RSS news feeds

A high-throughput phenotypic screen identifies clofazimine as a potential treatment for cryptosporidiosis

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 3 February 2017 - 10:00pm

by Melissa S. Love, Federico C. Beasley, Rajiv S. Jumani, Timothy M. Wright, Arnab K. Chatterjee, Christopher D. Huston, Peter G. Schultz, Case W. McNamara

Cryptosporidiosis has emerged as a leading cause of non-viral diarrhea in children under five years of age in the developing world, yet the current standard of care to treat Cryptosporidium infections, nitazoxanide, demonstrates limited and immune-dependent efficacy. Given the lack of treatments with universal efficacy, drug discovery efforts against cryptosporidiosis are necessary to find therapeutics more efficacious than the standard of care. To date, cryptosporidiosis drug discovery efforts have been limited to a few targeted mechanisms in the parasite and whole cell phenotypic screens against small, focused collections of compounds. Using a previous screen as a basis, we initiated the largest known drug discovery effort to identify novel anticryptosporidial agents. A high-content imaging assay for inhibitors of Cryptosporidium parvum proliferation within a human intestinal epithelial cell line was miniaturized and automated to enable high-throughput phenotypic screening against a large, diverse library of small molecules. A screen of 78,942 compounds identified 12 anticryptosporidial hits with sub-micromolar activity, including clofazimine, an FDA-approved drug for the treatment of leprosy, which demonstrated potent and selective in vitro activity (EC50 = 15 nM) against C. parvum. Clofazimine also displayed activity against C. hominis–the other most clinically-relevant species of Cryptosporidium. Importantly, clofazimine is known to accumulate within epithelial cells of the small intestine, the primary site of Cryptosporidium infection. In a mouse model of acute cryptosporidiosis, a once daily dosage regimen for three consecutive days or a single high dose resulted in reduction of oocyst shedding below the limit detectable by flow cytometry. Recently, a target product profile (TPP) for an anticryptosporidial compound was proposed by Huston et al. and highlights the need for a short dosing regimen (< 7 days) and formulations for children < 2 years. Clofazimine has a long history of use and has demonstrated a good safety profile for a disease that requires chronic dosing for a period of time ranging 3–36 months. These results, taken with clofazimine’s status as an FDA-approved drug with over four decades of use for the treatment of leprosy, support the continued investigation of clofazimine both as a new chemical tool for understanding cryptosporidium biology and a potential new treatment of cryptosporidiosis.

TrypsNetDB: An integrated framework for the functional characterization of trypanosomatid proteins

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 3 February 2017 - 10:00pm

by Vahid H. Gazestani, Chun Wai Yip, Najmeh Nikpour, Natasha Berghuis, Reza Salavati

Trypanosomatid parasites cause serious infections in humans and production losses in livestock. Due to the high divergence from other eukaryotes, such as humans and model organisms, the functional roles of many trypanosomatid proteins cannot be predicted by homology-based methods, rendering a significant portion of their proteins as uncharacterized. Recent technological advances have led to the availability of multiple systematic and genome-wide datasets on trypanosomatid parasites that are informative regarding the biological role(s) of their proteins. Here, we report TrypsNetDB (, a web-based resource for the functional annotation of 16 different species/strains of trypanosomatid parasites. The database not only visualizes the network context of the queried protein(s) in an intuitive way but also examines the response of the represented network in more than 50 different biological contexts and its enrichment for various biological terms and pathways, protein sequence signatures, and potential RNA regulatory elements. The interactome core of the database, as of Jan 23, 2017, contains 101,187 interactions among 13,395 trypanosomatid proteins inferred from 97 genome-wide and focused studies on the interactome of these organisms.

Schistosome infectivity in the snail, <i>Biomphalaria glabrata</i>, is partially dependent on the expression of Grctm6, a Guadeloupe Resistance Complex protein.

