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Zika virus epidemiology in Bolivia: A seroprevalence study in volunteer blood donors

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 7 March 2018 - 10:00pm

by Paola Mariela Saba Villarroel, Elif Nurtop, Boris Pastorino, Yelin Roca, Jan Felix Drexler, Pierre Gallian, Thomas Jaenisch, Isabelle Leparc-Goffart, Stéphane Priet, Laetitia Ninove, Xavier de Lamballerie

Background

Zika virus (ZIKV), was widely reported in Latin America and has been associated with neuropathologies, as microcephaly, but only few seroprevalence studies have been published to date. Our objective was to determine the seroprevalence amongst Bolivian blood donors and estimate the future potential circulation of the virus.

Methodology

A ZIKV seroprevalence study was conducted between December 2016 and April 2017 in 814 asymptomatic Bolivian volunteer blood donors residing in various eco-environments corresponding to contrasting entomological activities. It was based on detection of IgG to ZIKV using NS1 ELISA screening, followed by a seroneutralisation test in case of positive or equivocal ELISA result.

Conclusions/Significance

Analysis revealed that ZIKV circulation occurred in tropical areas (Beni: 39%; Santa Cruz de la Sierra: 21.5%) but not in highlands (~0% in Cochabamba, La Paz, Tarija). It was modulated by Aedes aegypti activity and the virus spread was not limited by previous immunity to dengue. Cases were geo-localised in a wide range of urban areas in Santa Cruz and Trinidad. No differences in seroprevalence related to gender or age-groups could be identified. It is concluded that ZIKV has been intensely circulating in the Beni region and has still a significant potential for propagating in the area of Santa Cruz.

Changing demographics of visceral leishmaniasis in northeast Brazil: Lessons for the future

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 6 March 2018 - 10:00pm

by Iraci Duarte Lima, Adila L. M. Lima, Carolina de Oliveira Mendes-Aguiar, José F. V. Coutinho, Mary E. Wilson, Richard D. Pearson, José Wilton Queiroz, Selma M. B. Jeronimo

Background

Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) caused by Leishmania infantum became a disease of urban areas in Brazil in the last 30 years and there has been an increase in asymptomatic L. infantum infection with these areas.

Methodology/Principal findings

A retrospective study of human VL was performed in the state of Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, for the period of 1990–2014. The data were divided into five-time periods. For all VL cases, data on sex, age, nutritional status and childhood vaccination were collected. Geographic information system tools and statistical models were used to analyze the dispersion of human VL. The mean annual incidence of VL was 4.6 cases/100,000 inhabitants, with total 3,252 cases reported. The lethality rate was 6.4%. Over time the annual incidence of VL decreased in the 0–4 years (p<0.0001) and 5–9 (p <0.0001) age groups, but increased in ages 20–39 (p<0.001) and >40 years (p<0.0001). VL occurred more often in males (β2 = 2.5; p<0.0001). The decreased incidence of VL in children was associated with improved nutritional status and childhood immunizations including measles, poliomyelitis, BCG, and hepatitis B. Human VL correlated temporally and geographically with canine L. infantum infection (p = 0.002, R2 = 0.438), with rainfall and with Lutzomyia longipalpis density (r = 0.762). Overall, the incidence of VL decreased, while VL-AIDS increased, especially between 2010–2014. VL was more frequently found in areas that lacked urban infrastructure, detected by lack of garbage collection and sewers, whereas HIV infection was associated with higher levels of schooling and evidence of higher socioeconomic status.

Conclusion/Significance

The demographics of VL in northeastern Brazil have changed. Disease incidence has decreased in children and increased in adults. They were associated with improvements in nutrition, socioeconomic status and immunization rates. Concurrent VL-AIDS poses a serious challenge for the future.

Altered vector competence in an experimental mosquito-mouse transmission model of Zika infection

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 5 March 2018 - 10:00pm

by Ryuta Uraki, Andrew K. Hastings, Andrea Gloria-Soria, Jeffrey R. Powell, Erol Fikrig

Few animal models of Zika virus (ZIKV) infection have incorporated arthropod-borne transmission. Here, we establish an Aedes aegypti mosquito model of ZIKV infection of mice, and demonstrate altered vector competency among three strains, (Orlando, ORL, Ho Chi Minh, HCM, and Patilas, PAT). All strains acquired ZIKV in their midguts after a blood meal from infected mice, but ZIKV transmission only occurred in mice fed upon by HCM, and to a lesser extent PAT, but not ORL, mosquitoes. This defect in transmission from ORL or PAT mosquitoes was overcome by intrathoracic injection of ZIKV into mosquito. Genetic analysis revealed significant diversity among these strains, suggesting a genetic basis for differences in ability for mosquito strains to transmit ZIKV. The intrathoracic injection mosquito-mouse transmission model is critical to understanding the influence of mosquitoes on ZIKV transmission, infectivity and pathogenesis in the vertebrate host, and represents a natural transmission route for testing vaccines and therapeutics. (152 words)

