In the RV144 HIV-1 vaccine efficacy trial, IgG antibody (Ab) binding levels to variable regions 1 and 2 (V1V2) of the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein gp120 were an inverse correlate of risk of HIV-1 infection. To determine if V1V2-specific Abs cross-react with V1V2 from different HIV-1 subtypes, if the nature of the V1V2 antigen used to asses cross-reactivity influenced infection risk, and to identify immune assays for upcoming HIV-1 vaccine efficacy trials, new V1V2-scaffold antigens were designed and tested. Protein scaffold antigens carrying the V1V2 regions from HIV-1 subtypes A, B, C, D or CRF01_AE were assayed in pilot studies, and six were selected to assess cross-reactive Abs in the plasma from the original RV144 case-control cohort (41 infected vaccinees, 205 frequency-matched uninfected vaccinees, and 40 placebo recipients) using ELISA and a binding Ab multiplex assay. IgG levels to these antigens were assessed as correlates of risk in vaccine recipients using weighted logistic regression models. Levels of Abs reactive with subtype A, B, C and CRF01_AE V1V2-scaffold antigens were all significant inverse correlates of risk (p-values of 0.0008–0.05; estimated odds ratios of 0.53–0.68 per 1 standard deviation increase). Thus, levels of vaccine-induced IgG Abs recognizing V1V2 regions from multiple HIV-1 subtypes, and presented on different scaffolds, constitute inverse correlates of risk for HIV-1 infection in the RV144 vaccine trial. The V1V2 antigens provide a link between RV144 and upcoming HIV-1 vaccine trials, and identify reagents and methods for evaluating V1V2 Abs as possible correlates of protection against HIV-1 infection.
The RV144 HIV-1 trial of the canary pox vector (ALVAC-HIV) plus the gp120 AIDSVAX B/E vaccine demonstrated an estimated efficacy of 31%, that correlated directly with antibodies to HIV-1 envelope variable regions 1 and 2 (V1–V2). Genetic analysis of trial viruses revealed increased vaccine efficacy against viruses matching the vaccine strain at V2 residue 169. Here, we isolated four V2 monoclonal antibodies from RV144 vaccinees that recognize residue 169, neutralize laboratory-adapted HIV-1, and mediate killing of field isolate HIV-1-infected CD4+ T cells. Crystal structures of two of the V2 antibodies demonstrated residue 169 can exist within divergent helical and loop conformations, which contrasted dramatically with the beta strand conformation previously observed with a broadly neutralizing antibody PG9. Thus, RV144 vaccine-induced immune pressure appears to target a region that may be both sequence variable and structurally polymorphic. Variation may signal sites of HIV-1 envelope vulnerability, providing vaccine designers with new options.
The Thai Phase III clinical trial (RV144) showed modest efficacy in preventing HIV-1 acquisition. Plasma collected from HIV-1-uninfected trial participants completing all injections with ALVAC-HIV (vCP1521) prime and AIDSVAX B/E boost were tested for antibody responses against HIV-1 gp120 envelope (Env). Peptide microarray analysis from six HIV-1 subtypes and group M consensus showed that vaccination induced antibody responses to the second variable (V2) loop of gp120 of multiple subtypes. We further evaluated V2 responses by ELISA and surface plasmon resonance using cyclic (Cyc) and linear V2 loop peptides. Thirty-one of 32 vaccine recipients tested (97%) had antibody responses against Cyc V2 at 2 weeks postimmunization with a reciprocal geometric mean titer (GMT) of 1100 (range: 200–3200). The frequency of detecting plasma V2 antibodies declined to 19% at 28 weeks post-last injection (GMT: 110, range: 100–200). Antibody responses targeted the mid-region of the V2 loop that contains conserved epitopes and has the amino acid sequence KQKVHALFYKLDIVPI (HXB2 Numbering sequence 169–184). Valine at position 172 was critical for antibody binding. The frequency of V3 responses at 2 weeks postimmunization was modest (18/32, 56%) with a GMT of 185 (range: 100–800). In contrast, naturally infected HIV-1 individuals had a lower frequency of antibody responses to V2 (10/20, 50%; p=0.003) and a higher frequency of responses to V3 (19/20, 95%), with GMTs of 400 (range: 100–3200) and 3570 (range: 200–12,800), respectively. RV144 vaccination induced antibodies that targeted a region of the V2 loop that contains conserved epitopes. Early HIV-1 transmission events involve V2 loop interactions, raising the possibility that anti-V2 antibodies in RV144 may have contributed to viral inhibition.