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 3 February 2017 - 10:00pm

by Euan R. O. Allan, Jacob A. Tennessen, Stephanie R. Bollmann, Patrick C. Hanington, Christopher J. Bayne, Michael S. Blouin

Schistosomiasis is one of the most important neglected tropical diseases. Despite effective chemotherapeutic treatments, this disease continues to afflict hundreds of millions of people. Understanding the natural intermediate snail hosts of schistosome parasites is vital to the suppression of this disease. A recently identified genomic region in Caribbean Biomphalaria glabrata snails strongly influences their resistance to infection by Schistosoma mansoni. This region contains novel genes having structural similarity to known pathogen recognition proteins. Here we elaborate on the probable structure and role of one of these genes, grctm6. We characterised the expression of Grctm6 in a population of Caribbean snails, and performed a siRNA knockdown of Grctm6. We show that this protein is not only expressed in B. glabrata hemolymph, but that it also has a role in modulating the number of S. mansoni cercariae released by infected snails, making it a possible target for the biological control of schistosomiasis.

Recombinant snakebite antivenoms: A cost-competitive solution to a neglected tropical disease?

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 3 February 2017 - 10:00pm

by Andreas H. Laustsen, Kristoffer H. Johansen, Mikael Engmark, Mikael R. Andersen

Snakebite envenoming is a major public health burden in tropical parts of the developing world. In sub-Saharan Africa, neglect has led to a scarcity of antivenoms threatening the lives and limbs of snakebite victims. Technological advances within antivenom are warranted, but should be evaluated not only on their possible therapeutic impact, but also on their cost-competitiveness. Recombinant antivenoms based on oligoclonal mixtures of human IgG antibodies produced by CHO cell cultivation may be the key to obtaining better snakebite envenoming therapies. Based on industry data, the cost of treatment for a snakebite envenoming with a recombinant antivenom is estimated to be in the range USD 60–250 for the Final Drug Product. One of the effective antivenoms (SAIMR Snake Polyvalent Antivenom from the South African Vaccine Producers) currently on the market has been reported to have a wholesale price of USD 640 per treatment for an average snakebite. Recombinant antivenoms may therefore in the future be a cost-competitive alternative to existing serum-based antivenoms.

DNA multigene characterization of <i>Fasciola hepatica</i> and <i>Lymnaea neotropica</i> and its fascioliasis transmission capacity in Uruguay, with historical correlation, human report review and infection risk analysis

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 3 February 2017 - 10:00pm

by María Dolores Bargues, Valeria Gayo, Jaime Sanchis, Patricio Artigas, Messaoud Khoubbane, Soledad Birriel, Santiago Mas-Coma


Fascioliasis is a pathogenic disease transmitted by lymnaeid snails and recently emerging in humans, in part due to effects of climate changes, anthropogenic environment modifications, import/export and movements of livestock. South America is the continent presenting more human fascioliasis hyperendemic areas and the highest prevalences and intensities known. These scenarios appear mainly linked to altitude areas in Andean countries, whereas lowland areas of non-Andean countries, such as Uruguay, only show sporadic human cases or outbreaks. A study including DNA marker sequencing of fasciolids and lymnaeids, an experimental study of the life cycle in Uruguay, and a review of human fascioliasis in Uruguay, are performed.

Methodology/Principal findings

The characterization of Fasciola hepatica from cattle and horses of Uruguay included the complete sequences of the ribosomal DNA ITS-2 and ITS-1 and mitochondrial DNA cox1 and nad1. ITS-2, ITS-1, partial cox1 and rDNA 16S gene of mtDNA were used for lymnaeids. Results indicated that vectors belong to Lymnaea neotropica instead of to Lymnaea viator, as always reported from Uruguay. The life cycle and transmission features of F. hepatica by L. neotropica of Uruguay were studied under standardized experimental conditions to enable a comparison with the transmission capacity of F. hepatica by Galba truncatula at very high altitude in Bolivia. On this baseline, we reviewed the 95 human fascioliasis cases reported in Uruguay and analyzed the risk of human infection in front of future climate change estimations.


