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Spatial epidemiology of yellow fever: Identification of determinants of the 2016-2018 epidemics and at-risk areas in Brazil

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 1 October 2020 - 9:00pm

by Benoit de Thoisy, Natalia Ingrid Oliveira Silva, Lívia Sacchetto, Giliane de Souza Trindade, Betânia Paiva Drumond

Optimise control strategies of infectious diseases, identify factors that favour the circulation of pathogens, and propose risk maps are crucial challenges for global health. Ecological niche modelling, once relying on an adequate framework and environmental descriptors can be a helpful tool for such purposes. Despite the existence of a vaccine, yellow fever (YF) is still a public health issue. Brazil faced massive sylvatic YF outbreaks from the end of 2016 up to mid-2018, but cases in human and non-human primates have been recorded until the beginning of 2020. Here we used both human and monkey confirmed YF cases from two epidemic periods (2016/2017 and 2017/2018) to describe the spatial distribution of the cases and explore how biotic and abiotic factors drive their occurrence. The distribution of YF cases largely overlaps for humans and monkeys, and a contraction of the spatial extent associated with a southward displacement is observed during the second period of the epidemics. More contributive variables to the spatiotemporal heterogeneity of cases were related to biotic factors (mammal richness), abiotic factors (temperature and precipitation), and some human-related variables (population density, human footprint, and human vaccination coverage). Both projections of the most favourable conditions showed similar trends with a contraction of the more at-risk areas. Once extrapolated at a large scale, the Amazon basin remains at lower risk, although surrounding forest regions and notably the North-West region, would face a higher risk. Spatial projections of infectious diseases often relied on climatic variables only; here for both models, we instead highlighted the importance of considering local biotic conditions, hosts vulnerability, social and epidemiological factors to run the spatial risk analysis correctly: all YF cases occurring later on, in 2019 and 2020, were observed in the predicted at-risk areas.

Transmission of <i>Bartonella henselae</i> within <i>Rhipicephalus sanguineus</i>: Data on the Potential Vector Role of the Tick

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 1 October 2020 - 9:00pm

by Wittawat Wechtaisong, Sarah I. Bonnet, Yi-Yang Lien, Shih-Te Chuang, Yi-Lun Tsai

Bartonella henselae is a fastidious intraerythrocytic, gram-negative bacteria that causes cat scratch disease in humans. Ixodes ricinus has been confirmed to be a competent vector of B. henselae, and some indirect evidences from clinical cases and epidemiological studies also suggested that some other tick species, including Rhipicephalus sanguineus, may transmit the bacteria. B. henselae has been detected in R. sanguineus but no experimental investigations have been performed to evaluate the vector competency of this tick species regarding B. henselae transmission. To this end, this work aimed to assess the transstadial transmission of B. henselae between larvae and nymphs of R. sanguineus as well as transmission by nymphs infected at the larval stage. Four hundred B. henselae negative larvae were fed with B. henselae-infected blood by using an artificial membrane feeding system. After five days of feeding, B. henselae was detected by PCR in 57.1% (8/14) of engorged larval pools, 66.7% (4/6) of semi-engorged larval pools, and 66.7% (2/3) of larval feces pools. After molting, B. henselae DNA was also detected in 10% (1/10) of nymph pools, but not in tick feces. After a pre-fed step of nymphs infected at the larval stage on non-infected blood meal, B. henselae was detected by PCR in blood sample from the feeder, but no Bartonella colonies could be obtained from culture. These findings showed that B. henselae could be transstadial transmitted from R. sanguineus larvae to nymphs, and also suggest that these nymphs may retransmitted the bacteria through the saliva during their blood meal. This is the first study that validated the artificial membrane feeding system for maintaining R. sanguineus tick colony. It shows the possibility of transstadial transmission of B. henselae from R. sanguineus larvae to nymphs.

Investigating a strategy for quantifying schistosome infection levels in preschool-aged children using prevalence data from school-aged children

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 1 October 2020 - 9:00pm

by Rivka M. Lim, Mark E. J. Woolhouse, Takafira Mduluza, Margo Chase-Topping, Derick N. M. Osakunor, Lester Chitsulo, Francisca Mutapi

