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1.  Early acquisition and high nasopharyngeal co-colonisation by Streptococcus pneumoniae and three respiratory pathogens amongst Gambian new-borns and infants 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:175.
Background
Although Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), Staphylococcus aureus and Moraxella catarrhalis are important causes of invasive and mucosal bacterial disease among children, co-carriage with Streptococcus pneumoniae during infancy has not been determined in West Africa.
Methods
Species specific PCR was applied to detect each microbe using purified genomic DNA from 498 nasopharyngeal (NP) swabs collected from 30 Gambian neonates every two weeks from 0 to 6 months and bi-monthly up to 12 months.
Results
All infants carried S. pneumoniae, H. influenzae and M. catarrhalis at several time points during infancy. S.pneumoniae co-colonized the infant nasopharynx with at least one other pathogen nine out of ten times. There was early colonization of the newborns and neonates, the average times to first detection were 5, 7, 3 and 14 weeks for S. pneumoniae, H. influenzae, M. catarrhalis and S. aureus respectively. The prevalence of S. pneumoniae, H. influenzae and M. catarrhalis increased among the neonates and exceeded 80% by 13, 15 and 23 weeks respectively. In contrast, the prevalence of S. aureus decreased from 50% among the newborns to 20% amongst nine-week old neonates. S. pneumoniae appeared to have a strong positive association with H. influenzae (OR 5.03; 95% CI 3.02, 8.39; p < 0.01) and M. catarrhalis (OR 2.20; 95% CI 1.29; p < 0.01) but it was negatively associated with S. aureus (OR 0.53; 95% CI 0.30, 0.94; p = 0.03).
Conclusion
This study shows early acquisition and high co-carriage of three important respiratory pathogens with S. pneumoniae in the nasopharyngeal mucosa among Gambian neonates and infants. This has important potential implications for the aetiology of respiratory polymicrobial infections, biofilm formation and vaccine strategies.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-175
PMCID: PMC3129300  PMID: 21689403
Nasopharyngeal; PCR; respiratory pathogens
2.  Immunogenicity of antigens from the TbD1 region present in M. africanum and missing from "modern" M. tuberculosis: a cross- sectional study 
Background
Currently available tools cannot be used to distinguish between sub-species of the M. tuberculosis complex causing latent tuberculosis (TB) infection. M. africanum causes up to half of TB in West- Africa and its relatively lower progression to disease suggests the presence of a large reservoir of latent infection relative to M. tuberculosis.
Methods
We assessed the immunogenicity of the TbD1 region, present in M. africanum and absent from "modern" M. tuberculosis, in an ELISPOT assay using cells from confirmed M. africanum or M. tuberculosis infected TB patients without HIV infection in the Gambia.
Results
Antigens from the TbD1 region induced IFNγ responses in only 35% patients and did not discriminate between patients infected with M. africanum vs. M. tuberculosis, while PPD induced universally high responses.
Conclusions
Further studies will need to assess other antigens unique to M. africanum that may induce discriminatory immune responses.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-11
PMCID: PMC2821388  PMID: 20085647
3.  Molecular epidemiology of pneumococci obtained from Gambian children aged 2–29 months with invasive pneumococcal disease during a trial of a 9-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine 
Background
The study describes the molecular epidemiology of Streptococcus pneumoniae causing invasive disease in Gambian children
Methods
One hundred and thirty-two S. pneumoniae isolates were recovered from children aged 2–29 months during the course of a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine trial conducted in The Gambia of which 131 were characterized by serotyping, antibiotic susceptibility, BOX-PCR and MLST.
Results
Twenty-nine different serotypes were identified; serotypes 14, 19A, 12F, 5, 23F, and 1 were common and accounted for 58.3% of all serotypes overall. MLST analysis showed 72 sequence types (STs) of which 46 are novel. eBURST analysis using the stringent 6/7 identical loci definition, grouped the isolates into 17 clonal complexes and 32 singletons. The population structure of the 8 serotype 1 isolates obtained from 4 vaccinated and 2 unvaccinated children were the same (ST 618) except that one (ST3336) of the isolates from an unvaccinated child had a novel ST which is a single locus variant of ST 618.
Conclusion
We provide the first background data on the genetic structure of S. pneumoniae causing IPD prior to PC7V use in The Gambia. This data will be important for assessing the impact of PC7V in post-vaccine surveillance from The Gambia.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-8-81
PMCID: PMC2440749  PMID: 18547404
4.  Comparison of two interferon gamma release assays in the diagnosis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection and disease in The Gambia 
Background
IFN-γ Release Assays (IGRAs) have been licensed for the diagnosis of latent Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection (LTBI). Their performance may depend on assay format and may vary across populations and settings. We compared the diagnostic performance of an in-house T -cell and commercial whole blood-based IGRAs for the diagnosis of LTBI and TB disease in The Gambia.
Methods
Newly diagnosed sputum smear positive cases and their household contacts were recruited. Cases and contacts were bled for IGRA and contacts had a Mantoux skin test. We assessed agreement and discordance between the tests and categorized a contact's level of M. tuberculosis exposure according to where s/he slept relative to a case: the same room, same house or a different house. We assessed the relationship between exposure and test results by multiple logistic regression.
