Trachoma has been endemic in The Gambia for decades but national surveys indicate that the prevalence is falling. Risk factor data can help guide trachoma control efforts. This study investigated risk factors for active trachoma and ocular Chlamydia trachomatis infection in children aged below 10 years in two Gambian regions. The overall prevalence of C. trachomatis infection was only 0.3% (3/950) compared with 10.4% (311/2990) for active trachoma, therefore analyses were only performed for active trachoma. After adjustment, increased risk of trachoma was associated with being aged 1—2 years (odds ratio (OR) 2.20, 95% CI 1.07—4.52) and 3—5 years (OR 3.62, 95% CI 1.80—7.25) compared with <1 year, nasal discharge (OR 2.07, 95% CI 1.53—2.81), ocular discharge (OR 2.68, 95% CI 1.76—4.09) and there being at least one other child in the household with active trachoma (OR 11.28, 95% CI 8.31—15.31). Compared with other occupations, children of traders had reduced risk (OR 0.53, 95% CI 0.30—0.94). At the household level, only the presence of another child in the household with active trachoma was associated with increased risk of active trachoma, suggesting that current trachoma control interventions are effective at this level. In contrast, child-level factors were associated with increased risk after adjustment, indicating a need to increase control efforts at the child level.
Trachoma; Chlamydia trachomatis; Prevalence; Risk factors; Control; The Gambia
The mechanisms leading to death in cerebral malaria (CM) remain unclear. We compared clinical and laboratory data among children with CM, categorized by ocular fundus findings, to elucidate differences that suggest different underlying pathological processes. From 1999—2005, standard examinations, treatment and record keeping were used for children with a clinical diagnosis of CM. Children were divided into ocular subgroups: normal fundus (N), malarial retinopathy (R), or papilloedema alone (P) and appropriate statistical tests were used to compare clinical and laboratory findings among groups. Eight hundred and eighty children who had eye examinations within 6 h of admission were included in the analysis. The groups differed significantly in case-fatality rates: Group P, 44.4% (95% CI 25.3—63.2), Group R, 18.0% (95% CI 15.6—22.3) and Group N, 7.0% (95% CI 4.2—9.8). There were also significant differences among the groups in blood pressure, prevalence of deep breathing, haematocrit, parasite density, platelet concentration and, among survivors, hours taken to recover from coma. Differences among groups suggest that different underlying pathophysiological processes are operating in children with CM defined by existing criteria. Our proposed classification, by improving the specificity of diagnosis, would enhance consistency among different study sites and prove useful in future research studies.
Cerebral malaria; Children; Retinopathy; Pathophysiology; Papilloedema; Malawi
A prospective cohort study of the incidence and risk factors for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection was performed in 2171 pregnant women in three rural Egyptian villages who were HCV antibody (anti-HCV) and RNA (HCV-RNA) negative at baseline. During an average of 2.2 years follow up, 25 incident cases were observed, giving an estimated HCV incidence of 5.2/1000 person-years (PY). The infection rate correlated with community anti-HCV prevalence in pregnant women, while the perinatal incidence rate of 11.2/1000 PY was almost five times that of the non-perinatal rate (2.3/1000 PY). The data suggested iatrogenic perinatal risk factors were associated with infection in one village, while health education reduced infections in another. Among the 25 incident cases, eight were HCV-RNA negative when they were first found to be anti-HCV positive and one-third of the 15 viraemic cases with follow-up data available cleared their HCV-RNA after an average of 1.3 years. None of the 25 incident cases were jaundiced or had symptoms of hepatitis but elevated serum alanine aminotransferase levels confirmed hepatitis in nine. Our data suggest that asymptomatic HCV infections frequently occurred during the perinatal period but often cleared and that educating medical personnel on safe practices possibly reduced HCV transmission.
Hepatitis C virus; Incidence; Risk factors; Pregnancy; Rural health; Egypt
Intermittent preventive treatment in infants (IPTi) is an effective and safe malaria control strategy. However, it remains unclear what antimalarials should be used to replace sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) when and where SP is no longer an effective drug for IPTi. Work recently conducted in Tanzania, combined with the findings of previous studies, indicates that IPTi is essentially intermittent chemoprophylaxis; consequently, long-acting antimalarials that provide a long period of post-treatment prophylaxis will be the most effective alternative to SP. However, because of concerns about development of drug resistance, new combinations of long-acting drugs are urgently needed.
