RSS news feeds

Dispersal of male and female <i>Culex quinquefasciatus</i> and <i>Aedes albopictus</i> mosquitoes using stable isotope enrichment

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 30 January 2017 - 10:00pm

by Matthew C. I. Medeiros, Emily C. Boothe, E. Brendan Roark, Gabriel L. Hamer

The dispersal patterns of mosquito vectors are important drivers of vector-borne infectious disease dynamics and understanding movement patterns is pivotal to devise successful intervention strategies. Here, we investigate the dispersal patterns of two globally important mosquito vectors, Aedes albopictus and Culex quinquefasciatus, by marking naturally-occurring larvae with stable isotopes (13C or 15N). Marked individuals were captured with 32 CDC light trap, 32 gravid trap, and 16 BG Sentinel at different locations within two-kilometer radii of six larval habitats enriched with either 13C or 15N. In total, 720 trap nights from July to August 2013 yielded a total of 32,140 Cx. quinquefasciatus and 7,722 Ae. albopictus. Overall, 69 marked female mosquitoes and 24 marked male mosquitoes were captured throughout the study period. The distance that Cx. quinquefasciatus females traveled differed for host-seeking and oviposition-seeking traps, with females seeking oviposition sites traveling further than those seeking hosts. Our analysis suggests that 41% of Cx. quinquefasciatus females that were host-seeking occurred 1–2 kilometer from their respective natal site, while 59% remained within a kilometer of their natal site. In contrast, 59% of Cx. quinquefasciatus females that were seeking oviposition sites occurred between 1–2 kilometer away from their larval habitat, while 15% occurred > 2 kilometer away from their natal site. Our analysis estimated that approximately 100% of Ae. albopictus females remained within 1 km of their respective natal site, with 79% occurring within 250m. In addition, we found that male Ae. albopictus dispersed farther than females, suggesting male-biased dispersal in this Ae. albopictus population. This study provides important insights on the dispersal patterns of two globally relevant vector species, and will be important in planning next generation vector control strategies that mitigate mosquito-borne disease through sterile insect techniques, novel Wolbachia infection, and gene drive strategies.

Genetic evidence for a worldwide chaotic dispersion pattern of the arbovirus vector, <i>Aedes albopictus</i>

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 30 January 2017 - 10:00pm

by Mosè Manni, Carmela R. Guglielmino, Francesca Scolari, Anubis Vega-Rúa, Anna-Bella Failloux, Pradya Somboon, Antonella Lisa, Grazia Savini, Mariangela Bonizzoni, Ludvik M. Gomulski, Anna R. Malacrida, Giuliano Gasperi

Background

Invasive species represent a global concern for their rapid spread and the possibility of infectious disease transmission. This is the case of the global invader Aedes albopictus, the Asian tiger mosquito. This species is a vector of medically important arboviruses, notably chikungunya (CHIKV), dengue (DENV) and Zika (ZIKV). The reconstruction of the complex colonization pattern of this mosquito has great potential for mitigating its spread and, consequently, disease risks.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Classical population genetics analyses and Approximate Bayesian Computation (ABC) approaches were combined to disentangle the demographic history of Aedes albopictus populations from representative countries in the Southeast Asian native range and in the recent and more recently colonized areas. In Southeast Asia, the low differentiation and the high co-ancestry values identified among China, Thailand and Japan indicate that, in the native range, these populations maintain high genetic connectivity, revealing their ancestral common origin. China appears to be the oldest population. Outside Southeast Asia, the invasion process in La Réunion, America and the Mediterranean Basin is primarily supported by a chaotic propagule distribution, which cooperates in maintaining a relatively high genetic diversity within the adventive populations.

Conclusions/Significance

From our data, it appears that independent and also trans-continental introductions of Ae. albopictus may have facilitated the rapid establishment of adventive populations through admixture of unrelated genomes. As a consequence, a great amount of intra-population variability has been detected, and it is likely that this variability may extend to the genetic mechanisms controlling vector competence. Thus, in the context of the invasion process of this mosquito, it is possible that both population ancestry and admixture contribute to create the conditions for the efficient transmission of arboviruses and for outbreak establishment.