Neutralizing and non-neutralizing antibodies to linear epitopes on HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins have potential to mediate antiviral effector functions that could be beneficial to vaccine-induced protection. Here, plasma IgG responses were assessed in three HIV-1 gp120 vaccine efficacy trials (RV144, Vax003, Vax004) and in HIV-1-infected individuals by using arrays of overlapping peptides spanning the entire consensus gp160 of all major genetic subtypes and circulating recombinant forms (CRFs) of the virus. In RV144, where 31.2% efficacy against HIV-1 infection was seen, dominant responses targeted the C1, V2, V3 and C5 regions of gp120. An analysis of RV144 case-control samples showed that IgG to V2 CRF01_AE significantly inversely correlated with infection risk (OR= 0.54, p=0.0042), as did the response to other V2 subtypes (OR=0.60-0.63, p=0.016-0.025). The response to V3 CRF01_AE also inversely correlated with infection risk but only in vaccine recipients who had lower levels of other antibodies, especially Env-specific plasma IgA (OR=0.49, p=0.007) and neutralizing antibodies (OR=0.5, p=0.008). Responses to C1 and C5 showed no significant correlation with infection risk. In Vax003 and Vax004, where no significant protection was seen, serum IgG responses targeted the same epitopes as in RV144 with the exception of an additional C1 reactivity in Vax003 and infrequent V2 reactivity in Vax004. In HIV-1 infected subjects, dominant responses targeted the V3 and C5 regions of gp120, as well as the immunodominant domain, heptad repeat 1 (HR-1) and membrane proximal external region (MPER) of gp41. These results highlight the presence of several dominant linear B cell epitopes on the HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins. They also generate the hypothesis that IgG to linear epitopes in the V2 and V3 regions of gp120 are part of a complex interplay of immune responses that contributed to protection in RV144.
Recruiting minorities into research studies requires special attention, particularly when studies involve “extra-vulnerable” participants with multiple vulnerabilities, e.g., pregnant women, the fetuses/neonates of ethnic minorities, children in refugee camps, or cross-border migrants. This study retrospectively analyzed submissions to the Ethics Committee of the Faculty of Tropical Medicine (FTM-EC) in Thailand. Issues related to the process and outcomes of proposal review, and the main issues for which clarification/revision were requested on studies, are discussed extensively.
The study data were extracted from proposals and amendments submitted to the FTM-EC during the period October 2009 – September 2012, and then analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively. The main issues for clarification/revision were analyzed by thematic content analysis.
373 proposals were submitted; 44 studies involved minority groups with 21 extra-vulnerable minorities. All clinical and 2/3 of non-clinical studies submitted for initial review underwent full-board review. For combined clinical and non-clinical study submissions, 92.1% were referred back to the investigators and approved after clarification/revision, while 2.7% were deferred due to major/critical changes, and 2.1% not approved due to substantial violations of ethical principles. The main issues needing clarification/revision differed between all studies and those involving minorities: participant information sheet (62.2% vs. 86.4%), informed consent/assent form (51.2% vs. 86.4%), and research methodology (80.7% vs. 84.1%), respectively. The main ethical issues arising during the meetings, regarding studies involving minorities, included ensuring no exploitation, coercion, or pressure on the minority to participate; methodology not affecting their legal status; considering ethnicity and cultural structure; and providing appropriate compensation.
Delays in the approval or non-approval of studies involving minorities were mainly due to major or minor deviations from acceptable ethical standards and/or unclear research methodology. The FTM-EC has employed several mechanisms in its operations, including transparency in the review process, building good relationships via open communication with investigators, requesting investigators to consider closely the necessity to enroll minority groups and the risk-benefits for individuals and their communities, and the inclusion of minority-community engagement when developing the proposal. Other effective activities include annual study-site inspections, and offering refresher courses to raise awareness of minority and vulnerability issues among researchers.
Ethical considerations; Minority groups; Vulnerable populations; Research proposal
An immune correlates analysis of the RV144 HIV-1 vaccine trial revealed that antibody responses to the gp120 V1/V2 region correlated inversely with infection risk. The RV144 protein immunogens (A244-rp120 and MN-rgp120) were modified by an N-terminal 11-amino-acid deletion (Δ11) and addition of a herpes simplex virus (HSV) gD protein-derived tag (gD). We investigated the effects of these modifications on gp120 expression, antigenicity, and immunogenicity by comparing unmodified A244 gp120 with both Δ11 deletion and gD tag and with Δ11 only. Analysis of A244 gp120, with or without Δ11 or gD, demonstrated that the Δ11 deletion, without the addition of gD, was sufficient for enhanced antigenicity to gp120 C1 region, conformational V2, and V1/V2 gp120 conformational epitopes. RV144 vaccinee serum IgGs bound more avidly to A244 gp120 Δ11 than to the unmodified gp120, and their binding was blocked by C1, V2, and V1/V2 antibodies. Rhesus macaques immunized with the three different forms of A244 gp120 proteins gave similar levels of gp120 antibody titers, although higher antibody titers developed earlier in A244 Δ11 gp120-immunized animals. Conformational V1/V2 monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) gave significantly higher levels of blocking of plasma IgG from A244 Δ11 gp120-immunized animals than IgG from animals immunized with unmodified A244 gp120, thus indicating a qualitative difference in the V1/V2 antibodies induced by A244 Δ11 gp120. These results demonstrate that deletion of N-terminal residues in the RV144 A244 gp120 immunogen improves both envelope antigenicity and immunogenicity.