Histoplasmosis may be common in East Africa but the diagnosis is rarely confirmed. We report 9 (0.9%) cases of probable histoplasmosis retrospectively identified among 970 febrile inpatients studied in northern Tanzania. Median (range) age was 31 (6, 44) years, 6 (66.7%) were female, 6 (66.7%) HIV-infected; 7 (77.8%) were clinically diagnosed with tuberculosis or bacterial pneumonia. Histoplasmosis is an important cause of febrile illness in Tanzania but is rarely considered in the differential diagnosis. Increased clinician awareness and availability of reliable diagnostic tests may improve patient outcomes.
Africa; Histoplasmosis; HIV; Tanzania; Tuberculosis
Mucosal leishmaniasis occurs mainly in areas where Leishmania braziliensis is transmitted. It affects predominantly the nasal mucosa and, in more severe forms, can lead to significant tissue destruction. There is no standard method for grading the severity of disease. We categorised 50 patients with mucosal leishmaniasis according to a proposed clinical staging system. Their age ranged from 10 to 86 y (mean ± SD: 36 ± 16 y) and 43 (86%) patients were male. The different degrees of evolution of mucosal disease, from the initial stage to the more severe long-term cases, enabled mucosal leishmaniasis to be graded into five stages. Stage I is characterised by nodular lesions of the mucosa without ulcerations. Stage II is represented by superficial mucosal ulcerations with concomitant fine granular lesions. Stage III is characterised by deep mucosal ulcerations with granular tissue formation. In stage IV there are irreversible lesions leading to perforation of the cartilaginous nasal septum with necrosis. In stage V the nasal pyramid is compromised with alterations of facial features as a consequence of severe tissue destruction. These stages may be useful in characterising the severity of the lesion and optimising the therapeutic outcome.
Leishmaniasis; Mucosal leishmaniasis; Disease stage; Nasal mucosa; Nose diseases; Brazil
We report the successful purification of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) from Burkholderia thailandesis, a Gram-negative bacterium, closely related to the highly pathogenic organisms Burkholderia pseudomallei and Burkholderia mallei. B. thailandensis LPS is shown to cross-react with rabbit and mouse sera obtained from inoculation with B. pseudomallei or B. mallei, respectively. These data suggest that B. thailandensis LPS shares similar structural features with LPS molecules from highly pathogenic Burkholderia species. This information may prove useful in ongoing efforts to develop novel vaccines and/or diagnostic reagents.
lipopolysaccharide; immunogenic; Burkholderia
The purpose of this study was to examine care-seeking during fatal infant illnesses in under-resourced South African settings to inform potential strategies for reducing infant mortality. We interviewed 22 caregivers of deceased infants in a rural community and 28 in an urban township. We also interviewed seven local leaders and 12 health providers to ascertain opinions about factors contributing to infant death.
Despite the availability of free public health services in these settings, many caregivers utilised multiple sources of care including allopathic, indigenous and home treatments. Urban caregivers reported up to eight points of care while rural caregivers reported up to four points of care. The specific pathways taken and combinations of care varied, but many caregivers used other types of care shortly after presenting at public services, indicating dissatisfaction with the care they received. Many infants died despite caregivers’ considerable efforts, pointing to critical deficiencies in the system of care serving these families. Initiatives that aim to improve assessment, management and referral practices by both allopathic and traditional providers (for example, through training and improved collaboration), and caregiver recognition of infant danger signs may reduce the high rate of infant death in these settings.
Infant mortality; Health care seeking behaviour; South Africa; Qualitative research
In the 1980s, highland malaria returned to the tea estates of western Kenya after an absence of nearly a generation. In order to determine the importance of travel for the spread of malaria in this region, we prospectively collected blood films and travel, demographic and geographic information on well persons and outpatients on tea estates near the western rim of the Rift Valley. Risk factors for malaria asexual parasitaemia included: tribal/ethnic group, home province and home district malaria endemicity. Travel away from the Kericho tea estates within the previous two months showed an odds ratio (OR) for parasitaemia of 1.59 for well persons and 2.38 for outpatients. Sexual stages of malaria parasites (gametocytes) had an OR of 3.14 (well persons) and 2.22 (outpatients) for those who had travelled. Increased risk of malaria parasitaemia with travel was concentrated in children aged <5 years. An increase in population gametocytaemia is possibly due to increased chloroquine resistance and suppressed infections contracted outside of the tea estates.