<i>Onchocerca volvulus</i> infection in Tihama region - West of Yemen: Continuing transmission in ivermectin-targeted endemic foci and unveiled endemicity in districts with previously unknown status

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 5 March 2018 - 10:00pm

by Mohammed A. K. Mahdy, Rashad Abdul-Ghani, Thaker A. A. Abdulrahman, Samira M. A. Al-Eryani, Abdulsalam M. Al-Mekhlafi, Sami A. A. Alhaidari, Ahmed A. Azazy

Background

Onchocerciasis in Yemen is one of the most neglected diseases, where baseline estimates of onchocerciasis and monitoring of the impact of ivermectin regularly administered to the affected individuals on its transmission are lacking. Therefore, this study aimed to determine the anti-Ov16 IgG4 seroprevalence among local communities of Hodeidah and Al-Mahwit governorates of Tihama Region. The factors possibly associated with previous exposure to infection were also studied.

Methodology/Principal findings

This cross-sectional study was conducted in two ivermectin-targeted districts endemic for onchocerciasis in Hodeidah and Al-Mahwit and two untargeted districts with unknown previous endemicity in Hodeidah between February and July 2017. For 508 residents sampled by a multi-stage random approach, data were collected and blood specimens were screened for anti-Ov16 IgG4 using the SD BIOLINE Onchocerciasis IgG4 rapid tests. The study revealed an overall anti-Ov16 IgG4 rate of 18.5% (94/508) in all surveyed districts, with 10.2% (12/118) of children aged ≤10 years being seropositive. Moreover, rates of 8.0% (4/50) and 6.1% (4/66) were found in districts not officially listed as endemic for the disease. Multivariable analysis confirmed the age of more than ten years and residing within a large family as the independent predictors of exposure to infection.

Conclusions/Significance

Onchocerciasis transmission is still ongoing as supported by the higher anti-Ov16 IgG4 seroprevalence rate among children aged ≤10 years compared to that (<0.1%) previously set by the World Health Organization as a serologic criterion for transmission interruption. Further large-scale studies combining serologic and entomologic criteria are recommended for the mapping of O. volvulus in human and blackfly populations in endemic foci and their neighboring areas of uncertain endemicity. In addition, ivermectin distribution, coverage and impact on disease transmission need to be continually assessed.

CD39 and immune regulation in a chronic helminth infection: The puzzling case of <i>Mansonella ozzardi</i>

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 5 March 2018 - 10:00pm

by Nathália F. Lima, Raquel M. Gonçalves-Lopes, Yvonne C. M. Kruize, Maria Yazdanbakhsh, Marcelo U. Ferreira

Background

Chronic helminth infections typically induce an immunoregulatory environment, with markedly reduced immune responses to both parasite-specific and unrelated bystander antigens. Here we tested whether these changes are also observed in human infections with Mansonella ozzardi, a neglected filarial nematode widely distributed across Latin America.

Methods

CD4+ T cell populations from microfilaremic (Fil+) and uninfected (Fil-) inhabitants in M. ozzardi-endemic riverine communities in Brazil were characterized by flow cytometry analysis. Plasma concentrations of a wide range of cytokines and chemokines were measured. We examined whether M. ozzardi infection is associated with suppressed in vitro lymphoproliferative and inflammatory cytokine responses upon stimulation with filarial antigen, unrelated antigens or mitogens.

Principal findings/Conclusions

Fil+ subjects had lower plasma levels of selected inflammatory cytokines, such as TNF-α, IL-8, and IL-6, than their Fil- counterparts. However, we found no evidence for attenuated T-cell responses to filarial antigens or co-endemic pathogens, such as malaria parasites and Toxoplasma gondii. CD4+ T cells expressing CD39, an ectonucleosidase involved in the generation of the anti-inflammatory molecule adenosine, were increased in frequency in Fil+ subjects, compared to uninfected controls. Significantly, such an expansion was directly proportional to microfilarial loads. Surprisingly, CD39 blocking with a neutralizing antibody suppressed antigen-driven lymphoproliferation in vitro, while decreasing inflammatory cytokine responses, in Fil+ and Fil- individuals. These findings suggest that circulating CD4+ CD39+ T cells comprise subsets with both regulatory and stimulatory roles that contribute to the immune homeostasis in chronic M. ozzardi infection.

