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1.  Sika Deer Carrying Babesia Parasites Closely Related to B. divergens, Japan 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2014;20(8):1398-1400.
PMCID: PMC4111200  PMID: 25061853
Babesia divergens; sika deer; Cervus nippon; emerging disease; tickborne disease; zoonoses; Japan; parasites
2.  Reducing radiation exposure using commonly available objects 
One and a half years have passed since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster. The environmental radiation dose rate was not critical, but an existing exposure situation has been identified in a large part of Fukushima Prefecture. Although people continue to live and work in the contaminated area, they are not provided with sufficient information to reduce their exposure to radiation by themselves. In this study, we attempt to evaluate the efficiency of radiation shielding by using everyday items widely available to people.
NaI scintillation and Geiger–Müller survey meters were used to measure the radiation dose of (1) contaminated soil and (2) soil covered with commonly available items.
In the soil at a depth of 10 cm from the surface, the radiation dose rate decreased from 3.36 to 0.65 μSv/h, and the count rate decreased from 3,120 to 352 cpm. Both the radiation dose rate and count rate reduced when the soil was covered with everyday items, such as a magazine more than 20 mm thick, a polystyrene foam board, and a wooden board of the same thickness.
To protect residents from unnecessary radiation exposure in the existing exposure situation, covering contaminated soil with a wooden board or a magazine, either of them 20 mm thick, is useful to reduce the radiation dose.
PMCID: PMC3709043  PMID: 23124576
Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster; Radiation dose; Radiation protection; Reduction of radiation dose; Shielding
3.  Toxic effects of nicotinamide methylation on mouse brain striatum neuronal cells and its relation to manganese 
It is well known that manganese (Mn) exposure is involved in parkinsonism. The aim of our study was to test the hypotheses that Mn affects nicotinamide N-methyltransferase (NNMT) activity, increases the metabolism of nicotinamide (NA) to 1-methylnicotinamide (MNA), and leads to neurocytotoxicity.
Following demonstration of the effects of Mn concentrations on the survival rate of Mouse CD1 brain striatum neuronal cells (MS cells), the effect of Mn on NNMT activity was investigated by comparing the difference in the amount of MNA produced after various Mn concentrations were added to mouse brain cytosol fractions as an enzyme solution. Toxicity induced by MNA and its precursor NA on MS cells was measured.
The survival rate of MS cells decreased significantly with increasing concentrations of Mn in the culture medium. With respect to the influence of Mn on NNMT activity, NNMT activity increased significantly at Mn concentrations of 1 μmol/mg protein. MNA and NA neurotoxicity were compared by comparing cell survival rate. Cell survival rate dropped significantly when the cells were cultivated with 10 mM of MNA. There was also a tendency for the survival rate to fall following the addition of 10 mM NA; however, the difference with the control was not significant.
Our study suggests the possibility that Mn causes increased NNMT activity, thereby increasing MNA levels in the brain and bringing about neuron death. Daily absorption of Mn and NA may thus contribute to idiopathic Parkinson’s disease.
PMCID: PMC3437358  PMID: 22249857
Parkinson’s disease; Nicotinamide N-methyltransferase; Manganese; Mouse CD1 brain striatum neuronal cells; Cytotoxicity
4.  An assessment of radiation doses at an educational institution 57.8 km away from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant 1 month after the nuclear accident 
On 11 March 2011, the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred. Due to this earthquake and subsequent tsunami, malfunctions occurred at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Radioactive material even reached the investigated educational institution despite being 57.8 km away from the power station. With the goal of ensuring the safety of our students, we decided to carry out a risk assessment of the premises of this educational institution by measuring radiation doses at certain locations, making it possible to calculate estimated radiation accumulation.
Systematic sampling was carried out at measurement points spaced at regular intervals for a total of 24 indoor and outdoor areas, with 137 measurements at heights of 1 cm and 100 cm above the ground surface. Radiation survey meters were used to measure environmental radiation doses.
Radiation dose rates and count rates were higher outdoors than indoors, and higher 1 cm above the ground surface than at 100 cm. Radiation doses 1 cm above the ground surface were higher on grass and moss than on asphalt and soil. The estimated radiation exposure for a student spending an average of 11 h on site at this educational institution was 9.80 μSv.
Environmental radiation doses at our educational institution 57.8 km away from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant 1 month after the accident were lower than the national regulation dose for schools (3.8 μSv/h) at most points. Differences in radiation doses depending on outdoor surface properties are important to note for risk reduction.
