Parasites and Vectors

Identification of chemical constituents of Zanthoxylum heitzii stem bark and their insecticidal activity against the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae

Background: Zanthoxylum heitzii bark extracts have insecticidal properties and have been reported to be used against malaria in Western Africa. Previously, it has been shown that a hexane extract of the bark is toxic to adult females of the mosquito Anopheles gambiae, a malaria vector. As part of our project on the control of malaria vectors using plant extracts, the phytochemistry of Z. heitzii bark hexane extract has been investigated with the aim to identify the major components with adulticidal and larvicidal effects on An. gambiae. Methods: Z. heitzii stem bark was extracted with hexane, and the extract was fractionated to isolate major components from the bark, identified by NMR spectroscopy. Isolated compounds were tested for toxicity towards adult female An. gambiae mosquitoes and for larvicidal effects towards An. gambiae. Results: The alkaloid dihydronitidine, the sesquiterpenoid caryophyllene oxide, the amide pellitorine and the lignan sesamin were identified as the major constituents in Z. heitzii bark. Pellitorine was toxic to both adult insects (LD 50 50 ng/mg insect) and larvae (LD 50 13 μg/ml). None of the other compounds were toxic to adults, but caryophyllene oxide and sesamin exhibited moderate larvicidal effects (LD 50  > 150 μg/ml). A mixture of the four compounds in the same ratio as in the hexane extract showed higher toxicity (LD 50 34 ng/mg insect) towards adult insects than the pure compounds. Conclusion: The toxicity of Z. heitzii bark hexane extract to An. gambiae is mostly due to pellitorine, although interactions between pellitorine and other, inactive constituents may enhance the activity of the extract.

Prognosis of sepsis induced by cecal ligation and puncture in mice improved by anti- Clonorchis Sinensis cyclopholin a antibodies

Background: Cyclophilin A (CyPA), a ubiquitously distributed intracellular protein, is thought to be one of the important inflammatory factors and plays a significant role in the development process of sepsis. In the form of cytokine, CyPA deteriorates sepsis by promoting intercellular communication, apoptosis of endothelial cells and chemotactic effect on inflammatory cells. In our previous study, cyclophilin A of Clonorchis sinensis (CsCyPA), a type of excretory-secretory antigen, could induce the patients infected with Clonorchis sinensis to produce specific anti-CsCyPA antibodies. In this study, we investigated whether anti-CsCyPA antibodies could cross-react with CyPA and then play a protective role against sepsis, just like other anti-cytokine antagonists. Methods: The mice model with sepsis was established with cecal ligation and puncture (CLP). Fifty mg/kg purified anti-CsCyPA antibodies were injected via the caudal vein 6 h after the CLP operation, and persistent observation was performed for 72 h. Blood samples and tissues were collected at 6 h, 12 h, 24 h, 48 h and 72 h after CLP. Cytokines in serum were measured by ELISA. Lung and mesentery tissues were stained with hematoxylin-eosin. Endothelial cells (ECs) isolated from murine aorta were co-cultured with CyPA of mice (MuCyPA) and anti-CsCyPAs for 24 h, then, viability was measured by Cell Counting Kit-8. Results: Anti-CsCyPA antibodies could combine with MuCyPA and inhibite its peptidyl prolyl isomerase (PPIase) activity. In the antibodies treatment group, blood coagulation indicators including PT, aPTT, D-dimer and platelet count were obviously more ameliorative, the proinflammary factors like IL-6, TNF-α, IL-1β were significantly lower at 12 h and 24 h after surgery and the viability of ECs was significantly improved compared to those in the control group. Furthermore, the survival rate was elevated, ranging from 10.0 % to 45.0 % compared to the control group. Conclusions: These antibodies may have a favorable effect on sepsis via inhibition of enzymic activity or protection of endothelial cells.

