RSS news feeds

The invasive giant African snail <i>Lissachatina fulica</i> as natural intermediate host of <i>Aelurostrongylus abstrusus</i>, <i>Angiostrongylus vasorum</i>, <i>Troglostrongylus brevior</i>, and <i>Crenosoma vulpis</i> in Colombia

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 19 April 2019 - 9:00pm

by Felipe Penagos-Tabares, Malin K. Lange, Juan Vélez, Jörg Hirzmann, Jesed Gutiérrez-Arboleda, Anja Taubert, Carlos Hermosilla, Jenny J. Chaparro Gutiérrez


Several metastrongyloid lungworms are unreported pathogens in Colombia. Angiostrongylus vasorum and Crenosoma vulpis target the cardiopulmonary system of domestic and wild canids. Aelurostrongylus abstrusus and Troglostrongylus brevior infect felids and considering that six wild felid species exist in Colombia, knowledge of feline lungworm infections is important for their conservation. The zoonotic metastrongyloids Angiostrongylus costaricensis and Angiostrongylus cantonensis can cause severe gastrointestinal and neurological diseases. Angiostrongylus costaricensis has been reported in Colombia, while Ang. cantonensis is present in neighbouring countries. Research on the epidemiology of metastrongyloids in Colombia and South America more broadly requires evaluating the role that gastropods play as intermediate hosts in their life cycles. This study assessed the prevalence of metastrongyloid larvae in populations of the invasive giant African snail, Lissachatina fulica, in Colombia.

Methodology/Principal findings

A total of 609 Lissachantina fulica were collected from 6 Colombian municipalities. The snails were then cryo-euthanized, artificially digested and the sediments examined microscopically for the presence of metastrongyloid larvae. Based on morphological characteristics 53.3% (56/107) of the snails from Puerto Leguízamo (Department of Putumayo) were infected with Ael. abstrusus larvae, 8.4% (9/107) with Ang. vasorum larvae, 6.5% (7/107) with T. brevior larvae and 5.6% (6/107) with C. vulpis larvae, being the region with highest prevalences of the four species. Snails from Andes (Department of Antioquia) and Tulúa (Department of Valle del Cauca) were positive for Ang. vasorum larvae with a prevalence of 4.6 (11/238) and 6.3% (4/64), respectively. Species identifications were confirmed by PCR and sequencing.


This epidemiological survey reports for first time the presence of Ael. abstrusus, T. brevior, C. vulpis and Ang. vasorum in L. fulica in a number of regions of Colombia.

Inhibition of <i>Tityus serrulatus</i> venom hyaluronidase affects venom biodistribution

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 19 April 2019 - 9:00pm

by Bárbara Bruna Ribeiro de Oliveira-Mendes, Sued Eustáquio Mendes Miranda, Douglas Ferreira Sales-Medina, Bárbara de Freitas Magalhães, Yan Kalapothakis, Renan Pedra de Souza, Valbert Nascimento Cardoso, André Luís Branco de Barros, Clara Guerra-Duarte, Evanguedes Kalapothakis, Carolina Campolina Rebello Horta


The hyaluronidase enzyme is generally known as a spreading factor in animal venoms. Although its activity has been demonstrated in several organisms, a deeper knowledge about hyaluronidase and the venom spreading process from the bite/sting site until its elimination from the victim's body is still in need. Herein, we further pursued the goal of demonstrating the effects of inhibition of T. serrulatus venom (TsV) hyaluronidase on venom biodistribution.