The correlation of fasciolid and lymnaeid haplotypes with historical data on the introduction and spread of livestock into Uruguay allowed to understand the molecular diversity detected. Although Uruguayan L. neotropica is a highly efficient vector, its transmission capacity is markedly lower than that of Bolivian G. truncatula. This allows to understand the transmission and epidemiological differences between Andean highlands and non-Andean lowlands in South America. Despite rainfall increase predictions for Uruguay, nothing suggests a trend towards a worrying human infection scenario as in Andean areas.

<i>Plasmodium vivax</i> Cell Traversal Protein for Sporozoites and Ookinetes (PvCelTOS) gene sequence and potential epitopes are highly conserved among isolates from different regions of Brazilian Amazon

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 3 February 2017 - 10:00pm

by Lana Bitencourt Chaves, Daiana de Souza Perce da Silva, Rodrigo Nunes Rodrigues da Silva, João Hermínio Martins da Silva, Gustavo Capatti Cassiano, Ricardo Luiz Dantas Machado, Lilian Rose Pratt-Riccio, Dalma Maria Banic, Josué da Costa Lima Junior

The Plasmodium vivax Cell-traversal protein for ookinetes and sporozoites (PvCelTOS) plays an important role in traversal of host cells. Even essential to PvCelTOS progress as a vaccine candidate, the knowledge about its genetic diversity remains uncharted. Therefore, we investigated the PvCelTOS genetic polymorphism in 119 field isolates from five different regions of Brazilian Amazon Region (Manaus, Novo Repartimento, Porto Velho, Plácido de Castro and Oiapoque). Moreover, we also evaluate the potential impact of non-synonymous mutations found in predicted structure and epitopes of PvCelTOS. Our data show that field isolates presented high similarity (99.3% of bp) with the reference Sal-1 strain, presenting only four Single-Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) at positions 24A, 28A, 109A and 352C. The frequency of synonymous C109A (82%) was higher than all others (p<0.0001). However, the non-synonymous G28A and G352C were observed in 9.2% and 11.7% of isolates. The great majority of the isolates (79.8%) revealed complete amino acid sequence homology with Sal-1, 10.9% presented complete homology with Brazil I and two undescribed PvCelTOS sequences were observed in 9.2% of field isolates. Concerning the prediction analysis, the N-terminal substitution (G10S) was predicted to be within a B-cell epitope (PvCelTOS Accession Nos. AB194053.1) and exposed at protein surface, while the V118L substitution is not a predicted epitope. Therefore, our data suggest that despite G28A SNP could interfere in potential B-cell epitopes at N-terminal region PvCelTOS, the gene sequence is highly conserved among isolates from different geographic regions, being an important feature in relation to its potential as a vaccine candidate.

Specific anti-glycan antibodies are sustained during and after parasite clearance in <i>Schistosoma japonicum</i>-infected rhesus macaques

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 2 February 2017 - 10:00pm

by Y. Y. Michelle Yang, Xiao Hong Li, Katarzyna Brzezicka, Niels-Christian Reichardt, R. Alan Wilson, Angela van Diepen, Cornelis H. Hokke


Human immunity to Schistosoma infection requires many years of exposure, and multiple infections and treatments to develop. Unlike humans, rhesus macaques clear an established schistosome infection naturally at the same time acquiring immunity towards re-infection. In macaques, schistosome egg production decreases after 8 weeks post-infection and by week 22, physiological impairment of the worm caused by unclarified antibody-mediated processes is observed. Since strong antibody responses have been observed against schistosome glycan antigens in human and animal infections, we here investigate if anti-glycan antibodies are associated with immunity against schistosome infections in macaques.


We used a microarray containing a large repertoire of glycoprotein- and glycolipid-derived glycans from different schistosome life stages to analyse anti-glycan serum IgG and IgM from S. japonicum-infected macaques during the course of infection and self-cure. We also used an in vitro schistosomula assay to investigate whether macaque sera containing anti-glycan antibodies can kill schistosomula.


