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1.  Utility of a Lateral Flow Immunoassay (LFI) to Detect Burkholderia pseudomallei in Soil Samples 
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases  2016;10(12):e0005204.
Culture is the gold standard for the detection of environmental B. pseudomallei. In general, soil specimens are cultured in enrichment broth for 2 days, and then the culture broth is streaked on an agar plate and incubated further for 7 days. However, identifying B. pseudomallei on the agar plates among other soil microbes requires expertise and experience. Here, we evaluate a lateral flow immunoassay (LFI) developed to detect B. pseudomallei capsular polysaccharide (CPS) in clinical samples as a tool to detect B. pseudomallei in environmental samples.
Methodology/Principal Findings
First, we determined the limit of detection (LOD) of LFI for enrichment broth of the soil specimens. Soil specimens (10 grams/specimen) culture negative for B. pseudomallei were spiked with B. pseudomallei ranging from 10 to 105 CFU, and incubated in 10 ml of enrichment broth in air at 40°C. Then, on day 2, 4 and 7 of incubation, 50 μL of the upper layer of the broth were tested on the LFI, and colony counts to determine quantity of B. pseudomallei in the broth were performed. We found that all five soil specimens inoculated at 10 CFU were negative by LFI on day 2, but four of those five specimens were LFI positive on day 7. The LOD of the LFI was estimated to be roughly 3.8x106 CFU/ml, and culture broth on day 7 was selected as the optimal sample for LFI testing. Second, we evaluated the utility of the LFI by testing 105 soil samples from Northeast Thailand. All samples were also tested by standard culture and quantitative PCR (qPCR) targeting orf2. Of 105 soil samples, 35 (33%) were LFI positive, 25 (24%) were culture positive for B. pseudomallei, and 79 (75%) were qPCR positive. Of 11 LFI positive but standard culture negative specimens, six were confirmed by having the enrichment broth on day 7 culture positive for B. pseudomallei, and an additional three by qPCR. The LFI had 97% (30/31) sensitivity to detect soil specimens culture positive for B. pseudomallei.
The LFI can be used to detect B. pseudomallei in soil samples, and to select which samples should be sent to reference laboratories or proceed further for bacterial isolation and confirmation. This could considerably decrease laboratory workload and assist the development of a risk map for melioidosis in resource-limited settings.
Author Summary
Burkholderia pseudomallei is an environmental Gram-negative bacillus and the causative agent of melioidosis. Culture and PCR assays are standard diagnostic tools used to detect B. pseudomallei in the environment. However, those tests require experienced microbiologists and are regularly conducted only in a few research laboratories worldwide. In this study, we demonstrated that the prototype lateral flow immunoassay (LFI) developed to detect B. pseudomallei capsular polysaccharide (CPS) in clinical samples could be used to detect B. pseudomallei in environmental samples. We found that the LFI can be used to detect B. pseudomallei in experimentally spiked soil specimens. Next, we evaluated the sensitivity of LFI using 105 soil samples collected in Northeast Thailand. We found that the LFI had high sensitivity to detect B. pseudomallei in the soil. We propose that the LFI could be used to detect environmental B. pseudomallei in resource-limited settings. Soil samples positive for LFI could be sent to reference laboratories for confirmation with culture or molecular methods. The use of LFI could assist in the development of a global risk map for melioidosis.
PMCID: PMC5156366  PMID: 27973567
3.  A retrospective analysis of melioidosis in Cambodian children, 2009–2013 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2016;16:688.
Melioidiosis, infection by Burkholderia pseudomallei, is an important but frequently under-recognised cause of morbidity and mortality in Southeast Asia and elsewhere in the tropics. Data on the epidemiology of paediatric melioidosis in Cambodia are extremely limited.
Culture-positive melioidosis cases presenting to Angkor Hospital for Children, a non-governmental paediatric hospital located in Siem Reap, Northern Cambodia, between 1st January 2009 and 31st December 2013 were identified by searches of hospital and laboratory databases and logbooks.
One hundred seventy-three evaluable cases were identified, presenting from eight provinces. For Siem Reap province, the median commune level incidence was estimated to be 28-35 cases per 100,000 children <15 years per year. Most cases presented during the wet season, May to October. The median age at presentation was 5.7 years (range 8 days–15.9 years). Apart from undernutrition, co-morbidities were rare. Three quarters (131/173) of the children had localised infection, most commonly skin/soft tissue infection (60 cases) or suppurative parotitis (51 cases). There were 39 children with B. pseudomallei bacteraemia: 29 (74.4%) of these had clinical and/or radiological evidence of pneumonia. Overall mortality was 16.8% (29/173) with mortality in bacteraemic cases of 71.8% (28/39). At least seven children did not receive an antimicrobial with activity against B. pseudomallei prior to death.
This retrospective study demonstrated a considerable burden of melioidosis in Cambodian children. Given the high mortality associated with bacteraemic infection, there is an urgent need for greater awareness amongst healthcare professionals in Cambodia and other countries where melioidosis is known or suspected to be endemic. Empiric treatment guidelines should ensure suspected cases are treated early with appropriate antimicrobials.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12879-016-2034-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC5117556  PMID: 27871233
Cambodia; Melioidosis; Paediatric
4.  Soil Nutrient Depletion Is Associated with the Presence of Burkholderia pseudomallei 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2016;82(24):7086-7092.