Molecular detection of vector-borne agents in dogs from ten provinces of China

Background: Although many vector-borne agents are potential zoonoses and cause substantial morbidity and mortality in dogs worldwide, there are limited data on these organisms in dogs of China. Methods: Quantitative PCRs for vector-borne agents were performed to investigate their prevalences in convenience whole blood samples obtained from 1114 dogs from 21 veterinary clinics and a commercial dog breeding facility in ten provinces of China. In addition, the PCRs were performed on 146 Rhipicephalus sanguineus senso lato and 37 Linognathus setosus collected from dogs in the commercial dog breeding facility. Results: DNAs of Babesia gibsoni and B. vogeli (1.2 %), Ehrlichia canis (1.3 %), Hepatozoon canis (1.8 %) and Theileria orientalis (0.1 %) or a closely related organism were detected in the bloods of the dogs studied, and Babesia vogeli (3.4 %) and Ehrlichia canis (4.1 %) in R. sanguineus senso lato. The qPCRs for Anaplasma spp., Dirofilaria immitis and Leishmania spp. were negative for all blood samples, ticks and lice. At least one vector-borne agent was found in dogs from 5 of the 10 provinces investigated in this study. Overall, 4.4 % (49/1117) of the dogs studied were positive for at least one vector-borne agent with the prevalence being highest in the commercial breeding colony (24/97; 24.7 %). Conclusions: Our study confirms that B. vogeli, B. gibsoni, H. canis, and E. canis occur in China. Also, we present evidence that T. orientalis or a closely related organism can infect dogs.

Development of a framework for genotyping bovine-derived Cryptosporidium parvum , using a multilocus fragment typing tool

Background: There is a need for an integrated genotyping approach for C. parvum; no sufficiently discriminatory scheme to date has been fully validated or widely adopted by veterinary or public health researchers. Multilocus fragment typing (MLFT) can provide good differentiation and is relatively quick and cheap to perform. A MLFT tool was assessed in terms of its typeability, specificity, precision (repeatability and reproducibility), accuracy and ability to genotypically discriminate bovine-derived Cryptosporidium parvum. Methods: With the aim of working towards a consensus, six markers were selected for inclusion based on their successful application in previous studies: MM5, MM18, MM19, TP14, MS1 and MS9. Alleles were assigned according to the fragment sizes of repeat regions amplified, as determined by capillary electrophoresis. In addition, a region of the GP60 gene was amplified and sequenced to determine gp60 subtype and this was added to the allelic profiles of the 6 markers to determine the multilocus genotype (MLG). The MLFT tool was applied to 140 C. parvum samples collected in two cross-sectional studies of UK calves, conducted in Cheshire in 2004 (principally dairy animals) and Aberdeenshire/Caithness in 2011 (beef animals). Results: Typeability was 84 %. The primers did not amplify tested non-parvum species frequently detected in cattle. In terms of repeatability, within- and between-run fragment sizes showed little variability. Between laboratories, fragment sizes differed but allele calling was reproducible. The MLFT had good discriminatory ability (Simpson’s Index of Diversity, SID, was 0.92), compared to gp60 sequencing alone (SID 0.44). Some markers were more informative than others, with MS1 and MS9 proving monoallelic in tested samples. Conclusions: Further inter-laboratory trials are now warranted with the inclusion of human-derived C. parvum samples, allowing progress towards an integrated, standardised typing scheme to enable source attribution and to determine the role of livestock in future outbreaks of human C. parvum.

Brugia Rapid™ antibody responses in communities of Indonesia in relation to the results of ‘transmission assessment surveys’ (TAS) for the lymphatic filariasis elimination program

Background: The Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis recommends the transmission assessment survey (TAS) as the preferred methodology for determining whether mass drug administration can be stopped in an endemic area. Because of the limited experience available globally with the use of Brugia Rapid™ tests in conducting TAS in Brugia spp. areas, we explored the relationship between the antibody test results and Brugia spp. infection as detected by microfilaremia in different epidemiological settings. Methods: The study analyzes the Brugia Rapid™ antibody responses and microfilaremia in all ages at three study sites in: i) a district which was classified as non-endemic, ii) a district which passed TAS, and iii) a district which failed TAS. Convenience sampling was done in each site, in one to three purposefully selected villages with a goal of 500 samples in each district. Results: A total of 1543 samples were collected from residents in all three study sites. In the site which was classified as non-endemic and where MDA had not been conducted, 5 % of study participants were antibody positive, none was positive for microfilaremia, and age-specific antibody prevalence peaked at almost 8 % in the 25–34 year-old age range, with no antibody-positive results found in children under eight years of age. In the site that had passed TAS, 1 % of participants were antibody positive and none was positive for microfilaremia. In the site which failed TAS, 15 % of participants were antibody positive, 0.2 % were microfilaremic, and age-specific antibody prevalence was highest in 6–7 year olds (30 %), but above 8 % in all age levels above 8 years old. Conclusions: These results from districts which followed the current WHO guidance for mapping, MDA, and implementing TAS, while providing antibody profiles of treated and untreated populations under programmatic settings, support the choice of antibody prevalence in the 6- and 7-year-old age group in TAS for making stopping MDA decisions. Since only one study participant was microfilaremic, no conclusions could be drawn about the relationship between antibodies and microfilaremia and further longitudinal studies are required to understand this relationship.