Plasmodium falciparum; Highland malaria; Travel; Kenya
Norovirus was detected in 17.4% of 224 diarrhoeal samples from children younger than 24 months of age in Lima, in whom all common pathogens had been excluded (pathogen negative). Norovirus was identified more frequently in children older than 12 months of age than in younger children (34% vs 8%, P<0.001). Among norovirus-positive samples, genogroup II was the predominant group (92%). Compared with rotavirus, norovirus episodes tended to be of shorter duration and less severe. The role of norovirus as a cause of diarrhoea and the ascertainment of its severity in developing countries needs further confirmation by future epidemiological studies.
Norovirus; gastroenteritis; viral genogroup; diarrhoea; children; Peru
Retrospective case series from Thailand have reported the presence of intra-abdominal abscesses in around half of patients with melioidosis, a much higher rate than our clinical experience would suggest. We performed a prospective, observational study of 230 adult patients with culture-confirmed melioidosis in which all patients underwent abdominal ultrasound. One or more abscesses were detected in the liver and/or spleen in 77 (33%) cases. These were often multiple (70%, 31/44 in hepatic abscesses and 88%, 50/57 in splenic abscesses) and clinically silent (27% of cases with abscesses presenting with abdominal pain). The mortality rate at 4 weeks post-discharge was lower in patients who were abscess-positive vs abscess-negative (10%, 8/77 vs 20%, 31/153).
Melioidosis; Abscess; Liver; Spleen; Burkholderia pseudomallei; Ultrasound
The ImageJ program was applied to the enumeration of Orientia tsutsugamushi organisms in cell culture using indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFA). The highest correlation (r = 0.984) was observed between manual counting methods and the ImageJ program (MaxEntropy threshold algorithm). This software-based methodology is cheaper, more standardised and better reproducible than a manual-based approach.
ImageJ; Scrub typhus; Enumeration; Fluorescence; Orientia tsutsugamushi
This study evaluates commercially available rK39 Immunochromatographic (ICT) strips using urine for diagnosis of visceral leishmaniasis (VL). Freshly collected urine and serum samples of 280 parasitologically confirmed VL patients and 66 endemic healthy control (EHC), 48 non-endemic healthy controls (NEHC) and 45 different diseases (DD) were tested with rK39 strips. The sensitivity of rK39 in urine were 96.4% while the specificity was low varying from 66.7% in EHC, 77.08% in NEHC to 62.2% in DD, With serum, sensitivity was 100% whereas the specificity was 100%, 92.4% and 95.55% for respective control group. In its present format, the ICT strips cannot be used for the diagnosis of VL using urine samples.
rK39 ICT; Visceral leishmaniasis; Urine; diagnosis
Melioidosis (Burkholderia pseudomallei infection) has yet to be demonstrated systematically in Bangladesh. A prospective, cross-sectional serological survey was conducted in 2010 at six Bangladeshi hospitals. Age, gender, occupation and residential address were recorded. Of 1244 patients, 359 (28.9%) were positive for B. pseudomallei by indirect haemagglutination assay. Farmers had an increased risk of seropositivity (risk ratio = 1.4, 95% CI 1.0–1.8; p = 0.03). There was no clear geographic clustering of seropositives. Melioidosis should be considered as a possible cause of febrile illness in Bangladesh. Further studies are needed to establish the incidence of clinical disease and distribution of environmental risk.
Burkholderia pseudomallei; Melioidosis; Indirect haemagglutination assay; Seroprevalence; Epidemiological surveillance; Bangladesh
The diagnostic utility of the Standard Diagnostics Leptospira IgM ELISA for detection of acute leptospirosis was assessed in febrile adults admitted in Vientiane, Laos. Using the cut-off suggested by the manufacturer [optical density (OD) ≥0.75], the assay demonstrated limited diagnostic capacity with a sensitivity of 95% and a specificity of 41% compared with the Leptospira microscopic agglutination test, which is the serological gold standard. However, re-evaluation of the diagnostic cut-off to an OD of 1.7 demonstrated improved diagnostic accuracy overall (sensitivity 70%; specificity 78%).