Burkholderia pseudomallei is a soil-dwelling bacterium and the cause of melioidosis, which kills an estimated 89,000 people per year worldwide. Agricultural workers are at high risk of infection due to repeated exposure to the bacterium. Little is known about the soil physicochemical properties associated with the presence or absence of the organism. Here, we evaluated the soil physicochemical properties and presence of B. pseudomallei in 6,100 soil samples collected from 61 rice fields in Thailand. The presence of B. pseudomallei was negatively associated with the proportion of clay, proportion of moisture, level of salinity, percentage of organic matter, presence of cadmium, and nutrient levels (phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and iron). The presence of B. pseudomallei was not associated with the level of soil acidity (P = 0.54). In a multivariable logistic regression model, the presence of B. pseudomallei was negatively associated with the percentage of organic matter (odds ratio [OR], 0.06; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.01 to 0.47; P = 0.007), level of salinity (OR, 0.06; 95% CI, 0.01 to 0.74; P = 0.03), and percentage of soil moisture (OR, 0.81; 95% CI, 0.66 to 1.00; P = 0.05). Our study suggests that B. pseudomallei thrives in rice fields that are nutrient depleted. Some agricultural practices result in a decline in soil nutrients, which may impact the presence and amount of B. pseudomallei bacteria in affected areas.
IMPORTANCE Burkholderia pseudomallei is an environmental Gram-negative bacillus and the cause of melioidosis. Humans acquire the disease following skin inoculation, inhalation, or ingestion of the bacterium in the environment. The presence of B. pseudomallei in soil defines geographic regions where humans and livestock are at risk of melioidosis, yet little is known about the soil properties associated with the presence of the organism. We evaluated the soil properties and presence of B. pseudomallei in 61 rice fields in East, Central, and Northeast Thailand. We demonstrated that the organism was more commonly found in soils with lower levels of organic matter and nutrients, including phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and iron. We also demonstrated that crop residue burning after harvest, which can reduce soil nutrients, was not uncommon. Some agricultural practices result in a decline in soil nutrients, which may impact the presence and amount of B. pseudomallei bacteria in affected areas.
PMCID: PMC5118919  PMID: 27694236
5.  The Effects of Signal Erosion and Core Genome Reduction on the Identification of Diagnostic Markers 
mBio  2016;7(5):e00846-16.
Whole-genome sequence (WGS) data are commonly used to design diagnostic targets for the identification of bacterial pathogens. To do this effectively, genomics databases must be comprehensive to identify the strict core genome that is specific to the target pathogen. As additional genomes are analyzed, the core genome size is reduced and there is erosion of the target-specific regions due to commonality with related species, potentially resulting in the identification of false positives and/or false negatives.
A comparative analysis of 1,130 Burkholderia genomes identified unique markers for many named species, including the human pathogens B. pseudomallei and B. mallei. Due to core genome reduction and signature erosion, only 38 targets specific to B. pseudomallei/mallei were identified. By using only public genomes, a larger number of markers were identified, due to undersampling, and this larger number represents the potential for false positives. This analysis has implications for the design of diagnostics for other species where the genomic space of the target and/or closely related species is not well defined.
PMCID: PMC5030356  PMID: 27651357
6.  Epidemiology and burden of multidrug-resistant bacterial infection in a developing country 
eLife  null;5:e18082.
Little is known about the excess mortality caused by multidrug-resistant (MDR) bacterial infection in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). We retrospectively obtained microbiology laboratory and hospital databases of nine public hospitals in northeast Thailand from 2004 to 2010, and linked these with the national death registry to obtain the 30-day mortality outcome. The 30-day mortality in those with MDR community-acquired bacteraemia, healthcare-associated bacteraemia, and hospital-acquired bacteraemia were 35% (549/1555), 49% (247/500), and 53% (640/1198), respectively. We estimate that 19,122 of 45,209 (43%) deaths in patients with hospital-acquired infection due to MDR bacteria in Thailand in 2010 represented excess mortality caused by MDR. We demonstrate that national statistics on the epidemiology and burden of MDR in LMICs could be improved by integrating information from readily available databases. The prevalence and mortality attributable to MDR in Thailand are high. This is likely to reflect the situation in other LMICs.
eLife digest
Antimicrobial resistance is a global problem. Each year, an estimated 23,000 deaths in the United States and 25,000 deaths in the European Union are extra deaths caused by bacteria resistant to antibiotics. People in low- and middle-income countries are also using more antibiotics, in part because of rising incomes, lower costs of antibiotics, and a lack of control of antimicrobial usage in the hospitals and over-the-counter sales of the drugs. These factors are thought to be driving the development and spread of bacteria that are resistant to multiple antibiotics in countries such as China, India, Indonesia and Thailand. However, a lack of information makes it difficult to estimate the size of the problem and, then, to track how antimicrobial resistance and multi-drug resistance is changing over time in these and other low- and middle-income countries.
