The threat of bioterrorism and the possibility of accidental release have spawned a growth of interest in modeling the course of the release of a highly pathogenic agent. Studies focused on strategies to contain local outbreaks after their detection show that timely interventions with vaccination and contact tracing are able to halt transmission. However, such studies do not consider the effects of human mobility patterns. Using a large-scale structured metapopulation model to simulate the global spread of smallpox after an intentional release event, we show that index cases and potential outbreaks can occur in different continents even before the detection of the pathogen release. These results have two major implications: i) intentional release of a highly pathogenic agent within a country will have global effects; ii) the release event may trigger outbreaks in countries lacking the health infrastructure necessary for effective containment. The presented study provides data with potential uses in defining contingency plans at the National and International level.
Infectious disease emergency preparedness planners should consider the special medical issues of pregnant women.
Emerging infectious disease outbreaks and bioterrorism attacks warrant urgent public health and medical responses. Response plans for these events may include use of medications and vaccines for which the effects on pregnant women and fetuses are unknown. Healthcare providers must be able to discuss the benefits and risks of these interventions with their pregnant patients. Recent experiences with outbreaks of severe acute respiratory syndrome, monkeypox, and anthrax, as well as response planning for bioterrorism and pandemic influenza, illustrate the challenges of making recommendations about treatment and prophylaxis for pregnant women. Understanding the physiology of pregnancy, the factors that influence the teratogenic potential of medications and vaccines, and the infection control measures that may stop an outbreak will aid planners in making recommendations for care of pregnant women during large-scale infectious disease emergencies.
Pregnancy; bioterrorism; communicable diseases; vaccines; synopsis
Rapid detection of outbreaks is recognized as crucial for effective control measures and has particular relevance with the recently increased concern about bioterrorism. Automated analysis of electronically collected laboratory data can result in rapid detection of widespread outbreaks or outbreaks of pathogens with common signs and symptoms. In the Netherlands, an automated outbreak detection system for all types of pathogens has been developed within an existing electronic laboratory-based surveillance system called ISIS. Features include the use of a flexible algorithm for daily analysis of data and presentation of signals on the Internet for interpretation by health professionals. By 2006, the outbreak detection system will analyze laboratory-reported data on all pathogens and will cover 35% of the Dutch population.
Disease outbreaks; algorithms; Internet; laboratories; data collection
Health surveillance can be viewed as an ongoing systematic collection, analysis, and interpretation of data for use in planning, implementation, and evaluation of a given health system, in potentially multiple spheres (ex: animal, human, environment). As we move into a sophisticated technologically advanced era, there is a need for cost-effective and efficient health surveillance methods and systems that will rapidly identify potential bioterrorism attacks and infectious disease outbreaks. The main objective of such methods and systems would be to reduce the impact of an outbreak by enabling appropriate officials to detect it quickly and implement timely and appropriate interventions. Identifying an outbreak and/or potential bioterrorism attack days to weeks earlier than traditional surveillance methods would potentially result in a reduction in morbidity, mortality, and outbreak associated economic consequences. Proposed here is a novel framework that takes into account the relationships between aberration detection algorithms and produces an unbiased confidence measure for identification of start of an outbreak. Such a framework would enable a user and/or a system to interpret the anomaly detection results generated via multiple algorithms with some indication of confidence.
