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1.  Bat Rabies in Guatemala 
Rabies in bats is considered enzootic throughout the New World, but few comparative data are available for most countries in the region. As part of a larger pathogen detection program, enhanced bat rabies surveillance was conducted in Guatemala, between 2009 and 2011. A total of 672 bats of 31 species were sampled and tested for rabies. The prevalence of rabies virus (RABV) detection among all collected bats was low (0.3%). Viral antigens were detected and infectious virus was isolated from the brains of two common vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus). RABV was also isolated from oral swabs, lungs and kidneys of both bats, whereas viral RNA was detected in all of the tissues examined by hemi-nested RT-PCR except for the liver of one bat. Sequencing of the nucleoprotein gene showed that both viruses were 100% identical, whereas sequencing of the glycoprotein gene revealed one non-synonymous substitution (302T,S). The two vampire bat RABV isolates in this study were phylogenetically related to viruses associated with vampire bats in the eastern states of Mexico and El Salvador. Additionally, 7% of sera collected from 398 bats demonstrated RABV neutralizing antibody. The proportion of seropositive bats varied significantly across trophic guilds, suggestive of complex intraspecific compartmentalization of RABV perpetuation.
Author Summary
In this study we provide results of the first active and extensive surveillance effort for rabies virus (RABV) circulation among bats in Guatemala. The survey included multiple geographic areas and multiple species of bats, to assess the broader public and veterinary health risks associated with rabies in bats in Guatemala. RABV was isolated from vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus) collected in two different locations in Guatemala. Sequencing of the isolates revealed a closer relationship to Mexican and Central American vampire bat isolates than to South American isolates. The detection of RABV neutralizing antibodies in 11 species, including insectivorous, frugivorous, and sanguivorous bats, demonstrates viral circulation in both hematophagous and non-hematophagous bat species in Guatemala. The presence of bat RABV in rural communities requires new strategies for public health education regarding contact with bats, improved laboratory-based surveillance of animals associated with human exposures, and novel techniques for modern rabies prevention and control. Additionally, healthcare practitioners should emphasize the collection of a detailed medical history, including questions regarding bat exposure, for patients presenting with clinical syndromes compatible with rabies or any clinically diagnosed progressive encephalitis.
PMCID: PMC4117473  PMID: 25080103
2.  Pneumococcal Bacteremia Requiring Hospitalization in Rural Thailand: An Update on Incidence, Clinical Characteristics, Serotype Distribution, and Antimicrobial Susceptibility, 2005–2010 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e66038.
Streptococcus pneumoniae is an important cause of morbidity and mortality in Southeast Asia, but regional data is limited. Updated burden estimates are critical as pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) is highly effective, but not yet included in the Expanded Program on Immunization of Thailand or neighboring countries.
We implemented automated blood culture systems in two rural Thailand provinces as part of population-based surveillance for bacteremia. Blood cultures were collected from hospitalized patients as clinically indicated.
From May 2005– March 2010, 196 cases of pneumococcal bacteremia were confirmed in hospitalized patients. Of these, 57% had clinical pneumonia, 20% required mechanical ventilation, and 23% (n = 46) died. Antibiotic use before blood culture was confirmed in 25% of those with blood culture. Annual incidence of hospitalized pneumococcal bacteremia was 3.6 per 100,000 person-years; rates were higher among children aged <5 years at 11.7 and adults ≥65 years at 14.2, and highest among infants <1 year at 33.8. The median monthly case count was higher during December–March compared to the rest of the year 6.0 vs. 1.0 (p<0.001). The most common serotypes were 23F (16%) and 14 (14%); 61% (74% in patients <5 years) were serotypes in the 10-valent PCV (PCV 10) and 82% (92% in <5 years) in PCV 13. All isolates were sensitive to penicillin, but non-susceptibility was high for co-trimoxazole (57%), erythromycin (30%), and clindamycin (20%).