The detailed examination of the antibody repertoire from RV144 provides a unique template for understanding potentially protective antibody functions. Some potential immune correlates of protection were untested in the correlates analyses due to inherent assay limitations, as well as the need to keep the correlates analysis focused on a limited number of endpoints to achieve statistical power. In an RV144 pilot study, we determined that RV144 vaccination elicited antibodies that could bind infectious virions (including the vaccine strains HIV-1 CM244 and HIV-1 MN and an HIV-1 strain expressing transmitted/founder Env, B.WITO.c). Among vaccinees with the highest IgG binding antibody profile, the majority (78%) captured the infectious vaccine strain virus (CM244), while a smaller proportion of vaccinees (26%) captured HIV-1 transmitted/founder Env virus. We demonstrated that vaccine-elicited HIV-1 gp120 antibodies of multiple specificities (V3, V2, conformational C1, and gp120 conformational) mediated capture of infectious virions. Although capture of infectious HIV-1 correlated with other humoral immune responses, the extent of variation between these humoral responses and virion capture indicates that virion capture antibodies occupy unique immunological space.
The Thai phase III HIV vaccine trial's modest efficacy (VE 31.2% 95% CI 1.1, 51.2) represents the first demonstration that a vaccine can protect against HIV acquisition. Baseline variables of age, gender, marital status, and risk did not modify vaccine efficacy (VE). Here we explore behavioral risk and efficacy at 6 monthly intervals following vaccination.
Behavioral risk was assessed with a self-administered questionnaire every 6 months during trial participation. Both the acquisition endpoint and the early viral load endpoint are examined for interactions with risk status over time and temporal effects following vaccination.
Risk for HIV acquisition is low in each risk group, but the majority of participants reported higher-risk behavior at least once during the study (N= 9187, 58%). In post-hoc analyses, comparing those participants categorized as high or rising risk at least once during study follow-up versus those who maintained low or medium risk behavior as a time-varying covariate, the interaction of risk status and acquisition efficacy is significant (P = 0.010) with greater benefit in the lower risk individuals. VE appears to peak early with an estimate of cumulative VE = 60% through 12 months after initial vaccination (95% CI 22 –80%), and declines quickly. Vaccination did not appear to affect viral load in either early or late infections.
Future HIV vaccine trials must recognize potential interactions between challenge intensity and risk heterogeneity in the population and treatment effects. The regimen tested in the Thai phase III trial may benefit from extended immunization schedules.
The Thai HIV phase III prime-boost trial (RV144) using ALVAC-HIV® (vCP1521) and AIDSVAX B/E® was, to our knowledge, the first to demonstrate acquisition efficacy. Vaccine-induced, cell-mediated immune responses were assessed. T cell epitope mapping studies using IFN-γ ELISPOT were performed on PBMC from HIV-1 uninfected vaccine (N=61) and placebo (N=10) recipients using HIV-1 Env peptides. Positive responses were measured in 25 (41%) vaccinees and were predominantly CD4+ T cell mediated. Responses were targeted within the HIV Env region, with 15/25 (60%) of vaccinees recognizing peptides derived from the V2 region of HIV-1 Env, which includes the α4β7 integrin binding site. Intracellular cytokine staining confirmed that Env responses predominated (19/30; 63% of vaccine recipients) and were mediated by polyfunctional effector memory CD4+ T cells, with the majority of responders producing both IL-2 and IFN-γ (12/19; 63%). HIV-Env Ab titers were higher in subjects with IL-2 compared to those without IL-2 secreting HIV-Env specific effector memory T cells. Proliferation assays revealed that HIV Ag-specific T cells were CD4+ with the majority (80%) expressing CD107a. HIV-specific T cell lines obtained from vaccine recipients confirmed V2 specificity, polyfunctionality and functional cytolytic capacity. While the RV144 T cell responses were modest in frequency compared to humoral immune responses, the CD4+ T cell response was directed to HIV-1 Env and more particularly the V2 region.
Human; Vaccination; Viral; AIDS; HIV-1; T cells
The ALVAC-HIV/AIDSVAX-B/E RV144 vaccine trial showed an estimated efficacy of 31%. RV144 secondary immune correlate analysis demonstrated that the combination of low plasma anti-HIV-1 Env IgA antibodies and high levels of antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) inversely correlate with infection risk. One hypothesis is that the observed protection in RV144 is partially due to ADCC-mediating antibodies. We found that the majority (73 to 90%) of a representative group of vaccinees displayed plasma ADCC activity, usually (96.2%) blocked by competition with the C1 region-specific A32 Fab fragment. Using memory B-cell cultures and antigen-specific B-cell sorting, we isolated 23 ADCC-mediating nonclonally related antibodies from 6 vaccine recipients. These antibodies targeted A32-blockable conformational epitopes (n = 19), a non-A32-blockable conformational epitope (n = 1), and the gp120 Env variable loops (n = 3). Fourteen antibodies mediated cross-clade target cell killing. ADCC-mediating antibodies displayed modest levels of V-heavy (VH) chain somatic mutation (0.5 to 1.5%) and also displayed a disproportionate usage of VH1 family genes (74%), a phenomenon recently described for CD4-binding site broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs). Maximal ADCC activity of VH1 antibodies correlated with mutation frequency. The polyclonality and low mutation frequency of these VH1 antibodies reveal fundamental differences in the regulation and maturation of these ADCC-mediating responses compared to VH1 bNAbs.