In 2012, the World Health Organisation (WHO) set out a roadmap for eliminating schistosomiasis as a public health problem by 2025. To achieve this target, preschool-aged children (PSAC; aged 6 years and below) will need to be included in schistosomiasis treatment programmes. As the global community discusses the tools and approaches for treating this group, one of the main questions that remains unanswered is how to quantify infection in this age group to inform treatment strategies. The aim of this study was thus to determine whether a relationship exists between levels of schistosome infection in PSAC and school-aged children (SAC), that can be used to determine unknown schistosome infection prevalence levels in PSAC. A systematic search of publications reporting schistosomiasis prevalence in African PSAC and SAC was conducted. The search strategy was formulated using the PRISMA guidelines and SPIDER search strategy tool. The published data was subjected to regression analysis to determine if a relationship exists between infection levels in PSAC and SAC. The interaction between SAC and community treatment history was also entered in the regression model to determine if treatment history significantly affected the relationship between PSAC and SAC prevalence. The results showed that a significant positive relationship exists between infection prevalence levels in PSAC and SAC for Schistosoma mansoni (r = 0.812, df (88, 1), p = <0.0001) and S. haematobium (r = 0.786, df (53, 1), p = <0.0001). The relationship was still significant after allowing for diagnostic method, treatment history, and the African sub-region where the study was conducted (S. mansoni: F = 25.63, df (88, 9), p = <0.0001; S. haematobium: F = 10.20, df (53, 10), p = <0.0001). Using the regression equation for PSAC and SAC prevalence, over 90% of the PSAC prevalence studies were placed in the correct WHO classifications category based on the SAC levels, regardless of treatment history. The study indicated that schistosome prevalence in SAC can be extended as a proxy for infection levels in PSAC, extending on its current use in the adult population. SAC prevalence data could identify where there is a need to accelerate and facilitate the treatment of PSAC for schistosomiasis in Africa.

A new patient registry for Chagas disease

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 1 October 2020 - 9:00pm

by Peter Hotez, Maria Elena Bottazzi, Nathalie Strub-Wourgaft, Sergio Sosa-Estani, Faustino Torrico, Leire Pajín, Marcelo Abril, Javier Sancho

Validation of the Micronutrient and Environmental Enteric Dysfunction Assessment Tool and evaluation of biomarker risk factors for growth faltering and vaccine failure in young Malian children

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 30 September 2020 - 9:00pm

by Michael B. Arndt, Jason L. Cantera, Laina D. Mercer, Michael Kalnoky, Heather N. White, Gregory Bizilj, David S. Boyle, Eugenio L. de Hostos, Robert K. M. Choy

Environmental enteric dysfunction (EED) is an intestinal disorder common among children in low-resource settings and is associated with increased risk of growth stunting, cognitive deficits, and reduced oral vaccine immunogenicity. The Micronutrient and EED Assessment Tool (MEEDAT) is a multiplexed immunoassay that measures biomarkers previously associated with child growth faltering and/or oral vaccine immunogenicity: intestinal fatty acid–binding protein (I-FABP), soluble CD14 (sCD14), insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), and fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21). MEEDAT also measures systemic inflammation (α1-acid glycoprotein, C-reactive protein), ferritin, soluble transferrin receptor, retinol binding protein 4, thyroglobulin, and Plasmodium falciparum antigenemia (histidine-rich protein 2). The performance of MEEDAT was compared with commercially available enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) using 300 specimens from Malian infant clinical trial participants. Regression methods were used to test if MEEDAT biomarkers were associated with seroconversion to meningococcal A conjugate vaccine (MenAV), yellow fever vaccine (YFV), and pentavalent rotavirus vaccine (PRV) after 28 days, or with growth faltering over 12 weeks. The Pearson correlations between the MEEDAT and ELISA results were 0.97, 0.86, 0.80, and 0.97 for serum I-FABP, sCD14, IGF-1, and FGF21, respectively. There were significant associations between I-FABP concentration and the probability of PRV IgG seroconversion and between IGF-1 concentration and the probability of YFV seroconversion. In multivariable models neither association remained significant, however there was a significant negative association between AGP concentration and YFV seroconversion. GLP-2 and sCD14 concentrations were significantly negatively associated with 12-week change in weight-for-age z-score and weight-for-height z-score in multivariable models. MEEDAT performed well in comparison to commercially-available ELISAs for the measurement of four analytes for EED and growth hormone resistance. Adoption of MEEDAT in low-resource settings could help accelerate the identification of interventions that prevent or treat child stunting and interventions that boost the immunogenicity of child vaccinations.

Mitogenome diversity of <i>Aedes</i> (<i>Stegomyia</i>) <i>albopictus</i>: Detection of multiple introduction events in Portugal

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 30 September 2020 - 9:00pm

by Líbia Zé-Zé, Vítor Borges, Hugo Costa Osório, Jorge Machado, João Paulo Gomes, Maria João Alves