We demonstrated a high pneumococcal bacteremia burden, yet underestimated incidence because we captured only hospitalized cases, and because pre-culture antibiotics were frequently used. Our findings together with prior research indicate that PCV would likely have high serotype coverage in Thailand. These findings will complement ongoing cost effectiveness analyses and support vaccine policy evaluation in Thailand and the region.
PMCID: PMC3694083  PMID: 23840395
3.  Incidence and Epidemiology of Hospitalized Influenza Cases in Rural Thailand during the Influenza A (H1N1)pdm09 Pandemic, 2009–2010 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e48609.
Data on the burden of the 2009 influenza pandemic in Asia are limited. Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 was first reported in Thailand in May 2009. We assessed incidence and epidemiology of influenza-associated hospitalizations during 2009–2010.
We conducted active, population-based surveillance for hospitalized cases of acute lower respiratory infection (ALRI) in all 20 hospitals in two rural provinces. ALRI patients were sampled 1∶2 for participation in an etiology study in which nasopharyngeal swabs were collected for influenza virus testing by PCR.
Of 7,207 patients tested, 902 (12.5%) were influenza-positive, including 190 (7.8%) of 2,436 children aged <5 years; 86% were influenza A virus (46% A(H1N1)pdm09, 30% H3N2, 6.5% H1N1, 3.5% not subtyped) and 13% were influenza B virus. Cases of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 first peaked in August 2009 when 17% of tested patients were positive. Subsequent peaks during 2009 and 2010 represented a mix of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09, H3N2, and influenza B viruses. The estimated annual incidence of hospitalized influenza cases was 136 per 100,000, highest in ages <5 years (477 per 100,000) and >75 years (407 per 100,000). The incidence of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 was 62 per 100,000 (214 per 100,000 in children <5 years). Eleven influenza-infected patients required mechanical ventilation, and four patients died, all adults with influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 (1) or H3N2 (3).
Influenza-associated hospitalization rates in Thailand during 2009–10 were substantial and exceeded rates described in western countries. Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 predominated, but H3N2 also caused notable morbidity. Expanded influenza vaccination coverage could have considerable public health impact, especially in young children.
PMCID: PMC3490866  PMID: 23139802
4.  Incidence of Bacteremic Melioidosis in Eastern and Northeastern Thailand 
Burkholderia pseudomallei, the causative agent of melioidosis, is endemic in northeastern Thailand. Population-based disease burden estimates are lacking and limited data on melioidosis exist from other regions of the country. Using active, population-based surveillance, we measured the incidence of bacteremic melioidosis in the provinces of Sa Kaeo (eastern Thailand) and Nakhon Phanom (northeastern Thailand) during 2006–2008. The average annual incidence in Sa Kaeo and Nakhon Phanom per 100,000 persons was 4.9 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 3.9–6.1) and 14.9 (95% CI = 13.3–16.6). The respective population mortality rates were 1.9 (95% CI = 1.3–2.8) and 4.4 (95% CI = 3.6–5.3) per 100,000. The case-fatality proportion was 36% among those with known outcome. Our findings document a high incidence and case fatality proportion of bacteremic melioidosis in Thailand, including a region not traditionally considered highly endemic, and have potential implications for clinical management and health policy.
PMCID: PMC3122354  PMID: 21734135
5.  Bartonella vinsonii subsp. arupensis in Humans, Thailand 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2012;18(6):989-991.
We identified Bartonella vinsonii subsp. arupensis in pre-enriched blood of 4 patients from Thailand. Nucleotide sequences for transfer-messenger RNA gene, citrate synthase gene, and the 16S–23S rRNA internal transcribed spacer were identical or closely related to those for the strain that has been considered pathogenic since initially isolated from a human in Wyoming, USA.