Health; surveillance; outbreak; bioterrorism; anomaly; syndromic; confidence; infectious disease
The emergence of new infections and resurgence of old ones—health threats stemming from environmental contamination or purposeful acts of bioterrorism—call for a worldwide effort in improving early outbreak detection, with the goal of ameliorating current and future risks. In some cases, the problem of outbreak detection is logistically straightforward and mathematically easy: a single case of a disease of great concern can constitute an outbreak. However, for the vast majority of maladies, a simple analytical solution does not exist. Furthermore, each step in developing reliable, sensitive, effective surveillance systems demonstrates enormous complexities in the transmission, manifestation, detection, and control of emerging health threats. In this communication, we explore potential future innovations in early outbreak detection systems that can overcome the pitfalls of current surveillance. We believe that modern advances in assembling data, techniques for collating and processing information, and technology that enables integrated analysis will facilitate a new paradigm in outbreak definition and detection. We anticipate that moving forward in this direction will provide the highly desired sensitivity and specificity in early detection required to meet the emerging challenges of global disease surveillance.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) of subtype H5N1 causes a devastating disease in poultry but when it accidentally infects humans it can cause death. Therefore, decrease the incidence of H5N1 in humans needs to focus on prevention and control of poultry infections. Conventional control strategies in poultry based on surveillance, stamping out, movement restriction and enforcement of biosecurity measures did not prevent the virus spreading, particularly in developing countries. Several challenges limit efficiency of the vaccines to prevent outbreaks of HPAIV H5N1 in endemic countries. Alternative and complementary approaches to reduce the current burden of H5N1 epidemics in poultry should be encouraged. The use of antiviral chemotherapy and natural compounds, avian-cytokines, RNA interference, genetic breeding and/or development of transgenic poultry warrant further evaluation as integrated intervention strategies for control of HPAIV H5N1 in poultry.
influenza; H5N1; control
Meningococcal disease can have devastating consequences. As new vaccines emerge, it is necessary to assess their impact on public health. In the absence of long-term real world data, modeling the effects of different vaccination strategies is required. Discrete event simulation provides a flexible platform with which to conduct such evaluations.
A discrete event simulation of the epidemiology of invasive meningococcal disease was developed to quantify the potential impact of implementing routine vaccination of adolescents in the United States with a quadrivalent conjugate vaccine protecting against serogroups A, C, Y, and W-135. The impact of vaccination is assessed including both the direct effects on individuals vaccinated and the indirect effects resulting from herd immunity. The simulation integrates a variety of epidemiologic and demographic data, with core information on the incidence of invasive meningococcal disease and outbreak frequency derived from data available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Simulation of the potential indirect benefits of vaccination resulting from herd immunity draw on data from the United Kingdom, where routine vaccination with a conjugate vaccine has been in place for a number of years. Cases of disease are modeled along with their health consequences, as are the occurrence of disease outbreaks.
When run without a strategy of routine immunization, the simulation accurately predicts the age-specific incidence of invasive meningococcal disease and the site-specific frequency of outbreaks in the Unite States. 2,807 cases are predicted annually, resulting in over 14,000 potential life years lost due to invasive disease. In base case analyses of routine vaccination, life years lost due to infection are reduced by over 45% (to 7,600) when routinely vaccinating adolescents 12 years of age at 70% coverage. Sensitivity analyses indicate that herd immunity plays an important role when this population is targeted for vaccination. While 1,100 cases are avoided annually when herd immunity effects are included, in the absence of any herd immunity, the number of cases avoided with routine vaccination falls to 380 annually. The duration of vaccine protection also strongly influences results.
In the absence of appropriate real world data on outcomes associated with large-scale vaccination programs, decisions on optimal immunization strategies can be aided by discrete events simulations such as the one described here. Given the importance of herd immunity on outcomes associated with routine vaccination, published estimates of the economic efficiency of routine vaccination with a quadrivalent conjugate vaccine in the United States may have considerably underestimated the benefits associated with a policy of routine immunization of adolescents.
We examined outbreak investigations conducted around the world from 1988 to 1999 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Epidemic Intelligence Service. In 44 (4.0%) of 1,099 investigations, identified causative agents had bioterrorism potential. In six investigations, intentional use of infectious agents was considered. Healthcare providers reported 270 (24.6%) outbreaks and infection control practitioners reported 129 (11.7%); together they reported 399 (36.3%) of the outbreaks. Health departments reported 335 (30.5%) outbreaks. For six outbreaks in which bioterrorism or intentional contamination was possible, reporting was delayed for up to 26 days. We confirmed that the most critical component for bioterrorism outbreak detection and reporting is the frontline healthcare profession and the local health departments. Bioterrorism preparedness should emphasize education and support of this frontline as well as methods to shorten the time between outbreak and reporting.