Pathogenesis of bat rabies in a natural reservoir: Comparative susceptibility of the straw-colored fruit bat (<i>Eidolon helvum</i>) to three strains of Lagos bat virus

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 5 March 2018 - 10:00pm

by Richard Suu-Ire, Lineke Begeman, Ashley C. Banyard, Andrew C. Breed, Christian Drosten, Elisa Eggerbauer, Conrad M. Freuling, Louise Gibson, Hooman Goharriz, Daniel L. Horton, Daisy Jennings, Ivan V. Kuzmin, Denise Marston, Yaa Ntiamoa-Baidu, Silke Riesle Sbarbaro, David Selden, Emma L. Wise, Thijs Kuiken, Anthony R. Fooks, Thomas Müller, James L. N. Wood, Andrew A. Cunningham

Rabies is a fatal neurologic disease caused by lyssavirus infection. People are infected through contact with infected animals. The relative increase of human rabies acquired from bats calls for a better understanding of lyssavirus infections in their natural hosts. So far, there is no experimental model that mimics natural lyssavirus infection in the reservoir bat species. Lagos bat virus is a lyssavirus that is endemic in straw-colored fruit bats (Eidolon helvum) in Africa. Here we compared the susceptibility of these bats to three strains of Lagos bat virus (from Senegal, Nigeria, and Ghana) by intracranial inoculation. To allow comparison between strains, we ensured the same titer of virus was inoculated in the same location of the brain of each bat. All bats (n = 3 per strain) were infected, and developed neurological signs, and fatal meningoencephalitis with lyssavirus antigen expression in neurons. There were three main differences among the groups. First, time to death was substantially shorter in the Senegal and Ghana groups (4 to 6 days) than in the Nigeria group (8 days). Second, each virus strain produced a distinct clinical syndrome. Third, the spread of virus to peripheral tissues, tested by hemi-nested reverse transcriptase PCR, was frequent (3 of 3 bats) and widespread (8 to 10 tissues positive of 11 tissues examined) in the Ghana group, was frequent and less widespread in the Senegal group (3/3 bats, 3 to 6 tissues positive), and was rare and restricted in the Nigeria group (1/3 bats, 2 tissues positive). Centrifugal spread of virus from brain to tissue of excretion in the oral cavity is required to enable lyssavirus transmission. Therefore, the Senegal and Ghana strains seem most suitable for further pathogenesis, and for transmission, studies in the straw-colored fruit bat.

The non-canonical Notch signaling is essential for the control of fertility in <i>Aedes aegypti</i>

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 5 March 2018 - 10:00pm

by Chia-Hao Chang, Yu-Ting Liu, Shih-Che Weng, I-Yi Chen, Po-Nien Tsao, Shin-Hong Shiao

The Notch signaling pathway is a highly evolutionarily-conserved cell-cell signaling pathway that regulates many events during development. It plays a pivotal role in the regulation of fundamental cellular processes, such as cell proliferation, stem cell maintenance, and differentiation during embryonic and adult development. However, functions of Notch signaling in Aedes aegypti, the major mosquito vector for dengue, are largely unknown. In this study, we identified a unique feature of A. aegypti Notch (AaNotch) in the control of the sterile-like phenotype in female mosquitoes. Silencing AaNotch with a reverse genetic approach significantly reduced the fecundity and fertility of the mosquito. Silencing AaNotch also resulted in the prevention of micropyle formation, which led to impaired fertilization. In addition, JNK phosphorylation (a signaling molecule in the non-canonical Notch signaling pathway) was inhibited in the absence of AaNotch. Furthermore, treatment with a JNK inhibitor in the mosquito resulted in impaired fecundity and fertility. Taken together, our results demonstrate that non-canonical Notch signaling is essential for controlling fertility in the A. aegypti mosquito.

<i>Clonorchis sinensis</i> adult-derived proteins elicit Th2 immune responses by regulating dendritic cells via mannose receptor

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 5 March 2018 - 10:00pm

by Lu Zhao, Mengchen Shi, Lina Zhou, Hengchang Sun, Xiaona Zhang, Lei He, Zeli Tang, Caiqin Wang, Yinjuan Wu, Tingjin Chen, Mei Shang, Xinyi Zhou, Zhipeng Lin, Xuerong Li, Xinbing Yu, Yan Huang

Background

Clonorchis sinensis (C. sinensis) is the most widespread human liver fluke in East Asia including China and Korea. Clonorchiasis as a neglected tropical zoonosis, leads to serious economic and public health burden in China. There are considerable evidences for an etiological relation between chronic clonorchiasis and liver fibrosis in human beings. Liver fibrosis is a highly conserved and over-protected response to hepatic tissue injury. Immune cells including CD4+ T cell as well as dendritic cell (DC), and pro-fibrogenic cytokines like interleukin 4 (IL-4), IL-13 have been identified as vital manipulators in liver fibrogenesis. Our previous studies had a mere glimpse of T helper type 2 (Th2) dominant immune responses as key players in liver fibrosis induced by C. sinensis infection, but little is known about the involved mechanisms in this pathological process.