PMCID: PMC3358162  PMID: 22607728
Bartonella vinsonii subsp. arupensis; animal hosts; Thailand; undiagnosed diseases; bacteria; zoonoses
6.  Survey of Legionella Species Found in Thai Soil 
Members of the Gram-negative genus Legionella are typically found in freshwater environments, with the exception of L. longbeachae, which is present in composts and potting mixes. When contaminated aerosols are inhaled, legionellosis may result, typically as either the more serious pneumonia Legionnaires' disease or the less severe flu-like illness Pontiac fever. It is presumed that all species of the genus Legionella are capable of causing disease in humans. As a followup to a prior clinical study of legionellosis in rural Thailand, indigenous soil samples were collected proximal to cases' homes and workplaces and tested for the presence of legionellae by culture. We obtained 115 isolates from 22/39 soil samples and used sequence-based methods to identify 12 known species of Legionella represented by 87 isolates.
PMCID: PMC3263619  PMID: 22287969
7.  Rabies-Related Knowledge and Practices Among Persons At Risk of Bat Exposures in Thailand 
Rabies is a fatal encephalitis caused by lyssaviruses. Evidence of lyssavirus circulation has recently emerged in Southeast Asian bats. A cross-sectional study was conducted in Thailand to assess rabies-related knowledge and practices among persons regularly exposed to bats and bat habitats. The objectives were to identify deficiencies in rabies awareness, describe the occurrence of bat exposures, and explore factors associated with transdermal bat exposures.
A survey was administered to a convenience sample of adult guano miners, bat hunters, game wardens, and residents/personnel at Buddhist temples where mass bat roosting occurs. The questionnaire elicited information on demographics, experience with bat exposures, and rabies knowledge. Participants were also asked to describe actions they would take in response to a bat bite as well as actions for a bite from a potentially rabid animal. Bivariate analysis was used to compare responses between groups and multivariable logistic regression was used to explore factors independently associated with being bitten or scratched by a bat.
Of 106 people interviewed, 11 (10%) identified bats as a potential source of rabies. A history of a bat bite or scratch was reported by 29 (27%), and 38 (36%) stated either that they would do nothing or that they did not know what they would do in response to a bat bite. Guano miners were less likely than other groups to indicate animal bites as a mechanism of rabies transmission (68% vs. 90%, p = 0.03) and were less likely to say they would respond appropriately to a bat bite or scratch (61% vs. 27%, p = 0.003). Guano mining, bat hunting, and being in a bat cave or roost area more than 5 times a year were associated with history of a bat bite or scratch.
These findings indicate the need for educational outreach to raise awareness of bat rabies, promote exposure prevention, and ensure appropriate health-seeking behaviors for bat-inflicted wounds, particularly among at-risk groups in Thailand.
Author Summary
Rabies is a fatal encephalitis caused by lyssaviruses. Evidence of lyssavirus circulation has recently emerged in Southeast Asian bats. We surveyed persons regularly exposed to bats and bat habitats in Thailand to assess rabies‐related knowledge and practices. Targeted groups included guano miners, bat hunters, game wardens, and residents/personnel at Buddhist temples where mass bat roosting occurs. Of the 106 people interviewed, 11 (10%) identified bats as a source of rabies. History of a bat bite/scratch was reported by 29 (27%), and 38 (36%) expressed either that they would do nothing or that they did not know what they would do in response to a bat bite. Guano miners were less likely than other groups to indicate animal bites as a mechanism of transmission (68% vs. 90%, p=0.03) and were less likely to say they would respond appropriately to a bat bite or scratch (61% vs. 27%, p=0.003). These findings indicate a need for educational outreach in Thailand to raise awareness of bat rabies, promote exposure prevention, and ensure health‐seeking behaviors for bat‐inflicted wounds, particularly among at‐risk groups.
PMCID: PMC3125144  PMID: 21738801
8.  Identification of Bartonella Infections in Febrile Human Patients from Thailand and Their Potential Animal Reservoirs 
To determine the role of Bartonella species as causes of acute febrile illness in humans from Thailand, we used a novel strategy of co-cultivation of blood with eukaryotic cells and subsequent phylogenetic analysis of Bartonella-specific DNA products. Bartonella species were identified in 14 blood clots from febrile patients. Sequence analysis showed that more than one-half of the genotypes identified in human patients were similar or identical to homologous sequences identified in rodents from Asia and were closely related to B. elizabethae, B. rattimassiliensis, and B. tribocorum. The remaining genotypes belonged to B. henselae, B. vinsonii, and B. tamiae. Among the positive febrile patients, animal exposure was common: 36% reported owning either dogs or cats and 71% reported rat exposure during the 2 weeks before illness onset. The findings suggest that rodents are likely reservoirs for a substantial portion of cases of human Bartonella infections in Thailand.