Bioterrorism; Preparedness; Outbreak; Anthrax; perspective
In the event of a smallpox outbreak due to bioterrorism, delays in vaccination programs may lead to significant secondary transmission. In the early phases of such an outbreak, transmission of smallpox will take place especially in locations where infected persons may congregate, such as hospital emergency rooms. Air disinfection using upper-room 254 nm (UVC) light can lower the airborne concentrations of infective viruses in the lower part of the room, and thereby control the spread of airborne infections among room occupants without exposing occupants to a significant amount of UVC. Using vaccinia virus aerosols as a surrogate for smallpox we report on the effectiveness of air disinfection, via upper-room UVC light, under simulated real world conditions including the effects of convection, mechanical mixing, temperature and relative humidity. In decay experiments, upper-room UVC fixtures used with mixing by a conventional ceiling fan produced decreases in airborne virus concentrations that would require additional ventilation of more than 87 air changes per hour. Under steady state conditions the effective air changes per hour associated with upper-room UVC ranged from 18 to 1000. The surprisingly high end of the observed range resulted from the extreme susceptibility of vaccinia virus to UVC at low relative humidity and use of 4 UVC fixtures in a small room with efficient air mixing. Increasing the number of UVC fixtures or mechanical ventilation rates resulted in greater fractional reduction in virus aerosol and UVC effectiveness was higher in winter compared to summer for each scenario tested. These data demonstrate that upper-room UVC has the potential to greatly reduce exposure to susceptible viral aerosols. The greater survival at baseline and greater UVC susceptibility of vaccinia under winter conditions suggest that while risk from an aerosol attack with smallpox would be greatest in winter, protective measures using UVC may also be most efficient at this time. These data may also be relevant to influenza, which also has improved aerosol survival at low RH and somewhat similar sensitivity to UVC.
Francisella tularensis, the etiologic agent of tularemia, can cause severe and fatal infection after inhalation of as few as 10-100 CFU. F. tularensis is a potential bioterrorism agent and, therefore, a priority for countermeasure development. Vaccination with the live vaccine strain (LVS), developed from a Type B strain, confers partial protection against aerosal exposure to the more virulent Type A strains and provides proof of principle that a live attenuated vaccine strain may be efficacious. However LVS suffers from several notable drawbacks that have prevented its licensure and widespread use. To address the specific deficiencies that render LVS a sub-optimal tularemia vaccine, we engineered F. tularensis LVS strains with targeted deletions in the guaA or guaB genes that encode critical enzymes in the guanine nucleotide biosynthetic pathway. F. tularensis LVSΔguaA and LVSΔguaB mutants were guanine auxotrophs and were highly attenuated in a mouse model of infection. While the mutants failed to replicate in macrophages, a robust proinflammatory cytokine response, equivalent to that of the parental LVS, was elicited. Mice vaccinated with a single dose of the F. tularensis LVSΔguaA or LVSΔguaB mutant were fully protected against subsequent lethal challenge with the LVS parental strain. These findings suggest the specific deletion of these target genes could generate a safe and efficacious live attenuated vaccine.
Ebola and Marburg viruses are emerging/re-emerging zoonotic pathogens that cause severe viral hemorrhagic fever with case-fatality rates up to 90% in humans. Over the last three decades numerous outbreaks, of increasing frequency, have been documented in endemic regions. Furthermore, as a result of increased international travel filovirus infections have been imported into South Africa, Europe and North America. Both viruses possess the potential of being used as bioterrorism agents and are classified as category A pathogens. Currently there is neither a licensed vaccine nor effective treatment available, despite substantial efforts being d́edicated to understanding filovirus well as vaccine and drug development. One of the most promising vaccine platforms is based on replication competent recombinant vesicular stomatitis viruses (rVSV) that express a filovirus glycoprotein as the surface antigen. These rVSVs have been extensively studied in rodent and nonhuman primate models of filovirus disease and, in general, have been shown to be 100% protective in pre-exposure prophylaxis. In addition, rVSVs have demonstrated potential for post-exposure treatment, and thus would be particularly useful in the event of intentional release as well as accidental exposures in outbreak and laboratory settings.
