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Parasitic Diseases - Top 30 Publications

Phlebotomine sand fly-borne pathogens in the Mediterranean Basin: Human leishmaniasis and phlebovirus infections.

Pathogens transmitted to humans by phlebotomine sand flies are neglected, as they cause infectious diseases that are not on the priority list of national and international public health systems. However, the infections caused by protozoa of the Leishmania genus and viruses belonging to the Phlebovirus genus (family Phenuiviridae)-the most significant group of viruses transmitted by sand flies-have a relevant role for human pathology. These infections are emerging in the Mediterranean region and will likely spread in forthcoming decades, posing a complex threat to human health. Four species and 2 hybrid strains of Leishmania are pathogenic for humans in the Mediterranean Basin, with an estimated annual incidence of 239,500-393,600 cases of cutaneous leishmaniasis and 1,200-2,000 cases of visceral leishmaniasis. Among the phleboviruses, Toscana virus can cause neuroinvasive infections, while other phleboviruses are responsible for a typical "3-day fever"; the actual incidence of Phlebovirus infections in the Mediterranean area is unknown, although at least 250 million people are exposed. Here, we reviewed the current literature on epidemiology of sand fly-borne infections in the Mediterranean Basin, with a focus on humans. Our analysis indicates the need for increased public health activities directed to determine the disease burden of these infections as well as to improve their surveillance. Among the emerging challenges concerning sand fly-borne pathogens, the relationships between sand fly-borne protozoa and viruses should be considered in future studies, including epidemiological links between Leishmania and phleboviruses as well as the conditional capacity for these pathogens to be involved in interactions that may evolve towards increased virulence.

The Mini-FLOTAC technique for the diagnosis of helminth and protozoan infections in humans and animals.

This protocol is an extension to: Nat. Protoc. 5, 503-515 (2010); doi: 10.1038/nprot.2009.235; published online 25 February 2010The FLOTAC is a sensitive, accurate, and precise technique for the diagnosis of protozoan and helminth infections in humans and animals. However, it requires centrifugation, and hence might be out of reach in resource-constrained settings. As an extension of the original FLOTAC protocol, this protocol describes the Mini-FLOTAC technique, a logical evolution of FLOTAC conceived to perform multivalent, qualitative, and quantitative diagnosis of helminth and protozoan infections in human and animal feces, and urine. This has been found to be of most use in the processing of large numbers of samples with rapid laboratory workup, and for veterinary applications directly on-farm. In addition to the Mini-FLOTAC apparatus, we describe the use of the Fill-FLOTAC, a closed system used to facilitate the performance of the first four consecutive steps of the Mini-FLOTAC technique: fecal sample collection and weighing, homogenization, filtration, and filling of the Mini-FLOTAC chambers. Processing of an individual sample using this protocol requires ∼12 min.

Crusted Scabies.

A novel rapid test for detecting antibody responses to Loa loa infections.

Ivermectin-based mass drug administration (MDA) programs have achieved remarkable success towards the elimination of onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis. However, their full implementation has been hindered in Central Africa by the occurrence of ivermectin-related severe adverse events (SAEs) in a subset of individuals with high circulating levels of Loa loa microfilariae. Extending MDA to areas with coincident L. loa infection is problematic, and inexpensive point-of-care tests for L. loa are acutely needed. Herein, we present a lateral flow assay (LFA) to identify subjects with a serological response to Ll-SXP-1, a specific and validated marker of L. loa. The test was evaluated on serum samples from patients infected with L. loa (n = 109) and other helminths (n = 204), as well as on uninfected controls (n = 77). When read with the naked eye, the test was 94% sensitive for L. loa infection and was 100% specific when sera from healthy endemic and non-endemic controls or from those with S. stercoralis infections were used as the comparators. When sera of patients with O. volvulus, W. bancrofti, or M. perstans were used as the comparators, the specificity of the LFA was 82%, 87%, and 88%, respectively. A companion smartphone reader allowed measurement of the test line intensities and establishment of cutoff values. With a cutoff of 600 Units, the assay sensitivity decreased to 71%, but the specificity increased to 96% for O. volvulus, 100% for W. bancrofti, and 100% for M. perstans-infected individuals. The LFA may find applications in refining the current maps of L. loa prevalence, which are needed to eliminate onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis from the African continent.