Methods and principal findings

We used technetium-99m radiolabeled Tityus serrulatus venom (99mTc-TsV) to evaluate the venom distribution kinetics in mice. To understand the hyaluronidase’s role in the venom’s biodistribution, 99mTc-TsV was immunoneutralized with specific anti-T.serrulatus hyaluronidase serum. Venom biodistribution was monitored by scintigraphic images of treated animals and by measuring radioactivity levels in tissues as heart, liver, lungs, spleen, thyroid, and kidneys. In general, results revealed that hyaluronidase inhibition delays venom components distribution, when compared to the non-neutralized 99mTc-TsV control group. Scintigraphic images showed that the majority of the immunoneutralized venom is retained at the injection site, whereas non-treated venom is quickly biodistributed throughout the animal’s body. At the first 30 min, concentration peaks are observed in the heart, liver, lungs, spleen, and thyroid, which gradually decreases over time. On the other hand, immunoneutralized 99mTc-TsV takes 240 min to reach high concentrations in the organs. A higher concentration of immunoneutralized 99mTc-TsV was observed in the kidneys in comparison with the non-treated venom. Further, in situ neutralization of 99mTc-TsV by anti-T.serrulatus hyaluronidase serum at zero, ten, and 30 min post venom injection showed that late inhibition of hyaluronidase can still affect venom biodistribution. In this assay, immunoneutralized 99mTc-TsV was accumulated in the bloodstream until 120 or 240 min after TsV injection, depending on anti-hyaluronidase administration time. Altogether, our data show that immunoneutralization of hyaluronidase prevents venom spreading from the injection site.


By comparing TsV biodistribution in the absence or presence of anti-hyaluronidase serum, the results obtained in the present work show that hyaluronidase has a key role not only in the venom spreading from the inoculation point to the bloodstream, but also in venom biodistribution from the bloodstream to target organs. Our findings demonstrate that hyaluronidase is indeed an important spreading factor of TsV and its inhibition can be used as a novel first-aid strategy in envenoming.

Epidemiological trend of chikungunya outbreak in Pakistan: 2016–2018

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 18 April 2019 - 9:00pm

by Nazish Badar, Muhammad Salman, Jamil Ansari, Aamer Ikram, Javaria Qazi, Muhammad Masroor Alam

Combating infectious disease epidemics through China’s Belt and Road Initiative

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 18 April 2019 - 9:00pm

by Jin Chen, Robert Bergquist, Xiao-Nong Zhou, Jing-Bo Xue, Men-Bao Qian

Zika viruses of African and Asian lineages cause fetal harm in a mouse model of vertical transmission

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 17 April 2019 - 9:00pm

by Anna S. Jaeger, Reyes A. Murrieta, Lea R. Goren, Chelsea M. Crooks, Ryan V. Moriarty, Andrea M. Weiler, Sierra Rybarczyk, Matthew R. Semler, Christopher Huffman, Andres Mejia, Heather A. Simmons, Michael Fritsch, Jorge E. Osorio, Jens C. Eickhoff, Shelby L. O’Connor, Gregory D. Ebel, Thomas C. Friedrich, Matthew T. Aliota

Congenital Zika virus (ZIKV) infection was first linked to birth defects during the American outbreak in 2015/2016. It has been proposed that mutations unique to the Asian/American-genotype explain, at least in part, the ability of Asian/American ZIKV to cause congenital Zika syndrome (CZS). Recent studies identified mutations in ZIKV infecting humans that arose coincident with the outbreak in French Polynesia and were stably maintained during subsequent spread to the Americas. Here we show that African ZIKV can infect and harm fetuses and that the S139N substitution that has been associated with the American outbreak is not essential for fetal harm. Our findings, in a vertical transmission mouse model, suggest that ZIKV will remain a threat to pregnant women for the foreseeable future, including in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Americas. Additional research is needed to better understand the risks associated with ZIKV infection during pregnancy, both in areas where the virus is newly endemic and where it has been circulating for decades.

Human collectin-11 (<i>COLEC11</i>) and its synergic genetic interaction with <i>MASP2</i> are associated with the pathophysiology of Chagas Disease

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 17 April 2019 - 9:00pm

by Thaisa Lucas Sandri, Fabiana Antunes Andrade, Kárita Cláudia Freitas Lidani, Elias Einig, Angelica Beate Winter Boldt, Benjamin Mordmüller, Meral Esen, Iara J. de Messias Reason