Cellular Immune Responses to Live Attenuated Japanese Encephalitis (JE) Vaccine SA14-14-2 in Adults in a JE/Dengue Co-Endemic Area

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 30 January 2017 - 10:00pm

by Lance Turtle, Filippo Tatullo, Tanushka Bali, Vasanthapuram Ravi, Mohammed Soni, Sajesh Chan, Savita Chib, Manjunatha M. Venkataswamy, Prachi Fadnis, Mansour Yaïch, Stefan Fernandez, Paul Klenerman, Vijaya Satchidanandam, Tom Solomon

Background

Japanese encephalitis (JE) virus (JEV) causes severe epidemic encephalitis across Asia, for which the live attenuated vaccine SA14-14-2 is being used increasingly. JEV is a flavivirus, and is closely related to dengue virus (DENV), which is co-endemic in many parts of Asia, with clinically relevant interactions. There is no information on the human T cell response to SA14-14-2, or whether responses to SA14-14-2 cross-react with DENV. We used live attenuated JE vaccine SA14-14-2 as a model for studying T cell responses to JEV infection in adults, and to determine whether these T cell responses are cross-reactive with DENV, and other flaviviruses.

Methods

We conducted a single arm, open label clinical trial (registration: clinicaltrials.gov NCT01656200) to study T cell responses to SA14-14-2 in adults in South India, an area endemic for JE and dengue.

Results

Ten out of 16 (62.5%) participants seroconverted to JEV SA14-14-2, and geometric mean neutralising antibody (NAb) titre was 18.5. Proliferation responses were commonly present before vaccination in the absence of NAb, indicating a likely high degree of previous flavivirus exposure. Thirteen of 15 (87%) participants made T cell interferon-gamma (IFNγ) responses against JEV proteins. In four subjects tested, at least some T cell epitopes mapped cross-reacted with DENV and other flaviviruses.

Conclusions

JEV SA14-14-2 was more immunogenic for T cell IFNγ than for NAb in adults in this JE/DENV co-endemic area. The proliferation positive, NAb negative combination may represent a new marker of long term immunity/exposure to JE. T cell responses can cross-react between JE vaccine and DENV in a co-endemic area, illustrating a need for greater knowledge on such responses to inform the development of next-generation vaccines effective against both diseases.

Trial Registration

clinicaltrials.gov (NCT01656200)

Correction: DNA Topoisomerase II Is Involved in Regulation of Cyst Wall Protein Genes and Differentiation in <i>Giardia lamblia</i>

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 27 January 2017 - 10:00pm

by Bo-Chi Lin, Li-Hsin Su, Shih-Che Weng, Yu-Jiao Pan, Nei-Li Chan, Tsai-Kun Li, Hsin-Chih Wang, Chin-Hung Sun

Identification of three immunodominant motifs with atypical isotype profile scattered over the <i>Onchocerca volvulus</i> proteome

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 26 January 2017 - 10:00pm

by Ole Lagatie, Bieke Van Dorst, Lieven J. Stuyver

Understanding the immune response upon infection with the filarial nematode Onchocerca volvulus and the mechanisms that evolved in this parasite to evade immune mediated elimination is essential to expand the toolbox available for diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines development. Using high-density peptide microarrays we scanned the proteome-wide linear epitope repertoire in Cameroonian onchocerciasis patients and healthy controls from Southern Africa which led to the identification of 249 immunodominant antigenic peptides. Motif analysis learned that 3 immunodominant motifs, encompassing 3 linear epitopes, are present in 70, 43, and 31 of these peptides, respectively and appear to be scattered over the entire proteome in seemingly non-related proteins. These linear epitopes are shown to have an atypical isotype profile dominated by IgG1, IgG3, IgE and IgM, in contrast to the commonly observed IgG4 response in chronic active helminth infections. The identification of these linear epitope motifs may lead to novel diagnostic development but further evaluation of cross-reactivity against common co-infecting human nematode infections will be needed.