Aedes albopictus, along with Ae. aegypti, are key arbovirus vectors that have been expanding their geographic range over the last decades. In 2017, Ae. albopictus was detected for the first time at two distinct locations in Portugal. In order to understand how the Ae. albopictus populations recently introduced in Portugal are genetically related and which is their likely route of invasion, we performed an integrative cytochrome C oxidase I gene (COI)- and mitogenome-based phylogeographic analysis of mosquitoes samples collected in Portugal in 2017 and 2018 in the context of the global Ae. albopictus diversity. COI-based analysis (31 partial sequences obtained from 83 mosquitoes) revealed five haplotypes (1 to 5), with haplotype 1 (which is widely distributed in temperate areas worldwide) being detected in both locations. Haplotypes 2 and 3 were exclusively found in Southern region (Algarve), while haplotype 4 and 5 were only detected in the North of Portugal (Penafiel, Oporto region). Subsequent high discriminatory analyses based on Ae. albopictus mitogenome (17 novel sequences) not only confirmed a high degree of genetic variability within and between populations at both geographic locations (compatible with the Ae. albopictus mosquito populations circulating in Europe), but also revealed two mitogenome mutational signatures not previously reported at worldwide level. While our results generally sustain the occurrence of multiple introduction events, fine mitogenome sequence inspection further indicates a possible Ae. albopictus migration within the country, from the Northern introduction locality to the Southern region. In summary, the observed scenario of high Ae. albopictus genetic diversity in Portugal, together with the detection of mosquitoes in successive years since 2017 in Algarve and Penafiel, points that both Ae. albopictus populations seem to be already locally establish, as its presence has been reported for three consecutive years, raising the public health awareness for future mosquito-borne diseases outbreaks.

Genomic loss in environmental and isogenic morphotype isolates of <i>Burkholderia pseudomallei</i> is associated with intracellular survival and plaque-forming efficiency

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 29 September 2020 - 9:00pm

by Natnaree Saiprom, Tanes Sangsri, Sarunporn Tandhavanant, Sineenart Sengyee, Rungnapa Phunpang, Anucha Preechanukul, Uriwan Surin, Apichai Tuanyok, Ganjana Lertmemongkolchai, Wasun Chantratita, T. Eoin West, Narisara Chantratita


Burkholderia pseudomallei is an environmental bacterium that causes melioidosis. A facultative intracellular pathogen, B. pseudomallei can induce multinucleated giant cells (MNGCs) leading to plaque formation in vitro. B. pseudomallei can switch colony morphotypes under stress conditions. In addition, different isolates have been reported to have varying virulence in vivo, but genomic evolution and the relationship with plaque formation is poorly understood.

Methodology/Principle findings

To gain insights into genetic underpinnings of virulence of B. pseudomallei, we screened plaque formation of 52 clinical isolates and 11 environmental isolates as well as 4 isogenic morphotype isolates of B. pseudomallei strains K96243 (types II and III) and 153 (types II and III) from Thailand in A549 and HeLa cells. All isolates except one environmental strain (A4) and K96243 morphotype II were able to induce plaque formation in both cell lines. Intracellular growth assay and confocal microscopy analyses demonstrated that the two plaque-forming-defective isolates were also impaired in intracellular replication, actin polymerization and MNGC formation in infected cells. Whole genome sequencing analysis and PCR revealed that both isolates had a large genomic loss on the same region in chromosome 2, which included Bim cluster, T3SS-3 and T6SS-5 genes.


Our plaque screening and genomic studies revealed evidence of impairment in plaque formation in environmental isolates of B. pseudomallei that is associated with large genomic loss of genes important for intracellular multiplication and MNGC formation. These findings suggest that the genomic and phenotypic differences of environmental isolates may be associated with clinical infection.

Using affinity propagation clustering for identifying bacterial clades and subclades with whole-genome sequences of <i>Francisella tularensis</i>

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 29 September 2020 - 9:00pm

by Anne Busch, Timo Homeier-Bachmann, Mostafa Y. Abdel-Glil, Anja Hackbart, Helmut Hotzel, Herbert Tomaso

By combining a reference-independent SNP analysis and average nucleotide identity (ANI) with affinity propagation clustering (APC), we developed a significantly improved methodology allowing resolving phylogenetic relationships, based on objective criteria. These bioinformatics tools can be used as a general ruler to determine phylogenetic relationships and clustering of bacteria, exemplary done with Francisella (F.) tularensis. Molecular epidemiology of F. tularensis is currently assessed mostly based on laboratory methods and molecular analysis. The high evolutionary stability and the clonal nature makes Francisella ideal for subtyping with single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Sequencing and real-time PCR can be used to validate the SNP analysis. We investigate whole-genome sequences of 155 F. tularensis subsp. holarctica isolates. Phylogenetic testing was based on SNPs and average nucleotide identity (ANI) as reference independent, alignment-free methods taking small-scale and large-scale differences within the genomes into account. Especially the whole genome SNP analysis with kSNP3.0 allowed deciphering quite subtle signals of systematic differences in molecular variation. Affinity propagation clustering (APC) resulted in three clusters showing the known clades B.4, B.6, and B.12. These data correlated with the results of real‐time PCR assays targeting canSNPs loci. Additionally, we detected two subtle sub-clusters. SplitsTree was used with standard-setting using the aligned SNPs from Parsnps. Together APC, HierBAPS, and SplitsTree enabled us to generate hypotheses about epidemiologic relationships between bacterial clusters and describing the distribution of isolates. Our data indicate that the choice of the typing technique can increase our understanding of the pathogenesis and transmission of diseases with the eventual for prevention. This is opening perspectives to be applied to other bacterial species. The data provide evidence that Germany might be the collision zone where the clade B.12, also known as the East European clade, overlaps with the clade B.6, also known as the Iberian clade. Described methods allow generating a new, more detailed perspective for F. tularensis subsp. holarctica phylogeny. These results may encourage to determine phylogenetic relationships and clustering of other bacteria the same way.