Chagas Disease (CD) is an anthropozoonosis caused by Trypanosoma cruzi. With complex pathophysiology and variable clinical presentation, CD outcome can be influenced by parasite persistence and the host immune response. Complement activation is one of the primary defense mechanisms against pathogens, which can be initiated via pathogen recognition by pattern recognition molecules (PRMs). Collectin-11 is a multifunctional soluble PRM lectin, widely distributed throughout the body, with important participation in host defense, homeostasis, and embryogenesis. In complex with mannose-binding lectin-associated serine proteases (MASPs), collectin-11 may initiate the activation of complement, playing a role against pathogens, including T. cruzi. In this study, collectin-11 plasma levels and COLEC11 variants in exon 7 were assessed in a Brazilian cohort of 251 patients with chronic CD and 108 healthy controls. Gene-gene interactions between COLEC11 and MASP2 variants were analyzed. Collectin-11 levels were significantly decreased in CD patients compared to controls (p<0.0001). The allele rs7567833G, the genotypes rs7567833AG and rs7567833GG, and the COLEC11*GGC haplotype were related to T. cruzi infection and clinical progression towards symptomatic CD. COLEC11 and MASP2*CD risk genotypes were associated with cardiomyopathy (p = 0.014; OR 9.3, 95% CI 1.2–74) and with the cardiodigestive form of CD (p = 0.005; OR 15.2, 95% CI 1.7–137), suggesting that both loci act synergistically in immune modulation of the disease. The decreased levels of collectin-11 in CD patients may be associated with the disease process. The COLEC11 variant rs7567833G and also the COLEC11 and MASP2*CD risk genotype interaction were associated with the pathophysiology of CD.

Geographic shifts in <i>Aedes aegypti</i> habitat suitability in Ecuador using larval surveillance data and ecological niche modeling: Implications of climate change for public health vector control

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 17 April 2019 - 9:00pm

by Catherine A. Lippi, Anna M. Stewart-Ibarra, M. E. Franklin Bajaña Loor, Jose E. Dueñas Zambrano, Nelson A. Espinoza Lopez, Jason K. Blackburn, Sadie J. Ryan

Arboviral disease transmission by Aedes mosquitoes poses a major challenge to public health systems in Ecuador, where constraints on health services and resource allocation call for spatially informed management decisions. Employing a unique dataset of larval occurrence records provided by the Ecuadorian Ministry of Health, we used ecological niche models (ENMs) to estimate the current geographic distribution of Aedes aegypti in Ecuador, using mosquito presence as a proxy for risk of disease transmission. ENMs built with the Genetic Algorithm for Rule-Set Production (GARP) algorithm and a suite of environmental variables were assessed for agreement and accuracy. The top model of larval mosquito presence was projected to the year 2050 under various combinations of greenhouse gas emissions scenarios and models of climate change. Under current climatic conditions, larval mosquitoes were not predicted in areas of high elevation in Ecuador, such as the Andes mountain range, as well as the eastern portion of the Amazon basin. However, all models projected to scenarios of future climate change demonstrated potential shifts in mosquito distribution, wherein range contractions were seen throughout most of eastern Ecuador, and areas of transitional elevation became suitable for mosquito presence. Encroachment of Ae. aegypti into mountainous terrain was estimated to affect up to 4,215 km2 under the most extreme scenario of climate change, an area which would put over 12,000 people currently living in transitional areas at risk. This distributional shift into communities at higher elevations indicates an area of concern for public health agencies, as targeted interventions may be needed to protect vulnerable populations with limited prior exposure to mosquito-borne diseases. Ultimately, the results of this study serve as a tool for informing public health policy and mosquito abatement strategies in Ecuador.

Competence of non-human primates to transmit <i>Leishmania infantum</i> to the invertebrate vector <i>Lutzomyia longipalpis</i>

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 17 April 2019 - 9:00pm

by Ayisa Rodrigues de Oliveira, Guilherme Rafael Gomide Pinheiro, Herlandes P. Tinoco, Maria Elvira Loyola, Carlyle Mendes Coelho, Edelberto Santos Dias, Érika Michalsky Monteiro, Fabiana de Oliveira Lara e Silva, Angela Tinoco Pessanha, Andreza Geisiane Maia Souza, Nathália Cristina Lima Pereira, Nelder F. Gontijo, Ricardo T. Fujiwara, Tatiane Alves da Paixão, Renato Lima Santos