A Toxoplasma gondii vaccine encoding multistage antigens in conjunction with ubiquitin confers protective immunity to BALB/c mice against parasite infection

Background: Toxoplasma gondii is a widely prevalent intracellular parasite which infects almost all warm-blooded animals including humans and causes serious zoonotic toxoplasmosis. DNA vaccines have proved effective in the protection against parasites. However, the problems of weak immunity and inefficient delivery of DNA vaccine remain major issues. Therefore, comprehensive antigens derived from all stages of the parasite, effective adjuvants and delivery systems should be considered in the vaccine construction. Methods: SAG3 101–144 ,ROP18 347–396 , MIC6 288–347 , GRA7 182–224 , MAG1 58–125 , BAG1 156–211 andSPA 142–200 , derived from antigens in tachyzoite, bradyzoite and sporozoite stages of T. gondii were screened based on CD8 + T cell epitope binding affinity to HLA and H-2. We constructed a recombinant DNA vaccine and an adenovirus vaccine encoding multi-stage antigen of T. gondii linked to ubiquitin molecules and vaccinated BALB/cmice with different strategies. Antibodies, cytokines, splenocytes proliferation, as well as the percentage of CD4 + and CD8 + T cells in immunized mouse were analyzed by the Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assays (ELISA), Flow Cytometry (FCM). Protective efficacy was evaluated by challenging immunized mice with type I and type II parasite. Results: Our results indicated that the DNA vaccine had the advantage of inducing a stronger humoral response, whereas the adenovirus-vectored vaccine effectively improved the cellular immune response. Priming with DNA vaccine and boosting with adenovirus-vectored vaccine induced Th1-type immune responses with highest levels of IgG2a and secretion of cytokines IL-2 and IFN-γ. Effective protection against type I and type II parasite with an increase in survival rate and a decrease in brain cyst burden was achieved in immunized mice. Conclusions: Priming vaccination with DNA vaccine and boosting with the recombinant adenovirus vaccine encoding ubiquitin conjugated multi-stage antigens of T. gondii was proved to be a potential strategy against the infection of type I and type II parasite.

Studies of trypanosomiasis in the Luangwa valley, north-eastern Zambia

Background: The present study, conducted in Zambia’s Luangwa valley where both animal African trypanosomiasis (AAT) and human African trypanosomiasis (HAT) are endemic, combined the use of microscopy and molecular techniques to determine the presence of trypanosome species in cattle, goats and tsetse flies. Methods: This study was conducted between 2008 and 2010 in Petauke, Chama and Isoka districts, north-eastern Zambia. A total of 243 cattle, 36 goats and 546 tsetse flies, were examined for presence of trypanosome species using microscopy, PCR and loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP). Results: There was poor agreement among the test methods used for detection of trypanosomes species in animal blood and tsetse flies. Trypanosomes were observed in 6.1 % (95 % CI: 3.3-8.9 %) of the animals sampled by microscopy, 7.5 % (95 % CI: 4.4–10.6 %) by PCR and 18.6 % (95 % CI: 13.6–23.6 %) by PFR-LAMP. PFR-LAMP was more sensitive for detecting Trypanozoon than KIN-PCR. The highest occurrence of AAT was recorded in cattle from Petauke (58.7 %, 95 % CI: 44.7–72.7 %) while the lowest was from Isoka (5.4 %, 95 % CI: 0.8–10.0 %). Infection of both cattle and goats with Trypanosoma congolense and T. vivax was associated with clinical AAT. Conclusion: When selecting molecular techniques for AAT surveillance in endemic regions, the KIN-PCR and species-specific PCR may be recommended for screening animal or tsetse fly samples for T. congolense and T. vivax, respectively. On the other hand, species-specific PCR and/or LAMP might be of greater value in the screening of animal and human body fluids as well as tsetse fly samples for Trypanozoon.

Molecular detection and characterization of Babesia bovis , Babesia bigemina, Theileria species and Anaplasma marginale isolated from cattle in Kenya