Now, by integrating routinely collected data from a range of databases, Lim, Takahashi et al. estimate that around an extra 19,000 deaths are caused by multi-drug resistant bacteria in Thailand each year. Thailand has a population of about 70 million, and so, per capita, this estimate is about 3 to 5 times larger than those for the United States and European Union (which have a populations of about 300 million and 500 million, respectively). Lim, Takahashi et al. also show that more of the bacteria collected from patients are resistant to multiple antimicrobial drugs and that the burden of antimicrobial resistance in Thailand is worsening over time.
These findings suggest that more studies with a systematic approach need to be done in other low- and middle-income countries, especially in countries where microbiological laboratories are readily available and routinely used. Further work is also needed to identify where resources and attentions are most needed to effectively fight against antimicrobial resistance in low- and middle-income countries.
PMCID: PMC5030096  PMID: 27599374
antimicrobial resistant; Staphylococcus aureus; K. pneumoniae; P. aeruginosa; Enterococcus; Acinetobacter; E. coli; Other
7.  Comparison of two chromogenic media for the detection of vancomycin-resistant enterococcal carriage by nursing home residents 
We compared ChromID VRE and Brilliance VRE media for the detection of vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE). Using a panel of 28 enterococcal isolates, 10 vanA Enterococcus faecium and three vanA Enterococcus faecalis isolates grew as per manufacturers’ instructions whilst growth of two vanC and eight vancomycin-susceptible enterococci was inhibited on both media. Important differences were noted in the selectivity and chromogenic properties of the two media for vanA Enterococcus raffinosus and vanB E. faecium. The two media were further evaluated using 295 stool samples from nursing home residents, 34 of which grew VRE (11.5%). ChromID and Brilliance had comparable sensitivity, which was increased markedly by prolonging incubation to 48 hours (from 29% to 82%, and from 41% to 85%, respectively) and by a pre-enrichment step (to 97% and 100%, respectively). Brilliance VRE agar had higher selectivity at 48 hours, and after pre-enrichment.
PMCID: PMC4950902  PMID: 27312688
Vancomycin-resistant enterococci; VRE; Enterococcus faecium; Detection; Sensitivity; Selectivity
8.  Barriers and Recommended Interventions to Prevent Melioidosis in Northeast Thailand: A Focus Group Study Using the Behaviour Change Wheel 
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases  2016;10(7):e0004823.
Melioidosis, an often fatal infectious disease in Northeast Thailand, is caused by skin inoculation, inhalation or ingestion of the environmental bacterium, Burkholderia pseudomallei. The major underlying risk factor for melioidosis is diabetes mellitus. Recommendations for melioidosis prevention include using protective gear such as rubber boots and gloves when in direct contact with soil and environmental water, and consuming bottled or boiled water. Only a small proportion of people follow such recommendations.
Nine focus group discussions were conducted to evaluate barriers to adopting recommended preventive behaviours. A total of 76 diabetic patients from northeast Thailand participated in focus group sessions. Barriers to adopting the recommended preventive behaviours and future intervention strategies were identified using two frameworks: the Theoretical Domains Framework and the Behaviour Change Wheel.
Barriers were identified in the following five domains: (i) knowledge, (ii) beliefs about consequences, (iii) intention and goals, (iv) environmental context and resources, and (v) social influence. Of 76 participants, 72 (95%) had never heard of melioidosis. Most participants saw no harm in not adopting recommended preventive behaviours, and perceived rubber boots and gloves to be hot and uncomfortable while working in muddy rice fields. Participants reported that they normally followed the behaviour of friends, family and their community, the majority of whom did not wear boots while working in rice fields and did not boil water before drinking. Eight intervention functions were identified as relevant for the intervention: (i) education, (ii) persuasion, (iii) incentivisation, (iv) coercion, (v) modeling, (vi) environmental restructuring, (vii) training, and (viii) enablement. Participants noted that input from role models in the form of physicians, diabetic clinics, friends and families, and from the government via mass media would be required for them to change their behaviours.
There are numerous barriers to the adoption of behaviours recommended for melioidosis prevention. We recommend that a multifaceted intervention at community and government level is required to achieve the desired behaviour changes.
Author Summary
Melioidosis is a serious infectious disease caused by the Gram-negative environmental saprophyte, Burkholderia pseudomallei. Infection in humans occurs following skin inoculation, inhalation or ingestion. Recommendations for melioidosis prevention include using protective gear such as rubber boots and gloves when in direct contact with soil and environmental water, and consuming bottled or boiled water. Northeast Thailand is a hot spot for melioidosis, but only a small proportion of people follow such recommendations. Here, we evaluated barriers to the adoption of preventive behaviours in diabetics (who are at highest risk for melioidosis), and systematically identified key functions required for future interventions. Our study participants had no knowledge of the disease, believed that there was no harm in not adopting the recommended preventive behaviours, and were not inclined to use boots and gloves while working in muddy rice fields. Participants reported that input from numerous role models (physicians, diabetic clinics, friends and families), and from the government via mass media would be required for them to change their behaviours. We recommend that a multifaceted intervention at community and government level is required to bring about the desired changes.