Participation of women and children in hunting activities in Sierra Leone and implications for control of zoonotic infections.

The emergence of infectious diseases of zoonotic origin highlights the need to understand social practices at the animal-human interface. This study provides a qualitative account of interactions between humans and wild animals in predominantly Mende villages of southern Sierra Leone. We conducted fieldwork over 4 months including participant and direct observations, semi-structured interviews (n = 47), spontaneously occurring focus group discussions (n = 12), school essays and informal interviews to describe behaviours that may serve as pathways for zoonotic infection. In this region, hunting is the primary form of contact with wild animals. We describe how these interactions are shaped by socio-cultural contexts, including opportunities to access economic resources and by social obligations and constraints. Our research suggests that the potential for exposure to zoonotic pathogens is more widely distributed across different age, gender and social groups than previously appreciated. We highlight the role of children in hunting, an age group that has previously not been discussed in the context of hunting. The breadth of the "at risk" population forces reconsideration of how we conceptualize, trace and monitor pathogen exposure.

Preventing Enteric Infections from Contact with Animals.

Precautions when visiting petting zoos and state fairs.

The disease burden of human cystic echinococcosis based on HDRs from 2001 to 2014 in Italy.

Cystic echinococcosis (CE) is an important neglected zoonotic parasitic infection belonging to the subgroup of seven Neglected Zoonotic Disease (NZDs) included in the World Health Organization's official list of 18 Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). CE causes serious global human health concerns and leads to significant economic losses arising from the costs of medical treatment, morbidity, life impairments and fatality rates in human cases. Moreover, CE is endemic in several Italian Regions. The aim of this study is to perform a detailed analysis of the economic burden of hospitalization and treatment costs and to estimate the Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) of CE in Italy.

Transmission dynamics of co-endemic Plasmodium vivax and P. falciparum in Ethiopia and prevalence of antimalarial resistant genotypes.

Ethiopia is one of the few African countries where Plasmodium vivax is co-endemic with P. falciparum. Malaria transmission is seasonal and transmission intensity varies mainly by landscape and climate. Although the recent emergence of drug resistant parasites presents a major issue to malaria control in Ethiopia, little is known about the transmission pathways of parasite species and prevalence of resistant markers. This study used microsatellites to determine population diversity and gene flow patterns of P. falciparum (N = 226) and P. vivax (N = 205), as well as prevalence of drug resistant markers to infer the impact of gene flow and existing malaria treatment regimes. Plasmodium falciparum indicated a higher rate of polyclonal infections than P. vivax. Both species revealed moderate genetic diversity and similar population structure. Populations in the northern highlands were closely related to the eastern Rift Valley, but slightly distinct from the southern basin area. Gene flow via human migrations between the northern and eastern populations were frequent and mostly bidirectional. Landscape genetic analyses indicated that environmental heterogeneity and geographical distance did not constrain parasite gene flow. This may partly explain similar patterns of resistant marker prevalence. In P. falciparum, a high prevalence of mutant alleles was detected in codons related to chloroquine (pfcrt and pfmdr1) and sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (pfdhps and pfdhfr) resistance. Over 60% of the samples showed pfmdr1 duplications. Nevertheless, no mutation was detected in pfK13 that relates to artemisinin resistance. In P. vivax, while sequences of pvcrt-o were highly conserved and less than 5% of the samples showed pvmdr duplications, over 50% of the samples had pvmdr1 976F mutation. It remains to be tested if this mutation relates to chloroquine resistance. Monitoring the extent of malaria spread and markers of drug resistance is imperative to inform policy for evidence-based antimalarial choice and interventions. To effectively reduce malaria burden in Ethiopia, control efforts should focus on seasonal migrant populations.