Antibody responses towards schistosome glycans at week 4 post-infection were dominated by IgM while IgG was high at week 8. The profound increase in IgG was observed mainly for antibodies towards a large subset of glycans that contain (multi-)fucosylated terminal GalNAcβ1-4GlcNAc (LDN), and Galβ1-4(Fucα1–3)GlcNAc (LeX) motifs. In general, glycans with a higher degree of fucosylation gave rise to stronger antibody responses than non-fucosylated glycans. Interestingly, even though many IgG and IgM responses had declined by week 22 post-infection, IgG towards O-glycans with highly fucosylated LDN motifs remained. When incubating macaque serum with schistosomula in vitro, schistosomula death was positively correlated with the duration of infection of macaques; macaque serum taken 22 weeks post-infection caused most schistosomula to die, suggesting the presence of potentially protective antibodies. We hypothesize that IgGs against highly fucosylated LDN motifs that remain when the worms deteriorate are associated with infection clearance and the resistance to re-infection in macaques.

CD8 T cells protect adult naive mice from JEV-induced morbidity via lytic function

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 2 February 2017 - 10:00pm

by Nidhi Jain, Neelam Oswal, Amanpreet Singh Chawla, Tanvi Agrawal, Moanaro Biswas, Sudhanshu Vrati, Satyajit Rath, Anna George, Vineeta Bal, Guruprasad R. Medigeshi

Following Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) infection neutralizing antibodies are shown to provide protection in a significant proportion of cases, but not all, suggesting additional components of immune system might also contribute to elicit protective immune response. Here we have characterized the role of T cells in offering protection in adult mice infected with JEV. Mice lacking α/β–T cells (TCRβ–null) are highly susceptible and die over 10–18 day period as compared to the wild-type (WT) mice which are resistant. This is associated with high viral load, higher mRNA levels of proinflammatory cytokines and breach in the blood-brain-barrier (BBB). Infected WT mice do not show a breach in BBB; however, in contrast to TCRβ-null, they show the presence of T cells in the brain. Using adoptive transfer of cells with specific genetic deficiencies we see that neither the presence of CD4 T cells nor cytokines such as IL-4, IL-10 or interferon-gamma have any significant role in offering protection from primary infection. In contrast, we show that CD8 T cell deficiency is more critical as absence of CD8 T cells alone increases mortality in mice infected with JEV. Further, transfer of T cells from beige mice with defects in granular lytic function into TCRβ-null mice shows poor protection implicating granule-mediated target cell lysis as an essential component for survival. In addition, for the first time we report that γ/δ-T cells also make significant contribution to confer protection from JEV infection. Our data show that effector CD8 T cells play a protective role during primary infection possibly by preventing the breach in BBB and neuronal damage.

Update on Zika Diagnostic Tests and WHO’s Related Activities

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 2 February 2017 - 10:00pm

by Arlene Chua, Irena Prat, Claudius Micha Nuebling, David Wood, Francis Moussy

Predicting Ebola Severity: A Clinical Prioritization Score for Ebola Virus Disease

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 2 February 2017 - 10:00pm

by Mary-Anne Hartley, Alyssa Young, Anh-Minh Tran, Harry Henry Okoni-Williams, Mohamed Suma, Brooke Mancuso, Ahmed Al-Dikhari, Mohamed Faouzi


Despite the notoriety of Ebola virus disease (EVD) as one of the world’s most deadly infections, EVD has a wide range of outcomes, where asymptomatic infection may be almost as common as fatality. With increasingly sensitive EVD diagnosis, there is a need for more accurate prognostic tools that objectively stratify clinical severity to better allocate limited resources and identify those most in need of intensive treatment.