Interest in using bacteriophages to control the growth and spread of bacterial pathogens is being revived in the wake of widespread antibiotic resistance. However, little is known about the ecological effects that high concentrations of phages in the environment might have on natural microbial communities. We review the current evidence suggesting phage-mediated environmental perturbation, with a focus on agricultural examples, and describe the potential implications for human health and agriculture. Specifically, we examine the known and potential consequences of phage application in certain agricultural practices, discuss the risks of evolved bacterial resistance to phages, and question whether the future of phage therapy will emulate that of antibiotic treatment in terms of widespread resistance. Finally, we propose some basic precautions that could preclude such phenomena and highlight existing methods for tracking bacterial resistance to phage therapeutic agents.
phage therapy; antibiotic resistance; coevolution; phage resistance; microbial communities
Ebola viruses are highly lethal human pathogens that have received considerable attention in recent years due to an increasing re-emergence in Central Africa and a potential for use as a biological weapon. There is no vaccine or treatment licensed for human use. In the past, however, important advances have been made in developing preventive vaccines that are protective in animal models. In this regard, we showed that a single injection of a live-attenuated recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus vector expressing the Ebola virus glycoprotein completely protected rodents and nonhuman primates from lethal Ebola challenge. In contrast, progress in developing therapeutic interventions against Ebola virus infections has been much slower and there is clearly an urgent need to develop effective post-exposure strategies to respond to future outbreaks and acts of bioterrorism, as well as to treat laboratory exposures. Here we tested the efficacy of the vesicular stomatitis virus-based Ebola vaccine vector in post-exposure treatment in three relevant animal models. In the guinea pig and mouse models it was possible to protect 50% and 100% of the animals, respectively, following treatment as late as 24 h after lethal challenge. More important, four out of eight rhesus macaques were protected if treated 20 to 30 min following an otherwise uniformly lethal infection. Currently, this approach provides the most effective post-exposure treatment strategy for Ebola infections and is particularly suited for use in accidentally exposed individuals and in the control of secondary transmission during naturally occurring outbreaks or deliberate release.
Being highly pathogenic for humans and monkeys and the subject of former weapons programs makes Ebola virus one of the most feared pathogens worldwide today. Due to a lack of licensed pre- and post-exposure intervention, our current response depends on rapid diagnostics, proper isolation procedures, and supportive care of case patients. Consequently, the development of more specific countermeasures is of high priority for the preparedness of many nations. In this study, we investigated an attenuated vesicular stomatitis virus expressing the Ebola virus surface glycoprotein, which had previously demonstrated convincing efficacy as a vaccine against Ebola infections in rodents and monkeys, for its potential use in the treatment of an Ebola virus infection. Surprisingly, treatment of guinea pigs and mice as late as 24 h after lethal Ebola virus infection resulted in 50% and 100% survival, respectively. More important, 50% of rhesus macaques (4/8) were protected if treated 20 to 30 min after Ebola virus infection. Currently, this approach provides the most effective treatment strategy for Ebola infections and seems particularly suited for the use in accidental exposures and the control of human-to-human transmission during outbreaks.
