Microcystins are cyclic peptides produced by cyanobacteria, which can be harmful to humans and animals when ingested. Eight of the (more than) 90 microcystin variants presently characterized, contain the amino acid tryptophan. The well-researched oxidation products of tryptophan; kynurenine, oxindolylalanine, and N-formylkynurenine, have been previously identified in intact polypeptides but microcystin congeners containing oxidized tryptophan moieties have not been reported. Liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometric analysis of an extract of Microcystis CAWBG11 led to the tentative identification of two new tryptophan-containing microcystins (MC‑WAba and MC-WL), as well as eight other microcystin analogs containing kynurenine, oxindolylalanine and N‑formylkynurenine (Nfk). Investigation of one of these congeners (MC‑NfkA) by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy was used to verify the presence of Nfk in the microcystin. Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis of a tryptophan oxidation experiment demonstrated that tryptophan-containing microcystins could be converted into oxidized tryptophan analogs and that low levels of oxidized tryptophan congeners were present intracellularly in CAWBG11. MC-NfkR and MC-LNfk were detected in standards of MC-WR and MC-LW, indicating that care during storage of tryptophan-containing microcystins is required.
microcystin; tryptophan oxidation; N‑formylkynurenine; mass spectrometry; nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy; Microcystis CAWBG11
Japanese Encephalitis (JE) is a vector-borne disease of major importance in Asia. Recent increases in cases have spawned the development of more stringent JE surveillance. Due to the difficulty of making a clinical diagnosis, increased tracking of common symptoms associated with JE—generally classified as the umbrella term, acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) has been developed in many countries. In Nepal, there is some debate as to what AES cases are, and how JE risk factors relate to AES risk. Three parts of this analysis included investigating the temporal pattern of cases, examining the age and vaccination status patterns among AES surveillance data, and then focusing on spatial patterns of risk factors. AES and JE cases from 2007–2011 reported at a district level (n = 75) were examined in relation to landscape risk factors. Landscape pattern indices were used to quantify landscape patterns associated with JE risk. The relative spatial distribution of landscape risk factors were compared using geographically weighted regression. Pattern indices describing the amount of irrigated land edge density and the degree of landscape mixing for irrigated areas were positively associated with JE and AES, while fragmented forest measured by the number of forest patches were negatively associated with AES and JE. For both JE and AES, the local GWR models outperformed global models, indicating spatial heterogeneity in risks. Temporally, the patterns of JE and AES risk were almost identical; suggesting the relative higher caseload of AES compared to JE could provide a valuable early-warning signal for JE surveillance and reduce diagnostic testing costs. Overall, the landscape variables associated with a high degree of landscape mixing and small scale irrigated agriculture were positively linked to JE and AES risk, highlighting the importance of integrating land management policies, disease prevention strategies and promoting healthy sustainable livelihoods in both rural and urban-fringe developing areas.
The animal and public health communities need to address the challenge posed by zoonotic emerging infectious diseases. To minimize the impacts of future events, animal disease surveillance will need to enable prompt event detection and response. Diagnostic laboratory-based surveillance systems targeting domestic animals depend in large part on private veterinarians to submit samples from cases to a laboratory. In contexts where pre-diagnostic laboratory surveillance systems have been implemented, this group of veterinarians is often asked to input data. This scenario holds true in Alberta where private cattle veterinarians have been asked to participate in the Alberta Veterinary Surveillance Network-Veterinary Practice Surveillance, a platform to which pre-diagnostic disease and non-disease case data are submitted. Consequently, understanding the factors that influence these veterinarians to submit cases to a laboratory and the complex of factors that affect their participation in surveillance programs is foundational to interpreting disease patterns reported by laboratories and engaging veterinarians in surveillance. A focused ethnographic study was conducted with ten cattle veterinarians in Alberta. Individual in-depth interviews with participants were recorded and transcribed to enable thematic analysis. Laboratory submissions were biased toward outbreaks of unknown cause, cases with unusual mortality rates, and issues with potential herd-level implications. Decreasing cattle value and government support for laboratory testing have contributed to fewer submissions over time. Participants were willing participants in surveillance, though government support and collaboration were necessary. Changes in the beef industry and veterinary profession, as well as cattle producers themselves, present both challenges and opportunities in surveillance.