In the RV144 trial, the estimated efficacy of a vaccine regimen against human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) was 31.2%. We performed a case–control analysis to identify antibody and cellular immune correlates of infection risk.
In pilot studies conducted with RV144 blood samples, 17 antibody or cellular assays met prespecified criteria, of which 6 were chosen for primary analysis to determine the roles of T-cell, IgG antibody, and IgA antibody responses in the modulation of infection risk. Assays were performed on samples from 41 vaccinees who became infected and 205 uninfected vaccinees, obtained 2 weeks after final immunization, to evaluate whether immune-response variables predicted HIV-1 infection through 42 months of follow-up.
Of six primary variables, two correlated significantly with infection risk: the binding of IgG antibodies to variable regions 1 and 2 (V1V2) of HIV-1 envelope proteins (Env) correlated inversely with the rate of HIV-1 infection (estimated odds ratio, 0.57 per 1-SD increase; P = 0.02; q = 0.08), and the binding of plasma IgA antibodies to Env correlated directly with the rate of infection (estimated odds ratio, 1.54 per 1-SD increase; P = 0.03; q = 0.08). Neither low levels of V1V2 antibodies nor high levels of Env-specific IgA antibodies were associated with higher rates of infection than were found in the placebo group. Secondary analyses suggested that Env-specific IgA antibodies may mitigate the effects of potentially protective antibodies.
This immune-correlates study generated the hypotheses that V1V2 antibodies may have contributed to protection against HIV-1 infection, whereas high levels of Env-specific IgA antibodies may have mitigated the effects of protective antibodies. Vaccines that are designed to induce higher levels of V1V2 antibodies and lower levels of Env-specific IgA antibodies than are induced by the RV144 vaccine may have improved efficacy against HIV-1 infection.
The area along the Thai-Cambodian border is considered an epicenter of anti-malarial drug resistance. Recently, parasite resistance to artemisinin-based therapies has been reported in the area. The artemisinin resistance containment project was initiated in November 2008, with the aim to limit resistant parasites and eliminate malaria in this region. This study describes the response to artemisinin-based therapy among falciparum malaria patients in the area, using data from the malaria surveillance programmed under the containment project.
The study was conducted in seven provinces of Thailand along the Thai-Cambodian border. Data of Plasmodium falciparum-positive patients during January 2009 to December 2011 were obtained from the electronic malaria information system (eMIS) Web-based reporting system. All P. falciparum cases were followed for 42 days, as the routine case follow-up protocol. The demographic characteristics of the patients were described. Statistical analysis was performed to determine the cure rate of the current standard anti-malarial drug regimen--mefloquine-artesunate combination therapy (MAS). The proportion of patients who remained parasite-positive at each follow-up day was calculated. In addition, factors related to the delayed parasite clearance on day-3 post-treatment, were explored.
A total of 1,709 P. falciparum-positive cases were reported during the study period. Almost 70% of falciparum cases received MAS therapy (n = 1,174). The majority of cases were males, aged between 31 and 50 years. The overall MAS cure rate was >90% over the three-year period. Almost all patients were able to clear the parasite within 7 to 14 days post-treatment. Approximately 14% of patients undergoing MAS remained parasite-positive on day-3. Delayed parasite clearance was not significantly associated with patient gender, age, or citizenship. However, delayed parasite clearance varied across the study area.
Anti-malarial drug-resistant parasites should be closely monitored in the area along the Thai-Cambodian border. Although the MAS cure rate in this study area was above 90%, an increasing trend of treatment failure has been reported in neighboring parts. Effective malaria surveillance is an important component to monitor drug-resistance in the malaria containment project.
Malaria containment; Artemisinin resistance; Thai-Cambodian border; Malaria surveillance
The Bureau of Vector-borne Diseases, Ministry of Public Health, Thailand, has implemented an electronic Malaria Information System (eMIS) as part of a strategy to contain artemisinin resistance. The attempt corresponds to the WHO initiative, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to contain anti-malarial drug resistance in Southeast Asia. The main objective of this study was to demonstrate the eMIS’ functionality and outputs after implementation for use in the Thailand artemisinin-resistance containment project.
The eMIS had been functioning since 2009 in seven Thai-Cambodian border provinces. The eMIS has covered 61 malaria posts/clinics, 27 Vector-borne Disease Units covering 12,508 hamlets at risk of malaria infections. The eMIS was designed as an evidence-based and near real-time system to capture data for early case detection, intensive case investigation, monitoring drug compliance and on/off-site tracking of malarial patients, as well as collecting data indicating potential drug resistance among patients. Data captured by the eMIS in 2008–2011 were extracted and presented.