Methods/Principal Findings

This retrospective cohort study analyses the clinical characteristics of 158 EVD(+) patients at the GOAL-Mathaska Ebola Treatment Centre, Sierra Leone. The prognostic potential of each characteristic was assessed and incorporated into a statistically weighted disease score. The mortality rate among EVD(+) patients was 60.8% and highest in those aged <5 or >25 years (p<0.05). Death was significantly associated with malaria co-infection (OR = 2.5, p = 0.01). However, this observation was abrogated after adjustment to Ebola viral load (p = 0.1), potentially indicating a pathologic synergy between the infections. Similarly, referral-time interacted with viral load, and adjustment revealed referral-time as a significant determinant of mortality, thus quantifying the benefits of early reporting as a 12% mortality risk reduction per day (p = 0.012). Disorientation was the strongest unadjusted predictor of death (OR = 13.1, p = 0.014) followed by hiccups, diarrhoea, conjunctivitis, dyspnoea and myalgia. Including these characteristics in multivariate prognostic scores, we obtained a 91% and 97% ability to discriminate death at or after triage respectively (area under ROC curve).


This study proposes highly predictive and easy-to-use prognostic tools, which stratify the risk of EVD mortality at or after EVD triage.

Transmission dynamics and elimination potential of zoonotic tuberculosis in morocco

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 2 February 2017 - 10:00pm

by Mahamat Fayiz Abakar, Hind Yahyaoui Azami, Philipp Justus Bless, Lisa Crump, Petra Lohmann, Mirjam Laager, Nakul Chitnis, Jakob Zinsstag

Bovine tuberculosis (BTB) is an endemic zoonosis in Morocco caused by Mycobacterium bovis, which infects many domestic animals and is transmitted to humans through consumption of raw milk or from contact with infected animals. The prevalence of BTB in Moroccan cattle is estimated at 18%, and 33% at the individual and the herd level respectively, but the human M. bovis burden needs further clarification. The current control strategy based on test and slaughter should be improved through local context adaptation taking into account a suitable compensation in order to reduce BTB prevalence in Morocco and decrease the disease burden in humans and animals. We established a simple compartmental deterministic mathematical model for BTB transmission in cattle and humans to provide a general understanding of BTB, in particular regarding transmission to humans. Differential equations were used to model the different pathways between the compartments for cattle and humans. Scenarios of test and slaughter were simulated to determine the effects of varying the proportion of tested animals (p) on the time to elimination of BTB (individual animal prevalence of less than one in a thousand) in cattle and humans. The time to freedom from disease ranged from 75 years for p = 20% to 12 years for p = 100%. For p > 60% the time to elimination was less than 20 years. The cumulated cost was largely stable: for p values higher than 40%, cost ranged from 1.47 to 1.60 billion euros with a time frame of 12 to 32 years to reach freedom from disease. The model simulations also suggest that using a 2mm cut off instead of a 4mm cut off in the Single Intradermal Comparative Cervical Tuberculin skin test (SICCT) would result in cheaper and quicker elimination programs. This analysis informs Moroccan bovine tuberculosis control policy regarding time frame, range of cost and levels of intervention. However, further research is needed to clarify the national human-bovine tuberculosis ratio in Morocco.

Exploring local knowledge and perceptions on zoonoses among pastoralists in northern and eastern Tanzania

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 1 February 2017 - 10:00pm

by Peter Ernest Mangesho, Moses Ole Neselle, Esron D. Karimuribo, James E. Mlangwa, Kevin Queenan, Leonard E. G. Mboera, Jonathan Rushton, Richard Kock, Barbara Häsler, Angwara Kiwara, Mark Rweyemamu


Zoonoses account for the most commonly reported emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, there is limited knowledge on how pastoral communities perceive zoonoses in relation to their livelihoods, culture and their wider ecology. This study was carried out to explore local knowledge and perceptions on zoonoses among pastoralists in Tanzania.