Dynamics of food sources, ecotypic distribution and <i>Trypanosoma cruzi</i> infection in <i>Triatoma brasiliensis</i> from the northeast of Brazil

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 28 September 2020 - 9:00pm

by Maurício Lilioso, Carolina Reigada, Dayane Pires-Silva, Fernanda von H. M. Fontes, Cleanne Limeira, Jackeline Monsalve-Lara, Elaine Folly-Ramos, Myriam Harry, Jane Costa, Carlos Eduardo Almeida

Innovative approaches used to combat Chagas disease transmission tend to combine a set of comprehensive efforts to understand the ecology of local vectors. In this work we identified molecularly the blood meal of 181 Triatoma brasiliensis, distributed in 18 populations (8 sylvatic and 10 peridomestic), which were collected across a range of 240 km (East-West) and 95 km (North-South) in the semi-arid region of northeastern, Brazil. We used the vertebrate mitochondrial gene (cytochrome B) sequencing applied to DNA isolated from bug midgut to identify the insect blood meal sources via the BLAST procedure. The peridomestic populations were classified according to two main hypotheses of site-occupancy for T. brasiliensis: the first says that the infestation is mainly driven by structures that resemble its natural habitat (stony-like ecotopes) and the second assumes that it is associated with key-hosts (rodents and goats). Rodents of the Caviidae family (Galea spixii and Kerodon rupestris) were identified as the key-host of T. brasiliensis, but also the potential Trypanosoma cruzi reservoir–able to connect the sylvatic and domestic T. cruzi cycle. Cats also deserve to be studied better, as potential T. cruzi reservoirs. By modeling the food sources + site-occupancy + T. cruzi natural infection, we identified man-made ecotopes suitable for forming dense triatomine infestations with high rates of T. cruzi natural infection, which may be taken into account for vector control measures.

Surveillance of invasive <i>Aedes</i> mosquitoes along Swiss traffic axes reveals different dispersal modes for <i>Aedes albopictus</i> and <i>Ae</i>. <i>japonicus</i>

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 28 September 2020 - 9:00pm

by Pie Müller, Lukas Engeler, Laura Vavassori, Tobias Suter, Valeria Guidi, Martin Gschwind, Mauro Tonolla, Eleonora Flacio

Over the past three decades, Europe has witnessed an increased spread of invasive aedine mosquito species, most notably Aedes albopictus, a key vector of chikungunya, dengue and Zika virus. While its distribution in southern Europe is well documented, its dispersal modes across the Alps remain poorly investigated, preventing a projection of future scenarios beyond its current range in order to target mosquito control. To monitor the presence and frequency of invasive Aedes mosquitoes across and beyond the Alps we set oviposition and BG-Sentinel traps at potential points of entry with a focus on motorway service areas across Switzerland. We placed the traps from June to September and controlled them for the presence of mosquitoes every other week between 2013 and 2018. Over the six years of surveillance we identified three invasive Aedes species, including Ae. albopictus, Ae. japonicus and Ae. koreicus. Based on the frequency and distribution patterns we conclude that Ae. albopictus and Ae. koreicus are being passively spread primarily along the European route E35 from Italy to Germany, crossing the Alps, while Ae. japonicus has been expanding its range from northern Switzerland across the country most likely through active dispersal.