Methodology/Principal findings

By flow cytometry (FACS), adult-derived total proteins of C. sinensis (CsTPs) down-regulated the expression of surface markers CD80, CD86 and major histocompatibility complex class II (MHC-II) on lipopolysaccharide (LPS) induced DC. ELISA results demonstrated that CsTPs inhibited IL-12p70 release from LPS-treated bone marrow-derived dendritic cells (BMDC). IL-10 level increased in a time-dependent manner in LPS-treated BMDCs after incubation with CsTPs. CD4+ T cells incubated with LPS-treated BMDCs plus CsTPs could significantly elevate IL-4 level by ELISA. Meanwhile, elevated expression of pro-fibrogenic mediators including IL-13 and IL-4 were detected in a co-culture system of LPS-activated BMDCs and naive T cells containing CsTPs. In vivo, CsTPs-immunized mice enhanced expression of type 2 cytokines IL-13, IL-10 and IL-4 in both splenocytes and hepatic tissue. Exposure of BMDCs to CsTPs activated expression of mannose receptor (MR) but not toll like receptor 2 (TLR2), TLR4, C-type lectin receptor DC-SIGN and Dectin-2 on the cell surface by RT-PCR and FACS. Blockade of MR almost completely reversed the capacity of CsTPs to suppress LPS-induced BMDCs surface markers CD80, CD86 and MHC-II expression, and further made these BMDCs fail to induce a Th2-skewed response as well as Th2 cell-associated cytokines IL-13 and IL-4 release in vitro.

Conclusions/Significance

Collectively, we validated that CsTPs could suppress the maturation of BMDCs in the presence of LPS via binding MR, and showed that the CsTPs-pulsed BMDCs actively polarized naive T helper cells to Th2 cells though the production of IL-10 instead of IL-12. CsTPs endowed host with the capacity to facilitate Th2 cytokines production including IL-13 and IL-4 in vitro and vivo. The study might provide useful information for developing potential therapeutic targets against the disease.

Rift Valley Fever: A survey of knowledge, attitudes, and practice of slaughterhouse workers and community members in Kabale District, Uganda

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 5 March 2018 - 10:00pm

by Annabelle de St. Maurice, Luke Nyakarahuka, Lawrence Purpura, Elizabeth Ervin, Alex Tumusiime, Stephen Balinandi, Jackson Kyondo, Sophia Mulei, Patrick Tusiime, Craig Manning, Pierre E. Rollin, Barbara Knust, Trevor Shoemaker

Background

Rift Valley Fever virus (RVF) is a zoonotic virus in the Phenuiviridae family. RVF outbreaks can cause significant morbidity and mortality in humans and animals. Following the diagnosis of two RVF cases in March 2016 in southern Kabale district, Uganda, we conducted a knowledge, attitudes and practice (KAP) survey to identify knowledge gaps and at-risk behaviors related to RVF.

Methodology/Principal findings

A multidisciplinary team interviewed 657 community members, including abattoir workers, in and around Kabale District, Uganda. Most participants (90%) had knowledge of RVF and most (77%) cited radio as their primary information source. Greater proportions of farmers (68%), herdsmen (79%) and butchers (88%) thought they were at risk of contracting RVF compared to persons in other occupations (60%, p<0.01). Participants most frequently identified bleeding as a symptom of RVF. Less than half of all participants reported fever, vomiting, and diarrhea as common RVF symptoms in either humans or animals. The level of knowledge about human RVF symptoms did not vary by occupation; however more farmers and butchers (36% and 51%, respectively) had knowledge of RVF symptoms in animals compared to those in other occupations (30%, p<0.01). The use of personal protective equipment (PPE) when handling animals varied by occupation, with 77% of butchers using some PPE and 12% of farmers using PPE. Although most butchers said that they used PPE, most used gumboots (73%) and aprons (60%) and less than 20% of butchers used gloves or eye protection when slaughtering.

Conclusions

Overall, knowledge, attitudes and practice regarding RVF in Kabale District Uganda could be improved through educational efforts targeting specific populations.

Complement C1q expression in Erythema nodosum leprosum

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 2 March 2018 - 10:00pm

by Edessa Negera, Stephen L. Walker, Tsehainesh Lemma, Abraham Aseffa, Diana N. Lockwood, Hazel M. Dockrell