Background: Infections with Babesia bovis, Babesia bigemina, Theileria species and Anaplasma marginale are endemic in Kenya yet there is a lack of adequate information on their genotypes. This study established the genetic diversities of the above tick-borne hemoparasites infecting cattle in Kenya. Methods: Nested PCR and sequencing were used to determine the prevalence and genetic diversity of the above parasites in 192 cattle blood samples collected from Ngong and Machakos farms. B. bovis spherical body protein 4, B. bigemina rhoptry-associated protein 1a, A. marginale major surface protein 5, Theileria spp. 18S rRNA, T. parva p104 and T. orientalis major piroplasm surface protein were used as the marker genes. Results: B. bovis, B. bigemina, T. parva, T. velifera, T. taurotragi, T. mutans and A. marginale were prevalent in both farms, whereas T. ovis, Theileria sp. (buffalo) and T. orientalis were found only in Ngong farm. Co-infections were observed in more than 50 % of positive samples in both farms. Babesia parasites and A. marginale sequences were highly conserved while T. parva and T. orientalis were polymorphic. Cattle-derived T. parva was detected in Machakos farm. However, cattle and buffalo–derived Theileria were detected in Ngong farm suggesting interactions between cattle and wild buffaloes. Generally, the pathogens detected in Kenya were genetically related to the other African isolates but different from the isolates in other continents. Conclusions: The current findings reaffirm the endemicity and co-infection of cattle with tick-borne hemoparasites, and the role of wildlife in pathogens transmission and population genetics in Kenya.

Cryptic speciation in the Triatoma sordida subcomplex (Hemiptera, Reduviidae) revealed by chromosomal markers

Background: Chagas disease vectors (Hemiptera-Reduviidae) comprise more than 140 blood-sucking insect species of the Triatominae subfamily. The largest genus is Triatoma, subdivided in several complexes and subcomplexes according to morphology, ecology and genetic features. One of them is the sordida subcomplex, involving four species: Triatoma sordida, T. guasayana, T. garciabesi and T. patagonica. Given the great morphological similarity of these species, their taxonomic identification, evolutionary relationships and population differentiation have been controversial for many years and even today remain under discussion. Methods: We simultaneously analyzed two chromosomal markers, C-heterochromatin distribution and 45S ribosomal genes chromosomal position, of 139 specimens from several sordida subcomplex populations from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay, collected both in nature and from several established insectaries. Our results were compared with COI sequences deposited in GenBank. Results: We recognized five chromosomal taxa with putative hybrids, which each differ in at least one chromosome marker. Most of them present significant differences in their mtDNA sequences. Conclusion: The chromosomal taxa here show a significant chromosome differentiation involving changes in the C-heterochromatin content and in the ribosomal clusters position. This paper identifies several erroneously classified populations by morphological methods, delimits the geographical distribution of each taxon and proposes the existence of a new cryptic species, widely distributed in Argentina. We also suggest that sordida sibling species involve closely related as well as evolutionary distant species. Taxonomic status of each chromosomal taxon is discussed considering phenotypic and genetic results previously published.

Improved orthologous databases to ease protozoan targets inference

Background: Homology inference helps on identifying similarities, as well as differences among organisms, which provides a better insight on how closely related one might be to another. In addition, comparative genomics pipelines are widely adopted tools designed using different bioinformatics applications and algorithms. In this article, we propose a methodology to build improved orthologous databases with the potential to aid on protozoan target identification, one of the many tasks which benefit from comparative genomics tools. Methods: Our analyses are based on OrthoSearch, a comparative genomics pipeline originally designed to infer orthologs through protein-profile comparison, supported by an HMM, reciprocal best hits based approach. Our methodology allows OrthoSearch to confront two orthologous databases and to generate an improved new one. Such can be later used to infer potential protozoan targets through a similarity analysis against the human genome. Results: The protein sequences of Cryptosporidium hominis, Entamoeba histolytica and Leishmania infantum genomes were comparatively analyzed against three orthologous databases: (i) EggNOG KOG, (ii) ProtozoaDB and (iii) Kegg Orthology (KO). That allowed us to create two new orthologous databases, “KO + EggNOG KOG” and “KO + EggNOG KOG + ProtozoaDB”, with 16,938 and 27,701 orthologous groups, respectively.Such new orthologous databases were used for a regular OrthoSearch run. By confronting “KO + EggNOG KOG” and “KO + EggNOG KOG + ProtozoaDB” databases and protozoan species we were able to detect the following total of orthologous groups and coverage (relation between the inferred orthologous groups and the species total number of proteins): Cryptosporidium hominis: 1,821 (11 %) and 3,254 (12 %); Entamoeba histolytica: 2,245 (13 %) and 5,305 (19 %); Leishmania infantum: 2,702 (16 %) and 4,760 (17 %).Using our HMM-based methodology and the largest created orthologous database, it was possible to infer 13 orthologous groups which represent potential protozoan targets; these were found because of our distant homology approach.We also provide the number of species-specific, pair-to-pair and core groups from such analyses, depicted in Venn diagrams. Conclusions: The orthologous databases generated by our HMM-based methodology provide a broader dataset, with larger amounts of orthologous groups when compared to the original databases used as input. Those may be used for several homology inference analyses, annotation tasks and protozoan targets identification.

