hospital, 2 deaths were recorded in this group. The population incidence of hospitalized snakebite was 158/100,000 which was significantly lower than community survey estimates of 499/100,000. However there was no significant difference between the incidence of envenomation of 126/100,000 in hospitalised patients and 184/100,000 in the community survey. The utilisation of antivenom was appropriate and consistent with guidelines. Seventy patients received antivenom. Anaphylactic reactions to antivenom occurred in 22 patients, treatment reactions was considered to be outside the guidelines in 5 patients. Transfers from the primary hospital occurred in 399(18%) patients but the majority (341) did not meet the guideline criteria. A snake was identified in 978 cases; venomous snakebites included 823 hump-nosed viper (Hypnalespp), 61 Russell’s viper, 14 cobra, 13 common krait, 03 saw scaled viper.

Conclusions

Primary hospitals received a significant number of snakebites that would be missed in surveys conducted in tertiary hospitals. Adherence to guidelines was good for the use of antivenom but not for hospital transfer or treatment of anaphylaxis. The large difference in snakebite incidence between community and hospital studies could possibly be due to non-envenomed patients not presenting. As the majority of snakebite management occurs in primary hospitals education and clinical support should be focused on that part of the health system.

Candidate gene polymorphisms study between human African trypanosomiasis clinical phenotypes in Guinea

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 21 August 2017 - 9:00pm

by Justin Windingoudi Kaboré, Hamidou Ilboudo, Harry Noyes, Oumou Camara, Jacques Kaboré, Mamadou Camara, Mathurin Koffi, Veerle Lejon, Vincent Jamonneau, Annette MacLeod, Christiane Hertz-Fowler, Adrien Marie Gaston Belem, Enock Matovu, Bruno Bucheton, Issa Sidibe, for the TrypanoGEN Research Group as members of The H3Africa Consortium

Background

Human African trypanosomiasis (HAT), a lethal disease induced by Trypanosoma brucei gambiense, has a range of clinical outcomes in its human host in West Africa: an acute form progressing rapidly to second stage, spontaneous self-cure and individuals able to regulate parasitaemia at very low levels, have all been reported from endemic foci. In order to test if this clinical diversity is influenced by host genetic determinants, the association between candidate gene polymorphisms and HAT outcome was investigated in populations from HAT active foci in Guinea.

Methodology and results

Samples were collected from 425 individuals; comprising of 232 HAT cases, 79 subjects with long lasting positive and specific serology but negative parasitology and 114 endemic controls. Genotypes of 28 SNPs in eight genes passed quality control and were used for an association analysis. IL6 rs1818879 allele A (p = 0.0001, OR = 0.39, CI95 = [0.24–0.63], BONF = 0.0034) was associated with a lower risk of progressing from latent infection to active disease. MIF rs36086171 allele G seemed to be associated with an increased risk (p = 0.0239, OR = 1.65, CI95 = [1.07–2.53], BONF = 0.6697) but did not remain significant after Bonferroni correction. Similarly MIF rs12483859 C allele seems be associated with latent infections (p = 0.0077, OR = 1.86, CI95 = [1.18–2.95], BONF = 0.2157). We confirmed earlier observations that APOL1 G2 allele (DEL) (p = 0.0011, OR = 2.70, CI95 = [1.49–4.91], BONF = 0.0301) is associated with a higher risk and APOL1 G1 polymorphism (p = 0.0005, OR = 0.45, CI95 = [0.29–0.70], BONF = 0.0129) with a lower risk of developing HAT. No associations were found with other candidate genes.

Conclusion

Our data show that host genes are involved in modulating Trypanosoma brucei gambiense infection outcome in infected individuals from Guinea with IL6 rs1818879 being associated with a lower risk of progressing to active HAT. These results enhance our understanding of host-parasite interactions and, ultimately, may lead to the development of new control tools.

Characterization of monkeypox virus infection in African rope squirrels (<i>Funisciurus sp</i>.)

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 21 August 2017 - 9:00pm

by Elizabeth A. Falendysz, Juan G. Lopera, Jeffrey B. Doty, Yoshinori Nakazawa, Colleen Crill, Faye Lorenzsonn, Lem’s N. Kalemba, Monica D. Ronderos, Andres Mejia, Jean M. Malekani, Kevin Karem, Darin S. Carroll, Jorge E. Osorio, Tonie E. Rocke