Methodology and principal findings

This study involved pastoralists in Ngorongoro district in northern Tanzania and Kibaha and Bagamoyo districts in eastern Tanzania. Qualitative methods of focus group discussions, participatory epidemiology and interviews were used. A total of 223 people were involved in the study. Among the pastoralists, there was no specific term in their local language that describes zoonosis. Pastoralists from northern Tanzania possessed a higher understanding on the existence of a number of zoonoses than their eastern districts' counterparts. Understanding of zoonoses could be categorized into two broad groups: a local syndromic framework, whereby specific symptoms of a particular illness in humans concurred with symptoms in animals, and the biomedical framework, where a case definition is supported by diagnostic tests. Some pastoralists understand the possibility of some infections that could cross over to humans from animals but harm from these are generally tolerated and are not considered as threats. A number of social and cultural practices aimed at maintaining specific cultural functions including social cohesion and rites of passage involve animal products, which present zoonotic risk.


These findings show how zoonoses are locally understood, and how epidemiology and biomedicine are shaping pastoralists perceptions to zoonoses. Evidence is needed to understand better the true burden and impact of zoonoses in these communities. More studies are needed that seek to clarify the common understanding of zoonoses that could be used to guide effective and locally relevant interventions. Such studies should consider in their approaches the pastoralists’ wider social, cultural and economic set up.

Disinfection of Ebola Virus in Sterilized Municipal Wastewater

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 1 February 2017 - 10:00pm

by Kyle Bibby, Robert J. Fischer, Leonard W. Casson, Nathalia Aquino de Carvalho, Charles N. Haas, Vincent J. Munster

Concerns have been raised regarding handling of Ebola virus contaminated wastewater, as well as the adequacy of proposed disinfection approaches. In the current study, we investigate the inactivation of Ebola virus in sterilized domestic wastewater utilizing sodium hypochlorite addition and pH adjustment. No viral inactivation was observed in the one-hour tests without sodium hypochlorite addition or pH adjustment. No virus was recovered after 20 seconds (i.e. 4.2 log10 unit inactivation to detection limit) following the addition of 5 and 10 mg L-1 sodium hypochlorite, which resulted in immediate free chlorine residuals of 0.52 and 1.11 mg L-1, respectively. The addition of 1 mg L-1 sodium hypochlorite resulted in an immediate free chlorine residual of 0.16 mg L-1, which inactivated 3.5 log10 units of Ebola virus in 20 seconds. Further inactivation was not evident due to the rapid consumption of the chlorine residual. Elevating the pH to 11.2 was found to significantly increase viral decay over ambient conditions. These results indicate the high susceptibility of the enveloped Ebola virus to disinfection in the presence of free chlorine in municipal wastewater; however, we caution that extension to more complex matrices (e.g. bodily fluids) will require additional verification.

Costs of Transmission Assessment Surveys to Provide Evidence for the Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 1 February 2017 - 10:00pm

by Molly A. Brady, Rachel Stelmach, Margaret Davide-Smith, Jim Johnson, Bolivar Pou, Joseph Koroma, Kingsley Frimpong, Angela Weaver


To reach the global goal of elimination of lymphatic filariasis as a public health problem by 2020, national programs will have to implement a series of transmission assessment surveys (TAS) to determine prevalence of the disease by evaluation unit. It is expected that 4,671 surveys will be required by 2020. Planning in advance for the costs associated with these surveys is essential to ensure that the required resources are available for this essential program activity.

Methodology and Findings

Retrospective cost data was collected from reports from 13 countries which implemented a total of 105 TAS surveys following a standardized World Health Organization (WHO) protocol between 2012 and 2014. The median cost per survey was $21,170 (including the costs for rapid diagnostic tests [RDTs]) and $9,540 excluding those costs. Median cost per cluster sampled (without RDT costs) was $101. Analysis of costs (excluding RDTs) by category showed that the main cost drivers were personnel and travel.


Transmission assessment surveys are critical to collect evidence to validate elimination of LF as a public health problem. National programs and donors can use the costing results to adequately plan and forecast the resources required to undertake the necessary activities to conduct high-quality transmission assessment surveys.