Outbreaks of the coral-killing seastar Acanthaster planci are intense disturbances that can decimate coral reefs. These events consist of the emergence of large swarms of the predatory seastar that feed on reef-building corals, often leading to widespread devastation of coral populations. While cyclic occurrences of such outbreaks are reported from many tropical reefs throughout the Indo-Pacific, their causes are hotly debated, and the spatio-temporal dynamics of the outbreaks and impacts to reef communities remain unclear. Based on observations of a recent event around the island of Moorea, French Polynesia, we show that Acanthaster outbreaks are methodic, slow-paced, and diffusive biological disturbances. Acanthaster outbreaks on insular reef systems like Moorea's appear to originate from restricted areas confined to the ocean-exposed base of reefs. Elevated Acanthaster densities then progressively spread to adjacent and shallower locations by migrations of seastars in aggregative waves that eventually affect the entire reef system. The directional migration across reefs appears to be a search for prey as reef portions affected by dense seastar aggregations are rapidly depleted of living corals and subsequently left behind. Coral decline on impacted reefs occurs by the sequential consumption of species in the order of Acanthaster feeding preferences. Acanthaster outbreaks thus result in predictable alteration of the coral community structure. The outbreak we report here is among the most intense and devastating ever reported. Using a hierarchical, multi-scale approach, we also show how sessile benthic communities and resident coral-feeding fish assemblages were subsequently affected by the decline of corals. By elucidating the processes involved in an Acanthaster outbreak, our study contributes to comprehending this widespread disturbance and should thus benefit targeted management actions for coral reef ecosystems.
The emergence and increasing prevalence of multidrug-resistant bacterial pathogens emphasizes the need for new and innovative antimicrobial strategies. Lytic phages, which kill their host following amplification and release of progeny phage into the environment, may offer an alternative strategy for combating bacterial infections. In this study, however, we describe the use of a nonlytic phage to specifically target and deliver DNA encoding bactericidal proteins to bacteria. To test the concept of using phage as a lethal-agent delivery vehicle, we used the M13 phagemid system and the addiction toxins Gef and ChpBK. Phage delivery of lethal-agent phagemids reduced target bacterial numbers by several orders of magnitude in vitro and in a bacteremic mouse model of infection. Given the powerful genetic engineering tools available and the present knowledge in phage biology, this technology may have potential use in antimicrobial therapies and DNA vaccine development.
Several highly pathogenic avian influenza (AI) outbreaks have been reported over the past decade. South Korea recently faced AI outbreaks whose economic impact was estimated to be 6.3 billion dollars, equivalent to nearly 50% of the profit generated by the poultry-related industries in 2008. In addition, AI is threatening to cause a human pandemic of potentially devastating proportions. Several studies show that a stochastic simulation model can be used to plan an efficient containment strategy on an emerging influenza. Efficient control of AI outbreaks based on such simulation studies could be an important strategy in minimizing its adverse economic and public health impacts.
We constructed a spatio-temporal multi-agent model of chickens and ducks in poultry farms in South Korea. The spatial domain, comprised of 76 (37.5 km × 37.5 km) unit squares, approximated the size and scale of South Korea. In this spatial domain, we introduced 3,039 poultry flocks (corresponding to 2,231 flocks of chickens and 808 flocks of ducks) whose spatial distribution was proportional to the number of birds in each province. The model parameterizes the properties and dynamic behaviors of birds in poultry farms and quarantine plans and included infection probability, incubation period, interactions among birds, and quarantine region.
We conducted sensitivity analysis for the different parameters in the model. Our study shows that the quarantine plan with well-chosen values of parameters is critical for minimize loss of poultry flocks in an AI outbreak. Specifically, the aggressive culling plan of infected poultry farms over 18.75 km radius range is unlikely to be effective, resulting in higher fractions of unnecessarily culled poultry flocks and the weak culling plan is also unlikely to be effective, resulting in higher fractions of infected poultry flocks.
Our results show that a prepared response with targeted quarantine protocols would have a high probability of containing the disease. The containment plan with an aggressive culling plan is not necessarily efficient, causing a higher fraction of unnecessarily culled poultry farms. Instead, it is necessary to balance culling with other important factors involved in AI spreading. Better estimations for the containment of AI spreading with this model offer the potential to reduce the loss of poultry and minimize economic impact on the poultry industry.