PMCID: PMC2877425  PMID: 20519614
9.  The first reported case of Bartonella endocarditis in Thailand 
Bartonella species have been shown to cause acute, undifferentiated fever in Thailand. A study to identify causes of endocarditis that were blood culture-negative using routine methods led to the first reported case in Thailand of Bartonella endocarditis A 57 year-old male with underlying rheumatic heart disease presented with severe congestive heart failure and suspected infective endocarditis. The patient underwent aortic and mitral valve replacement. Routine hospital blood cultures were negative but B. henselae was identified by serology, PCR, immunohistochemistry and specific culture techniques.
PMCID: PMC3892604  PMID: 24470907
bartonella; endocarditis; cat scratch disease; Thailand.
10.  Antibiotic Use in Thailand: Quantifying Impact on Blood Culture Yield and Estimates of Pneumococcal Bacteremia Incidence 
No studies have quantified the impact of pre-culture antibiotic use on the recovery of individual blood-borne pathogens or on population-level incidence estimates for Streptococcus pneumoniae. We conducted bloodstream infection surveillance in Thailand during November 2005–June 2008. Pre-culture antibiotic use was assessed by reported use and by serum antimicrobial activity. Of 35,639 patient blood cultures, 27% had reported pre-culture antibiotic use and 24% (of 24,538 tested) had serum antimicrobial activity. Pathogen isolation was half as common in patients with versus without antibiotic use; S. pneumoniae isolation was 4- to 9-fold less common (0.09% versus 0.37% by reported antibiotic use; 0.05% versus 0.45% by serum antimicrobial activity, P < 0.01). Pre-culture antibiotic use by serum antimicrobial activity reduced pneumococcal bacteremia incidence by 32% overall and 39% in children < 5 years of age. Our findings highlight the limitations of culture-based detection methods to estimate invasive pneumococcal disease incidence in settings where pre-culture antibiotic use is common.
PMCID: PMC2911175  PMID: 20682872
11.  Bartonella spp. Infections, Thailand 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2010;16(4):743-745.
PMCID: PMC3321940  PMID: 20350414
Bartonella; bacteria; Thailand; letter
12.  Bartonella tamiae sp. nov., a Newly Recognized Pathogen Isolated from Three Human Patients from Thailand▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2007;46(2):772-775.
Three strains of a novel Bartonella species (Bartonella tamiae) were isolated from human patients from Thailand. Sequence analysis of six chromosomal regions (16S rRNA, gltA, groEL, ftsZ, rpoB, and the intergenic spacer region) and phenotypical analysis supported the similarity of the three strains and placed them within the genus Bartonella separately from previously described species.
PMCID: PMC2238074  PMID: 18077632
13.  Phenotypic Profiles of Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli Associated with Early Childhood Diarrhea in Rural Egypt 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2004;42(12):5588-5595.
Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) causes substantial diarrheal morbidity and mortality in young children in countries with limited resources. We determined the phenotypic profiles of 915 ETEC diarrheal isolates derived from Egyptian children under 3 years of age who participated in a 3-year population-based study. For each strain, we ascertained enterotoxin and colonization factor (CF) expression, the O:H serotype, and antimicrobial susceptibility. Sixty-one percent of the strains expressed heat-stable enterotoxin (ST) only, 26% expressed heat-labile enterotoxin (LT) alone, and 12% expressed both toxins. The most common CF phenotypes were colonization factor antigen I (CFA/I) (10%), coli surface antigen 6 (CS6) (9%), CS14 (6%), and CS1 plus CS3 (4%). Fifty-nine percent of the strains did not express any of the 12 CFs included in our test panel. Resistance of ETEC strains to ampicillin (63%), trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (52%), and tetracycline (43%) was common, while resistance to quinolone antibiotics was rarely detected. As for the distribution of observed serotypes, there was an unusually wide diversity of O antigens and H types represented among the 915 ETEC strains. The most commonly recognized composite ETEC phenotypes were ST CS14 O78:H18 (4%), ST (or LTST) CFA/I O128:H12 (3%), ST CS1+CS3 O6:H16 (2%), and ST CFA/I O153:H45 (1.5%). Temporal plots of diarrheal episodes associated with ETEC strains bearing common composite phenotypes were consistent with discrete community outbreaks either within a single or over successive warm seasons. These data suggest that a proportion of the disease that is endemic to young children in rural Egypt represents the confluence of small epidemics by clonally related ETEC strains that are transiently introduced or that persist in a community reservoir.