Correction: Modelling Vaccination Strategies against Rift Valley Fever in Livestock in Kenya

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 26 January 2017 - 10:00pm

by John M. Gachohi, M. Kariuki Njenga, Philip Kitala, Bernard Bett

Molecular Mimicry between Chikungunya Virus and Host Components: A Possible Mechanism for the Arthritic Manifestations

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 26 January 2017 - 10:00pm

by Vijayalakshmi Reddy, Anita Desai, Shankar Susarla Krishna, Ravi Vasanthapuram

Background

Chikungunya virus (CHIKV), a reemerging pathogen causes a self limited illness characterized by fever, headache, myalgia and arthralgia. However, 10–20% affected individuals develop persistent arthralgia which contributes to considerable morbidity. The exact molecular mechanisms underlying these manifestations are not well understood. The present study investigated the possible occurrence of molecular mimicry between CHIKV E1 glycoprotein and host human components.

Methodology

Bioinformatic tools were used to identify peptides of CHIKV E1 exhibiting similarity to host components. Two peptides (A&B) were identified using several bioinformatic tools, synthesised and used to validate the results obtained in silico. An ELISA was designed to assess the immunoreactivity of serum samples from CHIKV patients to these peptides. Further, experiments were conducted in a C57BL/6J experimental mouse model to investigate if peptide A and peptide B were indeed capable of inducing pathology.

Findings

The serum samples showed reactivity of varying degrees, indicating that these peptides are indeed being recognized by the host immune system during CHIKV infection. Further, these peptides when injected into C57BL/6J mice were able to induce significant inflammation in the muscles of C57BL/6J mice, similar to that observed in animals that were injected with CHIKV alone. Additionally, animals that were primed initially with CHIKV followed by a subsequent injection of the CHIKV peptides exhibited enhanced inflammatory pathology in the skeletal muscles as compared to animals that were injected with peptides or virus alone. Collectively these observations validate the hypothesis that molecular mimicry between CHIKV E1 protein and host proteins does contribute to pathology in CHIKV infection.

Investments in Research and Surveillance Are Needed to Go Beyond Elimination and Stop Transmission of <i>Leishmania</i> in the Indian Subcontinent

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 26 January 2017 - 10:00pm

by Piero L. Olliaro, Tushar A. K. M. Shamsuzzaman, Baburam Marasini, A. C. Dhariwal, Ahmed Be-Nazir, Dinesh Mondal, Megha Raj Banjara, Pradeep Das, Shyam Sundar, Suman Rijal, Byron Arana, Jorge Alvar, Daniel Argaw, Rosanna W. Peeling, Axel Kroeger, Greg Matlashewski

Investigation of a Medieval Pilgrim Burial Excavated from the <i>Leprosarium</i> of St Mary Magdalen Winchester, UK

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 26 January 2017 - 10:00pm

by Simon Roffey, Katie Tucker, Kori Filipek-Ogden, Janet Montgomery, Jamie Cameron, Tamsin O’Connell, Jane Evans, Phil Marter, G. Michael Taylor

We have examined the remains of a Pilgrim burial from St Mary Magdalen, Winchester. The individual was a young adult male, aged around 18–25 years at the time of death. Radiocarbon dating showed the remains dated to the late 11th–early 12th centuries, a time when pilgrimages were at their height in Europe. Several lines of evidence in connection with the burial suggested this was an individual of some means and prestige. Although buried within the leprosarium cemetery, the skeleton showed only minimal skeletal evidence for leprosy, which was confined to the bones of the feet and legs. Nonetheless, molecular testing of several skeletal elements, including uninvolved bones all showed robust evidence of DNA from Mycobacterium leprae, consistent with the lepromatous or multibacillary form of the disease. We infer that in life, this individual almost certainly suffered with multiple soft tissue lesions. Genotyping of the M.leprae strain showed this belonged to the 2F lineage, today associated with cases from South-Central and Western Asia. During osteological examination it was noted that the cranium and facial features displayed atypical morphology for northern European populations. Subsequently, geochemical isotopic analyses carried out on tooth enamel indicated that this individual was indeed not local to the Winchester region, although it was not possible to be more specific about their geographic origin.