To control this disease, funding and research should be prioritized on the basis of determined needs.
Although Rift Valley fever is a disease that, through its wider societal effects, disproportionately affects vulnerable communities with poor resilience to economic and environmental challenge, Rift Valley fever virus has since its discovery in 1931 been neglected by major global donors and disease control programs. We describe recent outbreaks affecting humans and animals and discuss the serious socioeconomic effects on the communities affected and the slow pace of development of new vaccines. We also discuss the mixed global response, which has largely been fueled by the classification of the virus as a potential bioterrorism agent and its potential to migrate beyond its traditional eastern African boundaries. We argue for a refocus of strategy with increased global collaboration and a greater sense of urgency and investment that focuses on an equity-based approach in which funding and research are prioritized by need, inspired by principles of equity and social justice.
Rift Valley fever; communicable disease control global; research and development; social justice; equity; viruses; zoonoses
Bacteriophage infections of bacterial cultures cause serious problems in genetic engineering and biotechnology. They are dangerous not only because of direct effects on the currently infected cultures, i.e. their devastation, but also due to a high probability of spreading the phage progeny throughout a whole laboratory or plant, which causes a real danger for further cultivations. Therefore, a simple method for quick inhibition of phage development after detection of bacterial culture infection should be very useful.
Here, we demonstrate that depletion of a carbon source from the culture medium, which provokes starvation of bacterial cells, results in rapid inhibition of lytic development of three Escherichia coli phages, λ, P1 and T4. Since the effect was similar for three different phages, it seems that it may be a general phenomenon. Moreover, similar effects were observed in flask cultures and in chemostats.
Bacteriophage lytic development can be inhibited efficiently by carbon source limitation in bacterial cultures. Thus, if bacteriophage contamination is detected, starvation procedures may be recommended to alleviate deleterious effects of phage infection on the culture. We believe that this strategy, in combination with the use of automated and sensitive bacteriophage biosensors, may be employed in the fermentation laboratory practice to control phage outbreaks in bioprocesses more effectively.
Pets, wildlife, or livestock could provide early warning.
We conducted a systematic review of the scientific literature from 1966 to 2005 to determine whether animals could provide early warning of a bioterrorism attack, serve as markers for ongoing exposure risk, and amplify or propagate a bioterrorism outbreak. We found evidence that, for certain bioterrorism agents, pets, wildlife, or livestock could provide early warning and that for other agents, humans would likely manifest symptoms before illness could be detected in animals. After an acute attack, active surveillance of wild or domestic animal populations could help identify many ongoing exposure risks. If certain bioterrorism agents found their way into animal populations, they could spread widely through animal-to-animal transmission and prove difficult to control. The public health infrastructure must look beyond passive surveillance of acute animal disease events to build capacity for active surveillance and intervention efforts to detect and control ongoing outbreaks of disease in domestic and wild animal populations.
bioterrorism; animals; sentinel surveillance; evidence based medicine; Zoonoses; biological warfare
Syndromic surveillance is the gathering of data for public health purposes before laboratory or clinically confirmed information is available. Interest in syndromic surveillance has increased because of concerns about bioterrorism. In addition to bioterrorism detection, syndromic surveillance may be suited to detecting waterborne disease outbreaks. Theoretical benefits of syndromic surveillance include potential timeliness, increased response capacity, ability to establish baseline disease burdens, and ability to delineate the geographical reach of an outbreak. This review summarises the evidence gathered from retrospective, prospective, and simulation studies to assess the efficacy of syndromic surveillance for waterborne disease detection. There is little evidence that syndromic surveillance mitigates the effects of disease outbreaks through earlier detection and response. Syndromic surveillance should not be implemented at the expense of traditional disease surveillance, and should not be relied upon as a principal outbreak detection tool. The utility of syndromic surveillance is dependent on alarm thresholds that can be evaluated in practice. Syndromic data sources such as over the counter drug sales for detection of waterborne outbreaks should be further evaluated.