Pathological manifestations in lymphatic filariasis correlate with lack of inhibitory properties of IgG4 antibodies on IgE-activated granulocytes.

Helminth parasites are known to be efficient modulators of their host's immune system. To guarantee their own survival, they induce alongside the classical Th2 a strong regulatory response with high levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines and elevated plasma levels of IgG4. This particular antibody was shown in different models to exhibit immunosuppressive properties. How IgG4 affects the etiopathology of lymphatic filariasis (LF) is however not well characterized. Here we investigate the impact of plasma and affinity-purified IgG/IgG4 fractions from endemic normals (EN) and LF infected pathology patients (CP), asymptomatic microfilaraemic (Mf+) and amicrofilaraemic (Mf-) individuals on IgE/IL3 activated granulocytes. The activation and degranulation states were investigated by monitoring the expression of CD63/HLADR and the release of granule contents (neutrophil elastase (NE), eosinophil cationic protein (ECP) and histamine) respectively by flow cytometry and ELISA. We could show that the activation of granulocytes was inhibited in the presence of plasma from EN and Mf+ individuals whereas those of Mf- and CP presented no effect. This inhibitory capacity was impaired upon depletion of IgG in Mf+ individuals but persisted in IgG-depleted plasma from EN, where it strongly correlated with the expression of IgA. In addition, IgA-depleted fractions failed to suppress granulocyte activation. Strikingly, affinity-purified IgG4 antibodies from EN, Mf+ and Mf- individuals bound granulocytes and inhibited activation and the release of ECP, NE and histamine. In contrast, IgG4 from CP could not bind granulocytes and presented no suppressive capacity. Reduction of both the affinity to, and the suppressive properties of anti-inflammatory IgG4 on granulocytes was reached only when FcγRI and II were blocked simultaneously. These data indicate that IgG4 antibodies from Mf+, Mf- and EN, in contrast to those of CP, natively exhibit FcγRI/II-dependent suppressive properties on granulocytes. Our findings suggest that quantitative and qualitative alterations in IgG4 molecules are associated with the different clinical phenotypes in LF endemic regions.

The Global State of Helminth Control and Elimination in Children.

Helminth infections, including soil-transmitted helminths and schistosomiasis, remain one of the most common infections in the world with over 1 billion people infected. These infections cause significant morbidity, particularly in young children, that may last a lifetime, including growth and cognitive stunting. There is an urgent need for the control and elimination of helminth infections from areas of poverty to reduce morbidity in children. Mass drug administration programs were adopted by the World Health Assembly in 2001 and have evolved to provide coverage with multiple anthelmintic medications in a single rapid impact package and more extensive coverage within a community.

Malaria in Children.

Malaria is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in endemic areas, leading to an estimated 438,000 deaths in 2015. Malaria is also an important health threat to travelers to endemic countries and should be considered in evaluation of any traveler returning from a malaria-endemic area who develops fever. Considering the diagnosis of malaria in patients with potential exposure is critical. Prompt provision of effective treatment limits the complications of malaria and can be life-saving. Understanding Plasmodium species variation, epidemiology, and drug-resistance patterns in the geographic area where infection was acquired is important for determining treatment choices.

Cryptosporidium and Giardia Infections in Children: A Review.

Diarrheal disease remains the second leading cause of mortality in children in developing countries. Cryptosporidium is a leading cause and its importance stands to increase as rotavirus vaccine becomes used around the world. Cryptosporidium is particularly problematic in children younger than 2 years old and in the immunocompromised. Giardia lamblia is a common intestinal protozoan that is associated with diarrhea and, perhaps, growth faltering in impoverished settings. This review establishes the current prevalence of these infections in global settings and reviews current diagnosis and management approaches.