PMCID: PMC4966968  PMID: 27472421
9.  Predicted global distribution of Burkholderia pseudomallei and burden of melioidosis 
Nature microbiology  2016;1(1):15008.
Burkholderia pseudomallei, a highly pathogenic bacterium that causes melioidosis, is commonly found in soil in Southeast Asia and Northern Australia1,2. Melioidosis can be difficult to diagnose due to its diverse clinical manifestations and the inadequacy of conventional bacterial identification methods3. The bacterium is intrinsically resistant to a wide range of antimicrobials, and treatment with ineffective antimicrobials may result in case fatality rates (CFRs) exceeding 70%4,5. The importation of infected animals has, in the past, spread melioidosis to non-endemic areas6,7. The global distribution of B. pseudomallei and burden of melioidosis, however, remain poorly understood. Here, we map documented human and animal cases, and the presence of environmental B. pseudomallei, and combine this in a formal modelling framework8-10 to estimate the global burden of melioidosis. We estimate there to be 165,000 (95% credible interval 68,000-412,000) human melioidosis cases per year worldwide, of which 89,000 (36,000-227,000) die. Our estimates suggest that melioidosis is severely underreported in the 45 countries in which it is known to be endemic and that melioidosis is likely endemic in a further 34 countries which have never reported the disease. The large numbers of estimated cases and fatalities emphasise that the disease warrants renewed attention from public health officials and policy makers.
PMCID: PMC4746747  PMID: 26877885
10.  Optimal Cutoff and Accuracy of an IgM Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay for Diagnosis of Acute Scrub Typhus in Northern Thailand: an Alternative Reference Method to the IgM Immunofluorescence Assay 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2016;54(6):1472-1478.
The enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) has been proposed as an alternative serologic diagnostic test to the indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFA) for scrub typhus. Here, we systematically determine the optimal sample dilution and cutoff optical density (OD) and estimate the accuracy of IgM ELISA using Bayesian latent class models (LCMs). Data from 135 patients with undifferentiated fever were reevaluated using Bayesian LCMs. Every patient was evaluated for the presence of an eschar and tested with a blood culture for Orientia tsutsugamushi, three different PCR assays, and an IgM IFA. The IgM ELISA was performed for every sample at sample dilutions from 1:100 to 1:102,400 using crude whole-cell antigens of the Karp, Kato, and Gilliam strains of O. tsutsugamushi developed by the Naval Medical Research Center. We used Bayesian LCMs to generate unbiased receiver operating characteristic curves and found that the sample dilution of 1:400 was optimal for the IgM ELISA. With the optimal cutoff OD of 1.474 at a sample dilution of 1:400, the IgM ELISA had a sensitivity of 85.7% (95% credible interval [CrI], 77.4% to 86.7%) and a specificity of 98.1% (95% CrI, 97.2% to 100%) using paired samples. For the ELISA, the OD could be determined objectively and quickly, in contrast to the reading of IFA slides, which was both subjective and labor-intensive. The IgM ELISA for scrub typhus has high diagnostic accuracy and is less subjective than the IgM IFA. We suggest that the IgM ELISA may be used as an alternative reference test to the IgM IFA for the serological diagnosis of scrub typhus.
PMCID: PMC4879268  PMID: 27008880
11.  Development of Rapid Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assays for Detection of Antibodies to Burkholderia pseudomallei 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2016;54(5):1259-1268.
Burkholderia pseudomallei, the causative agent of melioidosis, is an environmental bacillus found in northeast Thailand. The mortality rate of melioidosis is ∼40%. An indirect hemagglutination assay (IHA) is used as a reference serodiagnostic test; however, it has low specificity in areas where the background seropositivity of healthy people is high. To improve assay specificity and reduce the time for diagnosis, four rapid enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) were developed using two purified polysaccharide antigens (O-polysaccharide [OPS] and 6-deoxyheptan capsular polysaccharide [CPS]) and two crude antigens (whole-cell [WC] antigen and culture filtrate [CF] antigen) of B. pseudomallei. The ELISAs were evaluated using serum samples from 141 culture-confirmed melioidosis patients from Thailand along with 188 healthy donors from Thailand and 90 healthy donors from the United States as controls. The areas under receiver operator characteristic curves (AUROCC) using Thai controls were high for the OPS-ELISA (0.91), CF-ELISA (0.91), and WC-ELISA (0.90), while those of CPS-ELISA (0.84) and IHA (0.72) were lower. AUROCC values using U.S. controls were comparable to those of the Thai controls for all ELISAs except IHA (0.93). Using a cutoff optical density (OD) of 0.87, the OPS-ELISA had a sensitivity of 71.6% and a specificity of 95.7% for Thai controls; for U.S. controls, specificity was 96.7%. An additional 120 serum samples from tuberculosis, scrub typhus, or leptospirosis patients were evaluated in all ELISAs and resulted in comparable or higher specificities than using Thai healthy donors. Our findings suggest that antigen-specific ELISAs, particularly the OPS-ELISA, may be useful for serodiagnosis of melioidosis in areas where it is endemic and nonendemic.