syndromic surveillance; waterborne disease; surveillance
Cholera has been endemic in Douala, since 1971 when it was first recorded in Cameroon. Outbreaks have often started in slum areas of the city including New Bell. Despite the devastating nature of outbreaks, always resulting in high mortality and morbidity, a paucity of information exists on the reservoirs of the causative agent, V. cholerae, and factors maintaining its persistence. This has complicated disease prevention, resulting in frequent outbreaks of cholera. We investigated water sources in New Bell for contamination with V. cholerae O1 with pathogenic potential, to highlight their role in disease transmission. Antibiotic susceptibility pattern of isolates and the environmental factors maintaining its persistence were investigated.
Water samples from various sources (taps, dug wells, streams) were analyzed for contamination with V. cholerae O1 using standard methods. Antibiotic susceptibility was determined by disc diffusion method. Pathogenic potential of isolates was determined by analyzing for genes for cholera toxin (ctx), toxin co-regulated pilus (tcpA), and zonula occludens toxin (zot) by PCR. Physico-chemical characteristics of water (pH, temperature and salinity) were investigated using standard methods. The Spearman’s Rank correlation was used to analyze the relationship between physico-chemical factors and the occurrence of V. cholerae O1. Differences were considered significant at P≤0.05.
Twenty-five V. cholerae O1 strains were isolated from stream and well samples in both dry and rainy seasons. Twenty-three (92%) isolates were multidrug resistant. All isolates had genes for at least one virulence factor. Cholera toxin gene was detected in 7 isolates. Of the 15 isolates positive for tcpA gene, two had Classical type tcpA while 13 had tcpA El Tor. All tcpA Classical positive isolates were positive for ctx gene. Isolates were grouped into nine genotypes based on the genes analyzed. pH and salinity significantly correlated with isolation of V. cholerae O1.
Multidrug resistant Vibrio cholerae O1 with pathogenic potential is present in some wells and streams in study area. pH and salinity are among the factors maintaining the persistence of the organism. Findings indicate an urgent need for potable water supply in study area and in addition, regular disinfection of water from contaminated sources to prevent outbreak of cholera.
Vibrio cholerae O1; Cholera; Virulence genes; Antibiotic susceptibility; Multidrug resistance; Environmental factors; Cameroon
Deliberate and natural outbreaks of infectious disease underscore the necessity of effective vaccines and antimicrobial/antiviral therapeutics. The prevalence of antibiotic resistant strains and the ease by which antibiotic resistant bacteria can be intentionally engineered further highlights the need for continued development of novel antibiotics against new bacterial targets. Isoprenes are a class of molecules fundamentally involved in a variety of crucial biological functions. Mammalian cells utilize the mevalonic acid pathway for isoprene biosynthesis, whereas many bacteria utilize the methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway, making the latter an attractive target for antibiotic development. In this report we describe the cloning and characterization of Francisella tularensis MEP synthase, a MEP pathway enzyme and potential target for antibiotic development. In vitro growth-inhibition assays using fosmidomycin, an inhibitor of MEP synthase, illustrates the effectiveness of MEP pathway inhibition with F. tularensis. To facilitate drug development, F. tularensis MEP synthase was cloned, expressed, purified, and characterized. Enzyme assays produced apparent kinetic constants (KMDXP = 104 µM, KMNADPH = 13 µM, kcatDXP = 2 s−1, kcatNADPH = 1.3 s−1), an IC50 for fosmidomycin of 247 nM, and a Ki for fosmidomycin of 99 nM. The enzyme exhibits a preference for Mg+2 as a divalent cation. Titanium dioxide chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry identified Ser177 as a site of phosphorylation. S177D and S177E site-directed mutants are inactive, suggesting a mechanism for post-translational control of metabolic flux through the F. tularensis MEP pathway. Overall, our study suggests that MEP synthase is an excellent target for the development of novel antibiotics against F. tularensis.