Recent applications of molecular genetics to edaphic microbial communities of the McMurdo Dry Valleys and elsewhere have rejected a long-held belief that Antarctic soils contain extremely limited microbial diversity. The Inter-Valley Soil Comparative Survey aims to elucidate the factors shaping these unique microbial communities and their biogeography by integrating molecular genetic approaches with biogeochemical analyses. Although the microbial communities of Dry Valley soils may be complex, there is little doubt that the ecosystem's food web is relatively simple, and evidence suggests that physicochemical conditions may have the dominant role in shaping microbial communities. To examine this hypothesis, bacterial communities from representative soil samples collected in four geographically disparate Dry Valleys were analyzed using molecular genetic tools, including pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA gene PCR amplicons. Results show that the four communities are structurally and phylogenetically distinct, and possess significantly different levels of diversity. Strikingly, only 2 of 214 phylotypes were found in all four valleys, challenging a widespread assumption that the microbiota of the Dry Valleys is composed of a few cosmopolitan species. Analysis of soil geochemical properties indicated that salt content, alongside altitude and Cu2+, was significantly correlated with differences in microbial communities. Our results indicate that the microbial ecology of Dry Valley soils is highly localized and that physicochemical factors potentially have major roles in shaping the microbiology of ice-free areas of Antarctica. These findings hint at links between Dry Valley glacial geomorphology and microbial ecology, and raise previously unrecognized issues related to environmental management of this unique ecosystem.
Antarctica; Dry Valleys; geochemistry; mineral soil
The global public health community is facing the challenge of emerging infectious diseases. Historically, the majority of these diseases have arisen from animal populations at lower latitudes where many nations experience marked resource constraints. In order to minimize the impact of future events, surveillance of animal populations will need to enable prompt event detection and response. Many surveillance systems targeting animals rely on veterinarians to submit cases to a diagnostic laboratory or input clinical case data. Therefore understanding veterinarians’ decision-making process that guides laboratory case submission and their perceptions of infectious disease surveillance is foundational to interpreting disease patterns reported by laboratories and engaging veterinarians in surveillance initiatives. A focused ethnographic study was conducted with twelve field veterinary surgeons that participated in a mobile phone-based surveillance pilot project in Sri Lanka. Each participant agreed to an individual in-depth interview that was recorded and later transcribed to enable thematic analysis of the interview content. Results found that field veterinarians in Sri Lanka infrequently submit cases to laboratories – so infrequently that common case selection principles could not be described. Field veterinarians in Sri Lanka have a diagnostic process that operates independently of laboratories. Participants indicated a willingness to take part in surveillance initiatives, though they highlighted a need for incentives that satisfy a range of motivations that vary among field veterinarians. This study has implications for the future of animal health surveillance, including interpretation of disease patterns reported, system design and implementation, and engagement of data providers.
The risk of avian influenza outbreaks in poultry is partially dependent on the probability of contact between domestic poultry and wild birds shedding avian influenza (AI) virus. The major objective of this study was to document wild bird activity on poultry farms to determine which wild bird species should be targeted for AI surveillance in Canada. We collected data in 2 major poultry producing regions of Canada, southwestern Ontario and the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, on the relative abundance of various wild bird species found on poultry farms and on how these species utilized habitat around poultry farms. We reviewed the published literature to determine what was known about AI pathobiology in the species we observed. From these results we created a list of 10 wild bird species that are a priority for further study. These species are the European starling, barn swallow, rock dove, American crow, northwestern crow, American robin, dark-eyed junco, song sparrow, horned lark, and common grackle. Abundance of these and other species varied between provinces and seasons.