PMCID: PMC4844749  PMID: 26912754
12.  Comparison of 2 chromogenic media for the detection of extended-spectrum β-lactamase producing Enterobacteriaceae stool carriage in nursing home residents 
ChromID ESBL agar and Brilliance ESBL agar were compared for the isolation of extended-spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL)–producing Enterobacteriaceae from 298 stools. These had comparable sensitivity and selectivity for the 116 positive samples. Pre-enrichment with cefpodoxime and extending incubation to 48 hours after direct plating both significantly increased sensitivity but reduced selectivity of both agars.
•Two chromogenic agars were compared for the isolation of ESBL Enterobacteriaceae.•Both agars had comparable sensitivity and selectivity.•Sensitivity after direct plating was higher when incubated for 48 versus 24 hours.•Using pre-enrichment with 24-hour incubation further increased the sensitivity.•There was a loss of selectivity after 48-hour incubation for all methods
PMCID: PMC4769092  PMID: 26712266
Extended-spectrum β-lactamase; Enterobacteriaceae; Detection; Chromogenic agar; Sensitivity; Selectivity
13.  Emergence of Melioidosis in Indonesia 
Melioidosis is known to be highly endemic in parts of southeast Asia and northern Australia; however, cases are rarely reported in Indonesia. Here we report three cases of melioidosis in Makassar, South Sulawesi, Indonesia occurring between 2013 and 2014. Two patients died and the other was lost to follow-up. Burkholderia pseudomallei isolates from all three cases were identified by the VITEK2 Compact installed in the hospital in 2012. None of the three patients reported received antimicrobials recommended for melioidosis because of the delayed recognition of the organism. We reviewed the literature and found only seven reports of melioidosis in Indonesia. Five were reported before 1960. We suggest that melioidosis is endemic throughout Indonesia but currently under-recognized. Training on how to identify B. pseudomallei accurately and safely in all available microbiological facilities should be provided, and consideration should be given to making melioidosis a notifiable disease in Indonesia.
PMCID: PMC4674228  PMID: 26458777
14.  Toxicity of Amphotericin B Deoxycholate-Based Induction Therapy in Patients with HIV-Associated Cryptococcal Meningitis 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2015;59(12):7224-7231.
Amphotericin B deoxycholate (AmBd) is the recommended induction treatment for HIV-associated cryptococcal meningitis (CM). Its use is hampered by toxicities that include electrolyte abnormalities, nephrotoxicity, and anemia. Protocols to minimize toxicity are applied inconsistently. In a clinical trial cohort of AmBd-based CM induction treatment, a standardized protocol of preemptive hydration and electrolyte supplementation was applied. Changes in blood counts, electrolyte levels, and creatinine levels over 14 days were analyzed in relation to the AmBd dose, treatment duration (short course of 5 to 7 days or standard course of 14 days), addition of flucytosine (5FC), and outcome. In the 368 patients studied, the hemoglobin levels dropped by a mean of 1.5 g/dl (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.0 to 1.9 g/dl) following 7 days of AmBd and by a mean of 2.3 g/dl (95% CI, 1.1 to 3.6 g/dl) after 14 days. Serum creatinine levels increased by 37 μmol/liter (95% CI, 30 to 45 μmol/liter) by day 7 and by 49 μmol/liter (95% CI, 35 to 64μmol/liter) by day 14 of AmBd treatment. Overall, 33% of patients developed grade III/IV anemia, 5.6% developed grade III hypokalemia, 9.5% had creatinine levels that exceeded 220 μmol, and 6% discontinued AmBd prematurely. The addition of 5FC was associated with a slight increase in anemia but not neutropenia. Laboratory abnormalities stabilized or reversed during the second week in patients on short-course induction. Grade III/IV anemia (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 2.2; 95% CI, 1.1 to 4.3; P = 0.028) and nephrotoxicity (aOR, 4.5; 95% CI, 1.8 to 11; P = 0.001) were risk factors for 10-week mortality. In summary, routine intravenous saline hydration and preemptive electrolyte replacement during AmBd-based induction regimens for HIV-associated CM minimized the incidence of hypokalemia and nephrotoxicity. Anemia remained a concerning adverse effect. The addition of flucytosine was not associated with increased neutropenia. Shorter AmBd courses were less toxic, with rapid reversibility.
PMCID: PMC4649151  PMID: 26349818
15.  T-Cell Responses Are Associated with Survival in Acute Melioidosis Patients 
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases  2015;9(10):e0004152.
Melioidosis is an increasingly recognised cause of sepsis and death across South East Asia and Northern Australia, caused by the bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei. Risk factors include diabetes, alcoholism and renal disease, and a vaccine targeting at-risk populations is urgently required. A better understanding of the protective immune response in naturally infected patients is essential for vaccine design.
We conducted a longitudinal clinical and immunological study of 200 patients with melioidosis on admission, 12 weeks (n = 113) and 52 weeks (n = 65) later. Responses to whole killed B. pseudomallei were measured in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) by interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) ELIspot assay and flow cytometry and compared to those of control subjects in the region with diabetes (n = 45) and without diabetes (n = 43).