Leptospira; ELISA; Diagnosis; Cut-off
In developing countries, micronutrient deficiencies are common and associated with poor pregnancy outcomes, which may in turn have longer-term effects on human health. The peri-conceptional period represents a particularly sensitive window of feto-placental development, during which sub-optimal maternal micronutrition may have far-reaching consequences. The effects of targeted interventions during this period have been little studied in humans.
micronutrient; vitamin; pregnancy; fetus; peri-conceptional; pre-conceptional
Malawi faces a critical shortage of nurses. Challenging working conditions and poor remuneration have led many nurses to seek employment overseas. The study uses qualitative biographical methods to describe the experiences of migrant Malawian nurses and compares them with the experiences of nurses who remain in Malawi. Choices made about pursuing a nursing career in Malawi, and decisions to migrate, are complex and heavily entwined with nurses’ personal circumstances. In addition, although nurses in Malawi perceive that conditions in the UK are difficult, many still aspire to migrate themselves.
International Migration; Human resources; Malawi; Nurses
HIV has become increasingly prevalent in the Northeast region of Brazil where Leishmania infantum chagasi is endemic, and concurrent AIDS and visceral leishmaniasis (VL) has emerged. In this study, persons with HIV/AIDS and VL (n = 17) had a mean age of 37.3 years (range 29–53 years) compared with 12.5 years (1–80 years) for persons with VL alone (n = 2836). Males accounted for 88% of cases versus 65%. The mean CD4 count and antileishmanial antibody titre were lower and recurrence of VL and death were more likely with co-infection. Considering the prevalences of L.i. chagasi and HIV in the region, this may herald the emergence of an important public health problem.
Visceral leishmaniasis; HIV; AIDS; Leishmania chagasi infection; Brazil
A prospective study in three Egyptian villages (A, B and C) having a high prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection examined incidence of community-acquired HCV infection in children; 2852 uninfected infants were prospectively followed from birth for up to 5.5 years. Fifteen seroconverted for either HCV antibodies and/or HCV-RNA (incidence of 0.53%). Ten had both anti-HCV and HCV-RNA; four had only anti-HCV; and one had HCV-RNA in the absence of antibody. The incidence rate at all ages was 2.7/1000 person-years (PY). It was 3.8/1000 PY during infancy and 2.0/1000 PY for the 1–5-years age group. Hospitalization and low birth weight increased the risk of infection; while living in village B, the family having a higher socioeconomic status, and advanced maternal education were protective. Six of eight HCV-infected infants reported iatrogenic exposures (e.g. hospitalization, therapeutic injections, ear piercing) prior to infection whereas only 2/7 children older than 1 year reported these exposures. Having an HCV-positive mother was the only other reported risk in two of these older children. The virus cleared in six (40%) children by the end of follow-up. Health education targeting iatrogenic exposures and focusing on risk factors could reduce HCV infection in children in high-risk populations.
Hepatitis C; Children; Incidence; Risk factors; Rural community; Egypt
The changing epidemiology of clinical malaria since 1965 among hospitalized patients was studied at a group of tea estates in the western highlands of Kenya. These data indicate recent dramatic increases in the numbers of malaria admissions (6·5 to 32·5% of all admissions), case fatality (1·3 to 6%) and patients originating from low-risk, highland areas (34 to 59%). Climate change, environmental management, population migration, and breakdown in health service provision seem unlikely explanations for this changing disease pattern. The coincident arrival of chloroquine resistance during the late 1980s in the sub-region suggests that drug resistance is a key factor in the current pattern and burden of malaria among this highland population.
malaria; Plasmodium falciparum; epidemiology; highlands; drug resistance; climate change; Kenya
India accounts for over one-third of the world’s burden of lymphatic filariasis (LF). Although most coastal districts of Orissa state (eastern India) are LF-endemic, the western districts of Orissa are considered non-endemic. During a large-scale insecticide-treated bed net/microfinance trial, we tested one randomly selected adult (age 15–60 years) for LF from a random sample of microfinance-member households in five districts of western Orissa, using immunochromatographic card testing (ICT). Overall, 354 (adjusted prevalence 21%, 95%CI 17–25%) of 1563 persons were ICT positive, with district-wide prevalence rates ranging from 15–32%. This finding was not explained by immigration, as only 3% of subjects had ever lived in previously known LF-endemic districts. These results therefore suggest ongoing autochthonous transmission in districts where LF control programs are not operational. Our results highlight the importance of broad, systematic surveillance for LF in India and call for the implementation of LF control programs in our study districts.