Complement C1q is a soluble protein capable of initiating components of the classical pathway in host defence system. In earlier qualitative studies, C1q has been implicated in the pathogenesis of Erythema Nodosum Leprosum (ENL). However, little is known about the role of this complement in ENL reaction. In the present study we described the protein level of C1q production and its gene expression in the peripheral blood and skin biopsies in patients with ENL reaction and lepromatous leprosy (LL) patient controls before and after treatment. Thirty untreated patients with ENL reaction and 30 non-reactional LL patient controls were recruited at ALERT Hospital, Ethiopia. Peripheral blood and skin biopsies were obtained from each patient before and after treatment. The level of circulating C1q in the plasma was determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The mRNA expression of the three C1q components, C1qA, C1qB, and C1qC in the peripheral blood and skin biopsies was determined by qPCR. Circulating C1q in the peripheral blood of untreated ENL patients was significantly decreased compared to LL patient controls. Untreated ENL patients had increased C1q gene expression in the peripheral blood compared to LL controls. Similarly, C1qA and C1qC gene expression were substantially increased in the skin biopsies of untreated ENL patients compared to LL controls. However, after treatment none of these genes show significant difference in both groups. In conclusion, while circulating C1q is inversely correlated with active ENL reactions, its gene expression is directly correlated with ENL. The decreased circulating C1q may suggest the utilization of C1q in immune-complex formation in these patients. Therefore, C1q could be a potential diagnostic marker for active ENL reactions as well as for monitoring ENL treatment.

Molecular identification of Leishmania infection in the most relevant sand fly species and in patient skin samples from a cutaneous leishmaniasis focus, in Morocco

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 2 March 2018 - 10:00pm

by Idris Mhaidi, Sofia El kacem, Mouad Ait Kbaich, Adil El Hamouchi, M’hammed Sarih, Khadija Akarid, Meryem Lemrani

Background

Cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) is an infectious disease caused by various species of Leishmania and transmitted by several species of sand flies. CL is among the most neglected tropical diseases, and it has represented a major health threat over the past 20 years in Morocco. The main objectives of this study were to identify relevant sand fly species and detect Leishmania infection in the most prevalent species and patient skin samples in Taza, a focus of CL in North-eastern Morocco.

Methodology and finding

A total of 3672 sand flies were collected by CDC miniature light traps. Morphological identification permitted the identification of 13 species, namely 10 Phlebotomus species and 3 Sergentomyia species. P. longicuspis was the most abundant species, comprising 64.08% of the total collected sand flies, followed by P. sergenti (20.1%) and P. perniciosus (8.45%). Using nested-kDNA PCR, seven pools of P. sergenti were positive to Leishmania tropica DNA, whereas 23 pools of P. longicuspis and 4 pools of P. perniciosus tested positive for Leishmania infantum DNA. The rates of P. longicuspis and P. perniciosus Leishmania infection were 2.51% (23/915) and 7.27% (4/55), respectively, whereas the infection prevalence of P. sergenti was 3.24%. We also extracted DNA from lesion smears of 12 patients suspected of CL, among them nine patients were positive with enzymatic digestion of ITS1 by HaeIII revealing two profiles. The most abundant profile, present in eight patients, was identical to L. infantum, whereas L. tropica was found in one patient. The results of RFLP were confirmed by sequencing of the ITS1 DNA region.

Conclusion

This is the first molecular detection of L. tropica and L. infantum in P. sergenti and P. longicuspis, respectively, in this CL focus. Infection of P. perniciosus by L. infantum was identified for the first time in Morocco. This study also underlined the predominance of L. infantum and its vector in this region, in which L. tropica has been considered the causative agent of CL for more than 20 years.

Global epidemiology of podoconiosis: A systematic review

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 1 March 2018 - 10:00pm

by Kebede Deribe, Jorge Cano, Mei L. Trueba, Melanie J. Newport, Gail Davey

Background

Podoconiosis is one of the few diseases that could potentially be eliminated within one generation. Nonetheless, the global distribution of the disease remains largely unknown. The global atlas of podoconiosis was conceived to define the epidemiology and distribution of podoconiosis through dedicated surveys and assembling the available epidemiological data.

Methods

We have synthesized the published literature on the epidemiology of podoconiosis. Through systematic searches in SCOPUS and MEDLINE from inception to February 14, 2018, we identified observational and population-based studies reporting podoconiosis. To establish existence of podoconiosis, we used case reports and presence data. For a study to be included in the prevalence synthesis, it needed to be a population-based survey that involved all residents within a specific area. Studies that did not report original data were excluded. We undertook descriptive analyses of the extracted data. This study is registered with PROSPERO, number CRD42018084959.

Results

We identified 3,260 records, of which 27 studies met the inclusion criteria. Podoconiosis was described to exist or be endemic in 32 countries, 18 from the African Region, 3 from Asia and 11 from Latin America. Overall, podoconiosis prevalence ranged from 0·10% to 8.08%, was highest in the African region, and was substantially higher in adults than in children and adolescents. The highest reported prevalence values were in Africa (8.08% in Cameroon, 7.45% in Ethiopia, 4.52% in Uganda, 3.87% in Kenya and 2.51% in Tanzania). In India, a single prevalence of 0.21% was recorded from Manipur, Mizoram and Rajasthan states. None of the Latin American countries reported prevalence data.