Effects of liver-stage clearance by Primaquine on gametocyte carriage of Plasmodium vivax and P. falciparum.

Primaquine (PQ) is the only currently licensed antimalarial that prevents Plasmodium vivax (Pv) relapses. It also clears mature P. falciparum (Pf) gametocytes, thereby reducing post-treatment transmission. Randomized PQ treatment in a treatment-to-reinfection cohort in Papua New Guinean children permitted the study of Pv and Pf gametocyte carriage after radical cure and to investigate the contribution of Pv relapses.

Disease severity in patients with visceral leishmaniasis is not altered by co-infection with intestinal parasites.

Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is a neglected tropical disease that affects the poorest communities and can cause substantial morbidity and mortality. Visceral leishmaniasis is characterized by the presence of Leishmania parasites in the spleen, liver and bone marrow, hepatosplenomegaly, pancytopenia, prolonged fever, systemic inflammation and low body mass index (BMI). The factors impacting on the severity of VL are poorly characterized. Here we performed a cross-sectional study to assess whether co-infection of VL patients with intestinal parasites influences disease severity, assessed with clinical and haematological data, inflammation, cytokine profiles and BMI. Data from VL patients was similar to VL patients co-infected with intestinal parasites, suggesting that co-infection of VL patients with intestinal parasites does not alter disease severity.

Analytical sensitivity and specificity of a loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) kit prototype for detection of Trypanosoma cruzi DNA in human blood samples.

This study aimed to assess analytical parameters of a prototype LAMP kit that was designed for detection of Trypanosoma cruzi DNA in human blood. The prototype is based on the amplification of the highly repetitive satellite sequence of T.cruzi in microtubes containing dried reagents on the inside of the caps. The reaction is carried out at 65°C during 40 minutes. Calcein allows direct detection of amplified products with the naked eye. Inclusivity and selectivity were tested in purified DNA from Trypanosoma cruzi stocks belonging to the six discrete typing units (DTUs), in DNA from other protozoan parasites and in human DNA. Analytical sensitivity was estimated in serial dilutions of DNA samples from Sylvio X10 (Tc I) and CL Brener (Tc VI) stocks, as well as from EDTA-treated or heparinized blood samples spiked with known amounts of cultured epimastigotes (CL Brener). LAMP sensitivity was compared after DNA extraction using commercial fiberglass columns or after "Boil & Spin" rapid preparation. Moreover, the same DNA and EDTA-blood spiked samples were subjected to standardized qPCR based on the satellite DNA sequence for comparative purposes. A panel of peripheral blood specimens belonging to Chagas disease patients, including acute, congenital, chronic and reactivated cases (N = 23), as well as seronegative controls (N = 10) were evaluated by LAMP in comparison to qPCR. LAMP was able to amplify DNAs from T. cruzi stocks representative of the six DTUs, whereas it did not amplify DNAs from Leishmania sp, T. brucei sp, T. rangeli KPN+ and KPN-, P. falciparum and non-infected human DNA. Analytical sensitivity was 1x10-2 fg/μL of both CL Brener and Sylvio X10 DNAs, whereas qPCR detected up to 1x 10-1 fg/μL of CL Brener DNA and 1 fg/μl of Sylvio X10 DNA. LAMP detected 1x10-2 parasite equivalents/mL in spiked EDTA blood and 1x10-1 par.eq/mL in spiked heparinized blood using fiberglass columns for DNA extraction, whereas qPCR detected 1x10-2 par.eq./mL in EDTA blood. Boil & Spin extraction allowed detection of 1x10-2 par.eq /mL in spiked EDTA blood and 1 par.eq/ml in heparinized blood. LAMP was able to detect T.cruzi infection in peripheral blood samples collected from well-characterised seropositive patients, including acute, congenital, chronic and reactivated Chagas disease. To our knowledge, this is the first report of a prototype LAMP kit with appropriate analytical sensitivity for diagnosis of Chagas disease patients, and potentially useful for monitoring treatment response.