Leishmaniasis is a zoonotic disease of worldwide relevance. Visceral leishmaniasis is endemic in Brazil, where it is caused by Leishmania infantum with Lutzomyia longipalpis being the most important invertebrate vector. Non-human primates are susceptible to L. infantum infection. However, little is known about the role of these species as reservoirs. The aim of this study was to evaluate the transmissibility potential of visceral leishmaniasis by non-human primates through xenodiagnosis using the phlebotomine Lu. longipalpis as well as to identify phlebotomine species prevalent in the area where the primates were kept in captivity, and assess infection by Leishmania in captured phlebotomine specimens. Fifty two non-human primates kept in captivity in an endemic area for leishmaniasis were subjected to xenodiagnosis. All primates were serologically tested for detection of anti-Leishmania antibodies. Additionally, an anti-Lu. longipalpis saliva ELISA was performed. Sand flies fed on all animals were tested by qPCR to identify and quantify L. infantum promastigotes. Eight of the 52 non-human primates were positive by xenodiagnosis, including three Pan troglodytes, three Leontopithecus rosalia, one Sapajus apella, and one Miopithecus talapoin, with estimated numbers of promastigotes ranging from 5.67 to 1,181.93 per μg of DNA. Positive animals had higher levels of IgG anti-Lu. longipalpis saliva when compared to negative animals, prior to xenodiagnosis. Captive non-human primates are capable of infecting Lu. longipalpis with L. infantum. Our findings also demonstrate the relevance of non-human primates as sentinels to zoonotic diseases. Several phlebotomine species, including Lu. longipalpis, have been identified in the area where the primates were maintained, but only one pool of Lutzomyia lenti was infected with L. infantum. This study has implications for public health strategies and conservation medicine.

Ecology and epidemiology of rabies in humans, domestic animals and wildlife in Namibia, 2011-2017

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 16 April 2019 - 9:00pm

by Emmanuel H. Hikufe, Conrad M. Freuling, Rauna Athingo, Albertina Shilongo, Emmy-Else Ndevaetela, Maria Helao, Mathews Shiindi, Rainer Hassel, Alec Bishi, Siegfried Khaiseb, Juliet Kabajani, Jolandie van der Westhuizen, Gregorio Torres, Andrea Britton, Moetapele Letshwenyo, Karin Schwabenbauer, Thomas C. Mettenleiter, Nicolai Denzin, Susanne Amler, Franz J. Conraths, Thomas Müller, Adrianatus Maseke

Rabies is a fatal zoonotic disease that causes a heavy burden on societies. Namibia, a country in southern Africa, is aiming at controlling the disease in its main reservoir, the domestic dog. To facilitate the implementation comprehensive information on the ecology and epidemiology of the disease and surveillance is of utmost importance. The study presented assesses the baseline data for both human and animal rabies surveillance in Namibia in recent times and establishes correlations with ecological and socio-economic data in order to provide an up-to-date picture on the epidemiology of rabies in Namibia. For instance, it was important to identify the main drivers in the epidemiology, and whether the control strategy by mass vaccination of dogs is undermined by cycles of rabies in wildlife. Rabies in humans was reported mainly from the Northern Communal Areas (NCAs), with a total of 113 cases from 2011 to 2017, representing an incidence of between 1.0 and 2.4 annual human rabies deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. Kavango, the region with the highest human rabies incidence was also the region with the lowest animal rabies surveillance intensity. Generally, the vast majority (77%) of dog samples originated from communal farm land, followed by urban areas (17%), while only a small fraction (3%) was submitted from freehold farm areas. In contrast, kudu and eland submissions were almost exclusively from freehold farmland (76%) and urban areas (19%), whereas the submission of cattle samples was evenly distributed among freehold farms (46%) and communal farm land (46%). The likelihood of sample submission decreased exponentially with distance to one of the two laboratories. Overall, 67% (N = 1,907) of all samples submitted tested rabies-positive, with the highest positivity rate observed in kudus (89%) and jackals (87%). The transmission cycle of rabies in dogs appears restricted to the northern communal areas of Namibia, whilst rabies in wildlife species is predominately reported from farmland in central Namibia, mostly affecting kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) and livestock with a likely reservoir in wildlife canids such as jackals or bat-eared foxes. The analysis confirms the presence of two independent transmission cycles in Namibia with little geographic overlap, thus allowing for a sustainable control of rabies in dogs in the NCAs.