The core functionalities of the eMIS have been utilized by malaria staff at all levels, from local operational units to ministerial management. The eMIS case detection module suggested decreasing trends during 2009–2011; the number of malaria cases detected in the project areas over the years studied were 3818, 2695, and 2566, with sero-positive rates of 1.24, 0.98, and 1.16%, respectively. The eMIS case investigation module revealed different trends in weekly Plasmodium falciparum case numbers, when classified by responsible operational unit, local and migrant status, and case-detection type. It was shown that most Thai patients were infected within their own residential district, while migrants were infected either at their working village or from across the border. The data mapped in the system suggested that P. falciparum-infected cases and potential drug-resistant cases were scattered mostly along the border villages. The mobile technology application has detected different follow-up rates, with particularly low rates among seasonal and cross-border migrants.
The eMIS demonstrated that it could capture essential data from individual malaria cases at local operational units, while effectively being used for situation and trend analysis at upper-management levels. The system provides evidence-based information that could contribute to the control and containment of resistant parasites. Currently, the eMIS is expanding beyond the Thai-Cambodian project areas to the provinces that lie along the Thai-Myanmar border.
Malaria containment; Electronic-based; Information system; Malaria surveillance
Background. A recombinant canarypox vector expressing human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) Gag, Pro, and membrane-linked gp120 (vCP1521), combined with a bivalent gp120 protein boost (AIDSVAX B/E), provided modest protection against HIV-1 infection in a community-based population in Thailand (RV144 trial). No protection was observed in Thai injection drug users who received AIDSVAX B/E alone (Vax003 trial). We compared the neutralizing antibody response in these 2 trials.
Methods. Neutralization was assessed with tier 1 and tier 2 strains of virus in TZM-bl and A3R5 cells.
Results. Neutralization of several tier 1 viruses was detected in both RV144 and Vax003. Peak titers were higher in Vax003 and waned rapidly in both trials. The response in RV144 was targeted in part to V3 of gp120.vCP1521 priming plus 2 boosts with gp120 protein was superior to 2 gp120 protein inoculations alone, confirming a priming effect for vCP1521. Sporadic weak neutralization of tier 2 viruses was detected only in Vax003 and A3R5 cells.
Conclusion. The results suggest either that weak neutralizing antibody responses can be partially protective against HIV-1 in low-risk heterosexual populations or that the modest efficacy seen in RV144 was mediated by other immune responses, either alone or in combination with neutralizing antibodies.
A prime-boost vaccination regimen with ALVAC-HIV (vCP1521) administered intramuscularly at 0, 4, 12, and 24 weeks and gp120 AIDSVAX B/E at 12 and 24 weeks demonstrated modest efficacy of 31.2% for prevention of HIV acquisition in HIV-uninfected adults participating in a community-based efficacy trial in Thailand.
Reactogenicity was recorded for 3 days following vaccination. Adverse events were monitored every 6 months for 3.5 years, during which pregnancy outcomes were recorded. Of the 16,402 volunteers, 69% of the participants reported an adverse event any time after the first dose. Only 32.9% experienced an AE within 30 days following any vaccination. Overall adverse event rates and attribution of relatedness did not differ between groups. The frequency of serious adverse events was similar in vaccine (14.3%) and placebo (14.9%) recipients (p = 0.33). None of the 160 deaths (85 in vaccine and 75 in placebo recipients, p = 0.43) was assessed as related to vaccine. The most common cause of death was trauma or traffic accident. Approximately 30% of female participants reported a pregnancy during the study. Abnormal pregnancy outcomes were experienced in 17.1% of vaccine and 14.6% (p = 0.13) of placebo recipients. When the conception occurred within 3 months (estimated) of a vaccination, the majority of these abnormal outcomes were spontaneous or elective abortions among 22.2% and 15.3% of vaccine and placebo pregnant recipients, respectively (p = 0.08). Local reactions occurred in 88.0% of vaccine and 61.0% of placebo recipients (p<0.001) and were more frequent after ALVAC-HIV than AIDSVAX B/E vaccination. Systemic reactions were more frequent in vaccine than placebo recipients (77.2% vs. 59.8%, p<0.001). Local and systemic reactions were mostly mild to moderate, resolving within 3 days.
The ALVAC-HIV and AIDSVAX B/E vaccine regimen was found to be safe, well tolerated and suitable for potential large-scale use in Thailand.
This study aims to assess the situation of communicable diseases under national surveillance in the Cyclone Nargis-affected areas in Myanmar (Burma) before and after the incident.
Monthly data during 2007, 2008 and 2009 from the routine reporting system for disease surveillance of the Myanmar Ministry of Health (MMOH) were reviewed and compared with weekly reporting from the Early Warning and Rapid Response (EWAR) system. Data from some UN agencies, NGOs and Tri-Partite Core Group (TCG) periodic reviews were also extracted for comparisons with indicators from Sphere and the Inter-Agency Standing Committee.