Evolution of anti-Trypanosoma cruzi antibody production in patients with chronic Chagas disease: Correlation between antibody titers and development of cardiac disease severity.

Chagas disease is one of the most important endemic infections in Latin America affecting around 6-7 million people. About 30-50% of patients develop the cardiac form of the disease, which can lead to severe cardiac dysfunction and death. In this scenario, the identification of immunological markers of disease progression would be a valuable tool for early treatment and reduction of death rates. In this observational study, the production of anti-Trypanosoma cruzi antibodies through a retrospective longitudinal follow-up in chronic Chagas disease patients´ cohort and its correlation with disease progression and heart commitment was evaluated. Strong inverse correlation (ρ = -0.6375, p = 0.0005) between anti-T. cruzi IgG1 titers and left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) in chronic Chagas cardiomyopathy (CCC) patients were observed after disease progression. Elevated levels of anti-T. cruzi IgG3 titers were detected in all T. cruzi-infected patients, indicating a lack of correlation of this IgG isotype with disease progression. Furthermore, low levels of anti-T. cruzi IgG2, IgG4, and IgA were detected in all patients through the follow-up. Although without statistical significance anti-T. cruzi IgE tends to be more reactive in patients with the indeterminate form (IND) of the disease (p = 0.0637). As this study was conducted in patients with many years of chronic disease no anti-T. cruzi IgM was detected. Taken together, these results indicate that the levels of anti-T. cruzi IgG1 could be considered to seek for promising biomarkers to predict the severity of chronic Chagas disease cardiomyopathy.

Impact of mass drug administration for elimination of lymphatic filariasis in Nepal.

Lymphatic filariasis (LF) is a neglected tropical disease transmitted by mosquitoes. Nepal has implemented a national effort to eliminate LF by 2020 through mass drug administration (MDA) using diethylcarbamazine (DEC) and albendazole (ALB). We assessed the impact of MDAs on LF in selected districts of Nepal after the recommended six MDA rounds had been completed.

Enhanced Prophylaxis plus Antiretroviral Therapy for Advanced HIV Infection in Africa.

In sub-Saharan Africa, among patients with advanced human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, the rate of death from infection (including tuberculosis and cryptococcus) shortly after the initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) is approximately 10%.

Case Report: A Symptomatic Case of Hymenolepis diminuta Infection in an Urban-Dwelling Adult in Malaysia.

A case of Hymenolepis diminuta infection in a 43-year-old Malaysian male with persistent abdominal colicky pain is reported. Endoscopy revealed whitish worms in the lumen of the small intestine, which were identified as H. diminuta after microscopy. Patient was successfully treated with a single dose of praziquantel (25 mg/kg).

Malaria-Related Hospitalizations in the United States, 2000-2014.

Few data are available on the burden of malaria hospitalization in the United States. Study of malaria using hospital-based data can better define the impact of malaria and help inform prevention efforts. U.S. malaria cases identified from hospitalization discharge records in the 2000-2014 Nationwide Inpatient Sample were examined. Frequencies and population rates were reported by demographics, infecting species, clinical, financial, institutional, geographic, and seasonal characteristics, and disparities were identified. Time trends in malaria cases were assessed using negative binomial regression. From 2000 to 2014, there were an estimated 22,029 malaria-related hospitalizations (4.88 per 1 million population) in the United States, including 182 in-hospital deaths and 4,823 severe malaria cases. The rate of malaria-related hospitalizations did not change significantly over the study period. The largest number of malaria-related hospitalizations occurred in August. Malaria-related hospitalizations occurred disproportionately among patients who were male, black, or 25-44 years of age. Plasmodium falciparum accounted for the majority of malaria-related hospitalizations. On average, malaria patients were hospitalized for 4.36 days with charges of $25,789. Patients with a malaria diagnosis were more often hospitalized in the Middle Atlantic and South Atlantic census divisions, urban teaching, private not-for-profit, and large-bed-size hospitals. Malaria imposes a substantial disease burden in the United States. Enhanced primary and secondary prevention measures, including strategies to increase the use of pretravel consultations and prompt diagnosis and treatment are needed.