Distinct antibody responses of patients with mild and severe leptospirosis determined by whole proteome microarray analysis

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 31 January 2017 - 10:00pm

by Carolina Lessa-Aquino, Janet C. Lindow, Arlo Randall, Elsio Wunder, Jozelyn Pablo, Rie Nakajima, Algis Jasinskas, Jaqueline S. Cruz, Alcineia O. Damião, Nívison Nery, Guilherme S. Ribeiro, Federico Costa, José E. Hagan, Mitermayer Galvão Reis, Albert I. Ko, Marco Alberto Medeiros, Philip L. Felgner


Leptospirosis is an important zoonotic disease worldwide. Humans usually present a mild non-specific febrile illness, but a proportion of them develop more severe outcomes, such as by multi-organ failure, lung hemorrhage and death. Such complications are thought to depend on several factors, including the host immunity. Protective immunity is associated with humoral immune response, but little is known about the immune response mounted during naturally-acquired Leptospira infection.

Methods and principal findings

Here, we used protein microarray chip to profile the antibody responses of patients with severe and mild leptospirosis against the complete Leptospira interrogans serovar Copenhageni predicted ORFeome. We discovered a limited number of immunodominant antigens, with 36 antigens specific to patients, of which 11 were potential serodiagnostic antigens, identified at acute phase, and 33 were potential subunit vaccine targets, detected after recovery. Moreover, we found distinct antibody profiles in patients with different clinical outcomes: in the severe group, overall IgM responses do not change and IgG responses increase over time, while both IgM and IgG responses remain stable in the mild patient group. Analyses of individual patients’ responses showed that >74% of patients in the severe group had significant IgG increases over time compared to 29% of patients in the mild group. Additionally, 90% of IgM responses did not change over time in the mild group, compared to ~51% in the severe group.


In the present study, we detected antibody profiles associated with disease severity and speculate that patients with mild disease were protected from severe outcomes due to pre-existing antibodies, while patients with severe leptospirosis demonstrated an antibody profile typical of first exposure. Our findings represent a significant advance in the understanding of the humoral immune response to Leptospira infection, and we have identified new targets for the development of subunit vaccines and diagnostic tests.

Modeling Powassan virus infection in <i>Peromyscus leucopus</i>, a natural host

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 31 January 2017 - 10:00pm

by Luwanika Mlera, Kimberly Meade-White, Greg Saturday, Dana Scott, Marshall E. Bloom

The tick-borne flavivirus, Powassan virus (POWV) causes life-threatening encephalitis in humans in North America and Europe. POWV is transmitted by ixodid tick vectors that feed on small to medium-sized mammals, such as Peromyscus leucopus mice, which may serve as either reservoir, bridge or amplification hosts. Intraperitoneal and intracranial inoculation of 4-week old Peromyscus leucopus mice with 103 PFU of POWV did not result in overt clinical signs of disease. However, following intracranial inoculation, infected mice seroconverted to POWV and histopathological examinations revealed that the mice uniformly developed mild lymphocytic perivascular cuffing and microgliosis in the brain and spinal cord from 5 to 15 days post infection (dpi), suggesting an early inflammatory response. In contrast, intracranial inoculation of 4-week old C57BL/6 and BALB/c mice was lethal by 5 dpi. Intraperitoneal inoculation was lethal in BALB/c mice, but 40% (2/5) of C57BL/6 mice survived. We concluded that Peromyscus leucopus mice infected i.c. with a lethal dose of POWV support a limited infection, restricted to the central nervous system and mount an antibody response to the virus. However, they fail to develop clinical signs of disease and are able to control the infection. These results suggest the involvement of restriction factors, and the mechanism by which Peromyscus leucopus mice restrict POWV infection remains under study.

