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1.  Immunology in Africa 
Africa is a continent with a large burden of both infectious and non‐communicable diseases. If we are to move forward as a continent, we need to equip our growing cadre of exceptional young scientists with the skills needed to tackle the diseases endemic to this continent. For this, immunology is among the key disciplines. Africans should be empowered to study and understand the diseases that affect them, and to perform their cutting‐edge research in their country of origin. This requires a multifaceted approach, with buy‐in from funders, overseas partners and perhaps, most important of all, African governments themselves.
PMCID: PMC4737115  PMID: 26391634
immunology; Africa
2.  Emergence of multi-acaricide resistant Rhipicephalus ticks and its implication on chemical tick control in Uganda 
Acaricide failure has been on the rise in the western and central cattle corridor of Uganda. In this study, we identified the tick species associated with acaricide failure and determined their susceptibility to various acaricide molecules used for tick control in Uganda.
In this cross sectional study, tick samples were collected and identified to species level from 54 purposively selected farms (from 17 districts) that mostly had a history of acaricide failure. Larval packet test was used to screen 31 tick populations from 30 farms for susceptibility at discriminating dose (DD) and 2 × DD of five panels of commercial acaricide molecules belonging to the following classes; amidine, synthetic pyrethroid (SP), organophosphate (OP) and OP-SP co-formulations (COF). Resistance was assessed based on World Health Organization criteria for screening insecticide resistance.
Of the 1357 ticks identified, Rhipicephalus (Rhipicephalus) appendiculatus and Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) decoloratus were the major (95.6 %) tick species in farms sampled. Resistance against SP was detected in 90.0 % (27/30) of the tick populations tested. Worryingly, 60.0 % (18/30) and 63.0 % (19/30) of the above ticks were super resistant (0 % mortality) against 2 × DD cypermethrin and deltamethrin, respectively. Resistance was also detected against COF (43.3 %), OP chlorfenvinphos (13.3 %) and amitraz (12.9 %). In two years, 74.1 % (20/27) of the farms had used two to three acaricide molecules, and 55.6 % (15/27) rotated the molecules wrongly. Multi-acaricide resistance (at least 2 molecules) was detected in 55.2 % (16/29) of the resistant Rhipicephalus ticks and significantly associated with R. decoloratus (p = 0.0133), use of both SP and COF in the last 2 years (p < 0.001) and Kiruhura district (p = 0.0339). Despite emergence of amitraz resistance in the greater Bushenyi area, it was the most efficacious molecule against SP and COF resistant ticks.
This study is the first to report emergence of super SP resistant and multi-acaricide resistant Rhipicephalus ticks in Uganda. Amitraz was the best acaricide against SP and COF resistant ticks. However, in the absence of technical interventions, farmer-led solutions aimed at troubleshooting for efficacy of multitude of acaricides at their disposal are expected to potentially cause negative collateral effects on future chemical tick control options, animal welfare and public health.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13071-015-1278-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4700616  PMID: 26727991
Ticks; Rhipicephalus appendiculatus; Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) decoloratus; Acaricide; Resistance; Amitraz; Synthetic pyrethroids; Organophosphates
3.  Effect of Maternal Schistosoma mansoni Infection and Praziquantel Treatment During Pregnancy on Schistosoma mansoni Infection and Immune Responsiveness among Offspring at Age Five Years 
Offspring of Schistosoma mansoni-infected women in schistosomiasis-endemic areas may be sensitised in-utero. This may influence their immune responsiveness to schistosome infection and schistosomiasis-associated morbidity. Effects of praziquantel treatment of S. mansoni during pregnancy on risk of S. mansoni infection among offspring, and on their immune responsiveness when they become exposed to S. mansoni, are unknown. Here we examined effects of praziquantel treatment of S. mansoni during pregnancy on prevalence of S. mansoni and immune responsiveness among offspring at age five years.
In a trial in Uganda (ISRCTN32849447,, offspring of women treated with praziquantel or placebo during pregnancy were examined for S. mansoni infection and for cytokine and antibody responses to SWA and SEA, as well as for T cell expression of FoxP3, at age five years.
Of the 1343 children examined, 32 (2.4%) had S. mansoni infection at age five years based on a single stool sample. Infection prevalence did not differ between children of treated or untreated mothers. Cytokine (IFNγ, IL-5, IL-10 and IL-13) and antibody (IgG1, Ig4 and IgE) responses to SWA and SEA, and FoxP3 expression, were higher among infected than uninfected children. Praziquantel treatment of S. mansoni during pregnancy had no effect on immune responses, with the exception of IL-10 responses to SWA, which was higher in offspring of women that received praziquantel during pregnancy than those who did not.