The case-area targeted rapid response strategy to control cholera in Haiti: a four-year implementation study

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 16 April 2019 - 9:00pm

by Stanislas Rebaudet, Gregory Bulit, Jean Gaudart, Edwige Michel, Pierre Gazin, Claudia Evers, Samuel Beaulieu, Aaron Aruna Abedi, Lindsay Osei, Robert Barrais, Katilla Pierre, Sandra Moore, Jacques Boncy, Paul Adrien, Florence Duperval Guillaume, Edouard Beigbeder, Renaud Piarroux


In October 2010, Haiti was struck by a large-scale cholera epidemic. The Haitian government, UNICEF and other international partners launched an unprecedented nationwide alert-response strategy in July 2013. Coordinated NGOs recruited local rapid response mobile teams to conduct case-area targeted interventions (CATIs), including education sessions, household decontamination by chlorine spraying, and distribution of chlorine tablets. An innovative red-orange-green alert system was also established to monitor the epidemic at the communal scale on a weekly basis. Our study aimed to describe and evaluate the exhaustiveness, intensity and quality of the CATIs in response to cholera alerts in Haiti between July 2013 and June 2017.

Methodology/principal findings

We analyzed the response to 7,856 weekly cholera alerts using routine surveillance data and severity criteria, which was based on the details of 31,306 notified CATIs. The odds of CATI response during the same week (exhaustiveness) and the number of complete CATIs in responded alerts (intensity and quality) were estimated using multivariate generalized linear mixed models and several covariates. CATIs were carried out significantly more often in response to red alerts (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) [95%-confidence interval, 95%-CI], 2.52 [2.22–2.87]) compared with orange alerts. Significantly more complete CATIs were carried out in response to red alerts compared with orange alerts (adjusted incidence ratio (aIR), 1.85 [1.73–1.99]). Over the course of the eight-semester study, we observed a significant improvement in the exhaustiveness (aOR, 1.43 [1.38–1.48] per semester) as well as the intensity and quality (aIR, 1.23 [1.2–1.25] per semester) of CATI responses, independently of funds available for the strategy. The odds of launching a CATI response significantly decreased with increased rainfall (aOR, 0.99 [0.97–1] per each accumulated cm). Response interventions were significantly heterogeneous between NGOs, communes and departments.


The implementation of a nationwide case-area targeted rapid response strategy to control cholera in Haiti was feasible albeit with certain obstacles. Such feedback from the field and ongoing impact studies will be very informative for actors and international donors involved in cholera control and elimination in Haiti and in other affected countries.

The gendered impact of Buruli ulcer on the household production of health and social support networks: Why decentralization favors women

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 15 April 2019 - 9:00pm

by Ines Elvire Agbo, Roch Christian Johnson, Ghislain Emmanuel Sopoh, Mark Nichter


Buruli ulcer [BU] is a chronic and debilitating neglected tropical skin disease caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans. The treatment of moderate to severe BU affects the well-being of entire households and places a strain on both gender relations within households and social relations with kin asked for various types of support. In this paper, we employ the conceptual lenses provided by the Household Production of Health approach to understanding the impact of illness on the household as a unit of analysis, gender studies, and social support related research to better understand BU health care decision making and the psychosocial experience of BU hospitalization.


An ethnography attentive to circumstance and the nested contexts within which stakeholders respond to BU was conducted employing semi-structured interviews, illness narratives, and case studies. An iterative process of data collection with preliminary analyses and reflection shaped subsequent interviews. Interviews were conducted with 45 women in households having a member afflicted with BU in two communes of Benin with high prevalence rates for BU. The first commune [ZE] has a well-established decentralized BU treatment program and a well-functioning referral network linked to the Allada reference hospital specializing in the care of BU and other chronic ulcers. The second commune [Ouinhi] is one of the last regions of the country to introduce a decentralized BU treatment program. A maximum variation purposeful sample was selected to identify information-rich health care decision cases for in-depth study.

Principal findings

Study results demonstrated that although men are the primary decision makers for healthcare decisions outside the home, women are largely responsible for arranging care for the afflicted in hospital in addition to managing their own households. A woman’s agency and ability to influence the decision-making process is largely based on whatever social support and substitute labor she can mobilize from her own network of kin relations. When support wanes, women are placed in a vulnerable position and often end up destitute. Decentralized BU treatment is preferred because it enables a woman to remain in her own household as a patient or caretaker of an ill family member while engaging in child care and petty revenue earing activities. Remaining in the hospital (a liminal space) as either patient or caretaker also renders a woman vulnerable to rumor and innuendo about sexual liaisons and constitutes a form of social risk. Social risk in some cases eclipses the physical risk of the disease in what we would describe as a hierarchy of risks.