Compared to 2007 and 2009, large and atypical increases in diarrheal disease and especially dysentery cases occurred in 2008 following Cyclone Nargis. A seasonal increase in ARI reached levels higher than usual in the months of 2008 post-Nargis. The number of malaria cases post-Nargis also increased, but it was less clear if this reflected normal seasonal patterns or was specifically associated with the disaster event. There was no significant change in the occurrence of other communicable diseases in Nargis-affected areas. Except for a small decrease in mortality for diarrheal diseases and ARI in 2008 in Nargis-affected areas, population-based mortality rates for all other communicable diseases showed no significant change in 2008 in these areas, compared to 2007 and 2009. Tuberculosis control programs reached their targets of 70% case detection and 85% treatment success rates in 2007 and 2008. Vaccination coverage rates for DPT 3rd dose and measles remained at high though measles coverage still did not reach the Sphere target of 95% even by 2009. Sanitary latrine coverage in the Nargis-affected area dropped sharply to 50% in the months of 2008 following the incident but then rose to 72% in 2009.
While the incidence of diarrhea, dysentery and ARI increased post-Nargis in areas affected by the incident, the incidence rate for other diseases and mortality rates did not increase, and normal disease patterns resumed by 2009. This suggests that health services as well as prevention and control measures provided to the Nargis-affected population mitigated what could have been a far more severe health impact.
Reliable information on mobility patterns of migrants is a crucial part of the strategy to contain the spread of artemisinin-resistant malaria parasites in South-East Asia, and may also be helpful to efforts to address other public health problems for migrants and members of host communities. In order to limit the spread of malarial drug resistance, the malaria prevention and control programme will need to devise strategies to reach cross-border and mobile migrant populations.
The Respondent-driven sampling (RDS) method was used to survey migrant workers from Cambodia and Myanmar, both registered and undocumented, in three Thai provinces on the Thailand-Cambodia border in close proximity to areas with documented artemisinin-resistant malaria parasites. 1,719 participants (828 Cambodian and 891 Myanmar migrants) were recruited. Subpopulations of migrant workers were analysed using the Thailand Ministry of Health classification based on length of residence in Thailand of greater than six months (long-term, or M1) or less than six months (short-term, or M2). Key information collected on the structured questionnaire included patterns of mobility and migration, demographic characteristics, treatment-seeking behaviours, and knowledge, perceptions, and practices about malaria.
Workers from Cambodia came from provinces across Cambodia, and 22% of Cambodian M1 and 72% of Cambodian M2 migrants had been in Cambodia in the last three months. Less than 6% returned with a frequency of greater than once per month. Of migrants from Cambodia, 32% of M1 and 68% of M2 were planning to return, and named provinces across Cambodia as their likely next destinations. Most workers from Myanmar came from Mon state (86%), had never returned to Myanmar (85%), and only 4% stated plans to return.
Information on migratory patterns of migrants from Myanmar and Cambodia along the malaria endemic Thailand-Cambodian border within the artemisinin resistance containment zone will help target health interventions, including treatment follow-up and surveillance.
Population movements along the Thailand-Cambodia border, particularly among highly mobile and hard-to-access migrant groups from Cambodia and Myanmar, are assumed to play a key role in the spread of artemisinin resistance. Data on treatment-seeking behaviours, knowledge and perceptions about malaria, and use of preventive measures is lacking as characteristics of this population prevent them from being represented in routine surveillance and the lack of a sampling frame makes reliable surveys challenging.
A survey of migrant populations from Cambodia and Myanmar was implemented in five selected rural locations in Thailand along the Thai-Cambodian border using respondent driven sampling (RDS) to determine demographic characteristics of the population, migratory patterns, knowledge about malaria, and health-care -seeking behaviours.
The majority of migrants from Myanmar are long-term residents (98%) with no plans to move back to Myanmar, understand spoken Thai (77%) and can therefore benefit from health messages in Thai, have Thai health insurance (99%) and accessed public health services in Thailand (63%) for their last illness. In comparison, the majority of Cambodian migrants are short-term (72%). Of the short-term Cambodian migrants, 92% work in agriculture, 18% speak Thai, 3.4% have Thai health insurance, and the majority returned to Cambodia for treatment (45%), self-treated (11%), or did not seek treatment for their last illness (27%).
Most highly mobile migrants along the Thai-Cambodia border are not accessing health messages or health treatment in Thailand, increasing their risk of malaria and facilitating the spread of potentially resistant Plasmodium falciparum as they return to Cambodia to seek treatment. Reaching out to highly mobile migrants with health messaging they can understand and malaria diagnosis and treatment services they can access is imperative in the effort to contain the spread of artemisinin-resistant P. falciparum.
At the verge of elimination of malaria in Bhutan, this study was carried out to analyse the trend of malaria in the endemic districts of Bhutan and to identify malaria clusters at the sub-districts. The findings would aid in implementing the control activities. Poisson regression was performed to study the trend of malaria incidences at district level from 1994 to 2008. Spatial Empirical Bayesian smoothing was deployed to identify clusters of malaria at the sub-district level from 2004 to 2008.