Serologic Monitoring of Public Health Interventions against Strongyloides stercoralis.

Northwestern Argentina is endemic for soil-transmitted helminths, and annual deworming programs are carried out in prioritized areas. High prevalence of Strongyloides stercoralis was reported in this area; therefore, control programs including ivermectin are being evaluated. The NIE-enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was used for this purpose. In this community trial, two groups of patients, classified according to housing and living conditions were evaluated. Simultaneous with baseline survey, Group 1 was moved to new households with access to improved water and sanitation facilities (W and S), where deworming (MDA, massive drug administration) took place within 1 month; whereas Group 2 received MDA but remained living with unimproved W and S. The mean time interval between baseline and the follow-up was 331 days for Group 1 and 508 for Group 2. Anti-NIE levels were measured for each individual before and after interventions and follow-up optical density (OD) ratios were calculated to quantify the variation. A significant decrease of the anti-NIE levels between baseline and follow-up was observed in both groups. Nonetheless, the number of patients that achieved the cure criteria (OD ratio < 0.6) was higher in Group 1 than Group 2 with values of 72.7% (24/33) and 45.0% (18/40), respectively (P = 0.0197). Our results support the conclusion that a combined intervention including deworming and improvements in life conditions is more effective, in terms of the proportion of subjects cured than deworming alone. Furthermore, we found that NIE-ELISA is a useful test for assessing the response to treatment and to evaluate the outcome of control intervention programs.

Molecular Epidemiology of Malaria in Cameroon and Côte d'Ivoire. XXXI. Kelch 13 Propeller Sequences in Plasmodium falciparum Isolates before and after Implementation of Artemisinin-Based Combination Therapy.

Artemisinin-resistant malaria has not been reported from Africa, but resistance can possibly spread from Asia or arise independently in Africa. The emergence of artemisinin resistance in Africa can be monitored by molecular assay of Kelch 13 (K13) propeller sequences. A total of 251 archived DNA samples of Plasmodium falciparum isolates collected in 2002, 2003, and 2006 in Yaounde, Cameroon, and 47 samples collected in 2006 and 2013 in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, were analyzed for K13-propeller sequence polymorphism. Only one isolate carried a mutant K13-propeller allele (E602D). None of the isolates carried the key mutant alleles (Y493H, R539T, I543T, and C580Y) associated with artemisinin resistance in Cambodia. The presence of the mutant allele was not correlated with in vitro response to dihydroartemisinin determined by the classical hypoxanthine incorporation assay. There was no evidence of K13 mutations associated with artemisinin resistance before and soon after the introduction of artemisinin-based combination therapies in Cameroon and Côte d'Ivoire.

Seroprevalence of Toxoplasma gondii Infection in Refugee and Migrant Pregnant Women along the Thailand-Myanmar Border.

Toxoplasma gondii primary infection in pregnancy is associated with poor obstetric outcomes. This study aimed to determine the seroprevalence of Toxoplasma infection in pregnant migrant and refugee women from Myanmar attending antenatal care in Thailand. A random selection of 199 residual blood samples from first antenatal screen in 2014-2015 was tested for Toxoplasma IgG and IgM antibodies. Seroprevalence of Toxoplasma infection was 31.7% (95% confidence interval = 25.6-38.4). Avidity testing in the three positive IgM cases indicated all were past infections. Multiparity (≥ 3 children) was significantly associated with higher Toxoplasma seropositivity rates. Seroprevalence of T. gondii infection in this pregnant population is similar to the only other report from Myanmar, where multiparity was also identified as a significant association. Toxoplasma infection is important in pregnant women. Nevertheless, in this marginalized population, this infection may be given less priority, due to resource constraints in providing the most basic components of safe motherhood programs.