Biospecimen Repositories and Integrated Databases as Critical Infrastructure for Pathogen Discovery and Pathobiology Research

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 26 January 2017 - 10:00pm

by Jonathan L. Dunnum, Richard Yanagihara, Karl M. Johnson, Blas Armien, Nyamsuren Batsaikhan, Laura Morgan, Joseph A. Cook

Characterizing Antibody Responses to <i>Plasmodium vivax</i> and <i>Plasmodium falciparum</i> Antigens in India Using Genome-Scale Protein Microarrays

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 24 January 2017 - 10:00pm

by Swapna Uplekar, Pavitra Nagesh Rao, Lalitha Ramanathapuram, Vikky Awasthi, Kalpana Verma, Patrick Sutton, Syed Zeeshan Ali, Ankita Patel, Sri Lakshmi Priya G., Sangamithra Ravishankaran, Nisha Desai, Nikunj Tandel, Sandhya Choubey, Punam Barla, Deena Kanagaraj, Alex Eapen, Khageswar Pradhan, Ranvir Singh, Aarti Jain, Philip L. Felgner, D. Huw Davies, Jane M. Carlton, Jyoti Das

Understanding naturally acquired immune responses to Plasmodium in India is key to improving malaria surveillance and diagnostic tools. Here we describe serological profiling of immune responses at three sites in India by probing protein microarrays consisting of 515 Plasmodium vivax and 500 Plasmodium falciparum proteins with 353 plasma samples. A total of 236 malaria-positive (symptomatic and asymptomatic) plasma samples and 117 malaria-negative samples were collected at three field sites in Raurkela, Nadiad, and Chennai. Indian samples showed significant seroreactivity to 265 P. vivax and 373 P. falciparum antigens, but overall seroreactivity to P. vivax antigens was lower compared to P. falciparum antigens. We identified the most immunogenic antigens of both Plasmodium species that were recognized at all three sites in India, as well as P. falciparum antigens that were associated with asymptomatic malaria. This is the first genome-scale analysis of serological responses to the two major species of malaria parasite in India. The range of immune responses characterized in different endemic settings argues for targeted surveillance approaches tailored to the diverse epidemiology of malaria across the world.

Differential Expression of Matrix Metalloproteinases 2, 9 and Cytokines by Neutrophils and Monocytes in the Clinical Forms of Chagas Disease

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 24 January 2017 - 10:00pm

by Nayara I. Medeiros, Rafaelle C. G. Fares, Eliza P. Franco, Giovane R. Sousa, Rafael T. Mattos, Ana T. Chaves, Maria do Carmo P. Nunes, Walderez O. Dutra, Rodrigo Correa-Oliveira, Manoel O. C. Rocha, Juliana A. S. Gomes