Monkeypox (MPX) is a zoonotic disease endemic in Central and West Africa and is caused by Monkeypox virus (MPXV), the most virulent orthopoxvirus affecting humans since the eradication of Variola virus (VARV). Many aspects of the MPXV transmission cycle, including the natural host of the virus, remain unknown. African rope squirrels (Funisciurus spp.) are considered potential reservoirs of MPXV, as serosurveillance data in Central Africa has confirmed the circulation of the virus in these rodent species [1,2]. In order to understand the tissue tropism and clinical signs associated with infection with MPXV in these species, wild-caught rope squirrels were experimentally infected via intranasal and intradermal exposure with a recombinant MPXV strain from Central Africa engineered to express the luciferase gene. After infection, we monitored viral replication and shedding via in vivo bioluminescent imaging, viral culture and real time PCR. MPXV infection in African rope squirrels caused mortality and moderate to severe morbidity, with clinical signs including pox lesions in the skin, eyes, mouth and nose, dyspnea, and profuse nasal discharge. Both intranasal and intradermal exposures induced high levels of viremia, fast systemic spread, and long periods of viral shedding. Shedding and luminescence peaked at day 6 post infection and was still detectable after 15 days. Interestingly, one sentinel animal, housed in the same room but in a separate cage, also developed severe MPX disease and was euthanized. This study indicates that MPXV causes significant pathology in African rope squirrels and infected rope squirrels shed large quantities of virus, supporting their role as a potential source of MPXV transmission to humans and other animals in endemic MPX regions.

Phylogeography of <i>Angiostrongylus cantonensis</i> (Nematoda: Angiostrongylidae) in southern China and some surrounding areas

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 21 August 2017 - 9:00pm

by Jian Peng, Zhang-Ping He, Shuai Zhang, Zhao-Rong Lun, Zhong-Dao Wu, Chia-Kwung Fan, Christopher L. Brown, Po-Ching Cheng, Shih-Yi Peng, Ting-Bao Yang

Angiostrongylus cantonensis is of increasing public health importance as the main zoonotic pathogen causing eosinophilic meningitis or meningoencephalitis, which has been documented all over the world. However, there are very limited studies about its phylogeography and spread pattern. In the present study, the phylogeography of A. cantonensis in southern China (including Taiwan) and partial areas of Southeast Asia were studied based on the sequences of complete mitochondrial cytochrome b (Cytb) gene. A total of 520 individuals of A. cantonensis obtained from 13 localities were sequenced for the analyses and grouped into 42 defined haplotypes. The phylogenetic tree (NJ tree and BI tree) revealed a characteristic distribution pattern of the four main lineages, with detectable geographic structure. Genetic differentiation among populations was significant, but demographic expansion could not be detected by either neutrality tests or mismatch distribution analysis, which implied a low gene flow among the local populations in different regions where the samples were collected. Two unique lineages of the A. cantonensis population in Taiwan were detected, which suggests its multiple origin in the island. Populations in Hekou (China) and Laos showed the highest genetic diversities, which were supported by both genetic diversity indices and AMOVA. These results together infer that the area around Thailand or Hekou in Yunnan province, China are the most likely origins of Angiostrongylus cantonensis.

Vector competence of populations of <i>Aedes aegypti</i> from three distinct cities in Kenya for chikungunya virus

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 18 August 2017 - 9:00pm

by Sheila B. Agha, Edith Chepkorir, Francis Mulwa, Caroline Tigoi, Samwel Arum, Milehna M. Guarido, Peris Ambala, Betty Chelangat, Joel Lutomiah, David P. Tchouassi, Michael J. Turell, Rosemary Sang

Background

In April, 2004, chikungunya virus (CHIKV) re-emerged in Kenya and eventually spread to the islands in the Indian Ocean basin, South-East Asia, and the Americas. The virus, which is often associated with high levels of viremia in humans, is mostly transmitted by the urban vector, Aedes aegypti. The expansion of CHIKV presents a public health challenge both locally and internationally. In this study, we investigated the ability of Ae. aegypti mosquitoes from three distinct cities in Kenya; Mombasa (outbreak prone), Kisumu, and Nairobi (no documented outbreak) to transmit CHIKV.

Methodology/Principal findings

Aedes aegypti mosquito populations were exposed to different doses of CHIKV (105.6–7.5 plaque-forming units[PFU]/ml) in an infectious blood meal. Transmission was ascertained by collecting and testing saliva samples from individual mosquitoes at 5, 7, 9, and 14 days post exposure. Infection and dissemination were estimated by testing body and legs, respectively, for individual mosquitoes at selected days post exposure. Tissue culture assays were used to determine the presence of infectious viral particles in the body, leg, and saliva samples. The number of days post exposure had no effect on infection, dissemination, or transmission rates, but these rates increased with an increase in exposure dose in all three populations. Although the rates were highest in Ae. aegypti from Mombasa at titers ≥106.9 PFU/ml, the differences observed were not statistically significant (χ2 ≤ 1.04, DF = 1, P ≥ 0.31). Overall, about 71% of the infected mosquitoes developed a disseminated infection, of which 21% successfully transmitted the virus into a capillary tube, giving an estimated transmission rate of about 10% for mosquitoes that ingested ≥106.9 PFU/ml of CHIKV. All three populations of Ae. aegypti were infectious as early as 5–7 days post exposure. On average, viral dissemination only occurred when body titers were ≥104 PFU/ml in all populations.