We demonstrated strong CD4+ and CD8+ responses to B. pseudomallei during acute disease, 12 weeks and 52 weeks later. 28-day mortality was 26% for melioidosis patients, and B. pseudomallei-specific cellular responses in fatal cases (mean 98 IFN-γ cells per million PBMC) were significantly lower than those in the survivors (mean 142 IFN-γ cells per million PBMC) in a multivariable logistic regression model (P = 0.01). A J-shaped curve association between circulating neutrophil count and mortality was seen with an optimal count of 4000 to 8000 neutrophils/μl.
Melioidosis patients with known diabetes had poor diabetic control (median glycated haemoglobin HbA1c 10.2%, interquartile range 9.2–13.1) and showed a stunted B. pseudomallei-specific cellular response during acute illness compared to those without diabetes.
The results demonstrate the role of both CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells in protection against melioidosis, and an interaction between diabetes and cellular responses. This supports development of vaccine strategies that induce strong T-cell responses for the control of intracellular pathogens such as B. pseudomallei.
Author Summary
Melioidosis is a key cause of death in South East Asia and Northern Australia. It is caused by the soil-dwelling bacteria Burkholderia pseudomallei, and presents as a range of clinical illnesses including pneumonia and bloodstream infections. About two-thirds of patients with melioidosis in Thailand have diabetes, but the immune responses associated with death and diabetes are unknown. This study examined the relationship between immune responses to the bacteria and death by studying the bacteria-specific lymphocyte responses in 200 patients admitted to hospital with acute melioidosis and following the patients for up to one year where possible. 26% of patients died within 28 days despite receiving antibiotics and supportive care. We showed people with melioidosis make bacteria-specific lymphocyte responses, with lower levels seen in fatal cases compared to survivors. People with diabetes make lower responses than people without diabetes, and higher levels of circulating neutrophils on admission to hospital were associated with lower lymphocyte responses both during illness and three months later in survivors. This highlighting of lymphocyte responses to melioidosis is important for the design of vaccines to target at risk groups.
PMCID: PMC4619742  PMID: 26495852
16.  Optimal Cutoff Titers for Indirect Immunofluorescence Assay for Diagnosis of Scrub Typhus 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2015;53(11):3663-3666.
We determined the optimal cutoff titers in admission and convalescent-phase samples for scrub typhus indirect immunofluorescence assay using Bayesian latent class models. Cutoff titers of ≥1:3,200 in an admission sample or of a ≥4-fold rise to ≥1:3,200 in a convalescent-phase sample provided the highest accuracy (sensitivity, 81.6%; specificity, 100%).
PMCID: PMC4609688  PMID: 26354819
17.  Evaluation of Polysaccharide-Based Latex Agglutination Assays for the Rapid Detection of Antibodies to Burkholderia pseudomallei 
Melioidosis is a severe disease caused by the Gram-negative bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei. Diagnosis of melioidosis currently relies on the isolation of B. pseudomallei from clinical samples, which can take several days. An indirect hemagglutination assay (IHA) is widely used for serodiagnosis, but it has a short shelf life, is poorly standardized, and requires a viable bacteria culture performed in a biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) laboratory. To improve the diagnostic methods, we have developed two rapid latex agglutination tests based on purified B. pseudomallei O-polysaccharide (OPS) and capsular polysaccharide (CPS) antigens. The immunodiagnostic potential of these tests was evaluated using serum from culture-confirmed melioidosis patients (N = 143) and healthy donors from either endemic (N = 199) or non-endemic areas (N = 90). The sensitivity of the OPS-based latex agglutination assay (OPS-latex; 84.4%) was significantly higher than both the CPS-latex (69.5%) (P < 0.001) and IHA (69.5%) (P = 0.001). When evaluated with Thai donor serum, the OPS-latex had comparable specificity (56.9%) to the CPS-latex (63.8%) (P = 0.053), but was significantly lower than the IHA (67.6%) (P = 0.002). In contrast, all tests with U.S. donor serum were highly specific (≥ 97.8%). These results suggest that polysaccharide-based latex agglutination assays may be useful for serodiagnosis of melioidosis in non-endemic areas.
PMCID: PMC4559694  PMID: 26123956
18.  Antimicrobial Disk Susceptibility Testing of Leptospira spp. Using Leptospira Vanaporn Wuthiekanun (LVW) Agar 
Leptospira Vanaporn Wuthiekanun (LVW) agar was used to develop a disk diffusion assay for Leptospira spp. Ten pathogenic Leptospira isolates were tested, all of which were susceptible to 17 antimicrobial agents (amoxicillin/clavulanic acid, amoxicillin, azithromycin, cefoxitin, ceftazidime, ceftriaxone, chloramphenicol, ciprofloxacin, clindamycin, doripenem, doxycycline, gentamicin, linezolid, nitrofurantoin, penicillin, piperacillin/tazobactam, and tetracycline). All 10 isolates had no zone of growth inhibition for four antimicrobials (fosfomycin, nalidixic acid, rifampicin, and trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole). Of the ten Leptospira, seven had a growth inhibition zone of ≤ 21 mm for aztreonam, the zone diameter susceptibility break point for Enterobacteriaceae. This assay could find utility as a simple screening method during the epidemiological surveillance of antimicrobial resistance in Leptospira spp.