PMCID: PMC535259  PMID: 15583286
14.  Development and Evaluation of Serotype- and Group-Specific Fluorogenic Reverse Transcriptase PCR (TaqMan) Assays for Dengue Virus 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2001;39(11):4119-4124.
Five fluorogenic probe hydrolysis (TaqMan) reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR) assays were developed for serotypes 1 to 4 and group-specific detection of dengue virus. Serotype- and group-specific oligonucleotide primers and fluorogenic probes were designed against conserved regions of the dengue virus genome. The RT-PCR assay is a rapid single-tube method consisting of a 30-min RT step linked to a 45-cycle PCR at 95 and 60°C that generates a fluorogenic signal in positive samples. Assays were initially evaluated against cell culture-derived dengue stock viruses and then with 67 dengue viremic human sera received from Peru, Indonesia, and Taiwan. The TaqMan assays were compared to virus isolation using C6/36 cells followed by an immunofluorescence assay using serotype-specific monoclonal antibodies. Viral titers in sera were determined by plaque assay in Vero cells. The serotype-specific TaqMan RT-PCR assay detected 62 of 67 confirmed dengue virus-positive samples, for a sensitivity of 92.5%, while the group-specific assay detected 66 of 67 confirmed dengue virus-positive samples, for a sensitivity of 98.5%. The TaqMan RT-PCR assays have a specificity of 100% based on the serotype concordance of all assays compared to cell culture isolation and negative results obtained when 21 normal human sera and plasma samples were tested. Our results demonstrate that the dengue virus TaqMan RT-PCR assays may be utilized as rapid, sensitive, and specific screening and serotyping tools for epidemiological studies of dengue virus infections.
PMCID: PMC88496  PMID: 11682539
15.  Phenotypic Diversity of Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli Strains from a Community-Based Study of Pediatric Diarrhea in Periurban Egypt 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1999;37(9):2974-2978.
No past studies of diarrhea in children of the Middle East have examined in detail the phenotypes of enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) strains, which are important pathogens in this setting. During a prospective study conducted from November 1993 to September 1995 with 242 children under 3 years of age with diarrhea living near Alexandria, Egypt, 125 episodes of diarrhea were positive for ETEC. ETEC strains were available for 98 of these episodes, from which 100 ETEC strains were selected and characterized on the basis of enterotoxins, colonization factors (CFs), and O:H serotypes. Of these representative isolates, 57 produced heat-stable toxin (ST) only, 34 produced heat-labile toxin (LT) only, and 9 produced both LT and ST. Twenty-three ETEC strains expressed a CF, with the specific factors being CF antigen IV (CFA/IV; 10 of 23; 43%), CFA/II (5 of 23; 22%), CFA/I (3 of 23; 13%), PCFO166 (3 of 23; 13%), and CS7 (2 of 23; 9%). No ETEC strains appeared to express CFA/III, CS17, or PCFO159. Among the 100 ETEC strains, 47 O groups and 20 H groups were represented, with 59 O:H serotypes. The most common O serogroups were O159 (13 strains) and O43 (10 strains). O148 and O21 were each detected in five individual strains, O7 and O56 were each detected in four individual strains, O73, O20, O86, and O114 were each detected in three individual strains, and O23, O78, O91, O103, O128, and O132 were each detected in two individual strains. The most common H serogroups were H4 (16 strains), 12 of which were of serogroup O159; H2 (9 strains), all of which were O43; H18 (6 strains); H30 (6 strains); and H28 (5 strains); strains of the last three H serogroups were all O148. Cumulatively, our results suggest a high degree of clonal diversity of disease-associated ETEC strains in this region. As a low percentage of these strains expressed a CF, it remains possible that other adhesins for which we either did not assay or that are as yet undiscovered are prevalent in this region. Our findings point out some potential barriers to effective immunization against ETEC diarrhea in this population and emphasize the need to identify additional protective antigens commonly expressed by ETEC for inclusion in future vaccine candidates.