Revealing Annexin A2 and ARF-6 enrollment during Trypanosoma cruzi extracellular amastigote-host cell interaction

Background: Invasion of host cells by Trypanosoma cruzi extracellular amastigotes is host actin polymerization-dependent. However, the role of proteins related to actin dynamics during invasion by amastigotes remains to be investigated. Here we describe the role of Annexin A2 and ARF-6 during extracellular amastigote-mammalian cell interactions.FindingsOur results showed ARF-6 accumulation in the amastigote-containing parasitophorous vacuole containing amastigote forms; demonstrated ARF-6 and Annexin A2 critical impact over parasite cell invasion and revealed the effect of Annexin A2 expression on intracellular parasite multiplication. Conclusion: ARF-6 and Annexin A2 are involved in invasion of mammalian cells by T. cruzi amastigotes.

Assessing the presence of Wuchereria bancrofti in vector and human populations from urban communities in Conakry, Guinea

Background: The Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis was launched in 2000 with the goal of interrupting transmission of lymphatic filariasis (LF) through multiple rounds of mass drug administration (MDA). In Guinea, there is evidence of ongoing LF transmission, but little is known about the most densely populated parts of the country, including the capital Conakry. In order to guide the LF control and elimination efforts, serological and entomological surveys were carried out to determine whether or not LF transmission occurs in Conakry. Methods: The prevalence of circulating filarial antigen (CFA) of Wuchereria bancrofti was assessed by an immuno-chromatography test (ICT) in people recruited from all five districts of Conakry. Mosquitoes were collected over a 1-year period, in 195 households in 15 communities. A proportion of mosquitoes were analysed for W. bancrofti, using dissection, loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) assay and conventional polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Results: CFA test revealed no infection in the 611 individuals examined. A total of 14,334 mosquitoes were collected; 14,135 Culex (98.6 %), 161 Anopheles (1.1 %) and a few other species. Out of 1,312 Culex spp. (9.3 %) and 51 An. gambiae (31.7 %) dissected, none was infected with any stage of the W. bancrofti parasite. However, the LAMP assay revealed that 1.8 % of An. gambiae and 0.31 % of Culex spp. were positive, while PCR determined respective prevalences of 0 % and 0.19 %. Conclusions: This study revealed the presence of W. bancrofti DNA in mosquitoes, despite the apparent absence of infection in the human population. Although MDA interventions are not recommended where the prevalence of ICT is below 1 %, the entomological results are suggestive of the circulation of the parasite in the population of Conakry. Therefore, rigorous surveillance is still warranted so that LF transmission in Conakry would be identified rapidly and adequate responses being implemented.

Is the red fox ( Vulpes vulpes ) a competent definitive host for Taenia multiceps ?

Background: Shepherd and stray dogs are thought to represent the primary definitive hosts of Coenurosis by Taenia multiceps, due to their feeding habits which translate into high chances of coming into contact with infected intermediate hosts. Nonetheless, little attention has been paid to the role of the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) in the epidemiology of coenurosis. In fact a knowledge gap exists on the role played by red foxes in the epidemiology of Taenia multiceps and the capability of this parasite to produce fertile and viable eggs in this wild canid, i.e. on the occurrence of a sylvatic cycle.This study investigates the role of the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) in the epidemiology of T. multiceps and related metacestodoses. Methods: The small intestine of 63 red foxes was macroscopically examined for the presence of cestodes. Adult parasites were identified morphologically as being T. multiceps. Tapeworm eggs were counted and stored at 4 °C in physiological saline solution prior to experimental infection of four sheep and one goat. Sheep were inoculated orally on Day 0 with 3000 (sheep 1), 5000 (sheep 2 and 3) or 7000 eggs (sheep 4), while the goat was infected with 5000 eggs of T. multiceps. The animals were followed-up regularly by MRI and underwent surgical treatment between days 180 to day 240 post infection. Collected coenuri were identified using morphological and molecular methods. Results: A total of 6.3 % of red foxes were found infected with T. multiceps and the eggs obtained from the worms were determined to have a viability of 45.4 %. Two of the challenged sheep and the goat developed disease compatible with T. multiceps. Morphometrical features of the cysts were consistent with those of T. multiceps; nucleotide amplification and sequencing of mitochondrial genes (i.e., cox1 and Nd1) from the metacestode material confirmed the identification. Conclusions: The present study is the first to provide evidence of the role of the red fox as a competent definitive host for T. multiceps, thus changing the epidemiological scenarios of infections by this cestode.