PMCID: PMC3342635  PMID: 21818603
Environmental radiation measurements; Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident; Systematic sampling; Radiation; Risk assessment; Medicine & Public Health; Occupational Medicine/Industrial Medicine; Environmental Health; Public Health/Gesundheitswesen; Medicine/Public Health, general; Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
5.  Detection of Two Zoonotic Babesia microti Lineages, the Hobetsu and U.S. Lineages, in Two Sympatric Tick Species, Ixodes ovatus and Ixodes persulcatus, Respectively, in Japan 
The species Babesia microti, commonly found in rodents, demonstrates a high degree of genetic diversity. Three lineages, U.S., Kobe, and Hobetsu, are known to have zoonotic potential, but their tick vector(s) in Japan remains to be elucidated. We conducted a field investigation at Nemuro on Hokkaido Island and at Sumoto on Awaji Island, where up to two of the three lineages occur with similar frequencies in reservoirs. By flagging vegetation at these spots and surrounding areas, 4,010 ticks, comprising six species, were collected. A nested PCR that detects the 18S rRNA gene of Babesia species revealed that Ixodes ovatus and I. persulcatus alone were positive. Lineage-specific PCR for rRNA-positive samples demonstrated that I. ovatus and I. persulcatus carried, respectively, the Hobetsu and U.S. parasites. No Kobe-specific DNA was detected. Infected I. ovatus ticks were found at multiple sites, including Nemuro and Sumoto, with minimum infection rates (MIR) of ∼12.3%. However, all I. persulcatus ticks collected within the same regions, a total of 535, were negative for the Hobetsu lineage, indicating that I. ovatus, but not I. persulcatus, was the vector for the lineage. At Nemuro, U.S. lineage was detected in 2 of 139 adult I. persulcatus ticks (MIR, 1.4%), for the first time, while 48 of I. ovatus ticks were negative for that lineage. Laboratory experiments confirmed the transmission of Hobetsu and U.S. parasites to hamsters via I. ovatus and I. persulcatus, respectively. Differences in vector capacity shown by MIRs at Nemuro, where the two species were equally likely to acquire either lineage of parasite, may explain the difference in distribution of Hobetsu throughout Japan and U.S. taxa in Nemuro. These findings are of importance in the assessment of the regional risk for babesiosis in humans.
PMCID: PMC3346458  PMID: 22389378
6.  First Case of Human Babesiosis in Korea: Detection and Characterization of a Novel Type of Babesia sp. (KO1) Similar to Ovine Babesia▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2007;45(6):2084-2087.
We report on the first case of human babesiosis in Korea. The intraerythrocytic parasite (KO1) in the patient's blood mainly appeared as paired pyriforms and ring forms; but Maltese cross forms were not seen, and the parasite showed morphological features consistent with those of the genus Babesia sensu stricto. The sequence of the 18S rRNA gene of KO1 was closely related to that of Babesia spp. isolated from sheep in China (similarity, 98%). The present study provides the first evidence of the presence of a hitherto unidentified, new type of Babesia parasite capable of infecting humans.
PMCID: PMC1933034  PMID: 17392446
7.  Identification of newly isolated Babesia parasites from cattle in Korea by using the Bo-RBC-SCID mice 
Attempts were made to isolate and identify Korean bovine Babesia parasite. Blood samples were collected from Holstein cows in Korea, and Babesia parasites were propagated in SCID mice with circulating bovine red blood cells for isolation. The isolate was then antigenically and genotypically compared with several Japanese isolates. The Korean parasite was found to be nearly identical to the Oshima strain isolated from Japanese cattle, which was recently designated as Babesia ovata oshimensis n. var. Haemaphysalis longicornis was the most probable tick species that transmited the parasite.
PMCID: PMC2721053  PMID: 11949211
babesiosis; SCID mice; western blotting; polymerase chain reaction; phylogeny; Haemaphysalis longicornis
8.  Human Babesiosis in Japan: Epizootiologic Survey of Rodent Reservoir and Isolation of New Type of Babesia microti-Like Parasite 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2001;39(12):4316-4322.