Trend of the overall districts and most of the endemic districts have decreased except Pemagatshel, which has an increase in the trend. Spatial cluster-outlier analysis showed that malaria clusters were mostly concentrated in the central and eastern Bhutan in three districts of Dagana, Samdrup Jongkhar and Sarpang. The disease clusters were reported throughout the year. Clusters extended to the non-transmission areas in the eastern Bhutan.
There is significant decrease in the trend of malaria with the elimination at the sight. The decrease in the trend can be attributed to the success of the control and preventive measures. In order to realize the target of elimination of malaria, the control measure needs to be prioritized in these high-risk clusters of malaria.
To assess the application of cell phone integrating into the healthcare system to improve antenatal care (ANC) and expanded programme on immunization (EPI) services for the under-served population in border area.
A module combining web-based and mobile technology was developed to generate ANC/EPI visit schedule dates in which the healthcare personnel can cross-check, identify and update the mother's ANC and child's EPI status at the healthcare facility or at the household location when performing home visit; with additional feature of sending appointment reminder directly to the scheduled mother in the community.
The module improved ANC/EPI coverage in the study area along the country border including for both Thai and non-Thai mothers and children who were either permanent resident or migrants; numbers of ANC and EPI visit on-time as per schedule significantly increased; there was less delay of antenatal visits and immunizations.
The module integrated and functioned successfully as part of the healthcare system; it is proved for its feasibility and the extent to which community healthcare personnel in the low resource setting could efficiently utilize it to perform their duties.
Plasmodium vivax has a dormant hepatic stage, called the hypnozoite, which can cause relapse months after the initial attack. For 50 years, primaquine has been used as a hypnozoitocide to radically cure P. vivax infection, but major concerns remain regarding the side-effects of the drug and adherence to the 14-day regimen. This study examined the effectiveness of using the directly-observed therapy (DOT) method for the radical treatment of P. vivax malaria infection, to prevent reappearance of the parasite within the 90-day follow-up period. Other potential risk factors for the reappearance of P. vivax were also explored.
A randomized trial was conducted from May 2007 to January 2009 in a low malaria transmission area along the Thai-Myanmar border. Patients aged ≥ 3 years diagnosed with P. vivax by microscopy, were recruited. All patients were treated with the national standard regimen of chloroquine for three days followed by primaquine for 14 days. Patients were randomized to receive DOT or self-administered therapy (SAT). All patients were followed for three months to check for any reappearance of P. vivax.
Of the 216 patients enrolled, 109 were randomized to DOT and 107 to SAT. All patients recovered without serious adverse effects. The vivax reappearance rate was significantly lower in the DOT group than the SAT group (3.4/10,000 person-days vs. 13.5/10,000 person-days, p = 0.021). Factors related to the reappearance of vivax malaria included inadequate total primaquine dosage received (< 2.75 mg/kg), duration of fever ≤ 2 days before initiation of treatment, parasite count on admission ≥ 10,000/µl, multiple P. vivax-genotype infection, and presence of P. falciparum infection during the follow-up period.
Adherence to the 14-day primaquine regimen is important for the radical cure of P. vivax malaria infection. Implementation of DOT reduces the reappearance rate of the parasite, and may subsequently decrease P. vivax transmission in the area.
Malaria still remains a public health problem in some districts of Bhutan despite marked reduction of cases in last few years. To strengthen the country's prevention and control measures, this study was carried out to develop forecasting and prediction models of malaria incidence in the endemic districts of Bhutan using time series and ARIMAX.
This study was carried out retrospectively using the monthly reported malaria cases from the health centres to Vector-borne Disease Control Programme (VDCP) and the meteorological data from Meteorological Unit, Department of Energy, Ministry of Economic Affairs. Time series analysis was performed on monthly malaria cases, from 1994 to 2008, in seven malaria endemic districts. The time series models derived from a multiplicative seasonal autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) was deployed to identify the best model using data from 1994 to 2006. The best-fit model was selected for each individual district and for the overall endemic area was developed and the monthly cases from January to December 2009 and 2010 were forecasted. In developing the prediction model, the monthly reported malaria cases and the meteorological factors from 1996 to 2008 of the seven districts were analysed. The method of ARIMAX modelling was employed to determine predictors of malaria of the subsequent month.
It was found that the ARIMA (p, d, q) (P, D, Q)s model (p and P representing the auto regressive and seasonal autoregressive; d and D representing the non-seasonal differences and seasonal differencing; and q and Q the moving average parameters and seasonal moving average parameters, respectively and s representing the length of the seasonal period) for the overall endemic districts was (2,1,1)(0,1,1)12; the modelling data from each district revealed two most common ARIMA models including (2,1,1)(0,1,1)12 and (1,1,1)(0,1,1)12. The forecasted monthly malaria cases from January to December 2009 and 2010 varied from 15 to 82 cases in 2009 and 67 to 149 cases in 2010, where population in 2009 was 285,375 and the expected population of 2010 to be 289,085. The ARIMAX model of monthly cases and climatic factors showed considerable variations among the different districts. In general, the mean maximum temperature lagged at one month was a strong positive predictor of an increased malaria cases for four districts. The monthly number of cases of the previous month was also a significant predictor in one district, whereas no variable could predict malaria cases for two districts.