Pathogens vectored by the tick, Dermacentor reticulatus , in endemic regions and zones of expansion in Poland

Background: Dermacentor reticulatus plays an important role in the maintenance of pathogens of medical and veterinary importance in the environment. Currently two isolated populations of D. reticulatus are present in Poland –Western and Eastern. The range of the Eastern population covers endemic areas in eastern Poland but this population is expanding westwards creating an expansion zone in the centre of the country. The expansion zone in western Poland is occupied by the recently discovered Western population, spreading eastwards. Methods: Questing adult ticks (n = 2585) were collected in 2012–2014 in endemic regions of north-eastern (Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship) and central Poland (Masovian Voivodeship) and in the expansion zones in central and western Poland, in the region between the Vistula River and the western border of the country. Amplification of Babesia, Rickettsia spp. and Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato DNAs was performed using specific starters. RNA of the TBE virus was detected using RT-PCR and representative PCR products were sequenced and compared with sequences deposited in GenBank. Results: Of the total 2585 examined ticks, 1197 (46.3 %) were infected with at least one pathogen. Overall prevalence of pathogens was 4.18 % (108/2585) for Babesia spp., 44.10 % (1140/2585) for Rickettsia spp., 0.09 % (1/1107) for Borrelia afzelii and 7.6 % (7/92) for TBEV. Sequence analysis of DNA showed 99.86 % similarity to R. raoulti and 99.81 % to B. canis. One male from north-eastern Poland was infected with B. microti.Prevalence of R. raoulti was highest in the Western population (52.03 %) and lowest in the Eastern population in north-eastern Poland (34.18 %). Babesia canis was not detected in 592 ticks collected in the Western population, while in the Eastern population overall prevalence was 5.42 %. There were significant differences in the prevalence of B. canis between tick samples from northern (0.68 %), central (1.18 %) and southern (14.8 %) areas of the expansion zone in central Poland. Conclusions: Our study found significant differences between the range and prevalence of vectored pathogens in D. reticulatus from the endemic areas and newly inhabited expansion zones. The differences were likely associated with the different time of settlement or ‘source’ of ticks populations, the Eastern and the Western one.

Comparison of individual and pooled stool samples for the assessment of intensity of Schistosoma mansoni and soil-transmitted helminth infections using the Kato-Katz technique

Background: Our group has recently provided a proof-of-principle for the examination of pooled stool samples using McMaster technique as a strategy for the rapid assessment of intensity of soil-transmitted helminth infections (STH, Ascaris lumbricoides, Trichuris trichiura and hookworm). In the present study we evaluated this pooling strategy for the assessment of intensity of both STH and Schistosoma mansoni infections using the Kato-Katz technique. Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted in 360 children aged 5–18 years from six schools in Jimma Zone (southwest Ethiopia). We performed faecal egg counts (FECs) in both individual and pooled samples (pools sizes of 5, 10 and 20) to estimate the number of eggs per gram of stool (EPG) using the Kato-Katz technique. We also assessed the time to screen both individual and pooled samples. Results: Except for hookworms, there was a significant correlation (correlation coefficient = 0.53–0.95) between the mean of individual FECs and the FECs of pooled samples for A. lumbricoides, T. trichiura and S. mansoni, regardless of the pool size. Mean FEC were 2,596 EPG, 125 EPG, 47 EPG, and 41 EPG for A. lumbricoides, T. trichiura, S. mansoni and hookworm, respectively. There was no significant difference in FECs between the examination of individual and pooled stool samples, except for hookworms. For this STH, pools of 10 resulted in a significant underestimation of infection intensity. The total time to obtain individual FECs was 65 h 5 min. For pooled FECs, this was 19 h 12 min for pools of 5, 14 h 39 min for pools of 10 and 12 h 42 min for pools of 20. Conclusions: The results indicate that pooling of stool sample holds also promise as a rapid assessment of infections intensity for STH and S. mansoni using the Kato-Katz technique. In this setting, the time in the laboratory was reduced by 70 % when pools of 5 instead of individual stool samples were screened.