Seasonal Variation in the Epidemiology of Asymptomatic Plasmodium falciparum Infections across Two Catchment Areas in Bongo District, Ghana.

Understanding the epidemiology of asymptomatic Plasmodium falciparum infections is critical for countries to move toward malaria elimination. Using different methods for parasite detection, we evaluated how seasonality, spatial location, and other factors affect the age-specific epidemiology of asymptomatic malaria in Bongo District, Ghana. Asymptomatic prevalence by microscopy decreased significantly from 42.5% at the end of the wet to 27.5% at the end of the dry season (P < 0.001). Using the 18S rRNA polymerase chain reactions (PCRs), all microscopy-negative samples were screened and prevalence of submicroscopic infections also decreased significantly from the wet (55.4%) to the dry (20.7%) season (P < 0.001). Combining detection methods, 74.4% and 42.5% of the population in the wet and dry seasons, respectively, had evidence of a P. falciparum infection. Interestingly in those > 20 years of age, we found evidence of infection in 64.3% of the population in the wet and 27.0% in the dry season. Using both microscopy and PCR, the asymptomatic P. falciparum reservoir peaks at the end of the wet season and infections in all age groups constitute the reservoir of malaria infection. At the end of the wet season, spatial heterogeneity in the prevalence and density of P. falciparum infections was observed between the two catchment areas surveyed in Bongo District. These results indicate that if elimination is to succeed, interventions will need to target not just P. falciparum infections in children but also in adults, and be implemented toward the end of the dry season in this area of West Africa.

Case Report: Endemic Amebiasis in Australia: Implications for Residents, Travelers, and Clinicians.

Entamoeba histolytica is considered endemic in Australia; however, cases are rare, occurring almost exclusively in high-risk individuals. We describe a series of locally acquired, complicated cases in low-risk individuals from Far North Queensland in whom the diagnosis was delayed. Amebiasis may pose a greater local threat than is currently recognized.

Cognitive Outcomes and Psychiatric Symptoms of Retinopathy-Positive Cerebral Malaria: Cohort Description and Baseline Results.

Cerebral malaria (CM) is a common cause of death and disability among children in sub-Saharan Africa. Many prior studies of neuropsychiatric morbidity have been limited by a cross-sectional design or a short duration of follow-up. Most have included subjects who may have presented with coma due to a disease process other than CM. No studies have assessed the relationship between magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings and long-term outcomes. The Cognitive Outcomes and Psychiatric symptoms of retinopathy-positive CM (COPS) cohort is the first large (N = 221) prospectively recruited cohort of stringently defined cases of CM and hospital-based, age-matched, non-CM controls in whom cognitive and psychiatric outcomes are assessed with standardized measures semi-annually for up to 5 years. We report baseline characteristics of the cohort and outcomes at 1 month. At enrollment, CM cases were more likely to come from families with fewer socioeconomic resources and to have health characteristics that increase risk for malaria. In children younger than 5 years, cases were delayed in motor, language, and social development by approximately 6 months, compared with controls. More significant delays occurred in those with MRI abnormalities at the 1-month follow-up visit. There were no differences between cases and controls in inhibitory self-control, nor in cognitive function in children ≥ 5 years of age. The latter finding may be related to the smaller sample size, case-control imbalance in socioeconomic status, or the use of cognitive and behavioral assessments that are less culturally appropriate to this population. Continued follow-up will help determine predictors of long-term outcomes.

Molecular Markers for Sensitive Detection of Plasmodium falciparum Asexual Stage Parasites and their Application in a Malaria Clinical Trial.