NOD2 receptor is crucial for protecting against the digestive form of Chagas disease

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 28 September 2020 - 9:00pm

by Nathalie de Sena Pereira, Tamyres Bernadete Dantas Queiroga, Denis Dantas Silva, Manuela Sales Lima Nascimento, Cléber Mesquita de Andrade, Janeusa Trindade de Souto, Mayra Fernanda Ricci, Rosa Maria Esteves Arantes, Dario Simões Zamboni, Egler Chiari, Antônia Cláudia Jácome da Câmara, Lúcia Maria da Cunha Galvão, Paulo Marcos Matta Guedes

Digestive and cardiodigestive forms of Chagas’ disease are observed in 2% to 27% of the patients, depending on their geographic location, Trypanosoma cruzi strain and immunopathological responses. The aim of this work was to evaluate the role of NOD2 innate immune receptor in the pathogenesis of the digestive system in Chagas’ disease. Patients with digestive form of the disease showed lower mRNA expression of NOD2, higher expression of RIP2 and α-defensin 6, compared to indeterminate form, detected by Real-time PCR in peripheral blood mononuclear cells. In addition, there was a negative correlation between the expression of NOD2 and the degree of dilation of the esophagus, sigmoid and rectum in those patients. The infection of NOD2-/- mice with T. cruzi strain isolated from the digestive patient induced a decrease in intestinal motility. Histopathological analysis of the colon and jejunum of NOD2-/- and wild type C57BL/6 animals revealed discrete inflammatory foci during the acute phase of infection. Interestingly, during the chronic phase of the infection there was inflammation and hypertrophy of the longitudinal and circular muscular layer more pronounced in the colon and jejunum from NOD2-/- animals, when compared to wild type C57BL/6 mice. Together, our results suggest that NOD2 plays a protective role against the development of digestive form of Chagas’ disease.

Circulating genotypes of <i>Leptospira</i> in French Polynesia : An 9-year molecular epidemiology surveillance follow-up study

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 28 September 2020 - 9:00pm

by Linda Grillová, Hilde Angermeier, Marc Levy, Marine Giard, Stéphane Lastère, Mathieu Picardeau


Leptospirosis is a widespread zoonosis with global impact, particularly among vulnerable populations in resource-poor settings in tropical countries. Rodents have been considered to be the main reservoir of the disease; however, a wide variety of mammals can act as hosts as well. Here we examine the genetic diversity of Leptospira strains from biological samples of patients and animals in French Polynesia (FP) from 2011 to 2019.

Methodology/Principal findings

From 2011 to 2019, we have collected 444 blood samples from patients diagnosed as having leptospirosis. The limited volume of clinical material and low amount of leptospiral DNA in blood samples led us to develop a nested PCR targeting the secY locus that enabled us to amplify and sequence 244 samples (55%). In addition, 20 Leptospira strains recovered from the blood of patients from 2002 to 2011 were sequenced and fully characterized at the serogroup level and used as reference strains for the association of different phylogenetic branches with respective serogroups. The secY sequences were compared with publicly available sequences from patients and animal reservoirs in FP (n = 79). We identified rats as the main source of infection for L. borgpetersenii serogroup Ballum and L. interrogans serogroup Icterohaemorrhagiae, dogs as the main source of infection for L. interrogans serogroup Australis, and farm pigs as the main source of infection for L. interrogans serogroups Pomona or Canicola. L. interrogans was associated with the most severe infections with 10 and 5 fatal cases due to serogroups Icterohaemorrhagiae and Australis, respectively. Mortality was significantly associated with older age (p-value < 0.001).


We described the population dynamics of leptospires circulating among patients in FP, including two patients who were reinfected with unrelated Leptospira genotypes, and clarified the local role of the animal reservoirs in the transmission route of leptospirosis to humans. Routine Leptospira genotyping directly on biological samples should allow the epidemiological follow-up of circulating strains and assess the impact of control interventions on disease transmission.

2020 Review and revision of the 2015 Darwin melioidosis treatment guideline; paradigm drift not shift

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 28 September 2020 - 9:00pm

by Richard P. Sullivan, Catherine S. Marshall, Nicholas M. Anstey, Linda Ward, Bart J. Currie


Melioidosis therapy is divided into an intravenous intensive phase and an oral eradication phase. The Darwin melioidosis treatment guideline has evolved over two decades, with over 1150 consecutive patients with culture-confirmed melioidosis managed under the Darwin Prospective Melioidosis Study. The current guideline, published in 2015, has been associated with low rates of recrudescence, relapse and mortality, and together with the treatment trials in Thailand, forms the basis for consensus global guidelines.We aimed to reassess the Darwin guideline and determine if any adjustments to the recommendations better reflect current practice in melioidosis therapy at Royal Darwin Hospital.

Methodology/Principal findings

This retrospective cohort study reviews the characteristics, admission duration, duration of intravenous antibiotics, recrudescence, recurrence and mortality in all patients presenting with first episode culture-confirmed melioidosis in the tropical north of Australia’s Northern Territory from 1st October 2012 until 1st January 2017.234 patients were available for analysis. 16 (6.8%) died during the intensive phase treatment and 6 (2.6%) did not have complete treatment at Royal Darwin Hospital, leaving 212 patients for analysis. Six (2.8%) patients had recrudescence during therapy and 10 (4.7%) had recurrent melioidosis (relapse or new infection) after completion of therapy. Persisting osteomyelitis requiring surgery was an important reason for recrudescence as was unrecognized osteomyelitis for relapse. For patients presenting with an antibiotic duration determining focus of pneumonia, durations of intravenous antibiotics were often prolonged beyond the current 2-week minimum treatment recommendation. Prolongation of therapy in pneumonia mostly occurred in patients presenting with multi-lobar disease or with concurrent blood culture positivity.