We found no evidence that maternal S. mansoni infection and its treatment during pregnancy influence prevalence and intensity of S. mansoni infection or effector immune response to S. mansoni infection among offspring at age five years, but the observed effects on IL-10 responses to SWA suggest that maternal S. mansoni and its treatment during pregnancy may affect immunoregulatory responsiveness in childhood schistosomiasis. This might have implications for pathogenesis of the disease.
Author Summary
Infections with the blood fluke Schistosoma mansoni that cause schistosomiasis (also called Bilharzia) were not usually treated during pregnancy until 2002, but in 2002 a World Health Organization (WHO) team of experts recommended that praziquantel treatment of S. mansoni during pregnancy should be done. However, there was limited information on the effects of maternal S. mansoni infection and treatment during pregnancy on the outcomes in the offspring. We conducted a study in the Entebbe peninsula within Lake Victoria in Uganda to examine whether maternal S. mansoni infection or its treatment during pregnancy may have effects on the children's susceptibility to the infection. The children were examined at age five years old for the level of S. mansoni infection and for immune responses to schistosomes. At five years old few of the children in our study cohort were infected with S. mansoni. Our findings suggest that maternal infection with, or praziquantel treatment of S. mansoni during pregnancy did not influence the level of S. mansoni infection among the offspring. However our findings suggest an influence on regulation of the body's immune responses to schistosomes, which may have some effect on the progress of disease manifestations. This is an issue that needs further investigation.
PMCID: PMC3798616  PMID: 24147175
4.  Factors affecting the infant antibody response to measles immunisation in Entebbe-Uganda 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:619.
Vaccine failure is an important concern in the tropics with many contributing elements. Among them, it has been suggested that exposure to natural infections might contribute to vaccine failure and recurrent disease outbreaks. We tested this hypothesis by examining the influence of co-infections on maternal and infant measles-specific IgG levels.
We conducted an observational analysis using samples and data that had been collected during a larger randomised controlled trial, the Entebbe Mother and Baby Study (ISRCTN32849447). For the present study, 711 pregnant women and their offspring were considered. Helminth infections including hookworm, Schistosoma mansoni and Mansonella perstans, along with HIV, malaria, and other potential confounding factors were determined in mothers during pregnancy and in their infants at age one year. Infants received their measles immunisation at age nine months. Levels of total IgG against measles were measured in mothers during pregnancy and at delivery, as well as in cord blood and from infants at age one year.
Among the 711 pregnant women studied, 66% had at least one helminth infection at enrolment, 41% had hookworm, 20% M. perstans and 19% S. mansoni. Asymptomatic malaria and HIV prevalence was 8% and 10% respectively. At enrolment, 96% of the women had measles-specific IgG levels considered protective (median 4274 mIU/ml (IQR 1784, 7767)). IgG levels in cord blood were positively correlated to maternal measles-specific IgG levels at delivery (r = 0.81, p < 0.0001). Among the infants at one year of age, median measles-specific IgG levels were markedly lower than in maternal and cord blood (median 370 mIU/ml (IQR 198, 656) p < 0.0001). In addition, only 75% of the infants had measles-specific IgG levels considered to be protective. In a multivariate regression analysis, factors associated with reduced measles-specific antibody levels in infancy were maternal malaria infection, infant malaria parasitaemia, infant HIV and infant wasting. There was no association with maternal helminth infection.
Malaria and HIV infection in mothers during pregnancy, and in their infants, along with infant malnutrition, may result in reduction of the antibody response to measles immunisation in infancy. This re-emphasises the importance of malaria and HIV control, and support for infant nutrition, as these interventions may have benefits for vaccine efficacy in tropical settings.
PMCID: PMC3733798  PMID: 23816281
Infections; Co-infections; Measles; Helminth; Malaria; HIV; Maternal; Infants; Pregnancy; Immunisation
5.  Effect of praziquantel treatment of Schistosoma mansoni during pregnancy on immune responses to schistosome antigens among the offspring: results of a randomised, placebo-controlled trial 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:234.
Offspring of women with schistosomiasis may exhibit immune responsiveness to schistosomes due to in utero sensitisation or trans-placental transfer of antibodies. Praziquantel treatment during pregnancy boosts maternal immune responses to schistosome antigens and reduces worm burden. Effects of praziquantel treatment during pregnancy on responses among offspring are unknown.
In a trial of anthelminthic treatment during pregnancy in Uganda (ISRCTN32849447;, offspring of women with Schistosoma mansoni were examined for cytokine and antibody responses to schistosome worm (SWA) and egg (SEA) antigen, in cord blood and at age one year. Relationships to maternal responses and pre-treatment infection intensities were examined, and responses were compared between the offspring of women who did, or did not receive praziquantel treatment during pregnancy.