Tetrodotoxin (TTX) is a potent neurotoxin that has been identified in a range of phylogenetically unrelated marine and terrestrial organisms. Tetrodotoxin was recently detected in New Zealand in Pleurobranchaea maculata (the grey side-gilled sea slug). From June 2010 to June 2011 wild specimens were collected from 10 locations around New Zealand. At one site (Narrow Neck Beach, Auckland) up to 10 individuals were collected monthly for 6 months. Attempts were also made to rear P. maculata in captivity. Tetrodotoxin was detected in samples from eight of the ten sites. The highest average (368.7 mg kg−1) and maximum (1414.0 mg kg−1) concentrations were measured in samples from Illiomama Rock (Auckland). Of the toxic populations tested there was significant variability in TTX concentrations among individuals, with the highest difference (62 fold) measured at Illiomama Rock. Tetrodotoxin concentrations in samples from Narrow Neck Beach varied temporally, ranging from an average of 184 mg kg−1 in June 2010 to 17.5 mg kg−1 by December 2010. There was no correlation between TTX levels and mass. The highest levels correspond with the egg laying season (June–August) and this, in concert with the detection of high levels of TTX in eggs and early larval stages, suggests that TTX may have a defensive function in P. maculata. Only one larva was successfully reared to full maturation and no TTX was detected.
tetrodotoxin; Pleurobranchaea maculata; geographic variability; temporal variability
Surveillance systems tracking health patterns in animals have potential for early warning of infectious disease in humans, yet there are many challenges that remain before this can be realized. Specifically, there remains the challenge of detecting early warning signals for diseases that are not known or are not part of routine surveillance for named diseases. This paper reports on the development of a hidden Markov model for analysis of frontline veterinary sentinel surveillance data from Sri Lanka. Field veterinarians collected data on syndromes and diagnoses using mobile phones. A model for submission patterns accounts for both sentinel-related and disease-related variability. Models for commonly reported cattle diagnoses were estimated separately. Region-specific weekly average prevalence was estimated for each diagnoses and partitioned into normal and abnormal periods. Visualization of state probabilities was used to indicate areas and times of unusual disease prevalence. The analysis suggests that hidden Markov modelling is a useful approach for surveillance datasets from novel populations and/or having little historical baselines.
Because many infectious diseases are emerging in animals in low-income and middle-income countries, surveillance of animal health in these areas may be needed for forecasting disease risks to humans. We present an overview of a mobile phone–based frontline surveillance system developed and implemented in Sri Lanka. Field veterinarians reported animal health information by using mobile phones. Submissions increased steadily over 9 months, with ≈4,000 interactions between field veterinarians and reports on the animal population received by the system. Development of human resources and increased communication between local stakeholders (groups and persons whose actions are affected by emerging infectious diseases and animal health) were instrumental for successful implementation. The primary lesson learned was that mobile phone–based surveillance of animal populations is acceptable and feasible in lower-resource settings. However, any system implementation plan must consider the time needed to garner support for novel surveillance methods among users and stakeholders.
Disease surveillance; early warning; zoonoses; animal health; low and middle income countries; resource-limited settings; Sri Lanka; sentinels; research
Shrimp farming has great potential to diversify and secure income in rural Sri Lanka, but production has significantly declined in recent years due to civil conflicts, some unsustainable practices and devastating outbreaks of disease. We examined management practices affecting disease prevention and control in the Puttalam district to identify extension services outputs that could support sustainable development of Sri Lankan shrimp farming. A survey on 621 shrimp farms (603 operational and 18 nonoperational) was conducted within the Puttalam district over 42 weeks comprising a series of three-day field visits from August 2008 to October 2009, covering two consecutive shrimp crops. Fundamental deficits in disease control, management, and biosecurity practices were found. Farmers had knowledge of biosecurity but the lack of financial resources was a major impediment to improved disease control. Smallholder farmers were disproportionately constrained in their ability to enact basic biosecurity practices due to their economic status. Basic breaches in biosecurity will keep disease as the rate limiting step in this industry. Plans to support this industry must recognize the socioeconomic reality of rural Sri Lankan aquaculture.