Dilated cardiomyopathy, the most severe manifestation in chronic phase of Chagas disease, affects about 30% of patients and is characterized by myocardial dysfunction and interstitial fibrosis due to extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling. ECM remodeling is regulated by proteolytic enzymes such as matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and cytokines produced by immune cells, including phagocytes. We evaluated by flow cytometry the expression of MMP-2, MMP-9, IL-1β, TNF-α, TGF-β and IL-10 by neutrophils and monocytes from patients with indeterminate (IND) and cardiac (CARD) clinical forms of Chagas disease and non-infected individuals (NI), before and after in vitro stimulation with Trypanosoma cruzi antigens. Our results showed an important contribution of neutrophils for MMPs production, while monocytes seemed to be involved in cytokine production. The results showed that neutrophils and monocytes from IND and CARD patients had higher intracellular levels of MMP-2 and MMP-9 than NI individuals. On the other hand, T. cruzi derived-antigens promote a differential expression of MMP-2 and MMP-9 in patients with Chagas disease and may regulate MMPs expression in neutrophils and monocytes, mainly when a cardiac alteration is not present. Our data also showed that in the presence of T. cruzi derived-antigens the production of cytokines by neutrophils and monocytes, but mainly by monocytes, may be intensified. Correlation analysis demonstrated that MMP-2 had a positive correlation with IL-10 and a negative correlation with IL-1β, whereas MMP-9 showed a negative correlation with IL-10. We also observed that IND patients presented a greater percentage of high producer cells of regulatory molecules when compared to CARD patients, indicating a different pattern in the immune response. Our data suggest that MMPs and cytokines produced by neutrophils and monocytes are important contributors for cardiac remodeling and may be an interesting target for new biomarker research.

Integrated Mapping of Yaws and Trachoma in the Five Northern-Most Provinces of Vanuatu

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 24 January 2017 - 10:00pm

by Fasihah Taleo, Colin K Macleod, Michael Marks, Oliver Sokana, Anna Last, Rebecca Willis, Mackline Garae, Annie Bong, Brian K Chu, Paul Courtright, Jacob Kool, George Taleo, Jean Jacque Rory, Anthony W Solomon, Global Trachoma Mapping Project

Yaws and trachoma are targeted for eradication and elimination as public health problems. In trachoma-endemic populations mass administration of azithromycin can simultaneously treat yaws. We conducted a population-based prevalence survey in the five northernmost provinces of Vanuatu, where trachoma and yaws are suspected to be co-endemic. Clinical signs of trachoma were evaluated using the WHO simplified grading system, and skin examination with a serological rapid diagnostic test used to identify yaws. We enrolled 1004 households in 59 villages over 16 islands, and examined 3650 individuals of all ages for trachoma. The overall adjusted prevalence of trachomatous inflammation-follicular (TF) in 1–9 year-olds was 12.0% (95% Confidence Interval: 8.1–16.7%), and the overall adjusted prevalence of TT in those aged 15 years and greater was 0.04% (95% CI 0–0.14%). In multivariate analysis, the odds of children having TF was 2.6 (95% CI = 1.5–4.4) times higher in households with unimproved latrines, and independently associated with the number of children in the household (OR 1.3, 95% CI = 1.0–1.6 for each additional child). We examined the skin of 821 children aged 5–14 years. Two children had yaws, giving an estimated prevalence of active yaws in those aged 5–14 years of 0.2% (95% CI = 0.03–0.9%). Mass treatment with azithromycin is recommended in these provinces. Given the apparent low burden of yaws, integration of yaws and trachoma control programmes is likely to be useful and cost-effective to national programmes.

Unrecognized Emergence of Chikungunya Virus during a Zika Virus Outbreak in Salvador, Brazil

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 23 January 2017 - 10:00pm

by Cristiane W. Cardoso, Mariana Kikuti, Ana Paula P. B. Prates, Igor A. D. Paploski, Laura B. Tauro, Monaise M. O. Silva, Perla Santana, Marta F. S. Rego, Mitermayer G. Reis, Uriel Kitron, Guilherme S. Ribeiro

Background

Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) entered Brazil in 2014, causing a large outbreak in Feira de Santana, state of Bahia. Although cases have been recorded in Salvador, the capital of Bahia, located ~100 km of Feira de Santana, CHIKV transmission has not been perceived to occur epidemically, largely contrasting with the Zika virus (ZIKV) outbreak and ensuing complications reaching the city in 2015.

Methodology/Principal Findings

This study aimed to determine the intensity of CHIKV transmission in Salvador between November 2014 and April 2016. Results of all the CHIKV laboratory tests performed in the public sector were obtained and the frequency of positivity was analyzed by epidemiological week. Of the 2,736 tests analyzed, 456 (16.7%) were positive. An increasing in the positivity rate was observed, starting in January/2015, and peaking at 68% in August, shortly after the exanthematous illness outbreak attributed to ZIKV.