The 2015 Darwin melioidosis guideline is working well with low rates of recrudescence, relapse and mortality. Based on the practice of the treating clinicians, the 2020 revision of the guideline has been adjusted to include a duration of a minimum of 3 weeks of intravenous antibiotics for those with concurrent bacteraemia and pneumonia involving only a single lobe and those with bilateral and unilateral multi-lobar pneumonias who do not have bacteraemia. We also extend to a minimum of 4 weeks intravenous therapy for those with concurrent bacteraemia and bilateral or unilateral multi-lobar pneumonia.

Leveraging multiple data types to estimate the size of the Zika epidemic in the Americas

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 28 September 2020 - 9:00pm

by Sean M. Moore, Rachel J. Oidtman, K. James Soda, Amir S. Siraj, Robert C. Reiner Jr., Christopher M. Barker, T. Alex Perkins

Several hundred thousand Zika cases have been reported across the Americas since 2015. Incidence of infection was likely much higher, however, due to a high frequency of asymptomatic infection and other challenges that surveillance systems faced. Using a hierarchical Bayesian model with empirically-informed priors, we leveraged multiple types of Zika case data from 15 countries to estimate subnational reporting probabilities and infection attack rates (IARs). Zika IAR estimates ranged from 0.084 (95% CrI: 0.067–0.096) in Peru to 0.361 (95% CrI: 0.214–0.514) in Ecuador, with significant subnational variability in every country. Totaling infection estimates across these and 33 other countries and territories, our results suggest that 132.3 million (95% CrI: 111.3-170.2 million) people in the Americas had been infected by the end of 2018. These estimates represent the most extensive attempt to determine the size of the Zika epidemic in the Americas, offering a baseline for assessing the risk of future Zika epidemics in this region.

Proteomic and deep sequencing analysis of extracellular vesicles isolated from adult male and female <i>Schistosoma japonicum</i>

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 28 September 2020 - 9:00pm

by Pengfei Du, Bikash R. Giri, Juntao Liu, Tianqi Xia, Christoph G. Grevelding, Guofeng Cheng

Schistosomes are the causative agent of schistosomiasis, which affects more than 200 million people worldwide. Unlike other trematode parasites, schistosomes (along with the Didymozoidae) have evolved separate sexes. Pairing of males and females is a prerequisite for female sexual development and subsequent egg production. However, the mechanisms underlying these processes remain poorly understood. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) have been shown to play important roles in many biological processes. In the present study, we characterized EVs isolated from adult male and female Schistosoma japonicum. Proteomic analyses of the isolated EVs revealed that some proteins are significantly enriched in male or female EVs. RNA-sequencing analysis of a small RNA population associated with EVs identified 18 miRNAs enriched in male and female S. japonicum EVs. Among these, miR-750 was specifically enriched in female EVs. Additionally, the inhibition of miR-750 by a miRNA inhibitor led to decreased egg production in female schistosomes cultured in vitro. Collectively, our results suggest that miR-750 within female EV cargo may be involved in regulating ovary development and egg production in S. japonicum females.

Exposure to nanoceria impacts larval survival, life history traits and fecundity of <i>Aedes aegypti</i>

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 25 September 2020 - 9:00pm

by Mona Doshi, Alexander Bosak, Craig J. Neal, Nour Isis, Udit Kumar, Aadithya Jeyaranjan, Tamil Selvan Sakthivel, Sushant Singh, Alicia Willenberg, Robert B. Hines, Sudipta Seal, Bradley J. Willenberg