PMCID: PMC85425  PMID: 10449484
16.  Characterization of an Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli Strain from Africa Expressing a Putative Colonization Factor 
Infection and Immunity  1999;67(8):4019-4026.
An enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) strain of serotype O114:H− that expressed both heat-labile and heat-stable enterotoxins and tested negative for colonization factors (CF) was isolated from a child with diarrhea in Egypt. This strain, WS0115A, induced hemagglutination of bovine erythrocytes and adhered to the enterocyte-like cell line Caco-2, suggesting that it may elaborate novel fimbriae. Surface-expressed antigen purified by differential ammonium sulfate precipitation and column chromatography yielded a single protein band with Mr 14,800 when resolved by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (16% polyacrylamide). A monoclonal antibody against this putative fimbrial antigen was generated and reacted with strain WS0115A and also with CS1-, CS17-, and CS19-positive strains in a dot blot assay. Reactivity was temperature dependent, with cells displaying reactivity when grown at 37°C but not when grown at 22°C. Immunoblot analysis of a fimbrial preparation from strain WS0115A showed that the monoclonal antibody reacted with a single protein band. Electron microscopy and immunoelectron microscopy revealed fimbria-like structures on the surface of strain WS0115A. These structures were rigid and measured 6.8 to 7.4 nm in diameter. Electrospray mass-spectrometric analysis showed that the mass of the purified fimbria was 14,965 Da. The N-terminal sequence of the fimbria established that it was a member of the CFA/I family, with sequence identity to the amino terminus of CS19, a new CF recently identified in India. Cumulatively, our results suggest that this fimbria is CS19. Screening of a collection of ETEC strains isolated from children with diarrhea in Egypt found that 4.2% of strains originally reported as CF negative were positive for this CF, suggesting that it is biologically relevant in the pathogenesis of ETEC.
PMCID: PMC96691  PMID: 10417169
17.  Identification of Shigella flexneri Subserotype 1c in Rural Egypt 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1999;37(3):873-874.
In a population-based study of diarrhea in rural, northern Egypt, 60 Shigella flexneri strains were identified, of which 10 could not be definitively serotyped. Serological analysis with commercial reagents suggested that they were serotype 1, but the strains failed to react with subserotype 1a- or 1b-specific antibodies. All 10 strains reacted with MASF 1c, a monoclonal antibody specific for a provisional S. flexneri subserotype, 1c, first identified in Bangladesh and not previously detected outside of that region. Our results show that S. flexneri subserotype 1c is not unique to Bangladesh and that the inability to detect it may reflect both the limited use of suitable screening methods and the rarity of this subserotype.
PMCID: PMC84593  PMID: 9986881
18.  Differentiation of Campylobacter Isolates on the Basis of Sensitivity to Boiling in Water as Measured by PCR-Detectable DNA 
Differential sensitivity for the release of PCR-detectable genomic DNA upon boiling in water is reported for 45 Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli strains isolated in Egypt. All of the strains released PCR-detectable DNA when treated with proteinase K and sodium dodecyl sulfate. When DNA was extracted from these strains by boiling in water, nine (20%) of the strains were PCR negative or resistant to boiling, suggesting the presence of boiling-sensitive and boiling-resistant phenotypes.
PMCID: PMC124720  PMID: 9435091

Results 1-18 (18)