Conclusion

Our data suggest that podoconiosis is more widespread in the African Region than in the rest of the regions, although this could be related to the fact that most podoconiosis epidemiological research has been focused in the African continent. The assembled dataset confirms that comprehensive podoconiosis control strategies such as promotion of footwear and personal hygiene are urgently needed in endemic parts of Africa. Mapping, active surveillance and a systematic approach to the monitoring of disease burden must accompany the implementation of podoconiosis control activities.

<i>Onchocerca volvulus</i> infection and serological prevalence, ocular onchocerciasis and parasite transmission in northern and central Togo after decades of <i>Simulium damnosum</i> s.l. vector control and mass drug administration of ivermectin

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 1 March 2018 - 10:00pm

by Kossi Komlan, Patrick S. Vossberg, Richard G. Gantin, Tchalim Solim, Francois Korbmacher, Méba Banla, Koffi Padjoudoum, Potchoziou Karabou, Carsten Köhler, Peter T. Soboslay

Background

Mass drug administration (MDA) of ivermectin has become the main intervention to control onchocerciasis or “river blindness”. In Togo, after many years of MDA, Onchocerca volvulus infection has declined dramatically, and elimination appears achievable, but in certain river basins the current situation remains unknown. We have conducted parasitological, serological, ophthalmological, and entomological assessments in northern and central Togo within the river basins of Ôti, Kéran and Mô.

Methodology/Principal findings

Examinations were completed in 1,455 participants from 11 onchocerciasis sentinel villages, and O. volvulus transmission by Simulium damnosum sensu lato (s.l.) was evaluated. In children (aged 1–10 years), the prevalence of microfilariae (Mf) was 2.3% and in adults it ranged from 5.1 to 13.3%. Positive IgG4 responses to O. volvulus adult (crude) worm antigen (OvAg) and the recombinant Ov16 antigen were in all-ages 48.7% and 34.4%, and 29.1% and 14.9% in children, respectively. In the river basin villages of Kéran, Mô and Ôti, the IgG4 seroprevalences to OvAg in children were 51.7%, 23.5% and 12.7%, respectively, and to the Ov16 antigen 33.3% (Kéran) and 5.2% (Ôti). Onchocerciasis ocular lesions (punctate keratitis, evolving iridocyclitis and chorioretinitis) were observed in children and young adults. O. volvulus-specific DNA (Ov150) was detected by poolscreen in vector samples collected from Tchitchira/Kéran(22.8%), Bouzalo/Mô(11.3%), Baghan/Mô(2.9%) and Pancerys/Ôti(4.9%); prevalences of O. volvulus infection in S. damnosum s.l. were, respectively, 1%, 0.5%, 0.1% and 0.2%.

Conclusions/Significance

In the northern and central river basins in Togo, interruption of O. volvulus transmission has not yet been attained. Patent O. volvulus infections, positive antibody responses, progressive ocular onchocerciasis were diagnosed, and parasite transmission by S. damnosum s.l. occurred close to the survey locations. Future interventions may require approaches selectively targeted to non-complying endemic populations, to the seasonality of parasite transmission and national onchocerciasis control programs should harmonize cross-border MDA as a coordinated intervention.

Validation of rK39 immunochromatographic test and direct agglutination test for the diagnosis of Mediterranean visceral leishmaniasis in Spain

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 1 March 2018 - 10:00pm

by Mathieu Bangert, María D. Flores-Chávez, Ivonne P. Llanes-Acevedo, Carolina Arcones, Carmen Chicharro, Emilia García, Sheila Ortega, Javier Nieto, Israel Cruz

Background

Visceral leishmaniasis (VL), the most severe form of leishmaniasis, is endemic in Europe with Mediterranean countries reporting endemic status alongside a worrying northward spread. Serological diagnosis, including immunochromatographic test based on the recombinant antigen rK39 (rK39-ICT) and a direct agglutination test (DAT) based on the whole parasite antigen, have been validated in regions with high VL burden, such as eastern Africa and the Indian subcontinent. To date, no studies using a large set of patients have performed an assessment of both methods within Europe.

Methodology/Principal findings

We selected a range of clinical serum samples from patients with confirmed VL (including HIV co-infection), Chagas disease, malaria, other parasitic infections and negative samples (n = 743; years 2009–2015) to test the performance of rK39-ICT rapid test (Kalazar Detect Rapid Test; InBios International, Inc., USA) and DAT (ITM-DAT/VLG; Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp, Belgium). An in-house immunofluorescence antibody test (IFAT), was included for comparison. Estimated sensitivities for rK39-ICT and DAT in HIV-negative VL patients were 83.1% [75.1–91.2] and 84.2% [76.3–92.1], respectively. Sensitivity was reduced to 67.3% [52.7–82.0] for rK39 and increased to 91.3% [82.1–100.0] for DAT in HIV/VL co-infected patients. The in-house IFAT was more sensitive in HIV-negative VL patients, 84.2% [76.3–92.1] than in HIV/VL patients, 79.4% [73.3–96.2]. DAT gave 32 false positives in sera from HIV-negative VL suspects, compared to 0 and 2 for rK39 and IFAT, respectively, but correctly detected more HIV/VL patients (42/46) than rK39 (31/46) and IFAT (39/46).