Plasmodium falciparum parasite life stages respond differently to antimalarial drugs. Sensitive stage-specific molecular assays may help to examine parasite dynamics at microscopically detectable and submicroscopic parasite densities in epidemiological and clinical studies. In this study, we compared the performance of skeleton-binding protein 1 (SBP1), ring-infected erythrocyte surface antigen, Hyp8, ring-exported protein 1 (REX1), and PHISTb mRNA for detecting ring-stage trophozoite-specific transcripts using quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction. Markers were tested on tightly synchronized in vitro parasites and clinical trial samples alongside established markers of parasite density (18S DNA and rRNA) and gametocyte density (Pfs25 mRNA). SBP1 was the most sensitive marker but showed low-level expression in mature gametocytes. Novel markers REX1 and PHISTb showed lower sensitivity but higher specificity for ring-stage trophozoites. Using in vivo clinical trial samples from gametocyte-negative patients, we observed evidence of persisting trophozoite transcripts for at least 14 days postinitiation of treatment. It is currently not clear if these transcripts represent viable parasites that may have implications for clinical treatment outcome or transmission potential.

Malaria Infection and Gametocyte Carriage Rates in Preparation for Transmission Blocking Vaccine Trials in Bancoumana, Mali.

The epidemiological characterization of transmission reservoirs is a critical step in preparation for interventional trials for malaria elimination/eradication. Using cluster sampling and households/compounds as units of sampling, we recruited and followed monthly, from June 2011 to June 2012, 250 volunteers 3 months to 50 years of age in Bancoumana, Mali. In July 2012, only participants 5-35 years of age (N = 121) were reenrolled and followed for an additional year. Malaria infection prevalence was highest in October in both 2011 (21.5%, 50/233) and 2012 (38.2%, 26/68). During both years, malaria infection prevalence was highest in children 5-14 years of age (P = 0.01 and P = 0.02, respectively). The gametocyte carriage prevalence was highest in November 2011 (7.6%, 17/225) and in October 2012 (16.2%, 11/68). Gametocyte carriage rates by age did not significantly differ in 2011 and 2012. In Bancoumana, the asexual and sexual parasite carriage rates are relatively high and highly seasonal. Seasonal variation and age differences in parasite and gametocyte carriage provide essential knowledge for the design of transmission blocking assay and vaccine studies in the field.

Development of an Immunosensor for PfHRP 2 as a Biomarker for Malaria Detection.

Plasmodium falciparum histidine-rich protein 2 (PfHRP 2) was selected in this work as the biomarker for the detection and diagnosis of malaria. An enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was first developed to evaluate the immunoreagent's suitability for the sensor's development. A gold-based sensor with an integrated counter and an Ag/AgCl reference electrode was first selected and characterised and then used to develop the immunosensor for PfHRP 2, which enables a low cost, easy to use, and sensitive biosensor for malaria diagnosis. The sensor was applied to immobilise the anti-PfHRP 2 monoclonal antibody as the capture receptor. A sandwich ELISA assay format was constructed using horseradish peroxidase (HRP) as the enzyme label, and the electrochemical signal was generated using a 3, 3', 5, 5'tetramethyl-benzidine dihydrochloride (TMB)/H₂O₂ system. The performance of the assay and the sensor were optimised and characterised, achieving a PfHRP 2 limit of detection (LOD) of 2.14 ng·mL(-1) in buffer samples and 2.95 ng∙mL(-1) in 100% spiked serum samples. The assay signal was then amplified using gold nanoparticles conjugated detection antibody-enzyme and a detection limit of 36 pg∙mL(-1) was achieved in buffer samples and 40 pg∙mL(-1) in serum samples. This sensor format is ideal for malaria detection and on-site analysis as a point-of-care device (POC) in resource-limited settings where the implementation of malaria diagnostics is essential in control and elimination efforts.

Antibody trapping: A novel mechanism of parasite immune evasion by the trematode Echinostoma caproni.

Helminth infections are among the most prevalent neglected tropical diseases, causing an enormous impact in global health and the socioeconomic growth of developing countries. In this context, the study of helminth biology, with emphasis on host-parasite interactions, appears as a promising approach for developing new tools to prevent and control these infections.