This study illustrates the importance of decentralized treatment programs for NTDs such as BU. Such programs enable patients to remain in their homes while being treated, and do not displace women responsible for the welfare of the entire household. When women are displaced the well-being of the entire household is placed in jeopardy.

Clinical features and genetic background of the sympatric species <i>Paracoccidioides brasiliensis</i> and <i>Paracoccidioides americana</i>

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 15 April 2019 - 9:00pm

by Priscila Marques de Macedo, Marcus de Melo Teixeira, Bridget M. Barker, Rosely Maria Zancopé-Oliveira, Rodrigo Almeida-Paes, Antonio Carlos Francesconi do Valle


The agents of paracoccidioidomycosis, historically identified as Paracoccidioides brasiliensis, are in fact different phylogenetic species. This study aims to evaluate associations between Paracoccidioides phylogenetic species and corresponding clinical data.


Paracoccidioides strains from INI/Fiocruz patients (1998–2016) were recovered. Socio-demographic, epidemiological, clinical, serological, therapeutic and prognostic data of the patients were collected to evaluate possible associations of these variables with the fungal species identified through partial sequencing of the ADP-ribosylation factor (arf) and the 43-kDa-glycoprotein (gp43) genes.


Fifty-four fungal strains were recovered from 47 patients, most (72.3%) infected in Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil. Forty-one cases were caused by Paracoccidioides brasiliensis and six by Paracoccidioides americana (former PS2). P. brasiliensis was responsible for severe lymph abdominal forms, whereas patients infected with P. americana presented a high rate of adrenal involvement. However, no statistically significant associations were found for all variables studied. P. americana presented 100% reactivity to immunodiffusion, even when tested against antigens from other species, while negative results were observed in 9 (20%) cases caused by P. brasiliensis, despite being tested against a homologous antigen.


P. brasiliensis and P. americana are sympatric and share similar clinical features and habitat, where they may compete for similar hosts.

A combination of incidence data and mobility proxies from social media predicts the intra-urban spread of dengue in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 15 April 2019 - 9:00pm

by Aditya Lia Ramadona, Yesim Tozan, Lutfan Lazuardi, Joacim Rocklöv

Only a few studies have investigated the potential of using geotagged social media data for predicting the patterns of spatio-temporal spread of vector-borne diseases. We herein demonstrated the role of human mobility in the intra-urban spread of dengue by weighting local incidence data with geo-tagged Twitter data as a proxy for human mobility across 45 neighborhoods in Yogyakarta city, Indonesia. To estimate the dengue virus importation pressure in each study neighborhood monthly, we developed an algorithm to estimate a dynamic mobility-weighted incidence index (MI), which quantifies the level of exposure to virus importation in any given neighborhood. Using a Bayesian spatio-temporal regression model, we estimated the coefficients and predictiveness of the MI index for lags up to 6 months. Specifically, we used a Poisson regression model with an unstructured spatial covariance matrix. We compared the predictability of the MI index to that of the dengue incidence rate over the preceding months in the same neighborhood (autocorrelation) and that of the mobility information alone. We based our estimates on a volume of 1·302·405 geotagged tweets (from 118·114 unique users) and monthly dengue incidence data for the 45 study neighborhoods in Yogyakarta city over the period from August 2016 to June 2018. The MI index, as a standalone variable, had the highest explanatory power for predicting dengue transmission risk in the study neighborhoods, with the greatest predictive ability at a 3-months lead time. The MI index was a better predictor of the dengue risk in a neighborhood than the recent transmission patterns in the same neighborhood, or just the mobility patterns between neighborhoods. Our results suggest that human mobility is an important driver of the spread of dengue within cities when combined with information on local circulation of the dengue virus. The geotagged Twitter data can provide important information on human mobility patterns to improve our understanding of the direction and the risk of spread of diseases, such as dengue. The proposed MI index together with traditional data sources can provide useful information for the development of more accurate and efficient early warning and response systems.