Effectively controlling vector mosquito populations while avoiding the development of resistance remains a prevalent and increasing obstacle to integrated vector management. Although, metallic nanoparticles have previously shown promise in controlling larval populations via mechanisms which are less likely to spur resistance, the impacts of such particles on life history traits and fecundity of mosquitoes are understudied. Herein, we investigate the chemically well-defined cerium oxide nanoparticles (CNPs) and silver-doped nanoceria (AgCNPs) for larvicidal potential and effects on life history traits and fecundity of Aedes (Ae.) aegypti mosquitoes. When 3rd instar larvae were exposed to nanoceria in absence of larval food, the mortality count disclosed significant activity of AgCNPs over CNPs (57.8±3.68% and 17.2±2.81% lethality, respectively) and a comparable activity to Ag+ controls (62.8±3.60% lethality). The surviving larvae showed altered life history traits (e.g., reduced egg hatch proportion and varied sex ratios), indicating activities of these nanoceria beyond just that of a larvicide. In a separate set of experiments, impacts on oocyte growth and egg generation resulting from nanoceria-laced blood meals were studied using confocal fluorescence microscopy revealing oocytes growth-arrest at 16-24h after feeding with AgCNP-blood meals in some mosquitoes, thereby significantly reducing average egg clutch. AgCNPs caused ~60% mortality in 3rd instar larvae when larval food was absent, while CNPs yielded only ~20% mortality which contrasts with a previous report on green-synthesized nanoceria and highlights the level of detail required to accurately report and interpret such studies. Additionally, AgCNPs are estimated to contain much less silver (0.22 parts per billion, ppb) than the amount of Ag+ needed to achieve comparable larvicidal activity (4.2 parts per million, ppm), potentially making these nanoceria ecofriendly. Finally, this work is the first study to demonstrate the until-now-unappreciated impacts of nanoceria on life history traits and interference with mosquito egg development.

Drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics of praziquantel: A review of variable drug exposure during schistosomiasis treatment in human hosts and experimental models

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 25 September 2020 - 9:00pm

by Grace Zdesenko, Francisca Mutapi

Schistosomiasis control is heavily reliant on the drug praziquantel (PZQ), which is used as preventive chemotherapy as part of national helminth control strategies. Given the heavy reliance on PZQ for mass drug administration, there has been considerable research on the potential of parasites developing resistance to the drug, resulting in decreased drug efficacy. However, there have been comparatively fewer studies of other factors that can potentially alter PZQ efficacy. Here, we investigate whether host PZQ metabolism contributes towards variable cure rates. We evaluate factors that can influence the metabolism of PZQ and the resultant effect on the efficacy of PZQ treatment to determine factors that potentially influence an individual’s response to the drug. The literature search was directed at published studies from three online databases: Web of Science, PubMed, and EMBASE. The search terms for the review comprised of ([praziquantel OR PZQ] AND [schistosom* OR bilharzia] AND [pharmaco*]) and included studies evaluating PZQ metabolism. Publications were categorised into pharmacokinetics, drug–drug interactions, pharmacogenetics, and metabolite analysis. Forty publications describing human and experimental studies fitted the inclusion criteria and were subjected to data extraction and analysis. The analyses showed that variable exposure to PZQ was associated with alterations in the liver’s capacity to metabolise PZQ and observed drug–drug interactions. Other factors influencing the efficacy of PZQ were brand, formulation, and co-administered food. Although some work has been performed on metabolite identification, there was minimal information on PZQ’s metabolic pathway, and no pharmacogenetics studies were identified. The study indicated that in both human and experimental studies alterations in the liver’s capacity to metabolise PZQ as well as drug–drug interactions affected systemic levels of PZQ that could result in variable cure rates. The study confirmed previous findings of higher antischistosomal activity of (R)-PZQ enantiomer when administered alone compared to the racemate at the same dose as well as improved efficacy when the drug is administered with food. The study also highlighted the need for more comprehensive studies of the PZQ metabolic pathway and PZQ pharmacogenetic studies in humans.

Impact of annual and semi-annual mass drug administration for Lymphatic Filariasis and Onchocerciasis on Hookworm Infection in Côte d’Ivoire

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 25 September 2020 - 9:00pm

by Agodio Loukouri, Aboulaye Méité, Benjamin G. Koudou, Charles W. Goss, Daphne Lew, Gary J. Weil, Eliezer K. N’Goran, Peter U. Fischer