This paper strives to develop a pragmatic view of the scope of practice and core characteristics of global health research (GHR) by examining the activities of 14 Canadian-funded global health teams that were in the process of implementing research programs.
Information was collected by a reflective exploration of team proposals and progress reports, a content analysis of the outputs from an all-team meeting and review of the literature.
Teams adopted equity-centered, problem-focused, systems-based approaches intended to find upstream determinants that could make people more resilient to social and ecological factors impacting their health. Long-term visions and time frames were needed to develop and solidify fully functional interdisciplinary, multinational, multicultural partnerships. The implementation of research into practice was a motivating factor for all teams, but to do this, they recognized the need for evidence-based advice on how to best do this. Traditional measures of biomedical research excellence were necessary but not sufficient to encompass views of excellence of team-based interdisciplinary research, which includes features like originality, coherence and cumulative contributions to fields of study, acceptance by peers and success in translating research into gains in health status. An innovative and nuanced approached to GHR ethics was needed to deal with some unique ethical issues because the needs for GHR were not adequately addressed by institutional biomedical research ethics boards. Core competencies for GHR researchers were a blend of those needed for health promotion, population health, international development, sustainable development, and systems science.
Developing acceptable and meaningful ways to evaluate the short-term contributions for GHR and forecast its long-term impacts is a strategic priority needed to defend decisions being made in GHR development. Planning and investing to support the underlying GHR elements and competencies that allow for adaptive, innovative, and supportive research partnerships to achieve ‘health for all’ are more likely to have long-term impacts than building research strategies around specific diseases of interest.
global health; practice; features; competencies; excellence
This study estimated the prevalence of methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in nasal swabs of 458 horses in western Canada. The rate of colonization was 1.3% ± 5.84% [95% confidence interval (CI)], a rate similar to those reported elsewhere. Colonization tended to be transient and seemed unrelated to stress or administration of antimicrobials. Five of the 6 isolates were Canadian epidemic MRSA-5, a human clone that appears to predominate in horses in North America. The other isolate was spa type 539 (t034), a sequence type 398 strain, and this is the first report of this clone in horses in North America. Surveillance is warranted because of the potential of MRSA to cause disease in horses and humans.
The attachment and interactions of analyte receptor biomolecules at solid–liquid interfaces are critical to development of hybrid biological–synthetic sensor devices across all size regimes. We use protein engineering approaches to engineer the sensing interface of biochemically modified field effect transistor sensors (BioFET). To date, we have deposited analyte receptor proteins on FET sensing channels by direct adsorption, used self-assembled monolayers to tether receptor proteins to planar FET SiO2 sensing gates and demonstrated interface biochemical function and electrical function of the corresponding sensors. We have also used phage display to identify short peptides that recognize thermally grown SiO2. Our interest in these peptides is as affinity domains that can be inserted as translational fusions into receptor proteins (antibody fragments or other molecules) to drive oriented interaction with FET sensing surfaces. We have also identified single-chain fragment variables (scFvs, antibody fragments) that recognize an analyte of interest as potential sensor receptors. In addition, we have developed a protein engineering technology (scanning circular permutagenesis) that allows us to alter protein topography to manipulate the position of functional domains of the protein relative to the BioFET sensing surface.
biosensors; interface engineering; surface modifications; protein engineering
Existing sources of wildlife morbidity and mortality data were evaluated and 3 pilot active surveillance projects were undertaken to compare and contrast methods for collecting wildlife disease data on Vancouver Island for public health purposes. Few organizations could collect samples for diagnostic evaluation, fewer still maintained records, and none regularly characterized or reported wildlife disease for public health purposes. Wildlife rehabilitation centers encountered the greatest variety of wildlife from the largest geographic area and frequently received submissions from other organizations. Obstacles to participation included the following: permit restrictions; financial disincentives; staff safety; no mandate to collect relevant data; and lack of contact between wildlife and public health agencies. Despite these obstacles, modest investments in personnel allowed novel pathogens of public health concern to be tracked. Targeted surveillance for known pathogens in specific host species, rather than general surveys for unspecified pathogens, was judged to be a more effective and efficient way to provide useful public health data.