Conclusions/Significance

Public health authorities and health professionals did not immediately detect the increase in CHIKV cases, likely because all the attention was directed to the ZIKV outbreak and ensuing complications. It is important that regions in the world that harbor arbovirus vectors and did not experience intense ZIKV and CHIKV transmission be prepared for the potential co-emergence of these two viruses.

A Comparison of the Quality of Informed Consent for Clinical Trials of an Experimental Hookworm Vaccine Conducted in Developed and Developing Countries

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 23 January 2017 - 10:00pm

by David J. Diemert, Lucas Lobato, Ashley Styczynski, Maria Zumer, Amanda Soares, Maria Flávia Gazzinelli

Informed consent is one of the principal ethical requirements of conducting clinical research, regardless of the study setting. Breaches in the quality of the informed consent process are frequently described in reference to clinical trials conducted in developing countries, due to low levels of formal education, a lack of familiarity with biomedical research, and limited access to health services in these countries. However, few studies have directly compared the quality of the informed consent process in developed and developing countries using the same tool and in similar clinical trials. This study was conducted to compare the quality of the informed consent process of a series of clinical trials of an investigational hookworm vaccine that were performed in Brazil and the United States. A standardized questionnaire was used to assess the ethical quality of the informed consent process in a series of Phase 1 clinical trials of the Na-GST-1/Alhydrogel hookworm vaccine that were conducted in healthy adults in Brazil and the United States. In Brazil, the trial was conducted at two sites, one in the hookworm non-endemic urban area of Belo Horizonte, Minas, and one in the rural, resource-limited town of Americaninhas, both in the state of Minas Gerais; the American trial was conducted in Washington, DC. A 32-question survey was administered after the informed consent document was signed at each of the three trial sites; it assessed participants’ understanding of information about the study presented in the document as well as the voluntariness of their decision to participate. 105 participants completed the questionnaire: 63 in Americaninhas, 18 in Belo Horizonte, and 24 in Washington, DC. Overall knowledge about the trial was suboptimal: the mean number of correct answers to questions about study objectives, methods, duration, rights, and potential risks and benefits, was 45.6% in Americaninhas, 65.2% in Belo Horizonte, and 59.1% in Washington, DC. Although there was no difference in the rate of correct answers between participants in Belo Horizonte and Washington, DC, there was a significant gap between participants at these two locations compared to Americaninhas (p = 0.0002 and p = 0.0001, respectively), which had a lower percentage of correct answers. Attitudes towards participating in the clinical trial also differed by site: while approximately 40% had doubts about participating in Washington, DC and Belo Horizonte, only 1.5% had concerns in Americaninhas. Finally, in Belo Horizonte and Washington, high percentages cited a desire to help others as motivation for participating, whereas in Americaninhas, the most common reason for participating was personal interest (p = 0.001). Understanding of information about a Phase 1 clinical trial of an experimental hookworm vaccine following informed consent was suboptimal, regardless of study site. Although overall there were no differences in knowledge between Brazil and the US, a lower level of understanding about the trial was seen in participants at the rural, resource-limited Brazilian site. These findings demonstrate the need for educational interventions directed at potential clinical trial participants, both in developing and developed countries, in order to improve understanding of the informed consent document.

Evaluation and Monitoring of <i>Mycobacterium leprae</i> Transmission in Household Contacts of Patients with Hansen's Disease in Colombia