The impact of residual infections on Anopheles -transmitted Wuchereria bancrofti after multiple rounds of mass drug administration

Background: Many countries have made significant progress in the implementation of World Health Organization recommended preventive chemotherapy strategy, to eliminate lymphatic filariasis (LF). However, pertinent challenges such as the existence of areas of residual infections in disease endemic districts pose potential threats to the achievements made. Thus, this study was undertaken to assess the importance of these areas in implementation units (districts) where microfilaria (MF) positive individuals could not be found during the mid-term assessment after three rounds of mass drug administration. Methods: This study was undertaken in Bo and Pujehun, two LF endemic districts of Sierra Leone, with baseline MF prevalence of 2 % and 0 % respectively in sentinel sites for monitoring impact of the national programme. Study communities in the districts were purposefully selected and an assessment of LF infection prevalence was conducted together with entomological investigations undertaken to determine the existence of areas with residual MF that could enable transmission by local vectors. The transmission Assessment Survey (TAS) protocol described by WHO was applied in the two districts to determine infection of LF in 6–7 year old children who were born before MDA against LF started. Results: The results indicated the presence of MF infected children in Pujehun district. An. gambiae collected in the district were also positive for W. bancrofti, even though the prevalence of infection was below the threshold associated with active transmission. Conclusions: Residual infection was detected after three rounds of MDA in Pujehun – a district of 0 % Mf prevalence at the sentinel site. Nevertheless, our results showed that the transmission was contained in a small area. With the scale up of vector control in Anopheles transmission zones, some areas of residual infection may not pose a serious threat for the resurgence of LF if the prevalence of infections observed during TAS are below the threshold required for active transmission of the parasite. However, robust surveillance strategies capable of detecting residual infections must be implemented, together with entomological assessments to determine if ongoing vector control activities, biting rates and infection rates of the vectors can support the transmission of the disease. Furthermore, in areas where mid-term assessments reveal MF prevalence below 1 % or 2 % antigen level, in Anopheles transmission areas with active and effective malaria vector control efforts, the minimum 5 rounds of MDA may not be required before implementing TAS. Thus, we propose a modification of the WHO recommendation for the timing of sentinel and spot-check site assessments in national programs.

Spatiotemporal variation of mosquito diversity (Diptera: Culicidae) at places with different land-use types within a neotropical montane cloud forest matrix

Background: Land-use change has led to a dramatic decrease in total forest cover, contributing to biodiversity loss and changes of ecosystems’ functions. Insect communities of medical importance can be favored by anthropogenic alterations, increasing the risk of novel zoonotic diseases. The response of mosquito (Diptera: Culicidae) abundance and richness to five land-use types (shade coffee plantation, cattle field, urban forest, peri-urban forest, well-preserved montane cloud forest) and three seasons (“dry”, “rainy” and “cold”) embedded in a neotropical montane cloud forest landscape was evaluated. Methods: Standardized collections were performed using 8 CDC miniature black-light traps, baited with CO2 throughout the year. Generalized additive mixed models were used to describe the seasonal and spatial trends of both species richness and abundance. Rank abundance curves and ANCOVAs were used to detect changes in the spatial and temporal structure of the mosquito assemblage. Two cluster analyses were conducted, using 1-βsim and the Morisita-Horn index to evaluate species composition shifts based on incidences and abundances. Results: A total of 2536 adult mosquitoes were collected, belonging to 9 genera and 10 species; the dominant species in the study were: Aedes quadrivittatus, Wyeomyia adelpha, Wy. arthrostigma, and Culex restuans. Highest richness was recorded in the dry season, whereas higher abundance was detected during the rainy season. The urban forest had the highest species richness (n = 7) when compared to all other sites. Species composition cluster analyses show that there is a high degree of similarity in species numbers across sites and seasons throughout the year. However, when considering the abundance of such species, the well-preserved montane cloud forest showed significantly higher abundance. Moreover, the urban forest is only 30 % similar to other sites in terms of species abundances, indicating a possible isolating role of the urban environment. Conclusion: Mosquito assemblage was differentially influenced by land-use change and seasonality, but at the same time the assemblage is rather homogeneous across the studied landscape, suggesting a high degree of spatial connectivity. Information generated in this study is potentially useful in the development of urban planning and surveillance programs focused mainly on mosquito species of medical and veterinary importance.

Oviposition responses of Aedes mosquitoes to bacterial isolates from attractive bamboo infusions