Conclusions/Significance

Though rK39-ICT and DAT exhibited acceptable sensitivity and specificity a combination with other tests is required for highly sensitive diagnosis of VL cases in Spain. Important variation in the performance of the tests were seen in patients co-infected with HIV or with other parasitic infections. This study can help inform the choice of serological test to be used when screening or diagnosing VL in a European Mediterranean setting.

An outbreak of <i>Leishmania major</i> from an endemic to a non-endemic region posed a public health threat in Iraq from 2014-2017: Epidemiological, molecular and phylogenetic studies

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 1 March 2018 - 10:00pm

by Mariwan M. M. Al-Bajalan, Sirwan M. A. Al-Jaf, Sherko S. Niranji, Dler R. Abdulkareem, Khudhair K. Al-Kayali, Hirotomo Kato

Background

Cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) is a neglected worldwide, zoonotic, vector-borne, tropical disease that is a threat to public health. This threat may spread from endemic to non-endemic areas. Current research has exploited epidemiological, molecular and phylogenetical studies to determine the danger of an outbreak of CL in the borderline area between northern and central Iraq from 2014–2017.

Methodology/Principal findings

For the first time, using sequence analysis of the cytochrome b gene, the occurrence of CL in the borderline area between northern and central Iraq was confirmed to be due to Leishmania major. The phylogenetic analysis indicated that it was closely related to the L. major MRHO/IR/75/ER strain in Iran.

Conclusions and significance

In conclusion, the genotype confirmation of the L. major strain will improve our understanding of the epidemiology of the disease. This is important for facilitating control programs to prevent the further spread of CL. Furthermore, this area could be considered as a model for further research on the risk of global CL epidemics in other non-endemic countries where both reservoir hosts and sandfly vectors are present.

Hyperendemic dengue transmission and identification of a locally evolved DENV-3 lineage, Papua New Guinea 2007-2010

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 1 March 2018 - 10:00pm

by Dagwin Luang-Suarkia, Oriol Mitja, Timo Ernst, Shannon Bennett, Alfred Tay, Russell Hays, David W. Smith, Allison Imrie

Background

Dengue is endemic in the Western Pacific and Oceania and the region reports more than 200,000 cases annually. Outbreaks of dengue and severe dengue occur regularly and movement of virus throughout the region has been reported. Disease surveillance systems, however, in many areas are not fully established and dengue incidence is underreported. Dengue epidemiology is likely least understood in Papua New Guinea (PNG), where the prototype DENV-2 strain New Guinea C was first isolated by Sabin in 1944 but where routine surveillance is not undertaken and little incidence and prevalence data is available.

Methodology/Principal findings

Serum samples from individuals with recent acute febrile illness or with non-febrile conditions collected between 2007–2010 were tested for anti-DENV neutralizing antibody. Responses were predominantly multitypic and seroprevalence increased with age, a pattern indicative of endemic dengue. DENV-1, DENV-2 and DENV-3 genomes were detected by RT-PCR within a nine-month period and in several instances, two serotypes were identified in individuals sampled within a period of 10 days. Phylogenetic analysis of whole genome sequences identified a DENV-3 Genotype 1 lineage which had evolved on the northern coast of PNG which was likely exported to the western Pacific five years later, in addition to a DENV-2 Cosmopolitan Genotype lineage which had previously circulated in the region.

Conclusions/Significance

We show that dengue is hyperendemic in PNG and identify an endemic, locally evolved lineage of DENV-3 that was associated with an outbreak of severe dengue in Pacific countries in subsequent years, although severe disease was not identified in PNG. Additional studies need to be undertaken to understand dengue epidemiology and burden of disease in PNG.

Results of the first mapping of soil-transmitted helminths in Benin: Evidence of countrywide hookworm predominance

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 1 March 2018 - 10:00pm

by Moudachirou Ibikounlé, Ablavi Onzo-Aboki, Justin Doritchamou, Jean-Jacques Tougoué, Pélagie Mimonnou Boko, Boris S. Savassi, Edoux Joel Siko, Aboudou Daré, Wilfrid Batcho, Achille Massougbodji, Dorothée Akoko Kindé-Gazard, Achille Kaboré

Background

National mapping of soil-transmitted helminth infections (STH) was conducted for the first time in all of the 77 districts of Benin (West Africa) from 2013 to 2015. This mapping aimed to provide basic epidemiological data essential for the implementation of the national strategy against the neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in the context of achieving the WHO target of controlling these infections by 2020.