We have carried out epizootiologic surveys at various sites in Japan to investigate wild animals that serve as reservoirs for the agents of human babesiosis in the country. Small mammals comprising six species, Apodemus speciosus, Apodemus argenteus, Clethrionomys rufocanus, Eothenomys smithii, Crocidura dsinezumi, and Sorex unguiculatus, were trapped at various places, including Hokkaido, Chiba, Shiga, Hyogo, Shimane, and Tokushima Prefectures. Animals harboring Babesia microti-like parasites were detected in all six prefectures. Inoculation of their blood samples into hamsters gave rise to a total of 20 parasite isolates; 19 were from A. speciosus, and the other 1 was from C. rufocanus. Sequencing of the parasite small-subunit rRNA gene (rDNA) sequence revealed that 2 of the 20 isolates were classified as Kobe type because their rDNAs were identical to that of the Kobe strain (the strain from the Japanese index case). The other 18 isolates were classified as a new type, designated the Hobetsu type, because they all shared an identical rDNA sequence which differed significantly from both that of Kobe-type isolates and that of northeastern United States B. microti (U.S. type). The parasites with Kobe-, Hobetsu- and U.S.-type rDNAs were phylogenetically closely related to each other but clearly different from each other antigenically. The isolates from rodents were demonstrated to be infective for human erythrocytes by inoculation into SCID mice whose erythrocytes had been replaced with human erythrocytes. The results suggest that a new type of B. microti-like parasite, namely, the Hobetsu type, is the major one which is prevalent among Japanese wild rodents, that A. speciosus serves as a major reservoir for both Kobe- and Hobetsu-type B. microti-like parasites, and that C. rufocanus may also be an additional reservoir on Hokkaido Island.
PMCID: PMC88542  PMID: 11724838
9.  Human Babesiosis in Japan: Isolation of Babesia microti-Like Parasites from an Asymptomatic Transfusion Donor and from a Rodent from an Area Where Babesiosis Is Endemic 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2001;39(6):2178-2183.
To determine the source of infection for the Japanese index case of human babesiosis, we analyzed blood samples from an asymptomatic individual whose blood had been transfused into the patient. In addition, we surveyed rodents collected from near the donor's residence. Examination by microscopy and PCR failed to detect the parasite in the donor's blood obtained 8 months after the donation of the blood that was transfused. However, we were able to isolate Babesia parasites by inoculating the blood sample into SCID mice whose circulating red blood cells (RBCs) had been replaced with human RBCs. A Babesia parasite capable of propagating in human RBCs was also isolated from a field mouse (Apodemus speciosus) captured near the donor's residential area. Follow-up surveys over a 1-year period revealed that the donor continued to be asymptomatic but had consistently high immunoglobulin G (IgG) titers in serum and low levels of parasitemia which were microscopically undetectable yet which were repeatedly demonstrable by inoculation into animals. The index case patient's sera contained high titers of IgM and, subsequently, rising titers of IgG antibodies, both of which gradually diminished with the disappearance of the parasitemia. Analysis of the parasite's rRNA gene (rDNA) sequence and immunodominant antigens revealed the similarity between donor and patient isolates. The rodent isolate also had an rDNA sequence that was identical to that of the human isolates but that differed slightly from that of the human isolates by Western blot analysis. We conclude that the index case patient acquired infection by transfusion from a donor who became infected in Japan, that parasitemia in an asymptomatic carrier can persist for more than a year, and that A. speciosus serves as a reservoir of an agent of human babesiosis in Japan.
PMCID: PMC88108  PMID: 11376054
10.  Transfusion-Acquired, Autochthonous Human Babesiosis in Japan: Isolation of Babesia microti-Like Parasites with hu-RBC-SCID Mice 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2000;38(12):4511-4516.
We have isolated piroplasms from a patient who developed the first case of human babesiosis in Japan by using NOD/shi-scid mice whose circulating erythrocytes (RBCs) had been replaced with human RBCs (hu-RBC-SCID mice). Following inoculation of the patient's blood specimen into hu-RBC-SCID mice, parasites proliferated within the human RBCs in the mice, resulting in a high level of parasitemia. Parasite DNA was prepared from blood samples of the patient and the mice, and the nuclear small-subunit rRNA gene (rDNA) was amplified and sequenced. Both DNA samples gave rise to identical sequences which showed the highest degree of homology (99.2%) with the Babesia microti rDNA. Because the patient had received a blood transfusion before the onset of babesiosis, we investigated the eight donors who were involved. Their archived blood samples were analyzed for specific antibody and parasite DNA; only a single donor was found to be positive by both tests, and the parasite rDNA sequence from the donor coincided with that derived from the patient. The donor's serum exhibited a high antibody titer against the isolate from the patient, whereas it exhibited only a weak cross-reaction against B. microti strains isolated in the United States. We conclude that the first Japanese babesiosis case occurred due to a blood transfusion and that the etiological agent is an indigenous Japanese parasite which may be a geographical variant of B. microti. Our results also demonstrated the usefulness of hu-RBC-SCID mice for isolation of parasites from humans and for maintenance of the parasite infectivity for human RBCs.
PMCID: PMC87629  PMID: 11101588

Results 1-10 (10)