Non-typhoid <i>Salmonella</i> blood stream infection in Kuwait: Clinical and microbiological characteristics

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 15 April 2019 - 9:00pm

by M. John Albert, Dieter Bulach, Wadha Alfouzan, Hidemasa Izumiya, Glen Garter, Khaled Alobaid, Fatemah Alatar, Abdul Rashid Sheikh, Laurent Poirel

Non-typhoid Salmonella (NTS) bacteremia is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. It is considered to be an emerging and neglected tropical disease in Africa. We studied this in two tertiary hospitals–Al Farwaniya and Al Amiri–in Kuwait, a subtropical country, from April 2013-May 2016. NTS bacteremia was present in 30 of 53,860 (0.75%) and 31 of 290,36 (1.33%) blood cultures in the two hospitals respectively. In Al Farwaniya hospital, one-third of the patients were from some tropical developing countries of Asia. About 66% of all patients (40/61) had diarrhea, and of these, 65% had the corresponding blood serovar isolated from stool culture. A few patients had Salmonella cultured from urine. Patients were either young or old. Most of the patients had co-morbidities affecting the immune system. Two patients each died in both hospitals. The number of different serovars cultured in each hospital was 13, and most infections were due to S. Enteritidis (all sequence type [ST]) 11) and S. Typhimurium (all ST19) except in subgroup of expatriate patients from tropical developing countries in Al Farwaniya hospital. About quarter of the isolates were multidrug-resistant. Most patients were treated with a cephalosporin with or without other antibiotics. S. Enteritidis and S. Typhimurium isolates were typed by pulsed field-gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and a selected number of isolates were whole-genome sequenced. Up to four different clades were present by PFGE in either species. Whole-genome sequenced isolates showed antibiotic-resistance genes that showed phenotypic correlation, and in some cases, phenotypes showed absence of specific genes. Whole-genome sequenced isolates showed presence of genes that contributed to blood-stream infection. Phylogeny by core genome analysis showed a close relationship with S. Typhimurium and S. Enteritidis from other parts of the world. The uniqueness of our study included the finding of a low prevalence of infection, mortality and multidrug-resistance, a relatively high prevalence of gastrointestinal infection in patients, and the characterization of selected isolates of S. Typhimurium and S. Enteritidis serovars by whole-genome sequencing that shed light on phylogeny, virulence and resistance. Similarities with studies from developing countries especially Africa included infection in patients with co-morbidities affecting the immune system, predominance of S. Typhimurium and S. Enteritidis serovars and presence of drug-resistance in isolates.

<i>Aedes aegypti</i> HPX8C modulates immune responses against viral infection

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 15 April 2019 - 9:00pm

by Ju-Mei Wang, Yang Cheng, Zuo-Kun Shi, Xiao-Feng Li, Long-Sheng Xing, Hong Jiang, Dan Wen, Yong-Qiang Deng, Ai-Hua Zheng, Cheng-Feng Qin, Zhen Zou

Mosquitoes act as vectors of numerous pathogens that cause human diseases. Dengue virus (DENV) transmitted by mosquito, Aedes aegypti, is responsible for dengue fever epidemics worldwide with a serious impact on human health. Currently, disease control mainly relies on vector targeted intervention strategies. Therefore, it is imperative to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying the innate immune response of mosquitoes against pathogens. In the present study, the expression profiles of immunity-related genes in the midgut responding to DENV infection by feeding were analyzed by transcriptome and quantitative real-time PCR. The level of Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) increased seven days post-infection (d.p.i.), which could be induced by the Toll immune pathway. The expression of reactive oxygen species (ROS) genes, including antioxidant genes, such as HPX7, HPX8A, HPX8B, HPX8C were induced at one d.p.i. and peaked again at ten d.p.i. in the midgut. Interestingly, down-regulation of the antioxidant gene HPX8C by RNA interference led to reduction in the virus titer in the mosquito, probably due to the elevated levels of ROS. Application of a ROS inhibitor and scavenger molecules further established the role of oxygen free radicals in the modulation of the immune response to DENV infection. Overall, our comparative transcriptome analyses provide valuable information about the regulation of immunity related genes in the transmission vector in response to DENV infection. It further allows us to identify novel molecular mechanisms underlying the host-virus interaction, which might aid in the development of novel strategies to control mosquito-borne diseases.