The ARIMA models of time-series analysis were useful in forecasting the number of cases in the endemic areas of Bhutan. There was no consistency in the predictors of malaria cases when using ARIMAX model with selected lag times and climatic predictors. The ARIMA forecasting models could be employed for planning and managing malaria prevention and control programme in Bhutan.
The main objective of this study was to assess the effectiveness of integrating the use of cell-phones into a routine malaria prevention and control programme, to improve the management of malaria cases among an under-served population in a border area. The module for disease and treatment monitoring of malaria (DTMM) consisted of case investigation and case follow-up for treatment compliance and patients' symptoms.
The module combining web-based and mobile technologies was developed as a proof of concept, in an attempt to replace the existing manual, paper-based activities that malaria staff used in treating and caring for malaria patients in the villages for which they were responsible. After a patient was detected and registered onto the system, case-investigation and treatment details were recorded into the malaria database. A follow-up schedule was generated, and the patient's status was updated when the malaria staff conducted their routine home visits, using mobile phones loaded with the follow-up application module. The module also generated text and graph messages for a summary of malaria cases and basic statistics, and automatically fed to predetermined malaria personnel for situation analysis. Following standard public-health practices, access to the patient database was strictly limited to authorized personnel in charge of patient case management.
The DTMM module was developed and implemented at the trial site in late November 2008, and was fully functioning in 2009. The system captured 534 malaria patients in 2009. Compared to paper-based data in 2004-2008, the mobile-phone-based case follow-up rates by malaria staff improved significantly. The follow-up rates for both Thai and migrant patients were about 94-99% on Day 7 (Plasmodium falciparum) and Day 14 (Plasmodium vivax) and maintained at 84-93% on Day 90. Adherence to anti-malarial drug therapy, based on self-reporting, showed high completion rate for P. falciparum-infected cases, but lower rate for P. vivax cases. Patients' symptoms were captured onto the mobile phone during each follow-up visit, either during the home visit or at Malaria Clinic; most patients had headache, muscle pain, and fatigue, and some had fever within the first follow-up day (day7/14) after the first anti-malarial drug dose.
The module was successfully integrated and functioned as part of the malaria prevention and control programme. Despite the bias inherent in sensitizing malaria workers to perform active case follow-up using the mobile device, the study proved for its feasibility and the extent to which community healthcare personnel in the low resource settings could potentially utilize it efficiently to perform routine duties, even in remote areas. The DTMM has been modified and is currently functioning in seven provinces in a project supported by the WHO and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to contain multi-drug resistant malaria on the Thai-Cambodian border.
Maptaphut Industrial Estate (MIE) was established with a single factory in 1988, increasing to 50 by 1998. This development has resulted in undesirable impacts on the environment and the health of the people in the surrounding areas, evidenced by frequent complaints of bad odours making the people living there ill. In 1999, the Bureau of Environmental Health, Department of Health, Ministry of Public Health, conducted a study of the health status of people in Rayong Province and found a marked increase in respiratory diseases over the period 1993–1996, higher than the overall prevalence of such diseases in Thailand. However, the relationship between the pollutants and the respiratory diseases of the people in the surrounding area has still not been quantified. Therefore, this study aimed to determine the spatial distribution of respiratory disease, to estimate pollutants released from the industrial estates, and to quantify the relationship between estimated pollutants and respiratory disease in the Maptaphut Municipality.
Disease mapping showed a much higher risk of respiratory disease in communities adjacent to the Maptaphut Industrial Estate. Disease occurrence formed significant clusters centred on communities near the estate, relative to the weighted mean centre of chimney stacks. Analysis of the rates of respiratory disease in the communities, categorized by different concentrations of estimated pollutants, found a dose-response effect. Spatial regression analysis found that the distance between community and health providers decreased the rate of respiratory disease (p < 0.05). However, after taking into account distance, total pollutant (p < 0.05), SO2 (p < 0.05) and NOx (p < 0.05) played a role in adverse health effects during the summer. Total pollutant (p < 0.05) and NOx (p < 0.05) played a role in adverse health effects during the rainy season after taking into account distance, but during winter there was no observed relationship between pollutants and rates of respiratory disease after taking into account distance. A 12-month time-series analysis of six communities selected from the disease clusters and the areas impacted most by pollutant dispersion, found significant effects for SO2 (p < 0.05), NOx (p < 0.05), and TSP (p < 0.05) after taking into account rainfall.
This study employed disease mapping to present the spatial distribution of disease. Excessive risk of respiratory disease, and disease clusters, were found among communities near Maptaphut Industrial Estate. Study of the relationship between estimated pollutants and the occurrence of respiratory disease found significant relationships between estimated SO2, NOx, and TSP, and the rate of respiratory disease.