Methods

In each district, 5 schools were purposively selected in 5 villages and 50 school-children (25 girls and 25 boys) from ages 8 to 14 years were randomly enrolled in each school. In total, 19,250 stool samples of school children (9,625 girls and 9,625 boys) from 385 schools were examined by Kato-Katz technique.

Results

The three major species of STH (hookworm, Ascaris lumbricoides and Trichuris trichiura) were observed with intra- and inter-specific variations in the prevalence and the intensity of these parasites. Hookworm infection was present in all of the surveyed districts with an average prevalence of 17.14% (95% CI 16.6%-17.6%). Among the infected schoolchildren, at national level, 90.82%, 6.73% and 2.45% of infections were of light, moderate and heavy parasite intensities respectively. A. lumbricoides infection, with a national average prevalence of 5.35% (95% CI 5.00%-5.60%),was the second most prevalent STH, and 84.37%, 14.27% and 1.36% of the infections were of light, moderate and heavy parasite intensities, respectively. T. trichiura had a national average prevalence of 1.15% (95% CI 0.90%-1.20%) and 80.45%, 13.18% and 6.36% infections were of light, moderate and heavy parasite intensities, respectively. The national cumulative prevalence of the three STH infections was 22.74% (95% CI 22.15%-23.33%), with58.44% (45/77) of the districts requiring mass treatment according to WHO recommendations. In all of the surveyed districts, multiple infections by STH species were common, and boys seemed more at risk of hookworm and Ascaris infections.

Conclusions

This first national mapping provided an overview of the epidemiological pattern of STH infections and was essential for the implementation of a control strategy with an effective preventive chemotherapy treatment (PCT). Results show that while preventive chemotherapy is not indicated for children in 32/77 districts, 43 require annual deworming and two require twice yearly deworming. If no environmental change occurs, and no mass treatment is delivered, prevalence is likely to remain stable for many years owing to poor hygiene and sanitation.

Diagnostic tools for soil-transmitted helminths control and elimination programs: A pathway for diagnostic product development

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 1 March 2018 - 10:00pm

by Mark D. Lim, Simon J. Brooker, Vicente Y. Belizario Jr., Françoise Gay-Andrieu, John Gilleard, Bruno Levecke, Lisette van Lieshout, Graham F. Medley, Zeleke Mekonnen, Greg Mirams, Sammy M. Njenga, Maurice R. Odiere, James W. Rudge, Lieven Stuyver, Jozef Vercruysse, Johnny Vlaminck, Judd L. Walson, the Annecy STH diagnostic experts group

Tegumentary leishmaniasis and coinfections other than HIV

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 1 March 2018 - 10:00pm

by Dalila Y. Martínez, Kristien Verdonck, Paul M. Kaye, Vanessa Adaui, Katja Polman, Alejandro Llanos-Cuentas, Jean-Claude Dujardin, Marleen Boelaert

Background

Tegumentary leishmaniasis (TL) is a disease of skin and/or mucosal tissues caused by Leishmania parasites. TL patients may concurrently carry other pathogens, which may influence the clinical outcome of TL.

Methodology and principal findings

This review focuses on the frequency of TL coinfections in human populations, interactions between Leishmania and other pathogens in animal models and human subjects, and implications of TL coinfections for clinical practice. For the purpose of this review, TL is defined as all forms of cutaneous (localised, disseminated, or diffuse) and mucocutaneous leishmaniasis. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) coinfection, superinfection with skin bacteria, and skin manifestations of visceral leishmaniasis are not included. We searched MEDLINE and other databases and included 73 records: 21 experimental studies in animals and 52 studies about human subjects (mainly cross-sectional and case studies). Several reports describe the frequency of Trypanosoma cruzi coinfection in TL patients in Argentina (about 41%) and the frequency of helminthiasis in TL patients in Brazil (15% to 88%). Different hypotheses have been explored about mechanisms of interaction between different microorganisms, but no clear answers emerge. Such interactions may involve innate immunity coupled with regulatory networks that affect quality and quantity of acquired immune responses. Diagnostic problems may occur when concurrent infections cause similar lesions (e.g., TL and leprosy), when different pathogens are present in the same lesions (e.g., Leishmania and Sporothrix schenckii), or when similarities between phylogenetically close pathogens affect accuracy of diagnostic tests (e.g., serology for leishmaniasis and Chagas disease). Some coinfections (e.g., helminthiasis) appear to reduce the effectiveness of antileishmanial treatment, and drug combinations may cause cumulative adverse effects.

Conclusions and significance

In patients with TL, coinfection is frequent, it can lead to diagnostic errors and delays, and it can influence the effectiveness and safety of treatment. More research is needed to unravel how coinfections interfere with the pathogenesis of TL.

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