PMCID: PMC4530741  PMID: 26055750
19.  Comparative efficacy of interventions to promote hand hygiene in hospital: systematic review and network meta-analysis 
The BMJ  2015;351:h3728.
Objective To evaluate the relative efficacy of the World Health Organization 2005 campaign (WHO-5) and other interventions to promote hand hygiene among healthcare workers in hospital settings and to summarize associated information on use of resources.
Design Systematic review and network meta-analysis.
Data sources Medline, Embase, CINAHL, NHS Economic Evaluation Database, NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, Cochrane Library, and the EPOC register (December 2009 to February 2014); studies selected by the same search terms in previous systematic reviews (1980-2009).
Review methods Included studies were randomised controlled trials, non-randomised trials, controlled before-after trials, and interrupted time series studies implementing an intervention to improve compliance with hand hygiene among healthcare workers in hospital settings and measuring compliance or appropriate proxies that met predefined quality inclusion criteria. When studies had not used appropriate analytical methods, primary data were re-analysed. Random effects and network meta-analyses were performed on studies reporting directly observed compliance with hand hygiene when they were considered sufficiently homogeneous with regard to interventions and participants. Information on resources required for interventions was extracted and graded into three levels.
Results Of 3639 studies retrieved, 41 met the inclusion criteria (six randomised controlled trials, 32 interrupted time series, one non-randomised trial, and two controlled before-after studies). Meta-analysis of two randomised controlled trials showed the addition of goal setting to WHO-5 was associated with improved compliance (pooled odds ratio 1.35, 95% confidence interval 1.04 to 1.76; I2=81%). Of 22 pairwise comparisons from interrupted time series, 18 showed stepwise increases in compliance with hand hygiene, and all but four showed a trend for increasing compliance after the intervention. Network meta-analysis indicated considerable uncertainty in the relative effectiveness of interventions, but nonetheless provided evidence that WHO-5 is effective and that compliance can be further improved by adding interventions including goal setting, reward incentives, and accountability. Nineteen studies reported clinical outcomes; data from these were consistent with clinically important reductions in rates of infection resulting from improved hand hygiene for some but not all important hospital pathogens. Reported costs of interventions ranged from $225 to $4669 (£146-£3035; €204-€4229) per 1000 bed days.
Conclusion Promotion of hand hygiene with WHO-5 is effective at increasing compliance in healthcare workers. Addition of goal setting, reward incentives, and accountability strategies can lead to further improvements. Reporting of resources required for such interventions remains inadequate.
PMCID: PMC4517539  PMID: 26220070
20.  Consensus on the Development of Vaccines against Naturally Acquired Melioidosis 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2015;21(6):e141480.
Several candidates for a vaccine against Burkholderia pseudomallei, the causal bacterium of melioidosis, have been developed, and a rational approach is now needed to select and advance candidates for testing in relevant nonhuman primate models and in human clinical trials. Development of such a vaccine was the topic of a meeting in the United Kingdom in March 2014 attended by international candidate vaccine developers, researchers, and government health officials. The focus of the meeting was advancement of vaccines for prevention of natural infection, rather than for protection from the organism’s known potential for use as a biological weapon. A direct comparison of candidate vaccines in well-characterized mouse models was proposed. Knowledge gaps requiring further research were identified. Recommendations were made to accelerate the development of an effective vaccine against melioidosis.
PMCID: PMC4451926  PMID: 25992835
Burkholderia pseudomallei; melioidosis; Whitmore’s disease; bacteria; vaccine; antimicrobial drugs; prevention; Steering Group on Melioidosis Vaccine Development; intraperitoneal; intravenous; aerosol inhalation; intranasal; challenge dose
21.  How to Determine the Accuracy of an Alternative Diagnostic Test when It Is Actually Better than the Reference Tests: A Re-Evaluation of Diagnostic Tests for Scrub Typhus Using Bayesian LCMs 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(5):e0114930.
The indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFA) is considered a reference test for scrub typhus. Recently, the Scrub Typhus Infection Criteria (STIC; a combination of culture, PCR assays and IFA IgM) were proposed as a reference standard for evaluating alternative diagnostic tests. Here, we use Bayesian latent class models (LCMs) to estimate the true accuracy of each diagnostic test, and of STIC, for diagnosing scrub typhus.
Methods/Principal Findings
Data from 161 patients with undifferentiated fever were re-evaluated using Bayesian LCMs. Every patient was evaluated for the presence of an eschar, and tested with blood culture for Orientia tsutsugamushi, three different PCR assays, IFA IgM, and the Panbio IgM immunochromatographic test (ICT). True sensitivity and specificity of culture (24.4% and 100%), 56kDa PCR assay (56.8% and 98.4%), 47kDa PCR assay (63.2% and 96.1%), groEL PCR assay (71.4% and 93.0%), IFA IgM (70.0% and 83.8%), PanBio IgM ICT (72.8% and 96.8%), presence of eschar (42.7% and 98.9%) and STIC (90.5% and 82.5%) estimated by Bayesian LCM were considerably different from those obtained when using STIC as a reference standard. The IgM ICT had comparable sensitivity and significantly higher specificity compared to IFA (p=0.34 and p<0.001, respectively).