Of 388 S. mansoni-infected women studied, samples were obtained at age one year from 215 of their infants. Stool examination for S. mansoni eggs was negative for all infants. Cord and infant samples were characterised by very low cytokine production in response to schistosome antigens with the exception of cord IL-10 responses, which were substantial. Cord and infant cytokine responses showed no association with maternal responses. As expected, cord blood levels of immunoglobulin (Ig) G to SWA and SEA were high and correlated with maternal antibodies. However, by age one year IgG levels had waned and were hardly detectable. Praziquantel treatment during pregnancy showed no effect on cytokine responses or antibodies levels to SWA or SEA either in cord blood or at age one year, except for IgG1 to SWA, which was elevated in infants of treated mothers, reflecting maternal levels. There was some evidence that maternal infection intensity was positively associated with cord blood IL-5 and IL-13 responses to SWA, and IL-5 responses to SEA, and that this association was modified by treatment with praziquantel.
Despite strong effects on maternal infection intensity and maternal immune responses, praziquantel treatment of infected women during pregnancy had no effect on anti-schistosome immune responses among offspring by age one year. Whether the treatment will impact upon the offspring's responses on exposure to primary schistosome infection remains to be elucidated.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC3176493  PMID: 21888656
6.  Effect of single-dose anthelmintic treatment during pregnancy on an infant's response to immunisation and on susceptibility to infectious diseases in infancy: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial 
Lancet  2011;377(9759):52-62.
Helminth infections affect the human immune response. We investigated whether prenatal exposure to and treatment of maternal helminth infections affects development of an infant's immune response to immunisations and unrelated infections.
In this randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, we enrolled 2507 women in the second or third trimester of pregnancy who were planning to deliver in Entebbe General Hospital, Entebbe, Uganda. With a computer-generated random number sequence in blocks of 100, we assigned patients to 440 mg albendazole and 40 mg/kg praziquantel (n=628), 440 mg albendazole and a praziquantel-matching placebo (n=625), 40 mg/kg praziquantel and an albendazole-matching placebo (n=626), or an albendazole-matching placebo and praziquantel-matching placebo (n=628). All participants and hospital staff were masked to allocation. Primary outcomes were immune response at age 1 year to BCG, tetanus, and measles immunisation; incidence of infectious diseases during infancy; and vertical HIV transmission. Analysis was by intention-to-treat. This trial is registered, number ISRCTN32849447.
Data were available at delivery for 2356 women, with 2345 livebirths; 2115 (90%) of liveborn infants remained in follow-up at 1 year of age. Neither albendazole nor praziquantel treatments affected infant response to BCG, tetanus, or measles immunisation. However, in infants of mothers with hookworm infection, albendazole treatment reduced interleukin-5 (geometric mean ratio 0·50, 95% CI 0·30–0·81, interaction p=0·02) and interleukin-13 (0·52, 0·34–0·82, 0·0005) response to tetanus toxoid. The rate per 100 person-years of malaria was 40·9 (95% CI 38·3–43·7), of diarrhoea was 134·1 (129·2–139·2), and of pneumonia was 22·3 (20·4–24·4). We noted no effect on infectious disease incidence for albendazole treatment (malaria [hazard ratio 0·95, 95% CI 0·79–1.14], diarrhoea [1·06, 0·96–1·16], pneumonia [1·11, 0·90–1·38]) or praziquantel treatment (malaria [1·00, 0·84–1·20], diarrhoea [1·07, 0·98–1·18], pneumonia [1·00, 0·80–1·24]). In HIV-exposed infants, 39 (18%) were infected at 6 weeks; vertical transmission was not associated with albendazole (odds ratio 0·70, 95% CI 0·35–1·42) or praziquantel (0·60, 0·29–1·23) treatment.
These results do not accord with the recently advocated policy of routine antenatal anthelmintic treatment, and the value of such a policy may need to be reviewed.
Wellcome Trust.
PMCID: PMC3018567  PMID: 21176950
7.  Effect of praziquantel treatment during pregnancy on cytokine responses to schistosome antigens: results of a randomised, placebo-controlled trial 
The Journal of infectious diseases  2008;198(12):1870-1879.
Praziquantel treatment of schistosomiasis boosts anti-schistosome responses, with ‘type 2 helper T-cell’ bias that may contribute to immunologically mediated killing and to protection against re-infection. Praziquantel treatment during pregnancy was recommended in 2002 but immunological effects of the treatment had not been investigated.
A cohort of 387 S. mansoni infected women was recruited within a larger trial of de-worming during pregnancy (ISRCTN32849447; Women were randomised to receive either praziquantel or placebo during pregnancy. Six weeks after delivery all women received praziquantel. Whole blood culture cytokine responses to S. mansoni worm and egg antigens were measured before and six weeks after each treatment.