Results
In 80 newly diagnosed TB cases, the sensitivity of ELISPOT was 78.7% and for QFT-GIT was 64.0% (p = 0.047). Of 194 household contacts 57.1% and 58.8% were positive for ELISPOT and QFT-GIT respectively. The overall agreement between both IGRAs for LTBI in contacts was 71.4% and there was no significant discordance (p = 0.29). There was significant discordance between the IGRAs and TST. Neither IGRA nor TST had evidence of false positive results because of Bacille Calmette Guérin (BCG) vaccination. However, agreement between QFT-GIT and TST as well as discordance between both IGRAs and TST were associated with BCG vaccination. Both IGRAs responded to the M. tuberculosis exposure gradient and were positively associated with increasing TST induration (p = 0.003 for ELISPOT and p = 0.001 for QFT-GIT).
Conclusion
The ELISPOT test is more sensitive than the QFT-GIT for diagnosing TB disease. The two tests perform similarly in the diagnosis of LTBI in TB contacts. Significant discordance between the two IGRAs and between each and the TST remain largely unexplained.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-7-122
PMCID: PMC2216027  PMID: 17961228
5.  Bacteraemia in patients admitted to an urban hospital in West Africa 
Background
Few studies on bacteraemia in Africa have been published. We aimed to prospectively identify the causative organisms of bacteraemia in The Gambia and their relation to clinical diagnoses, outcome and antimicrobial susceptibility.
Methods
Between November 2003 and February 2005 we studied those admitted to the Medical Research Council hospital who were suspected of having bacteraemia. We documented clinical features, outcome, pathogens identified and their susceptibility patterns, and searched for factors associated with bacteraemia.
Results
871 patients were admitted and had a blood culture taken. The median age was 2 years (range 2 months to 80 years) and 36 of 119 tested were HIV positive; 54.5% were male. 297 (34%) had a positive result and 93 (10.7% overall) were considered a genuine pathogen. Those with bacteraemia were more likely to die in hospital (OR 2.79; 1.17–6.65, p = 0.017) and to have a high white cell count (WCC; OR 1.81;95% CI 1.09–3.02; p = 0.022). Three organisms accounted for 73% of bacteraemias: Streptococcus pneumoniae (45.2%), Staphylococcus aureus (18.3%) and Escherichia coli (9.7%) while non-typhoidal salmonellae (NTS) accounted for 8.6%. Antimicrobial susceptibility of S. pneumoniae was very high to penicillin (97.5%); high resistance was found to co-trimoxazole. S. aureus was generally highly susceptible to cloxacillin, gentamicin and chloramphenicol. E. coli and NTS were all susceptible to ciprofloxacin and mostly susceptible to gentamicin. Thirteen (33%) S. pneumoniae isolates were of serotypes contained in a 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and 20 (51.3%) were of the same serogroup.
Conclusion
In The Gambia, those with bacteraemia are more likely than those without to die in hospital and to have a raised peripheral blood WCC. S. pneumoniae is the most common organism isolated. Introduction of a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine can be expected to lead to a reduction in disease incidence.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-7-2
PMCID: PMC1794245  PMID: 17257423
6.  Reversion of the ELISPOT test after treatment in Gambian tuberculosis cases 
Background
New tools are required to improve tuberculosis (TB) diagnosis and treatment, including enhanced ability to compare new treatment strategies. The ELISPOT assay uses Mycobacterium tuberculosis-specific antigens to produce a precise quantitative readout of the immune response to pathogen. We hypothesized that TB patients in The Gambia would have reduced ELISPOT counts after successful treatment.
Methods
We recruited Gambian adults with sputum smear and culture positive tuberculosis for ELISPOT assay and HIV test, and followed them up one year later to repeat testing and document treatment outcome. We used ESAT-6, CFP-10 and Purified Protein Derivative (PPD) as stimulatory antigens. We confirmed the reliability of our assay in 23 volunteers through 2 tests one week apart, comparing within and between subject variation.
Results
We performed an ELISPOT test at diagnosis and 12 months later in 89 patients. At recruitment, 70/85 HIV-negative patients (82%) were ESAT-6 or CFP-10 (EC) ELISPOT positive, 77 (90%) were PPD ELISPOT positive. Eighty-two cases (96%) successfully completed treatment: 44 (55%; p < 0.001) were EC ELISPOT negative at 12 months, 17 (21%; p = 0.051) were PPD ELISPOT negative. Sixty (73%) cured cases had a CFP-10 ELISPOT count decrease, 64 (78%) had an ESAT-6 ELISPOT count decrease, 58 (70%) had a PPD ELISPOT count decrease. There was a mean decline of 25, 44 and 47 SFU/2 × 105 cells for CFP-10, ESAT-6 and PPD respectively (p < 0.001 for all). Three of 4 HIV positive patients were cured, all 3 underwent ELISPOT reversion; all 4 not cured subjects (3 HIV-negative, 1 HIV positive) were ESAT-6, CFP-10 and PPD ELISPOT positive at 12 months.
Conclusion
Successful tuberculosis treatment is accompanied by a significant reduction in the M. tuberculosis-specific antigen ELISPOT count. The ELISPOT has potential as a proxy measure of TB treatment outcome. Further investigation into the decay kinetics of T-cells with treatment is warranted.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-6-66
PMCID: PMC1562425  PMID: 16573826

Results 1-6 (6)