The significant scale up and success of Transmission Assessment Surveys '<i>TAS</i>' for endgame surveillance of lymphatic filariasis in Bangladesh: One step closer to the elimination goal of 2020

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 31 January 2017 - 10:00pm

by A. K. M. Shamsuzzaman, Rouseli Haq, Mohammad J. Karim, Motasim B. Azad, A. S. M. Sultan Mahmood, Abul Khair, Mujibur Rahman, Israt Hafiz, K. D. Ramaiah, Charles D. Mackenzie, Hayley Mableson, Louise A. Kelly-Hope


Bangladesh had one of the highest burdens of lymphatic filariasis (LF) at the start of the Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (GPELF) with an estimated 70 million people at risk of infection across 34 districts. In total 19 districts required mass drug administration (MDA) to interrupt transmission, and 15 districts were considered low endemic. Since 2001, the National LF Programme has implemented MDA, reduced prevalence, and been able to scale up the WHO standard Transmission Assessment Survey (TAS) across all endemic districts as part of its endgame surveillance strategy. This paper presents TAS results, highlighting the momentous geographical reduction in risk of LF and its contribution to the global elimination target of 2020.

Methodology/Principal findings

The TAS assessed primary school children for the presence of LF antigenaemia in each district (known as an evaluation unit—EU), using a defined critical cut-off threshold (or ‘pass’) that indicates interruption of transmission. Since 2011, a total of 59 TAS have been conducted in 26 EUs across the 19 endemic MDA districts (99,148 students tested from 1,801 schools), and 22 TAS in the 15 low endemic non-MDA districts (36,932 students tested from 663 schools). All endemic MDA districts passed TAS, except in Rangpur which required two further rounds of MDA. In total 112 students (male n = 59; female n = 53), predominately from the northern region of the country were found to be antigenaemia positive, indicating a recent or current infection. However, the distribution was geographically sparse, with only two small focal areas showing potential evidence of persistent transmission.


This is the largest scale up of TAS surveillance activities reported in any of the 73 LF endemic countries in the world. Bangladesh is now considered to have very low or no risk of LF infection after 15 years of programmatic activities, and is on track to meet elimination targets. However, it will be essential that the LF Programme continues to develop and maintain a comprehensive surveillance strategy that is integrated into the health infrastructure and ongoing programmes to ensure cost-effectiveness and sustainability.

Intestinal parasites and vector-borne pathogens in stray and free-roaming cats living in continental and insular Greece

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 31 January 2017 - 10:00pm

by Anastasia Diakou, Angela Di Cesare, Paolo Matteo Accettura, Luciano Barros, Raffaella Iorio, Barbara Paoletti, Antonio Frangipane di Regalbono, Lénaïg Halos, Frederic Beugnet, Donato Traversa

This survey investigated the distribution of various intestinal parasites and vector-borne pathogens in stray and free-roaming cats living in four regions of Greece. A total number of one hundred and fifty cats living in three Islands (Crete, Mykonos and Skopelos) and in Athens municipality was established as a realistic aim to be accomplished in the study areas. All cats were examined with different microscopic, serological and molecular assays aiming at evaluating the occurrence of intestinal parasites, and exposure to or presence of vector-borne infections. A total of 135 cats (90%) was positive for one or more parasites and/or pathogens transmitted by ectoparasites. Forty-four (29.3%) cats were positive for one single infection, while 91 (60.7%) for more than one pathogen. A high number of (n. 53) multiple infections caused by feline intestinal and vector-borne agents including at least one zoonotic pathogen was detected. Among them, the most frequently recorded helminths were roundworms (Toxocara cati, 24%) and Dipylidium caninum (2%), while a high number of examined animals (58.8%) had seroreaction for Bartonella spp., followed by Rickettsia spp. (43.2%) and Leishmania infantum (6.1%). DNA-based assays revealed the zoonotic arthropod-borne organisms Bartonella henselae, Bartonella clarridgeiae, Rickettsia spp., and L. infantum. These results show that free-ranging cats living in areas of Greece under examination may be exposed to a plethora of internal parasites and vector-borne pathogens, some of them potentially able to infect humans. Therefore, epidemiological vigilance and appropriate control measures are crucial for the prevention and control of these infections and to minimize the risk of infection for people.