The low specificity of STIC was caused by the low specificity of IFA IgM. Neither STIC nor IFA IgM can be used as reference standards against which to evaluate alternative diagnostic tests. Further evaluation of new diagnostic tests should be done with a carefully selected set of diagnostic tests and appropriate statistical models.
PMCID: PMC4449177  PMID: 26024375
22.  Cost-effectiveness analysis of parenteral antimicrobials for acute melioidosis in Thailand 
Melioidosis is a common community-acquired infectious disease in northeast Thailand associated with overall mortality of approximately 40% in hospitalized patients, and over 70% in severe cases. Ceftazidime is recommended for parenteral treatment in patients with suspected melioidosis. Meropenem is increasingly used but evidence to support this is lacking.
A decision tree was used to estimate the cost-effectiveness of treating non-severe and severe suspected acute melioidosis cases with either ceftazidime or meropenem.
Empirical treatment with meropenem is likely to be cost-effective providing meropenem reduces mortality in severe cases by at least 9% and the proportion with subsequent culture-confirmed melioidosis is over 20%.
In this context, treatment of severe cases with meropenem is likely to be cost-effective, while the evidence to support the use of meropenem in non-severe suspected melioidosis is not yet available.
PMCID: PMC4553702  PMID: 25972345
Antimicrobials; Ceftazidime; Cost-effective treatment; Meliodosis; Meropenem; Northeast Thailand
24.  Mortality Attributable to Seasonal Influenza A and B Infections in Thailand, 2005–2009: A Longitudinal Study 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2015;181(11):898-907.
Influenza epidemiology differs substantially in tropical and temperate zones, but estimates of seasonal influenza mortality in developing countries in the tropics are lacking. We aimed to quantify mortality due to seasonal influenza in Thailand, a tropical middle-income country. Time series of polymerase chain reaction–confirmed influenza infections between 2005 and 2009 were constructed from a sentinel surveillance network. These were combined with influenza-like illness data to derive measures of influenza activity and relationships to mortality by using a Bayesian regression framework. We estimated 6.1 (95% credible interval: 0.5, 12.4) annual deaths per 100,000 population attributable to influenza A and B, predominantly in those aged ≥60 years, with the largest contribution from influenza A(H1N1) in 3 out of 4 years. For A(H3N2), the relationship between influenza activity and mortality varied over time. Influenza was associated with increases in deaths classified as resulting from respiratory disease (posterior probability of positive association, 99.8%), cancer (98.6%), renal disease (98.0%), and liver disease (99.2%). No association with circulatory disease mortality was found. Seasonal influenza infections are associated with substantial mortality in Thailand, but evidence for the strong relationship between influenza activity and circulatory disease mortality reported in temperate countries is lacking.
PMCID: PMC4445392  PMID: 25899091
Bayesian regression; burden; developing country; influenza; middle-income country; mortality; seasonal variation; tropics
25.  Public Awareness of Melioidosis in Thailand and Potential Use of Video Clips as Educational Tools 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(3):e0121311.
Melioidosis causes more than 1,000 deaths in Thailand each year. Infection occurs via inoculation, ingestion or inhalation of the causative organism (Burkholderia pseuodmallei) present in soil and water. Here, we evaluated public awareness of melioidosis using a combination of population-based questionnaire, a public engagement campaign to obtain video clips made by the public, and viewpoints on these video clips as potential educational tools about the disease and its prevention.
A questionnaire was developed to evaluate public awareness of melioidosis, and knowledge about its prevention. From 1 March to 31 April 2012, the questionnaire was delivered to five randomly selected adults in each of 928 districts in Thailand. A video clip contest entitled “Melioidosis, an infectious disease that Thais must know” was run between May and October 2012. The best 12 video clips judged by a contest committee were shown to 71 people at risk from melioidosis (diabetics). Focus group interviews were used to evaluate their perceptions of the video clips.
Of 4,203 Thais who completed our study questionnaire, 74% had never heard of melioidosis, and 19% had heard of the disease but had no further knowledge. Most participants in all focus group sessions felt that video clips were beneficial and could positively influence them to increase adherence to recommended preventive behaviours, including drinking boiled water and wearing protective gear if in contact with soil or environmental water. Participants suggested that video clips should be presented in the local dialect with simple words rather than medical terms, in a serious manner, with a doctor as the one presenting the facts, and having detailed pictures of each recommended prevention method.
In summary, public awareness of melioidosis in Thailand is very low, and video clips could serve as a useful medium to educate people and promote disease prevention.
Presented in Part
World Melioidosis Congress 2013, Bangkok, Thailand, 18–20 September 2013 (abstract OS VII-04).
PMCID: PMC4372587  PMID: 25803048

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