Background: The mosquitoes Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus are vectors of pathogenic viruses that cause major human illnesses including dengue, yellow fever and chikungunya. Both mosquito species are expanding their geographic distributions and now occur worldwide in temperate and tropical climates. Collection of eggs in oviposition traps (ovitraps) is commonly used for monitoring and surveillance of container-inhabiting Aedes populations by public health agencies charged with managing mosquito-transmitted illness. Addition of an organic infusion in these traps increases the number of eggs deposited. Gravid females are guided to ovitraps by volatile chemicals produced from the breakdown of organic matter by microbes. Methods: We previously isolated and cultured 14 species of bacteria from attractive experimental infusions, made from the senescent leaves of canebrake bamboo (Arundinaria gigantea). Cultures were grown for 24 h at 28 °C with constant shaking (120 rpm) and cell densities were determined with a hemocytometer. Behavioral responses to single bacterial isolates and to a mix of isolates at different cell densities were evaluated using two-choice sticky-screen bioassay methods with gravid Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus. Results: In behavioral assays of a mix of 14 bacterial isolates, significantly greater attraction responses were exhibited by Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus to bacterial densities of 10 7 and 10 8 cells/mL than to the control medium. When we tested single bacterial isolates, seven isolates (B1, B2, B3, B5, B12, B13 and B14) were significantly attractive to Ae. aegypti, and six isolates (B1, B5, B7, B10, B13 and B14) significantly attracted Ae. albopictus. Among all the isolates tested at three different cell densities, bacterial isolates B1, B5, B13 and B14 were highly attractive to both Aedes species. Conclusions: Our results show that at specific cell densities, some bacteria significantly influence the attraction of gravid Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus females to potential oviposition sites. Attractive bacterial isolates, when formulated for sustained release of attractants, could be coupled with an ovitrap containing a toxicant to achieve area-wide management of Aedes mosquitoes.

Gene expression changes in the salivary glands of Anopheles coluzzii elicited by Plasmodium berghei infection

Background: Malaria is a devastating infectious disease caused by Plasmodium parasites transmitted through the bites of infected Anopheles mosquitoes. Salivary glands are the only mosquito tissue invaded by Plasmodium sporozoites, being a key stage for the effective parasite transmission, making the study of Anopheles sialome highly relevant. Methods: RNA-sequencing was used to compare differential gene expression in salivary glands of uninfected and Plasmodium berghei-infected Anopheles coluzzii mosquitoes. RNA-seq results were validated by quantitative RT-PCR. The transmembrane glucose transporter gene AGAP007752 was selected for functional analysis by RNA interference. The effect of gene silencing on infection level was evaluated. The putative function and tertiary structure of the protein was assessed. Results: RNA-seq data showed that 2588 genes were differentially expressed in mosquitoes salivary glands in response to P. berghei infection, being 1578 upregulated and 1010 downregulated. Metabolism, Immunity, Replication/Transcription/Translation, Proteolysis and Transport were the mosquito gene functional classes more affected by parasite infection. Endopeptidase coding genes were the most abundant within the differentially expressed genes in infected salivary glands (P < 0.001). Based on its putative function and expression level, the transmembrane glucose transporter gene, AGAP007752, was selected for functional analysis by RNA interference. The results demonstrated that the number of sporozoites was 44.3 % lower in mosquitoes fed on infected mice after AGAPP007752 gene knockdown when compared to control (P < 0.01). Conclusions: Our hypothesis is that the protein encoded by the gene AGAPP007752 may play a role on An. coluzzii salivary glands infection by Plasmodium parasite, working as a sporozoite receptor and/or promoting a favorable environment for the capacity of sporozoites.

Early serodiagnosis of trichinellosis by ELISA using excretory&#8211;secretory antigens of Trichinella spiralis adult worms

Background: The excretory–secretory (ES) antigens of Trichinella spiralis muscle larvae (ML) are the most commonly used diagnostic antigens for trichinellosis. Their main disadvantage for the detection of anti-Trichinella IgG is false-negative results during the early stage of infection. Additionally, there is an obvious window between clinical symptoms and positive serology. Methods: ELISA with adult worm (AW) ES antigens was used to detect anti-Trichinella IgG in the sera of experimentally infected mice and patients with trichinellosis. The sensitivity and specificity were compared with ELISAs with AW crude antigens and ML ES antigens. Results: In mice infected with 100 ML, anti-Trichinella IgG were first detected by ELISA with the AW ES antigens, crude antigens and ML ES antigens 8, 12 and 12 days post-infection (dpi), respectively. In mice infected with 500 ML, specific antibodies were first detected by ELISA with the three antigen preparations at 10, 8 and 10 dpi, respectively. The sensitivity of the ELISA with the three antigen preparations for the detection of sera from patients with trichinellosis at 35 dpi was 100 %. However, when the patients’ sera were collected at 19 dpi, the sensitivities of the ELISAs with the three antigen preparations were 100 % (20/20), 100 % (20/20) and 75 % (15/20), respectively (P < 0.05). The specificities of the ELISAs with the three antigen preparations were 98.11, 95.60 and 89.31 %, respectively (P < 0.05). Conclusions: The sensitivity and specificity of the T. spiralis AW ES antigens were superior to those of the AW crude antigens and ML ES antigens. Thus, the AW ES antigens might serve as potential antigens for the early and specific serodiagnosis of trichinellosis.