Since 1999, Cryptococcus gattii has emerged as an important pathogen of humans and animals in southwestern British Columbia. Historically thought to be restricted to the tropics and subtropics, C. gattii has posed new diagnostic and treatment challenges to veterinary practitioners working within the recently identified endemic region. Clinical reports of canine and feline cryptococcosis caused by C. gattii diagnosed between January 1999 and December 2003 were included in this case series. The most common manifestations of disease were respiratory and central nervous system signs. Multivariate survival analysis revealed that the only significant predictor of mortality was the presence of central nervous system signs upon presentation or during therapy. Case fatality rates in both species were high. Further investigation into effective treatment regimes is warranted.
Zoonoses are fundamental determinants of community health. Preventing, identifying and managing these infections must be a central public health focus. Most current zoonoses research focuses on the interface of the pathogen and the clinically ill person, emphasizing microbial detection, mechanisms of pathogenicity and clinical intervention strategies, rather than examining the causes of emergence, persistence and spread of new zoonoses. There are gaps in the understanding of the animal determinants of emergence and the capacity to train highly qualified individuals; these are major obstacles to preventing new disease threats. The ability to predict the emergence of zoonoses and their resulting public health and societal impacts are hindered when insufficient effort is devoted to understanding zoonotic disease epidemiology, and when zoonoses are not examined in a manner that yields fundamental insight into their origin and spread.
Emerging infectious disease research should rest on four pillars: enhanced communications across disciplinary and agency boundaries; the assessment and development of surveillance and disease detection tools; the examination of linkages between animal health determinants of human health outcomes; and finally, cross-disciplinary training and research. A national strategy to predict, prevent and manage emerging diseases must have a prominent and explicit role for veterinary and biological researchers. An integrated health approach would provide decision makers with a firmer foundation from which to build evidence-based disease prevention and control plans that involve complex human/animal/environmental systems, and would serve as the foundation to train and support the new cadre of individuals ultimately needed to maintain and apply research capacity in this area.
Emerging disease; Epidemiology; Zoonoses
Zoonoses are fundamental determinants of community health. Preventing, identifying and managing these infections must be a central public health focus. Most current zoonoses research focuses on the interface of the pathogen and the clinically ill person, emphasizing microbial detection, mechanisms of pathogenicity and clinical intervention strategies, rather than examining the causes of emergence, persistence and spread of new zoonoses. There are gaps in the understanding of the animal determinants of emergence and the capacity to train highly qualified individuals; these are major obstacles to preventing new disease threats. The ability to predict the emergence of zoonoses and their resulting public health and societal impacts are hindered when insufficient effort is devoted to understanding zoonotic disease epidemiology, and when zoonoses are not examined in a manner that yields fundamental insight into their origin and spread. Emerging infectious disease research should rest on four pillars: enhanced communications across disciplinary and agency boundaries; the assessment and development of surveillance and disease detection tools; the examination of linkages between animal health determinants of human health outcomes; and finally, cross-disciplinary training and research. A national strategy to predict, prevent and manage emerging diseases must have a prominent and explicit role for veterinary and biological researchers. An integrated health approach would provide decision makers with a firmer foundation from which to build evidence-based disease prevention and control plans that involve complex human/animal/environmental systems, and would serve as the foundation to train and support the new cadre of individuals ultimately needed to maintain and apply research capacity in this area.
The amount of antimicrobial use is a significant selection pressure that alters the frequency of antimicrobial resistance. This paper summarizes attempts to estimate the weight of antimicrobial purchases in British Columbia for use in animals. The data reported here do not capture all sources of veterinary antimicrobial use in British Columbia. This paper highlights how information deficits on veterinary drug use complicate the development of an evidence-based policy framework for combating antimicrobial resistance.