Mass Drug Administration (MDA) programs to eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) in western Africa use the anthelminthics ivermectin plus albendazole. These drugs have the potential to impact also Soil-Transmitted Helminth (STH) infections, since the drugs have a broad range of anthelminthic activity. Integration of preventive chemotherapy efforts for LF, onchocerciasis and STH is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) in order to avoid duplication of MDA and to reduce costs. The objective of the current study was to determine whether five semi-annual rounds of community-wide MDA to eliminate LF and onchocerciasis have a greater impact on STH than three annual rounds of MDA with similar compliance. The effects of MDA using ivermectin (IVM, 0.2 mg/kg) combined with albendazole (ALB, 400 mg) on the prevalence and intensity of hookworm infection were evaluated in the Abengourou (annual MDA) and Akoupé (semi-annual MDA) health Districts in eastern Côte d’Ivoire from 2014 to 2017. A cross-sectional approach was used together with mixed logistic regression, and mixed linear models. Subjects were tested for STH using the Kato-Katz technique before the first round of MDA and 12, 24, and 36 months after the first round of MDA. The mean self-reported MDA compliance assessed during the survey was 65%, and no difference was observed between treatment areas. These results were confirmed by an independent coverage survey as recommended by WHO. Hookworm was the most prevalent STH species in both areas (23.9% vs 12.4%) and the prevalence of other STH species was less than 1%. The crude prevalence of hookworm dropped significantly, from 23.9% to 5.5% (p <0.001, 77% reduction) in the annual MDA treatment area and from 12.4% to 1.9% (p <0.001, 85% reduction) in the semi-annual treatment area. The average intensity of hookworm infection decreased in the annual MDA area (406.2 epg to 118.3 epg), but not in the semi-annual MDA area (804.9 epg to 875.0 epg). Moderate and heavy infections (1% and 1.3% at baseline) were reduced to 0% and 0.4% in the annual and semi-annual treatment areas, respectively. Using a mixed logistic regression model, and after adjusting for baseline prevalence, only the year 2 re-examination showed a difference in prevalence between treatments (OR: 2.26 [95% CI: 1.03, 4.98], p = 0.043). Analysis of intensity of hookworm infection indicated also that treatment differences varied by follow-up visit. In conclusion twelve months after the last treatment cycle, three annual and five semi-annual rounds of community-wide MDA with the combination of IVM and ALB showed strong, but similar impact on hookworm prevalence and intensity in eastern Côte d’Ivoire. Therefore, an annual MDA regimen seems to be an efficient strategy to control hookworm infection in endemic areas with low and moderate infection prevalence. Trial registration: The study was registered at under the number NTC02032043.

Lentinan improved the efficacy of vaccine against <i>Trichinella spiralis</i> in an NLRP3 dependent manner

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 25 September 2020 - 9:00pm

by Xuemin Jin, Xiaolei Liu, Jing Ding, Lixiao Zhang, Yaming Yang, Xuelin Wang, Yong Yang, Mingyuan Liu

There is an urgent need for the development of new, improved vaccine adjuvants against T. spiralis infection. Polysaccharides are effective, safe, and biodegradable as adjuvant. In our study, we first observed the protective efficacy of lentinan as adjuvant against helminth T. spiralis infection. Recombinant T. spiralis Serpin (rTs-Serpin) immunoscreened from a cDNA library of T. spiralis, as a vaccine, protect host against Trichinella infection. The reduction rate of helminth burden of rTs-Serpin+lentinan–immunized mice was significantly increased compared with rTs-Serpin+FCA -immunized mice. rTs-Serpin+lentinan induced IgG1-dominant immune response and higher levels of IFN-γ and IL-4. rTs-Serpin+lentinan displayed a lower reduction rate of parasite burden in NLRP3-/- mice than that in WT mice and lower level of IgG1 than that in WT mice. The level of IL-4, but not IFN-γ, from NLRP3-/- mice immunized by rTs-Serpin+lentinan was significantly lower than that from WT mice, suggesting that NLRP3 is associated with rTs-Serpin+lentinan -triggering Th2 protective immunity against T. spiralis infection. In summary, we revealed that lentinan was a novel adjuvant against T. spiralis infection via NLRP3. NLRP3 therefore represents an important target for adjuvant discovery and the control of T. spiralis infection.

Rapid detection of brucellosis using a quantum dot-based immunochromatographic test strip

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 25 September 2020 - 9:00pm

by Guangqiang Li, Zhen Rong, Shengqi Wang, Hongyan Zhao, Dongri Piao, Xiaowen Yang, Guozhong Tian, Hai Jiang

Novel diagnostic tools are a major challenge for brucellosis research, especially in developing countries. Herein, we established a handheld quantum dot (QD) immunochromatographic device for the fast detection of brucellosis antibodies in the field. Total bacterial protein extracted from Brucella 104M served as labelling and coating antigen. QD labelling and immunochromatography methods were used to optimise reaction conditions, labelling conditions, reaction temperature and storage temperature. QD test strips were employed to test brucellosis serum to determine their sensitivity, specificity and stability. Test strips were compared with Rose Bengal test, standard agglutination test and colloidal gold immunochromatographic assay. Labelled Brucella total protein displayed good specificity and no cross-reactivity. The concentration of labelled total bacterial protein was 3.9 mg/ml, the coating concentration was 2.0 mg/ ml, and the serum titre with the lowest detection sensitivity was 1:25. The optimal reaction time for the test strip was 25−30°C. The test strip was stable after storage at room temperature and the repeatability was high, with a coefficient of variation of 4.0%. After testing 199 serum samples, the sensitivity of the QD test strip was 98.53%, the specificity was 93.57%, and the coincidence rate with the standard agglutination test was 96.98%. The developed QD immunochromatographic method can be used for rapid detection and preliminary screening of brucellosis in the field.