Conclusions/Significance

Populations of Ae. aegypti from Mombasa, Nairobi, and Kisumu were all competent laboratory vectors of CHIKV. Viremia of the infectious blood meal was an important factor in Ae. aegypti susceptibility and transmission of CHIKV. In addition to viremia levels, temperature and feeding behavior of Ae. aegypti may also contribute to the observed disease patterns.

Expression of interferon-inducible chemokines and sleep/wake changes during early encephalitis in experimental African trypanosomiasis

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 18 August 2017 - 9:00pm

by Claudia Laperchia, Chiara Tesoriero, Paul F. Seke-Etet, Valentina La Verde, Valeria Colavito, Gigliola Grassi-Zucconi, Jean Rodgers, Paul Montague, Peter G. E. Kennedy, Marina Bentivoglio

Background

Human African trypanosomiasis or sleeping sickness, caused by the parasite Trypanosoma brucei, leads to neuroinflammation and characteristic sleep/wake alterations. The relationship between the onset of these alterations and the development of neuroinflammation is of high translational relevance, but remains unclear. This study investigates the expression of interferon (IFN)-γ and IFN-inducible chemokine genes in the brain, and the levels of CXCL10 in the serum and cerebrospinal fluid prior to and during the encephalitic stage of trypanosome infection, and correlates these with sleep/wake changes in a rat model of the disease.

Methodology/Principal findings

The expression of genes encoding IFN-γ, CXCL9, CXCL10, and CXCL11 was assessed in the brain of rats infected with Trypanosoma brucei brucei and matched controls using semi-quantitative end-point RT-PCR. Levels of CXCL10 in the serum and cerebrospinal fluid were determined using ELISA. Sleep/wake states were monitored by telemetric recording. Using immunohistochemistry, parasites were found in the brain parenchyma at 14 days post-infection (dpi), but not at 6 dpi. Ifn-γ, Cxcl9, Cxcl10 and Cxcl11 mRNA levels showed moderate upregulation by 14 dpi followed by further increase between 14 and 21 dpi. CXCL10 concentration in the cerebrospinal fluid increased between 14 and 21 dpi, preceded by a rise in the serum CXCL10 level between 6 and 14 dpi. Sleep/wake pattern fragmentation was evident at 14 dpi, especially in the phase of wake predominance, with intrusion of sleep episodes into wakefulness.

Conclusions/Significance

The results show a modest increase in Cxcl9 and Cxcl11 transcripts in the brain and the emergence of sleep/wake cycle fragmentation in the initial encephalitic stage, followed by increases in Ifn-γ and IFN-dependent chemokine transcripts in the brain and of CXCL10 in the cerebrospinal fluid. The latter parameter and sleep/wake alterations could provide combined humoral and functional biomarkers of the early encephalitic stage in African trypanosomiasis.

Correlation between mosquito larval density and their habitat physicochemical characteristics in Mazandaran Province, northern Iran

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 18 August 2017 - 9:00pm

by Seyed Hassan Nikookar, Mahmoud Fazeli-Dinan, Shahyad Azari-Hamidian, Seyed Nouraddin Mousavinasab, Mohsen Aarabi, Seyyed Payman Ziapour, Yahya Esfandyari, Ahmadali Enayati

Characteristics of mosquito larval habitats are important in determining whether they can survive and successfully complete their developmental stages. Therefore, data on the ecological factors affecting mosquito density and abundance especially the physicochemical properties of water of their breeding sites, can possibly be helpful in implementing larval management programs. Mosquito larvae were collected using a standard 350 ml dipper from fixed habitats including: artificial pool, river edge, creek and etc, in 30 villages of 16 counties from May-December 2014. Water samples were collected during larval collection and temperature (°C), acidity (pH), turbidity (NTU), electrical conductivity (μS/cm), alkalinity (mg/l CaCO3), total hardness (mg/l), nitrate (mg/l), chloride (mg/l), phosphate (mg/l) and sulphate (mg/l) were measured using standard methods. Spearman correlation coefficient, Kruskal-Wallis test of nonparametric analysis, Chi-square (χ2) analysis, regression analysis and C8 interspecific correlation coefficient were used for data analysis. A total of 7,566 mosquito larvae belonging to 15 species representing three genera were collected from fixed larval breeding places. Culex pipiens was the dominant species except in four villages where An. maculipennis s.l. and Cx. torrentium were predominant. There was a significant positive correlation between the density of Cx. pipiens and electrical conductivity, alkalinity, total hardness and chloride, whereas no significant negative correlation was observed between physicochemical factors and larval density. The highest interspecific association of up to 0.596 was observed between An. maculipennis s.l/An. pseudopictus followed by up to 0.435 between An. maculipennis s.l/An. hyrcanus and An. hyrcanus/An. pseudopictus. The correlations observed between physicochemical factors and larval density, can possibly confirm the effect of these parameters on the breeding activities of mosquitoes, and may be indicative of the presence of certain mosquito fauna in a given region.

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