Developing materials that are effective against sexually transmitted pathogens such as Chlamydia trachomatis (Ct) and HIV-1 is challenging both in terms of material selection and improving bio-membrane and cellular permeability at desired mucosal sites. Here, we engineered the prokaryotic bacterial virus (M13 phage) carrying two functional peptides, integrin binding peptide (RGD) and a segment of the polymorphic membrane protein D (PmpD) from Ct, as a phage-based material that can ameliorate Ct infection. Ct is a globally prevalent human pathogen for which there are no effective vaccines or microbicides. We show that engineered phage stably express both RGD motifs and Ct peptides and traffic intracellularly and into the lumen of the inclusion in which the organism resides within the host cell. Engineered phage were able to significantly reduce Ct infection in both HeLa and primary endocervical cells compared with Ct infection alone. Polyclonal antibodies raised against PmpD and co-incubated with constructs prior to infection did not alter the course of infection, indicating that PmpD is responsible for the observed decrease in Ct infection. Our results suggest that phage-based design approaches to vector delivery that overcome mucosal cellular barriers may be effective in preventing Ct and other sexually transmitted pathogens.
Cell culture; microbiology; bacteria; infection; molecular biology; molecular imaging
Recently it has been recognized that bacteriophages, the natural predators of bacteria can be used efficiently in modern biotechnology. They have been proposed as alternatives to antibiotics for many antibiotic resistant bacterial strains. Phages can be used as biocontrol agents in agriculture and petroleum industry. Moreover phages are used as vehicles for vaccines both DNA and protein, for the detection of pathogenic bacterial strain, as display system for many proteins and antibodies. Bacteriophages are diverse group of viruses which are easily manipulated and therefore they have potential uses in biotechnology, research, and therapeutics. The aim of this review article is to enable the wide range of researchers, scientists, and biotechnologist who are putting phages into practice, to accelerate the progress and development in the field of biotechnology.
Bacteriophage; Phage therapy; Antibiotics; Vaccine; Biocontrol
A growing number of arenaviruses can cause a devastating viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF) syndrome. They pose a public health threat as emerging viruses and because of their potential use as bioterror agents. All of the highly pathogenic New World arenaviruses (NWA) phylogenetically segregate into clade B and require maximum biosafety containment facilities for their study. Tacaribe virus (TCRV) is a nonpathogenic member of clade B that is closely related to the VHF arenaviruses at the amino acid level. Despite this relatedness, TCRV lacks the ability to antagonize the host interferon (IFN) response, which likely contributes to its inability to cause disease in animals other than newborn mice.
Here we describe a new mouse model based on TCRV challenge of AG129 IFN-α/β and -γ receptor-deficient mice. Titration of the virus by intraperitoneal (i.p.) challenge of AG129 mice resulted in an LD50 of ∼100 fifty percent cell culture infectious doses. Virus replication was evident in the serum, liver, lung, spleen, and brain 4–8 days after inoculation. MY-24, an aristeromycin derivative active against TCRV in cell culture at 0.9 µM, administered i.p. once daily for 7 days, offered highly significant (P<0.001) protection against mortality in the AG129 mouse TCRV infection model, without appreciably reducing viral burden. In contrast, in a hamster model of arenaviral hemorrhagic fever based on challenge with clade A Pichinde arenavirus, MY-24 did not offer significant protection against mortality.
MY-24 is believed to act as an inhibitor of S-adenosyl-L-homocysteine hydrolase, but our findings suggest that it may ameliorate disease by blunting the effects of the host response that play a role in disease pathogenesis. The new AG129 mouse TCRV infection model provides a safe and cost-effective means to conduct early-stage pre-clinical evaluations of candidate antiviral therapies that target clade B arenaviruses.