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 23 January 2017 - 10:00pm

by Marcela Romero-Montoya, Juan Camilo Beltran-Alzate, Nora Cardona-Castro

Leprosy in Colombia is in a stage of post elimination—since 1997, prevalence of the disease is less than 1/10000. However, the incidence of leprosy has remained stable, with 400–500 new cases reported annually, with MB leprosy representing 70% of these case and 10% having grade 2 disability. Thus, leprosy transmission is still occurring, and household contacts (HHCs) of leprosy patients are a population at high risk of contracting and suffering from the effects of the disease during their lifetime. We performed a cross-sectional study with the aim of evaluating leprosy transmission within Family Groups (FGs) from four Colombian departments: Antioquia, Bolívar, Córdoba and Sucre. This study included 159 FGs formed by 543 HHCs; 45 FGs were monitored twice, first in 2003 and again in 2012. Migration, forced displacement by violence, loss of contact with the health center and the lack of an agreement to participate in the second monitoring were the primary reasons not all FGs were tested a second time. In each HHC, a clinical examination was performed, epidemiological data recorded, the bacillary index determined, DNA was isolated for M. leprae detection by nested PCR and IgM anti-phenolic glycolipid-I (PGL-I) titers were inspected. Further, DNA from M. leprae isolates were typed and compared among FGs. Twenty-two (4.1%) of the 543 HHCs had IgM anti-PGL-I positive antibody titers, indicating infection. Nasal swabs (NS) taken from 113 HHCs were tested by RLEP PCR; 18 (16%) were positive for M. leprae DNA and two new leprosy cases were detected among the HHCs. Of the confirmed HHCs with leprosy, it was possible to genotype the bacterial strains from both the index case and their HHCs. We found that the genotype of these two strains agreed at 9 markers, showing the individuals to be infected by the same strain, indicating familiar transmission. HHCs of leprosy patients not only are a high-risk population for M. leprae infection, they can act as M. leprae carriers and therefore serve as sources for transmission and infection. Our results confirm familiar leprosy transmission and suggest that follow-up of HHCs is a good strategy for early diagnosis of leprosy and to monitor its transmission.

Identification of Functional Determinants in the Chikungunya Virus E2 Protein

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 23 January 2017 - 10:00pm

by Christopher Weber, Eva Berberich, Christine von Rhein, Lisa Henß, Eberhard Hildt, Barbara S. Schnierle

Background

Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a mosquito-transmitted alphavirus that causes high fever, rash, and recurrent arthritis in humans. It has efficiently adapted to Aedes albopictus, which also inhabits temperate regions, including Europe and the United States of America. In the past, CHIKV has mainly affected developing countries, but has recently caused large outbreaks in the Caribbean and Latin America. No treatment or licensed CHIKV vaccine exists.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Here, we have identified determinants in the CHIKV cell-attachment protein E2 that facilitate cell binding. The extracellular part of the E2 gene is subdivided into the three domains, A, B, and C. These domains were expressed in E. coli and as Fc-fusion proteins generated from HEK293T cells and used for cell-binding assays. Domains A and B bound to all cells tested, independently of their permissiveness to CHIKV infection. Domain C did not bind to cells at all. Furthermore, CHIKV cell entry was promoted by cell-surface glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) and domain B interacted exclusively with GAG-expressing cells. Domain A also bound, although only moderately, to GAG-deficient cells. Soluble GAGs were able to inhibit CHIKV infection up to 90%; however, they enhanced the transduction rate of CHIKV Env pseudotyped vectors in GAG-negative cells.

Conclusion/Significance

These data imply that CHIKV uses at least two mechanisms to enter cells, one GAG-dependent, via initial attachment through domain B, and the other GAG-independent, via attachment of domain A. These data give indications that CHIKV uses multiple mechanisms to enter cells and shows the potential of GAGs as lead structures for developing antiviral drugs.

Spatial Analysis of Dengue Seroprevalence and Modeling of Transmission Risk Factors in a Dengue Hyperendemic City of Venezuela

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 23 January 2017 - 10:00pm

by Maria F. Vincenti-Gonzalez, María-Eugenia Grillet, Zoraida I. Velasco-Salas, Erley F. Lizarazo, Manuel A. Amarista, Gloria M. Sierra, Guillermo Comach, Adriana Tami

Background

Dengue virus (DENV) transmission is spatially heterogeneous. Hence, to stratify dengue prevalence in space may be an efficacious strategy to target surveillance and control efforts in a cost-effective manner particularly in Venezuela where dengue is hyperendemic and public health resources are scarce. Here, we determine hot spots of dengue seroprevalence and the risk factors associated with these clusters using local spatial statistics and a regression modeling approach.