Low population Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) seroprevalence in Udayapur district, Nepal, three years after a JE vaccination programme: A case for further catch up campaigns?

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 15 April 2019 - 9:00pm

by Lance Turtle, Hannah E. Brindle, William Schluter, Brian Faragher, Ajit Rayamajhi, Rajendra Bohara, Santosh Gurung, Geeta Shakya, Sutee Yoksan, Sameer Dixit, Rajesh Rajbhandari, Bimal Paudel, Shailaja Adhikari, Tom Solomon, Mike J. Griffiths

The live attenuated Japanese encephalitis (JE) vaccine SA14-14-2 has been used in Nepal for catch-up campaigns and is now included in the routine immunisation schedule. Previous studies have shown good vaccine efficacy after one dose in districts with a high incidence of JE. The first well-documented dengue outbreak occurred in Nepal in 2006 with ongoing cases now thought to be secondary to migration from India. Previous infection with dengue virus (DENV) partially protects against JE and might also influence serum neutralising antibody titres against JEV. This study aimed to determine whether serum anti-JEV neutralisation titres are: 1. maintained over time since vaccination, 2. vary with historic local JE incidence, and 3. are associated with DENV neutralising antibody levels. We conducted a cross-sectional study in three districts of Nepal: Banke, Rupandehi and Udayapur. Udayapur district had been vaccinated against JE most recently (2009), but had been the focus of only one campaign, compared with two in Banke and three in Rupandehi. Participants answered a short questionnaire and serum was assayed for anti-JEV and anti-DENV IgM and IgG (by ELISA) and 50% plaque reduction neutralisation titres (PRNT50) against JEV and DENV serotypes 1–4. A titre of ≥1:10 was considered seropositive to the respective virus. JEV neutralising antibody seroprevalence (PRNT50 ≥ 1:10) was 81% in Banke and Rupandehi, but only 41% in Udayapur, despite this district being vaccinated more recently. Sensitivity of ELISA for both anti-JEV and anti-DENV antibodies was low compared with PRNT50. DENV neutralising antibody correlated with the JEV PRNT50 ≥1:10, though the effect was modest. IgM (indicating recent infection) against both viruses was detected in a small number of participants. We also show that DENV IgM is present in Nepali subjects who have not travelled to India, suggesting that DENV may have become established in Nepal. We therefore propose that further JE vaccine campaigns should be considered in Udayapur district, and similar areas that have had fewer vaccination campaigns.

Case report: A retrospective serological analysis indicating human exposure to tick-borne relapsing fever spirochetes in Sonora, Mexico

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 11 April 2019 - 9:00pm

by Edwin Vázquez-Guerrero, Norma P. Adan-Bante, Mónica C. Mercado-Uribe, César Hernández-Rodríguez, Lourdes Villa-Tanaca, Job E. Lopez, J. Antonio Ibarra

Challenges and opportunities for control and elimination of soil-transmitted helminth infection beyond 2020

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 11 April 2019 - 9:00pm

by Matthew C. Freeman, Oladele Akogun, Vicente Belizario Jr., Simon J. Brooker, Theresa W. Gyorkos, Rubina Imtiaz, Alejandro Krolewiecki, Seung Lee, Sultani H. Matendechero, Rachel L. Pullan, Jürg Utzinger

Broken drug markets in infectious diseases: Opportunities outside the private sector?

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 11 April 2019 - 9:00pm

by Jonathan D. Alpern, Stephen J. Dunlop, William M. Stauffer

Author summary: A subset of anti-infective drugs are increasingly unavailable for patients in the United States due to pricing or withdrawal from the market. Timely market solutions are needed. We assert that solutions to ensure access to some essential anti-infective agents lie outside capital markets and that public-private partnerships may be the most viable solution.

Reversal of liver fibrosis after splenectomy in a patient with advanced schistosomiasis japonica: A case report with 4-year follow-up

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 11 April 2019 - 9:00pm

by Langui Song, Beibei Zhang, Jiahua Liu, Min Wang, Xiaohe Ma, Lifu Wang, Xiaoying Wu, Zhongdao Wu, Tianping Wang