Lymphatic filariasis; Orissa; India; epidemiology; mass drug administration
Healthcare-associated pneumonia (HCAP) is a common complication in patients with severe tetanus. Nursing tetanus patients in a semi-recumbent body position could reduce the incidence of HCAP. In a randomised controlled trial we compared the occurrence of HCAP in patients with severe tetanus nursed in a semi-recumbent (30°) or supine position. A total of 229 adults and children (aged ≥1 year) with severe tetanus admitted to hospital in Vietnam, were randomly assigned to a supine (n = 112) or semi-recumbent (n = 117) position. For patients maintaining their assigned positions and in hospital for > 48 h there was no significant difference between the two groups in the frequency of clinically suspected pneumonia [22/106 (20.8%) vs 26/104 (25.0%); p = 0.464], pneumonia rate/1000 intensive care unit days (13.9 vs 14.6; p = 0.48) and pneumonia rate/1000 ventilated days (39.2 vs 38.1; p = 0.72). Mortality in the supine patients was 11/112 (9.8%) compared with 17/117 (14.5%) in the semi-recumbent patients (p = 0.277). The overall complication rate [57/112 (50.9%) vs 76/117 (65.0%); p = 0.03] and need for tracheostomy [51/112 (45.5%) vs 69/117 (58.9%); p = 0.04) was greater in semi-recumbent patients. Semi-recumbent body positioning did not prevent the occurrence of HCAP in severe tetanus patients. [Clinical Trials.gov Identifier: NCT01331252]
Tetanus; Healthcare-associated pneumonia; Body position; Semi-recumbent; Tracheostomy; Vietnam
Leishmaniasis is a vector-borne disease with up to 350 million people at risk of infection worldwide. Among its different clinical manifestations, visceral is the most severe form. Since clinical features of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) mimic several other common diseases, accurate diagnosis of VL is crucial as the treatment is associated with significant toxicity. Invasive and risky techniques involving demonstration of the parasites in stained preparations from splenic and bone marrow aspirate is still the gold standard for VL diagnosis. Serological tests using rk39 in ELISA or rapid immunochromatographic format, Direct Agglutination Test (DAT), immunoblotting have issues related to a significant proportion of asymptomatic individuals being positive with these tests and their inability to diagnose relapses as these remain positive for several months to years after cure. PCR is the most common molecular technique successfully used for diagnosis and differentiation of species. Through this review we focus extensively on the comparative utilities of the various diagnostic tools currently available for VL, describing in depth their advantages and disadvantages, addressing the recent advances attained in the field. A simple, rapid, non invasive, accurate and cost effective marker of active VL, which can be used in field conditions, is necessary to improve diagnosis of VL.
Visceral leishmaniasis; Diagnosis; rK39; Polymerase chain reaction; Sensitivity; Specificity
There is an urgent need for a non-toxic and low-cost treatment for cutaneous leishmaniasis. We synthesised and tested in vivo an amphotericin B-poly(methacrylic acid) drug (AmB-PMA) that had previously shown in-vitro activity against Leishmania major and L. donovani parasites. Efficacy was determined using L. major footpad infection in 30 non-healing BALB/c mice. Three subcutaneous injections of AmB-PMA at days 7, 14 and 21 post-infection resulted in a reduction of ~80% in lesion size by day 35 post-infection in 18 treated mice compared with six untreated controls and complete healing of lesions by day 50 with no lesion relapse seen at day 80 post-infection in six treated mice. Healing was associated with decreased IL-10 (P = 0.002) and increased IFN-γ (P = 0.005) in the footpad.
Leishmania major; Cutaneous leishmaniasis; Pharmacological therapy; Immunomodulatory therapy; Amphotericin B; Poly(methacrylic acid)