Methodology/Principal Findings

From August 2010 to January 2011, a community-based cross-sectional study of 2012 individuals in 840 households was performed in high incidence neighborhoods of a dengue hyperendemic city in Venezuela. Local spatial statistics conducted at household- and block-level identified clusters of recent dengue seroprevalence (39 hot spot households and 9 hot spot blocks) in all neighborhoods. However, no clusters were found for past dengue seroprevalence. Clustering of infection was detected at a very small scale (20-110m) suggesting a high disease focal aggregation. Factors associated with living in a hot spot household were occupation (being a domestic worker/housewife (P = 0.002), lower socio-economic status (living in a shack (P<0.001), sharing a household with <7 people (P = 0.004), promoting potential vector breeding sites (storing water in containers (P = 0.024), having litter outdoors (P = 0.002) and mosquito preventive measures (such as using repellent, P = 0.011). Similarly, low socio-economic status (living in crowded conditions, P<0.001), having an occupation of domestic worker/housewife (P = 0.012) and not using certain preventive measures against mosquitoes (P<0.05) were directly associated with living in a hot spot block.

Conclusions/Significance

Our findings contribute to a better comprehension of the spatial dynamics of dengue by assessing the relationship between disease clusters and their risk factors. These results can inform health authorities in the design of surveillance and control activities. Focalizing dengue control measures during epidemic and inter-epidemic periods to disease high risk zones at household and neighborhood-level may significantly reduce virus transmission in comparison to random interventions.

Modelling Anti-Ov16 IgG4 Antibody Prevalence as an Indicator for Evaluation and Decision Making in Onchocerciasis Elimination Programmes

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 23 January 2017 - 10:00pm

by Yvonne L. Lont, Luc E. Coffeng, Sake J. de Vlas, Allison Golden, Tala de los Santos, Gonzalo J. Domingo, Wilma A. Stolk

Background

Onchocerciasis is targeted for elimination in Africa through annual or biannual ivermectin mass drug administration (MDA). An immunodiagnostic test, based on the detection of human IgG4 antibodies in the blood to the Onchocerca volvulus-specific antigen Ov16, is one of the recommended tools for determining whether transmission is interrupted and mass treatment can stop. For different transmission settings, the relationship between post-MDA Ov16 antibody prevalence in children (measured 1 year after the last round of MDA) and the duration and coverage of MDA, the mf prevalence in the population, and the probability that onchocerciasis is eventually eliminated is explored through mathematical modelling.

Methodology

The ONCHOSIM model was extended with new output on the Ov16 antibody serostatus of individuals. Seroconversion was assumed to be triggered by the first worm establishing in the host, with seroconversion occurring either before maturation, after maturation or only after the start of mf production. We are mainly interested in seroconversion rates in children, and for now ignore the possibility of seroreversion to simplify the model.

Principal findings

Yearly repeated MDA leads to a strong reduction in the in the parasite acquisition rate in humans. This reduces the seroconversion rate in newborns and young children, while those who seroconverted before the start of control remain antibody positive. Both the microfiladermia prevalence in the population aged 5 years and above and the Ov16 antibody prevalence in children under 10 declined with increasing duration of MDA. The association between either of these indicators and the model-predicted probability of elimination was not influenced much by the assumed treatment coverage levels, but was found to depend on baseline endemicity levels, assumptions regarding the trigger of seroconversion, and diagnostic test characteristics (sensitivity and specificity).

Conclusions

Better understanding of the dynamics of Ov16 antibody responses is required for accurate interpretation of seroprevalence data and more precise estimation of endpoint for MDA. Our study demonstrates that this endpoint will be dependent on baseline endemicity levels, which should be taken into account in guidelines for defining when to stop MDA.

Pages