Schistosome specific cytokine responses were suppressed during pregnancy. Praziquantel treatment during pregnancy caused significant boosts in gamma interferon (IFNγ), interleukin (IL)-2, IL-4, IL-5 IL-13 and IL-10 responses to schistosome worm antigen and IFNγ, IL-5 and IL-13 to schistosome egg antigen; but these boosts were not as substantial as those seen for treatment after delivery.
Pregnancy suppresses potentially beneficial boost in cytokine responses associated with praziquantel treatment. Further studies are needed on the long term effect of treating schistosomiasis during pregnancy on morbidity and resistance to reinfection among treated women and their offspring.
PMCID: PMC2892302  PMID: 18983246
Schistosomiasis; Schistosoma mansoni; human; praziquantel; treatment; pregnancy; cytokines; immunology; immune responses
8.  Effect of praziquantel treatment of Schistosoma mansoni during pregnancy on intensity of infection and antibody responses to schistosome antigens: results of a randomised, placebo-controlled trial 
Praziquantel treatment of schistosomiasis during pregnancy was only recommended in 2002; hence the effects of treatment during pregnancy are not fully known. We have therefore evaluated the effects on infection intensity and the immunological effects of praziquantel treatment against Schistosoma mansoni during pregnancy, compared with treatment after delivery.
A nested cohort of 387 Schistosoma mansoni infected women was recruited within a larger trial of de-worming during pregnancy. Women were randomised to receive praziquantel or placebo during pregnancy. All women were treated after delivery. Infection intensity after treatment was assessed by a single Kato-Katz examination of stool samples with duplicate slides and categorised as undetected, light (1–99 eggs per gram (epg)), moderate (100–399 epg) or heavy (≥400 epg). Antibodies against S. mansoni worm and egg antigens were measured by ELISA. Results were compared between women first treated during pregnancy and women first treated after delivery.
At enrolment, 252 (65.1%) of the women had light infection (median (IQR) epg: 35 (11, 59)), 75 (19.3%) moderate (median (IQR) epg: 179(131, 227)) and 60 (15.5%) had heavy infection (median (IQR) epg: 749 (521, 1169)) with S. mansoni. At six weeks after praziquantel treatment during pregnancy S. mansoni infection was not detectable in 81.9% of the women and prevalence and intensity had decreased to 11.8% light, 4.7% moderate and 1.6% heavy a similar reduction when compared with those first treated after delivery (undetected (88.5%), light (10.6%), moderate (0.9%) and heavy (0%), p = 0.16). Parasite specific antibody levels were lower during pregnancy than after delivery. Praziquantel treatment during pregnancy boosted anti-worm IgG isotypes and to a lesser extent IgE, but these boosts were less pronounced than in women whose treatment was delayed until after delivery. Praziquantel had limited effects on antibodies against egg antigens.
S mansoni antigen-specific antibody levels and praziquantel-induced boosts in antibody levels were broadly suppressed during pregnancy, but this was not associated with major reduction in the efficacy of praziquantel. Long-term implications of these findings in relation to resistance to re-infection remain to be explored.
Trial registration
International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number for the current study: ISRCTN32849447
PMCID: PMC2666740  PMID: 19296834
9.  Treatment with anthelminthics during pregnancy: what gains and what risks for the mother and child? 
Parasitology  2011;138(12):1499-1507.
In 1994 and 2002, respectively, the World Health Organisation proposed that treatment for hookworm and schistosomiasis could be provided during pregnancy. It was hoped that this might have benefits for maternal anaemia, fetal growth and perinatal mortality; a beneficial effect on the infant response to immunisation was also hypothesised. Three trials have now been conducted. Two have examined the effects of benzimidazoles; one (the Entebbe Mother and Baby Study) the effects of albendazole and praziquantel. All three were conducted in settings of high prevalence but low intensity helminth infection. Results suggest that, in such settings and given adequate provision of haematinics, the benefit of routine anthelminthics during pregnancy for maternal anaemia may be small; none of the other expected benefits has yet been demonstrated. The Entebbe Mother and Baby Study found a significant adverse effect of albendazole on the incidence of infantile eczema in the whole study population, and of praziquantel on the incidence of eczema among infants of mothers with Schistosoma mansoni. Further studies are required in settings that differ in helminth species and infection intensities. Further research is required to determine whether increased rates of infantile eczema translate to long-term susceptibility to allergy, and to explore the underlying mechanisms of these effects. The risks and benefits of routine anthelminthic treatment in antenatal clinics may need to be reconsidered.
PMCID: PMC3178871  PMID: 21810307
Anthelminthic; pregnancy; albendazole; praziquantel; hookworm; Schistosoma mansoni; atopic eczema; anaemia

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